Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Review | The Book Thief

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've known the holocaust story most of my life because of my Jewish heritage. I am aware that their were German sympathizers who hid Jews in WWII, and saved them from the camps. But to read about the experience from a German child's POV, to see it all through her innocent eyes, touched my heart and soul. This story will stay with me for a long time. I couldn't help but fall in love with the characters, even Rosa. They each provided a big part of the whole, and brought the story together beautifully. There were many parts that were hard to get through, but again, they were necessary to tell the whole story.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

5 Lesser Known Dallas Attractions

Dallas, Texas is a great place to visit. There are several wonderful sites to take in, a beautiful downtown area, and the Dallas Cowboys. But Dallas is also home to some attractions you may not be familiar with. Here are five lesser known sites you should visit on your trip to Dallas.


If you’ve ever watched the television series Dallas then you’re already familiar with the popular ranch the Ewing family lived on. But did you know that it really exists? Southfork Ranch is now a special events and meeting destination for the Dallas metro area. It’s also open to the public for daily excursions. You can book your package to learn about the horses, take an excursion of the ranch, view the mansion, and have lunch. The HYATT House Dallas/Lincoln Park and Holiday Inn Central - Park Cities are great hotels to stay in near Southfork. For more deals, check out cheap hotels in Dallas.

Segway Nation Dallas

See Dallas from the unique perspective of a Segway. You can choose from six different tours offered throughout the day, and get an up-close look at Dallas’ downtown historic sites. Choose from a historical, fun facts, or sightseeing tour. This is the perfect family activity. Continue enjoying downtown Dallas by staying at the Hyatt Regency Dallas or Crowne Plaza Hotel Dallas Downtown.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

dallas arboretum
Photo by Jennifer Clement via
The vision of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden began in 1974. In 1977, the first piece of land was purchased for the botanical garden, and was added to in 1980 when an adjacent piece of land was purchased for the arboretum. The gardens opened to the public in 1984.  Today, visitors can visit the gardens and arboretum, enjoy seasonal festivals, and attend public events. Check TiqIQ for great deals on event tickets. If you wish to stay close to the arboretum, Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Dallas - Campbell Centre and Best Western Cityplace Inn offer great deals.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Step back to the days of knights and ladies at Medieval Times Dallas Castle. Witness an epic battle in their all-new show while enjoying a four-course meal fit for a king. Enjoy the jousting tournament and awe-inspiring horsemanship from the comfort of your table. If you’re staying at the Holiday Inn Dallas Market Center or Hotel Lawrence, this would be a great place to make dinner reservations.

Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park

Check out one of Dallas’ favorite attractions, Zero Gravity. The amusement park only features extreme thrill rides, including bungee jumping, a skycoaster, and a 16-story free fall. Texas Blastoff will give you a thrill as you rocket straight up at 70 mph. And be sure to check out the park’s newest attraction, Skyscraper, where you’ll hit four G’s. Enjoy some of the same rides that have been approved by Pink, Steven Tyler, Jessica Simpson, and Tony Romo. Stay nearby at Dallas Marriott Suites Medical/Market Center or Sheraton Suites Market Center.
These five lesser known Dallas attractions will make your stay unforgettable. Be sure to add them to your itinerary when booking your next vacation.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Top 5 Underrated Tourist Attractions in Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia is well-known for its beautiful beaches, infamous Opera House, and BridgeClimb Sydney at Harbour Bridge. But there are plenty of other attractions in Sydney that you may not have heard about, and will want to add to your itinerary. Check out these five lesser-known Sydney attractions.

Watsons Bay

Image via Flickr by Mark Hobson - Multi Xpression Media
Watsons Bay is located on the southern head of the Sydney Harbour entrance, and is flanked by the Harbour as well as the Tasman Sea. It’s not only a wonderful place to get a glorious view of the city, but is also a historical landmark. Watsons Bay was established in 1788, and is Australia’s oldest fishing village. The bay is also home to the original Doyles Restaurant, located on the site where Doyle originally sold his daily catch in 1845. You can still eat at the restaurant, or, if you prefer, grab lunch at the Doyles’ fish and chips outlet.  The Bay also features two walking paths, a park, and a direct route to Bondi Beach.


If you enjoy shopping, a day at Paddington is a must. Here you’ll find the best boutique shopping, art galleries, tailors, shoemakers, and milliners in Sydney. You’ll also explore rows of Victorian terraces that house Sydney’s fashion scene. As you travel along Paddington, checking out boutiques, furniture stores, housewares, and fine wines and dining, you’ll spot the terraces decorated with cast-iron lace detailing. It’s a shopping excursion you won’t want to miss.

Manly to Spit Bridge Walk

One of the best ways to explore Sydney’s beaches is to take the 10km Manly to Spit Bridge Walk. The walk begins at the Spit Bridge end, wanders around the shoreline to Fisher Bay, Sandy Bay, and Clontarf Beach, then enters Sydney Harbour National Park at Castle Rock. You’ll head past Middle Head towards Manly via Dobroyd Head. Here, you can take a break, and soak up views of the harbour. Along the way, stop for a quick dip at Reef Beach and Forty Baskets Beach. Once you’ve completed the walk, take the ferry back to the city. This is a great way to check out the beautiful beaches Sydney has to offer. The walk takes about three to four hours to complete. For those less inclined to complete the full walk, you can easily drop out halfway and only do a section.

Hawkesbury River

Hawkesbury River stretches from Windsor to Brooklyn, and offers plenty of dining and accommodations in Sydney hotels. The River is surrounded by steep, forested slopes, with many stunning natural attractions waiting to be explored. Plenty of activities are available, including fishing, water skiing, picnic spots, canoeing, and mountain bike trails. You can even rent a houseboat for a night or two. The region is another piece of Australia’s history, and will make a great addition to your travel plans.

Harry’s Café de Wheels

Don’t miss the infamous Harry’s Café de Wheels during your trip to Sydney and sample Sydney’s Best Pie. The 70-year-old café has maintained its tradition of daily fresh pie deliveries, while updating its menu to accompany today’s consumers.
Be sure to include these five lesser-known attractions on your next trip to Sydney.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Add Museums to Your Houston To-Do List

A trip to Houston may include taking in an Astros game or visiting Space Center Houston. Consider going in a completely different direction, though, and visit one of Houston's amazing museums.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science

If you like science, this is the place for you. Take in spectacular exhibitions and attractions, including mineral specimens, a dinosaur skeleton, space-station models, a six-story butterfly center, an IMAX theater, and a planetarium. There's plenty to keep the whole family busy all day. There are special exhibitions throughout the year and rotating IMAX and planetarium shows, as well as several regular exhibits. For true science buffs, Earth Forum is a must, with its mix of interactive technology that lets you explore the Earth.

Museum of Fine Arts

If art and sculpture are more your style, check out the Museum of Fine Arts. Exhibits rotate throughout the year, but they provide you with a spectacular array of art no matter when you visit. The museum's collections include more than 65,000 works of art created by artists from cultures all over the world, ranging from ancient times and to the present. For a sneak peak, check out the museum's website. You can book cheap hotels near the Museum, such as the Crown Plaza Houston River Oaks. For more hotels, check out Hipmunk's Houston hotels page.

Holocaust Museum Houston

Image via Flickr by jfleischmann
The Holocaust is one of history's most tragic events. Learn about its history while being educated on prejudice and tolerance. The museum includes archival film, a Danish rescue boat, and a World War II railcar used to transport victims to concentration camps. The Permanent Exhibition focuses on Holocaust survivors' stories, the history of Hitler and Nazism in Germany, and the timeline of the Holocaust. There are also galleries, an education center, and the Eric Alexander Garden of Hope, dedicated to the 1.5 million children whose lives were lost in the Holocaust. Parents may want to consult museum staff before planning a family tour. The Four Points by Sheraton Houston Southwest is close by and offers great rates.

Children's Museum of Houston

You won't want to miss a family day at the Children’s Museum of Houston. You and your kids will love exploring the exhibits and learning about science, technology, history, culture, health, human development, and the arts. Through several hands-on activities for both older and younger children, you can experience hours of fun during your visit. There are also plenty of events that take place throughout the year, so be sure to check out what will be happening during your visit. If you'd like to stay near the Children's Museum, check out the Mainstay Suites by Choice Hotels - TX Medical Ctr / Reliant.

National Museum of Funeral History

Are you looking for something completely unique to do on your visit? The National Museum of Funeral History houses the largest collection of funeral artifacts in the U.S. Trace the history of funeral services, see a display of hearses, and discover memorabilia from funerals of historical figures, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Elvis Presley. You can even learn about the history of embalming.
Museums are a great place to soak up local and world culture on your trip to Houston. Book your hotel, buy your Astros tickets, and write your list of dream museums when you plan your next trip.