Guide To Meeting Women – Top 50 Places To Find Your Next Girlfriend

A common question I get asked is “Tony, I want to start working on this stuff but I don’t know where the heck to start meeting women.” I totally understand. There isn’t exactly a Google Maps showing where all the hot women in your city congregate. One thing you have to understand is you can meet women anywhere. If you walk down the street or go to the grocery store, there are always opportunities presenting themselves. However, I’ve compiled a massive list of places to meet women. After going through this list, you will have ZERO excuses not to go out and start meeting women.

Before I get into the list, here are a few caveats:

Don’t Be a Creep – Meeting women should be a secondary benefit of going to the places listed on this list. Go to these places for the sake of trying something new, not to hunt for women. For example, go to an art walk with a couple of your friends because it’s cool new thing to do. Don’t be the creepy guy that’s going only to hit on women. That’s weirdo behavior.

Bring a Group of Friends – Always try and gather a group of people to go with. When you meet women, it’s like she’s joining the fun party that’s already going on. However don’t let this stop you if you can’t find anyone to go with. Nothing is wrong with going to the places alone.

Type of Location = Type of Woman – Where you find a woman will directly correlate to the type of women she is. For example, women at hardcore punk rock dive bars will probably be much different from women you’ll meet at a local church. Therefore, have an idea of the type of women you want to date, then go the places they normally frequent. If you don’t know, the be open to trying out everything on the list.

No Order of Importance – There isn’t a particular order of importance of places on this list. Some will pop out more than other to you, but be open to try everything out. There is no one place that is better to meet women than others. You can meet and attract women ANYWHERE if you’re a cool guy.

You Can Meet Women Anywhere – Guys think they have to constantly go to bars or clubs to meet women. In actuality, you don’t have to deviate too far from your existing routine. If you walk down the street or go to the grocery there are always opportunities to meet new women.

1. Social Media Sites (Facebook) – I know many guys who’ve seen ENORMOUS success meeting women through social media sites like Facebook. There’s definitely an art and a science going this route so do your research on how to go about messaging girls without coming off as a creep. However when you have it down, sky’s the limit to the amount of women you can meet.

2. Coffee Shops – Women are ALWAYS at places like Starbucks or Caribou Coffee either grabbing a quick drink, with another cutie friend of theirs or just getting some work done. These are very low-key place to strike up conversation.

3. Local Colleges – If you live by a college, this can be a GOLD mine for young, single and hot women. My recommendation is to go during summer school. There aren’t too many people on campus so girls are ALWAYS looking for new people to hang out with.

4. Book Stores – If a girl is browsing through a book section you know a little bit about, it’s very easy to walk up and start talking about the subject. Tip: Weekend afternoons and weekday evenings is when you’ll find the most women at book stores. Book stores are often times empty otherwise.

5. The Gym – Women who regularly go the gym are definitely the type you want to be hanging around. They take care of their bodies, are self-motivated and often times are extroverted… All GREAT qualities in a girlfriend.

6. Museums & Galleries – I’m not going to lie, museums & galleries won’t be the most target rich places during the weekdays. However, on the weekends these places can be PACKED with women to strike up a conversation about whatever gallery you happen to be in.

7. Laundry Mats – Women are bored out of their minds at laundry mats and because of this, are more willing to talk when a guy such as yourself approaches. This is a golden opportunity because you’ll often have up to 2 hours of time to hang out while you both wait for your clothes to be ready.

8. Local Swimming Pools – Women in bikinis… Hmm, need I say more?!?

9. Beaches – Again, a no-brainer.

10. Pet Shops – Many women who have dogs and cats will go to pet shops regularly to get supplies or food. This is the perfect opportunity to ask a situational opener like “Hey, have you tried this type of dog food? I’m taking care of my buddy’s dog and I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve officially assigned you to help me…”

11. Hardware Stores – Although you may think hardware stores are testosterone driven, many women will frequent these stores for garden supplies and random knick-knacks for the home.

12. Ikea – Not only is this a great place to meet new women, this is one of my favorite places to bring girls out on dates. You can goof around and pretend you are newlyweds shopping for furniture. When meeting women, just go up to them and ask “Hey, I’m looking to get new furniture for my room and I need a woman’s opinion. Can you help me out?”

13. Restaurants – Restaurants are a FILLED with women to meet. Here’s the caveat: Don’t approach women when they’re eating. It’s just rude interrupting someone while their enjoying their meal so approach before she gets her meal or after she’s done eating. Usually there’s a bar in the restaurant you can transition things to.

14. Churches – I’ll be honest with you. Some places (i.e. Night Clubs) are where you’ll tend to find certain type of women to hook up with. Other places (i.e. Churches) are where you’ll find quality women you can settle down for the long-term. Church often times hold social events filled with many quality women to meet.

15. Supermarket – Some guys complain that they never have enough time to meet women. If you go grocery shopping then you have no excuses. I guarantee you’ll find a handful of women to approach at your local grocery store (especially if you live in a big city). Tip: Weekday nights and weekends are the best time to go. Anytime else you’ll find moms or old people.

16. Social Circle – This is the ultra traditional route the majority of guys rely on. Meeting women through a mutual friend is the number one way guys find their girlfriend. You just can’t beat this because a woman thinks so positively of you after a solid introduction from a friend.

17. On The Street – If you live in a city, there are a plethora of women rushing through the streets during the daytime. I lived in Chicago and in the summer, I’d always find more and hotter women walking down the street than I’d see in most night clubs.

18. Fitness Classes – If you’re currently working out alone, start going to fitness classes asap. It’s like killing two birds with one stone. You’re going to work out anyway, so might as well do it alongside a group of women at a spinning or kickboxing class.

19. Dance Classes – If you’ve rarely been physical with a woman, I’d suggest going to dance classes. With styles such as Tango, you’re forced to be up close and personal with your dance partner. It will also teach you first hand how to physically lead women, albeit on the dance floor. My personal favorite is Salsa. There’s usually a lack of guys at Salsa classes, so you’ll have your way with all the women taking turns to dance with you.

20. Tanning Salons – If you’re pale, you need to start tanning. I’m not saying you need to look like the newest member of Jersey Shore, but giving your skin a little color makes you look livelier. Oh and by the way, there are an INORDINATE amount of women at these places.

21. Hair Salons – Like tanning salons, the woman to man ratio in hair salons is staggering. If you have the money, getting your hair styled is definitely worth it. Actual professionals work at these places who can style your hair better than you’ve eve imagined.

22. Makeup Stores – You might think going to a makeup store is the equivalent of getting your balls sawed off, but most makeup stores holds stuff for men such as cologne. This is the golden opportunity to ask women them their opinion of different colognes.

23. Malls (clothing stores) – Malls are another place filled with cuties. Again, another perfect opportunity to approach women for their opinion on a particular clothing style your thinking about going with. There are lots of teenagers scattered in malls so make sure the women you are talking to are actually… well… of age!

24. In The Building of Your Work – I know lots of guys who’ve met a lot of women just by walking up and down the different floors of their office building. If you happen to work in a big building, chances are there are many women just as bored as you are dying to meet new people. Tip: Go on your lunch break. This is often when you’ll see the most traffic inside the building.

25. Parties – Parties are my absolute favorite on this list. It’s THE perfect atmosphere to meet new women. You’re having fun with your friends, she’s having fun with her friends and the atmosphere pumps her state up with all the music and drinks. Everyone is talking everyone so going up to her is almost expected.

26. Yoga Classes – Go to a Yoga class even if you’re not looking to meet women. There are so many benefits. You’ll improve your strength, flexibility, posture, breathing and generally become a more centered person. Like dance classes, yoga has a disproportionate amount of women to men. Plus, yoga classes teach women to contort themselves in all sorts of different err… Yoga positions.:-)

27. Book Signings/ Discussion Groups – Women tend to gravitate towards certain authors. For example, Chelsea Handler has an ENORMOUS female readership of ages around 18 – 35. If you manage to find a book signing or a discussion group of readership for these type of authors, you’ll feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

28. Modeling Events – Modeling agencies often have social mixers for those in the industry. Find out where they are and find a way to get in. I’ve personally been to a few myself and of all my years, I’ve never seen so many hot women in one room so damn open to meet new people.

29. Acting Classes – Acting classes are something you should be going to regardless of meeting new women. It will develop your voice, help you think better on you feet (especially Improv classes) and generally improve your self-confidence. There are of course many women that attend these classes.

30. Bars – I HATE when people say women don’t want to meet men at bars. Yes it’s true, women dream of meeting their “Prince Charming” serendipitously like in all the romantic comedies they’ve been brain washed by. However, in the real world cool guys are hard to find and women are ALWAYS open to talking to one. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a bar, a grocery store or at a freakin’ funeral.

31. Clubs – Lots of pros and cons with clubs. Pros: they hold the highest concentration of hot women in one room. Cons: dark, way too loud, intimidating and most women’s “I’m better than you” meter are off the charts. Bottom Line: since there are so many women that won’t remember who the hell you are, it’s the best place to work on game.

32. Lounges – Lounges have the best aspects of both the bar and club world. They’ll have the attractive women clubs tend to hold, while keeping the mellow atmosphere of bars.

33. Strip Clubs – You probably won’t find the future mother of your children at a strip club, but it’s a GOLDEN opportunity to interact with women who are VERY attractive and probably have tighter game than you. Being able to transition the strippers focus off your wallet will teach you many conversational skills you couldn’t develop otherwise.

34. Online Dating Services – I’ve heard mixed reviews from sites like Match and eHarmony. My take is guys who don’t see results with these sites tend to dabble. They’ll try it out for a few months, won’t put much effort it, then cancel their account soon after. Like anything, you’ve got to put the work in and stick it out in order to see results.

35. Singles Mixer Events – If you live in a bigger city, they’ll usually hold mixers for singles. When I lived in Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art held an event where thousands of twenty and thirty somethings came each month to meet new people.

36. or Metromix. Events – These sites are the absolute best resource you have at your disposal to find places to meet women. From restaurants, to bars, to various events, these sites are on top everything and anything social in your city. Tip: One day out of the month, set aside time and browse through these sites. Calendar in a cool new thing to do each day of the upcoming month.

37. Dog Parks – Dog parks are littered with women and their dogs. Striking up a conversation is too easy if both your dogs are playing with each other. Also, you can tell a lot about a woman by the type of dog she own. Believe me, a woman who owns a Poodle and a woman who owns a German Shepard are two completely different people.

38. Speed Dating – Speed dating can be a powerful way to not only meet women, but to improve your conversation repertoire. In less than 2 hours, you could potentially have chatted with 15 different women. It’s like going to the basketball gym to work on your jump shot. If you mess up or meet a girl you’re uninterested in, there’s always a new girl around the corner.

39. Amusement Parks or Local Fairs – These are a preferred destination for couples, but there are still many single women hanging out at amusements parks or local fairs. What’s great about these places is the opportunity for an insta-date. Approach, converse, then once she’s attracted transition things by going on one of the rides with her.

40. Co-Ed Sporting Leagues – These are fun not only to meet women, but to just have a freakin’ good time with friends. The type of women that gravitate towards activities like co-ed softball or volleyball leagues tend to be athletic, low-maintenance, and overall fun women who are into sports… pretty much all the qualities guys look for in girlfriends. 🙂

41. Weddings – I don’t know what it is about weddings, but they always seem to hold single women. When you factor in the open bar, the music and the fact that another one of the woman’s friends got married leaving her feeling VERY single, it’s like hook-up city.

42. Cooking Classes – I’ve heard mixed reviews with cooking classes. A few of my buddies went expecting to find women like those hot chefs you see on The Food Network. They were pretty disappointed when they realized they were the only ones under 50 in the room. 🙁

43. Concerts – Here’s a tip: Most women in concerts are so focused on the stage it doesn’t make sense to approach then. In actuality, the best time to meet women is when you’re in line to buy food and drinks. Lines are painfully long and women are often times by themselves. These are THE best conditions to strike up a conversation.

44. Sporting Events – Use the same tip I’ve laid out for concerts. More than likely you’re rooting for the same team so starting a conversation about something relevant to the game is a golden opportunity. What’s great with sporting events is there’s usually tons of bars surrounding the stadium. If things are going well, continue the action by bringing her to one of these bars.

45. Art Classes – Women love art and more than likely there are art classes held somewhere in your city. The guy to girl ratio at the classes are ALWAYS favoring so take advantage of this.

46. Art Walks – Cities will often hold outdoor exhibitions where local artists display their work for the public. Many times there’s bands playing, local pubs serving drinks and most importantly all sorts of women perusing through the booths. Again, a perfect opportunity for an insta-date.

47. Community Service – You shouldn’t be doing community service just to pick up chicks. That’s just downright sleazy. However, if there is a organization you want to get involved in, often times a side benefit of this is meeting the kind, warm-hearted, compassionate women who are also involved.

48. Organized Trips – Organized trips are a great way to meet women because right off the bat you both have a solid common interest. These can range from scuba diving, bird watching, bus tours, hiking and mountain climbing. Also, these types of environments are very low-key so you can really get to know the woman you meet.

49. Groups – There are an endless amount of special interest groups where members meet up regularly. Many of these groups are FILLED with women. Go to and search the groups in your city. What’s great about this is you can see photos of the groups and find which are filled with women before even going to a meeting.

50. Wine Tasting Events – GREAT place to meet elegant, classy women. Believe me, after going to countless dive bars attempting to talk with drunken girls belching the night away, it’s reassuring to meet a more sophisticated type at wine tasting events.

Delicate Home Furniture

Assessing the values of delicate home furniture

Sometimes the home owner might make the decision to purchase some modern home furniture such as the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. This piece of furniture will make meals the occasions that they need to be. That means that if you are entertaining there is no need to worry about the kinds of things that you are going to use. The efforts can be saved for the other items such as cutlery and cooking utensils. The use of the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet is therefore a great achievement for the home owner.

This type of furniture will cost somewhat more than the standard items that you use in the home. It is an investment in the kind of lifestyle that you wish to create for your family. It is reasonable to expect that you will get the best quality when you decide to go for the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. In the true style of the age, this is a system that tends to work very well with modern settings. You simply configure your home in the way that you want it and then wait for the results. You are almost guaranteed satisfaction when you purchase the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet.

The homes that decide to buy the item will be please by their purchase of the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. It is a delicate balance that includes looking at the item and then trying to fit it within the home settings. If it appears that the furniture is not going to make the grade then the clients can try to find alternative solutions. The end result is that the furniture is merely one of the choices that they can make. Using this sort of set will ensure that you are well served by the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet.

Some people might be concerned about using the item because they believe that purchasing the item will cost them too much. For it is not worth it to buy the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. They would rather spend the money on alternative projects from which they can expect some sort of compensation in the long run. This might be the wrong way to go about things because the purchase of the item is not about money. Cost are not too important when buying the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet.

Benefits of Collaboration in the Luxury Travel World

The luxury travel industry has been the core of my business world for many years. In my role as marketing consultant have seen travel companies grow and fall as the trends for vacations and short breaks changed in line with needs for the industry’s most important component – the customer.

From just one holiday or vacation a year, the trend has grown to a pattern of two maybe even three vacations. For those with more disposable income, a sprinkling of short breaks throughout the year has become a typical indulgence… until now.

With the onset of the financial recession from 2008 onwards large families and travelers in their 40-50s were hardest hit in terms of the number and quality of holidays taken. Excited at the opportunities afforded by budget flights and exciting destinations many families looked forward to a few weeks in the sun with cheap food and drink plus the opportunity to pick up some duty free luxuries and a tan.

But the fall out from flight route closures on the cheaper airlines, the rising costs of hold baggage and the affects of currency fluctuations have made larger numbers of potential holiday makers taking the cheaper option and staying at home.

The younger singles market still managed the short luxury breaks to European cities such as Prague and Barcelona and the island retreats of Ibiza and Mallorca. But even this market is being eroded as salaries dip in line with recession. Currency fluctuation and exchange rates have hit the cost of bed and board rises dramatically in the once celebrated destinations. Add in the effect of ‘global warming’ on the conscience of the younger travelers and its easy to see why so many of the budget holiday companies are falling on difficult times.

And what about the luxury end of the market? Believe it or now but some of the top end companies are having a very profitable time. How? They have talked to each other, joined forces and shared resources to help bring their marketing costs down and in many cases their market coverage up.

I have seen groups of top Scottish Hotels who might have been fighting for a customers attention, become a collaborative marketing group whose aim is to sell the destination first and then divide up the spoils among their spa resorts, golf complexes, boutique hotel partners and city centre apartments.

I have also seen small specialist travel agents collaborate by forming a collaborative venture specializing in high end luxury travel destinations – each member having a unique destination or service. With one innovative marketing message they have a louder voice than they might have as individual travel operators.

On the customer side collaboration is also proving very beneficial. Instead of taking lots of individual holidays there is a growing trend for groups who might have booked separate hotels and a similar destination to team up and book a large villa or apartment. Combining their entrepreneurial skills, purchasing skills and cooking skills they are able to eat well, organize great activities while staying at some of the most exclusive holiday destinations.

Kitchen Furniture Manufacturers – Enriching Your Kitchens

Ever wondered what kind of intense pressure Christiano Ronaldo must be going through every time he walks on to the field while playing for the hugely popular Manchester United? I know it’s the wrong kind of comparison, but kitchen furniture manufactures are almost always put in similar kinds of unenviable situations. After all, they have been entrusted with the onerous task of resurrecting our stolid kitchens. Wherever they go, their impeccable reputation precedes them. A reputation, which has been painstakingly built on years of selfless service to homeowners across the globe.

Excellence that speaks for itself

One look at furniture created by leading kitchen furniture manufacturers, and you know that you’re looking at something special. The obsession with excellence, emphasis on cutting edge design, unmatched craftsmanship and complete attention to every possible detail, is unmistakable. Then there are those numerous innovations in terms of style and color that make the furniture look almost like an esoteric yet priceless work of art. Be it kitchen dining furniture, kitchen island furniture, kitchen storage furniture or an array of functional cabinets, nothing comes close to the tireless service rendered by kitchen furniture manufacturers. Giving a fresh lease of life to every kitchen is their credo, and it’s clearly espoused in their work.

Wood and more

If you are on a singular mission of adding oodles of aesthetic value to your kitchen, then there’s nothing to beat wood kitchen furniture. That’s a secret every kitchen furniture manufacturer will tell you. Wood kitchen furniture, be it chairs, tables or even stools has the power to add immense value to any space. Unique and distinct in every possible way, each piece of furniture is sure to fill you with not contained enthusiasm and glee. But what if the thought of being Eco-friendly provokes you? Then there are other options that can be explored. Several manufacturers make fabulous looking furniture from medium density fiber board, particle board and laminates. This kind of furniture is enduring, practical and very affordable. Considering that the radioactive stocks of this furniture rarely last, you must consider it rather providential to get something for your kitchen. It’s all that you need to make cooking an absolute delight.

E-commerce and furniture

The emergence of the Internet and the consequent information explosion has revitalized and energized the kitchen furniture industry all over the world. These manufacturers make use of the Internet extensively to offer tailor-made solutions to their clientele. Its just not kitchen furniture that is selling like hot cakes but integrated kitchens, custom-made kitchens, kitchen cabinets and many more food storage alternatives. These manufactures are sure poised for a great leap forward in the near future.

Kitchen furniture manufacturers with their innovative ideas, refreshingly different design and impeccable execution have managed to carve a niche for themselves in the hearts and minds of customers. They have developed an uncanny ability to understand the client’s requirements perfectly and find flawless solutions for them. Only they can ensure the perfect balance between fashion and function, always.

Find Your Ideal Holiday – Villas and Cottages

Thinking about the right holiday accommodation for you ? We will discuss ideal holiday villas, good reasons to choose a villa and some of the drawbacks. When choosing a villa what are some of the important but less obvious considerations.

Choosing the right accommodation is the first key to a great holiday.This is not as straightforward as you might think and is worth putting in some thought. At the moment choosing a villa appears to be a very popular choice, there are some pros and cons that you should consider before going this route.

Fundamentally a villa is self catering accommodation. Yes, self evident you might think. Why do you want self catering accommodation?

  • Choice: I can cook what I want, when I want and still eat out too. Useful for say breakfast, especially perhaps with a large or young family (it gives you extra flexibility).
  • The kids can have separate rooms from the adults.
  • There are more living areas – the adults can spend evenings here – while keeping an ear open for the children. Often there will be T.V.s and DVD machines to help keep the kids amused.
  • Private pool? You can have a pool but without lots of other families (hell is other people or hell is other people’s kids – quite likely).
  • More flexibility and cost effective for large groups.
  • Villa can be more picturesque: you can choose locations that are less heavily populated or touristy.
  • Personal privacy.

Some good reasons to choose a villa. Now here are some reason to think again.

  • Self-catering also means all the effort that goes with it: buying the food, preparing the food, cooking the food and cleaning up afterwards. The Last time we did this one of the things we really noticed was the number of times we had to go shopping, we were always running out of something or needing stores for the next meal.
  • There are no chambermaids so you have to tidy up after yourselves.
  • Private pool: will it be up to scratch; how big is it ? What about keeping an eye on the children – there are no lifeguards. A surprising number of people drown every year in private swimming pools.
  • The kitchen is unlikely to be as well equipped as your kitchen at home.

With this in mind we have put together some points to think about if you are choosing a villa.

  • If one of the main reasons to go on holidays is to get away from the daily chores in life -then a hotel does this more effectively.
  • Location – if you are going to be self catering check the location of nearby shops
  • Check information on nearby resorts and beaches. this will give you a feel for the area. The last villa we stayed in was excellent but good local restaurants were thin on the ground as it was next to the German version of Magaluf.
  • Pool – try and check on size and quality. This gives rise to more complaints about villas than any other factor.
  • Be aware if you make a private booking through the internet: you will probably have pay by cash. Therefore you will have very little recourse in the event of complaints.
  • If you are planning to eat out a lot it could be more cost effective to go half or full board at a hotel even with 2 or 3 rooms.
  • Inspections of all villas and cottages is only as reliable as the local laws and the strength of any inspections provided by the company you book through. There could be unforeseen hazards and dangers in the property you book (ranging from faulty boilers, dangerous electrics to cracked and broken paving).

For further discussion about the ideal holiday accommodation for you visit

If we haven’t put you off booking a villa, then to ensure that you have maximum comeback and the best chance of getting the quality of villa or cottage you require then book through operators with a reputation to lose. In my next article I will discuss the pros and cons of staying in hotels and some of the main considerations when searching for your ideal holiday hotel.

What Is The Difference Between A Private Villa And A Holiday Apartment?

There are so many things that one has to take care of when planning a holiday; choosing the destination, finding the best airfares, making a list of to-do things, finding suitable accommodation, packing your bags, etc. Of all these, finding the right accommodation is crucial as it can make or break your holiday experience. Depending on one’s needs and budget, there are several options to choose from – like hotels, holiday apartments, luxurious private villas, or, if the budget is tight, some people opt for hostels. Many people who have a decent holiday budget are often in a dilemma about whether they should go for a private villa or a holiday apartment. Both are great options and by the look of it it may seem that there is not much difference, but in reality the subtle differences between these two accommodation types can make a great difference to your holiday experience.

To start with, let us first understand exactly what villas and holiday apartments are comprised of.

Holiday apartments basically range from studios to, at most, three bedroom units and are generally within small complexes. Like hotels, they offer a shared pool facility. Such an accommodation option comes with a functional kitchen or kitchenette that can come in handy if you would like to do some of your own cooking. Cleaning services by maids are offered by most while some apartments also offer an additional cook service. All in all, a holiday apartment is much like a hotel except they have a kitchen for guests to use.

On the other hand, a villa is usually a free-standing private residence which is often rented to holiday makers for certain periods of time. The sizes of villas and their features and amenities may vary considerably depending on the location. For example, villas can range from one to eight bedrooms, and they often come equipped with a private pool, fully equipped kitchen, large terraces, spacious living rooms, dining areas, patios and lawns. Some also have a kids’ playing area or recreational rooms. Most villas often provide full staff for housekeeping, cooking, etc.

A villa holiday makes for the ultimate luxurious and opulent holiday experience. It offers you the comfort and amenities that only few accommodations can match. Imagine not having to put up with the constant noise from other guests staying in the same holiday apartment complex. Imagine having a swimming pool all to yourself, and not having to follow any pool timings. A villa is essentially a home away from home. The best part is that a villa need not cost you significantly more than a holiday apartment. Whatever little extra you might have to pay is justified by the amenities and facilities you can take advantage of in a villa. In fact, if you are holidaying with a large group, the difference in cost can be nullified easily by splitting the cost.

There are times when the holiday experience matters most and if you can get it by paying a little extra, it makes total sense. For a memorable holiday experience choose a villa holiday over a holiday apartment any day.

A Vacation Guide to St Barts Islands and Hotels


Being a part of the French West Indies, St. Barts is located in the north of the Lesser Antilles near St. Kitts/Nevis and St. Martin/Maarten. Being located at 17.55 North and 62.50 West, this island is basking along the water on the way from Paris to New York.

It is a small island with a size of only 8 square miles. The name of its capital city is Gustavia. The main language is French along with some English spoken people.

Being a volcanic island, its rocky surface is inappropriate for agriculture. However, its craggy coastline fringed with radiant sand makes it one of the hottest tourist destinations. It has a parched tropical maritime weather with hurricane threats from July to November.

Culture and History

St. Barts has a history of being ruled by Carib Indians and then by European colonial powers. The history has a touch of Swedish heritage too, as this island was a Swedish outpost during the 18th century. However, apart from the name of the capital city Gustavia, only a few Swedish remainders can be found today. In reality, the island is heavily influenced by French style. Here, the humble locals and the monied tourists are amalgamated in a chic but discreet setting.


St. Barts does not offer superficially attractive visual images. In fact, you have to taste it in order to explore the true attractions of this place. However, it is not totally devoid of sightseeing. You can visit historic sites in Gustavia including the Fort Gustav and the Wall House Museum. In order to have a glimpse of the traditional Norman culture, you can take a visit to the fishing village of Corossol. The Inter Oceans Museum, which has a huge collection of seashell, is also worth seeing. Apart from that, St. Barts offers a number of water activities that you can enjoy at any time of the year.


It will not be an exaggeration if you call St. Barts an island of beaches. More than 20 beaches are lying in this small area. Each beach has its own attractions. So, you can choose to visit one or a few according to your mood and purpose. Here, you will have bustling beaches like Grand Cul de Sac and St. Jean; private beaches like Gouvernier, Grand Saline, and Flamands; truly secluded beaches like Anse Colombier; nudity-allowed beaches like Grand Saline and Anse du Gouverneur; and family friendly beaches like Marechal and Shell Beach.

Nudity-allowed, topless, and clothing-optional beaches are favorite tourist spots. Topless sunbathing is allowed even in family friendly beaches. However, public nudity is not allowed on the island.

Events and Festivals

In St. Barts, a few Swedish holidays along with a number of French ones are observed locally. The locals have an inclination for music, films, and sports. The annual music festivals are held in January and August and the Caribbean Film Festival is celebrated in April. The St. Barts Volleyball Cup Tournament in July also draws huge crowds. Apart from these events, Mardi Gras or costume parade in February, Book Festival in March, Voiles de St. Barts or yacht racing in April, West Indies Regatta or the Caribbean sailing festival in May, Feast of the Community in July, Sainte Barbe or grand parade in December, etc. are a few among other important festivals and events.


St. Barts offers a range of sports activities for both the tourists and the locals. You can enjoy hiking, tennis, volleyball, etc. along with participating in training of archery and martial arts. It is also a fertile ground for enjoying water activities. In fact, a St. Barts trip cannot be imagined without enjoying a range of water sports like snorkeling, jet ski, diving, sailing, bottom boat, kite surfing, and surfing. It is also a good place for big game fishing lovers.

Hotels and Resorts

The hotels in St Barts are mainly independently owned that are built on small properties with dozen rooms or more. In fact, the largest hotel of this island has not more than 76 rooms. However, St. Barts offers a special opportunity that none other Caribbean Island does. You can rent a private villa here apart from booking a hotel room. However, keep in mind that there is no bargain on the rates, which can be ranged from modest to stratospheric.

Some resorts offer a range of finest spa services of the world. Professional beauticians lead these spa parlors. So, you can expect nothing but exclusive spas from them.


As a true bridgehead of French cuisine in the tropic, St. Barts offers an array of upscale French and Creole restaurants to its residents and visitors. Apart from seductive French style and casual Caribbean, simple culinary traditions are also prevalent here. St. Barts is actually a destination for good food lovers where they can go anywhere from small family restaurants to great gourmet ones. You can taste a number of different foods ranging from traditional cuisine made of vegetables and fish to fusion cuisine prepared by blend of different cooking styles around the world. The regular dish of local people is roasted or fried pancake that is taken with fruits, vegetables, and fish found on the island.

It has some reservations-only restaurants too mainly for the celebrities who want to avoid cameras. Local markets and shops are also popular, as a number of people prefer living in rented villas and either cook themselves or employ cooking staff.


St. Barts is not popular for holding party events. However, some hotspots are there where young and rich people can spend fun time. The capital Gustavia has the famous Le Select bar in which Jimmy Buffet got the inspiration of his song ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’. Gustavia has a number of discos too including Le Petit Club, Le Feeling, Yacht Club, and Casa Nicky. However, to most people, a St. Barts nightlife means taking a late night dinner before returning to their private villa.

St. Barts is ideal for an excursion, an island trip, or a cruise at sunset. It has its own charm and personality with pure arcs of white sand fringed by turquoise warm water and rich marine life sheltered by coral beaches and seagrass beds.

Choosing the Best Furniture From Kitchen Furniture Stores

One of the most important rooms in your home is the kitchen. Furnishing your kitchen appropriately will give it a social environment. You can always create some quality time in your kitchen with your friends and relative. The kitchen has many uses ranging from entertaining guests around the kitchen table to cooking. The furniture you put in your kitchen will have great impact on the appearance of the room. Thus, when you venture into kitchen furniture stores, ensure you select the right furniture.

You could visit different kitchen furniture stores and compare the items on offer. You could buy the furniture online. As you evaluate the various options, consider the available space in your kitchen. Also have your budget in mind and search for furniture options that fall within your budget. What are the main types of kitchen furniture you are likely to need? You will probably need some kitchen chairs, kitchen carts, tables, bar stools and racks. Having the right furniture will make it easy for you to carry out kitchen chores comfortably.

Ensure that the kitchen furniture is made from the right materials. You could be in need of a kitchen cabinet from the kitchen furniture stores. Start by examining the face of the cabinet. These are the parts that are visible from the front of the cabinet. The wood that has been used should be of high quality. Examine it to ensure that the wood does not have some knots, sanding scars or some grain irregularities.

When you are investing in kitchen tables, ensure that the table is large enough. It should accommodate your family members as some people eat breakfast and other meals on the kitchen tables. The surface of the table also matters. Tables with an impermeable surface are preferable. Spillages are very common in the kitchen. Permeable tables could get stained when drinks pour on them. Tables that are resistant to stains will give you more freedom and help you work at ease.

What technique should you use to choose the best furniture in the kitchen furniture stores? How about testing furniture before you finally buy it? If you are buying some kitchen chairs, sit on them and assess their comfort. Most furniture dealers will allow you to test the furniture to enable you make an informed purchase. You could go for ready made or custom made furniture. The ready made furniture is readily available in the online and onsite stores. The custom made furniture is developed to meet the specifications of the buyer.

Renting A Chicago Apartment

Illinois’ capital city and the largest city in the state, Chicago is a very well known city in the US and the world. A prominent economical hub of the Midwestern region in US, it houses the world’s second busiest airport, Chicago O’Hare. It also is home to some of the biggest corporations like Baxter International, Abbot Laboratories, etc. Financial institutions flourish in this part of the world with the presence of the very famous ones like Federal Reserve Back of Chicago, Chicago Stock Exchange, etc. With such a strong economy, it attracts a lot of relocations from various parts of the world giving rise to a flourishing real estate market.

People coming into the city typically look for a good place to leave and most likely will chose apartments that have all the basic amenities to lead a comfortable life. Most of the Chicago apartments offer all kinds of latest amenities that one can possible ask for at reasonable monthly rents.

If you are looking for Chicago apartments, then it is ideal for you to search on the Internet because you will come across numerous options that perfectly fit your budget. Chicago apartments offer all the latest amenities that you can expect from modern state of the art condos and villas. However, it is better to choose a studio apartment in some of the best areas across the city because of transportation and easy accessibility.

Chicago, Illinois apartments are quite reasonable in terms of rent, if you compare with the tons of features they offer. You can choose N. Wolcott Southeast studio apartment for which you will only have to pay around $815.00 per month. This studio apartment provides free cooking gas and you will have to pay security deposit for half month. It has 2-1/2 large studio rooms along with hardwood flooring, high ceilings, bay windows and big closets. It is close to Winnemac Park and has close by train stations. This apartment has all the latest amenities such as intercom security, digital cable, storage lockers, playground, full time janitor, ownership and management facilities, excellent public transportation, close to restaurants and shopping malls, parking zone, etc. This apartment is one of the best among the Chicago, Illinois apartments.

Three bedroom large apartments in Chicago will cost you little more than the previous one. The rent of these apartments can be anywhere around $895.00 per month. You can check out 4623 N. Lincoln apartment with square-one bedroom having hardwood floors and tall windows. This apartment is situated close to restaurants, train stops, Welles Park. This apartment is located right in the heart of Lincoln Square having spacious 3 room one bedroom along with kitchen, dining room and excellent storage facility. These 3 room one bedroom apartments in Chicago has all the latest amenities like the studio apartments except these are more spacious.

If you are willing to spend more than the studio apartments and 3 room one bedroom apartments, then extra-large one bedroom apartments in 4239 N. Hermitage can be ideal for you. These types of Chicago apartments for rent will cost you around $1295.00 per month. This apartment is more like a gorgeous castle having huge one bedroom, formal dining room, huge walk-in closet and brand new kitchen counter top. It is situated near to Cubs Park.

You can also opt for a studio apartment in W. Winnemac, which is a ready to move in apartment. It will cost you around $785.00 per month, which is very close to Winnemac Park. One bedroom apartments like the one in W. Belle Plaine is one of the most desirable apartments to live, which is situated nearby Kedzie Avenue Brown Line train station. It is can cost you anywhere around $835.00 per month. These Chicago apartments for rent have all the modern facilities that one can possibly ask for.

Kitchen Wall Design – Tips And Notes

The kitchen wall design could always be decorated in such a way that it exudes a feeling of coziness, warmth, homey, and inviting mood. The space offered by the kitchen area is also a big deal that you have to take note of. For you to carry on with the spacing scheme of your kitchen, try looking at these tips and notes.

Try hanging the pans and pots there on the kitchen wall. This is most appreciatively done if your pots and pans come in pairs or sets. You need to simply place hooks there on the walls and then hang those handles with the bottoms of the utensils facing downwards. This is also one good way of organizing and saving some space there on the kitchen area. The best place to hang them is above the cooking stoves.

Put the hotpads and the potholders on the wall too. If you prefer not to put on display your pots and pans, then just have your hotpads and potholders hanging. They may act as good ornaments for the kitchen too provided that they are clean.

Place the trivets on the kitchen wall. Antique trivets would look good on the kitchen walls. Match the colors and patterns of those so that they create a good sight.

Other utensils that you may hang on the kitchen walls are the can openers, coffee mugs, measuring spoons, measuring cups, and a lot others. Not only do you save space but you keep them within reach as you work your way in the kitchen.

Another way of working on with the kitchen wall design is by having the kitchen wall tiles. There are plenty of kitchen wall tile designs too. You could choose from the vertical or horizontal arrangement of the kitchen wall tiles and have the colors clearly blending onto with the backsplash.

One interesting kitchen backsplash to use is the ceramic kitchen tile placed in between the plain field of tiles with unique styles and colorful patterns. You could employ different colors that would match with each other so that your kitchen wall would look as creative as possible.

Kitchen wall designs are of your own choice. If you wish to be creative, you could always do so. Experiment and enjoy the mood exuded by your kitchen at all times.

Get Paid to Travel – Five Careers in Travel That Pay

Want to get paid to travel? There are dozens of careers in travel that are not only rewarding, but also pay well.

Some of these opportunities involve finding a salaried or hourly wage-paying job, like becoming a traveling nurse, an airline hostess or pilot, a traveling chef, a cruise ship worker, yacht crew member, a massage therapist or hospitality worker at a resort.

There are several other travel careers that are easy to enter, let you go wherever you please, make money as you go, and even earn royalties for years from the work you do today.

Not only that, but you have the choice whether you want to make this your full-time occupation, or only a part-time travel job, when you have the time and desire to see the world, and make money doing it.

Get Paid to Travel Career #1: Lead Tours for Fun and Profit

Do you have an interest like yoga, wine tasting, cooking (or simply eating), writing poetry, painting, coffee, art history, or snorkeling? If you have a hobby, an academic interest, or particular expertise, you can find people with similar interests to pay you to take them on vacations with you.

Know something about wine? Lead a tour of wine country in Argentina, Italy, South Africa, even Morocco or China.

Get paid to lead tours to your favorite places in the world, or to the places you have always wanted to go.

Though you do not need to become a travel agent to lead tours for profit, you can make more money if you do have the ability to book the airfares, cruises, and accommodations of your clients yourself.

Get Paid to Travel Career #2: Make Travel Videos

Video sharing sites like YouTube are very popular, and resorts will pay you to create videos for them in the hopes of getting more business.

There is very little barrier to entry in this field, and not much competition. In fact, you can get started with a Flip recorder, or even the video camera on your phone. If you have $400 or $500 to invest in a quality digital video camera, you can make even more profit by creating travel videos to sell on Amazon.

You will need a laptop and some video editing software – and the desire to have complimentary stays at some of the world’s best resorts while they pay you to work!

Get Paid to Travel Career #3: Write Travel Articles

If you can write a postcard, then travel writing may be the career for you. Many publications look for short reviews of restaurants and hotels from new writers. Then, as you become more established, you can get paid more for longer articles.

Better yet, often resorts, hotels, restaurants, and other travel-related businesses will offer you their services at no charge in return for a review.

In most cases, you can republish the same article a number of times, drawing a check each time the article is printed in a different publication.

You might at some point want to write a travel guidebook, for which you could earn royalties. You can also publish your articles on web travel directories that share advertising revenues with writers.

Get Paid to Travel Career #4: Sell Your Travel Photos

There are several ways to make money with a career in travel photography.

You can combine travel writing and photography to earn more by submitting photos with your articles.

Also, you can upload your photos to online stock photography sites, and every time someone buys your photo from the agency, you earn a commission.

Even if you don’t have your own website, you can sell your travel photos online in a number of ways. You can sell prints of all sizes, posters, postcards, calendars, screen savers, even t-shirts and coffee mugs with your images on them.

You can also sell your work as fine art from the walls of coffee shops, restaurants, and galleries.

Get Paid to Travel Career #5: Start a Travel Publication

With your own website and newsletter, you can combine as many of the above methods as you want. You can publish only the content you create – articles, photos, and videos – or you can invite others to submit their work to your site, too.

Having a quality website gives you instant credibility and immediately establishes you as an expert in your field, whether it’s luxury travel, cruises, coffee, yoga, wine, or any other interest.

You can make money through advertising, promoting your tour business, selling your photos, and by referrals to hotels and other travel businesses.

These five careers in travel can not only help you get complimentary stays in resorts all over the world, but they also allow you to actually get paid to travel.

Nursing And Allied Travel Jobs – The Real Story


I’ve been a medical traveler for many years now and have had numerous occasions to review a large number of Travel Company web sites. Most of them contain some type of Q & A section that explains how they work and what they offer. I’ve found that the information given, while accurate, is very incomplete.

Most of what I’ve learned about the medical travel industry has been learned through the proverbial School of Hard Knocks. It occurred to me recently to write an article that expanded on the usual information given on medical travel websites, an article that presented (as Paul Harvey used to say) the “Rest of the Story.”

And so…here we go!


Travel Company: On their web sites Travel Companies usually state a salary range that they offer depending on the type of position, your area of expertise and your experience.

Rest of the Story: What you are initially offered for a travel assignment is usually not the top dollar that is available for that assignment. Most travelers merely accept what they are offered believing the “deal is the deal” for that particular assignment. I used to do that too… but not any more!

You especially limit your chances of getting the best salary for your assignments if you choose to register with only one travel agency. When you do that, you give away all leverage to negotiate for better pay. I am always registered with multiple travel companies so I can compare several potential assignments at once and negotiate for the best over all packages.

There are numerous other “pitfalls” when it comes to getting the most compensation for your travel job. For example, it behooves you to clarify the stipulations for receiving certain types of bonuses and whether you must work solely for one company to earn those bonuses. Again, if you work for only one company, you may unknowingly forfeit higher compensation in other areas of your benefit package in order for the company to offer you those bonuses, in which case they can hardly be called a bonus.

Remember, you can always, “work your best deal,” (negotiate) with several companies while still remaining highly professional. In addition, knowing how to ask for more will telegraph to a recruiter that you know your business and will position you to receive the best offers.


Travel Company: Travel companies always state they will provide you with fully furnished housing while you are on your assignment.

Rest of the Story: You may be asked to share a two bedroom apartment with another traveler, even a stranger, who is working at your same location unless you know you can request a one bedroom separate apartment.

Some travelers have been “required” (because they merely accepted this arrangement) to live in an extended stay facility for the entire 13 weeks of an assignment. This is very cramped quarters and becomes extremely wearying after just a couple of weeks.

I have seen travelers deal with other conditions that were very undesirable such as having their housing located too far from the hospital. I had this experience on one assignment (before I learned to clear all that up in advance!). Each morning I had to make my way through 10 miles of early morning rush hour traffic to reach the hospital.

In addition, fully furnished means different things to different people. If you don’t know what to ask for in advance you can be stuck with things like a poorly furnished kitchen (only a few sad looking pots and pans for cooking) as well as sparse and unattractive furniture (an ugly green sofa and purple chair spring to mind).

Knowing what your options really are and how to ask for them is paramount to having a comfortable, safe, convenient and enjoyable living arrangement. Multiple considerations are there for the asking, but you definitely have to ask. By clarifying in advance what I need and expect, and by applying simple to learn negotiating techniques I’ve perfected over time, I now receive the very best housing accommodations on all my assignments.


Travel Company: All travel companies offer a variety of benefits besides housing and salary which can include per diem pay, travel expenses, bonuses, clothing and equipment reimbursement, insurance, continuing education, 401 K’s, etc.

Rest of the Story: Travel benefit packages are definitely not all equal! For instance, one travel company’s insurance coverage may not start until 30 days after you have begun your assignment versus a policy offered by another company that becomes effective the first day on the job. These and numerous other “small print” concerns can come back to bite you if you’re unprepared!

I’ve also talked to nurses who were never offered per diem pay (the average is $30.00 a day or $210.00 a week) but others were receiving it simply because they asked for it! Some were told they could elect to have per diem pay but would receive fewer benefits in other areas if they chose that option. However, that was not the case for other travelers who refused that trade off. I know I continually receive per diem pay on ALL my assignments without sacrificing any reduction in other areas of compensation.

To make your travel experience the most lucrative and enjoyable, it pays (literally!) to know what is available as well as how to access those top of the line benefit packages.


Travel Company: Travel companies offer a variety of ways to cover your travel expenses. If you are required to fly to your assignment, your flight costs will be paid in advance and your travel itinerary arranged for you plus a rental car will be provided once you arrive at your destination. If you are desirous of driving your own car to your job site, you will receive mileage compensation and/or a flat fee amount for travel expenses.

Rest of the Story: Travel companies can save a lot of money by booking you on flights that leave or arrive at undesirable times of the day or night or that re-route you all over the place, necessitating you change planes frequently.

I had that experience early on in my travel career (oh what a novice I was then!), when after 3 stops, and long layovers, I finally landed at an airport at 1 am in the morning that was a full two hour drive away from my job site! Just to add to the misery, after that two hour drive in the middle of the night I arrived to find the hotel booked for me was the ultimate rat’s nest with a stuck heater system that turned my room into an unbearable steam bath.

I also have some rather interesting stories about the type of cars that were rented on my behalf (tin can anyone?). Fortunately I’ve learned how to avoid all those nightmares and now travel comfortably and at reasonable hours.

The point is that if you don’t know your way around the available travel options, plus know how to negotiate for the best travel considerations, you can have some pretty nasty travel experiences.


Travel Company: Travel companies paint a somewhat glamorous picture of the places you can travel and the wonderful experiences you can have.

Rest of the Story: If you’re a traveling novice there is a very good chance you will end up in some out of the way place or hospital that is anything but glamorous. Travel companies are anxious to fill whatever positions that present (after all, that’s how they make their money!) and so they can offer less than desirable job locations to those who don’t know how to navigate the system. That certainly happened to me the first time I took a travel position. I landed in a miserable little town with a very boring job assignment. It made for a very long 13 weeks!

Just knowing you might get dealt the “low end of the deck” if you’re new to the game can help you avoid something really dower. However, even seasoned travelers are often not getting the best assignments that are available. Thankfully, over time I’ve learned what to ask for and what to avoid, and more importantly, how to spot a bad job location no matter how many bows are on the package.


Travel Company: Travel companies accurately state that a recruiter will contact you about a job opportunity and will give you a general overview of the job, its requirements, and what salary and other benefits are being offered. You will also have an opportunity to ask whatever questions you wish concerning the position.

Rest of the Story: Recruiters are going to provide the basics of the potential job assignment to you but they are not going to go into any great detail unless it is in direct response to your questions. You should also be prepared to ask pertinent questions of the hospital representative if you should decide to interview for a position presented to you by the recruiter.

I remain astounded at the number of even experienced travelers that either do not ask many questions concerning a potential job assignment or don’t know what to ask to find out the “nitty gritty” of what the job really entails. As a result, there are many travelers who are quite “surprised” (and not in a good way!) about the real facts once they reach their job destination. And of course, like it or not, they are bound by a legal contract to fulfill their assignment.

Just by asking the number of staff that will be working on your floor or in your department, the number of patients or tests you will be expected to oversee or perform, and the ratio of permanent and travel staff, you can begin to get a definite feel for what you will encounter. Recently while considering a position, I was able to ask those questions plus several others that revealed there had been a recent “uproar” in the department with people leaving in mass, leading me to decide not to jump into the fray.

I am always being treated to the latest horror story concerning jobs that were anything but what they were thought to be. That doesn’t have to be your story if you learn the right questions to ask in order to get the real picture.


As you can see, knowledge is power! Without it, you’re in for a very bumpy ride in the medical travel world. I’ve explained just a few Q & A areas where travel companies are only giving you the basics of the process. Unfortunately, relying on “just the basics” will have you collecting a few horror stories of your own!

Tips for Buying Kitchen Furniture and Accessories

A perfect kitchen furniture is not bought because it just looks beautiful in the furniture shop just to find out that when you brought it in your house it looks ugly in your kitchen, and what’s worse is that your family members are not happy about it.

What does it take to find a perfect kitchen furniture? All we need is just 5 easy steps.

1. Ask what are your family’s preference.

The kitchen, like all other parts of the home, has to be decided as a family, not an individual because all the members of the family use and benefit all that there is inside the home. Ask your family members what furniture should be bought. If two or more declines on your choice ask why, then change your preference if they are correct. This is to make sure that no changes will happen after you bought the kitchen furniture and also helps you with your budget.

2. Measure the size of your kitchen.

Measure the area of your kitchen then bring it with you when you are buying your kitchen furniture. For a hassle free buying, draw a layout of your kitchen to visualize the actual location of your chosen furniture.
If you are to replace your old kitchen furniture, measure the size of the furniture to match the replacement furniture that you will buy.

3. Prioritize essential items first.

Kitchen counter, kitchen rack, and dinnerware are just some of the kitchen essentials. In order to gain idea about the essential kitchen furniture and accessories, ask yourself these questions:

Is it possible if the kitchen doesn’t have it?
Can it be used for cooking?
Can it be used for preparing the food? If it does what are the usual foods that your family want?

4. Choose furniture with a fireproof finishing

A fireproof kitchen furniture does not keep make our kitchen be immune in fire but it helps keep the fire from starting by preventing smaller flames to spread out. Fireproof kitchen furniture are expensive but it pays to be prepared.

5. The furniture should match the kitchen theme.

Creating a new kitchen or doing some kitchen improvements? It pays to keep the whole kitchen setup clean. Do not just buy a furniture or accessory because it looks beautiful when you see it in the store. Match the theme of your current kitchen so that the furniture or accessory will not look out-of-place. A furniture or accessory, no matter how beautiful it is, will look ugly if it is not a match to an organized theme.

Learn English Easily at Home

It is the hope of many people, whether for personal or professional reasons, that they will be able to learn English easily. The very idea of learning a new language can often make even the most capable learners nervous. Fortunately, there are people who learn English well every single day, and with the right planning and work, you can be one of those people

Make a Plan
Although no one can guarantee that you will be able to learn English easily with any one particular method, it can definitely be guaranteed that without planning in advance, you will not learn English very easily at all. Whether you plan to learn English by natural methods such as watching English television, listening to English radio, and conversing with people in English as much as possible, or you prefer a more study oriented approach such as taking an English course, or perhaps a combination of the two methods, if you don’t have a clear plan and goals, learning English will not come easily.

Organic Language Acquisition
Organic language acquisition is a natural method of learning a language the way a child might learn to speak his or her native tongue. This is a very natural language learning method, and if you are able to totally immerse yourself in the English world, you will certainly be able to learn English easily. Immersion in the language requires that you do not speak any language other than English. To practice this method, watching television, listening to the radio, reading magazines and newspapers, cooking from recipes, and following various verbal and written instructions, should all be in English. This is particularly effective for non-English speakers who have recently moved to an English country.

Curriculum Based Language Acquisition
For those who prefer a more structured environment when learning English, curriculum based language acquisition might be a good choice. Many people are able to learn English easily by enrolling in an English class, using at-home English learning computer software, or listening to an English language instructional course on CD while driving in their cars. There are also many workbooks, flashcards, and self-tests that can be used to support this method of learning English

Combination Approach
For most people a combination of the above two approaches is the fastest and best way to learn English easily. If a person only goes to classes but never engages in real-life conversations, they will have a very difficult time becoming totally fluent, and a person who is immersed in a language verbally but never learns the specific grammatical rules will not be able to use his or her English in a professional setting very effectively. Therefore, if possible, the English learner should engage in a curriculum based approach to learning English, but should also be sure to engage in conversation with and listen to native English speakers as much as he or she can manage in order to facilitate the quickest learning possible.

Quick Tips
If a person is determined to learn English easily, he or she should also be sure to adhere to certain guidelines that will help them in their mission. First, be certain that your family, friends, and colleagues all know that you are trying to learn English, and that whenever possible, they should speak to you in English rather than your native tongue. Secondly, do not focus on just a single element of language acquisition at the expense of others. For example, it is not advisable to only attempt to speak the language but neglect to read it, write it, or listen to it being spoken. In order to be successful at obtaining fluency, a person should be attentive to all the different language elements.

Because English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the entire world and can be instrumental to a person’s personal and professional success, it is no wonder that there are so many people intent on learning to speak it with fluency. With the right planning and a lot of determination, anyone can learn to speak English quickly and easily. Combining an immersion approach with a curriculum based program will afford almost anyone the right foundation for a lifetime of speaking English. As long as the English makes a concrete plan with a set goal and adheres to it, he or she will be speaking English in a very short amount of time.

Eldercare Solutions For the Sandwich Generation

Ava has flute lessons at 4:00. Dad has a doctor’s appointment at 5:00. And you have no clue what you’re going to whip up for dinner. As a member of the sandwich generation-those who care for both their children as well as their aging parents-you’re in a unique situation. You’ll feel stress in your mind, your body, and even your pocketbook. This guide will help you assemble an eldercare solutions team that can make you feel a little less sandwiched.

Non-medical in-home care
In-home care providers are a favorite solution for many children caring for aging parents. These companies offer a wide variety of services designed to enhance to help your parent in the tasks of everyday living. Professional in-home care can provide assistance with bathing or toileting. They can also perform light housekeeping, such as changing linens or unloading groceries. What’s more, these companies offer companion eldercare solutions services. That means Dad has someone to play checkers with while you’re at a day-long conference.

Adult day care and other senior activities
From day trips to the local tourist trap to water aerobics, you can find a number of local services to keep Mom or Dad active. Church groups and social service agencies are two good sources for activity-related eldercare solutions. Your local agency on aging can also provide a list of resources for you to contact.

Family and Friends
Many of us have a circle of family and friends-and when it comes to caring for aging parents, it’s important to tap into that resource. Have a family meeting to decide how each person can help. Maybe your retired Aunt can become Mom’s taxi service. Perhaps your spouse can take over cooking one night a week. Teens can take on responsibility, too, by picking up prescriptions or taking over one of your typical household chores.

Even if your family consists simply of you and your aging parent, you can still find solutions to make your life less stressful. For instance, ask a neighbor to watch a movie with Dad while you slip away for dinner. If help with household stuff will help make caring for aging parents easier, ask a church youth group if they’d be willing to trim the fire bushes. Have a neighbor with a ladder? Exchange a home-cooked meal for clean gutters.

Professional Services
Caring for aging parents comes with a price tag, especially if you’re part of the sandwich generation. Experts estimate it costs more than $16,000 a year to pay for child care and elder care. That’s why it’s important to enlist the help of professionals who can help guide you through the numbers. Consult a financial advisor who has experience in eldercare solutions.

Remember to ask your parents about getting legal advice regarding living wills and medical powers of attorney. Putting these documents into place now, when your parent is still relatively health, can save the family future heartache and conflict when a serious illness strikes.

Don’t let the stress of raising children and caring for aging parents take its toll on your life. By planning and finding the right kind of help, you can find an eldercare solution you and your aging parent can live with.

The Five Minute Guide to Kitchen Furniture

There are some rooms in the home that are more important than others. The kitchen stands out as just such an essential space, where a lot of time is spent and where the room itself is put to fairly rigorous use on a daily basis. With such constant use, everything from cleaning to cooking anything that can be done to improve the experience should be done.

It stands to reason a kitchen should be a nice space in which to work. The kitchen is one of those rooms that makes a big difference to how you feel about your home, if only because it is used so much. A nice kitchen, especially one that you can sit and relax in while eating breakfast or talking to your partner while he or she cooks dinner makes all the difference, not just in your home, but in your mood and even your energy levels.

Having kitchen furniture fully fitted, so that all the cabinets fit in like jigsaw pieces and are flush with the walls, is standard practice. It is the usual route taken when decorating a kitchen, though not the only possibility. Major benefits include the fact that the kitchen has more space opened up, more storage space, and of course has a tighter overall appearance.

Asides from the tightly packed fitted kitchen, there are also free standing kitchens. These use individual items of furniture and have the plus that they can be moved around. The downside to freestanding kitchens is that they waste a lot of space. In the olden days, all kitchens followed the freestanding furniture model, but as time progressed fitted kitchens became the standard. Certainly it can detract greatly from the value of your home if the kitchen isn’t fitted due to the way it’s seen by home buyers and agents as being a modern essential.

Being easy to assemble, factory produced kitchen furniture has become very common and can be installed very quickly by trained professionals. It is made from very ordinary materials, which reflects in the reasonable pricing. Usually MDF, dowels and furniture glue are the main components. These come together to form the necessary layout around which the fitted kitchen is based. Mass produced kitchen furniture is not only cheap, but due to being packed flat is easy to ship to location.

More pricey than regular fitted kitchen furniture are bespoke kitchens where a designer will tailor every aspect of the kitchen to the customer’s preference. The only down side to this service is the price.

No fitted kitchen is complete these days without a kitchen cart as a supplement to the more rigid design of the fitted units. Such a cart adds a great moveable feature to what is of course a very static thing.

Not every kitchen is able to accommodate one, but a kitchen island is a tremendously good way to enhance the kitchen, add extra worktop space, and add an ad-hoc dining area to boot. Many of these come with a bar area for people to sit at one side and cabinets on the other. Not to mention the benefits that extra worktop space create.

Kitchens are of course an important part of modern life. We have not yet transitioned beyond them in the imaginative ways envisioned in technology of the future shows circa the nineteen fifties, but instead of becoming obsolete, kitchens have become a more important part of our lives.

Explore the Country As a Traveling Nurse

Traveling nurses are registered nurses who travel around the United States filling temporary nursing positions. If you are a nurse and you love to travel, then this may be the right career move for you. Most travel nurses enjoy the experience of traveling, meeting, and working with new coworkers. They hope to gain a well-rounded work experience that will serve them if they decide to settle on working full time at a specific medical facility. Many travel nurses claim that the experience allows them to develop a better understanding of their chosen specialty. Many travel nurses also claim that their unique work experiences have helped introduce them to better patient focused nursing.

Travel nurses are registered nurses, usually hired by travel nurse companies, who take temporary positions in a variety of settings in order to fill a shortage. Generally, they will work in the hospital setting, where shortages of nursing personnel are rampant.

Travel nurses also have the option of traveling to other countries experiencing shortages and may even become independent contractors. As an independent contractor, though, you must find your own housing, negotiate for pay, and pay your own insurance to name just a few things that you will be required to negotiate for on your own. But for our purposes, we will speak generally of travel nurses hired by travel nursing companies.

Hospitals hire nursing personnel, as well as other health care professionals, for a number of reasons. The major reason for hiring temporary help is to fill a gap in the numbers of nurses required. With such a shortage of qualified nurses today, many areas of the country are experiencing the deficit. Travel nurses bring a variety of knowledge and experience and are able to seamlessly fill these vacant positions.

Other areas of the country experience large population fluctuations which are more seasonal in nature. In some areas, the population can double due to these changes. For example, Florida experiences huge population shifts during the winter as snowbirds flock to warmer climates. Other areas have become huge tourist towns and require more professional help for the seasonal changes related to tourism.

Travel nurses are needed in both kinds of situations to fill a void in healthcare left by the fewer numbers of nurses.

Another reason where a nurse may find temporary employment while traveling is the opening of a new medical facility. Rather than hiring all new nurses, these new organizations benefit from the great experience of travel nurses. Newer staff members also gain from working with more experienced members of the nursing field.

Other areas of work in which a travel nurse may find temporary employment include: acute care facilities, outpatient surgery centers, assisted living or nursing homes, or working with children in schools or camps. Still other positions may include: physicians offices, correctional facilities, clinics or laboratories. Most places require at least one year of experience in the hospital setting.

Travel nurses generally enjoy a more lucrative salary than they would receive if they worked in a single location. The salary the travel nurse earns is generally based on the location where they are working. Typically a travel nurse will not earn as much working in a hospital in a rural community as they will earn working at a larger inner-city hospital. Some nurses prefer travel nursing to nursing in a single medical facility because they enjoy the opportunity to see the world and other cultures. Working in a constantly changing location challenges a travel nurses knowledge and talents. The skills that the travel nurse develops on their journeys are skills that they will be able to utilize should they settle on a home base.

Although most travel nursing jobs average 13 to 26 weeks, some can be as short as four weeks or as long as 52 weeks. Maybe you are looking to live in another state and want to be able to experience particular areas and the employment opportunities available in those areas. Travel nursing makes this possible while continuing to earn a living.

Travel nurses, generally, will be employed through a travel nurse agency. The agency is responsible for filling positions and medical facilities with qualified and interested candidates. These agencies usually have had a long relationship with hospitals, medical facilities, and medical professionals in certain parts of the country, sometimes, countrywide at larger agencies. A recruiter at the agency will assist the nurse with obtaining the proper state license or hospital requirements. You will have a contract drawn up by the agency, with the hospital, for salary, length of assignment, and hours worked. The travel nurse agency generally pays for travel expenses and will also have made living arrangements for you in your area of choice. If there are any professional criteria that must be met, your agency and recruiter will assist you with that as well.

There are some things that you need to consider before becoming a travel nurse. These are the things that can make up your mind on whether being a traveling nurse is the right choice for you. The jobs that you accept could take you away from your family for up to a year. Depending on how far away the job is could be another deciding factor. Generally it is best if you do not have pets because it is possible that the housing provided for you will not accept them. You will have to be licensed in every state that you choose to work in. These are things a good traveling nurse agency will help you work out.

If you are looking for a rewarding career that allows you to travel across the United States, then a career as a traveling nurse could be just what you’re looking for. Look for agencies in your home town or on the Internet to help you get started on your journey as a travel nurse. They will help place you in a job that is right for you. Happy nursing.

Finding the Best Places For Jewelry and Watches

Show someone you love and care about them with jewelry and watches purchased online, from a department store, a jeweler or a consignment shop.

For online browsing, you can check ShopNBC to find reasonably priced items from Carrera, Seiko, Bulova, Croton, Gucci, Tag Heuer, Movado and more. The site is easy to navigate and once you click on the “watches” tab, you can narrow your search by gender. Within gender, you can narrow it down by type of strap, price, brand and style, making it quick and easy to find what you’re specifically looking for.

You can also choose the “sorting” function to arrange the items by price, newest models or top sellers. If you’re unsure, just browse in your desired price range or check out the new arrivals and best deals sections for ideas. There’s a huge selection of items under $200 as well. Shopping for jewelry and watches is a breeze with ShopNBC!

Overstock is another terrific site for online jewelry and watches browsing. Most items are 1/2 price and come directly from the manufacturer. Get a 10-karat, 1/2ct diamond tennis bracelet for $219 or a Movado ladies black Classic Museum watch for $424.

Shipping is only $2.95 per order, there’s an online best price guarantee and you also have the option of purchasing extended warranties through the site. Many people also like their “Bill Me Later” option where there’s no payment requirements for six months.

Sometimes you just want to run into a store and select jewelry and watches right then and there. Whether you’re looking for jewelry watches or sport watches, you can find reasonable selections and prices in a department store. Macy’s, Sears and Bloomingdales carry many designer brands and you can even browse their websites beforehand to get an idea of what’s offered.

Zales, Kays and Littman Jewelers are in many cities across the US and specialize in diamond-studded jewelry and watches, so you’re able to find something elegant yet relatively inexpensive, rather than just all-around cheap. For the rich and famous, Tiffany and Co offers jewelry and watches in the thousands for that very special occasion where you’re set to impress.

If you happen to be hunting for a new one, don’t trust any online retailer or a stand at the mall. There are only three stores in North America carrying authentic watches (in New York City, Toronto and Mexico City), so buyer beware!

What about used or pre-owned jewelry and watches? They say that the value of a watch depreciates the moment you purchase it, much like an automobile — but, a pre-owned or used one (or other high quality brand) could be a better buy. The same rings true for diamonds.

The person you’re buying for will never know that the item has been pre-owned and if you find a trustworthy jeweler selling used items, they will give you a full one to two year warranty and paperwork guaranteeing authenticity. For many shoppers, used or pre-owned jewelry and watches is a matter of sensible shopping.

Dealers vary from city to city, but you’re probably better off visiting a jeweler, rather than making a hefty investment online.

To show that special someone you love them, consider jewelry and watches for your next major gift. While it generally requires a little bit of forethought, planning, budgeting and research, your loved one will surely appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity!

This is a gift idea that not only lasts a lifetime, but could also last several lifetimes, getting passed down from generation to generation as a keepsake.

Selecting Home Furniture for Style and Comfort

What distinguishes one apartment from another, otherwise identical in structure? What are the ‘comforts of home’? Well, to a great extent it depends on the way you have furnished your interiors. Home furniture is what makes a home out of an empty apartment, cottage or grand mansion, for that matter.

How do we begin planning our home furniture? Many people make the mistake of thinking only in terms of budget and end up making investments they rue in the not too long a term. In fact, there are several aspects that need to be carefully considered. First, there’s your personal taste and imagination, then the requirements of your family as individuals and as a unit, next comes the size of your selected abode, your financial leeway of course, and don’t forget the climatic factors. Too metallic a touch or too much of glass in chill climates lends a cold, uncomfortable feel. On the other hand, an overdose of dark wood and rich rugs would make a warm place seem unpleasantly stuffy.

Other aspects that you would want to consider are style, whether ornate, conventional, contemporary, rustic; color, texture, size, functional aspects, decorative appeal and the coziness factor, not necessarily in that order. As a matter of fact, the coziness factor that your home furniture introduces into your residence is what ultimately differentiates your well-appointed home from a 5-star hotel!

It is important to bear in mind the function of each room while acquiring your home furniture. Overdoing your living room in ornate period furniture and fragile accessories, for example, might produce a museum-like ambiance rather than the welcoming comfort you would like for your guests. Nor should you altogether go overboard on the ‘casual’ spree and give it a rumpus room-like effect which might appear a tad untidy to outsiders. It is preferable that the family room be done in casual instead, as this would lend a great deal towards the atmosphere of letting one’s hair down after a busy day at work.

Buy sturdy, heavy-duty home furniture for your teenager’s room as that is what he or she is going to appreciate over expensive, high-maintenance furniture. Consider their needs first. Is your child a sports-lover, an artist, a reader? Develop the room around that personality by getting in the appropriate storage space for sports equipment, paint and canvas or books. If it is a small room, organize a futon or a sofa-bed so that your child has space to entertain friends.

Similarly, do your dining room up with the sort of home furniture that meets your requirements. Don’t invest unnecessarily in a large ostentatious table fit for banquets, even if you can afford it, if you are a busy working couple who barely make the time to re-heat leftovers. A pleasant, friendly round or square table for four will serve you nicely on weekdays and still allow you to entertain a couple of friends over the weekend. Creating the perfect living space is an art and you are going to enjoy finding the artist in yourself by browsing through the home furniture we have available for you.

Home Furniture – Different Pieces for Different Rooms

Furniture provides a place to sleep, sit, keep the personal stuff, arrange things or relax in the backyard. You have different furniture designed for different purposes. The home furniture can be classified according to the below mentioned areas –

Bedroom Furniture: The bedroom is a place where you say good bye to the day and the world and brace yourself for the coming day. The furniture required for this room will let the body sleep in peace and prepare you for yet another day. Every home requires this set of furniture.

  • Bed
  • Chest of drawers
  • Wardrobe
  • Dresser
  • Wall shelves

Living room: The busiest part of the entire house is the living room. Having a casual vibe attached to it, it is the center of all the activities going around the house. You spend most of your leisure time in the living room, reading, watching television or doing the daily chores.

The furniture for the living room is:

  • Sofa
  • Side table
  • Bookshelves
  • TV unit

Study room furniture: For people who like to have a secluded space for studying, reading or working inside the house, need these furniture items in their study room.

  • Study Desks
  • Office chairs
  • Cabinets

Dining room: When the whole family unites for having their meals, they need a dedicated place to eat and serve food. The dining room will have a dining set that will allow people to sit and have their meals.

  • Dining table
  • Dining chairs

Outdoor Areas: Furniture is specially designed to make your outdoor area look serene and beautiful. The material chosen for these furniture items will be different from other furniture items because it will be out there in the sun, winds, rains and snow.

The outdoor furniture comprises of:

  • Swings
  • Hammocks
  • Patio furniture
  • Gazebos.

The home furniture designs will vary from traditional to modern to contemporary depending on the taste and preferences of the individual. The designs can be inspired from some of the greatest works of artists, interior designers and architects. Even if you have consulted some of the designers, state your choice and the style you want to dress your home with.

Grace your home with the best furniture items and give a serene and a calm look to your entire house. Nothing can substitute the utility and importance of the right kind of furniture in the house. All you need to do is to pick the right kind of furniture for each room. The home furniture should grace your interiors and outdoors beautifully.

Taxi 'Recap' – The Short Version; Part 2

“Our focus [is] on taxi operators who intend to exit the industry and…is certainly about ensuring that we do not destroy vehicles that still have value.”

Delays in the program were attributed to owners holding onto their old vehicles until compensation became available, but ongoing indecision about necessary specifications delayed the manufacturing process. Factory floors can never afford to remain idle, in anticipation of final decisions that never seem to be finalized. Production is planned months ahead and one ‘run’ must be completed before another can begin.

The government was called on to subsidies the industry in the same manner as it does urban rail and buses. Mass action was threatened. When this happens, taxis are not the only public transport that comes to an abrupt halt: strikers stone buses and have been accused of deliberately sabotaging rail services. Intimidation tactics work very well on average citizens, who subsequently also lose income because they are too fearful to venture out to work.

“…applications for conversion of permits into operating licenses…for transfers and upgrade, including those applications made during the Be Legal Campaign [have not been processed].”

Permit issues became cause for fury on both sides of the fence. Authorities officiously claimed that operators were delaying, but instances, where processing channels, meant to deliver within three months, were taking “three to five years” were then exposed. Decisive action was demanded by the Minister. But little glitches are part of process when the tendered management allocation is only R250-million.

“many taxi operators…bring to my attention the serious weaknesses that characterize(s) many of the Operating Licensing Boards in the Provinces.”

Applications finally closed in the latter part of 2006, only a year later than originally planned. Operators at last began seriously to calculate the affordability of the new vehicles on offer.

Making the price right

“For us, a strong, safe and vibrant taxi industry remains a vital element in Government’s efforts to bring about significant improvements in our public transport system.”

The initial taxi recap plan to tender manufacture, relied on high numbers keeping the prices low. When that option fell away, government no longer had any control over the pricing and since then, their only task has been to lobby in defense of an often non-creditworthy market.

The total cost of replacing the 100 000 fleet is estimated at R15-billion. Wesbank pledged R3.6-billion to the cause over five years, whilst a memorandum of understanding was signed by ABSA, Nedbank, Asset Finance, Standard Bank, DaimlerChrysler Services and Santaco.

“…affordability will be determined by other important factors such as the level of competition in the market, willingness and ability of the financial institutions to develop differentiated products suitable to the taxi industry.”

The law regarding Road Accident Fund (RAF) payouts has recently changed to limit the benefits that can be obtained by claimants, but the possibility exists for players in the taxi industry to access top-up public- and passenger-liability cover.

Should the industry consider this, it should be said that their contributions could be high and the limits imposed on insured providers could achieve more to regulate the industry, than the government: clauses could include the need to prove regular vehicle maintenance and safety checks, regular driver training, permit restrictions, regular driver health checks, etc.

“The taxi industry should also be in a better position to negotiate better terms from both the financial institutions and manufacturers.”

The other change that might possibly rock the nation would be that all vehicles on hire purchase must legally be insured. In theory, this sounds like a revelation, since few taxis presently are. But don’t hold your breath and do cancel dreams of insurance payouts in cases of taxi crashes! Rumour has it that, with the increase in vehicle purchases, a new phenomenon has already hit the country.

Apparently, our car pounds are filling with crashed vehicles whose private owners cancelled their insurance despite the fact that those vehicles still belong to the banks that financed them. The vehicles are repossessed as soon as they are involved in accidents, neither use to man nor beast. Since the majority of these vehicles were privately purchased, it seems logical that the same tactic may be adopted by the taxi fleet.

“It is the taxi operators, and not Government, who are ultimately responsible for their businesses and for the choice of vehicles, and as such will still make their business decisions.”

Taxi owners reeled under the Taxi Sector Agreement at the end of April 2005, which defines issues such as working hours, unemployment insurance and minimum wages (between R945 to R1 350 a month; hardly exorbitant) for rank cleaners, marshals and taxi drivers, for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, taxi operators immediately sunk their teeth again into the question of receiving government subsidies in line with rail and bus transport. This is surely their due, and the Minister agrees, but that will require of operators, stricter adherence to government regulations – a game two sides can play. Mind you, buses have also got away with ‘murder’ through the years, so perhaps the theory will not match the practice!

“I hope and trust that the taxi industry will organize itself into appropriate business models and take advantage of this economic opportunities.”

One bright idea for financing the taxi sector came from the Sowetan (Taxi industry could go public and flourish, 4/8/2005) with the suggestion that the taxi industry form a co-op with each member’s contribution being his approved vehicle(s) to be valued at a ‘share’ percentage. Should the co-op then go public, shares could be traded to raise the finance to buy the new vehicles.

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at that. Surely it’s not possible to contribute something one doesn’t own into a co-operative that would surely belong only to the banks, have a value attributed to your (which is really mainly their) contribution (when your ownership is only R 50 000 of the total value) and then raise money from independents to buy what you have already contributed although it was never yours to contribute.

Don’t think I’d take a risk on shares like that, but it is possible, I suppose that black economically empowered individuals would back such a deal, doubtless in the interests of economic empowerment, although I would have to add that it would be in their interest to ensure that the money raised from the shares went directly to the finance houses, without passing ‘Go’.

“Municipalities are responsible for the provision of public transport infrastructure and facilities…[often] approved without due cognizance given to public transport requirements.”

Durban and Gauteng are already planning to incorporate the taxi industry into such initiatives as single ticketing strategies: allowing commuters to switch modes of public transport while using the same ticketing system. Not only does this option allow for greater regulation, but many commuters who buy season/monthly tickets, will be able to convert, when their first choice of public transport operators, takes time out to march.

Delivering the vision

One of the difficulties that arises from the three tiers of government is the different perspective that each tier has. National government has the vision, which generally, from the hallowed halls of Pretoria, is pretty benign. Provinces have the difficulty of interpreting the vision for local benefit and often finding that it is not always very pragmatic or ‘do-able’ for local government to achieve.

“…the lack of effective planning frameworks between the three spheres of Government…the absence of planned public transport systems…”

With so many municipalities in financial difficulties and unable to account for their budgets, it is easier to make demands from on high than to deliver the service and pay the bills incurred in so doing. The taxi industry, as an informal sector, has historically and notoriously made up the rules as it went along and municipalities seldom have the ability to maintain the status quo at their pleasure.

For instance: taxis might take over a spare piece of ground at a freeway off-ramp, as a rank, simply because the position is close to an industrial area and therefore convenient to commuters. The local municipality can hardly build a formal rank on a freeway verge, or accommodate any other public transport modes in the same limited area.

“…we see informal taxi ranks mushrooming around major shopping malls, with provision made for parking, but without any consideration for pedestrians and public transport inter-modal facilities for buses and taxis.”

The only suitable land may lie half-a-dozen kilometres away and both taxi drivers and commuters are put out when they find their informal rank is no longer accessible and that their daily journeys must be broken one more time, each way. In the same way, how can taxis be expected to stop at approved stops that are not clearly posted? This is the case in many areas.

The myth of self-regulation

“It does not help when we urge the taxi industry to act in a manner consistent with legislation, when in fact State institutions fail the taxi industry by not upholding requirements of the law.”

The Interim Minibus Taxi Act of 1998 and the National Land Transport Act of 2000 were followed by the Public Transport Bill of 2004, which was set to pass into law at the end of 2005. By September last year, Johannesburg was planning to clamp down on taxis and buses that stopped
illegally on the roads, by constructing dedicated roadside parking bays to allow other road users to pass unhindered.

Since I haven’t visited inland since then, I have no way of telling whether anything has changed, but the habit of taxis to stop as and where they prefer, to the detriment of traffic flow, is one behavior pattern they have in common with Durban buses – a breed that happily comes to an abrupt halt in the centre of two lanes, holding up everything behind it..

“The leadership of the taxi industry must address problems [of] operators [who] pay exorbitant amounts…to use and access what are essentially publicly provided facilities, as well as taxi routes.”

Cape Town reeled under accusations that their May 2005 street battles and shootouts between rival minibus-taxi associations were linked to organized crime and in July of the same year, Metrorail reported that sabotage of the city’s rail system could be traced back to the taxi industry. Durban taxi-related inquiries are common and, if they are not in Johannesburg, it’s not for lack of suspicion.

The Cape Town report found corruption rife in the licensing bodies and a mafia-style industry where hit squads are hired by mature (in age only) drivers to murder rivals. A provincial list of the sixty-two ‘most wanted’ was compiled for investigation (with a view to subsequent prosecution) in an attempt to stop “corruption, extortion, money-laundering and murder in the taxi industry” (Cape Argus 7/9/05).

“there is no taxi operator or association that has the authority to prevent other operators from using these facilities.”

And the only people, surprisingly, who were surprised at these findings, were those who commissioned the investigation! Deregulated, the taxi industry became totally lawless. We all know that. As is said: ‘it doesn’t take a rocket scientist…’. Why on earth would self-regulation ever have been suggested

On a lighter note, the local South African National Taxi Drivers’ Association begged Tshwane’s Metro police for amnesty from their outstanding traffic fines, for its members. Either way, it seems clear that taxi drivers seldom understand the game of socially responsible consequences.

Empowerment tool

“…a comprehensive strategy (that) also seeks to empower the taxi industry and set it on a sustainable path. Our strategy will lay foundation.”

In declaring the taxi industry a “lucrative, black-empowerment tool” (IOL, 22/8/05), the Minister suggested that the industry learn lessons from its dark past for taking advantage of economic opportunities in the future. I, for one, believe the power has been on their side for many years (to the detriment of commuters) and I certainly believe that breaking completely away from the past would be a far better strategy.

In four years, we are promised, three out of every four taxis on South African roads, will be brand new vehicles. For me, that Maths does not add up: in four years, rather, 25% of taxis will be older than four years, another 25% will be four years old, another 25%, two years old and the last 25%, one year old. And then, Dear God, the warranties will start expiring and who will fund ongoing maintenance then?

“We are here to further strengthen and empower an industry that is synonymous and has everything in common with the disadvantaged masses of our people.”

Looking ahead

There is little doubt that, despite how little Mr Joe Average likes competing with minibus taxis for road space, they are virtually all that has kept mainstream South Africa mobile for the last fifty years, plus. Dissolution of the industry would have caused ongoing, total havoc, although its very existence now intermittently causes not much less.

The very thing that ails the industry is what ails the entire country: lawlessness; and God bless anyone attempting to turn that around. I suspect that it’s all a bit like marriage from a woman’s perspective: go into it believing you can change him much and divorce is virtually certain.

“In a nutshell, the taxi industry is doing a pretty job for our country and providing an important service to our commuters.”

At this point, public perception is, that the taxi ‘recap’ process is mostly about lousy drivers taking control of bigger vehicles and cause more devastating accidents, thereby killing greater numbers. The taxi industry doubtless believes it’s being pushed into corners it doesn’t choose to inhabit and it will doubtless retaliate again before acknowledging defeat. Retaliate physically, to the detriment of itself, its customers and their safety, on an ongoing basis, for quite some time.

“I had come here to deliver a message of hope and to assure you that our Government and our movement, the ANC, could not work against the interests of the taxi industry.”

Progress expected by January/ February next year, Mr Editor? Your guess, Sir, is as good as mine, but I’d lay a bet that what hasn’t been achieved in the last twelve years, is unlikely to fall into place in three short months. As with land reform, free housing, free medical treatment, free education, free services, etc., you have to be a real optimist to believe things will ‘be sorted’ overnight.

One week ago (10/11/06) DoT released a press statement about a meeting convened to address grievances submitted last month by the National Taxi Alliance after a strike had left thousands without transport to work. It went so well that a second meeting (two weeks later) was scheduled to “continue with the deliberations” and find “a common ground”.

Trust is an important issue here, and an ongoing PR and information campaign, that targeted the entire industry, might have saved a lot of time, feelings and ‘face’, over the years. Associations, operators, drivers, rank officials all have independent interests in the whole and all deserve equal attention. The message of hope, above, delivered by Minister Radebe more than a year ago, must have worna bit thin, by now.

Place your bets, Gentlemen and Ladies. But I’d hazard a guess that the common ground will not be concealed in Minister Radebe’s stocking this Christmas or in his egg by next Easter!