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Deathworld Commando: Reborn-Vol.7 Ch.158- New This, New That.

2023.05.28 23:36 RangerFrank Deathworld Commando: Reborn-Vol.7 Ch.158- New This, New That.

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Good afternoon party people.
As a reminder, I will be going on vacation starting tomorrow. I will be gone and away from my computer and duties, so tomorrow's chapter is coming today.
There will not be a chapter Monday, June 5th. I'm uncertain if I will post at all during the week of June 5th. It all depends on when I get back and how I feel after a long plane flight.
Regardless of what I do, we will return to our regularly scheduled posting starting June 12th.
I'll miss you all, and I hope you all have a wonderful week. And for those of you in the state, I hope you enjoy having Monday off.
And for those of you who just can't wait...well...buy me a drink and get some chapters on Ko-Fi >:)
Kaladin Shadowheart’s POV
I finished buttoning the top button on Mila’s coat and stepped back to appreciate just how well it matched her school uniform. I had to say. I had done a great job without even meaning to.
She looked positively adorable in all red with her little hat. Even her ears poked out from the top, and now that her hair had grown more, it really helped fill her face out. She looked up at me with piercing blue eyes and an expectant look. I couldn’t help but chuckle and pat her on the head.
“You are too cute for your own good,” I told her.
A smile bloomed on her face, and she hugged the hand patting her. “Daddy is even prettier!”
Prettier, huh? Should I be happy that I’m pretty? I think I should. Better to be a pretty daddy than an ugly one, I guess.
“Are we ready to go?” I asked the person standing in the doorway with a smile on her face.
Mila ran over and hugged Sylvia. “Sylvia is pretty too!”
Sylvia stroked Mila’s hair, and her smile brightened even more. “Thank you, Mila,” she said softly. “Let’s go, shall we? We don’t want to be late for our first day of class.”
Today was the first day of school, so we were all dressed up in our school uniforms. It had been a long time since I donned the red and gold jacket of Forward University, not since I had reunited with my family. In that amount of time, I had missed a lot of school as well as essential tests and such.
It was a shame, but to be honest, I didn’t exactly need to attend classes, nor did I need to graduate. As far as I was concerned, my family came first, and I fully intended to accept whatever consequences came my way, even if that meant expulsion from the university.
However, that never came to pass as Bowen explained that all was well. Students missing class for important reasons was common enough and wouldn’t negatively reflect on them if they had sufficient proof and explanation. But that meant I had to make up all those tests, which was a hassle and something I didn’t want to do.
In the end, Bowen suggested that I simply take the tests I missed. If I passed them, then there was nothing to worry about, and I could continue with my studies as if nothing had happened. Apparently, Forward University did offer advanced placement tests in specific scenarios. After all, it would be useless to have a student take a class they didn’t actually need.
Either way, I’m not looking forward to it, even if I can pass the tests with ease.
“Hey, what is Professor Garrison doing here?” Sylvia asked as we made our way down the stairs.
Professor Garrison was at the front door, talking with my parents. He looked apologetic as he lowered his head after speaking a few times. Our eyes met, and he gave me a quick nod of greeting as well. Come to think of it. I hadn’t parted ways with him amicably the last time we met.
I didn’t mean to do that to him. Professor Garrison had always been good to me, and I appreciated him as a person, friend, and mentor. But at the time, I couldn’t let him threaten my family like that. I had my priorities, and I wasn’t afraid to handle those who wanted to threaten my family, even if they were friends.
“Good morning, Professor,” I said with a friendly nod.
“Good morning, Kaladin, Sylvia, and Mila. I’m sorry to bother you before classes, but I thought it would be best to do this now…I should have come sooner, though,” he said, regret laced in his voice.
I looked at my mother, and she just smiled softly and tilted her chin down. I figured they must have already talked and apologized. If Mom and Dad weren’t mad, then neither was I. Besides, I understood where he came from. It would be hard just to let the person who killed your comrades walk around, even if it was years ago.
“I’m sorry for my outburst in class at that time. I shouldn’t have acted so harshly toward you or your mother. And I definitely shouldn't have drawn my weapon. I’m sorry, Kaladin,” Professor Garrison said with a bow.
I patted the man on the shoulder and just smiled at him. “No need to worry. It appears that everything has already been forgotten and forgiven. And I never harbored any ill will toward you, even after that event,” I told him.
Professor Garrison slowly looked up at me. His green eyes were wide behind his glasses, and his eyebrows were high on his face. He looked genuinely shocked at something.
“Is something the matter? Is there something on my face?” I asked as I wiped at my cheeks.
Professor Garrison shook his head like he was clearing his thoughts with force. “No, no, not at all. I was just a little surprised, that's all.” Then he started laughing, and he even grinned. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen or talked to you, Kaladin. You seem like a completely different person now. No, maybe I should say you’ve finally grown up? No…that’s not quite right either…huh,” he mused with a shrug.
“Hopefully, in a good way?” I asked.
“Yeah…definitely in a good way.” His eyes turned to Sylvia, and he raised an eyebrow. “In a good way?”
“In the best way,” she told him.
Is that so? I think I’ve changed a little, hopefully for the best. If I got any worse, things would probably get ugly fast.
Professor Garrison nodded to himself in satisfaction and then chuckled. “Alright, you three, get to class. I'm going to stay here and talk to your parents for a bit. I might be a little late, so let everyone know for me.”
“Yes, Professor,” I said with a grin.
Mila and Sylvia said their goodbyes and see you laters, and we made our way outside. Forward University was buzzing with energy today as students and staff walked around campus. Even in the early morning hours, the place was truly alive for the first time in months.
We walked through the teacher and staff homes until we reached the main pathway. There were so many students out and about the walkways were actually shoulder-to-shoulder. But as we approached a four-way intersection, there was suddenly a massive traffic congestion of bodies.
Everyone was oohing and awwing as they talked amongst themselves. I followed their eyes and looked up at the giant statue that had been erected in the last few weeks in the new park that had been built. I didn’t pay much attention to it because, frankly, I didn’t care…but now I wish I did.
I gawked at the black marble statue in embarrassment. It depicted what could only be described as me, wearing fancy armor and driving a spear into a Dragon’s skull while I sat atop it triumphantly.
Never in my life had I expected to see me…like that. That’s not even how events played out. My spear never went into the Dragon’s head, and I never stood tall over it. The last time I checked, I was dying while being crushed inside of a rock face.
I really hope there are no statues of me anywhere else…
“Sylvia…remember when I asked if you knew what was going on here…did you lie?” I asked in disbelief.
Sylvia giggled to herself as she looked up at the statute. “I did, sort of. I never imagined it would be taller than the trees.” She tilted her head to the side to look at me. “I think they did a fantastic job. They really caught your general vibe and got your face almost perfect. I probably would have made you a little more handsome, though…maybe make your hair a bit longer.”
I sighed deeply. It was true. Whoever sculpted my face had done a good job at replicating it, which was better than them screwing up and making me look like a fool or too much like some fantasy hero. At least they didn’t have me yelling to the heavens or grinning like a fool. The expression was best described as stoic, which was appropriate considering the event and the number of people that had lost their lives.
“Wow…Big Daddy,” Mila mumbled to herself.
“Please don’t say that out loud, Mila,” I begged.
Then it started.
“Hey, is that him?”
“It is him, right?”
“Yeah, that’s Voker—”
“No, that’s Kaladin, you idiot.”
From there, the voices picked up exponentially, turning into a single block of loud noise. I felt all the eyes in the general vicinity flick toward me as the information of my arrival spread through the crowd. It didn’t help that I was taller than the average person which meant it was easy to spot me in a group.
“Let’s just keep walking,” I muttered.
Thankfully the crowd of onlookers did not impede our walking. They even parted to the sides to let us through, which was both good and bad for various reasons. Mila tightened her grip on my hand, most likely nervous at all the attention she was getting.
Instead of just leaving her be, I picked her up, and she instantly held onto me tightly. I personally didn’t care about fame or the attention. People have gawked at me for as long as I can remember in both of my lives, so this was nothing new. However, it clearly upset Mila, who only had bad memories of large crowds staring at her.
Sylvia and I hastened our pace to class, leaving the onlookers behind us.

“Wow, he actually came to class for once. It’s a miracle,” snickered Varnir.
“Indeed, it has been some time since we have all been together, has it not?” Sylas said thoughtfully.
“I suppose it has been a long time since all of us have been in class at the same time. Even Jen is back with us,” Ren said with a warm smile.
I almost forgot what it was like to be in this class…it’s good to see everyone is happy and healthy again.
Jen had put back on some healthy weight and looked far better than she had during winter. Some color had returned to her face and hair, and she smiled as she sat next to Tsarra. It was also nice to see that Tsarra wasn’t hiding under one of her spells. Perhaps Jen and Varnir would slowly whittle down her shell.
There was a solid thump as Professor Garrison dropped a stack of papers on his desk. He stared out at us, and the entire class went silent. The Professor let out a deep breath and walked to the front podium.
“It’s good to be back, everyone. I hope all of you had a wonderful, rest-filled winter break with your friends and family. I also hope that you did some studying,” he joked with a grin.
A few students groaned in annoyance, but Professor Garrison continued with his trademark smile. “So…we have much to talk about today. As you all know, today is the first day of classes despite there being no lecture. So for that, I welcome all of you to your final year here at Forward University and congratulate you all for being in Class Onward. As your teacher, I am proud of every single one of you for the trials you have overcome this previous year. We all know just how difficult of a year it was…”
The Professor trailed off for a moment before heading to the chalkboard and writing down a name. “As you all have heard, the tournament with Sandervile is being hosted in Luminar this year, which means we are going to be incredibly busy these next few months with training. Of course, those of you who have no intentions of competing will not be forced, but those of you who are interested will have to compete in the school’s preliminaries to be selected, as is tradition.”
That applies to everyone but me. As the sole person who received a golden ticket so to speak, I’m exempt from this preliminary, which is nice.
Professor Garrison pointed at the name on the board. “I’m sure you are already aware of all this. His and Her Majesty have changed this year's venue to the coastal city of Flumare. I’m sure this came as a surprise to many of you, and rest assured. It was a surprise to us as well. We only learned of this change around the same time I’m sure most of you did, especially with the addition of Saber Academy and with Tel’an’duth joining us this year. And I’m here to say that for contestants who qualify, nothing will change. The school will house, feed, and equip you free of charge, as they have done every year. For the students who are interested in traveling to the venue, the school is offering free tickets as well as free passage to the city. However, lodging is another matter that has still yet to be resolved. I’ll release the information as I get it but don’t worry too much. I'm sure we will figure something out.”
A few students whispered amongst themselves. But what the professor had said was true. For the first time ever, Tel’an’duth was sending students to the tournament, which was as historical as it sounded since this entire tournament was devised to raise and nurture students to fight against Tel’an’duth.
But now the times are changing. And Queen Maxwell was making her moves.
The professor moved to his desk and grabbed a giant scroll. He unraveled it and laid it across the board for all to see. “Now, this is probably what most of you have been waiting for, our new student standings.”
He gave us a few moments to look over the list. In all honesty, there wasn’t too much of a drastic change overall. However, the top five students had changed significantly, and everyone else sort of moved to reflect that change, staying within one or two spots of their previous ranks.
It was also nice to see that Jen had actually stayed the exact same. It was probably due to the Dragon incident keeping her out of school for so long. If she were to be punished for that, it would have been a heartbreaking penalty.
But…there was a new number one on the board…which I didn’t think was necessary.
“I’m sure that there are very few of you who have complaints about the new number one student. Honestly, giving reasons as to why he shouldn’t be number one would be hard. Well, maybe besides his constant absences,” Professor Garrison said with a grin as he winked at me. “Academically, Kaladin has achieved top marks since his arrival last year, only ever stumbling in his Beastmen language studies. And as for his merits outside of the class and in physical examinations, what else is there to say? Please, everyone, give a clap for our new number one student.”
The class erupted into claps and a few cheers as everyone turned to me. It was a relief to see that people weren’t in an uproar over it. Which I thought would happen since I had missed so much school. But perhaps I had just become too much of a figure to be denied that spot.
I even looked at Lin, and she just winked at me. She had no qualms about relinquishing the position she had maintained all these years. However, I did feel somewhat bad for dethroning her.
“Daddy is number one!” Mila said as she sat up in my lap and hugged me.
Well, this isn’t so bad.
“Now, now, then. We will go over the top five as it has changed the most. Linnetia Paine, although you are now second, I hope you are not discouraged in the slightest,” he said as he eyed Lin.
Lin bowed her head graciously. “Being second to the Dragonslayer is hardly a downgrade. On the contrary, perhaps it’s even more of an upgrade. I have no problems with my ranking, and I am more than happy to congratulate Kaladin,” she said, her voice kind yet firm.
As expected of the next head of the Paine family. I almost forgot that Lin was a noble now.
Everyone clapped at that, and Professor Garrison continued. “Congratulations to Arene Maxwell for successfully holding onto the third-ranked position. In such chaotic times, I believe that shows just how much you have grown.”
Ren bowed her head while everyone clapped for her. “Now, to our new fourth-placed student, Tsarra Tel’an’duth, congratulations on your new ranking. You have by far improved the most out of any previous student. Even though you were not officially recognized for your act of bravery against the Dragon, the school has decided to do this much for a hero. You have also shown incredible growth in your magic, officially reaching the mage rank of Grandmaster. And as to be expected of a princess, your academics are outstanding, and the school has even published your book on illusion magic.”
The room erupted into clapping once more, and I watched Sylvia put a hand to her chin. “She wrote a book? That’s impressive,” Sylvia muttered quietly to herself.
“Is it that surprising? I think she is more than capable of that,” I told her.
“I guess we have two very different images of her then,” Sylvia whispered.
Tsarra, at first glance, seemed to be a shy, introverted girl. And that was because she was. Although she had changed steadily since I met her, her nature was still much the same. However, she became a completely different person when it came to reading books.
And it turned out it wasn’t only reading books she was passionate about but writing them too.
I turned in my seat and clapped for her, but Tsarra looked about ready to explode. Her face was redder than her hair from all the attention. I was afraid she would burst a blood vessel with how hard she clenched her jaw.
Well, some things change. And some things don’t.
“And, of course, another congratulations is in order to our new fifth-ranked student, Varnir Shadowstone. Varnir, you are easily the second most improved student in Class Onward, only falling short of Tsarra slightly in academics, which you have improved greatly in and in outside achievements. However, your prowess in your physical testing has improved dramatically. Once again, congratulations, Varnir,” Professor said, his voice full of praise.
“Hey, look at that! I almost caught up to you,” Varnir said with a chuckle as he hugged Tsarra by the shoulder.
If Tsarra wasn't embarrassed already, that was enough to kill her. I watched as the air around Tsarra wobbled and warped, and she disappeared completely in a blink of an eye. It was amazing that she lasted that long in the first place.
Sylvia grumbled some things under her breath about beating Varnir on the first day of school but still being ranked below him, and surprisingly, even with the clapping, Professor Garrison heard her. “Sylvia, I imagine many people are confused as to why you are only ranked eighth. It’s no surprise that you played a critical role in the Dragon incident, and many people, including myself, owe our lives to you. I think I speak for everyone when I say thank you for saving us. Also, your physical prowess is something to remark on. If we based rankings solely on that, you would be in the top five, no questions asked. However, we take more into account. To be honest, your academic abilities fall short of the class average, which is nothing to be ashamed of. And if rankings were to be recalculated today, your outside achievements would have doubled even more considering your involvement with Dragonheart Foundation. Regardless of your rank, we should all congratulate President Sylvia of the Dragonheart Foundation, who will give us a speech tonight at the school banquet.”
Everyone in the class clapped loudly for Sylvia. It seemed that despite her being a Vampire, many students felt that she had done something remarkable, which was the absolute truth. Sylvia deserved all the praise and more.
“Congratulations, Miss President,” I said with a grin.
“Shut up…” she whimpered, her ears burning red.
“Sylvia is number two to Daddy!” Mila squealed as she rolled off my lap and into Syliva’s arms.
Sylvia looked surprised for a moment but hugged Mila back, the two of them touching heads. “I guess being second to Daddy is okay…” Sylvia muttered.
Professor Garrison took a swig of water and let out a deep sigh. “Sadly, we don’t have time to go over everyone’s rankings today. We would be here all day if we did. For those of you who have complaints or want to know how you were ranked, please head to the counselor's office. They will give you your breakdown there.” The professor clapped and put his hands on his hips. “Now, onto the next and hopefully last article for today. I would like to welcome three new students to Class Onward. And before you ask, I understand that it’s a bit late to be accepting new students into our class. And the school agrees. It’s best to consider these three as… short-term transfer students with exceptional skills and circumstances. Although they will not graduate with you, they may just become teachers one day, so please treat them well and warmly welcome them to our class.”
Everyone clapped once more as the door to the room opened. I was clapping as well, only to stop in surprise. I’m sure I had a dumb expression on my face as I watched the two familiar faces walk in. I had no idea they would attend Forward University, let alone join the class. They had somehow managed to keep this a secret.
The first to walk forward was none other than Padraic. The young Dwarf looked dashing in his gold and red jacket. He left the jacket hang open, exposing the black dress shirt underneath.
He had his trademark grin as he eyed me across the room. I’m sure he was positively reveling in my surprise. And I had a feeling he was about to say something outrageous in an attempt to embarrass me.
Professor Garrison motioned for Padraic to introduce himself, and the Dwarf cleared his throat as all eyes turned to him. “It’s good to meet all of you and all that good fun. My name is Padraic Whitehelm, and to be honest, I’m really only here to use the forges and the school’s resources, and since I had to take classes to do so, I figured I would join the class with my brother from another mother and my two future fiancees. So uh…yeah, that’s it, really.”
Oh, he boldly declared that. At least his embarrassment was targeted at…wait…two fiancees? Who's the second? Did I miss something?
I thought that as I looked back at Jen. Much like Tsarra, she was beside herself as she hid her face in her arms. It seemed she wanted to run away. I scanned the room for the second so-called future fiancee, but it didn’t seem like anyone was reacting to that statement, so I had no idea who it was.
The class clapped somewhat awkwardly but was more or less mumbling to each other. Padraic’s brazen entrance no doubt shocked quite a few students. But that was Padraic for you. He never cared what others thought of him.
Professor Garrison chuckled awkwardly to himself. “Well, that was something. But a little background on our new student is that he not only passed the entrance exam but tested in the top one percent of advanced mathematics, not only in this class but the entire school. Padraic here also impressed both the forge and smithing teachers, earning their respect with a single demo. As well as being an Opal adventurer with three years of experience.”
With a little more context, it seemed that assuaged anyone’s worries, and they put more excitement into their applause. I had no idea he placed so high in math, but Padraic was always good at it. Even back in the day, he took to math faster than Cerila. But that was only when he was actually focusing and not goofing around or teasing me…
And good for him on impressing two teachers at Forward University with one demonstration is definitely something to be proud of. He did make my new bow, which was expertly crafted.
Next up was also a surprise. She looked stunning in her uniform, and it was hard to look away. Her long snow-white hair flowed down to her hips as her new jacket fit snugly around her upper body, accentuating her athletic and curvy physique. And her white and gold skirt was—
“Why is her skirt shorter than everyone else’s? What’s with that crap?” Sylvia growled in a low voice as she glared down at Cerila.
It’s uh…true…Cerila’s skirt, for some reason or another, was shorter than the norm. And it only exposed her long toned yet pale legs even more as she chose to wear short white socks.
I felt Sylvia’s glare turn to me in my absence of a response, but I just kept my eyes forward, fully intent on not meeting her gaze. I felt that no matter what I said, I would be wrong. And it would only open me up for criticism. So the best course of action was to say nothing.
Cerila went over to the board and quickly chalked up a hand that was leaving a head, as well as her name. To an untrained eye, it looked to be as if she drew someone saluting followed by her name in Human. But it was actually a depiction of someone signing hello.
And it was accurate as well as being well drawn. I guess years of drawing on that tablet are coming into play.
Once she was done, she turned around to face the class and repeated the motion for the sign. From there, Professor Garrison took over. “First of all, please welcome Cerila to the class. Although she can’t hear any of you, the gesture still has meaning for her.”
The class looked confused, and a few people muttered to each other, but after a pointed glare from the teacher, everyone quickly gave a round of applause to welcome her. “As some of you have guessed, Cerila is deaf and can not hear you, but that does not mean she can’t talk to you. And although you may think of this as a hindrance, Cerila has lived her entire life this way and has not only adapted but flourished. She passed the school’s entrance exam and tested out of master-level language classes for both Elvish and Human, being able to read and write fluently to the level of a translator. Not only that, Cerila is fluent in a completely new language called Sign Language. As a result, she is able to communicate in everyday conversation with others despite not verbally speaking a single word. She also shows martial prowess that is to be recognized, as she has achieved the adventurer rank of Topaz in only three years. For those of you who are unaware, that is an accomplishment beyond what a normal person is capable of, especially someone so young.”
Upon his further explanation of Cerila’s exploits and achievements, the room did a collective nod of approval and gave her one more final applause. Cerila flashed a stunning smile at everyone, and with Padraic next to her, the two of them walked straight up the steps and toward me.
“Are they really going…what a pain,” Sylvia grumbled quietly to herself.
Sure enough, the two took open seats to my left, with Cerila right next to me. She smiled brightly at me and even let out a noise that was the same as her giggling. she asked.
I told her.
Cerila was about to sign to me again, but I poked her as Professor Garrison cleared his throat loudly. “Now then, would the final student please introduce himself?”
The third student had been quietly standing to the side. At first glance, he seemed…odd, and I found it hard to tell how old he was for some reason. He wore the school uniform just the same as everyone else, and as a tiger Beastmen, he didn’t appear to have overwhelming physical size but was a rather average build. His tiger-like ears poked out from his long hair that was poofed up while being the color of brownish dried blood.
But the oddest thing about him was those dark-tinted glasses he wore over his eyes…they seemed almost like sunglasses, which was weird since we were indoors and the room could hardly be described as bright.
The Beastmen had a proper air about him, almost like a noble, which was all but confirmed as he dipped into an elegant bow straight out of a book on manners.
“My name is Malachi Talgan, and I am the crown prince of the Principality of Nul. It’s an honor to be here,” he said in a velvety smooth voice.
Malachi also took his glasses off, exposing his unswirling Vampiric blood-red eyes to the class. But unlike Sylvia, who possessed entirely crimson eyes, Malachi’s eyes were like that of a half-moon of red, leaving the rest of his iris a dead-looking white color. Of course, I only had two other Vampires besides Sylvia to compare to, but Malachi’s eyes had far more red than the Vampire who kidnapped me and even more than the Vampire diplomat I saw in Sandervile.
And did he just say his last name was Talgan?


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2023.05.28 16:14 mduda59625 Ultimate Guide to Moving to Texas

If you’re planning on moving to Texas, you’re not alone. With its low cost of living, booming economy, and diverse culture, Texas has become a popular destination for people from all over the world. However, moving to a new state can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. In this guide from the Moving Truck Driver website, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know to have a successful relocation to Texas, including tips for finding housing, navigating the job market, and making the most of your new home.

Tips for Finding Housing in Texas

When it comes to finding housing in Texas, it’s important to start your search early and be prepared for the competitive market. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect place to call home in the Lone Star State:
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  3. Hire a Realtor: Working with a local realtor who is familiar with the area can be a great way to find the best properties that fit your needs and budget. They can also help you negotiate lease terms and provide valuable insight into the local housing market. Moving Truck Driver has relationships in most areas of the country, working with countless realtors throughout the years. If you would like a recommendation for finding a the right realtor for you, please let us know and we will be happy to make the connection.
  4. Attend Open Houses: Attending open houses is a great way to see properties in person and get a feel for the local real estate market. Be sure to bring a list of questions to ask the agent or landlord, such as details on the lease agreement and any additional fees or deposits.
  5. Consider Roommates: If you’re looking to save money on rent or want to live in a larger property than you could afford on your own, consider finding a roommate or roommates. There are many online resources for finding compatible roommates, such as Roommates.com.
  6. Check Social Media Groups: Social media groups can be a great resource for finding housing in Texas, particularly in larger cities like Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Look for local groups that cater to renters or those looking for roommates, and be sure to ask for recommendations from members.

Popular Cities and Locations to Consider

Texas is a vast state with many popular cities and locations to choose from. Here are some of the top destinations that you may want to consider when moving to Texas:
  1. Austin: Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin is a vibrant city that offers a diverse culture, outdoor activities, and a thriving tech scene. It’s the state capital and home to the University of Texas at Austin.
  2. Houston: The largest city in Texas, Houston is a hub for business and industry. It’s also known for its world-class museums, restaurants, and performing arts scene.
  3. Dallas-Fort Worth: This metropolitan area is home to two major cities, Dallas and Fort Worth. Dallas is known for its shopping, dining, and nightlife, while Fort Worth is famous for its Western heritage and cowboy culture.
  4. San Antonio: This historic city is home to the Alamo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the famous River Walk, which features shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
  5. El Paso: Located on the border with Mexico, El Paso has a unique culture that combines Mexican and Texan influences. It’s also home to the University of Texas at El Paso and the Franklin Mountains State Park.
  6. Corpus Christi: This coastal city is known for its beaches, fishing, and outdoor activities. It’s also home to the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay.
  7. Galveston: Located on an island off the Gulf Coast, Galveston offers historic architecture, beautiful beaches, and a vibrant arts scene. It’s also home to Moody Gardens, a theme park and nature reserve.
These are just a few of the many popular cities and locations to consider when moving to Texas. Each one offers its own unique culture, attractions, and lifestyle, so be sure to research them thoroughly and choose the one that best fits your needs and preferences.

Navigating the Job Market in Texas

One of the first steps in navigating the job market in Texas is to research the industries that are thriving in the state. Texas is known for its strong energy sector, with a large number of oil and gas companies based in cities like Houston and Dallas. Additionally, the technology industry is growing rapidly in Austin, which has been dubbed “Silicon Hills” due to the high concentration of tech companies in the area.
Once you have identified the industries that interest you, it is important to start networking with professionals in those fields. This can include attending industry conferences and events, joining local professional organizations, and reaching out to people in your network who may have connections in Texas.
Another important aspect of navigating the job market in Texas is to tailor your resume and cover letter to the local market. This can include highlighting any relevant experience or skills that are particularly valuable in Texas industries, as well as using language and terminology that is commonly used in the local job market.
Finally, it is important to be flexible and open to opportunities in different parts of the state. While certain industries may be concentrated in specific cities, there are often job opportunities in other areas as well. By keeping an open mind and considering a variety of job options, you can increase your chances of finding a job that is both fulfilling and financially rewarding.

Making the Most of Your New Home in Texas

Texas has a lot to offer, from its diverse culture to its unique geography, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy your new home. Here are some tips for making the most of your new life in Texas:
  1. Get to know your community: Texas is a state with a strong sense of community, and getting involved in your local neighborhood can help you feel more connected to your new home. Attend local events and festivals, join a community group or club, or volunteer for a local charity to meet new people and become more engaged in your community.
  2. Explore the outdoors: Texas is home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the country, from the rolling hills of the Hill Country to the rugged canyons of West Texas. Take advantage of the state’s many parks, hiking trails, and outdoor recreation opportunities to stay active and explore your new surroundings.
  3. Embrace the culture: Texas has a rich cultural heritage, from its cowboy and ranching history to its vibrant music scene. Take in a live music performance, visit a historic site or museum, or attend a local rodeo or county fair to experience the unique culture of your new home.
  4. Try new foods: Texas is known for its delicious cuisine, from barbecue and Tex-Mex to kolaches and pecan pie. Sample the local cuisine and try new restaurants and food trucks to discover your new favorite dishes.
  5. Take weekend trips: Texas is a big state with plenty to see and do, so take advantage of weekend trips to explore different cities and regions. Whether it’s a beach trip to Galveston or a wine tasting tour in the Hill Country, there’s always something new to discover in Texas.

Why Choose a Moving Service that Specializes in U-Haul and Penske Trucks

Choosing a moving service that specializes in U-Haul and Penske trucks has several benefits. Firstly, U-Haul and Penske trucks are known for their reliability and durability, making them ideal for long-distance moves. These trucks are regularly serviced and maintained to ensure they are in top condition, which reduces the likelihood of breakdowns and delays during the move. Secondly, these moving companies, typically have a large fleet of trucks available in different sizes, allowing you to choose the truck that best suits your needs. This is especially important if you have a large household or need to transport heavy or bulky items, as you can select a truck with a higher capacity.
Moreover, moving companies that specialize in U-Haul and Penske trucks often have experienced and well-trained drivers who can handle the logistics of a move efficiently. They are knowledgeable about the best routes to take and the regulations that need to be followed when transporting goods across state lines. They also have the necessary equipment and tools to load and unload your belongings safely, minimizing the risk of damage or loss. Additionally, many of these companies offer additional services such as packing, loading and unloading, and storage solutions, making the entire moving process more convenient and stress-free.
Overall, choosing a moving service that specializes in U-Haul and Penske trucks can help ensure that your move to Texas is a smooth and successful one. With a reliable truck and experienced drivers, you can focus on settling into your new home and starting your new life in this exciting and dynamic state.

A Practical Checklist for Moving to Texas

With a practical checklist, you can make the process much smoother. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your move to Texas is successful:
  1. Plan Ahead: Make a detailed plan for your move, including the date of your move, the items you need to pack, and any services you may need, such as a moving truck, packing supplies, or professional movers.
  2. Declutter and Donate: Before you start packing, declutter your belongings and donate any items that you don’t need or want anymore. This can save you time and money in packing and moving unnecessary items.
  3. Change Your Address: Be sure to change your address with the United States Postal Service at least two weeks before your move to ensure that your mail is forwarded to your new address.
  4. Update Your Utilities: Contact your utility companies and inform them of your move, so that they can discontinue service at your old address and start service at your new address.
  5. Research Local Services: Research local services in your new area, such as schools, healthcare providers, and grocery stores. This can help you feel more comfortable and settled in your new home.
  6. Prepare Your New Home: Make sure your new home is ready for your arrival. Clean it thoroughly, unpack essential items first, and set up necessary utilities and services.
  7. Meet Your Neighbors: Introduce yourself to your new neighbors, join community groups, and attend local events to get involved in your new community and make new connections.


Moving to Texas can be an exciting and life-changing experience. Whether you are relocating for a new job opportunity or simply seeking a change of scenery, the Lone Star State offers a unique blend of culture, diversity, and natural beauty. However, it’s important to be well-prepared for the transition and to take steps to ensure a successful relocation. By utilizing the tips and tricks outlined in this ultimate guide, such as utilizing a moving service that specializes in U-Haul and Penske trucks like Moving Truck Driver, researching popular cities and locations to consider, navigating the job market, finding housing, and making the most of your new home, you can make your move to Texas a seamless and enjoyable experience. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to embark on a new adventure in the Lone Star State!
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2023.05.28 16:04 Big_Statistician3845 Malaysia's Hidden Gems: A Bucket List

Malaysia's Hidden Gems: A Bucket List
Hey there, fellow Monyets and travel enthusiasts! 🇲🇾✨
Prepare to be blown away as I take you on an unforgettable virtual journey through the hidden treasures of Malaysia. Today, I bring you an extraordinary compilation of lesser-known destinations, cultural wonders, and mouthwatering culinary delights that will leave you in awe.
🌴 Discover Malaysia's Secret Paradises: Let's start with a virtual escape to secluded beaches with crystal-clear waters, where you can soak up the sun and listen to the gentle lapping of waves. Venture into lush rainforests teeming with wildlife, where every step reveals nature's captivating beauty. These hidden paradises are waiting to be explored!
🏯 Step Back in Time: Malaysia's historical sites are not limited to the popular ones. Join me on a journey through time as we uncover forgotten ruins, ancient forts, and mysterious caves that hold the secrets of our past. These hidden historical gems will ignite your imagination and connect you to the rich heritage of our land.
🍲 Indulge in the Hidden Culinary Delights: Brace yourself for a gastronomic adventure as we unveil the hidden hawker stalls, family-run restaurants, and regional delicacies that will send your taste buds into overdrive. From savory street food to exquisite traditional dishes, Malaysia's culinary scene is a treasure trove waiting to be explored.
🎭 Embracing Cultural Marvels: Beyond the well-known landmarks, Malaysia is bursting with vibrant festivals, traditional crafts, and indigenous communities that shape our multicultural identity. Immerse yourself in the colors, traditions, and cultural wonders that often go unnoticed. Let's celebrate the richness and diversity of our nation together.

But wait, there's more! I couldn't resist sharing a few additional hidden gems:

1️⃣ The Enigmatic Island of Pulau Sembilan: A diver's paradise with pristine coral reefs and mesmerizing underwater caves. Get ready to explore the breathtaking marine life beneath the surface.
(Source: TravelsWithSun)
2️⃣ The Forgotten Trail of Bukit Tabur: Conquer the rugged terrain and be rewarded with panoramic views of Kuala Lumpur's skyline and surrounding hills. Hiking enthusiasts, this one's for you!
(Source: MalaysiaHikes)
3️⃣ The Mystical Temples of Ipoh: Uncover the serenity and mystery of Ipoh's hidden temples, nestled amidst limestone caves and lush greenery.
(Source: LivingOutLau)
4️⃣ The Charming Water Village of Kampong Ayer: Embark on a boat tour through Brunei's Kampong Ayer, a mesmerizing water village that offers a unique cultural experience like no other. I know this is not Malaysia, but I went here during my trip to Sarawak and I recommend looping this sight in!
I cannot recall the source of this photo, I found it when I was doing my research. I would put my own photo, but I don't feel like doxxing myself.
5️⃣ The Majestic Pinnacles of Gunung Mulu National Park: Journey deep into Borneo's rainforests to witness the awe-inspiring limestone pinnacles that create a surreal landscape.
Now, my fellow adventurers, it's your turn! Share your own secret spots, hidden gems, and memorable experiences in the comments below. Let's ignite a sense of wanderlust and showcase the beauty of Malaysia to the world. Together, we can showcase the best hidden gems of Malaysia, spreading the love for our country far and wide. Don't forget to join the conversation! 🌿🌏
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2023.05.28 12:52 OnlineBookClub Book of the Day, May 28th -- Orlando in the Cities by Sebastian Michael

Book of the Day, May 28th -- Orlando in the Cities by Sebastian Michael

Book of the Day, May 28th -- Historical Fiction, Rated 5/5
Temporarily Discounted! Get your copy below:
Orlando in the Cities by Sebastian Michael
This book has earned a PERFECT 5/5 rating from an official Onlinebookclub.org Reviewer, and has 3 five-star ratings on Amazon!
Orlando, a beautiful though lazy shepherd boy on Crete, is tasked by the gods to settle a dispute: who among them is patron of the perfect city. His journey is a playful literary odyssey through 2500 years of Western civilization.
Buy today to take advantage of the discounted price of only $2.99 for this unique book, before it goes up to its regular price of $4.99 – a saving of 40%!
"Orlando in the Cities by Sebastian Michael is a masterful blend of everything literature and history enthusiasts will love. This is such a thought-provoking book that philosophizes on human nature and existence and entertains our 'what ifs' about certain events in history." ~ OBC Reviewer
#historicalfiction #literaryjourney #discountedbooks #bookswithperfect5starratingsfromobc
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2023.05.28 08:33 -Bonjour-- More Madeir

From my travel report (2014):
The second trip to Madeira we made to escape the winter. The weather was like a moody diva in winter. It changes not only from day to day, but also within a few hours. So you can never plan anything for the next day, because you should not think, today it is so nice and sunny and warm, it will be the same tomorrow. But if you are unlucky, the next morning it will be completely cloudy, only to possibly be sunny again in the afternoon.
It is always a pleasure to stroll in FUNCHAL's old town. Here times an ice cream to eat, there a coffee possibly with Nata to take. But this should be done when there are no cruise ships in the harbor. Then you see fortunately more locals than tourists in the streets.
For football fans: Christiano Ronaldo, who comes from Madeira, now has his own museum in Funchal - eagerly visited by his - mostly young - supporters...
Funchal is spreading out more and more - the slopes all around are already built on, and in the hotel zone construction continues eagerly. Although it is obvious that in the newly built apartment houses still very many apartments are empty.
The first two weeks we booked apartment at about 350 m altitude with a beautiful view of Funchal. The disadvantage was that it became - especially in the evening - but quite cool. Fortunately we had not only an electric heater but also a fireplace in the apartment.
From up here you can see how Funchal has grown in recent years. It is a huge sea of houses, which goes up to all the adjacent hills.
For the second part of our stay we had chosen an apartment house at Praia do Formosa with direct view to the sea and also to Cabo Girao.
One of the most beautiful and varied gardens of Madeira is located only about 9 km east of Funchal: the Palheiro or Blandy's Gardens. In 1801, the property was purchased by Count Carvalhal. A hunting lodge was built and the count had exotic trees imported from all over the world. The count's descendants squandered the fortune, and so in 1885 the estate became the property of the Blandy family of wine merchants. The villa above the garden is still inhabited by the Blandy family and is not accessible.
The gardens are famous not only for the variety of (often exotic) plants but also for their location on a 500 m high hill with a magnificent view of the bay of Funchal. The Count's hunting lodge was renovated in 1997 and is now the exclusive hotel "Quinta Velha do Palheiro".
The gardens are divided into the main garden, the sunken garden, the valley of hell (Inferno) with mighty fern trees, the rose garden, the ladies garden and the tea house area. There are also ponds with water lilies and beautiful flower beds.
Some of the numerous trees are 100 years old. The garden has been constantly developed. Hibiscus, bougainvilleas, jacaranda, African tulip trees, coral trees and orchid trees grow here. The Blandy family imported proteas from South Africa and had a rose garden planted and a small baroque chapel built. The gardens are also famous for their numerous camellias and magnolias.
The orchid garden, created by an Austrian, apparently has more than 5000 plants and is located below the botanical garden. At the moment the orchid garden is closed, because in the big fire of 2016 in Funchal not only many houses were destroyed, but also great damage was done to the orchid garden.
Carnival is also celebrated in Madeira and by chance we saw a children's parade. It was interesting to see with which eagerness the children were partly "there". Therefore, there will probably be no problem with carnivalistic offspring in Funchal.
The town of RIBEIRA BRAVA is located at the mouth of a wide - sometimes wild (brava) river (ribeira). From Funchal there is a highway to get there. In Ribeira Brava there is a wide pebble beach, and on the other side of the promenade there are cafes and restaurants. In the historic center there are small stores, and here is also the pink town hall from the late 18th century
The Igreja de Sao Bento was built as early as 1440, but was given a new look during the Baroque period. The spire with the white-blue tile pattern and the sphere symbol of the Portuguese explorers is striking.
We still drove to Punta do Sol. This place lies between two high rocky capes. In the old core there are only a few houses and the church, behind it already begin the terraced banana fields. There is a pebble beach and on the promenade you can have a drink in small cafes. Except for us, there were hardly any tourists in the village. But here we drank the best poncha on the island. Poncha (made of honey, lemon juice and sugar cane brandy) is a kind of national drink on Madeira.
The village of Camara de Lobos - situated between two rocky cliffs - is only 9 km away from Funchal. Camara de Lobos is still a typical fishing village with the many colorful boats (xavelhas) that you can admire in the small harbor. A small church was built at the harbor early on, this was remodeled in 1420 and the current Capella Nossa Senhora de Conceicao was built.
There is still fishing and some boat building in Camara de Lobos. However, these are no longer particularly lucrative, so tourism is now a larger source of income. The fishermen in this area mainly catch the black scabbardfish (Espada), which is offered in many restaurants - also in Funchal.
There is a promenade path from the Lido in Funchal to Camara de Lobos since 2011. The path - always with a view of Cabo Girao - is partly concreted and partly laid out on wooden walkways. If you walk in the direction of Camara de Lobos, you can see the approaching waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the left and the partly high cliffs on the right. Not far behind Praia de Formosa there are some beach bars or restaurants where you can have a drink or eat quite well.
Cabo Girao near Camara de Lobos is one of the highest cliffs in the world. More than 500 m the land here falls almost vertically into the sea. Since our last visit, things had changed here, there was now a large parking lot. Then the cafes and souvenir stores were also new for us. And surprising for us was also the glass viewing platform, which exists since the end of 2012. Here you can see that wine and vegetables are grown on the small rocky outcrops. The farmers can reach their fields on the coastal fringe with a cable car. Before the cable car was built, these fields were only accessible by boat.
From Funchal it was not far to CANICO. The original village became in the course of time one of the most important tourist places on Madeira. Large hotel complexes, apartment buildings and villas were built. However, we turned off before we reached the town in order to get to Ponta do Garajau. There on a rock cliff is the 14 m high Christo Rei statue, which was erected in 1927. From here you have a beautiful view of Funchal. Since 2007, there is a cable car nearby that goes 200 m down to the pebble beach.
CURRAL DAS FREIRAS is a small village nestled between huge almost vertical mountain slopes in the heart of Madeira. There is only one road that leads serpentine to the 633 m high valley. Originally the valley was inhabited by nomads and shepherds. Towards the end of the 15th century, the land became the property of the nuns of the Santa Clara convent.
The name Curral das Freiras means "pen of the nuns". In the 16th and 17th centuries, the island was repeatedly attacked by pirates, and the nuns retreated here to the protection of the mountains, which are up to 700 meters high. Here people still live from what they grow themselves on their fertile fields. One of the specialties of the village is chestnuts. They are used to make liqueur, cakes, bread and soups, which are also sold to tourists. On November 1 of each year, the Chestnut Festival is held here.
Not many tourists come to SANTA CRUZ, although this place is certainly worth a visit. There is quite a pretty old town with the church of San Salvador built in 1533 as well as like a large modern market hall just behind the long gray pebble beach lined with date palms.
Just north of Santa Cruz is Madeira Island's airport, renamed "Cristiano Ronaldo" Airport in 2007. Opened in 1964 and reconstructed in 2000, this airport is one of the most dangerous in the world. The 2777 m long runway is built on the rocky coast above the water and looks like a bridge with large concrete supports. A large parking lot has been built below this runway.
Before the landing approach, the mountain massif must be overcome so that the narrow runway can be approached. Unfortunately, there have been numerous accidents, but this is still one of the busiest airports in Portugal.
From Santa Cruz we drove to MACHICO, one of the larger towns of Madeira. Machico profited from sugar cane cultivation in the 15th century and is now a modern town, which is divided into two halves by the Ribeira da Machico. On the eastern bank of the river is the historic fishing quarter with the main square surrounded by tall laurel trees.
The town church of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao in the center was built in the 15th century and partially rebuilt in the 18th century. Opposite stands the town hall built in the early 20th century There are several fish restaurants here.
In the surroundings of the small village FAIAL there is still a lot of agriculture, e.g. wine and fruit growing. The village is dominated by the 600 m high Eagle Rock. Only a few tourists come here, because there is hardly anything worth seeing.
Most people come to Santana to see the famous "Casas de colmo". In total there are still about a hundred of these thatched historic wooden houses. They are very scattered throughout the municipality.
On the way back to Funchal we passed through Ribera fria. Here you can take a short hike up to the Miradouro dos Balcoes, from where you have a beautiful view of the mountains.
The peninsula PONTA DE SAO LOURENCO is 9 km long and 2 km wide. In 1982 it was declared a nature reserve, mainly to ensure the preservation of the fauna with the great variety of birds and the great occurrence of the native flora. The eastern tip of Madeira is barren and windy. One can no longer imagine that everything here was lushly forested.
Then, in spring, a carpet of flowers enlivens the bare hilltops. But also in other seasons the turquoise sea and the rocks in different shades - ocher, rust, gray and green-black - bring color to the area.
The south coast can be easily approached by boats, which is almost impossible on the drastically shaped north coast with its strong winds. There is a paved access road to the parking lot above Baia de Abra. Here you can also take the public bus.
From there there is a popular rocky hiking trail. This hike is absolutely not a walk. There are some climbs, often wooden stairs. You have no shade and are exposed to gusts of wind. To avoid being blown down somewhere, I ducked down and waited out the sometimes strong gusts - really quite extreme.
At the narrowest point with a land bridge only a few meters wide, the rock drops almost 100 m vertically - fortunately the place is secured with a fence.
The hike takes - depending on your condition - 2 to 3 hours. It also depends on whether you only walk to the plateau of Casa Sardinha - administration of the national park - or if you want to make the ascent to Pico Furado. Below the Casa there are some tables for picnics. From there there is also an entrance for swimming, which can certainly be pleasant in the summer.
On the way there are always beautiful views of the sea and the rock formations - e.g. the so-called rock gate. On the south side you can see the cages of a fish farm in the sea. In front of Sao Lourenco there are two small islands, on one of them stands the oldest (from 1870) lighthouse of Madeira.
From the cape we drove to CANICAL, the easternmost municipality of Madeira. This place is still characterized by fishing and boat building. Fishing boats are still built here and there is a large repair yard.
Over the 1000 m high Encumeada Pass we drove northeast to Sao Vicente. Unfortunately the old coastal road to Seixal and Porto Moniz was closed and we had to drive through many tunnels. A few years ago it was a special experience to drive on the narrow and winding ER 101 directly at the coast - on one side the high cliffs and on the other side the sea. But apparently the road has become too dangerous in the meantime because of constant falling rocks.
We got to Porto Moniz , and unfortunately the weather got worse, more and more clouds came up. The sea raged with huge waves to the shore. Porto Moniz is a nice little town located on the northwestern tip of Madeira, a region with high mountains and views of the endless Atlantic Ocean.
From Porto Moniz you can go hiking, for example on the coastal trail "Levada da Ribeira da Janela", one of the best hiking trails in Madeira.
Porto Moniz is known for its volcanic pools. Daytrippers mostly come for these pools filled with sea water.These pools owe their formation to a lava tongue that flowed into the sea here thousands of years ago, creating caves due to the force of wind and waves. The black basalt lava pools form swimming pools and are the attraction of Porto Moniz, because you can swim (swim) in them very well - at least in good weather...
There are two different lava pools in Porto Moniz: the completely natural pools and the western pools, which have been transformed into natural outdoor pools - there are no sharp rocks here. The surrounding rocks of the outdoor pool were built as a terrace , and here you can sunbathe. The pools are open every day - even in winter. But when we were there, there was no one in the water....
The natural pools are not safe because of the black sharp basalt rocks. It is very interesting to watch the waves as they crash against the rocks. The water is sometimes whirled into the air in such a way that it looks like a geyser.
The PICO DE ARIEIRO is the most visited mountain of Madeira, because it is the only one that has been opened up with a road, but it is only the third highest. The road was probably built primarily for the observatory and not necessarily for the tourists. Already the approach through pristine landscape with rugged rock and sparse vegetation is an experience.
If the weather is good, you have a breathtaking view all around. Equally beautiful, however, is the sight of white cushions of clouds hanging between the high mountains. In winter there can be ice and snow on the peaks. Since it had snowed on Madeira about 2 weeks before our trip there, we could still see the sparse remnants on the shaded layers.
From Pico de Arieiro you can hike up to Pico Ruivo (1861 m) if the weather is good. At the beginning, the path is quite wide and in places secured by railings. Some then walk at least to the first viewpoint - the rocky peak Niho de Mata with beautiful views. The entire hike up to Pico Ruivo is clearly difficult, even if there are partially secured stairways since the 1960s. Some of the paths are steep up to 700 m, the rock steps are high, the paths are sometimes narrow and beaten, and it also goes through unlit tunnels. So you should have a good condition and be free from giddiness and sure-footed.
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2023.05.27 22:20 Proletlariet White Lotus

Respect The White Lotus

"All old people know each other. Don't you know that?"
The White Lotus is an ancient and secretive society of scholars and philosophers which transcends the boundaries of the four nations. Drawing inspiration from the White Lotus tile in the game Pai Sho, and using the game to covertly communicate their membership to one another, the White Lotus stayed hidden for many years before revealing themselves during Sozin's Comet and assisting Team Avatar in liberating the world.
Source Key Avatar: The Last Airbender Season & Episode = S#E# The Legend of Korra Season 2 Episode 10 = LoK The Lost Adventures = LA The Promise = TP Smoke & Shadow = S&S Archived Nickelodeon Website = ANW 

Iroh, The Dragon Of The West

"Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame."
Iroh was born the eldest son of Fire Lord Azulon and the rightful heir to the throne of the Fire Nation. However, after a long and historic career as a General, Iroh lost his son, retired from the military, and ceded the throne to his younger brother Ozai. He became a dedicated mentor to his nephew Zuko and a Grand Lotus of the Order of the White Lotus.







King Bumi, The Mad Genius

"I didn't know what or when, but I knew I'd know it when I knew it!"
Bumi was the King of Omashu and an old friend of Avatar Aang's. 112 years old by the time Team Avatar meets him, Bumi remained physically fit and referred to himself as the greatest earthbender in the world. A master of "neutral jing," Bumi's specialty was in patient opportunism, waiting for the right moment to attack and then unleashing immensely powerful earthbending at his opponent. Aang also considered him a "mad genius" for his idiosyncratic behavior and unique perspective.

Master Pakku

"You want to learn to fight so bad? Study closely!"
Pakku was the leader of the Northern Water Tribe's waterbenders and preeminent among them, teaching their benders and commanding their military forces. Initially a conservative man with a strict policy against teaching women, Pakku came to make an exception for his ex-fiance's granddaughter Katara and overturned the tradition.
Pakku was a central figure in the attempted siege of the Northern Water Tribe and was at one time the greatest waterbender on the planet, but retired to the Southern Water Tribe where he rekindled his romance with his fiance and settled down teaching waterbending students there.

Jeong Jeong, The Deserter

"Fire is a horrible burden to bear. Its nature is to consume. And without control, it destroys everything around it. Learn restraint or risk destroying yourself and everything you love."
Jeong Jeong was once an esteemed Admiral of the Fire Nation Navy, but he became disillusioned by the cruelty and destruction of his nation over time. Training students like Zhao who relished in the power of such destruction only further disgusted Jeong Jeong, and he became the first person to ever abandon the Fire Nation military and live to tell the tale, earning his nickname as he moved from village to village followed by a loyal tribe of companions.
Jeong Jeong was one of the greatest firebenders of his time. He repeatedly emphasized the virtue of control and exemplified that quality in his bending. His style largely depended on defensive moves and emphasized extremely powerful yet finely controlled walls of flame.

Master Piandao

"The way of the sword doesn't belong to any one nation. Knowledge of the arts belongs to us all."
Piandao was abandoned at an early age for being born a nonbender, and dedicated his life not only to becoming the world's foremost swordsman but a student of philosophy and art from every nation. Piandao retired from the Fire Nation military to live a quiet life as a noble member of the citizenry, turning away most of the students who came to him for teaching. Eventually he accepted Sokka as a student, and later assisted in the liberation of Ba Sing Se.
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2023.05.27 20:50 Worldly_Mood9382 What are the popular travel trends for this year ?

What are the popular travel trends for this year ?

🏞️ Nature’s Embrace: Discovering Ecotourism’s Thriving Presence in Travel Trends with Universal Adventure! 🌿🦜

Adventure Travel 🏕️

· Backpacking is a great way to see the world on a budget. You can travel at your own pace and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.
· Hiking is a great way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. There are hiking trails for all levels of experience, from easy walks to challenging climbs.
· Camping is a great way to connect with nature and enjoy the stars at night. There are campsites all over the world, from rustic campgrounds to luxurious resorts.
· Scuba diving is a great way to explore the underwater world. There are dive sites all over the world, from coral reefs to shipwrecks.
· Kayaking is a great way to explore rivers, lakes, and oceans. Kayaking is a great way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

Paradise Adventure Tours 🏖️

· Galápagos Islands are a group of volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador. The islands are home to a variety of unique wildlife, including giant tortoises, iguanas, and penguins.
· Maldives are a group of islands in the Indian Ocean. The islands are known for their white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters.
· Hawaii is a state in the United States located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and active volcanoes.
· Seychelles are an archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean. The islands are known for their white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush rainforests.
· Tanzania is a country in East Africa. Tanzania is home to the Serengeti National Park, one of the largest wildlife reserves in the world.

Best Outdoor Family Vacations 👨‍👩‍👦‍👦

· Yellowstone National Park is a national park in the United States located in the Rocky Mountains. Yellowstone is home to a variety of geothermal Yellowstone National Park travel
· Grand Canyon National Park is a national park in the United States located in Arizona. The Grand Canyon is a vast canyon carved by the Colorado
· Yosemite National Park is a national park in the United States located in California. Yosemite is home to towering granite cliffs, waterfalls, and giant sequoia trees.

Yosemite National Park travel

· Rocky Mountain National Park is a national park in the United States located in Colorado. Rocky Mountain National Park is home to a variety of mountains, lakes, and forests.
· Glacier National Park is a national park in the United States located in Montana. Glacier National Park is home to a variety of glaciers, mountains, and lakes.

Adventure Travel Book 📚

· The Rough Guide to Adventure Travel is a comprehensive guide to adventure travel destinations around the world. The guide includes information on hiking, camping, backpacking, scuba diving, kayaking, and more.
· The Lonely Planet Guide to Adventure Travel is another comprehensive guide to adventure travel destinations around the world. The guide includes information on hiking, camping, backpacking, scuba diving, kayaking, and more.
Lonely Planet Guide to Adventure Travel book
· The National Geographic Guide to Adventure Travel is a guide to adventure travel destinations around the world. The guide includes information on hiking, camping, backpacking, scuba diving, kayaking, and more.

Cafes in Kochi ☕️

· Cafe Zoe is a popular cafe in Kochi. The cafe is known for its delicious coffee and pastries.
· Cafe Madras is another popular cafes in Kochi. The cafe is known for its authentic South Indian food.
· Cafe Leopold is a historic cafe in Kochi. The cafe is known for its atmosphere and its selection of international bee
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2023.05.27 18:26 viewless25 Defending the Draft 2023: New York Jets

”Short” recap of the Jets' 2022 Season

The Jets had a noisy offseason in 2022 as they were big spenders in free agency, bringing in CB DJ Reed, TE CJ Uzomah, and OG Laken Tomlinson. The also had 3 first round picks and an early second rounder to give the team one of the youngest roster in the NFL by snaps given. The main headline going into the Jets regular season was, like most NFL teams, centered around the quarterback position. The Jets drafted BYU QB Zach Wilson #2 overall in the 2021 NFL draft. Statistically, Zach's rookie campaign was off to an abysmal start with 4 TDs and 9 picks in his first Five starts before having his midseason interrupted by a knee injury. Zach would return and threw 5 touchdowns and just two picks in his last seven games, playing less dynamically than he had in Tennessee but smarter and safer. Zach went into the 2022 season looking to improve on his 2,334 yards passing, 55.6% completion percentage, 9 passing touchdowns, 4 rushing touchdowns, and 11 interceptions from 2022.
However, Zach would miss September due to a miniscus tear he suffered in the preseason. The Jets started Joe Flacco at the quarterback position for their opening three games; going 1-2 with a historical comeback win at Cleveland (I didn't have to mention this but it's the most exciting Jets football you'll ever see). After Zach returned, the Jets opened out on a winning streak. However, this had more to do with the star performances of the Jets rookies, namely WR Garrett Wilson, RB Breece Hall, and CB Sauce Gardner. In Denver, the Jets suffered a pyrrhic victory at hands of the Broncos as the team won 16-9, but suffered season ending injuries to OL Alijah Vera-Tucker and Breece Hall. Hindering the offensive line and prematurely ending Hall's OROTY campaign. This altered the course of the Jets' season for the worse. While young stars Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner continued to shine, the team's offense couldn't make up for the loss of Breece Hall as they were forced to look to Zach Wilson to lead the passing offense. Zach Wilson regressed heavily from his already terrible rookie season and as a result of his poor performance and attitude, was benched. The Jets attempted to salvage their season by looking to Mike White, who almost immediately went out with injury, and then later to Flacco (and at one point, Chris Streveler, fresh out of the CFL). Only two seasons into Wilson's career, he's cemented himself among the greatest draft busts in NFL history and for the sake of playefan morale, is completely unplayable in 2023. He isn't going to be cut until at least August, as there's no financial incentive to give up on him until after next season. The Jets missed out on the playoffs in 2023 for the 12th straight season, the second longest drought in North American sports. The silver lining for the Jets this season is that their roster is still full of young talent across the board, as AVT should be back by the preseason, Breece Hall should be back in the early regular season this year, and Garret Wilson and Sauce Gardner are back for their sophomore seasons after winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the year, respectively. The Jets had very little coaching staff/front office turnover from 2022. The main exception is the Jets moved on from young offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur to sign veteran OC and recently fired Denver Broncos' head coach, Nathaniel Hackett. This move was met with middling reception by fans. As many cited him as an underwhelming retread, though there was potentially one huge upside to signing Hackett and his name is...

Aaron Freaking Rodgers

After acknowledging his failure in drafting and developing his franchise QB, New York Jets General Manager Joe Douglas, scrambled to find a QB the Jets can compete with during their current window where their most talented players are on rookie deals. Joe Douglas doesn’t have the luxury of trying again with rookie QB roulette as he’s already four years into a rebuild that has yielded zero winning seasons. Many considered his huge failure with Zach Wilson to be a fireable offense, but due to his success in building the rest of the team, Jets owner Woody Johnson publicly voiced his confidence in Joe Douglas and let him have another offseason to try to pull a rabbit out of his hat at the QB position. The Jets were connected to almost every veteran QB that might conceivably be on the market from January to March. Around the time of the NFL Combine, the Jets had their options narrowed down to Tannehil, Cousins, and Aaron Rodgers headlining the group. With Rodgers’ ending his career in Green Bay, he then descended into a Darkness Retreat. Afterward, Aaron decided to tell Schefter to lose his number and went on the Mcafee show to announce that he had decided to play for the Jets, despite still being on contract with the Packers. After a month and a half of Jets and Packers fans taking to Reddit and Twitter to argue endlessly about Leverage, the Jets and Packers finally worked out a deal on April 24th, just days before the 2023 NFL Draft. The Jets acquired Aaron Rodgers and a 5th round pick in 2023 in exchange for a 1st round pick swap (Jets go 13 to 15th overall), a 2023 2nd round pick, a 2023 6th round pick, and a 2024 second round pick that can become a 1st if Rodgers plays >65% of snaps in 2023. Many were quick to declare an immediate winner to the trade, though I think with trades like these, you need to see how things play out and what will happen on the conditions before knowing for sure. My knee-jerk reaction to the trade is that it’s an overpay if Rodgers were to retire after 2023, but if he comes back for 2024 like he says he’s going to, then this is fair overall. If Jordan Love doesn’t pan out and the Jets make a Super Bowl over the next two years, people will look back on this trade as a steal for the Jets. Time will tell.

Jets Free Agency

Contrary to popular belief, the Jets did more this offseason than roll out the red carpet for Aaron Rodgers. In free agency, the Jets rolled out the red carpet for all of Aaron Rodger’s favorite teammates. In Free Agency, the Jets brought in:
Over half the names on this list have some kind of connection to Aaron Rodgers. Allen Lazard was the biggest swing for the Jets in free agency with $44MM over 4 years. The Jets cut bait by trading Elijah Moore to Cleveland, but are going to keep Corey Davis for the third year of his contract despite disappointing availability and stats by Davis. Lazard has experience in the slot, despite being primarily an outside the numbers receiver. With Moore and Berrios out, the Jets are a little bit heavier on outside receiver and light on slot receiver, so they’ll likely focus on size over shiftiness over the middle. However, bringing in Mecole Hardman brings a lot of the speed over the middle that the team is missing. Outside of WR, the Jets added more depth on the offensive and defensive lines. The main highlight of free agency for Jets fans was, strangely enough, the punter they signed- Thomas Morstead. Morstead punted for the Jets in 2021 filling in for an injured Braden Mann with an average of 48 yards/ punt and 7 punts within the 20. The Jets let Morstead go to let Braden Mann return. Mann was a decent punter for the Jets at best, but was infamous in NY for a shank a game that eventually became too much. The Jets have also worked out with P Matt “Punt God” Araiza, but that’s a can of worms I won’t get into. The Jets also brought back:
I have much less to say about these players. Ty Johnson has already been cut, which has been a small controversy due to his surgery that was allegedly recommended by the Jets. But especially after the draft, the Jets have a glut of runningbacks on the roster. I don’t see what the Jets see in Solomon Thomas but HC Robert Saleh really likes him. Greg Zuerlin has been a replacement level kicker for the Jets. Quincy Williams is back, which is mostly interesting as his older brother, Quinnen Williams, is in a contract holdout with the Jets. The number for Quinnen Williams is likely going to look similar to what Dexter Lawrence got from the Giants.

The New York Jets 2023 NFL Draft

Pre-Draft Needs

Positions of Need going into the Draft: OT, FS, DT, RB
The Jets' strength on the defense was on the outsides, both on the passrush with Carl Lawson and Jermaine Johnson coming back and in the pass defense, with Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed returning after being arguably the best CB duo in 2022. The weakness was over the middle in the passing game and between the tackles in the run game. The Jets have Quinnen Williams on the 5th year option looking for a new deal this year and don't have another quality DT to complement him on the interior of their 4-3 front. Jordan Whitehead was disappointing for the Jets last year at SS and Ashtyn Davis hasn't fully panned out at FS.
On the offense, the Jets have fewer holes, but have positions like RB, TE, and WR where they can afford to add more talent. The biggest liabilities for the Jets are on the offensive tackle, where Mekhi Becton is coming back from two whole seasons of injury and Duane Brown is 38 and playing likely his last season of Pro Football.

1st Round (15th Overall) Will McDonald IV, EDGE – Iowa State

Before discussing McDonald as a player, we should discuss the Steelers’ trade with the Patriots at 14th overall. This trade led to a lot of criticism of the trade back with Green Bay for Rodgers as well as Joe Douglas’s composure as a drafter. The main thing we know about Broderick Jones is that the fact that Pittsburgh was interested in trading up for him long before the Rodgers trade. Jones to the Steelers was one of the worst kept secrets of the NFL draft this year and the New England Patriots (while not to pretend that Belichick doesn’t love to screw the Jets over) are notorious for trading back in the first round. I’m not going to assert that the Jets weren’t interested in landing Broderick Jones, I think the people who are skeptical of Douglas’s claim that McDonald was their top target are missing two things: the first is that Robert Saleh is a defensive minded coach who is obsessed with having an excess of edge rushers with good bend. Saleh and Douglas are still on good terms, and I would be very surprised if during the draft Saleh wasn’t pounding the table in Joe Douglas’s ear for Will McDonald. The second is that while Jones was on board, Douglas himself said that McDonald was his number 1. You can debate if the Jets should’ve taken Jones if he were available, but he wasn’t and so, the Jets picked McDonald. Will McDonald is a 6’4” 236 lbs Edge rusher from Iowa State University who turns 24 years old June 6th. He was considered a high draft prospect after his 2021 and 2020 seasons where he had 11.5 and 10.5 sacks respectively, but still decided to come back to school in 2022. This, plus the fact that he didn’t begin playing football until he was 17 years old, contribute to Will McDonald IV’s advanced age as a prospect. Some might have called this pick a reach due to his age, but it’s worth noting that McDonald isn’t exactly a “late bloomer” as a player, but rather he has been a competitive pass rusher in the Big 12 since about 2019 and is tied for #1 overall in the Big12’s career sack list. Another reason why Will McDonald IV is an underrated prospect is that many people aren’t familiar with the defense that Iowa St. and how it deflates pass rusher numbers. Iowa State runs something called a STAR defense, or a 3-3-5 (3 DL, 3LB, 5 DBs). This helped the Cyclones against pass heavy, air raid and/or spread style offenses, but means that a premier pass rusher like Will McDonald will get basically zero help in the box. The traits that scouts fell in love with that made Will McDonald IV a first-round talent were his bend around the edge, his top end speed, and his usage of his hands. The weaknesses that were brought up centered mostly around his smaller size, power, and lack of body of work on run defense. But his overall athleticism and potential to bulk up are the main thing the Jets are banking on as they look develop him going forward. McDonald’s athleticism is so over the top, that he’s made a hobby of jumping over cars and doing other acrobatics that will keep the Jets management up at night if he keeps it up through his rookie contract.
The main thing to understand when watching McDonald as a prospect is that the Jets are going to play him a lot differently than the Cyclones did. Due to the ISU 3-man front, McDonald was often moved inside if he wasn’t double or triple teamed as a 5 tech. When Robert Saleh called Will McDonald to let him know the Jets were drafting him, Saleh said “We’re getting you out of that 4i and into that Wide 9”. That meaning, that instead of playing him between the guard and the tackle, they’re going to put him as far out as the o-line is built. I think the Jets will try to get him standing up; even though they typically have four defensive linemen down as I trust Robert Saleh to not pigeonhole a guy to a set role and will just try to set him up to succeed as a pass rusher. The important thing to remember when evaluating McDonald’s upcoming rookie season (or Jermaine Johnson’s rookie season from 2022), is that the Jets have a religious dedication to cycling their defensive linemen in and out regardless of how well or poorly they’re playing. So, for young players like McDonald, Johnson, and Michael Clemons, they’re guaranteed to get a shot, but even if they succeed, they’ll get cycled out. But this does mean that in 2023, we’re guaranteed a chance to see the speed and shiftiness that Will McDonald IV will be bringing to the Jets defense for years to come.

2nd Round, 12th pick (43rd Overall) Joe Tippmann, C – Wisconsin

After the first night of the draft, most were shocked over the Jets’ selection of Will McDonald. And many more in Jets land were disappointed that the team couldn’t find any offensive line help for newly acquired QB, Aaron Rodgers. Fortunately for the Jets on night 2, the board broke their way positively, unlike on night 1. With most of the premier tackles off the board, the Jets then turned their attention interior offensive line. The Jets re-signed Connor McGovern to a 1 year $1.915 million deal after the main rush of free agency subsided and McGovern was unable to find a better deal. McGovern was a serviceable Center for the Jets on his previous 3 year deal, but at 30, the Jets are starting to look for long term options with higher upside. With McGovern making barely backup Center money, the Jets had basically no assets committed to the center position. With every center in the 2023 NFL draft on the board, I don’t think I need to do as much defending of the positional choice for center as I had to do for Edge rusher in the first round. The Jets selected Joe Tippmann with the 12th pick of the 2nd round. The Wisconsin Badger is one of the taller Centers we’ve seen at 6’6” (not including the mullet) and 313 lbs. However, Tippmann has shown on film that he’s able to get low off the snap off the height and in the later block can leverage his size. He had the highest athleticism score at his position (which is going to be a consistent theme for the Jets in this draft). He started his last two full seasons at Wisconsin, shining as a run blocker and allowed only on sack and five pressures over 338 pass blocking snaps. His strengths coming out of Wisconsin are his fluid movement and rotation, his high football IQ, and his size. His main weakness is his sense of balance and his high point of contact. Some might have questioned why the Jets chose Tippmann over John Michael-Schmitz and, while I would’ve been happy with either, I personally believe the Jets made the slightly better choice in banking on a player who is younger, bigger, healthier, and possibly has higher upside. The Jets have been looking for the heir apparent to Nick Mangold since he’s retired. While McGovern was a serviceable stop gap for the last three years and will get a chance to compete with Tippmann this summer, I believe this pick is a great chance for the Jets to find a new leader of their offensive line for years to come. The Jets are at their best in their franchise history when they have a Center with leadership, strength, and durability to support the offense.

4th Round, Pick 18 (120th Overall) Carter Warren, OT – Pittsburgh

In 2022, the New York Jets offensive line was a revolving door as the offensive line was decimated by injuries before they even started the regular season. They were able to mitigate these issues for the first few weeks of the season by deploying Alijah Vera-Tucker as a Swiss Army Offensive Lineman, but when he suffered a season ending injury, that had to come to an end. In this offseason, the Jets didn’t add many players who will contend for starting positions at guard or tackle in 2023, but Joe Douglas has made a point to bolster the depth at these positions so they’re better prepared for when Mekhi Becton, who hasn’t played a full game since mid 2020, or the 38 year old Duane Brown get injured.
To prepare for this, the Jets picked New Jersey native Carter Warren in the fourth round out of Pittsburgh. With his 7 foot wingspan, core strength, and leadership experience, Warren has the traits of a prototypical NFL Tackle. Carter Warren’s athleticism graded highly at the combine at the workouts he performed despite not being 100% from his shoulder injury. He fell to the fourth round in the draft as expected due to his season ending injury in 2022 and his overall lack of power and ability to sustain blocks for longer drives. The Jets are looking for Carter Warren to develop into a capable swing tackle or high end backup LT. The team is possibly still banking on Becton serving as the long term starting Left Tackle, but we’ll sort that out when training camp gets here. With veteran Billy Turner on the team and second year Maxx Mitchell returning as a swing tackle, the Jets are hopeful that they won’t rely on a rookie tackle in 2023. But if they do, Carter Warren has the traits needed to keep the offense on schedule when injuries inevitably come.

5th Round Pick, Pick 8 (#143rd Overall) Israel Abanikanda, RB – Pittsburgh

After selecting the Pittsburgh Panther from New Jersey in the fourth round, the Jets elected to take his teammate, RB Israel Abanikanda from Brooklyn, with the very next pick. In the last two years the Jets have brought in a lot of young runningbacks from the draft such as Michael Carter, Breece Hall, and Zonovan Knight. The Jets running back room looked like it was on the road to being elite after Breece Hall’s early career breakout before his tragic season ending injury. Breece Hall had emerged as a physical, downhill runner for the Jets and Michael Carter and Bam Knight were capable change of pace backs, pass blockers, and receiving backs. Breece Hall is going to go back to being the Jets premier runningback if he comes back to be 100% of what he was last year, even with Abanikanda on the roster. But what the Jets were lacking, even with Hall on the roster last year, was a shiftier, higher end speed running back that can break open in space. Hall checks off a lot of these boxes, but did so by being more physical over the middle. In 2022, Izzy Abanikanda’s stats were impressive. He reached 100 yards rushing in 9 out of his 11 games and rushed for 20 TDs on the season. With Hall, Izzy can be a dangerous lightning to Breece Hall’s thunder as the Jets look to round out their offense. Izzy’s athleticism is (say it with me now: ) really good. He ranked 5th out of running backs in this draft despite being a 5th round pick. The biggest weakness commonly cited about Izzy Abanikanda is his pass protection. This has been a recent focus on running backs in the NFL and something that will likely limit Izzy’s day one impact. But the Jets can keep things simple on the offense and just focus on getting the ball of playmakers like Abanikanda. The most exciting thing about Abanikanda is that he’s young, not turning 21 until October 5th of this year (making him born in 2002, if you wanted to feel old today). Abanikanda is an extremely speedy player with home run ability. The value in the 5th round is great for the Jets here and they are now hedged against a key RB injury like they suffered last year. This pick may spell trouble for fans of Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight (apologies to /DynastyFF), but it puts the Jets in a position to be dynamic in the ground game to capitalize on defenses thinking they can afford to sell out against the Aaron Rodgers-led passing offense.

6th Round, Pick 7 (184th Overall) Zaire Barnes, LB – Western Michigan

Getting later into the draft, the Jets start to look for roleplayers and positions where the team is light. Zaire Barnes fills both of these criteria with his special teams experience and coverage linebacker experience. The Jets have Quincy Williams and CJ Mosely playing in the box to handle secondary running coverage. The team may still bring back Kwon Alexander to return as the WILL linebacker in space, but the Jets are looking to bolster their coverage over the middle. The Jets have arguably the best cornerback duo on the outside with DJ Reed and Sauce Gardner and a capable slot corner with Michael Carter II. This means that most of the teams that threw the ball on the Jets did so over the middle.
At Western Michigan, Barnes lined up close to the line of scrimmage and focused mostly on man coverage. In order for him to unlock his potential and make this pick a steal, he needs to unlock his ability to use lateral movement to help in zone coverage. At 6’1” his height is unremarkable but more than adequate for a linebacker within the box. If Zaire Barnes can make himself valuable on special team and take advantage of the opportunities to make a play in coverage over the middle or to make an impact in the run game where the Jets are also light, Zaire Barnes will be able to be a part of this Jets team for a long time.

Round 6, Pick 27 (#204th Overall) Jarrick Bernard-Converse, DB – LSU

In writing Bernard-Converse’s position on the headliner, I opted to just write DB, as he’s played all over the secondary. Looking at JBC’s skillset and the holes the Jets have in their roster, it would seem Bernard-Converse’s best outlook on the Jets is to move to the Safety position. With good tackling ability, high athleticism, and four years of starting experience at the Power 5 level, the Jets are banking on Bernard-Converse’s ability to adapt to a new role as opposed to being a true CB. In coverage at LSU, he did have some issues letting players get behind him due to his ability to trail and backpedal, another sign that he’s likely better suited for the safety role. With Jarrick Bernard-Converse, the Jets are banking on his adaptability and Robert Saleh’s ability to develop a player with raw talent into a contributor on the backend.

Round 7, Pick 3 (#220th Overall) Zack Kuntz, TE – Old Dominion

The Jets have looked to rebuild their TE room after years of it being in disarray. Unfortunately, the group that Douglas has put together, CJ Uzomah, Tyler Conklin, and Jeremy Ruckert, didn’t quite pan out in 2023. Part of this was on the quarterback play, but part of this is that the tight ends on the Jets didn’t quite have the plus abilities the team needed to get production from their Tight Ends. This is just the beginning of why Zack Kuntz is an exciting pick for the Jets. Kuntz (pronounced KOONTS, unless you’re Australian) was primarily a receiving tight end for Penn State and Old Dominion in college. At 6’8” 255lbs, Kuntz has more than the prototypical size of a blocking Y tight end, but he instead spent his college career using his 4.55 speed to be a menace over the middle. His most productive season was only 692 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns, which is a bit less for the insane athleticism that a speedy and shifty tight end such as Kuntz possesses. Still, it’s hard to imagine how 32 GMs looked at Kuntz and decided over 200 times that they don’t need this freak of nature on their team. The Jets may look into developing his blocking a bit more, but I think they’re probably more excited by refining his hands and getting him over the middle to create some size mismatch. With Zach Kuntz elite size and speed, he’s truly a menace with the ball in his hands.

UDFA Rapid Fire

The Jets traded back in the 6th round at a pretty heavy loss. I believe this is because they wanted special teams and depth and were relatively satisfied with most of the starters they had going into the NFL draft. So, the Jets will likely not have a ton of contributions from UDFAs this year. Here are the 13 players the Jets have currently signed as UDFAs and I’ll highlight a few of the ones I think I have a chance at making the 53 man roster below:

53 Man Roster Projection

POS 1st String 2nd String
QB Aaron Rodgers Tim Boyle Zach Wilson
RB Breece Hall Israel Abanikanda Michael Carter, Zonovan Knight
WR Garrett Wilson Corey Davis Mecole Hardman
WR Allen Lazard Randall Cobb Jason Brownlee
TE Tyler Conklin CJ Uzomah Jeremy Ruckert
LT Duane Brown Warren Carter
RT Mekhi Becton Maxx Mitchell
LG Laken Tomlinson Wes Schweitzer
RG Alijah Vera-Tucker Billy Turner
C Connor McGovern Joe Tippmann
DT Quinnen Williams Al Woods
DT John Franklin-Myers Deslin Alexandre
DE Jermaine Johnson Isaiah Mack
DE Carl Lawson Michael Clemons Solomon Thomas
ILB CJ Mosely
OLB Quincy Williams Bryce Huff
OLB Will McDonald IV Zaire Barnes
CB Sauce Gardner Michael Carter II Brandin Echols
CB DJ Reed Bryce Hall Javelin Guidry
FS Ashtyn Davis Jarrick Berndard-Converse
SS Jordan Whitehead Justin Hardee Chuck Clark
K Greg Zuerlein
P Thomas Morstead
LS Thomas Hennessy

Notes on 53 man roster

Final Thoughts

This offseason will be remembered as the offseason where the Jets made a huge swing for a future Hall of Fame QB. It’s impossible for me to try to put this draft class up against that. But the Jets got a lot of athleticism in this draft that can set them up to be competitive in the long term. It was surprising that they traded back, seeing as they’re in a win now mode, still. I think the Jets got 2 or 3 starters from this draft, likely some combination of Abanikanda, Tippmann, and McDonald. Certain players like Warren and Kuntz do have some longer term potential, too. Nothing will ever touch Joe Douglas’s 2022 draft class, but I thought this class was solid and built a lot of overdue depth. Still, when July rolls around and it’s time for camp, it’s going to be the QB that all Jets fans are looking at.
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2023.05.27 16:03 anticbruce Rockwall Texas Directory and Tourist Information

Rockwall Texas Directory and Tourist Information

Welcome to Rockwall, Texas – a charming city that offers visitors the perfect blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities. Located just 22 miles east of Dallas, this vibrant community is home to an array of attractions, from unique boutiques and delicious dining options to beautiful parks and scenic lakeside views. Whether you're looking for a weekend getaway or planning an extended stay, our Rockwall Texas directory has everything you need to plan your perfect trip. So buckle up as we take you on a journey through all that this amazing city has to offer!

Rockwall Texas Overview
Rockwall, Texas is a city located in Rockwall County and is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The city has an estimated population of over 47,000 residents and is known for its natural beauty and thriving local economy.
One of the most defining features of Rockwall is its namesake - a stunning rock wall that runs along the eastern shore of Lake Ray Hubbard. This geological wonder was formed millions of years ago and provides visitors with breathtaking views as well as a glimpse into the natural history of this region.
In addition to its scenic landscapes, Rockwall also boasts a wide range of recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking trails to fishing spots, there's something for everyone to enjoy in this vibrant community.
But it’s not all about nature here! The city also offers plenty in terms of cultural attractions – like art galleries showcasing local talent or live music venues where you can catch some great acts from across genres.

Whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, culture or nature – Rockwall has it all!

Rockwall Texas Directory
Looking for a comprehensive directory of businesses and services in Rockwall, Texas? Look no further than the Rockwall Texas Directory! This online resource is your go-to source for everything you need to know about this vibrant and growing community.
Whether you're looking for local restaurants, shops, or services like plumbing or car dealerships in Rockwall TX, the directory has it all. It's easy to use and navigate thanks to its user-friendly interface that allows you to filter results by category or keyword search.
With so many options available in Rockwall, it can be overwhelming trying to find exactly what you're looking for. That's why the directory is an essential tool - it saves time and energy by providing a one-stop-shop for all your needs.
Additionally, business owners can benefit from being listed on the directory as it provides exposure and visibility within the community. The Rockwall Texas Directory is an invaluable resource that both residents and visitors alike should utilize when exploring all that this great city has to offer. Click here to know more https://rockwalltexas.us/directory/

Things to do in Rockwall Texas
Rockwall Texas is a great destination for anyone looking to have an exciting and fun-filled vacation experience. There are so many things to do in Rockwall that it can be hard to choose where to start! One of the most popular activities is visiting Lake Ray Hubbard, which offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming.
If you're interested in history, then you should definitely check out the Rockwall County Historical Foundation Museum. This museum features exhibits on local history as well as interactive displays that give visitors a chance to learn more about the area's past.
For those who love outdoor adventures, there are several parks located throughout Rockwall Texas. Harry Myers Park has walking trails and playgrounds while The Harbor at Rockwall is perfect for kayaking or paddleboarding.
If shopping and dining are your passions, then head over to Downtown Rockwall where you'll find a variety of shops selling everything from antiques to trendy clothes. You'll also find many restaurants serving up delicious food ranging from classic Tex-Mex cuisine at El Chico Caféto seafood dishes at Dodie's Cajun Diner.
In conclusion,Rockwall Texas offers something for everyone no matter what their interests may be! Whether you're looking for outdoor activities or just want some quiet time exploring local museums or shopping districts - this city has it all.

Rockwall Texas Accommodations
Rockwall Texas offers a range of accommodations for every type of traveler. Whether you're looking for luxury or budget-friendly options, there's something for everyone.
For those seeking upscale lodging, Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront is an excellent choice. The hotel boasts stunning views of Lake Ray Hubbard and features elegant rooms with modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi.
If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, Best Western Plus Rockwall Inn & Suites provides comfortable rooms at affordable rates. Guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast and access to the outdoor pool and fitness center.
For extended stays or larger groups, Homewood Suites by Hilton Dallas-Rockwall has spacious suites with fully equipped kitchens and separate living areas. The hotel also offers free hot breakfast and evening socials during weekdays.
In addition to traditional hotels, Rockwall also has vacation rentals available on Airbnb or VRBO. These properties offer unique accommodations ranging from cozy cottages to luxurious lakefront homes.
No matter your preference, Rockwall Texas has plenty of accommodation options to choose from that cater to different budgets and needs!

Rockwall Texas Dining
Rockwall Texas offers a variety of dining options to satisfy any palate. Whether you're looking for casual dining or an upscale experience, Rockwall has it all.
For those seeking a classic American meal, head over to Culpepper Steak House. This local favorite has been serving up juicy steaks and fresh seafood since 1995 in their rustic ranch-style setting. Meanwhile, Bin 303 is the perfect spot for wine lovers with its extensive selection of wines from around the world paired with delicious small plate offerings.
If you’re in the mood for something spicy, then check out Lupe's Tex-Mex Grill on Ridge Rd that serves authentic Mexican cuisine made from scratch using only high-quality ingredients. Their fajitas are especially popular among locals and tourists alike!
For pizza lovers, Dough Boy's Pizza offers hand-crafted pizzas cooked to perfection in their wood-fired oven. The restaurant also features other Italian favorites like pasta dishes, salads and sandwiches.
If you're looking for breakfast or lunch fare served up fresh throughout the day then head over to Zanata’s Bakery & Deli which serves creative sandwiches made with artisan breads baked daily along with soups and salads sourced from local ingredients.

No matter what your taste buds crave - Rockwall Texas's dining scene will not disappoint!

Rockwall Texas Shopping
Rockwall Texas is more than just a beautiful city with stunning views of Lake Ray Hubbard and historic architecture. It's also a shopper's paradise! There are plenty of shopping opportunities in Rockwall that cater to all tastes and budgets.
If you're looking for high-end boutiques, The Harbor at Rockwall is the perfect place to start your shopping adventure. Here, you'll find unique clothing stores, jewelry shops and art galleries that offer one-of-a-kind items. If you prefer more mainstream brands, head over to the nearby Towne Center where retailers like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond reside.
For those who love antiques or vintage finds, Downtown Rockwall has several charming antique shops where you can browse through retro furniture pieces, classic vinyl records or old-fashioned toys. You might even find a treasure!
Don't forget about the Farmers Market located downtown on Saturdays from May through September offering fresh produce as well as handmade crafts and goods.

No matter what your shopping preferences may be, Rockwall has something for everyone!

Rockwall Texas is a hidden gem that offers visitors a mix of small-town charm and modern amenities. With its close proximity to Dallas, it's the perfect destination for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life.
Whether you're interested in outdoor activities, shopping or simply relaxing in one of the town's many restaurants or cafes, Rockwall has something for everyone.
With its diverse range of accommodations and dining options, visitors can easily plan an extended stay without worrying about running out of things to do. And with easy access to major highways, exploring nearby attractions like Lake Ray Hubbard or downtown Dallas is a breeze.
If you're considering visiting Rockwall Texas anytime soon, be sure to check out our directory for all the information you need on local businesses. From car dealerships to boutique shops and everything in between - we've got you covered!
submitted by anticbruce to riseyourword [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 10:32 travellingwings east coast vacation spots

Explore the Best East Coast Vacation Spots with Travelling Wings
Introduction: Are you planning a vacation on the East Coast of the United States? Look no further! Travelling Wings is your ultimate guide to discovering the top East Coast vacation spots. With over 42 fantastic destinations covered, you'll find everything you need to plan a memorable trip. Whether you're seeking stunning beaches, historic landmarks, vibrant cities, or breathtaking natural wonders, Travelling Wings has got you covered. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey along the mesmerizing East Coast!
  1. East Coast Splendor in Miami, Florida: Kickstart your East Coast adventure in the vibrant city of Miami. Known for its glamorous beaches, energetic nightlife, and diverse culture, Miami offers a unique blend of relaxation and excitement. Soak up the sun at South Beach, explore the colorful Art Deco Historic District, and indulge in delicious cuisine influenced by Latin American flavors.
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  3. Natural Beauty at Acadia National Park, Maine: For nature enthusiasts, Acadia National Park in Maine is an absolute must-visit. Marvel at the rugged coastline, hike along scenic trails, and enjoy breathtaking views from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the East Coast. With its diverse wildlife and pristine landscapes, Acadia is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers alike.
  4. Cultural Delights in Washington, D.C.: Discover the rich history and cultural treasures of the United States' capital, Washington, D.C. Explore iconic landmarks like the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian museums. Immerse yourself in the city's vibrant arts and culinary scene, and don't miss the opportunity to witness the stunning cherry blossoms in full bloom during the spring season.
  5. Coastal Beauty in Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Escape to the idyllic shores of Cape Cod, where charming coastal towns, sandy beaches, and picturesque lighthouses await. Relax on the pristine beaches, visit the artist colony of Provincetown, and savor fresh seafood delicacies. Take a scenic drive along the Cape Cod National Seashore and explore the captivating beauty of this quintessential New England destination.
Conclusion: Travelling Wings is your go-to resource for discovering the top East Coast vacation spots. With more than 42 incredible destinations featured, you'll find the perfect itinerary to suit your travel preferences. Whether you're seeking sun-soaked beaches, rich history, awe-inspiring natural wonders, or vibrant city experiences, the East Coast has it all. Visit Travelling Wings at https://www.travellingwings.com/40-best-east-coast-vacation-spots/ to start planning your unforgettable East Coast adventure today! Don't miss out on the opportunity to explore these incredible East Coast vacation spots. Happy travels!
submitted by travellingwings to u/travellingwings [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 05:12 bobsmith808 It's All Greek to Me: Breaking The Wheel

It's All Greek to Me: Breaking The Wheel
Hi everyone, Bob here.
You may remember me from such greats on another sub as [deleted] and [deleted because fuck 'em, that's why].
Naw bro, I'm fucking retired from that shit mostly.
I'm here with another installment my options education series: It's All Greek to Me.

Series Navigation

Here's the navigation so far. Please start with the first one and read through, and ask any questions you may have along the way. They are prerequisites and build knowledge upon each other.
Part 1: It's All Greek To Me: An Introduction to Options, How They Work, And The Power of Leverage (you are here)

Today, by popular request, I'll be taking about a strategy that is very popular over at thetagang: The Wheel.


What the fuck is the wheel?

Well, the wheel is an options strategy that many folks run because it's simple and requires you to accept only the risk of owning the stock you choose, at the price you choose to own it at. u/Scottishtrader has an amazing post detailing his take on the wheel and, many others have posted theirs as well. I would highly recommend checking those out as well, as I will be introducing something a little different here which pulls from, and (in my opinion) optimizes his and various other's strategies. (PS, respect you scottishduder, but I'm going to expand on your shit here. I think it's dated and suboptimal)

In a nutshell, the colloquially recommended wheel strategy is this:

Phase 1 - sell the puts
  • Sell Cash Secured puts (CSP) on a stock you are willing to own. When selling them choose an option that has the following attributes:
  • Is a price you are comfortable owning the stock at
  • Is an expiration between 30-45 days from now
  • Is as close to .3 delta as you can get.
Management of the puts sold
Typical advice is to close at 50% profit on premium or roll (for profit) at 21 days to a new position that fits the above criteria. If they are not profitable, advice for this strategy is to rid that bitch to Valhalla and collect your shares at the strike price when the position expires and you are assigned.
Phase 2 - cover your calls
  • Record your cost basis (this is the amount of premium you collected in Phase 1 before being assigned, applies against the strike price for which you were assigned your shares). - example 👇
  • Sell covered calls (one camp says at your cost basis, while another says At The Money (ATM)). Choose your method 🤷‍♀️
  • DO NOT ROLL. If your call expires in the money, that's the goal here. Let that shit be called away and go back to Phase 1, completing one full turn of "the wheel"GO TO PHASE 1, do not roll, do not collect $200 more premium
Wheel for the illiterate

That's a pretty solid strategy, but here's my thoughts on it and why it's not how I run my wheel:

  • At .3 delta, the risk of assignment is much higher. Too much for the added premium versus, say a .2 delta contract... and I don't want to really own shit because hedging large delta positions can be expensive.
    • Note: contrary to popular belief, the .3 delta does NOT have a 30% chance of ending in the money, it's simply the calculation of delta value for the stock, given several factors of the underlying and its options market. The actual calculation is p(0) = e−rT KN(−d2) − S(0)N(−d1) ... nothing about that is implied risk of assignment. stop spreading this ridiculous and lazy assumption, reddit.
  • Robotically buying to close at set thresholds is leaving money on the table.
  • Allowing an option you sold to be profitable and not doing things to secure that profit is leaving money on the table, and especially stupid if that sold option starts drilling, and you end up assigned in the end.
  • CSPs, by their very nature, are very cash inefficient investment strategies.
  • CSPs suck at capturing upside moves in the underlying, thereby leaving one with gains that pale in comparison to just being long the stock in strong markets.
  • Selling the CC side of the wheel at the CB or ATM can have very negative impacts on your overall returns annually.

How to [not] wheel like Bob


EDIT: Before we get started, i'll insert a disclaimer here at the request of some... none of this liquor fueled rambling herein, or in any of my posts can or should be construed of financial advice. it is simiply my thoughts on the subject matter that I choose to share with you. most of my thoughts are incomplete and should probably be better articulated....

Don't fuckin wheel, wheeling is way too cash intensive and a dumb way to make money... Instead bust that fuckin wheel and just do one side, and take your fucking shirt off while you do it. Hell! take all your clothes off and play this game NAKED!
Man porn has gotten weird, amirite?

Introducing my broken ass wheel...

(Drop a comment with a flashy name suggestion for this strategy)
Phase 1.
Pretty similar to phase 1 of the wheel strategy above, but here's what we are doing.
Open a put (on margin) there fits the criteria:
  1. .18 - .23 delta
  2. 30-45 DTE
  3. IDGAF about the strike - I don't intend to own this shit stock anyways... But have cash (not margin) to cover it being assigned.
  4. Set a Good Til Canceled (GTC) to trigger a trailing stop limit at a threshold you like for the option price volatility. Trigger point is 50% - that trail.
Manage the position:
One note here is this is a simple-fuck's way of position management. Sometimes I do more fancy things such as calendars and verticals to secure profits and stay in the trade. Can also convert the short put position to many different spreads depending on your thesis. One of these trades was dubbed "the bob smith spread" by someone in discord These are minimum profit spreads which require legging into, but they feelgoodman!
  • Check that shit regularly
  • When profitable at least 15%, set a conditional order (one Cancels the other) to do the following:
    • Buy the put back for profit of 50% or greater (trailing stop limit triggered after 50% + trail threshold is reached)
    • Buy the put back for 10% or greater profits (stop limit)
    • Immediately, and giving zero fucks, open a new position to adhere to above criteria.
    • If that shit stock you sold the put on goes down after you sold it, do the following:
      • Give zero fucks about it until it is within range of your strike, then roll that son of a bitch ATM out in time for a credit. Take one from Kenny's playbook and kick that mother fucking can down the road. Pocket that premium and repeat until you cannot. When it goes there again, turn it into a spread and learn your lesson to hedge your tail risk... Averaging down the position is good too if you are able to spare the margin.
Key to this style of management is to keep feeding back your cash to your margin balance. For example, I like wheeling spy with my wife's boyfriend's money. It's lucrative AF if you do it right... even though others might not have the same results. If you don't believe me, I have posted what I managed to pull last year on SPY with this strategy in the comments somewhere on the internets. Feel free to find it for yourself.
Anyway, back on point: SPY (or insert index of your choice here) is a great wheel target if you can generate acceptable returns on these slow moving, steady growth tickers new meme stonks for 2023, given their recent moves... and the bonus is there is virtually zero risk of getting assigned and having it go to 0. it's the fucking index. if you have it go to 0, having a portfolio that wallstreetbets would be proud of (loss porn, you regards) will be the least of your worries. Therefore, with confidence, my wife's boyfriend lets me play this game with all his assets, while he plays my wife's favorite game with her ass...
So numbers on SPY puts...
Assume you have a $500k account to play with (my wife's cheap). And remember, SPY sucks right now for premium/risk. there are better targets, this is an intentionally boring example.
CSP strike 404, Expiration 42 DTE .23 delta gets you:
  • $40,400 locked up in collateral
  • 12 contracts possible to sell
  • $376/contract, or $4512 in premiums
  • Note, premiums != profits. fuck off if you think they do and re-read everything I've posted in this series.
Naked Put Strike 404, same expiration and delta gets you:
  • $6,800 locked up in (margin) collateral
  • 73 contracts possible to sell
  • $376/contract, or $27,448 in premiums
I know which one I like more... but I don't hate money.
"but wait bob, what about if you get assigned? how the fuck can you afford to be assigned on 73 contracts with only $500k (+margin, so probably 1-1.5M) in your account? that shit would cost about $3mil to buy the shares!"
Simple regard, See rule #3, Phase 1. I'm not going to own any fucking stock, nor am I going to overleverage my account. If i have $500k, and the assignment risk is 40k/contract, I'm going to do this:
  1. Sell 12 contracts, lock up 81k of my buying power, and risking my entire cash position for assignment.
  2. Watch that shit go profitable, and follow the steps in the manage position section.
  3. Once you have the vice grip of profitability set, those 12 contracts you sold, that could be assigned for your entire portfolio = zero fucking assignment risk. Now you are free to sell 12 more. Do this immediately, fuck your thoughts about what the market might be doing next.
Here's an example of what that process looks like for the last week of trading.
These positions were entered a week apart, during some volatility in the market. I didn't get very good fills, but the point is there. 12 is a fictional number, to go with the writeup here, but the rest of the information is correct. Stats for this position is as follows:
  • Margin requirement is roughly 230k.
  • Profit potential is at least $1500 on the front month puts, as a stop is set.
  • at 50% profit point, this is about $7k, compared to about $2.2k potential of straight CSP strategies. But wait there's more! you're only about halfway in at this point, so you can leverage up all the way to $14k every 30 day cycle at the 50% profit mark for your 500k, or about 3% returns in a month on spy in this flat as fuck market.
    • Remember, we don't close out here, we just set a trailing to squeeze out every last drop of profits possible.
  • Assignment risk capital required is only applied to the new 404 strike puts. total required capital if assigned is $484,800. Again, there is no assignment risk for the other positions (provided sufficient liquidity exists on the options chain).
Rules of the game:
  • Never enter so many positions where, if assigned, you don't have enough cash allocated to meet the call.
  • Positions on margin with stops in place that are in the profit vice grips do not count towards your cash requirements for assignment.
  • Stick to your entry and exit rules and song deviate. Greed is what kills you investing, in all it's forms. From FOMO to the sunk cost fallacy, it's all based on greed.
submitted by bobsmith808 to FWFBThinkTank [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 21:22 chipmunkcorner Rustic Cabin in Gatlinburg TN

Nestled in the picturesque mountains of Gatlinburg, TN, this charming rustic cabin offers a cozy retreat for nature enthusiasts. Surrounded by breathtaking views, it blends rustic charm with modern amenities, providing a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
submitted by chipmunkcorner to u/chipmunkcorner [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 15:42 litcityblues Dreams of Hope

“I know how men in exile feed on dreams of hope”
IT WAS JUST PAST sunrise on Herenveen Prime and Charlotte Elizabeth Mackenzie-Nanda, Queen Consort of the Herenveen Staats-Republic, was still enjoying her coffee when she heard the distant rumble of a sonic boom that indicated an arriving shuttle had entered the upper atmosphere, bound for the spaceport. She set her cup down on the small table next to her.
“Yes ma’am?” Her ever-present steward stepped forward.
“Do you have the omnioculars close at hand?”
“Always ma’am,” he replied. He stepped over to a small cabinet on the far side of the terrace, opened it, and, retrieving the omnioculars, brought them back to her. “Here you are, ma’am.”
“Thank you, Grimsby,” she said. Raising the omnioculars to her eyes, she began to scan the skies. Let’s see, she thought to herself. I’m on the eastern side of the palace, overlooking the gardens and that means the approach vector to the spaceport in Herenveen Town should be about… there. There was a faint trail of exhaust. She pressed a green button on top of the omnioculars and the readout confirmed her findings. There was a ship and it was- the readout directed her to move to the right and she did so, hoping that she would be able to catch a glimpse of the arriving ship before it disappeared behind the Palace and-
She froze and pulled back from the omnioculars. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t- she made herself look again. There was no mistaking it this time. It was a clipper ship, one of the ultra-fast pickets that the Star Union’s defense contractors were marketing to every buyer from here to the rim. Along its prow was its registration number (SU-76463) and its name, the Star Clipper. None of that was particularly of note. What was, however, was the red, white, and blue roundel of the Star Union’s space force and, she noted, the golden gryphon symbol of the Duchy of New Georgia underneath it.
She set the omnioculars down on the table and picked up her coffee again, staring out at the Palace Gardens. She was not ill-informed, of course. Even now, after decades in exile, she still had friends in the Star Union. She had heard about the failing health of her Grandfather, the King-Emperor, and- there’s only one reason why they would send a clipper ship. The thought whispered to her. Only one.
A step forward. “Yes ma’am?”
“Where is she this morning? She usually tells you, doesn’t she?”
“I believe Her Majesty was convinced that the roses needed some attention this morning, ma’am.”
“Ah yes, Grimsby, but which roses? She has so many.”
“The Austins I believe were her primary concern, ma’am. She is worried about how they are adapting to our soil after the long journey from Terra.”
“Very well.” She made herself sit and finish her coffee, drinking in the view and soaking up the peace and serenity of the early morning. There was no better view than she could think of and if she was right- but what if you’re not? The Star Union has plenty of clipper ships. It could be anything.
Keep telling yourself that, she told herself, but no good news comes early in the morning. She drained the last of her coffee, placed the mug on the saucer and stood up, walking towards the edge of the grand staircase that lead down into the gardens, Grimsby just behind her, a constant presence at her side.
Decades before, she had been too young to know what was going on in the Star Union. She had been carefully shielded from the politics of it all. She knew the history. Everyone knew the history, but… she remembered the hands shaking her, waking her in the night. Urging her to get up, quickly, there was no time to pack. She remembered her mother’s face, creased with worry and realizing that she was afraid, seeing her fall behind on her little legs and sweeping her up into her arms. She was safe there. She was happy there.
There were only flashes of memory now, The sound of shoes echoing on the deserted hallways of the Palace. The night sky, so warm, so clear, the stars shimmering above her. She was placed in the transport, near the window and soon they were lifting off. The city was half cast in darkness, flickers of fire and columns of smoke dimly visible, split by the sinuous line of the River Nanda, running through the capitol city.
She remembered her face, pressed against the window, clutching her stuffed gryphon, Archie close as they reached the terminator line between night and day and she caught one last glimpse of the beautiful oceans and the green land of Astralis Prime, heart of the Star Union and then…
Then it was exile and her family had gone back to the Potentate of Cosmara once again, barely a generation after the First Restoration of their dynasty back to the great throne of the Star Union.
A delicate cough interrupted her train of thought. “Ma’am.”
“The roses are… that way,” Grimsby nodded to her left.
“Thank you, Grimsby,” she replied, annoyed at her absent-mindedness. It’s because it’s early, she told herself. No good news comes early in the morning. Father would say it all the time. Mother believed it. You believe it too, she admitted to herself.
Finally heading in the right direction, it was the work of a few moments before she finally came around the well-manicured hedge, ducked under a delicate moongate and stepped into the rose garden. There, she caught sight of her wife, Chief Stadtholder and Queen of the Herenveen Staats-Republic, Chief Executive Officer of it’s associated trading conglomerates and companies, Juliana Beatrix Oranje-Nassau, Fifth of her name.
“You bloody thing, I don’t know where you’re coming from, but I will find you and I will-” Juliana was on all fours, gloved hand buried deep into a rose bush, trying to trace back an offending weed of some kind. Charlotte stopped and just watched for a long moment. They were both getting older now. Their children were grown and in the case of their son, Eduardo had just secured the line of succession and made them both grandmothers. Even with the prolong treatments, streaks of grey were creeping into her hair now, but still-
“Enjoying the view?” Juliana asked archly, turning her head to notice her for the first time.
“You know I always do,” she replied. “You also do know that we have gardeners that can do things like this.”
Juliana growled and gave the offending weed an almighty pull before pulling her gloved hand out of the rose bush and holding it up triumphantly.
“We pay them quite a bit of money, you know,” she continued idly as Juliana stood up. “They’re experts at-”
“I know, Charlotte,” Juliana rolled her eyes. “It’s just, I like to sneak out-”
“-leaving me alone in our bed-”
“-and just get some gardening in before the tedious business of the day begins,” Juliana continued.
Charlotte smiled fondly at her wife, fully aware of how quickly she would abdicate should the Staats-General ever get around to deeming Eduardo to be a worthy successor to her. Juliana was a creature of nature, more than anything, far more at home puttering about the Palace gardens or strapping on big, practical waterproof boots to go tramping through fields. She was happiest getting her hands dirty. “I love you, wife.”
Juliana’s face softened and she stepped towards Charlotte, slipping her ungloved hand into hers and leaning forward to kiss her firmly on the lips. “And I adore you, my queen.” She creased her eyebrows, realizing something. “What brings you out into the gardens at this hour, anyway? You should be eating your breakfast still.”
“I started early when I woke to find an empty space in my bed,” Charlotte replied somewhat tartly.
“But, I came looking for you when I heard the ship coming in.”
“Is that what that was? I wondered, but I was…” Juliana raised her gloved hand, still clenched around the offending weed and looked a little sheepish.
“Preoccupied?” Charlotte finished.
“Yes, let’s go with that. So, a ship? It’s a little early for a ship.”
“I thought so as well, so I tracked it with the omnioculars.”
“Anyone important?”
“It was from the Star Union,” Charlotte said. “One of their new ultra-fast pickets. It…” she sighed. “It had the livery of the Duchy of New Georgia on it.”
“Your cousin. David, no, Dean, no-” Juliana frowned in irritation.
“Drake,” Charlotte supplied.
“Yes, him. That’s the one,” Juliana said. “Has he sent any messages? Any word that he’s coming?”
“No,” Charlotte admitted.
“So, it could be just another ship on urgent business for anything, right?” Juliana said. “There might be no need to worry at all.”
“Maybe,” Charlotte said. “But-”
“No good news comes early in the morning.” Juliana finished. She pulled the glove off of her hand and tossed it next to the pile of weeds she had placed to one side along with the garden implements. “Would it ease your mind if we went and find out what the ship wanted?”
“It would, my love, but…” she glanced pointedly at the mess and Juliana flapped her hand dismissively with a mischievous grin playing about her face. “The gardeners can get it.”
“Juliana!” Charlotte sounded scandalized.
“As you pointed out, my love, we do pay people- experts, some of them, to take care of things like this,” Juliana slipped her arm into Charlotte’s and with Charlotte rolling her eyes, but smiling as well, the two of them began to walk arm in arm back out of the gardens and toward the Palace, Grimsby an ever-present shadow in their wake. Charlotte was just about convinced that maybe Juliana was right and maybe she had nothing to worry about, but just as they turned the last corner and the terrace came into view, her heart sank. There was Mr. Vanderbeek, Juliana’s chief secretary, waiting at the top of the stairs for them.
Juliana felt her stiffen and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. “Pieter,” she called as they made their way toward the steps. “Good morning!”
Mr. Vanderbeek bowed. “Good morning, your majesties.”
“You’re up early,” Juliana noted as they reached the bottom of the steps and climbed up onto the terrace. “What brings you to the Palace at this hour?”
“A delegation from the Star Union has arrived, your majesty. They’re requesting to meet with Queen Charlotte most urgently.”
“Did they say what about?” Charlotte tried to make the question sound casual but realized she probably failed at that and shook her head ruefully.
“They did not, your majesty,” Mr. Vanderbeek said. “But I am told that his Grace, the Duke of New Georgia is the head of their delegation.”
“Drake?” Charlotte broke in, surprised. “He’s here himself?”
“Yes, your majesty.”
“Who else?” Juliana asked.
“Intelligence is working on that,” Mr. Vanderbeek said. “But so far, we have identified the Archbishop of Astralis Prime, the Earl of New Shaftesbury and a Parliamentarian we believe to be Beatrice Boothroyd.”
“When do they want to meet?” Charlotte asked.
“As soon as possible, they say, your majesty,” Mr. Vanderbeek replied.
“Has the government been informed?” Juliana asked.
“Yes, your majesty.”
“Very well, since they’re still renovating Noordiende, we’ll have to receive them at the Voorhout Palace. See to it, please and prepare a ground car for her majesty and myself. We won’t keep them waiting long,” Juliana ordered.
Mr. Vanderbeek bowed. “As you wish, your majesty.” He retreated the requisite five steps, taking care not to turn his back on either woman before, having reached the appropriate distance, he turned and hurried away to make the arrangements.
Receiving an official delegation from a foreign power required more of the Queen than it did the Queen Consort, so while Juliana allowed herself to be herded away by various functionaries and ladies in waiting to be cleaned and dressed, Charlotte was left to her own devices. Having decided on a sonic shower over the more decadent option of a water shower, she soon found herself opening the door to her closet, robe wrapped tightly around her.
It was less of a closet and more of a room, but that was the privilege of being a Queen Consort. There were dresses and suits and uniforms for every occasion. The chattering classes tended to notice if she wore the same dress twice, which had bothered Charlotte when she was younger, but now, she no longer cared. Dresses could be worn more than once. She had done so throughout her childhood on Cosmara if for no other reason than her family's reduced circumstances had made it a necessity.
She walked down the length of the closet, lightly running her hands along the dresses, wondering what she should wear. Cousin Drake, the Archbishop, the Earl of New Shaftesbury, and whoever that Parliamentarian is… there is only one reason to send a delegation like that to see me. Her hand stopped and, reaching up, she pushed the dresses back to reveal a simple, unadorned red dress.
Even with the prolong treatments, humanity was not immortal. Her father’s cancer had advanced, inexorably, resistant to every treatment they had tried.
Grandfather even sent his personal physician, she remembered. The Doctor arrived in secret, towards the end, in the dead of night, and tried her best, but… Juliana, always so careful to never even give the appearance of asking for favors or getting special privileges had made a quiet call to the government and bundled her onto the fastest ship Herenveen Prime had. It had not been enough. She arrived an hour after he had gone, quietly, without much fuss, as was his way.
He had not wanted an elaborate funeral. Juliana had brought the children. Cousin Drake had arrived as well, which had been a surprise at the time. All of them, clad in their funeral red, on the lip of the hillside of their small farm, the towers of Cosmara City in the distance, watching as the flames of the funeral pyre climbed higher and higher.
She ran her hands over the red mourning dress, remembering. She had not worn it since that day. It seemed a lifetime ago, but there was only one reason they would be sending a delegation like this. Charlotte took the dress down out of the closet and carried it back into the bedroom laying it across her bed. Then she went back into the closet and walked all the way to the back where the jewelry was kept. She did not hesitate this time. Opening the top drawer, she pulled out her mother’s sapphire necklace, the famous Star of Astralis, the one thing she had taken from the Palace when they had fled into exile.
Charlotte held it up to the light and, leaning forward blew some offending dust from it before nodding to herself in approval. “Yes, this will do quite nicely.”
Half an hour later, Charlotte made her way down the grand staircase to the main entrance of the Palace, where Juliana was waiting for her. She was dressed more modestly- in her usual grey suit with a simple string of pearls and a matching purse, but her lips pursed appreciatively as she watched Charlotte descend, Grimsby behind her as always.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Juliana smiled at Charlotte and then said, “Grimsby?”
“Yes, your majesty,” Grimsby stepped forward.
“Can you check to see where our ground car has gotten to?”
“At once, your majesty,” Grimsby inclined his head and then crossed over to the front doors of the palace and, opening them, slipped through.
Once they were alone, Juliana, cocked an eyebrow at Charlotte. “Red? That’s the color of mourning in the Star Union.”
“There’s only one reason I can think of for them to send an urgent delegation to meet with me,” Charlotte replied. “If my Grandfather has finally died, I will not show anything less than the utmost respect for his memory.”
“Well, you look lovely,” Juliana said. “Every inch an exiled Princess of the Star Union.”
“I hope so,” Charlotte replied.
Grimsby was returning and Juliana stood up as they both walked over to meet him. “You said you can only think of one reason,” Juliana noted.
“What else could it be?” Charlotte asked.
Juliana looked as if she was about to say something, but instead, shrugged and gave Charlotte a reassuring smile. “You’re right,” she said. “Let’s go see what they have to say.”
It was half an hour later when they finally arrived in the grand hall of the Voorhout Palace. That wasn’t entirely unexpected. They were both Queens (well, Juliana was the Queen, Charlotte was the Queen Consort,) and as the two of them, arm in arm, walked out of the antechamber onto the dais of the Throne Room, Charlotte had to admit that they both looked the part. Juliana guided Charlotte to her throne at Juliana’s right, before stepping up onto the main dais and taking her place on the Oranjetanuki Throne.
Mr. Vanderbeek was already in place off to Juliana’s left and after a moment to smooth out her skirt, she nodded to him Mr. Vanderbeek stepped down off the dais and walked the length of the throne room before opening the door and vanishing for a moment onto the other side. Charlotte felt her heart begin to beat faster and forced herself to take a slow deep breath to calm down. Juliana is right. Let’s see what they have to say. Another slow, deep breath and she became irritated with herself. Why are you acting like a spoiled Princess? You’re a grown woman and Queen Consort
The doors opened and Mr. Vanderbeek lead the delegation into the throne room and walked about halfway down before stopping, bowing, and then saying: “Your Majesties, an urgent delegation from the Star Union wishes an audience.”
“Their request is granted,” Juliana replied.
Mr. Vanderbeek stepped smoothly aside and the delegation advanced. As they came closer, Charlotte recognized her cousin, Drake. He was grown now, of course, but even behind the beard, she could still recognize him. The delegation advanced and went down to one knee as both Charlotte and Juliana rose to greet them.
“Your majesty,” Drake said. “We bring sad tidings. Your grandfather, the King Emperor of the Star Union is dead.”
Even though she had been expecting the news, the words fell like a hammer blow and Charlotte was surprised at the surge of emotion she felt. After the Revolt that sent her family into exile, her grandfather had been dragged out of retirement as the only acceptable option to both warring factions in the Star Union. Quietly, he had done what he could to make sure her family was comfortable in exile but had never once contacted them. Her only memories of him were happy ones, from her childhood, before they were exiled. She couldn’t bring herself to resent the old man, even now– and if either of her parents had harbored any bitterness towards him, they had never shown it.
“These are sad tidings indeed, cousin,” Charlotte replied. “I appreciate you coming all this way to tell me in person, but a vid-message or a tight beam would have been just as welcome.”
“Your majesty,” Drake said. “While those tidings are the official reason for our visit, we have another purpose here. A purpose of great urgency and import.”
Charlotte frowned. “What other purpose could bring you here so urgently, cousin?”
“We are here to offer you the Crown of the Star Union.”
If the news of her grandfather’s passing had been a hammer blow, this was news that nearly made her stumble and Charlotte felt herself swaying in shock, her mouth open in astonishment. Suddenly, Juliana was there beside her, gently tucking her arm into hers and steering her safely back into her seat. Charlotte smoothed her skirts out, trying to compose herself as she grappled with the enormity of what Drake had just said.
Juliana stood beside her, hand on her shoulder. “On whose authority do you make such an offer, your Grace?”
“Your majesty, with me I have representatives from the nobility, the church, and the commons. Our common desire is that which her majesty’s father and those who came before fought for and represented: a Monarch who governs in the name of the duly elected Parliament of the Star Union.”
“And how is that different from what you have now?” Juliana asked. Charlotte was dizzy with shock, but still managed to nod in agreement, still not trusting herself to speak. This had to be a joke, a prank, something- whatever it was, it couldn’t be real. The Crown? Her?
You could go home. A whisper from deep inside of her.
Drake grimaced. “The succession is contested. My Uncle Phillip-” Drake smiled knowingly as he saw the expression of disgust flash across Charlotte’s face, “-believes that he has the strongest claim. He is opposed by my cousin Hubert-” and his smile was genuine now as Charlotte covered an incipient laugh with a well-timed if artificial cough. “Your majesty, may I…” he shifted uncomfortably. “May I speak freely to my cousin for a moment, not the Queen Consort of Herenveen Prime?”
Juliana glanced down at Charlotte who nodded her assent.
“Cousin, I understand your skepticism and even your hesitation, but…” Drake sighed. “Invite me to dinner tonight. We can have a real conversation about what this actually means.”
Charlotte and Juliana exchanged glances for a long moment before Charlotte nodded and Juliana looked at Drake. “Your grace, it will be our pleasure to have you join us for dinner tonight at our residence at Het Loo. Seven o’clock, sharp.”
Drake inclined his head. “Thank you for your most gracious and kind invitation, your majesty.”
“We will withdraw then and make preparations,” Juliana said slipping her hand from Charlotte’s shoulder. She stood and the two of them left through the entrance they had come in, arm in arm once again.
Charlotte felt like she was in a daze, but allowed Juliana to lead her back towards their ground car. Mr. Vanderbeek was waiting at the courtyard entrance. “Mr. Vanderbeek, I take it you heard?”
“I did, your majesty.”
“If you would inform the Prime Minister and ask him for a full briefing later tonight. I would like to know the government’s opinion of this… unexpected offer.”
“Yes ma’am,” Mr. Vanderbeek replied. “Will the two of you be returning to Het Loo?”
“Yes, we will. The Duke of New Georgia will be joining us for dinner as well,” Juliana said.
“Very well, ma’am.”
“Thank you, Mr. Vanderbeek.”
He bowed and then stood as still as a statue until they had both walked out into the courtyard proper and reached their ground car. Charlotte slid into the seat, still trying to process the offer that Drake had made back in the throne room. The crown? Me?
You could go home, that whisper again, tinged with hope. But where is home? Charlotte replied in the silence of her head as the ground car manuevered out of the courtyard and onto the city streets. She watched as they made their way down the row of embassies from across the galaxy and then a thought occurred to her.
“Yes, darling?”
“Did you know?” Charlotte said. “When I said I could only think of one reason why they would want to see me…”
Juliana said nothing for a long moment before finally taking a breath. “I wondered.”
“But did you know?”
“No,” Juliana replied. “I didn’t. I about fell over when he made his offer..”
Charlotte chuckled. “That makes two of us.” She pursed her lips again and stared out the window, the brief burst of amusement leaving her. “I just wish I knew how real it was.”
Juliana reached over and took her hand. “My love, as soon as we are back at Het Loo I am going to be making all kinds of vid-calls to all kinds of people to see if I can get you an answer to that question.”
It was much later. Juliana had withdrawn after the main course, informing them she had some late calls to make. The stewards cleared away the last of the dessert and Drake leaned back in his chair and emitted a loud groan. “God, that was excellent food. I haven’t eaten that well in years.”
“The position does have some privileges,” Charlotte smiled. “We pay our chefs very well.”
“How well?” Drake asked. “That chocolate mousse was to die for.”
“Hands off,” Charlotte said with mock ferocity. “You can’t have him.”
Drake raised his hands in mock innocence. “All right, I surrender,” he said. Charlotte pushed back her chair and stood up, making her way to a small cart of liquor bottles at the side of the dining room. “Shall we adjourn to the terrace?” Charlotte asked.
“With whiskey, one hopes?” Drake sounded eager but pushed his own chair out to stand up.
“Of course,” Charlotte said. She unstoppered a decanter and poured out two generous measures into a pair of elegant crystal glasses before putting the stopper back in the decanter and turning back to Drake. She held out a glass to him and he closed the distance between them and took it from her, Grimsby having heard her proposal and waiting patiently, holding open the door to the terrace, the two of them walked out onto the terrace, and the warm summer night. Charlotte lead them to a pair of lounge chairs and gestured for Drake to sit down before smoothing out her skirts and sitting opposite him.
Charlotte took a sip of whiskey, unsure of how to begin. Happily, Drake did it for her.
“Ask me the question, cousin.”
“What question?” Charlotte asked, a picture of innocence.
Drake snorted in derision. “The one you’ve been wanting to ask me all night. The one we’ve been dancing around through an appetizer, two main courses, a dessert, and now a glass of whiskey.”
“Direct as always, Drake,” Charlotte smiled. “But, very well.” She took a sip of whiskey. “Why me?”
“Why not you?” Drake leaned back in the chair. “Your claim is just as strong as Phillip’s and it’s certainly stronger than that idiot Hubert’s. You have just as much right to the throne as they do if not more.”
“That’s not enough of a reason,” Charlotte replied. “My family has been in exile from the Star Union for a lifetime now. My children grew up here. My life is here. To the people, I would be a historical relic trotted out to serve some political agenda at best and at worst… a foreigner.”
“You say that your life is here now, but you knew the news we were bringing you and still wore your funeral red. Your sleeves hide them well, but you wear the bidari bracelets as well. I’m willing to bet if asked your children, they would tell me of the food and the traditions you still practice as well-”
“So, we celebrate Diwali and Christmas,” Charlotte said. “What of it? There is a thriving emigrant community here and on a dozen other worlds as well. Maintaining and honoring my heritage doesn’t mean I’m fit to lead a country I haven’t seen in decades.” She took another sip of whiskey. “You need to work on your pitch, Drake. I’m not persuaded.”
Drake considered that for a moment, taking another sip of whiskey. “You could secure your father’s legacy, once and for all.” He sat up straight. “Grandfather’s health had been failing for the past five years. Phillip has been defacto regent the entire time and his regency has not been a happy one. Your father was ousted for backing a government that at the time was seen as dangerously radical.”
“I know the history.”
“Yes, but what you don’t know is that your father was ultimately right,” Drake said. “Back then, he knew the Radicals were right. The tax avoidance of the entire nobility was a weight around the neck of the Star Union. The people resented it. The government was drowning in debt because of it, but when the Radicals tried to move their bill through, it was blocked in the Lords, and the only remedy they had to get it through after the second reading was-”
“The Royal Prerogative?” Charlotte asked, surprised.
Drake nodded. “It was a risk, but one he felt worth taking- unfortunately the nobility disagreed- but after the banking crisis a decade back, even the most diehard of the Lords was forced to concede that the tax exemptions were fiscally ruinous and it ended up being a Conservative government that suspended them.”
“And what of it?” Charlotte asked. “My father took on the Star Union’s political elites and it touched off a rebellion that cost him his throne.”
“Phillip has made it clear that he views the suspension as temporary. More importantly, he’s indicated that he doesn’t believe Parliament has the authority to overrule him on the question of taxation and many are beginning to be concerned that he doesn’t believe in the necessity of a Parliament at all.”
“So he’s a would-be Dictator in the making?” Charlotte grimaced.
“That’s what I’m afraid,” Drake said. “But you, on the other hand, would be untouched by the politics of the Star Union. Your father is remembered with affection amongst the common people and Grandfather, to his credit, did nothing to discourage that. You would be able to preserve the Union without plunging us headlong into either an economic crisis or worse, a Civil War.”
“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” Charlotte sighed. “You’ve fitted me for a crown that I have yet to agree to take and already my head itches at the thought of it.”
“It doesn’t have to be forever,” Drake said. “With prolong treatments these days you could a decade or two, secure your family's legacy, and then step aside for someone else. You could even unify the crowns of Herenveen and the Star Union if you wanted to.”
“Do you ever find the notion of crowns and all this frippery to be a bit ridiculous in this day and age?” Charlotte asked. “Humanity has become a space-faring civilization. We’re spreading further and further out every year, terraforming as we go, and yet they still want us to put crowns on our heads. I’m surprised we haven’t grown beyond it yet.”
“Human society organizes itself somehow into strata. Doesn’t matter what flavor or ideology. We have the titles we have merely because our family was amongst the first stakeholders of the original colony of Astralis Prime. Doesn’t make us better than anyone, not anymore.” Drake drained the last of his whiskey.
“Well said,” Charlotte chuckled.
Drake grinned ruefully. “I’m not selling you on this, am I?”
Charlotte said nothing for a long moment before she too drained the last of her whiskey. “Do you remember that summer lodge Grandfather had down by the coast? Near the village with the funny name?”
“Etretat?” Drake said.
“Yes, that’s the one… named after some old Terran painting.”
“I saw it once when we went to Terra,” Drake said. “The cliffs near that village look nothing like the ones in the painting. And they pronounce it differently too.”
“How do they pronounce it?”
“Etret-ah,” Drake said. He shrugged. “Some weird quirk of an old Terran language. They were surprised that the locals pronounced the ‘t’ at the end.”
“Anyway,” Charlotte said. “Do you remember the hill, right by the beach?”
“I remember it being more of a vertical climb,” Drake said. “But yes, I do.”
“I loved the view from the top,” Charlotte said. “It’s one of the clearest memories I have. You could see that whole stretch of the south coast…” she trailed off, lost in the memory.
“And?” Drake prompted.
“I think,” Charlotte said slowly. “I think it would be nice to climb that hill again.”
Drake smiled. “So you are thinking about it?”
“I might be,” Charlotte said. She stood up and Drake stood with her. “But now, cousin, I need to go to bed.”
“Until tomorrow, cousin.”
Charlotte slept better than she expected and still managed to slip out of bed the next morning and make her way out onto the terrace where Grimsby awaited her with her usual morning coffee. She wrapped her robe around her tightly, for the cool of the evening still hung in the air. In the light of the day, she was forced to admit the uncomfortable truth to herself: she didn’t know what to think.
Part of her was tempted: she hadn’t been lying to Drake last night and even though he had shamelessly tried to trade on her nostalgia for her childhood at first, his arguments about her father’s legacy had been more persuasive than she wanted to admit. Phillip would be a disaster for the Star Union and if several members of the extended Royal line were suddenly afflicted with terminal illness or enough of them dropped dead that Hubert’s claim went from punchline to reality, he might be an even worse choice for the Star Union.
There were others, of course, but no one had a stronger claim than she.
On the other hand, this was home. This was where she and Juliana had built a family, raised the children, and- the sound of footsteps behind her broke her reverie.
“Now it’s your turn to leave me alone in our bed, I see,” Juliana smiled as she pulled her robe tightly around herself and sat down in the lounge chair opposite her. Grimsby produced another cup and held it up questioningly for a moment before Juliana nodded and he poured a cup, placed it on a saucer, and handed it over to her.
“I was up late enough and still didn’t hear you come in,” Charlotte replied. “What were you up to last night?”
“Meetings,” Juliana replied. “Too many to count, I’m afraid. Did you and Drake talk?”
“We did.”
“I don’t know,” Charlotte said. “It’s tempting. But-” she gestured around her. “We built all this together. It’s our life. Our home. I’m not sure I want to leave it, however tempting it might be.”
“Would it help to know that his offer does appear to be genuine?” Juliana asked. “Our intelligence people were working all night to confirm it, but they’ve got enough sources to be sure that he’s on the level.”
“That doesn’t solve the question of how we do it.”
“The General Staff is of the opinion it wouldn’t take much. Their best plan calls for a lightning-fast surgical strike. You isolate and blockade key points, proclaim yourself, and proceed to Astralis Prime to take the throne.”
“Oh, that easy, huh?”
Juliana shrugged. “That’s what they tell me, anyway. The government also doesn’t hate the idea and is frankly enthusiastic about the possibility of gaining more direct access to their markets.”
“But what about you?” Charlotte asked. “I can’t go to rule the Star Union by myself and leave you here alone. I would… miss you.”
“As I would miss you, my darling,” Juliana replied. “That’s why, if you decide to do this, the government would convene the Staats-General and appoint Eduardo regent in my absence. It’s well past time he was given some real responsibility, anyway, and that way- what? Have I done something-” Juliana looked concerned because Charlotte’s eyes were full and the first tears were beginning to roll down her cheeks.
“You would…give it all up? For me?” Charlotte asked, in a voice thick with emotion.
“Of course,” Juliana replied. “I love you, after all. For decades now, you’ve stood by me, had children with me, and been the best Queen Consort I could have wished for. It is more than past time for you to be Queen in your own right.” She smiled. “Besides, I hear the royal gardens on Astralis Prime are a mess. Your grandfather evidently did not have the greenest of thumbs.”
Charlotte smiled. “I think the real expert was my grandmother, to be totally honest.”
“The only question, my love, remains the biggest one of all. Our children are grown. I have been looking for an excuse to give Eduardo some responsibilities mainly so I could tend to the roses here, but I could just as easily fix up the gardens on Astralis Prime. Drake’s offer appears to be genuine. We can bring the military force to bear quickly enough and easy enough to put you on the throne. So, what do you want to do?
“It seems absurd. I haven’t been back there in decades. I’ve lived in exile my whole life. This is home.”
“It’s not absurd. It also doesn’t have to be forever.”
“Drake said that too,” Charlotte said. “Also said we could unify the crowns if we wanted to.”
“So you are thinking about it?”
Charlotte nodded. “Do you remember the first time we met?”
Juliana smiled. “How could I forget? I chased you up a hill near the University on Cosmara. There was a beautiful view at the top.”
“I loved that hill because it reminded me of a hill along the coast near my grandfather’s summer lodge,” Charlotte said. “If I- no, we do this… will you climb it with me?”
“Yes, my love, I will,” Juliana said. “I won’t ask you to decide now but know this. I think it is well past time for you to be Queen in your own right on a throne of your own. I think the people of the Star Union would welcome a ruler who will respect the government they elect and actually advocate for their welfare. I think everyone who lives in exile harbors a secret dream, a hope of returning home someday. But, my love, my home is with you. Wherever you go.”
It came down to that in the end. That one simple sentence decided it. Charlotte Elizabeth Mackenzie-Nanda, Queen Consort of the Herenveen Staats-Republic looked over at her wife, Juliana Beatrix Oranje-Nassau Chief Stadtholder and Queen of Herenveen Staats-Republic, Chief Executive Officer of it’s associated trading conglomerates and companies. She reached over and took Juliana’s hand in hers. “My Queen, my love, my life,” Charlotte said. “I think I would like to go home again.”
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2023.05.26 12:47 riyaseo6 Promoting Tourism: N Chandrababu Naidu's Initiatives for Tourism Development in Andhra Pradesh

Tourism plays a vital role in economic growth, employment generation, and cultural exchange. Recognizing its potential, former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N Chandrababu Naidu, implemented several TDP Projects to develop and promote tourism in the state. Under his leadership, Andhra Pradesh witnessed significant progress in infrastructure development, heritage conservation, and marketing strategies, attracting domestic and international tourists.
N Chandrababu Naidu's government focused on improving the state's infrastructure to provide a seamless and enjoyable experience for tourists. The development of world-class airports, such as the Visakhapatnam International Airport, increased connectivity and facilitated easier access to popular tourist destinations. Additionally, the construction of well-maintained roads and highways improved transportation links, making it convenient for travelers to explore the state.
Preserving the rich cultural heritage of Andhra Pradesh was a priority for N Chandrababu Naidu. Under his rule TOP TDP MLAs initiated the restoration and renovation of historical monuments and religious sites, enhancing their appeal to visitors. The iconic Amaravati, renowned for its Buddhist heritage, received particular attention, with efforts to develop it as a prominent tourist attraction. The preservation of ancient temples, such as the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati, was also undertaken to promote spiritual tourism.
N Chandrababu Naidu's government implemented innovative marketing strategies to showcase Andhra Pradesh as a must-visit tourist destination. The "Andhra Pradesh Tourism" campaign aimed to create awareness about the state's diverse attractions, including its scenic beauty, cultural festivals, and culinary delights. The campaign utilized social media platforms, travel shows, and print media to reach a wider audience. Collaborations with travel agencies and tour operators helped in designing attractive tour packages and organizing promotional events. For more achievements and contributions of TDP look through the official TDP website.
Recognizing the importance of sustainable tourism, N Chandrababu Naidu emphasized the development of eco-tourism in Andhra Pradesh. The picturesque Araku Valley and the serene Kolleru Lake were among the key locations identified for eco-friendly tourism initiatives. These efforts not only conserved the natural beauty of these regions but also provided employment opportunities for the local communities. Nature camps, trekking trails, and bird-watching activities were introduced to promote eco-tourism and raise environmental awareness.
To boost tourism infrastructure and attract private investment, N Chandrababu Naidu's government actively encouraged public-private partnerships (PPPs). This approach helped develop world-class resorts, hotels, and entertainment zones, offering tourists a range of accommodation and recreational options. The government also provided incentives and tax benefits to attract investment in the tourism sector, stimulating economic growth and generating employment opportunities. Now we can get the local and city news from the TDP official website.
N Chandrababu Naidu's initiatives for tourism development in Andhra Pradesh yielded positive results. The state witnessed a significant increase in tourist footfall, contributing to the overall economic growth. The initiatives not only improve infrastructure and heritage conservation but also enhance local communities' livelihoods. The sustained efforts to promote Andhra Pradesh as a tourist destination brought it into the limelight, attracting both domestic and international tourists. His vision and commitment to tourism development have laid a strong foundation for the industry's growth and prosperity in Andhra Pradesh.
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2023.05.26 11:55 VizagToursandTravels Unveiling the Charms of Vizag: A Journey through Scenic Delights

Unveiling the Charms of Vizag: A Journey through Scenic Delights

Based in Visakhapatnam, Vizag tours and travels invites you to this gem of south India which promises a perfect mix of adventure, art & culture, scenic views, and a destination for nature lovers and travel enthusiasts. Take a tour of this city with us and experience the most promising stay here.
Vizag, a city that captivates the senses with its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant atmosphere. Nestled on the eastern coast of India, Vizag, also known as Visakhapatnam, is a treasure trove of natural wonders and historical marvels. Join us on a virtual journey as we unveil the charms of Vizag and take you through a scenic delight like no other.
Breathtaking Beaches:
Vizag is blessed with picturesque beaches that stretch along its coastline, offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Rushikonda Beach, with its golden sands and pristine waters, is a favorite spot for sunbathing and water sports enthusiasts. The palm-fringed Yarada Beach offers panoramic views of the Bay of Bengal and is a perfect spot for a tranquil retreat. Don't miss the chance to witness the mesmerizing sunset at R.K. Beach, where the sky paints a canvas of vibrant colors.
Majestic Hills and Valleys:
Vizag is encompassed by majestic hills and verdant valleys that beckon nature lovers and adventure seekers. Araku Valley, located about 115 kilometers from the city, is a scenic paradise with cascading waterfalls, coffee plantations, and tribal villages. The Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, with its rich biodiversity and thrilling trekking trails. Explore the beauty of Borra Caves, famous for its million-year-old stalactite and stalagmite formations, creating a surreal underground landscape.
Historical Marvels:
Vizag is steeped in history, and it proudly displays its architectural gems and ancient relics. The Submarine Museum, housed in a decommissioned submarine, offers a unique glimpse into the naval heritage of the city. Explore the magnificence of the 19th-century Dutch colonial bungalow at the Thotlakonda Buddhist Complex, which showcases ancient Buddhist stupas and sculptures. The impressive Ross Hill Church and the century-old lighthouse at Dolphin's Nose are also must-visit historical landmarks.
Cultural Extravaganza:
Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Vizag by exploring its bustling markets, indulging in local delicacies, and witnessing traditional arts and crafts. The Jagadamba Center is a shopper's paradise, offering a wide range of handicrafts, textiles, and traditional jewelry. Experience the rich flavors of Andhra cuisine, with its spicy curries, aromatic biryanis, and mouthwatering seafood delicacies. Don't miss the chance to witness the vibrant Kuchipudi dance performances, a classical dance form native to Andhra Pradesh.
Adventure and Water Sports:
For the adventure enthusiasts, Vizag offers a plethora of thrilling activities. Indulge in scuba diving at Rushikonda Beach, where you can explore the colorful marine life and coral reefs. Take a thrilling jet ski ride or go parasailing to experience an adrenaline rush. For a unique adventure, try paddleboarding or kayaking in the calm waters of the mangrove forests.
Vizag truly embodies the perfect blend of natural beauty, historical richness, and cultural vibrancy. Whether you're seeking relaxation, adventure, or a glimpse into the past, Vizag has something to offer for every traveler. So pack your bags, embark on this enchanting journey, and let Vizag weave its magic on you as you explore its scenic delights.
The Vizag tours and travels in this regard move ahead with respect to the prominence of Araku trip packages with the ability of providing group and single travel criteria.
Vizag Araku Tourism offer services such as holiday packages, car & bus bookings, and hotels bookings. Our top destinations include the hilly destination Araku, the town of temples Annavaram, the cultural destination Jagadalpur, and the beauty of eastern ghats Lambasingi. We are a premium quality travel company offering you all travel solutions and leisure stays at beautiful locations.
For more details,
Mobile: 8977911599
Website: www.vizagtoursandtravels.in
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2023.05.25 15:30 Useful_Antelope4070 Livingston Parish Louisiana Tourism

Livingston Parish Louisiana Tourism

Bass Pro Shops Denham Springs, Louisiana
Welcome to Livingston Parish, Louisiana - a hidden gem in the heart of Southern United States. With its picturesque landscapes, charming communities and rich cultural heritage, this parish is an ideal destination for anyone seeking an authentic Louisiana experience. Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast looking to explore nature or a foodie eager to indulge in mouth-watering Cajun cuisine, Livingston Parish has something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your camera and get ready for a memorable adventure! Here are some of the best things to do and places to see during your visit.

What is Livingston Parish?

Located in southeastern Louisiana, Livingston Parish is a vibrant and diverse community comprising several towns and villages. It covers an area of 700 square miles along the Amite River and encompasses vast natural areas, historic landmarks, family-friendly attractions, and much more.
One of the most popular places to visit in Livingston Parish is Bass Pro Shops - a large outdoor retailer with over 100,000 square feet of retail space featuring fishing gear, hunting equipment, camping supplies, clothing, home decor items and more. Visitors can enjoy interactive exhibits such as archery ranges or aquariums while shopping for their favorite outdoor gear.
Another must-visit attraction in Livingston Parish is Tickfaw State Park - a sprawling wilderness area covering over 1 mile that offers numerous hiking trails through swamps teeming with wildlife. The park also features water playgrounds that are perfect for families looking to cool off during hot summer days.
Livingston Parish also has a rich cultural heritage reflected in its many historical sites such as Denham Springs Antique Village or Old City Hall Arts Center showcasing art from local artists. In short, there's plenty to explore here!

What are the best things to do in Livingston Parish?

Livingston Parish is a hidden gem in Louisiana, offering visitors a range of exciting activities and attractions to explore. Whether you're interested in outdoor adventures or cultural experiences, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
One of the top things to do in Livingston Parish is visiting Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. This massive store offers everything you need for fishing, hunting, camping, and more. You can even catch a fish from inside the store at their indoor pond!
If you're looking for an outdoor adventure, Tickfaw State Park is the perfect place to visit. The park features hiking trails through beautiful cypress swamps and bottomland hardwood forests. You can also go kayaking on the river or take a guided swamp tour.
For those interested in history and culture, check out the Denham Springs Antique District. Here you'll find antique shops filled with unique treasures from all over Louisiana.
Don't miss out on exploring local cuisine while visiting Livingston Parish. There are plenty of restaurants that offer delicious Cajun dishes made with fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients.
Livingston Parish has something for everyone to enjoy during their stay!

Where to stay in Livingston Parish

There are plenty of options for where to stay in Livingston Parish that can suit any traveler's needs and budget. For those looking for a more luxurious experience, there are hotels like the Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express. Both offer comfortable rooms with modern amenities such as free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, and fitness centers.
If you're on a tighter budget or prefer a more homely feel, there are several bed and breakfasts scattered throughout the parish. These quaint establishments provide cozy accommodations along with personalized service from hosts who know all about the best things to do in Livingston Parish.
For outdoor enthusiasts or families looking for a unique experience, camping at one of Tickfaw State Park's many campsites is an excellent option. Wake up surrounded by nature and enjoy activities like hiking trails or kayaking down the river.
If you want to be close to everything while still having some privacy, renting an Airbnb could be perfect. With options ranging from treehouses to spacious homes near attractions like Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, choosing an Airbnb allows visitors access to all Livingston Parish has to offer while enjoying their own space.


Livingston Parish is a beautiful destination that offers visitors the perfect blend of outdoor adventure, rich history, and unique culture. From exploring Bass Pro Shops to hiking in Tickfaw State Park, there's no shortage of activities to keep you entertained.
Whether you're looking for a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, Livingston Parish has something for everyone. With plenty of lodging options and delicious restaurants serving up traditional Cajun cuisine, your trip is sure to be unforgettable.
So if you're planning your next trip and want to experience all that Louisiana has to offer, be sure to add Livingston Parish Tourism to your list. You won't regret it!
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2023.05.25 13:52 EquivalentGrand7273 Are there any ride adventures that offer a cultural or historical experience in addition to the thrill? 🌍🏰

Are there any ride adventures that offer a cultural or historical experience in addition to the thrill? 🌍🏰

Universal adventures
"Unleash the thrill-seeker within while immersing yourself in the captivating stories of the past, as ride adventures intertwine adrenaline and cultural exploration into an unforgettable experience."
For adventure enthusiasts seeking more than just an adrenaline rush, ride adventures that combine thrills with cultural or historical experiences can be an ideal choice. These unique adventures not only provide an exhilarating ride but also immerse you in the rich heritage and stories of a destination. In this blog, we'll explore some ride adventures that offer a perfect blend of excitement and cultural or historical exploration.
Cycling Through Ancient Ruins 🚴‍🏛️
Cycle Adventure: Exploring Historical Landmarks 🚲
Embark on a cycling adventure through destinations like Rome, Athens, or Angkor Wat, where you can pedal through ancient ruins and immerse yourself in history. Ride alongside majestic Roman Colosseum or cycle through the ancient temples of Angkor, and witness the awe-inspiring remnants of bygone civilizations. These ride adventures offer a unique way to connect with the past while explore trips of cycling.
Hot Air Ballooning over Historical Sites 🎈✨
Hot Air Balloon Ride: Aerial Views of Cultural Gems 🌅
Experience the magic of floating above cultural landmarks and historical sites with a hot air balloon ride. Float gently over the stunning landscapes of Cappadocia, Turkey, or the enchanting temples of Bagan, Myanmar. As you soar through the sky, you'll witness the architectural wonders below, capturing panoramic views that blend family adventure travel, history, and the beauty of these cultural treasures.
Horseback Riding through Historic Trails 🐎🌿
Equestrian Adventure: Traversing Historical Routes 🏇
Saddle up for a horseback riding adventure along historic trails that intertwine with cultural significance. Explore the legendary Silk Road on horseback, following the footsteps of ancient traders through mesmerizing landscapes. Ride through the Scottish Highlands, venturing along ancient paths that reveal tales of clans and castles. These horseback riding adventures offer an immersive cultural experience amidst breathtaking natural surroundings.
Jungle Safari and Wildlife Excursions 🦁🌴
Wildlife Adventure: Discovering Nature and History 🐘
Embark on a thrilling wildlife safari that not only brings you closer to exotic animals but also unveils the historical significance of the region. Must explore adventure the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, combined with an exhilarating Amazon rainforest expedition. Go on a jeep safari in India's Ranthambore National Park, where you can witness majestic tigers amidst ancient ruins. These wildlife adventures offer a blend of natural wonders and historical connections.
Ride adventures that offer cultural or historical experiences alongside the thrill are a fantastic way to satisfy your thirst for nature adventure while immersing yourself in the rich heritage of a destination. Whether it's cycling through ancient ruins, floating above historical sites in a hot air balloon, riding horseback along historic trails, or combining wildlife exploration with historical significance, these adventures provide a unique and enriching experience.
So, get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey where adventure, culture, and history converge, leaving you with cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
🌍🎢 Let your ride adventures be a gateway to cultural and historical wonders! 🏰✨
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2023.05.25 12:49 carrieobrien Discover the Best Places to Visit in Las Vegas 2023

Best Places to Visit in Las Vegas

An Unforgettable Experience Awaits You in the Entertainment Capital of the World

Meta description: Discover the best places to visit in Las Vegas 2023 and make the most of your trip to the entertainment capital of the world. Explore the vibrant city, indulge in world-class entertainment, and experience the thrill of iconic attractions.


Welcome to the vibrant and dazzling city of Las Vegas, where dreams come true and unforgettable experiences await you at every turn. Las Vegas is known as the entertainment capital of the world, offering an unrivaled blend of excitement, luxury, and non-stop entertainment. In 2023, this iconic city is set to amaze visitors with a wide array of attractions and experiences. Whether you're a fan of dazzling shows, high-end dining, thrilling casinos, or natural wonders, Las Vegas has something for everyone. Get ready to discover the best places to visit in Las Vegas 2023 and embark on an adventure of a lifetime.

Discover the Best Places to Visit in Las Vegas 2023

Las Vegas offers a multitude of attractions and experiences that will leave you spellbound. Let's dive into some of the must-visit places in Las Vegas in 2023.

1. The Strip: A Glittering Wonderland

The Strip is the heart and soul of Las Vegas, a vibrant and energetic stretch of road that is home to some of the world's most iconic hotels, casinos, and resorts. In 2023, the Strip is expected to be even more extravagant, with new additions and renovations that will take your breath away. Take a stroll along the Strip and marvel at the stunning architecture, vibrant lights, and larger-than-life attractions.

2. The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian: Venice in the Desert

Step into a world of romance and elegance at The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. This shopping destination offers a unique experience, complete with cobblestone walkways, gondola rides, and charming storefronts. Browse through a wide range of high-end boutiques, indulge in gourmet dining, and enjoy live performances by talented street musicians.

3. Fremont Street Experience: A Multimedia Extravaganza

Head to the historic Fremont Street and immerse yourself in the Fremont Street Experience. This dazzling multimedia show features a massive LED canopy that displays breathtaking visuals accompanied by live music and entertainment. Watch the night sky come alive with vibrant colors and be part of an interactive light show that will leave you mesmerized.

4. Bellagio Fountains: A Symphony of Water and Light

No trip to Las Vegas is complete without witnessing the iconic Bellagio Fountains. Located in front of the Bellagio Hotel, these fountains come alive with a synchronized water and light show set to a captivating musical score. Prepare to be enchanted as the fountains dance and soar to new heights, creating a truly magical experience.

5. High Roller: A Sky-High Adventure

Take your Las Vegas experience to new heights aboard the High Roller, the world's tallest observation wheel. Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city skyline from the comfort of your spacious cabin. Whether you choose a daytime ride or a night-time excursion, the High Roller promises unforgettable vistas and photo opportunities.

6. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area: Nature's Oasis

Escape the glitz and glamour of the Strip and discover the natural beauty of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Just a short drive from Las Vegas, this stunning desert landscape offers hiking trails, scenic drives, and breathtaking views. Immerse yourself in nature, spot wildlife, and capture Instagram-worthy moments amidst the rugged red rock formations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What is the best time to visit Las Vegas in 2023?
A1: Las Vegas is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit in 2023 is during the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November) when the weather is pleasant and outdoor activities are enjoyable.
Q2: Are there any family-friendly attractions in Las Vegas?
A2: Yes, Las Vegas offers several family-friendly attractions, such as the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, the Adventuredome Theme Park, and the Discovery Children's Museum.
Q3: Can I visit Las Vegas on a budget?
A3: Absolutely! While Las Vegas is known for its luxury, there are plenty of affordable accommodation options, dining choices, and free attractions like the famous Fountains of Bellagio and the Volcano at The Mirage.
Q4: Are there any day trips from Las Vegas?
A4: Yes, you can embark on exciting day trips from Las Vegas. Popular options include visiting the Hoover Dam, exploring the majestic Grand Canyon, or experiencing the vibrant atmosphere of the nearby city of Los Angeles.
Q5: What is the legal gambling age in Las Vegas?
A5: The legal gambling age in Las Vegas is 21 years old. Make sure to bring a valid ID if you plan on trying your luck at the casinos.
Q6: Is it possible to see a live show in Las Vegas in 2023?
A6: Absolutely! Las Vegas is renowned for its world-class entertainment. From extravagant productions like Cirque du Soleil to headlining concerts and comedy shows, there will be a plethora of live performances to choose from in 2023.


Las Vegas is a city that never fails to captivate and enthrall its visitors. In 2023, the entertainment capital of the world is ready to welcome you with open arms and an array of unforgettable experiences. From the glitz and glamour of the Strip to the natural wonders just a stone's throw away, Las Vegas offers a diverse range of attractions for every traveler. So pack your bags, get ready to roll the dice, and discover the best places to visit in Las Vegas 2023. Let the adventure begin!
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2023.05.25 06:53 broadcaststatic Hedonism Week: In-Depth Thoughts on French Daze & Ibiza Nights Cruise (Part 2)

Hedonism Week: In-Depth Thoughts on French Daze & Ibiza Nights Cruise (Part 2)
[Continued From Part 1: https://www.reddit.com/VirginVoyages/comments/13r8afi/hedonism_week_indepth_thoughts_on_french_daze/ ]

My wife and I went back to the Wake for breakfast, something you can do easily as a drop-in. We got to sit right in front of the windows. She had one of the best eggs benedicts of her life and I had steak and eggs, a breakfast indulgence I've never actually had before. It's always like $8 more on the menu when paying at a diner. I never bothered in the real world. But this isn't a diner or the real world, this is the land of do-as-you-please, and they brought me one hell of a steak.

The Ol' Wake & Wake
Before arriving at Palma, I tried to sample some of what I had been missing on the ship. Against my expectations, my favorite was the Loose Cannon. I wasn't interested initially based on the looks of the place and the fact that rum isn't a flavor I usually enjoy, but they had all sorts of tequila and mezcal stuff like this one drink that's like watermelon, mezcal and a shake of activated charcoal that looks like gunpowder for theme and helps with nausea for function. Plus a jaunty sprig of mint. It's the most singularly delightful cocktail I ever ordered. It's like that all over the ship, though. In keeping with the emotional design, whisky and champagne receive more upscale treatments-- On the Rocks is a whisky Bar modeled with low lighting and rich velour to evoke a kind of conspiratorial, old-Vegas Rat Pack vibe. It's very effective, and to drink whisky in a sport coat at the bar makes a fella feel awfully cool. Sip, the Champagne bar, seems most active during the day when the older crowd runs the boat and the younger crowd is sleeping or out on land. Like its beverage, it's bright and luxurious, the most opulently wealthy of all the bars. And the most expensive if you buy by the bottle. One aspect of the cruise where you don't really get good value is with volume liquor like whole bottles of whatever. The cocktails, at 12-17 a piece, are the same price as most city bars and you pay for presentation. But big box wine stores like BevMo or whatever sell Moet and Chandon Imperial for like $45. On the ship, it's $98. For whole bottles of anything, the baseline seems to be double the American box store price. By contrast, you can get a very large beer in an elegant flute for like $6. My favorite secret dirtbag maneuver at Sip is that you can order a Miller High Life, the Champagne of Beers, for like five bucks and they'll crack the can and decant it for you all fancy-like as if you had paid $300. To me, that's impressive service-- to be treated as if I was living, well, the High Life even though I wasn't quite willing to pay that much. To be respected in my cheapness and given the fantasy of being in such an environment anyway, treated as if I belong among the Imperial crowd. I think that was the moment they broke me, in terms of being skeptical of Virgin Voyages as a corporate, curated experience. They promised me I could voyage my way, and I absolutely was, living my best life with my five dollar French Roulette plays and five dollar decanted beers. That's a lot for a Miller High Life. But a small price, really, for the radiant thrill of the moment and how happy it makes me to remember it now.

A Loose Cannon 'Shot-To-Pus'
Sailing into Palma, we went to the Dock House, their small plates mediteranean eatery and bar. It's on the lower stern of the ship, making it the ideal place to view any of the ship's comings and goings from port. It's spectacularly scenic and features both chairs and beds to lounge around and soak in the atmosphere of wherever the ship happens to be. I think it's one of my top three favorite spots on the ship, the plates are addictively good and the drinks are so crazy on theme for the Balearic Islands. There's a whisky drink called a Fig Sour that easily takes the silver medal for my second favorite cocktail I had on the ship, it's so rich and well balanced and feels like just pure joy to drink while watching the surprisingly large city of Palma slowly draw into view.

The Palma Cathedral
The best beaches on Mallorca are known to be on the North side of the island, an hour away by bus or taxi, called Alcudia. In planning, I had wanted to make that journey, but my wife and I felt like what with the bonus trains to Carcassonne and Monte Carlo we had done enough voluntary transit and wanted to explore the city of Palma itself. Which was a wonderful choice-- the city is much like Barcelona, but kind of shrunken down and tidier. It has its own La Rambla, its own winding Gothic District of sorts. It has one of the largest Cathedrals in all of Europe, dominating the skyline as the Valiant Lady docks at Palma's cruise terminal. There's a large and rambunctious commercial district, with brand name boutiques tucked inside of three hundred year old buildings, the whole thing a strange kind of historical echo of the way Palma has been for centuries. Palma has always been a nexus for luxury goods from far-flung ports. The goods are now more familiar and standardized, but the echo is still there, these are still the same streets that once flowed with leather and spice from a pre-satellite world, when the globe was more uncertain.

Palma At Night
Intoxicating is really the word, it's not enough to call it charming. To an American, it feels like something out of a fairy tale, which Palma storeowners are clever to monetize where possible. It is touristy, yes, but again it's actually very counterproductive to pretend I am not a tourist. I am having an authentic experience by being authentically stunned and amazed by the winding streets and seemingly limitless boutiques. Once the businesses begin to shut down, the city quiets, and the well-lit streets become very mysterious and intriguing. When the wandering impulse is satisfied, a taxi can be easily found to go back to the cruise terminal and fall into bed. Or have a few drinks at the Manor and dance. Or maybe more than a few. I'm easy, that way-- fundamentally all I want is just to party, party party, party party 'til I die.

The Manor Nightclub Aboard Valiant Lady


The Valiant Lady at Palma
At like 2:45 in the morning my wife has me order double vodka redbulls, takes one sip, and decides to go to bed. So I, in the spirit of hedonism week, down both and fall immediately asleep. At nine in the morning I sit bolt upright in bed and think "I sure would hate to have missed seeing the Castell up above the town and I doubt we'll have time for it later." I fling open the blinds to a beautiful day. "Want to hike up to castle, baby?" I ask. "You're a fucking freak of nature," she hisses, using the room tablet to close the blinds again. At first I took it the wrong way, but I had forgotten about the vodka red bulls. When she told me about that, after walking two miles to the tallest hill in Palma and then three more flights of stairs, and back, thinking to myself "I'm a little dizzier than usual this morning, wonder if I'm finally seasick or what," I had to admit that when it comes to points of historical interest I am in fact a freak of nature and will push my body to the stupidest extremes with a smile on my face if it means getting to see a castle. This kind of freak behavior is why they give you two carafes of fresh, cold water every day in your room. You'll probably end up really, really, really needing it.

Castell de Bellver
The Castell de Bellver has the best views of Palma possible, and also the best views of the Valiant Lady while docked in port. There's a trail to the summit that begins at the end of the Carrer de Bellver that leads up to the grand, rounded Castell. The steps are exhausting, especially so if you wake up drunk without realizing it, but the breeze is strong and every few steps provides a new vista. I never expected to actually like the cruise ship as a ship, but it's very handsome and impressive, the portholes and red accents and lack of any children's slides and playsets make the thing just flatly impressive. The previous night it had turned some of its balcony lights red to display a friendly red 'HOLA' to the city as it rested in port. From top to bottom, it is designed to feel contrastingly adult, contrastingly luxurious to the more traditional cruise ships. The Valiant Lady was only built in 2021, according to the big iron plaque that proudly identifies the vessel above the pool area. I feel, aboard the ship, more worldly and cosmopolitan than I ever have before and even if the ship is designed to falsely flatter me that way, I do feel flattered, I do feel like my best self, it inspires me to do ambitious things like party til' 3AM and hike at 9AM. Inside the Bellver is a lot of roman artifacts and statuary, from way back when Palma was part of the Rome's vast mediterranean empire. Perhaps it's because I was still a little drunk, but I was struck by this nude statue.

A Ghost of Hedonism Past
It was made with such a loving care. Two thousand years ago, the artists of Palma were carving tributes to their baddies that are still extremely attractive millenia later. Art appreciation isn't just being pretentious, it's appreciating the intent, and in this case the intent is "Aren't women beautiful? Isn't life beautiful?" When I got back to my sleeping wife, I brought her breakfast in bed as a peace offering, snuggling up to her in our balcony terrace room. Humans are mammals in addition to all our other affectations, we want to eat well, sleep well, and most of all we want to be loved. Same now as it was 2,000 years ago. That feeling I had of being somewhere that fucking Homer had described as the wine-dark sea, actually looking at my own eyes at the deep purple brine that inspired that phrase, was worth almost any price to me. As an American, I grew up unmoored from global history, and here in Palma I finally felt as if I had dropped anchor into the heart of the classical era.
In a Roman mood, we ate pasta at the ship's Italian restaurant, Extra Virgin. I had heard from a lot of people that this was one of the best places to get food on the ship, but I couldn't work up that much enthusiasm about it. Like every other space on the ship, the atmosphere and design of the restaurant is top notch. The ingredients are upscale and impressive sounding, but the effect is kind of flat. This was the only restaurant that I couldn't immediately remember when I ate there and what I had. It was good, I know, it's silly to complain at all because the standard of quality for the food is incredibly high, even here, but without more of a thematic or culinary hook the place kind of slides anonymously in between some of the other on-board dining experiences.

Preparing to Hear The Tale
Every Virgin Voyages cruise has what's called 'Scarlet Night' a boatwide party where you're encouraged to wear red. They kick it off with an amazing vocal performance by the Hostess, who is in addition to being very charming an incredibly powerful jazz vocalist. She's a serious talent. I was really blown away, having gotten a chance to listen more closely at the 'Hostess Sings Her Secrets' show which tells the part lore in a short bit of musical storytelling. I missed most of the on-ship entertainment because I was either partying or adventuring or sleeping, but I'm a sucker for lore, so a party with lore was intriguing to me. Up on the pool deck, once the party begins, you're encouraged to dance in their shallow bathing pool. It feels awesome to do so, freeing and wild, a real '90s romcom moment but actually happening to you. I was all geared up for a long and varied Scarlet Night, but the friends my wife and I made at Gunbae were a form of ship royalty, they had purchased the Mega Rockstar Suite, with a bottomless bar package, and we were invited to party there. This was a special and remarkable thing to happen, not just for the glimpse into the Lifestyles of Suite and Famous, but also just to make such free and easy social connections on the boat. There's a meme I like that's "How to Make Friends in Your '30s" and it shows a man drawing a pentagram on the ground, summoning a goat demon, and then handing the demon a basketball to shoot some hoops. Sometimes it feels like black magic to actually make new friends. But the boat is like summer camp and prom rolled up into one for people much too old to really go back to either without the buffer of this cruise ship experience. The next day we were going to dock in Ibiza, and so one person put on The Vengaboys "We're Going to Ibiza" and then everyone sang along to every word, and then someone said "Okay, but like, we actually are this time," and that was just so fucking nuts. It's perhaps common wisdom that if your reference point for Ibiza is the Vengaboys you are too old for Ibiza, but I'm going to say that you are not, like everything on the cruise you get back the energy you put in. Tell yourself you can do it. Believe in yourself. Ride your inner Vengabus, because it is comin', and everybody is jumpin'.
Because our cruise was so underbooked, our host was able to get their Mega Rockstar Suite for the minimum bid plus one dollar on the odd little 'bid on an upgrade' email you get. I couldn't afford more than the Sea Terrace XL even as an upgrade, I was overspending with that already, but holy hell do you get the works with the top level price. The bottomless bar is bottomless. Since the price of the Mega Rockstar is something like ten grand, I wouldn't say the booze is complimentary, but it is acknowledged that you have paid enough and need pay no more. In addition to bottomless room bar you get $200 daily on board bar tab for craft cocktails and wine and such. Plus a personal concierge and priority access to everything. And your own private hot tub and open-air shower-- above the bridge and the Captain themselves. Even symbolically, that's King Shit. It's just absurd in every way-- on a ship designed to make even the cheapest customer feel like royalty, how do you one-up the baseline experience? Well, by essentially completely eliminating the need to worry about the price of anything aboard. True fantasy-- everything you want, essentially prepaid beyond the rate at which you could possibly spend that much money anyway. With a couch and a living room and guitars and a telescope and, like, fuck, dude. I was a little sad not to have seen more of Scarlet Night itself, but I caught instead a glimpse of what Virgin Voyages offers as opulence-within-opulence, the most glorious peaks of the self-indulgence it can provide. Trying to be a good guest, I offered to venmo our host back for what I was drinking. They explained to me that bottomless really means bottomless with the in-room bar. And so I opened my second bottle of Moet Imperial of the trip, the effervescent vapor of extravagant luxury wafting up at me. I was a guest. It's only a week. But I was, perhaps, a little disappointed in myself for how quickly I came to crave these little tastes of the good life I had found so impossibly distant in my twenties. What would me at 18 think of me here, at 35, downing champagne on such a ship, hanging out in such a suite even as a guest? Angry? Irritated? Relieved that I had made it so far? Was this a kind of fulfillment of who I used to be and how hard I used to work or a betrayal of it? My wife and I had been together for a decade, and had never taken a trip like this, never dreamed of it before. It was so far beyond what we were used to. And that's also how they get you. I'll obey this subreddit's no drug discussion policy in my anecdotes and metaphors, but man-oh-man, when it comes to luxury that first taste really does fuck with your brain chemistry in the craziest ways.


'Music On' at Pacha, around 2AM
Pacha is, in a way, also a point of historical interest. It is a disco nightclub that has been going every spring, summer, and fall for fifty consecutive years. It's hard and extortionately expensive to get tickets, but they're cheaper the farther in advance you get them. If you want to go to Pacha or another Ibiza superclub, you should make a plan and buy your club tickets the moment you book your cruise dates to lock in admittance at the lowest price. I was a little worried about purchasing through the Ibiza Spotlight, a local weekly that coordinates ticket sales, but my wife, my friends, and I got in through the prepayment line in short order using the ticket barcodes from Ibiza spotlight on my phone with no problem. Pacha was the biggest challenge of the trip-- physically, emotionally, financially. It is a lawless and awful place that also serves as the most extreme version of the mega nightclub experience a person can find themselves in. Every one star and five star review you may have read about Pacha are simultaneously accurate and true. The party (Music On), begins at midnight and goes until seven in the morning. I was too old for this shit. But my heart wanted to be young this way. I had sworn my solemn vow to Party Til I Died, and this was as dangerously close to that line as I was going to get.

Ibiza's Old Town Commercial District
Ibiza operates during its on-season in a staggered rotation of events and meals. During the morning there is nothing. During the afternoon there are shops and lunch places open, serving the day crowd, or beach raves for the rowdy among the tourists. Then the food closes and the rest of the shops open until ten or so. The dinner places go from like 8 to 10 at night. Ten to midnight is a transition zone, everything closes down and the bars begin to slowly open one by one until midnight when the nightlife springs into furious action.
Pacha is the kind of nightclub that would be illegal in the United States on like every level. They don't seem to believe in capacity, the whole place is a sea of bodies, butt-to-butt-to-butt in stifling and vaguely dangerous drifts of rhythmic dancers, between which move fragile trains of partiers on their way from one end of the dance floor to another, a journey they may not ever actually finish. Each DJ bathes the place in a different color, creating a slightly different mood, but the crowding never improves. It's important to take breaks and go outside to the patio, no matter how hard it is to get back to the dance floor, just for the air. The absolute most predatory thing is that they charge for water-- not only charge a little, they charge 10 Euro for a red bull can full of still or sparkling water. It's literal extortion considering the sobriety situation of 99% of the crowd. From midnight until like 4:30 in the morning, it's a wild mess of sweat and movement, stuck somewhere in between joy and misery at any given moment.
And yet.

'Music On' at Pacha, closer to 6:30 AM
These early hours of the Pacha party are a crucible, a harrowing. This is a test to see who is here to fucking party and who is truly a tourist. Around 5 in the morning, the dance floor begins to become actually comfortable to dance. My wife and I were led by our friends up a staircase to an upper deck by the light technicians, offering an incredible panorama. My wife commented it looked kind of like a circle of hell. In Dante's Inferno, the lustful are condemned to be borne on howling winds for all eternity, swirling around in an impulsive chaos that reflects how they allowed themselves to be led around by the genitals in life. Always figured that's where I'd end up myself, if gluttony didn't overtake it as number one favorite sin. Or maybe going to a bunch of Cathedrals before going to Pacha puts you in a weird headspace, I don't know. But all those arms, all those bodies, waving and blending together in the strobe light. It makes me wish there an oil painting titled like 'The DJ Booth by Caravaggio', it was so unreal to witness, so humid, so dense with humanity and emotion which the DJ manipulates up and down with the beat. The party really reaches its peak of enjoyability and energy at six in the morning, that last hour has an impossibly intense atmosphere of anticipation. When the DJ finally stopped teasing the last drop and ended his set, fifteen minutes after seven in the morning, when the hexagon panels retracted and the house lights came on, the sense of release and catharsis was unlike almost any sensation I'd ever experienced. My wife and I walked all the way back to the ship in the morning sunshine, colorful and gorgeous and blissfully quiet. I felt like I had wrung out my brain like a dirty cloth, and now it was ready to work again.

Holy Fuck Is It Morning Out Here Or What
Before Pacha, my wife and I used our three hour pass to the on-board Redemption Spa while the ship was rolling into port. I had never been to a spa, but I have to admit it's an important component of Hedonism Week. The spa is all about contrasting sensation-- cold pools followed by hot pools, dry saunas followed by wet saunas, followed by a shocking, bracing dip in cold clear water. My favorite thing was just the heated marble platforms by the window. I felt so relaxed, like an animal in the sun, unburdened by anything, content in every way. They offer a mud treatment kind of thing included in the Splash of Romance package where they give you a small cup of treated mud that you rub all over yourself and then stay in an extra hot, extra humid steam room for ten minutes sweating into before rinsing off with cold water. It's supposed to pull all your bad stuff from your pores, which I don't know is true or not, but I did enjoy the sensation and did feel refreshed. That sense of using extreme sensations of hot and cold, of comfort and discomfort, was what I experienced in such an otherwise opposite way at Pacha. Both were a cleanse of sorts, a strange and violent purging of the poisons I carry with me, and I felt grateful to have experienced both. To experience both on the same day, though-- baby, that's Hedonism Week.
Our final restaurant experience on board was at Pink Agave. We had the most delightful, enthusiastic hostess of the whole trip, she ordered a little of everything for our group of four and took such good care of us that we forgot, for a moment, how exhausted we were. Following Pacha, I slept almost straight through to the ship's final cast-off of the voyage. Almost. As I've mentioned, the only thing I love more than partying is visiting old castles, so I couldn't let Ibiza slip by without hauling by aching feet and overtwerked ass to the top of the famous Dalt Villa. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Dalt Villa is the oldest part of the Ibiza as a port town. The entrance gate was constructed in the 1500s and holds Roman statues dating many centuries older. The church at the top, built in the 1400s, was closed at the time, but I got one last view of the town I'd visited and ship I'd grown so fond of. It was an excellent way to say goodbye. After sailing out of Ibiza, you only have one more night to party it down, pack, and go home.

The Valiant Lady from the Dalt Villa
It's a sad time on the ship, bittersweet, which is why they close it down with the 'Circus Disco' , an acrobatic performance to classic, mellow hits of the '70s and '80s. Then everyone joins in on the dancefloor as the BeeGees sing you off to to your final limit of exhaustion and sleep, merciful sleep, finally catches up with you until your disembarkation time. Hedonism week has concluded. Reality has to resume. I didn't think I would struggle to let go so much, but I did. In the past week or so, I truly had been my best self, my most favorite version of myself, and while I can take that home with me I just didn't ultimately want to stop being in the place that made it so easy to find that self.

Goodbye, Ibiza

A number of years ago I had a bad depression and gained a bunch of weight, and so for years I dressed myself with a sense of shame. Whenever I went shopping I found the denim equivalent of "I'll wear the sackcloth, please." Before this trip, in anticipation of it, I bought myself a lot of stylish stuff that actually fit the body I had. I wore a lot of it for the first time this trip. I felt, for the first time in years, incredibly handsome, and interesting, and powerful, because I was putting effort into being all those things and acting all those ways. I have never pushed myself so hard, or felt more adult. I had what felt like truly an adventure of a lifetime, a journey into hedonic pleasure and exotic landscapes and dozens of flavors and smells and sensations I had never known to want. I know that's not everyone's experience on the ship. But it was mine. I put in every ounce of energy I had and the return on that investment was absolutely enormous.
What I think is especially amazing is the diversity of passengers and passenger experiences on board the ship and how, simultaneously, 1300 people were experiencing their own personal version of that best self. For many, pushing oneself to the extremes of exploration, sensation, and exhaustion is not their idea of a vacation. And that more relaxing experience is there too, already on offer as part of the many curated experiences. No one attitude, gender, sexuality, age, or set of interests dominated the ship's demographic, it was always an exciting froth of everything and everyone mixed together.
The Valiant Lady's staff deserves particular credit for making that happen. They act as janitors, waiters, porters, and ringmasters, managing the vices and messes of 1300 people all acting on pure id. So when you see folks complaining on this subreddit about having to work through technical problems or minor language barriers, this is kind of insulting in the face of what an amazing job the crew does of keeping the mood and visual standard of the ship constant and on track. The job of creating an adult fantasyland that's only 60% fantasy and 40% actual reality is a colossal amount of work, and they keep that shit running, well, ship shape every single day 24/7 while the passengers worry about very little other than impulse. Any luxury experience is the peak of a pyramid supported by a massive service infrastructure. Often on the Valiant Lady, that infrastructure is invisible. Without it, though, it would not have been the transformative and beautiful experience it was. I could not have felt my best self without so many people being their most professional selves, and I'm quite grateful for the many hands that made that possible.
More than anything, what I wanted to give my wife for her birthday was something that made her feel special. While I feel a complicated way politically about my experience, I don't feel any kind of complexity about being good to my wife and giving her a chance to experience unencumbered joy. She got that. We got to have a weeklong, incredibly intense date that we can carry with us always now, who we were on the trip, how we felt about each other. Erotic treats aside, it truly was a second honeymoon in every meaningful way. All I really expected was an all-inclusive hotel that moves. What I got was a sampler platter of sensation and fantasy that my wife and I ate from until the very moment the week was over and we were exiled from the buffet.
So if you want to know what the profit model of Virgin Voyages is, that's the grift in a nutshell: I felt better and more myself on this cruise than nearly anything I've ever done. And I would pay through the nose to come crawling back, to dine once more at the table of sensation. I felt like if I posted this anywhere else on social media, it would seem like sponsored content, and I hate that. But here among, well, fellow travelers so to speak I feel good about telling this story. You guys get it. Hopefully I'll see you out there. Because I'm going to be chasing this experience for a long time.

Portal to Adventure, Ibiza
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2023.05.24 13:32 healthylifeblogs Hidden Gems: Exploring Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

When it comes to travel, there is something inherently exciting about venturing off the beaten path and discovering hidden gems. These lesser-known destinations often offer a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural authenticity, and a sense of adventure that can't be found in mainstream tourist hotspots. In this blog, we invite you to join us on a journey to explore some of the world's most captivating hidden gems, where awe-inspiring landscapes, rich history, and warm local hospitality await.
  1. Unraveling the Enigma of Faroe Islands: Tucked away in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Faroe Islands are an archipelago of breathtaking landscapes and untouched beauty. With dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and charming villages, this remote destination is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers seeking solitude and serenity.
  2. Lost in the Marvels of Huacachina, Peru: Nestled amidst the arid sand dunes of southwestern Peru, Huacachina is an oasis of stunning natural beauty. This desert village is famous for its picturesque lagoon, where visitors can try sandboarding, take exhilarating dune buggy rides, and witness mesmerizing sunsets over the vast desert expanse.
  3. Discovering the Intrigue of Matera, Italy: Stepping into the ancient city of Matera in southern Italy is like traveling back in time. Known for its unique cave dwellings, called "Sassi," Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a captivating maze of narrow alleys, historic churches, and breathtaking vistas. Immerse yourself in the city's rich history and indulge in the flavors of authentic Italian cuisine.
  4. Serenity and Splendor in Ninh Binh, Vietnam: Escape the bustling cities of Vietnam and find tranquility in the enchanting province of Ninh Binh. With its emerald rice paddies, limestone karsts, and picturesque waterways, Ninh Binh offers a serene and idyllic setting. Explore ancient temples, take a boat ride through the majestic Tam Coc, and cycle along rural paths to fully immerse yourself in this hidden gem.
  5. Captivated by the Charms of Salento, Colombia: Nestled in the coffee region of Colombia, Salento is a vibrant and colorful town that embodies the country's warm hospitality and natural splendor. Surrounded by lush coffee plantations and towering wax palm trees, Salento provides an immersive experience in Colombian coffee culture, vibrant street art, and exhilarating hikes in the nearby Cocora Valley.
  6. Unveiling the Secrets of Kotor, Montenegro: Nestled along the stunning Bay of Kotor, this medieval town offers a blend of history, natural beauty, and architectural wonders. With its charming cobblestone streets, ancient city walls, and breathtaking vistas from the surrounding mountains, Kotor is a hidden gem for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
  7. Immersing in the Mystique of Luang Prabang, Laos: Located in the mountainous region of northern Laos, Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its blend of French colonial architecture, glistening temples, and serene Buddhist monasteries. Immerse yourself in the city's spiritual ambiance, witness the alms-giving ceremony at dawn, and explore the nearby Kuang Si Waterfalls for a truly unforgettable experience.
  8. Mesmerized by the Magic of Ometepe Island, Nicaragua: Situated in Lake Nicaragua, Ometepe Island is a haven of natural beauty and cultural significance. Formed by two volcanoes, the island boasts lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and a rich indigenous heritage. Hike to the summit of Concepción or Maderas volcano, kayak on the calm waters of the lake, or simply unwind and soak in the island's tranquil atmosphere.
  9. Unforgettable Adventures in Sapa, Vietnam: Nestled in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains of northern Vietnam, Sapa is a hidden gem renowned for its terraced rice fields and vibrant hill tribes. Embark on a trekking adventure through the picturesque valleys, interact with the local Hmong, Dao, and Tay communities, and witness the breathtaking beauty of the region's cascading waterfalls and mountain peaks.
  10. Exploring the Untouched Beauty of Socotra, Yemen: Located off the coast of Yemen, Socotra Island is a true natural wonder. Known for its otherworldly landscapes and unique flora and fauna, including the iconic Dragon's Blood Trees, Socotra offers an off-the-grid adventure like no other. Explore the pristine beaches, hike through the rugged terrain, and immerse yourself in the island's rich biodiversity.
  11. Hidden Paradise in Palawan, Philippines: Palawan is a tropical paradise that captivates travelers with its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and awe-inspiring limestone cliffs. While the popular El Nido and Coron may steal the spotlight, venture deeper into Palawan to discover lesser-known gems such as Port Barton and the Calamian Islands, where tranquility and natural beauty abound.
  12. Mystical Beauty of Göreme, Turkey: Tucked away in the Cappadocia region of Turkey, Göreme is a surreal destination renowned for its fairy-tale-like landscapes. Explore the unique rock formations, underground cities, and ancient cave churches that make Göreme a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise for a truly mesmerizing experience.
  13. Serene Splendor of San Juan Islands, USA: Located off the coast of Washington State, the San Juan Islands offer a peaceful retreat surrounded by stunning natural beauty. With lush forests, picturesque shorelines, and abundant wildlife, the islands provide a perfect escape for nature lovers. Enjoy kayaking, whale watching, and exploring charming coastal towns to truly appreciate the island's serenity.
  14. Cultural Delights of Chefchaouen, Morocco: Nestled in the Rif Mountains of Morocco, Chefchaouen is a captivating town known for its distinctive blue-painted streets and buildings. This hidden gem offers a blend of Moorish and Andalusian influences, providing a unique cultural experience. Lose yourself in the maze-like streets, visit the historic kasbah, and indulge in the vibrant local cuisine.
  15. Pristine Beauty of the Azores, Portugal: The Azores archipelago, situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is a nature lover's paradise. With its volcanic landscapes, azure lakes, and dramatic coastlines, the Azores offer a tranquil and unspoiled destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Hike along scenic trails, explore volcanic caves, and soak in natural hot springs for a truly rejuvenating experience.
Conclusion: Exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations provides a chance to uncover hidden gems that offer unique experiences and a sense of discovery. From remote islands and mystical mountains to vibrant towns and cultural enclaves, these lesser-known destinations captivate travelers with their natural beauty, rich history, and warm local hospitality. So, step off the well-trodden path and embark on a journey of exploration to these hidden gems that promise unforgettable adventures and lifelong memories.
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2023.05.24 11:59 BiteMeDating 21 Free and Fabulous Dog-Friendly London Date Ideas!

Picture this: you, your significant other, and your canine companion embarking on a pawsome adventure through the dog-friendly side of London. And the best part? It won’t cost you a quid!
We’ve sniffed out the most splendid, free date ideas where you can create memories and wagging tails all around. So grab your leash, put on your walking shoes, and let’s dive into this woof-tastic list of 21 dog-friendly date ideas that’ll make you go “BiteMe!” (but in a good way, we promise!).

Parks and Gardens: Nature’s Love Haven

  1. Romantic Royal Parks:
Prepare to feel like royalty as you wander hand-in-paw through London’s Royal Parks. Hyde Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens offer landscapes fit for a queen (or a king, we don’t discriminate!). Get ready to swoon amidst serene settings and majestic views.
2. Escape to Epping Forest:
Step into a fairytale at Epping Forest, London’s green oasis. Lose yourselves amidst ancient trees and whispering wildlife as you and your pup explore the enchanting trails hand-in-leash.
3. Hampstead Heath Hideaway:
Discover the romance of Hampstead Heath, where breathtaking views, tranquil ponds, and lush meadows await. Take your date and furry friend on a dreamy escapade filled with love and laughter.

Landmarks and Culture: Love in the City

4. London Landmarks:
Strike a pose outside iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge. Let your pup steal the spotlight as you capture unforgettable moments against the backdrop of London’s most famous attractions.
  1. Shoreditch Street Art Adventure:
Immerse yourselves in the vibrant world of Shoreditch’s street art. Explore colourful murals, Instagram-worthy graffiti, and hidden gems as you and your date become art connoisseurs with a canine twist.

Markets and Foodie Delights: Love on a Plate

  1. Dog-Friendly Market Delights:
Indulge in the flavours of London’s dog-friendly markets. From Spitalfields to Maltby Street, treat your taste buds to culinary delights while your furry companion enjoys the delightful scents and sights of foodie heaven.

Historic Houses and Cultural Gems: Timeless Love Stories

  1. Historic House Gardens:
Immerse yourselves in history at Osterley House and Marble Hill House. Explore their stunning gardens, hand in paw, as you uncover tales of love and opulence from a bygone era.

Canal Walks and Scenic Routes: Love Along the Waterways

  1. Regent’s Canal Stroll:
Embark on a romantic canal-side adventure along Regent’s Canal. Take in the picturesque scenery, hold hands with your loved one, and watch your pup’s tail wag with delight as you explore the city’s hidden waterways.

Dog-Friendly Events and Socialising: Love in the Canine Community

  1. Unleash the Love:
Exclusive Dog Events with BiteMe Sign up now for BiteMe, the ultimate dating app for dog lovers! Join our vibrant community and gain access to exclusive dog events around London. Whether it’s social walks, dog shows, or canine-themed parties, you and your pup will be in for a good time. Visit BiteMe and let the canine romance begin.
Who knows, you might just find your “hound-mate” and create memories that mark.
PS. London is a playground for dog-loving couples seeking memorable and budget-friendly dates. Whether you’re wandering through picturesque parks, exploring vibrant street art, savouring delicious treats at bustling markets or attending exclusive dog events, there’s something for every couple and their furry sidekick.
Remember, love and laughter are the best free treats in town! Woof, Woof.
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2023.05.24 09:03 NeighborhoodHead8539 Romantic Escapes in Essex: Unveiling Exquisite Destinations for Couples

Romantic Escapes in Essex: Unveiling Exquisite Destinations for Couples

Essex, a county known for its picturesque landscapes and charming towns, offers a plethora of romantic destinations for couples seeking a memorable getaway. From serene countryside retreats to idyllic coastal escapes, Essex has something to enchant every couple. In this article, we will guide you through the most romantic destinations in Essex, while also highlighting the presence of luxurious hotels with spa in Essex , that offer indulgent spa facilities, allowing you and your partner to relax and rejuvenate amidst your romantic adventures.

Dedham Vale: A Romantic Countryside Haven

Escape to the tranquil beauty of Dedham Vale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that has inspired artists for centuries. Take leisurely walks hand-in-hand along the idyllic River Stour, surrounded by rolling hills and breathtaking meadows. After exploring the stunning countryside, retreat to one of the luxurious hotels in Essex with spa facilities, where you can indulge in couples' massages, soothing baths, and other rejuvenating treatments.

Mersea Island: A Seaside Retreat for Two

Discover the romantic charm of Mersea Island, a peaceful getaway nestled along the Essex coast. Walk hand-in-hand along the sandy beaches, witness stunning sunsets, and savor delectable seafood at local restaurants. After a day of seaside bliss, pamper yourselves at one of the luxurious hotels in Essex, where you can unwind in the spa's serene atmosphere and enjoy a range of rejuvenating treatments.

Audley End House and Gardens: A Stroll Through Time

Immerse yourselves in the grandeur of Audley End House and Gardens, a magnificent mansion with meticulously landscaped grounds. Take a romantic stroll through the beautiful gardens, admiring the enchanting scenery and enjoying each other's company. Afterward, retire to one of the luxurious hotels with spa facilities in Essex, where you can indulge in couples' spa experiences and let skilled therapists melt away your stress.

Colchester: A Historic and Romantic Escape

Embark on a journey through history in the charming town of Colchester. Explore the cobbled streets hand-in-hand, visit the iconic Colchester Castle, and delve into the town's rich heritage. Indulge in a romantic dinner at one of the town's finest restaurants before returning to your luxurious hotel in Essex, where you can enjoy a range of spa amenities designed to enhance your relaxation and rejuvenation.

Hockley: A Quaint Village Retreat

Experience the quiet charm of Hockley, a picturesque village surrounded by serene countryside. Enjoy romantic walks or bicycle rides together along scenic trails, immersing yourselves in the beauty of nature. After a day of exploration, retreat to one of the luxurious hotels in Essex, where you can unwind in the spa's tranquil ambiance, indulge in couples' treatments, and savor the ultimate relaxation.

Luxurious Hotels with Spa Facilities for Couples in Essex:

To complete your romantic escape in Essex, indulge in the luxurious amenities offered by hotels with exceptional spa facilities. Pamper yourselves with rejuvenating treatments, such as massages, facials, and aromatherapy baths. Immerse yourselves in the tranquility of spa environments designed to enhance your sense of well-being and deepen your connection as a couple.

Embrace the romance of Essex as you explore these enchanting destinations hand-in-hand with your loved one. From the serenity of the countryside to the beauty of coastal retreats, Essex offers the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway. Create lasting memories together as you indulge in the beauty, tranquility, and romance of Essex, while also embracing the luxurious comforts of hotels with spa facilities.
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