Havre de Grace, MD

Situated at the intersection of the Susquehanna river and the top of the Chesapeake Bay, the self-proclaimed “Decoy Capitol of the World” was burned to the ground in 1812 and is now rich in American history and once lured many visitors to it’s famed horse racing track.

Today the old town has a very relaxed atmosphere and is home to many nice restaurants, coffee shops, old book stores antique shops, Bed and Breakfasts, and a natural products market. Oh, can’t I can’t leave out all the friendly open minded intellectuals that live here.

The lovely promanade adjacent to the lighthouse is perfect for a summer evening stroll.

The week of the 4th of July the town holds a huge carnival with fireworks on saturday in Tydings Park by the water.
A lovely place to visit or take residence if you like small town living by the water.

Vashon Island, Washington

Vashon Island is in the Puget Sound next to Seattle. No bridges to the island, just a ferry that takes you there. If you want the closeness and convenience of Seattle, but you don’t like the high pace nature of Seattle, then Vashon Island is the place to be. It’s more slow paced, and plenty of hippies live there, both old-timers, and young. The only drawback, is the jets that fly overheard from Sea-Tac International Airport a few miles away.

Las Cruces, New Mexico

In southern New Mexico, very different from the northern part of the state, very easy going without the worries of inflated costs of living. We are surrounded by the organ mountains and within a hours drive of the Lincoln and the Gila Mountains as well as White Sands National Monument. A large sized co-op is available along with herb shops and many friendly faces. Las Cruces is a very kind place to live without the annoyance of trust fund artists like Santa Fe!

Museum Het Rembrandthuis

The facade of the Rembrandt House and Museum

The Rembrandthuis Museum is where the famous painter established his own studios here in Amsterdam, and lived with his family from 1639 to 1658.

He eventually left after declaring bankruptcy, and the home has been restored with approximations of it’s original furnishings based on an inventory of his possessions from that time.

Most of the building is devoted to his daily life from the time, and is of course, filled with paintings and art.

Part two of the museum is the new museum wing, where you will find exhibition rooms. The museum shop, the entrance to the museum café, the auditorium and the Rembrandt Information Centre are also located in the new wing.

On the fifth floor is the Rembrandt Information Center, where you can research on DC-rom, in books and other publications. By appointment only.

The Art of Bargaining in Vietnam

When traveling in Vietnam you barter, bargain, and haggle. Its part of the culture. Its a way of life. And that’s the way it is.

For foreigners and tourists it is not the way things work at home. But with the right attitude, it can still be a lot of fun, and can save you money. Here are a few helpful hints to get you started.

First and foremost you need to smile and embrace the entire process. From picking up things and investigating their value, to the haggling, to the actual purchase, it is important to remain positive and friendly. Having a pen and paper, or a calculator will help greatly if you haven’t yet brushed up on your Vietnamese. As well, coming into the barter with a little background information – an estimated price – will also be to your advantage. And, predetermining a fair price that you are willing to pay is key to the success of the experience!

When bargaining, don’t be a afraid to really low ball. If you’ve gone too low, you will know by the look on the sellers face. Nevertheless, continue with poise, tact, and strategy with the back-and-forth negotiations. A little acting and drama goes a long way, and might add an extra dynamic to the show. So go ahead, let it all out, especially if you have found that extra special something.

You can consider adding a number of items to the tally, helping to discount the overall price – remember to be strategic here though. Also, finding a small flaw could also be a means of marking down the price.

Finally, if you just can’t seem to get the price you want, but think you are close, you can try the ol’-thanks-but-no-thanks and walk away approach. This is a little risky because if it doesn’t work you will loose face by returning, and thus be forced have to start all over somewhere else. Nevertheless, ever so often it works like a charm!

At the end of the day, be proud of the items you bought and the prices you paid. Reflect on the people you dealt with, and forever cherish your purchases and memories of traveling in Vietnam.