Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dreaming of the Warmer Days Ahead

Wishing I was here right now looking over that spectacular view of the Pacific!  No snow, no wind, no rain, no sub-zero temperatures...just me in this hammock I was relaxing in two years ago on this date just after my arrival at Anamaya Yoga Retreat in Montezuma, Costa Rica.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

GUEST POST - A Look at Icelandic Homes

By Marc Holt

Having the opportunity to travel to different parts of the world really makes one notice the difference in architecture between each country or region. As a staff member of a home building company, my experience in architecture ensured that noticed the unique architectural styles when I visited Iceland. Once I studied into them, it astonished me just how much they have changed during Iceland’s history.

Some of the architectural styles that have been popular in Iceland include:

Turf Homes. This architectural style could be considered the most traditional type of home you would have found in Iceland centuries ago. It is a home that was built into the side of a hill or kept low to the ground. A turf home is almost camouflaged with its environment and most of its roof is covered in grass. With its simple style, pitched roof and grass-covered roofs, these houses have built-in insulation that protects their inhabitants from the cold climate they are located in. This type of architecture didn't originate from Iceland but from the settlers of the western coast of Norway. Although turf homes are rarely constructed today, these houses were built for more than one thousand years in Iceland. There are still examples of these homes scattered throughout the country that have been preserved primarily to be used as museums.

Swiss Chalet Homes. This architectural style started was popular in Iceland in the 19th century going into the 20th during the swing of urbanization. Just like its name suggests, the inspiration of for this architecture design comes from Switzerland and grew popular in Norway, the Netherlands and Iceland around the same time. The unique architectural features of a Swiss Chalet home include the gable-style roof and the decorative carved moldings in the exposed beams from construction. These homes have many small and intricate details; making their style quite a contrast from the simplicity of the turf homes. Two other distinctive features of the Swiss chalet are the addition of balconies around the home and large windows that bring in generous amounts of sunlight.

Contemporary and Modern Architecture.
In the 1930s, the “big push” in Iceland architecture was based on a functionalist design. This style had an influence on the urban planning in cities.As you can guess, the style was created in light of how the building would be used and placed little value on aesthetics. After World War II, the popularity of the functionalist design dwindled as people wanted larger homes with hybrids and more decorative, intricate features.

Today, as many Scandinavian countries are at the forefront of building ultra modern, energy-saving green homes, Iceland is right there with them. With the sleek design of modern architecture, low roofs and large windows are becoming more popular. Iceland is currently making its mark in the world of architecture by creating some of the most high-tech and modern homes in the world.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

So You want to be A Travel Writer? MatadorU Can Help get You Started!

Travel writing sounds like a dream job and in many ways, it is. To many people pursuing an interest or seeking a career in the field, it sounds like it could even be an easy career path to follow. After all, all you have to do is visit some cool places, compile some notes and photos, write some interesting stories and submit to travel publications, right? Wrong. While travel writing can be a fun and adventurous endeavor, it’s a job that require hard work, long hours and lots of dedication and patience and there is more to the business than just writing cool stories if you want to be successful at it at all!

When I first started writing about travel, I thought it would be easy. Reality hit hard and I discovered I didn’t have a clue how to be a real travel writer! I continued to write over the years but my writing was going nowhere. No one was taking an interest in it, no one was offering to publish any of my articles and hardly anyone was even reading, let alone following, this blog. As I was surfing the net one day looking for articles and tutorials on how to be a better travel writer, I came across some information about the. MatadorU Travel Media School

I was intrigued enough to learn more so I kept reading but, like most things I read about on the net that sound to good to be true, I passed it off as some sort of scam or money-grabbing gimmick. It wasn’t until months later when someone recommended the school to me that I started to look into it again but this time with a more open mind.

In the end, I threw caution to the wind, took my friend’s advice and signed up for the travel writing course. It wasn’t a lot of money anyway and what did I have to lose? I started the course immediately and finished it within a couple of months (I was working full-time at that time so it took a little longer than average for me to complete it) and I can 100% honestly say that it is the best thing I’ve done so far to enhance my travel writing.

When I first signed up, I thought the program materials would be riddled with things that I already knew. I was wrong. The course taught me things I had not even thought about. Things that cannot be found simply by doing searches in Google. And I think the reason the course is so effective and full of helpful material is because it is developed by other travel writers and professionals in the industry who have first-hand knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

Since graduating from the course, I’ve had articles accepted for a number of publications, I improved my blog and gained a large following, I won several travel photography competitions, I’ve secured freelance work with several well-known travel companies and I won two travel blogging competitions…and my writing is much, much better!

So by now, you may be wondering what the course has to offer. Keep reading to learn more!

First of all, each course costs $475.00 (but there are promotions and deals available for students who sign up for more than one course at a time and sometimes there are other promotions throughout the year). With each course, you will receive one-on-one feedback on your work to help you discover what you could be doing better. You will also become part of a large community of other aspiring and professional travel writers, photographers, filmmakers and journalists and faculty consisting of award-winning professionals who have worked with well-known publications including National Geographic. You can complete courses at your own pace. Once you complete a course, you receive a certificate that you can print off along with code you can paste to your own website or blog to let everyone know you are a MatadorU Graduate. And my personal favorite – you will have access to a database filled with up-to-date jobs, contests and press trips that you can apply for. Most importantly, you have lifetime access to all course and website materials which means you can go back again and again.

Here are the courses that are available and a rundown of what they offer:

MatadorU Travel Photography Program

Course outline:
Advanced Travel Photography

Learning the different functions of your camera
Understanding exposure: Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO
How to optimize lighting for your photography
Building a portfolio and publishing it online

Advanced Travel Photography
Creating photo essays that tell a story
Preparing to work in the field
Advanced techniques in post-processing
Developing your brand and marketing it
Pitching to editors and getting published

MatadorU Travel Writing Program

Fundamentals of Travel Writing
Crafting a travel story
Learning different forms of travel writing such as social commentary, narrative and personal essay
Researching, interviewing, quoting and citing
Developing your personal brand and gaining a following
Pitching editors

Advanced Travel Writing
Tips on writing about controversial topics
Best practices while on assignment
Pacing, structure, and transitions feature stories

MatadorU Travel Filmmaking Program

Learning about the gear of a travel filmmaker - cameras, lenses, filters, gear, accessories, and software
Composition and getting good exposure
Capturing high-quality audio
Learning about the different styles of travel films
Post-processing procedures such as importing, organizing footage; trimming and cutting; editing sound/music; transitions, effects and titles
Conducting field work
Building your online brand and getting hired

Start your journey into the world of travel journalism here

Sunday, March 22, 2015

There is Still Time to Plan A Last-Minute Spring Break!

Traditional Spring Break may be almost over but Spring is only beginning and those fantastic deals that were posted before Spring Break will continue well into the season. So if you are still pondering the idea of getting away from it all for a week or two, fear not! Perhaps some of these fantastic deals will have you packing your bags for that well-deserved vacation that won't break your wallet.
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