Hiking the Haute Route with Alpenwild – Chamonix to Zermatt

January 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel information

Hiking the Haute Route with Alpenwild

Nature lovers are also world explorers. The goal is often to find a singular nirvana-like experience amongst the Earth’s natural beauties. One of the most sought after hikes in the world, and particularly in Europe, is the Haute Route high in the Swiss Alps. The hike begins in the Chamonix valley in France and finishes in Zermatt, Switzerland, home of the Matterhorn. Depending on whether the hike is attempted by ski or foot, the Haute Route will take anywhere from 12-14 days to complete. Though there may be higher hikes in the likes of places like Colorado, the Haute Route is considered by many experienced hikers to be one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding.

The route now features many signs and posts along the trail. The trail also gives hikers the opportunity to enjoy some wonderful mountain huts and villages throughout their hike. The Haute Route will showcase to travelers a side of Europe that most tourists do not bother to see.

The hike, while challenging in terms of elevation gains and its long distance, is also welcoming to all types of hikers that are in fairly good physical condition. Whether you are experienced, inexperienced, old, or young, the Haute Route does not require much more than the desire to explore. If you are to undertake the hike during the winter, then ski touring gear is required and additional hiking/avalanche gear may be necessary depending on weather conditions and the paths that you take.

The Haute Route covers nearly 177 kilometers (or 110 miles). The hike will consist of both strenuous days and more relaxed days. Regardless of the difficulty of a given day’s adventure, you are sure to be surrounded by great company and even better vistas.

Nicki Preece (Alpenwild Trip Leader) has been hiking in the Alps for over eight years and she does not hesitate to declare the Haute Route as the most beautiful hike she’s ever been on. The Haute Route is known for the wide variety of landscapes along the route. Hikers are exposed to fantastic peaks and glaciers throughout their journey. Mountain forests, green valleys, rich blue skies, Swiss villages, and cool mountain lakes are all found along the Haute Route. The hike contains a variety of both challenges and scenery with some rich exposure to some fantastic foods and cultures. The beauty that is found on the hike is ongoing and there are spectacular vistas found around every corner and bend. Be sure to bring a camera with either lots of extra film or with extra memory if you are shooting digitally. This hike will have you take pictures in the hundreds.

There is also a great camaraderie formed among fellow hikers. Hikers become close friends with those from the same group as well as others found along the trail. You will meet plenty of new friends from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. All will experience something personal and unique along with memories they will all share forever.  The Haute Route will leave you wanting to make the effort to come back again just so you can experience this majestic journey over and over again.

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Portugal – Europe’s Hidden Treasure

January 7, 2014 by  
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Europe is on many travelers’ lists of top travel destinations. England, Italy, France, and Greece seem to be the most sought after and are often filled with tourists in the major cities. There is one small country that offers many classic and beautiful European treasures, but is often overlooked. Looking for great beaches with gorgeous lagoons? How about quaint little European villages? Delicious cuisine? Historical landmarks? Portugal offers all of these and so much more.

Portugal's scenic lagoon

Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, is filled with delicious restaurants, an exciting nightlife, and gorgeous landmarks. Be sure to drive across the 25th of April Bridge (that resembles San Francisco’s Golden Gate) to visit Portugal’s own Cristo Rei statue. You can get a taste of Brazil’s Cristo Redentor statue by simply visiting Cristo Rei located in Almada, just across the Tagus River from Lisbon.

Head south to the ancient town of Evora where you can find great bread and cheese that is special to the area. While you’re there, you may as well visit the infamous Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) located inside the Church of St. Francis. This chapel gets its name because the entire chapel is lined with human bones and skulls! You can also find ancient Roman ruins in Evora that date back to Christ’s lifetime.

Just a few more hours south of Evora you will come to the southern coast of Portugal. Head to the town of Lagos for great beaches and fantastic lagoons. Portugal is also known for its seafood and you will find some great local restaurants while in Lagos.

If you head up to Northern Portugal, be sure to stop by the town of Fatima. You will find a great monument dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Fatima where it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to three Portuguese shepherd children. Portugal’s historical and religious culture is vibrant in Fatima.

Continue heading north and visit Portugal’s second largest city, Porto. Located on the Douro river, Porto is rich in European architecture and history. It is likely to be one of the most beautiful urban areas you can find. Wherever you may be standing in Porto, you will have an amazing view.

So if you’re thinking of visiting Europe, make Portugal one of your top destinations. You will find beauty where you least expect it.

Why Choose The Saltwhistle Bay Club On Mayreau In The Grenadines

October 14, 2013 by  
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To get to The Saltwhistle Bay Club on Mayreau you fly into Barbados, wait around, then catch a plane to Union Island, and there you are collected by boat.

It can be a long way, so be ready for a less than comfortable local flight from Barbados, and be grateful it is short!! I do feel however that your expectations always rise with the degree of difficulty of accessing your vacation destination

It is the price you pay for classic Caribbean seclusion which is what you get at Saltwhistle Bay.

It is a very small resort, with a most beautiful beach on a very sleepy island.

There are only 10 rooms, which are in stone cottages, built with local wood and stone, well screened by palm trees.

The main reason however that I would choose the Saltwhistle Bay Club is that it is simple, very comfortable, and a real barefoot escape. I personally just love to unwind, to mind my own business, to read, or just to walk on a pure white sand beach and wade in a crystal clear turquoise sea. This is the perfect place to do just that. This place is best described as almost completely undeveloped, so much so you immediately fall into a kind of stupor where it’s difficult to remember the hustle and bustle of the outside world you so recently left.

How many places can you honestly say are like that today?

I just knew instinctively from the moment I arrived off the beach and was greeted by a rum punch, and my suitcases vanished to my room that Saltwhistle was somewhere very special.

Having said all that the bay is a popular port of call for local yacht charters, so the bar is busy if you feel like company.

This is not a cheap vacation, nor is it one for five star cosseted hotel seekers, but definitely a place for people who still regard themselves as travellers and not tourists, for people who research and book independently.

Where To Honeymoon My Love

October 10, 2013 by  
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There are so many options when choosing what type of honeymoon to take. The most important thing is make sure that both wife and husband agree on a place to go that they will both have a good time. If one person has a good time it won’t make a memorable honeymoon.

A tropical getaway can be the perfect honeymoon just relaxing in the sand and surf in a romantic setting. This is a great choice for a honeymoon as there is relaxing and generally many activities as well and can be in some of the most beautiful places in the world.

There is also the sportier honeymoon for the active couple as there are honeymoons where the focus can be on an activity, besides the romance of a new marriage. You can head to the slopes to catch some great skiing or hit the lake to water ski and partake in the many water activities available.

An exciting option for newly married couples can be a traveling honeymoon where the couple travels to somewhere they have never been before. European vacations are popular because some cities are very romantic such as Paris and Venice. For the more adventurous couple there are more active traveling honeymoons such as a safari in Africa or heading to Brazil to see Carnival.

If you want a little lady luck on your side from the beginning of the marriage than Las Vegas can be a great destination for a honeymoon. There is great food, relaxing by the pool, and lots of activities, shows, and not to mention the gambling, all intertwined in a Las Vegas honeymoon.

Travel, active, relaxing, exciting, there are so many different types of honeymoons to go on in so many destinations that it is hard to choose the right one as to be called, “the perfect honeymoon”

When Traveling To Memphis

October 7, 2013 by  
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Memphis the jewel of the mid-south, sits on the might Mississippi river, and is home of the worlds greatest attractions. If you’re looking for a vacation full of excitement, history, and southern charm, then Memphis Tennessee is the place for you.

Memphis a City that dates back over 200 years, also that survived the civil war, and the great earthquake is a warm inviting city for vacationers every year. Famous for its music and barbeque, there are also other things that one can visit while staying in Memphis.

Everyone should visit Beale Street where you still get the feel of that down home blues of B.B. King and Memphis Minnie. On Beale Street you can also get world famous soul food and party the night away with the sound of constant music from an eclectic assortment of musical clubs. It would also be comforting to talk a stroll down on Front Street to the Mississippi River. A ride on the Memphis Queen is always a nice closure to your evening. When the night has died down you can stroll back to you hotel room at the world famous Peabody Hotel and in the morning watch the ducks waddle in to lobby before breakfast. After breakfast, you should visit Elvis Presley Mansion and maybe stay or eat lunch at the Heartbreak Hotel in front of Elvis’s House. Mud Island, a replica of the Mississippi River is a museum full of enlightening information of Memphis’ past. You can also take a ride on the Monorail and maybe have brunch there. The Pyramid is also a tourist attraction found downtown, Memphis’ very own replica of Ancient Egyptian’s Pyramids.

There are other social important places to see as well. For instance a trip to Memphis wouldn’t be quite complete with a visit to the Civil Right Museum. There you can get the history of Civil Rights Movement, get a historical perspective, and even see where Martin Luther King was slain. The controversial replica of the Statue of Liberty is housed in Memphis at World Overcomers Church. It has received national attention, so don’t forget to stop by and get a snapshot.

Memphis’ very own NBA team, The Grizzlies play at the FedEx forum downtown. Go watch them in action while you’re in town. The Peabody Place, located in downtown Memphis is another great way to spend a day in Memphis. Shop in the malls, hang out at Jillian’s, or enjoy the IMAX theatre.

You can’t leave Memphis without stopping by the Memphis Zoo. Memphis’s Zoo is a large fantastic zoo that also features the Panda Exhibit. After the zoo, the Pink Palace Museum and the Brooks Art Museum are a must.

Remember when visiting Memphis, partake in all of it’s many inviting and alluring aspects. You won’t be sorry, because the southern hospitality, fascinating entertainment, and incredible cuisine will never disappoint you

What You Can Do To Avoid A Terrorist Attack

October 3, 2013 by  
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Having an anti-terror/force protection plan is mandatory for military trips and should be completed by anyone taking an overseas trip.

Most terrorist attacks are the result of careful planning. Just as a car thief will first be attracted to an unlocked car with the key in the ignition, terrorists are looking for the most accessible targets. The chances that a tourist, traveling with an unpublished program or itinerary, would be the victim of terrorism are slight. In addition, many terrorist groups, seeking publicity for political causes within their own country or region, may not be looking for American targets.

Nevertheless, the following pointers may help you avoid becoming a target of opportunity. These precautions may provide some degree of protection, and can serve as practical and psychological deterrents to would-be terrorists.

* Schedule direct flights if possible, and avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas.

* Be cautious about what you discuss with strangers or what others may overhear.

* Try to minimize the time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area. Move quickly from the check-in counter to the secured areas. Upon arrival, leave the airport as soon as possible.

* As much as possible, avoid luggage tags, dress and behavior that may draw attention to yourself.

* Keep an eye out for abandoned packages or briefcases, or other suspicious items. Report them to airport authorities and leave the area promptly.

* Avoid obvious terrorist targets, such as places where Westerners are known to congregate.

* Watch for people following you or “loiterers” observing your comings and goings.

* Report any suspicious activity to local police, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

* Keep a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Formulate a plan of action for what you will do if a bomb explodes or there is gunfire nearby.

* Select your own taxicabs at random. Don’t take a vehicle that is not clearly identified as a taxi. Compare the face of the driver with the one on his or her posted license.

* If possible, travel with others.

* Be sure of the identity of visitors before opening the door of your hotel room. Don’t meet strangers at your hotel room, or at unknown or remote locations.

* Refuse unexpected packages.

* Check for loose wires or other suspicious activity around your car.

* Be sure your vehicle is in good operating condition.

* Drive with car windows closed in crowded streets. Bombs can be thrown through open windows.

* If you are ever in a situation where somebody starts shooting, drop to the floor or get down as low as possible. Don’t move until you are sure the danger has passed. Do not attempt to help rescuers and do not pick up a weapon. If possible, shield yourself behind a solid object. If you must move, crawl on your stomach.

What To Learn About Before You Go To A Foreign Country

September 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Travel information

Security. The Department of State’s Consular Information Sheets are available for every country of the world. They describe entry requirements, currency regulations, unusual health conditions, the crime and security situation, political disturbances, areas of instability, and special information about driving and road conditions. They also provide addresses and emergency telephone numbers for U.S. embassies and consulates. In general, the Sheets do not give advice. Instead, they describe conditions so travelers can make informed decisions about their trips.

In some dangerous situations, however, the Department of State recommends that Americans defer travel to a country. In such a case, a Travel Warning is issued for the country in addition to its Consular Information Sheet.

Public Announcements are a means to disseminate information about relatively short-term and/or trans-national conditions posing significant risks to the security of American travelers. They are issued when there is a perceived threat, even if it does not involve Americans as a particular target group. In the past, Public Announcements have been issued to deal with short-term coups, pre-election disturbances, and violence by terrorists and anniversary dates of specific terrorist events.

You can access Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements 24-hours a day in several ways.

Internet

The most convenient source of information about travel and consular services is the Consular Affairs home page. The web site address is /travel.state.gov. If you do not have access to the Internet at home, work or school, your local library may provide access to the Internet.

Telephone

The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

By Mail/In Person

Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements are available at any of the regional passport agencies and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, or, by writing and sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Office of American Citizens Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520.

Local Laws and Customs. When you leave the United States, you are subject to the laws of the country where you are. Therefore, before you go, learn as much as you can about the local laws and customs of the places you plan to visit. Good resources are your library, your travel agent, and the embassies, consulates or tourist bureaus of the countries you will visit. In addition, keep track of what is being reported in the media about recent developments in those countries.

What Is A Gap Year What Can I Do

September 25, 2013 by  
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A gap year, also known as a year out, is that year taken between high school and university, or after university and before getting a job, to travel and explore the world. It is that year that you set aside to become an adventurer and have fantastic experiences doing things you have never done before. It is that gap in your life when you break your routine and do something completely different!

There are so many ways to spend your gap year, from volunteering on a wildlife reserve in Africa, to learning Spanish and kitesurfing in Ecuador! For those who are on a tight budget, working abroad can pay for itself. If you’re more career minded, there are thousands of International Internships which will give you hands on experience in your field of study, look great on your resume, and give you a great excuse to travel. You can also spend a year studying abroad at a foreign university and earn credits towards your degree at the same time. Or maybe you’d prefer to spend you time learning to scuba dive in Fiji while working on an environmental conservation project.

The options are endless, but below is a little taste of some of the more popular ways to spend a fantastic gap year:

Volunteer Abroad
There are literally hundreds of organizations and charities out there that place volunteers on projects around the world during their gap year. The two main categories of volunteer projects are community projects and environmental projects. Community projects include teaching English and other subjects in local schools, building projects like building houses or wells in small communities with sparse resources, or working in health care facilities among other things. Environmental projects on the other hand focus on being immersed in nature, perhaps researching wildlife which is becoming extinct, or working to protect forests which are in jeopardy. Volunteer organizations tend to send volunteers in groups, so that you can get to know the people you are working with. Accommodation and food are generally provided as part of the package, and there are often side trips and excursions planned for the group. Volunteering can be an immensely rewarding experience, and a great way to really get involved in the culture you are staying in. Not only will you do a good thing for others, but you will have amazing stories to tell when you get home.

Adventure Travel
Adventure travel is a relatively ambiguous title, but this category includes the sort of gap year travel that gives you an adrenaline rush! Have you ever wanted to try scuba diving? Sky diving? Kiteboarding? Surfing? Skiing or snowboarding? How about going to mountaineering school in Patagonia? Well this is your chance! If you’re passionate about scuba diving, why not do it at the great barrier reef in Australia? Spend a few months and become an expert, get your PADI certificates and improve your skills. Or maybe you’re a surfer at heart but born in New York, why not learn from the best surfers in Costa Rica, and pick up a little Spanish along the way. Or for those that like the cold, you can spend a while in Switzerland learning to be a ski instructor on the great Alps! Adventure travel lets you really test your strengths and weaknesses, and gives you the opportunity to learn something profound about yourself and the world. Many Adventure Travel companies will offer packages including room, board, and training and equipment needed for your adventures.

Internships and Work Experience Programs
So you finished school, and now it’s time to get a job, but you have no experience to show on your resume! A gap year internship is such a great way to gain experience which will prepare you for the work force, and why not enhance your experience by doing it abroad! Europe is a particularly popular place for doing internships these days, but its best to go where your industry shines, for example an interest in Fashion can be nurtured with a fashion internship in Italy, home of the great designers. Or a business internship can be conducted in China, what a great asset to have behind you when you later apply for a corporate executive position. From engineering to graphic design, there are all sorts of great companies out there looking for eager young people wanting to get their feet wet. Internship programs usually include room and board, and often include language lessons to help you get by in your new culture.

Study Abroad
If you’re intent on finishing your career studies without taking a break from your schooling, then study abroad during your gap year! Speak to your own school or university and ask for the guidelines regarding transferring your credits, educational institutions tend to respect the value of travel and almost always grant credit for such programs. Imagine spending a semester in Spain or Italy! Learn a bit of the language, live with the people, enjoy the cuisine and continue your studies, it will only enhance your employability later. There are lots of study abroad programs to choose from, some are focused on a certain area of study while others are focused on relationships with particular institutions. Consult your own school for credit information.

Work Abroad
A lack of money is a poor excuse not to travel and take a gap year. If you can do it at home you can do it abroad. No matter where you go in the world every restaurant needs waiters, and every office needs someone to answer the phone. And what better way to see how the average person lives in a foreign country than by joining them for the 9 to 5! Find a job that is similar to what you might do at home, this will help you to surround yourself with people you would normally hang out with. But don’t work too hard! Make sure you find some time to spend that money on sights and side trips. There are lots of jobs available to travelers, you can easily apply before you go and secure your position before you get there. Jobs may or may not include your room and board, and weather they do or not will be reflected in your salary earned.

As you can see, the gap year opportunities are endless and there is definitely something for every type of person. A gap year provides a way to see the world, to experience other cultures, meet different people, and also to learn new skills. A gap year can be personally enriching, and at the same time gives you great experience to enhance your resume when you return home.

What Happens If You Are Arrested Overseas

September 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Travel information

When you are in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws, and American officials are limited as to how they can assist you. They cannot, for instance, represent you in legal proceedings or pay your legal fees or other expenses. They can, however, perform a variety of vital services, which include providing a list of attorneys, assisting in contacting your family in the U.S. if you wish it, helping you obtain money from family in the U.S., and monitoring your health and welfare and the conditions under which you are being held.

If you are arrested, immediately ask to speak to a consular officer at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Under international agreements, the U.S. Government has a right to provide consular assistance to you upon your request. If your request to speak to your consul is turned down, keep asking—politely, but persistently.

Special warning about drug offenses abroad

Every year, several hundred Americans are arrested abroad on drug charges. Persons caught with illegal drugs in a foreign country are subject to the drug laws of that country, not those of the U.S.; as always, ignorance of the law is no excuse. In many countries, the burden of proof is on the accused to show that he or she is innocent of the charges.

Some Americans take advantage of an offer of an all-expenses-paid vacation abroad in exchange for carrying a small package in the luggage. When, to their surprise, they are caught, the fact that they did not know that there were drugs in that package will not reduce the charges against them.

Every aspect of a drug arrest abroad can be different from U.S. practice. For instance:

* few countries provide a jury trial

* many countries do not permit pre-trial release on bail

* pre-trial detention, often in solitary confinement, can last several months

* prisons may lack even minimal comforts, such as beds, toilets, and washbasins

* diets are often inadequate and require supplements from relatives and friends

* officials may not speak English

* physical abuse, confiscation of property, degrading treatment and extortion are
possible.

* persons convicted may face sentences ranging from fines and jail time, to years of hard labor, and even the death penalty

* penalties for drug possession and for drug trafficking are often the same abroad, so possession of one ounce of marijuana could result in years in a foreign jail

As with any arrest of a U.S. citizen abroad, consular officers perform a variety of services. But, you will basically be on your own. Don’t be stupid. Stay away from drugs.

Welcome To Blackpool In Lancashire

September 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Travel information

Blackpool is a small town in Lancashire. Not too long ago was Blackpool a hamlet by the sea. This antiquated Midland resort however is soon becoming a popular holiday resort in England. It does not boast a large population and hence is an ideal spot for a holiday. Due to its gaining popularity, the summers are now filling up with a lot of tourists. This has been a holiday spot since Queen Victoria’s times. Often people belonging to the working class would visit Blackpool for a short but refreshing break. Its main attractions are its beautiful beaches, towers, amusement parks and piers. This small town often reminds you of Atlanta city or even a bit like Vegas but in a very different Victorian way.

So if you are looking out for a holiday that is fairly inexpensive but every bit relaxing and entertaining, Blackpool is your spot. Even if you can’t afford to take a couple of days off from work and have only the weekends off, this is an ideal spot for you. It is a small town and the weekend is just about enough for you to have a quick look around. It is easily accessible as there are several trains to Blackpool from Manchester as well as Liverpool. Especially for those who live in Manchester, Blackpool isn’t very far away. It is about an hours drive away. It’s near but a complete different experience from Manchester. With its amusement parks, sites, rocking nightlife, it is entertaining and great fun.

So how do you go about planning this trip?

First you need to find yourself a good hotel, one within your budget. Blackpool has tons of resorts and hotels. You have a wide variety to choose from. They offer you fantastic rates. You can book rooms ranging from rates at 20 pounds per night to rooms that charge over 50 pounds a night. Accommodation in Blackpool bears no problem at all. You can check in at a guesthouse or live it king size in a luxurious hotel. The hotels are well placed all over Blackpool, so depending on which area you want you can find a hotel or guest house to suit your needs.

What is really great about the hotels is that each one is unique and they all provide you with great views. The hotels boast beautiful architecture and Victorian styles. You will find plenty of hotels that offer you the ocean view, view of the promenade, view of the Blackpool tower, the North Pier, Central Pier, etc. Most of the hotels here have their own restaurants and bars, and hence you need not bother about food or drinks. There are several large hotels that have over 130 rooms each. You have guesthouses as well as hotels ranging from three stars to five stars. You can always be guaranteed shelter in a hotel at any time of the year in Blackpool. However you may want to be on the safe side and book yourself a room in advance since Blackpool is becoming a tourist hot spot.

Now that we’ve firmly established that there is no hassle or problems with accommodation. For those of you who have a keen eye, you can even find cheap bargains with rooms and interesting offers all through the year to Blackpool. Depending on when you visit Blackpool, you get different offers. Like if you’re visiting during November to mid March, you can be sure to find low rates. If you are looking only for bed and breakfast accommodations, you can be sure to find especially low prices.

March to July marks the mid season in Blackpool and you can find accommodation at reasonable prices. The peak season is mid July to end August. In this season most of the rates are high but you can still find good deals. You can find accommodation at about 56 pounds per night. During the winters you can find several interesting packages that offer you a 4-night package with half board accommodation and an unlimited membership to a local health club. These offers are usually during the week.

You also get to choose from a wide range of guest rooms. You can chose from single rooms to family rooms. The room has a TV, tea-coffee making facility and central heating. Most of the hotels and guest rooms in Blackpool pride themselves on doing their best to suit the accommodation needs of everyone at reasonable prices.

Blackpool is an interesting place to have a vacation at and what is more, it is affordable. At a low price, you can have a fun filled holiday.

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