Category Archive : Tours Travel

Malta is a small island state in Europe, in the middle of the Mediterranean and is a popular holiday destination for many Europeans, mainly from the UK, Germany, Italy, France and the Netherlands. Tourists visit the island for a variety of reasons and the island offers a variety of facets that will appeal to most types of travelers. This article gives you the top 10 reasons why booking a trip to Malta is a great idea, not just for the holiday season next summer, but all year round!

10. Language and money in Malta

The Maltese have their own language (‘Maltese’) but the country has two official languages, the second official language being English. Malta was under British rule for 160 years, gaining independence in 1964, but leaving the Maltese with a relatively solid knowledge of the English language, although Maltese is widely spoken and is the mother tongue of the vast majority of Maltese. For English-speaking tourists, this means that communication is hardly a problem, which is definitely a benefit during the holidays. Although for the moment the Maltese lira remains the only valid currency, the euro will be introduced on January 1, 2008 and many retailers in tourist areas already accept euros as cash payment.

9. Sports and leisure activities

Malta is an ideal place for a variety of sports, such as hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, paragliding, windsurfing and yachting. Lots of activities to keep you entertained, no matter what time of year. Most of the materials needed for these sports are available for low-cost rental and there are several places on the islands where these sports can be practiced. Gozo is a particularly popular place for rock climbing, thanks to its steep cliffs, and mountain biking thanks to its quiet roads and excellent hill climbs.

Events, such as pop concerts and theater shows, but also historical reenactments like In Guardia, are popular with tourists and locals alike and provide great entertainment for the whole family. Are you a fan of watching sports? Don’t worry about missing important matches or events – satellite reception is widely used by popular pubs and there are plenty of snacks and beer to enjoy your favorite sports.

8. Getting around Malta is easy and cheap!

Don’t you hate when you go on vacation and it takes years to get to the beach or visit some cities, museums? Don’t you hate when it takes a whole day to hike, when you waste so much time traveling from place to place that it makes you wonder if it was worth the hassle? If your answer is yes, then Malta is definitely the vacation destination for you. It takes less than an hour to get from one side of the island to the other and there is such a high concentration of sights, beaches, resorts and entertainment venues (restaurants, clubs, cinemas, etc.) that you will want. You would have known about Malta before!

Many tourists decide to visit Malta a second time, and sometimes more, simply because there is so much to do and see, and it takes so little money and time to get around and spend a quality vacation.

7. Gozo offers a peaceful setting for your summer vacation

Malta is not just about Malta. Yes, it is true, the Republic of Malta also covers Gozo, which is the sister island of Malta and is said to be the island that used to be Malta a long time ago: rural, quiet and unspoiled. Gozo is a great place for a quiet vacation (with family or couples), with beautiful beaches and views of the countryside. Visit the capital, Victoria, with its Citadel at the center, a fortified part of the village that used to offer Gozoans refuge from foreign invaders, similar to the surrounding ramparts of Mdina on the main island of Malta. The coastal town of Xlendi is a popular tourist destination that offers a beautiful view of its bay surrounded by high cliffs. Ramla l-Hamla and San Blas Bay are beautiful swimming beaches, one is larger and busier, the other is more secluded and harder to get to (down steep hills) but well worth the effort.

Recently, a shuttle bus service is available that will take you directly from the airport to the ferries on the northern tip of the island of Malta, making arrangements for a Gozo vacation a little easier to plan.

6. Malta has a rich culture and heritage

Over the centuries, the Maltese islands have seen various foreign rulers come and go, leaving their mark on Maltese culture. As a result, Malta is steeped in culture and heritage and offers a wealth of cultural and historical sites within very short distances of each other, making Malta unique on the world map of culture and heritage. In both the Maltese language and culture, remains of invaders Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, French and English can still be found and this melting pot is of interest to many tourists visiting the Maltese islands on vacation.

5. Good quality hotels and accommodation

Good quality hotels and self-catering apartments are widely available at very reasonable prices. Package deals are usually the way to go, but if booked separately, the cost compared to the quality of the accommodation is very good. The main resort areas are St. Julian’s, Bugibba / Qawra and Sliema, all located in the northern part of Malta. Staying in St. Julian’s is recommended if you like to spend your nights out, but, being close to the center of Malta’s nightlife, it is not recommended for couples and families looking for peace and serenity. For those travelers, places like Mellieha and St. Paul’s Bay are much better places to stay.

4. Malta is a year round destination.

A flight from London to Malta takes less than three hours, but the difference in weather is huge. Mild winters and hot summers with an average temperature of 32 ° C mean excellent weather for both hot summer vacations and great winter vacations, to escape the cold at home. There are many activities to be entertained throughout the year and, for example, hiking is a popular way to spend days in the countryside in winter, enjoying the scenery and serenity. Most of the cultural and historical sights are open all year round and although the open-air clubs are not open during the winter months, the nightlife in Malta continues throughout the year.

3. Malta offers a great nightlife to complement your daily activities.

Nights out in the city are a lot of fun as Malta is home to a veritable clubbing hub known as Paceville (St. Julian’s) offering a host of clubs that are literally located door to door and knocking Different genres. music for all tastes. The open-air clubs, however, are what makes nightclubs in Malta quite special. Spending warm summer nights dancing to the latest club and trance anthems or soft rhythms of R&B and hiphop under the stars is something else you must do on your Malta vacation.

2. Holidays in Malta now come with cheap flights

That’s right, low-cost airlines have found Malta and offer very cheap flights to the island outside of peak season and regular cheap flights in summer. These airlines offer flights departing from a select number of locations in Europe, including London, Dublin, Barcelona, ​​Oslo, Stockholm, Pisa (Italy) and Bremen (Germany). Look for airlines like Ryanair, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Clickair, but don’t forget to check out Malta’s national airline, Air Malta, which offers low-cost flights to a much larger number of European destinations.

1. Malta offers more than any other Mediterranean destination

You could say that the main reason for visiting Malta is a combination of all the other reasons listed above – there are many different things you can do while on holiday in Malta and you will never get bored if you get the right information. Baking in the sun on the beach is great for unwinding after a long year of work or school, but most people would rather add a little variety to their vacation time. So if you want to go somewhere else besides the beach, why not visit the many attractions on the island? Visit the ancient capital city of Mdina, for example, surrounded by bastions and brimming with history and an atmosphere you will never forget. Why not take a trip to the sister island of Gozo, with its serene views of the countryside and attractions like the Azure Window, a rock formation sculpted by the sea?

The nights will never be dull when you know where to go. There are many options when it comes to dining out as quality restaurants can be found in most parts of the island. Wine bars and pubs are also popular in Malta and offer quality wines and lagers, beers and several popular brands of spirits both local and international. There are plenty of opportunities for clubbing and outdoor clubbing, and parties are a must if clubbing is your ideal night.

True, San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico and statistically the largest city in the state, but does it have more to offer? It is tea center of nightlife and the most outstanding hotels in the region? Well that’s debatable and it varies between who you ask.

There are other cities in Puerto Rico, most of which harbor their own unique traits that attract different streams of tourists throughout the year.

Looking at the tour is Rio Grande, a city about 20 minutes west of Fajardo (discussed below) and a short excursion southeast of San Juan. Rio Grande is known for combining the commotion and diversity of the capital city with the sedate attitude of a smaller, more elusive coastal city. The luxury resorts with tropical forests and beaches that encompass are precise examples of fusion.

Fajardo It is another large city with natural attractions such as the Bay of Bioluminescence, the Hotel El Conquistador and the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve.

Humacaom is the largest city in eastern Puerto Rico. Its beaches are not that attractive and it inhabits that classic sleepy beach town lifestyle, but what it does offer is the largest hotel in the area, Palmas del Mar.

Composed of the Esperanza and Isabel Segunda II neighborhoods, Vieques island It is the last stop on the tour.

  • Hope It is characterized by the Malicón, which houses several small restaurants, guest houses, a museum and two dive shops. The neighborhood is specifically a residential area and there is also an adjacent park just a few blocks away.
  • Elizabeth Second II it is considered the “city” of the Island of Vieques II.

Wherever your tour takes you, Puerto Rico always proves to be a memorable destination for the many visitors who enjoy its resources each year.

Bike Touring offers a unique way for independent adventure travelers to find new places, meet new people and face new personal challenges anywhere in the world. There is no feeling in the world like speeding down a tall mountain keeping pace with the traffic while the world around you turns blue and the wind grows strong. Of course, cycling tourism is not all downhill; it also presents the intrepid traveler with several unique challenges to overcome. Bike tourism is definitely not for everyone, here’s a quick look at some of the benefits and challenges of seeing the world on two wheels on your own.

PROS: Why cycling is the best way to see the world

Bicycles make you identifiable and accessible: Almost everyone around the world has owned or currently owns a bicycle. Even more universal than cars or buses, everyone remembers the sense of freedom they felt the first time they traveled without support wheels, the magic of an expanded universe offered to them by their first bicycle. On a bike tour, you can expect to be greeted with joy and awe by complete strangers every day of your trip. People will want to know where you are going, where you have been, how much the bike weighs, and more. And behind every question you will find a mixture of admiration and disbelief, as well as the persistent sometimes unspoken thought: “I wonder if I could do that.” More than anything else, cycling is a great way to meet people.

In my own travels, I’ve had lunch with cyclists, truckers, farmers, and scientists, all drawn to the site of my loaded touring bike outside a restaurant and my helmet on the table. If you like meeting people, traveling by bike is the best way to see and get to know the world around you.

Traveling by bicycle is very economical: There is a joke among touring cyclists that we are poor candidates for thieves because everyone “knows” that no one with money would be willing to ride a bike that far. For the most part, it’s also true. When you travel by bike, you save on rent, gas, insurance, parking, maintenance, and a host of other fees that tourists must pay by car. Thanks to inexpensive hiking / bike campsites and tourist bike networks, even housing costs are cheaper than for people traveling by car. For anyone traveling on a budget, cycling is the best and cheapest way to get around.

On a bike tour, you can go where cars can’t: Bicycle trips are becoming more and more accessible. Many cities and countries in Europe are particularly well suited for cycling trips, and even in the car-centric US, many long-distance bike trails and bike-friendly routes have been developed. The “Rails to Trails Conservancy,” in particular, works to turn old unused train slopes and canals into multipurpose trails perfect for biking. Two of the best are the Katy Trail in Missouri and the GAP / C&O Trail that runs 350 car-free miles from Pittsburgh to downtown Washington D.C.

You will slow down and see more: In a world where cars are too fast and walking too slow, bike trips move at the right pace. Seeing the world at 10 mph gives you time to notice the little things that get lost in blur from inside a car. You can see more, smell more (not always a good thing), and hear a lot more than you would otherwise hear, and when you come across something really cool, like a group of elk standing in a field, you can just roll over to the side. off the road, stop and watch them for a while. Almost everyone wants to slow down and enjoy life a little more; on a bike, you can.

You can even get in shape: Probably the most obvious aspect of cycling is general fitness. On a tour, you’ll be traveling 40-60 miles a day, maybe even more when you’re on the pace, and even when you’re not riding you’ll spend more time walking from place to place. Better sleep, get more fresh air, and burn hundreds of calories, providing you with guilt-free dinners at the end of each day.

Yes, sightseeing by bike is a great way to see the world. However, before you start packing your saddlebags, there are some downsides to traveling by bike, be sure to think about it and decide if bike tourism is right for you, here are some of the downsides.

CONS: Why cycling tourism sucks.

You will cover less ground each day: If you’re in a hurry, or the type of person who feels that the perfect trip is the one that attracts the most sight-seeing every day, bike tourism won’t be for you. Bike tours tend to be laid-back affairs, more about enjoying the ride than the destination. While some cyclists do very high mileage days, for most, the pleasure of riding a bike and seeing the world at a leisurely pace is what cycle touring is all about.

You can do less: Especially for people who take short tours, you will most likely accept less “touristy” stuff. Part of this is due to the fact that getting from one place to another takes longer, and part of this is due to the fact that you may be tired at the end of the day. If you are already in good bike shape, exhaustion will be a minor factor on every day except the windiest or most mountainous days, but since the goal of a bike tour is to ride your bike, you will generally have less time to spend ”. normal tourist activities.

Safety will be a major concern: Bicycle theft is a reality, and when everything you need for your trip is on the back of your bike, you are much more vulnerable to thieves. Theft becomes less of a problem in rural areas than it is in cities, and even in cities, a heavy, fully loaded touring bike is not a good opportunity for would-be thieves, many of whom are looking for quick and easy targets. grab and go. Good locks and mismatched gear are great theft deterrents, but when all you need to get through the day is attached to your bike, a part of your mind will always wonder if it’s safe whenever you’re out on the road. view.

Not all parts are enabled to travel by bicycle: While roads in the US are becoming more bike-friendly and trails and bike routes abound, this is still the land of the automobile. In rural areas there can be long distances between cities and in town traffic congestion and irritated or careless drivers can make cycling a challenge, to say the least.

Cycle touring is more challenging than motorized tours: On a bike, everything has a potential impact on your day, sudden storms, hills, road closures, and wind can change your plans in an instant, and delays that can change car travel plans in one or two hours can cost you a day of extra driving. Many seasoned riders learn to just ‘keep going’ knowing that the unexpected is part of the joy of a ride, but if you have limited time for your ride, a long detour, bad weather, or broken gear could drastically alter your plans or even end. the trip ahead of time.

Finding a vacation spot that pleases the whole family is practically impossible. Fortunately, even the hardest-to-please families will find countless things to love in the Mount Hood Oregon area. An Oregon vacation will be filled with exciting outdoor adventures and breathtaking views. Mount Hood offers enough activities to fill ten vacations with ease.

You will find many fun activities in this area, such as the Mount Hood Railroad and the Bonneville Dam. This dam really shows the skill of American engineers. It is also an interesting site from a historical point of view. The Bonneville Dam is also just a 40-minute drive from Portland, Oregon and is open year-round.

The Bonneville Dam may not get as much publicity as the Hoover Dam, but it is no less impressive. In fact, many say that this dam is a true technological marvel. You and your family will definitely be glad that you took the time to see this amazing man-made creation. Another item of interest is the fish ladders, where viewers can see various types of salmon, including Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye.

Its first power plant was built in the mid-1930s as part of the New Deal. A second power plant was built years later, between 1974 and 1981. The most surprising thing about this dam is its size. The sheer nature of this huge project will leave your family talking and marveling for days to come. In fact, 3,000 workers received jobs as part of the New Deal to build the Bonneville Dam.

The Bonneville Dam produces quite a bit of power, over a million kilowatts to be exact. While this is impressive, it pales in comparison to the size of this prey. If you want to show your family something amazing and unique while teaching them a little about history, you should definitely visit the Bonneville Dam. This dam is a great way to explain the New Deal and show just one of the amazing things it accomplished. The Bonneville Dam is just one of countless sites you can visit with your family the next time you visit Mount Hood Oregon.

As a certified travel agent, international airline employee, researcher, writer, teacher and photographer for four decades, travel, whether for pleasure or business, has always been an important and integral part of my life. Some 400 trips to all parts of the world, by road, rail, sea and air, involved both worldly and exotic destinations. This article focuses on my cruises and crossings around the world.

My lifetime cruise program, which spanned the 18-year period from 1991 to 2009, involved 27 voyages on 24 ships operated by 11 cruise lines to 17 regions, 49 countries, and 114 ports of call. During 205 days at sea, I sailed almost 60,000 nautical miles. The trips themselves have been subdivided into geographic regions.

The east coast of the United States, for example, was covered with itineraries both north and south.

The first, with Holland America’s Rotterdam, left New York on a ten-day cruise that took him to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine, and then to Canada, specifically Noa Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec, sailing the St. Lawrence. River to Quebec City and Montreal. The second, with Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Dawn, paralleled the east coast on its seven-day sailing to Orlando and Miami in Florida, then shifted to one more east to Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas, earlier to return to its port. -u-origin.

The west coast was also completely covered by the sea. Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas, for example, made its way from San Diego to Vancouver, with ports of call in San Francisco and Astoria, Oregon, before charting Canadian waters to British Columbia, while Princess Cruise Line’s Regal Princess embarked on his seven-day Alaska Inside Passage itinerary from Vancouver to Juneau, Skagway, Yakutat Bay and Sitka.

Hawaii, in the Pacific, was covered with a circuit of several islands on Norwegian Star, specifically Oahu, the big island of Hawaii, Maui and Kuai, before assuming a south course towards almost equivalent to the equator, north latitude of three degrees. . location of Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati, its mandatory foreign port of call.

Aside from the Bahamas, Bermuda counted as an Atlantic island destination, in this case, Carnival’s Pride for a seven-day sailing that included three nights in port for daily sightseeing in an equal number of British island areas.

Three Caribbean island cruises, one to the eastern and two to the southern Caribbean, provided considerable coverage there.

The first, with the Grand Princess, departed from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale and touched bases on St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays, his private island.

The second, with Celebrity’s Constellation, sailed from San Juan and traveled to the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Grenada, Antigua and St. Thomas.

The third, with the Caribbean Princess, again originated in San Juan, but sailed to Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Dominica and, for the third time, to Santo Tomás.

Two Mexican itineraries involved one of a single day from San Diego to Ensenada on the Starlite Cruise Line’s Pacific Star, and the more traditional one week with the Sea Princess, in this case, from Los Angeles to destinations on the Mexican Riviera in Vallarta Port. Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas, reminiscent of the weekly television series The Love Boat, which sparked considerable interest in cruises.

South America was circumnavigated with three 14-day voyages.

The first, on the Royal Princess, departed from Ft. Lauderdale and headed for Saint Bartholomew, Saint Lucia and Barbados in the Caribbean, before venturing to Devil’s Island in French Guiana, crossing the equator and entering the Amazon River in Brazil to Santana, Santarem, Boca da Valeria, Parintins and Manaus, covering 3,236 miles.

The second, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and operated by Celebrity’s Infinity, eventually arched around the tip of the continent at Cape Horn, which provided northern access to the Beagle Channel of Darwin’s fame and the southern entrance to the Drake Passage. . Its ports of call included Montevideo in Uruguay, Puerto Madryn in Argentina, Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, Ushuaia in Argentina and Punta Arenas in Chile. Continuing his trek along the west coast, he plowed through the Strait of Magellan and the Chilean Fjords, offering an up-close inspection of the Skua Glacier, before sailing to Puerto Mont and ending in Valparaíso, both in Chile, completing a 4,070-mile cruise.

The third, of equal duration and on the same ship some two years later, left Valparaíso, but landed in La Serena and Arica, both in Chile, before continuing to Callao, Peru and Manta, Ecuador, in the process of crossing. the equator. An eastbound transit through the Panama Canal took him through the Miraflores Locks, Gatun Lake, Gaillard Cut, and the Gatun Locks, during which time it underwent an 85-foot change in water level. . The last four days of his trip took him to Cartagena, Colombia; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Ft. Lauderdale, its terminal, ending a 4,505-mile journey.

An earlier partial Panama Canal crossing on the Coral Princess had also departed from Ft. Lauderdale, but called at Ocho Ríos and Grand Cayman in the Caribbean, Limón in Costa Rica and Cozumel in Mexico. He only entered the Gatún Locks and crossed the lake of the same name.

Off the west coast of South America, specifically Ecuador, a five-day, four-night Galapagos Islands cruise on the smaller Corinthian involved ports of call at San Cristóbal, Tower, Bartolomé, Santiago, Santa Fe and Santa Crux, your two daily Expeditions on the coast that require a barefoot dive in the warm, crystal-clear water of the boats and a subsequent walk and walk down the beach to the bridge.

The continents of North America and Europe were connected with three transatlantic crossings between New York and Southampton on Cunard’s famous Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2 ocean liners, one heading east and the other two heading west for maximum travel opulence. . They all passed the Statue of Liberty, penetrated the choppy Grand Banks of Newfoundland, and sailed up the Solent to Southampton, sometimes in reverse order, depending on the journey; address.

Europe was extensively covered with cruise ships from north to south.

A circumnavigation of the British Isles on the Golden Princess, for example, proceeded from Southampton to Dublin in Ireland, Hollyhead in Wales, Belfast in Northern Ireland, Greenock in Scotland, Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, South Queensferry, serving Edinburgh in Scotland , and back to Southampton, England.

The Norwegian fjords were accessed, at Celebrity’s Century, via Olden, Flam, Alesund and Bergen, an itinerary that included the impressive North Fjord, the Jostedal Glacier, the largest in Europe, and the Sognefjorden, the longest on the continent. , after a departure from Amsterdam.

An excerpt from my Cruise Log captured the experience.

“The Century left the Sognefjorden, once again turning north and plying the North Sea all night. As it approached Alesund, its third port of call during the early hours of the morning, it docked to starboard in the reflective harbor. mirrored silver at 07:30 am between the low hills and deep green on its left side, over which dirty white clouds hung, like ethereal mist, and the Norwegian townhouses of the city with towers and pediments to its right, characterize the architecture of the area. Storfjord, Alesund proudly sported Mount Aksla, towering prominently above it. “

Scandinavia was also covered with a cruise from Copenhagen on the Crown Princess, stopping at Nyshaven in Sweden and Helsinki in Finland, before continuing on to St. Petersburg in Russia. Although it docked in Oslo, Norway, at the end of its navigation, it returned through the Baltic countries of Estonia and Poland.

An Iberian ship from Southampton on the Sea Princess paralleled the west coast of Europe after docking on the island of Guernsey, then headed for La Rochelle in France and Vigo in Spain.

The eastern and western sides of the Mediterranean were also covered with cruise ships.

The first, on Royal Caribbean’s Splendor of the Seas, departed from Barcelona and touched bases in Marseille and Nice in France, Monaco and Florence, Pisa, Capri and Sorrento in Italy.

The latter, with Celebrity’s Galaxy, sailed to Greece and Turkey, and the Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos from Rome.

Finally, a 3,374-mile navigation on the Costa Fortuna involved ports of call in Barcelona before continuing through the Strait of Gibraltar, the bridge between the European and African continents, to Casablanca in Morocco, where it then crossed the South Atlantic to Santa Cruz. in Tenerife in the Canary Islands and Funchal in Madeira. His return brought him to Malaga on the sun-drenched Costa del Sol of Spain.

These cruises and voyages offered new approaches to destinations already visited, along with many new ones. As autonomous floating cities, their mega-ships, sometimes home to populations of 7,000 passengers and crew members, brought multi-colored sunsets, tranquility to the soul, and islands, cities, and countries that appeared outside my cabin window or balcony in almost all cases. Tomorrow. During the days at sea, I took advantage of about a hundred lectures and courses, an equal number of live performances at night, and as many shore excursions when they were in port. The myriad buffets and sit-down meals are almost unfathomable, but three examples have been cited.

“Breakfast in the King and I dining room at Splendor of the Seas included orange juice, fried eggs, bacon, roasted tomatoes, French fries and croissants.”

“Afternoon tea on the Queen Mary 2 was a British tradition and a delightful intermittence between lunch and dinner was served at every Cunard junction. Today it is served in the Queen’s Room, which was the most popular ballroom. large from the sea with a vaulted ceiling and two crystal chandeliers, a blue and gold velvet curtain over the orchestra stage, a 1,225 square foot dance floor, a live harpist and small round tables, which consisted of egg , ham and cheese, cucumber, tomato, beef and seafood. sandwiches, buns with curd cream and jam, and strawberry cream tarts. “

“Dinner was served at Infinity’s SS United States restaurant just after exiting the Panama Canal, an elegant dining room inspired by the SS United States cladding with an actual etched glass panel from the ship, formally ornate tables, and porthole windows. Chosen. “Menu Exeptionel”, a six-course tasting of their signature dishes, included Riesling white wine from Germany, chicken roll with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts, a light and creamy tomato, red pepper and mozzarella cream with pesto ; a double-baked goat cheese puff served with red pepper coulis and a triangle of olive toast; a passion fruit and white rum granite; grilled sea bass fillet served with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, pistachio and oil olive over grilled Mediterranean vegetables; a selection of cheeses with pecan bread, celery, apple slices, walnuts and grapes; chocolate souffle with English vanilla sauce; coffee; and petit fours “

Having a licensed real estate agent represent you, whether you are buying or selling a home, could be something that some people think they can do on their own and handle this on their own. Think about the fact that this may be the most expensive purchase of your life, or you may be selling the most expensive thing you would ever sell. If you had to get involved in a lawsuit, would you want to represent yourself? You want someone who knows the whole process and helps you be represented. An accountant would be better at handling your finances if they are deep. Therefore, different professionals are needed for various things in your life and real estate is no exception to that rule.

Having a real estate agent show you the houses when you are buying is one thing, but advice along the way and negotiations and contracts are much more important than simply finding a home that you like. From the outset, the advice of whether the home builder is a reputable builder is something a good seasoned agent may know. Looking at the critical things about the home is another thing they can advise you on. A good experienced real estate agent would look at the house with one eye considering what might make the same house difficult to sell when the time comes is something to consider. They can help you understand the negative things you may not think of when you see a house.

The contracts and other page documents that you will sign should also be something that someone who deals with them on a daily basis can help you understand. Negotiating the contract and all the details in the inspection period is also something that a professional must handle. Often times, when a real estate transaction is handled between two individuals rather than agents, the deal goes out of escrow or, worse, a lawsuit is filed. A real estate agent. You certainly don’t want this to happen.

Note that as a buyer, the real estate agent fee is covered by the seller, so you are not even paying for this representation. Respect your real estate agent and always let him know any and all of your concerns during the process.

These days with so many different types of sales in the housing market, it is even more crucial that you work with someone who is up to date with new contracts and disclosures. Be protected, use a licensed real estate agent, and don’t regret the consequences.

There are similarities and differences between Christmas in America and Christmas in Italy. The feast of Christmas originated with the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, a day around the shortest day of the year. Therefore, the main reason we celebrate the holiday is to celebrate Christ’s birthday. Another reason to celebrate Christmas includes the change of seasons and the days that will shorten before becoming long. The shortest day, which does not necessarily fall on Christmas, is the winter solstice, which is also a pagan agricultural holiday to mark the changes in the seasons. More simply, we celebrate Christmas around the world as an inspiration to imitate the ethical behaviors of Christ, who unconditionally loved all men and women, regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds.

Americans and Italians offer countless special holiday games and activities for their children, both at home and at school. Santa Claus, what is it?Babbo Native“In Italy, it brings surprises to children on Christmas Day. Almost all children receive some presents on Christmas Eve and / or Christmas Day. Children open their packages or empty their stockings while family members enjoy watching them rejoice with Surprises Gifts for children range from candy to stuffed animals and other more sophisticated toys.

Exchanging gifts between family and friends is the business aspect of the party that has been embraced by large and small business store owners. Spending money in stores stimulates the economy during good years of prosperity. One thing that sets America apart is that Americans receive more merchant catalogs in the mail each year to show what items will be available before and after the holidays. Americans not only enjoy finding bargains on gifts, but they also make good sales the day after Christmas. Americans tend to hunt for the bargains, and now Italians have even started their own bargain sales on “Black Friday” the day after Thanksgiving in America. Reports indicate that Italians started most of their holiday deals this year (2015) with decorations in their stores right after Macy’s in New York held their annual Thanksgiving Day parade. In fact, I was a witness to this case in Novara, Italy.

People in Italy and the United States often enjoy shopping for friends and family. There are many similarities between the gifts they give because both Americans and Italians like toys, electronics, clothing, and food for friends and family. Too often some people forget that the meaning behind the season is to express the simplicity of love. Instead, some people expect great gifts or try to see who gives the best and most expensive gift of all. Christmas becomes frustrating for jobless people who don’t have money to buy gifts, but some struggling people have been smart enough to bake cookies, make crafts, or provide a free service to loved ones instead of giving them the gift. . traditional gifts. There is no doubt that both Americans and Italians occasionally forget the spirit of the season, that Christ would have recommended helping the poor and needy during the holidays. Regardless of one’s background, there is always the risk of forgetting the true meaning of Christmas as we try to outdo our neighbors, friends, and family. The essence of the season is not about “looking good” or “beautiful figure fee. “

Both Italians and Americans like to sit down and eat a lot of food with their family members. Some families live in tough economic times with too many bills, high mortgages to pay, and no job. Fortunately for most, there are merry Christmas meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when it is also a time to party, possibly even more hours of party in the southern region of Italy than anywhere else. Many of the dishes served are similar and others are different. Most Americans and Italians have a meat main course, some side dishes, salads, and some sweets at the end. The food served differs within regions of Italy with southern Italians tending to eat more seafood while their northern counterparts eat more meat. Americans often enjoy turkey, ham, and roast beef. That said, dietary habits on both sides of the ocean are changing, which is why more and more people are turning vegetarians serving dishes like tofu and vegetarian lasagna. Although most Americans literally go crazy for spaghetti and pizza, those two dishes are not typically eaten on Christmas Day and are reserved for before and after the holidays.

Italians and Americans often enjoy helping the poor at Christmas. This can be done by giving money at church and elsewhere. In American schools, students collect collections of food to deliver to the poor. In part, this is done wisely to teach young children to have compassion for others. Italians give their donations to help the poor at the supermarket instead of at school, and there is the famous Communitá di Santo Egidio that helps people in Italy at Christmas. Fortunately, the American branch of the Salvation Army rings its bells every year in front of grocery stores to help anyone in need get a warm coat, some shoes, clothing, and food. Countless Americans in churches donate food regularly and there are even homeless shelters. In some parts of Italy, Santa Claus tells stories and gives gifts to any child who shows up to the reading event.

Most people would agree that the true meaning of Christmas is to be different from Scrooge and more like Saint Francis. People should help everyone in need, regardless of their origins. This message is emphasized by Pope Francis and other leaders with strong moral values. Catholics try to emulate the goodness of saints who were not worshiped but rather observed for their great deeds, while both Protestants and Catholics follow the teachings of Christ and the various books of the Bible. People of other faiths, even spiritual non-believers, feel the need to help others during the Christmas season, as the main point of such a widespread holiday is to love other human beings and respect the world we live in. like Christ did. Few would argue against the notion that it is appropriate to support humanity and nature.

Italians are fortunate to be able to eat many variations of Panettone, a great cake that often has fruit and vanilla. That same cake is now sold in American stores, but the versions found in Italy tend to be more delicious. Such a cake can easily be baked at home in America with a good recipe that uses baking soda and / or baking powder. Alternatively, Americans eat tons of shortcake, which is delicious too if you buy the right brand, one of those delicious brands is Collins Street Bakery in Texas!

Italians extend the national holiday until the day after Christmas, Santo Stefano, a day that has been an official holiday since 1947. Although Americans generally don’t pay much attention to the Santo Stefano holiday, most of them still don’t work on the day. After Christmas. unless they work in the retail market and offer sales to vacationers. On Santo Stefano day, Italians enjoy another special meal in addition to a nice one passaggiata or walking around the city with the family. It is a great time for long family discussions or to visit the mother’s or father’s side of the family. Italians are very fortunate to visit the markets, see small parades, and see nativity displays like those found in the small museums of the nativity known in Italian as presepi.

Both cultures display lights in their homes and in the city. For Americans, it often turns into a festival of lights competition. Perhaps some of the most famous American lights can be found in New York’s Rockefeller Center. Italian lighting is usually done by the town hall or town where you live. There is more lighting in big cities like Rome or Florence, where the streets are filled with tourists. Certainly almost everyone has trees in their homes, as well as some lighting around the trees. Americans display more real candles than Italians, and one of the great American hobbies has been going out and cutting down real evergreens (which were grown for that purpose) each year. The felling of the tree was done by a parent or grandparent in the tradition of a pioneer. In Italy, trees are more rare, so they are usually fake trees that are reused year after year. Murano glass from Venice makes excellent Italian ornaments or decorates the home year-round in the form of lamps and small sculptures.

Italians are lucky that this celebration continues until the “Befana” arrives on Epiphany day in January. Between the night of January 5 and 6, the Befana brings candy to children’s homes in Italy. The name “Befana” is actually another way of saying Epifany, but in a folkloric and secular sense of the word. Representations of Befana they are very similar to the witch of American cuisine that are quite popular in the United States. In some small towns, an old woman dresses up as Befana to amuse the children. Legend has it that he helped the shepherds find the Child Jesus when he was born. This legend does not agree with biblical teachings, but it is a beautiful secular touch, much like Santa Claus.

Americans are usually back in school for Epiphany Day, but American kids would probably enjoy such a celebration with candy and stockings too! Many American children at least have the opportunity to study Befana in their primary classes as they enthusiastically try to learn more about Italy. In fact, I have observed that many Italian-Americans in the Atlanta area continue to celebrate Befana in one form or another with their grandparents who immigrated to the United States.

In both Italy and the United States, the Christmas holidays are primarily about praising God and his son Jesus, with the spirit of the season being that of goodness and the spirit of people who share precious moments with their relatives. The result is that the citizens of Italy and the United States try to be kind to each other in anticipation of a greater heavenly kingdom while making this world a much better place. We all share the tradition of contemplating those artistic births with the Child Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Angels and Shepherds in them! Angels, bells, wreaths and candles remain the shared symbols of the Christmas season with Christians and others who recognize the beauty of a young child who grew up to be an excellent example of how we should live with love for our fellow men around the world. . May some good Italian and American traditions stimulate peace and goodwill on earth! These shared festivities are for everyone on earth who wants to visit two fascinating countries as their Christmas vacation destinations!

You just arrived in Rome with a couple of days to kill. How is it possible to see everything there is to see in such a short time? This is the guide to making the most of Rome in the shortest time possible.


Hopefully, check-in at the hotel has been fairly straightforward, so it’s now time to venture out in search of some good food. A meal in the old Trastevere part of the city has several benefits. First, there are a multitude of tourist-style sidewalk restaurants and pizzerias to choose from, and second, they are within walking distance of several major sites, including the well-preserved Pantheon.

Rome is as attractive at night as it is by day, with the heat of a Roman summer, night walks can save a few hours of excessive sweating during the day. Any of the little alleys between the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps is perfectly located to allow a generous meal of pasta and a good jug of wine to be wandered around quite easily.


Head to the Spanish steps to sit and hang out with the locals, while the view from the top of the steps in front of the Trinita dei Monti church offers an excellent view of the city. Stroll around the Trevi Fountain and buy dessert in the form of ice cream and try your luck with the change. Throw a coin over your shoulder to come back, two coins to come back and get kissed, or three coins to come back and get married.


Keep walking through the streets until you reach Piazza Venezia, named for the Palazzo that dominates the square that resembles the Doge’s Palace in Venice. The second-floor balcony may sound familiar, it was the podium from which the dictator ‘il duce’ Mussolini delivered his fascist speeches. The other landmark that dominates the square is the unmistakable monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.

This has earned several nicknames over the years, including the wedding cake and the typewriter. The Unknown Soldier’s Tomb is here under armed guard along with the Eternal Flame. If the monument is open, there is a fantastic view over the rooftops of Rome, a glimpse of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum behind it. It is closed at dusk, but many of the ruins are illuminated at night.


If the night air has revived you, there is the option to check out the local nightlife, as there are many bars and clubs open in the central area of ​​the city. There are also some in other squares such as Piazza Navona and Campo dei Fiori that remain open until dawn. Otherwise, head back to the hotel to prepare for tomorrow.


It’s worth getting an early start, especially in summer to avoid crowds and temperatures, but luckily the city isn’t too spread out to get from one place to another. The metro system is basic to say the least, there are only two metro lines running through the city and the buses are clearly marked with destinations. Termini is the central bus and metro terminal. Tickets must be purchased before boarding and validated at the yellow machines, starting at EUR 1 per trip.

No visit to Rome is complete without a trip to the Vatican. San Pietro is on the western side of the Tiber River with the dome of Saint Peter visible from most of the city. The halls of the Vatican Museums are open from 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and the last entry is just before 3:30 p.m., during the busy summer months. It is open until 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays and low season, while it is closed on Sundays and religious celebrations. It takes a long time to walk through the museum’s 7 km of rooms to reach the Sistine Chapel, where you can admire the details and marvel at the creation on the ceiling by Michelangelo. It is worth having some kind of description of the frescoes on hand to explain what you are looking at. The Pope delivers his public address on Wednesday mornings at 11 a.m.


If you’re still hungry for more, there’s the vast interior of the Basilica, the crypt below, and the view from the dome above onto the square. This is probably a good time for lunch before tackling the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Take plenty of water with you in the summer months, as sneaky vendors will sell small bottles at exorbitant prices. Throughout lunch it also takes you out of the hottest part of the day.


Entrance tickets to the Colosseum can be bought at the door, but if the line is too long, you can go to the ticket office at the base of Palatine Hill and buy them there. The line here is generally much shorter as there are not many tourists going up the hill. The remains of the emperors’ palace are located at the top overlooking the forum and quite strategically in the temple of the Vestal Virgins. This hill is also said to be where Romulus founded Rome.

Next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine, which was an exercise in recycling ancient monuments conducted by Emperor Constantine to reward himself for defeating Maxentius. The Colosseum has been damaged in the last 1800 years by earthquakes, invaders, and marble traders, but recent restoration projects have seen some parts restored to give a good idea of ​​its original condition.


Via Sacre leads from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum, the center of the ancient Roman commercial world. The ruins include the original forum, Julius Caesar’s funeral pyre, the Senate building, the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, and the Arch of Septimus Severus. The forum was buried during several hundred years of flooding, each layer having been stripped to reveal another Roman era and, in some cases, where two eras have merged, as in the case of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. The door in the middle of the exposed wall shows where the ground level was during the 8th century, when the 2nd century temple was converted into a church.

There are many tour guides available as history students and licensed guides offer their services with tours of the forum and parceum. The stories they tell really help bring the ruins to life. Across the street is Trajan’s Forum with the very striking Trajan’s Column. This marks the limit of ancient Rome and the continuation of the modern city. Unfortunately, most of ancient Rome lies beneath Via dei Fiori Imperiali, the road built by Mussolini for his troops to climb up and down before going into battle.

five pm

The rest of the day can be spent people-watching in any of the Piazza Navona cafes and admiring the Bernini-sculpted Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or relaxing in the shade in the park of the 17th-century Villa Borghese. XVII. Then go back to those clubs you missed last night.


This really depends on when you decide to leave. An early afternoon departure may allow you to take one of three options as long as you start early. The Baths of Caracalla is a 10 hectare space that once hosted 1,600 people to take advantage of the baths, shops, libraries, gardens and public entertainment. These open at 9 a.m. M. And they close 1 hour before sunset and at 2 p.m. M. Mondays. You would need around 3-4 hours, including travel time, to see them.

The other option is to visit one of the vast catacombs that are buried under the city. It’s miles and miles of tunnels, burial vaults, and churches dug by early Christians to escape persecution by the Romans. The burial vaults are countless meters high and the tunnels span several levels. The resulting rabbit hole requires a guide to get you around safely. You can choose between those on Via Appia Antica, which are the largest, or the Catacombs of San Calisto, which are next to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano. They open at 8.30 a.m., closing at noon, reopening in the afternoon from 2.30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Again, it would take 3-4 hours to take a site.


The third and last option is to put aside everything touristy and enjoy authentic gastronomic experiences. Food markets north of the Vatican take place just off Viale dele Millizie and those in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele near Termini offer a selection of fresh and local produce.

There you have it, all the main attractions of Rome achievable in just 2 days. The choice now is, do I really want to leave yet?

How often do you find yourself preparing a class, wrapping your head for something different, a new activity to cheer up a group of tired students, or just to bring something new into the classroom? If you’re like most teachers, thinking of something new and exciting every day isn’t easy, and often we just don’t have the time (or energy!) So we go back to our tried-and-true ideas (and sometimes a little worn). , or to the next page after page of a textbook.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Many ideas can be adapted to many different language points, giving you something that can be used over and over again. If the activity has a clear focus, motivation (students need to know why they are doing something; adding an element of competence to an activity is one way to achieve this), and of course clear instructions, then you are in for a winner.

There are many good resource books available with hundreds of quick and easy activities that require little or no preparation. Search your school resources for books like “Five Minute Activities” by Penny Ur and Andrew Wright, or “Keep Talking” by Friederike Kippel. Don’t forget that your fellow teachers are good resources too – use them!

Here are some ideas to get started:

1 You may be familiar with “Backs to the Board,” where one representative from each of the two teams turns his back on the board, while his teammates try to explain the word he has written on the board, without saying the word to him. word or any variation of it. Well, why not extend this to complete sentences? The teams have one minute to explain the sentence to their partner, without using any of the words, or spelling them, or using gestures. You can adapt this to whatever tempo or structure you want to practice.

2 Sentence reduction: Write a long sentence or a short paragraph on the board, rich in vocabulary. In teams, students take turns deleting one, two, or three words in a row. The sentence should still make sense, grammatically, afterwards. If not, replace the words and go to the next team. Keep going until no further reductions are possible (your students will be surprised at how short the sentence can get, while retaining its grammatical sense!). The winning team is the one that eliminates the most words. (Variation: do the opposite: start with one word and ask students to replace it with two or three, expanding the sentence.)

3 To practice spelling and vocabulary, try this: start with a letter on the board, say “S”. The first student then thinks of a word that begins with “S” and adds the next letter, for example “ST”. The next student then thinks of a word that begins with “ST” and adds another letter, and so on. If someone in the group thinks there is no such word, they can challenge the writer to name their word. If there is no such word, the writer is out, but if he was thinking of a real word, then the challenger is out. The winner is the last remaining student.

4 If your students are imaginative, give each group four or five pictures cut out of magazines and ask them to create a picture story; you can keep the context very open or have them focus on a particular time or function. If you want to focus on oral communication, don’t let them write their story! If you want to evaluate their writing as well, ask them to write it down as they go. When they have finished, have each group tell their story to the rest of the class.

5 As a “Getting to Know You” exercise, ask students to write down three things that are true about themselves and two that are not true (but believable). Students take turns reading their sentences to the rest of the group, who must discuss and ask questions of the reader and try to find out which of their sentences are true. A good way to break the ice is to do this yourself first to get an idea: write the five things about yourself on the board. (Variation: Write five one-word facts about yourself on the board, for example, “32”, “Liverpool”, “Three”, “Bloggs”, and ask students, in pairs, to try to guess the questions asked. will give these answers.)

6 Another for imaginative learners: dictate the first line of a different story to each of several groups. They have a few minutes to continue the story and then pass their sheet of paper to the next group, who reads the story so far and adds the next part. Continue until the stories reach their original groups, who then conclude and read the stories. To focus on a particular language point or vocabulary item, you can do it orally as a chain story: write the first sentence and then have the first student continue the story. At some point, they must use the tense, structure, or word (assigned in advance) that you want to work on. Continue until all students have contributed.

7 For vigorous writing practice, divide the board into three columns and give each column a heading with three structures that you want to practice (for example, “first, second, third conditional”, “yes / no questions, indirect questions, labels questions “,” present perfect simple, present perfect continuous, past simple “). Divide the students into pairs. One of each pair is the writer, the other is the broker. Give each pair many small pieces of paper and some blu-tac, and tell them to construct as many grammatically correct sentences as they can, in each of the three categories, and paste them on the board (with their initials to identify them). ). Set a time limit of five or ten minutes. The writer writes a sentence, then the runner takes the sheet of paper and sticks it on the board. Yell “CHANGE” from time to time to switch roles. At the end, have all the classmates look at the sentences and evaluate them. If they find an incorrect one, they will tell you, and that sentence does not count toward that pair’s score. (Variation: You can make this activity more difficult by saying that each sentence must contain a minimum of 10 words, for example.)

8 Another favorite is to give each student a secret celebrity identity, which is attached to their back or forehead. They go around the class, asking yes / no questions to establish their identity. You could make sure they practice the simple past by making all famous people die (“Did I live in the US?”), Or the perfect present, bringing them to life (have I acted in many movies?), Or future, for imagining that these famous people have not yet been born (Will I be an actor?).

9 Stand students up and yell two opposing ideas, people, concepts, adjectives, or places. For example, “beach or mountain”, “Spielberg or Hitchcock”, “red or blue”, “Playstation or Nintendo” depending on the age / interests of your students. Point out one side of the room for one idea, the other side for the other. Students move to the side of the room they choose; choose a few students at a time to explain the reasons for your choices. If you want, you can let it develop into a discussion between the two groups.

10 Hold a “grammar auction” or “fill-in-the-hole auction” with mistakes students have made (and noted) or with an area of ​​language you want to work on. Divide the students into teams and assign each team $ 100, or 10,000 yen, or whatever amount you want. If you can photocopy some real money, so much the better. For the grammar auction, give each team a worksheet with 10 (or more) sentences (depending on the mistakes they made or the language area they are working on). Some must be grammatically correct, others incorrect. Give the teams some time to discuss whether they think the sentences are correct or not, and then ask them to bet on that decision for each sentence. Then give them the answer: if their decision was correct, they will double the amount they bet; if not, they will lose their bet. To fill in the spaces, give them 10 or more sentences to fill in the spaces (again depending on the area you are practicing or their mistakes) and this time they choose the correct word to enter the space and bet on it.

You can find variations on these activities, and many, many others, in the books mentioned at the beginning of this article, among others. Try one of them today to get something different in your ESL classes!

First: learn the facts

You are more likely to be successful with your property tax appeal if you find factual errors on your property tax record, also known as an “appraisal card.” Errors in real estate appraisals, such as errors about the age of improvements or incorrect measurements of square footage, are not uncommon.

After filing a Notice of Protest, the appraisal district will schedule an informal conference with one of its staff appraisers. Bring any proof of your case in the form of photos or other documentation that supports your claims to the appointment. The appraisal district will need to keep your evidence for their records, so remember to bring additional copies.

Understand how your home has been appraised

Harris County Appraisal District [HCAD] has more than one million single-family residential properties to appraise. Montgomery Central Appraisal District [MCAD] It is responsible for valuing some 250,000 homes. The overwhelming reality is that there are not enough well-trained staff appraisers for everyone.

In the real world, appraisal district employees sometimes can’t inspect much beyond new construction or additions. Even when property is being inspected, the examination can be little more than a step from the car. It is now more common for appraisal districts to rely on aerial pictometry for various aspects of property inspection. The level of technology resources now available to most appraisal districts is impressive.

Given the overwhelming number of properties that must be revalued, these appraisal districts rely on mass computer appraisal models. The mass appraisal models that counties use are inevitably flawed, although some are better than others. Your search will be to determine the ways and the degree to which your property and neighborhood do not fully fit the model.

You can ask a real estate agent to help you find some comparable homes and their actual sales prices. Most good agents don’t mind helping you, because you may work with them later. Remember, you want to be able to show that your home is in less than comparable sales condition. Try to compare your home to the best in your neighborhood. If you can find information on better homes that sold below their appraised value in the past year, you may have reason for a downgrade.

Research the value of your neighbors’ houses

The easiest way for most homeowners to develop appeal is to use the market value sales comparison approach on their appeal; however, sales are not always favorable to you. Another angle you can try is to determine if your home has been priced “evenly and equally” to other similar properties in the same neighborhood.

Check to see if the appraised value of your home in the appraised district is equal to or less than the median tax appraised value of other homes in your neighborhood. Texas appraisal districts will have this information available online through their websites.

Get the evidence from the Appraisal District

Along with your “Notice of Protest,” submit a written request for all evidence that the appraisal district used to appraise your home and intends to present at an Appraisal Review Board. [ARB] audience. It is also known as House Bill 201. [HB 201] package. Review this information to determine how the appraisal district determined the value of your home. This may uncover the shortcomings of the appraisal district’s case.

Don’t give up hope – you have little chance of getting it right

If you are unable to resolve your case individually with a staff assessor in an informal conference, the next level of administrative appeal is a formal Assessment Review Board. [ARB] audience. Montgomery Central Appraisal District [MCAD] you will have your formal hearing the same day. They immediately escort him down the hall and show him to the waiting room to present his case. Harris County Appraisal District [HCAD] reschedule you to return to your office another day for a formal hearing. It will almost always wait two weeks.

The ARB hearing will be like a lower courtroom in which you present your case. An experienced senior appraiser will represent the case on behalf of the appraisal district. A panel of at least three members of the appraisal review board, supposedly impartial, will hear the case and make a final decision. Important Warning: The ARB has the authority to INCREASE the value of your property, so consider this risk. Also, be sure to bring extra copies of all your evidence (five in total) to the appraisal district and the ARB panel.

If your formal hearing before the ARB is not successful, you may still have two additional options available. For residential properties valued below $ 1 million, you can file a binding request for arbitration through the office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. There are fees of $ 250 or $ 500, depending on the level of participation in your case. The other option is to file a lawsuit in district court against the appraisal district. Since both procedures are time-consuming and expensive, you will need to decide whether they are practical for you.

Get started: 10 action steps

1. Get a copy of your property tax record or “appraisal card.” Texas appraisal districts will have this information online through their websites. If you can’t find it, call the appraisal district office for help.

2. Check the appraisal record for errors in your favor.

3. Find out if you are eligible for a special exemption and apply for it. Some examples are Texas General Housing Exemptions, 65+, Disabled, or Veterans.

4. File a “Notice of Protest” before the legal deadline. Generally, this is May 31 or within 30 days after your “Notice of Appraised Value” is mailed.

5. Study the evidence from the appraisal district, package HB 201.

6. Try to get help from a real estate agent to identify details about comparable good sales (… and remember who helped you every time you have a paying real estate transaction).

7. Take photos of your home and the other properties you are using to compare. If you don’t have a good camera, borrow one; or ask a friend for help.

8. Make detailed written notes on exactly what you think the correct value should be and the reasons for the reduction. Prepare your presentation and be able to show the proof that supports your claim. This should consist of objective evidence, such as dated photos, recent sales documentation, and appraised values ​​from neighbors.

9. Be courteous and respectful to other appraisal district staff and ARB members. Never forget that they are also human and have feelings, just like you. Remember the time-tested expression: “You can fish more with honey than with vinegar.”

10. If you think it is in your best interest, appeal your case to a formal ARB hearing. However, this can be a roll of the dice. Depending on the composition of the panel and your state of mind on your particular hearing day, your ordeal could be more favorable or it could get worse.

If all of this sounds like a lot of effort, there is another way to help ensure you get the best possible result. You can have a property tax advisor prepare and present your case, providing professional representation at appraisal district hearings. You can get the benefits of this service on a contingent basis, so it won’t cost you anything unless you actually save money, which you would have paid in taxes.