The Best Places to Go Backpacking

Backpacking is one of the best experiences that you will have in life. You don’t have to spend a ton to travel and enjoy a place because there are places in the world that are very friendly to backpackers. You will not discover much if you will only stay in a comfortable hotel room all the time. Of course backpacking is not a luxurious way to travel, but it lets you become more in touch with nature and you will learn to interact with fellow backpackers who come from other parts of the world. In this post you will be given the top 10 places where you can go so that you will not make a mistake in choosing a destination. Your backpack should also be made of really good quality material so it can withstand any condition. Check out BEST TRAVEL BACKPACK  reviews and buy a good one.


Porto to Algrave, Portugal

For backpackers who want to be in a coastal haven, this is the place to visit. A lot of backpackers fly down and start their journey at Porto, Algrave which is at the tip of Portugal at the border of Spain. It is not difficult to walk here and actually, you can enjoy the stellar public transport system so you can do wine tours along the coast line. You will also see a very beautiful scenery, lively festivals, seafood, and locals that are very friendly.


This is a very ideal destination for any backpacker who have a zest for rich culture and a location that is affordable. You will also want to try their delicious Thai cuisine. They have really good authentic Thai iced tea located at the roadside stores. The spirit of the country belongs to temples that reflect their Buddhist culture and masterpieces that are made with good architecture. Continue reading “The Best Places to Go Backpacking”

Finding the Best Golf Bag

You need to make sure that you have the right back so that you will not have a hard time in the course because of gold bag that’s not right for you. Choosing the right golf bag is important because it will be the one to carry your clubs and clubs need protection. The sport of golf is a little expensive, but if you have the right gear, your things will not wear out easily.

Finding the Best Golf Bag


Bag types

There are carry bags which are also known as Sunday bags. This can be taken with you if you don’t want to take all of your clubs with you. Carry bags do not have a stand included so it needs to be carried all the time and can only fit only a few clubs, tees, and balls.

There is the stand bag which is ideal for the golfer who takes all of the clubs to the course. They have a stand that can stretches out when placed on the ground and it will retract again when the bag has been lifted. The stand-bag has more features compared to carry bags and can carry a full set of clubs with dividers on the top.

Cart bags are for golfers who use a cart on the course. They have more features compared to a stand bag. They have valuable pockets, cooler pockets, 14-way divider system and external putter wells.

The heaviest is the staff bag and this is used by professional golfers. The staff bag user has his own cart and the bag will always be connected to the cart wherever he goes on the course. Continue reading “Finding the Best Golf Bag”

The Skaters Assemble Backstage

She is hipless and chestless, and looks closer to 13 than her 28 years. She wears a size 0. She’s no different from the other girls. Not one hits the 105-pound mark. (“You can’t rotate three times in the air unless you’re thin,” Miller explained earlier. “Narrow hips, thin, slightly bowed legs: That’s a gift from God.”)

The capacity crowd of 8,500 take their seats. The ice is swept clean. The lights dim. The skaters assemble backstage in their costumes.

And then it’s show time

After a rousing preamble by Hamilton via offstage microphone, the show proper begins, and all the stars enter one by one to the sounds of their illustrious biographies. A man whoops for Gordeeva and is battered with disapproving glares. Ice shows are no place for horn-dog hooting. Lipinski and Hamilton skate out last, to deafening applause.

Most of the male skaters don’t smile. They get to look stern and hungry, their costumes like scaled-down Ricky Martin clubwear. The women are expected to smile, and they do, every second they are on the ice (save for the heart-wrenching classical numbers), until they whisk behind the exit curtain, where they rush to change for the next number.

The show lasts two hours, with a brief intermission. The women’s numbers are divided into what could be called “virgin skates,” where the women look ethereal and pure and spin along to ballads and Beethoven, and “tart skates,” where they wear exaggerated bikinis–or in Lipinski’s case, an American-flag bustier and leather hot pants–and strut about to rock `n’ roll. In one number, half the girls skate wearing feather boas, and the boy skaters swoon or court accordingly. The audience responds with manic applause and polite chuckling.

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American Teams in Women’s Table Tennis

At the Olympics this summer, Chen may be one of at least a half dozen foreign-born athletes (including two male athletes-one a rower, the other a marathoner), who have received citizenship in time to compete. Even though they will lead American teams in women’s table tennis, badminton and synchronized swimming, they will garner only a fraction of the attention they would have received had they competed for their homelands. Still, they are more than willing to give up fame for a set of rights that most American athletes take for granted.

“It was the people, their spirit of optimism–that’s what I wanted to be a part of,” says Anna Kozlova, 27, a synchronized swimmer from Russia who received her citizenship on October 7, just in time to qualify for the U.S. team. Kozlova, who placed fourth for Russia at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, had traveled to California to train in 1993 and decided to stay. She settled in Santa Clara and has become as thoroughly American outside the pool (she loves Bob Fosse and shopping) as she is in it (she swept three of the last four U.S. nationals).

Like Chen, Kozlova was the product of a state-sponsored sports system. At age 12, she was selected to attend the School of Future Olympians in St. Petersburg. “They fed us really well,” she says. “Sometimes they would give us caviar three times a day.” But the luxuries didn’t diminish the program’s strictness. “The coaches would tell us, `One mistake and you are off the national team!'” Control extended to the athletes’ personal lives. “To go anywhere was really difficult,” she recalls. “During training, wives could only see their husbands for 15 minutes. They told us that the harder the conditions, the better we would be.” In the U.S., liberated from fear and anxiety, Kozlova has flourished. “My American coach has taught me how to make competition a thrill, a performance,” she says.

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Lake Placid Olympic Center

Two months later, at the Lake Placid Olympic Center, the skaters are primed for their debut. Tonight is the initial showing of the new Target Starx on Ice extravaganza, the one that will be filmed (and edited to blot out falls) for TV.

The show starts at eight, but the crowd has already looped in on itself by seven. Fans circle outside in freezing rain. The crowd is overwhelmingly white. Most are heavyset. Some carry trinkets to give to their favorite skaters should they be lucky enough to meet them.

“I’ve wanted to come for years to this show,” enthuses Renate, a fan in her early 50s. “It’s world-class talent. And I love Tara’s vivaciousness. She’s such a terrific young lady.”

A prepubescent spectator rode three hours with her mother from Canada

Although her favorite is Michelle Kwan, who skates on the Champions tour, she is still psyched to be here. She holds a cardboard sign on which WE LOVE YOU! is scribbled in Magic Marker.

“I skate too,” she says proudly. “And someday I want to be in a show like this.”

What about winning a gold medal’?

“I guess.”

Inside, the skaters gather backstage. All fidget. Some tug on their ears. Others hop from foot to foot. Hamilton gives Lipinski a pep talk, reminding her that the crowd is “here to see your cute face.” She tugs down her skirt.

Gordeeva’s daughter, Dada, runs around, juiced on the preshow energy. She is blond and skates, but she prefers acting. She calls Hamilton “Mr. Funny Guy” and teaches a PR flack how to count in Russian.

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Kayaking & Hiking

Our ideal island vacation: a little surf (kayaking), a little turf (hiking) and not a tourist in sight. Dress code: casual.

Caribbean queen: With its warm turquoise water and scenic mountain peaks, St. Lucia is the perfect multisport vacation getaway. Did we mention that the average daily temperature is 85 [degrees] F? Opposite page’ The luxurious Anse Chastanet Hotel (758-459-7000) offers everything from scuba diving to sea kayaking. Nylon and mesh bathing suit and nylon vest by Prada; tinted goggles, like these by Barracuda, protect eyes from the sun’s glare. This page, from left: Wearing sport tops and tropical shorts, you’ll be ready for hiking; halter top by Nike; lifeguard “Trunk-It” board shorts by Water Girl USA; sport top by Nike; board shorts by Patagonia. Fashion editor: Aileen Marr. Styled by Kristina Ferrante.

Prefer the links to the limbo? The Jalousie Hilton Resort & Spa (888-744-5256) has a 3-hole golf course located on the side of Gros Piton mountain. The hotel is notable for its imported white sand, because most of the island’s beaches are black. Left: Drawstring pant by Susana Monaco; J. Crew bikini top; Hawaiian print hat by Xhilaration. Right: Ralph Lauren cotton tank with plaid poplin shirt from Mini by X-Large; nylon cropped pants from Gym; golf shoes by Footjoy. Opposite page: Vieux Fort, on the southern tip of the island, is a windsurfer’s paradise; Letarte rash guard; Roxy by Quiksilver bikini bottom.

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Wear Costumes Instead of Gear

And while other athletes may mock skaters’ accomplishments, considering them less sportswomen than show ponies, those in the “skating community” (the term comes up often, as does the phrase we’re one big, happy family) seem immune or oblivious to the criticism, perhaps because figure skating has always existed in its own peerless sporting bubble.

You wear costumes instead of gear

You are expected to excel technically and aerobically, but, also to charm. Where other female athletes need only ski faster, jump farther or score more goals, figure skaters must seduce, which means looking good. The last female contender who wasn’t attractive was Tonya Harding, and look what happened to her.

As a result of these uncommon criteria, figure skating draws uncommon women. Women who don’t crack under the pressure of excelling both in lutzes and lip lining. Gifted athletes who not only win gold medals but possess enough charisma to carry a marketing campaign.

Take Lipinski. The youngest Olympic, world and national figure skating champion in history, Lipinski turned pro at 15 and cashed in, signing gigs with DKNY, Mattel, Snapple and Campbell’s Soup. “I love touring,” she says. “I love being in hotels. Everyone on the tour is my best friend. Pressure is the Olympics. Touring is enjoying your rewards.” Continue reading “Wear Costumes Instead of Gear”

The Victory at the French Open

Graf’s self-protective armor is understandable given her father’s well-documented problems with tax evasion and drinking. Still, she has always remained publicly loyal to him. “He took care of everything, which allowed me to concentrate on my game. If it hadn’t been for him, I’m not sure what would have happened with my career.”

The Victory at the French Open

In May, Peter Graf, who served 15 months in prison for tax evasion, drove from Germany to Paris to see his daughter’s victory at the French Open. It was the first time he had seen her play since 1997. When Graf left the court, they embraced. And last summer, she attended his wedding. (He and Heidi divorced last March.) “Our relationship will never be like it once was,” Graf says. “Obviously, some things had to change and they did. But I was happy that he felt comfortable enough to come to the French Open and see me play there that last time.”

Sitting in the hotel restaurant, Graf looks at her watch. It is a few hours before her retirement ceremony, and she is beginning to squirm at the impending public praise. “I don’t like ceremonies,” Graf says. “It’s nice that people want to show their appreciation. But my career is in the past now, so I don’t want to think about it. I’m thinking about the future.” Continue reading “The Victory at the French Open”

Top Rhythmic Gymnast

Sadly, the citizenship race doesn’t end positively for all athletes. In 1996, Tatiana Brikulskaya was a 17-year-old top rhythmic gymnast from Ukraine when she moved to Brooklyn with her family. At first, Brikulskaya was miserable. “I couldn’t speak English, and I didn’t know how this country worked, how the lifestyle was,” she says. A month after her arrival, she met a fellow gymnast at the Jewish center where she was taking English classes. The woman gave her the name of a coach; even in a foreign country, gymnastics was something that Brikulskaya understood. “I started doing gymnastics again for myself, just for myself,” she says.

Brikulskaya, now 21, had bigger ambitions: to go to the Olympics. But the Immigration and Naturalization Service has refused to bend its five-year residency requirement (she’s been here for three years and five months). Brikulsakaya says, “I think there should be some way to make an exception when you want to compete for this country.”

There isn’t, says Elaine Komis, public affairs officer at the INS. “By law it’s five years, no matter who you are.” Brikulskaya, who will be 25–geriatric in gymnast years–by the 2004 Olympics, is trying to be philosophical. “I would love to compete in Sydney,” she says, “but not more than I want to become an American. This is my country now.”

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The Athleticism of The Sport

Later, Lea Ann Miller, who skated for Stars on Ice for years before becoming one of its choreographers, stands by the practice rink watching rehearsal. “Figure skating has changed so much,” she says. “There’s more money, more television–the skaters are stylized early. They become characters.”

Has the athleticism of the sport suffered as a result?

After all, when asked, many of the skaters label themselves not athletes but performers.

“I think the girls would like to be considered athletes,” Miller says. “Skating for Target Stars on Ice is much harder than doing a four-minute Olympic routine. They’re on the ice for up to 45 minutes.”

Nearby, Lu Chen takes off her skates to reveal feet blistered and callused, her toes scrunched like a mass of grapes. She tapes her ankle and winces. Chen hasn’t developed a fanatical following in the United States. “I spend most of the summer in China,” she says quietly. “A lot more people know me there.”

Chen is 23 but seems younger. She likes shopping at malls and watching Ally McBeal. Her ears are pierced with miniature butterflies. When she smiles, her Kewpie mouth curls at the edges.

The child of professional athletes–her mother played ping-pong, her father hockey–Chen wanted to be a dancer until she saw a Peggy Fleming special on television. “I saw her and I was, like, ‘Wow!’ I wanted to be her.” Instead, Chen was rushed into China’s notoriously rigorous training regimen. She struggled, had many disappointments and comebacks and finally retired after winning an Olympic bronze in 1998.

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Meccas For The Muscled

Ten U.S. cities prove why they are meccas for the muscled.

Where do the most phenomenally fit people live? We put America’s 50 largest cities (population 300,000 plus) to the test. We tracked health club participation, the percentage of residents at a “healthy” weight and involvement in 25 sports and fitness activities, We also looked at the number of local bike trails, golf courses and footraces. Here are the breakaway winners–the 10 sportiest places to live in the U.S.

  1. DENVER Is something in the mountain air turning ordinary mortals into athletic goddesses? The Colorado capital tops the health and fitness charts in virtually every category. It has the lowest percentage of obese people in the nation and the highest overall participation in the 25 sports we tracked, from aerobics to martial arts to volleyball. Denver’s elevation (5,280 feet) also attracts world-class runners, who train there year-round. “In Denver, you don’t work out just to work out,” says Chris Biretta, 29, an attorney and a die-hard hiker. “You do it so you can climb that fourteener. People go to the gym on weekdays to train for a race on the weekend.” Not to mention some of the best skiing in the country is within commuting distance. (Colorado Mountain Club, 303-279-3080)

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The Global Spotlight

KERRI STRUG Her iconic vault kept Strug out of the all-around competition in Atlanta, but it thrust her into the global spotlight. She emitted her signature squeak on national talk shows and Saturday Night Live and appeared on Beverly Hills 90210, Touched by an Angel and the cover of People. Barbara Walters chose her as one of the 10 Most Fascinating People. Yet Strug seemed to devolve quickly from team martyr to team traitor after she racked up endorsement deals and skipped the pro tour. The school paper at UCLA, where Strug first attended college, wrote that she should win a gold for being “the most annoying person ever.”

Strug transferred to Stanford. When she’s not studying for a communications degree, the 22-year-old does public speaking and charity work. In January 1999 she completed the Houston Marathon (in a respectable 4 hours, 12 minutes) and plans to run it again this year. “My life used to be like the movie Groundhog Day,” she says. “I kept living the same thing over and over. My teammates and I were a little robotic, we were all so similar. Now I have perspective; I am able to relax.”

There’s one more thing. “You know how [my coach] Bela carried me?” Strug asks rhetorically. “Strangers, fans, people on the street–they always want to pick me up and carry me. Especially men. I think that’s kind of weird.” Sometimes she lets them.

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