In-Depth Automotive Review – 2008 GMC Acadia – Test Drive & Pricing

In this review, we take a close look at GMC’s newest SUV choice on the market. The 2008 GMC Acadia joins a small list of other models that share most of the internal platform engineering including the Saturn Outlook, Buick Enclave, and soon the Chevrolet Traverse. Upon closer inspection, the Acadia seemed like a logical choice in a market that has revolved around gasoline management. By no means does this new GMC make economical benchmarks in its class, but makes a valid argument that it is a great alternative to the “big” sport utility vehicle. In the following, I will discuss fit and finish, ease of use, and take into account some pricing ideas to further educate the consumer.

First and foremost, the new Acadia looks right good size. I would personally like to think it is Suburban like in size compared to other mid-sizers. The body was clean, very effective use of materials and was free of any enormous quality issues. GMC implemented some great use of automotive safety technology, GMC upfitted the Acadia with bright projector beam headlights, led taillights, an engineered low center of gravity (for ease of ingress/egress and less body roll), and ultra-sonic rear park assist. Also coming to the party, this new suv was available in front wheel drive or on-demand AWD for the snow/rain travelers. In turn, the Acadia achieved it’s mission in keeping with the tough “professional grade” look while keeping a revolutionary modern look.

The Acadia is “three rows of seats” business, so getting to the third row might take some smart ingenuity to win over a lot of families. So, the second row on either side, collapses forward into a very ingenious way so that the seat takes up very little room possible. My 6′ tall self got back there very easy, and the seats were polite on the body, the floor was flat, no knee into chest action here too. The “Black Tie Audio” instrument stack was clean, and very well easy to get the hang of. The front captains chairs were great, no problem on those long trips with lots of support for the back and thighs. My test subject also had a couple of smart devices, like MP3 audio jack for ipods, XM Radio, Bose Primo Sound, and Touch Screen Navigation. Resulting in a mobile swiss army knife of fun and functionality, it was lacking very little.

My 2008 Acadia was a fully loaded SLT AWD with all the cake and cookies. So finding all the potential warts was easy knowing that had the prime trim. The standard six speed transmission is wonderful, does the job without having all the long high revving action normally a trait of the four speed. On the other hand, the only available V6 powertrain was all turkey and chickens, very sluggish for such a big SUV. I believe a V8 is on the way, but it should have already been an option, to further appeal to the power hungry. I also didn’t care for the front wheel drive action, making the u-turns were somewhat of a bear, three lanes was the minimum roundabout. Hence, the GMC could of improved on a couple areas to make it more of a sell to the Suburban/Expedition EL crowd pleaser.

So what does the new Acadia price at, and what additions do you receive for the money? Base 2wd SLE models come in at just a tad over $30k, while the high end SLT’s strike as high as $45,000. And expect anywhere from $2,000-3,500 between invoice and MSRP (depends on trim) when you do some negotiating. What protects you in addition? Well, standard is a 5yr/100k mi powertrain warranty, a year of Onstar telematics, and a 100k mi tuneup interval all inclusive to make a higher price justifiable. And so at this price bracket, the Acadia is market competitive. But, I would first look at models like the Mazda CX-9 or maybe even the Honda Pilot to save some cash. Each of those vehicles offer three rows of seating as well. In conclusion, the GMC Acadia is an obvious improvement from the aged Envoy, it should will have no problem finding a niche in its class.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to read my other reviews at my website: []

Shaun Davidson-Automotive and Finance Consultant-2008

Driving to Greece

Driving to Greece and the Greek Islands should take careful planning well in advance. To just pack up a car and set off would be a massive mistake. Certain factors must be considered to enable a trouble free journey.

Planning advice

Get your car serviced by a reputable garage and also get European breakdown cover by a reputable company eg. AA or RAC

Decide when and which ferries you wish to take as your travelling days depend on the sailing times. You must decide how long journeys should take. You can download routes and approximate times by using sites on the internet eg. Michelin or AA guides.

When driving to Greece, arrange to get to the ferry ports allowing about 2 hours or more prior to sailing in case of breakdown or traffic problems. Ferries do try to load up very methodically and generally sail on time.

From Yorkshire, UK, where we live, we try to leave home at about 6am to catch a ferry at about 2pm from Dover to a French port (either Calais or Dunkirk).

Norfolk Line do an inexpensive crossing and from Dunkirk you will have a good direct route to the French/Belgium motorway in the direction of Lille. From Lille we always head for Tournai-Mans-Charleroi and Namor, then on to Arlon before getting to Luxembourg, on the E42 and then onto the A4 route.

Luxembourg is the cheapest place in Europe to fill up with fuel, so a break here is usually welcomed. Depending on how far you wish to travel each day, planning for overnight stops is required.

Cheap accommodation can be found on most routes and good clean and reasonably cheap accommodation includes Accour hotels, B&B, Formula One hotels. Most hotels do a continental breakfast at a small charge.

The route through Luxembourg is easy and you can be through it in 1/2 hr to 3/4 hr. We found the route to Metz and Nancy to be the quickest and easiest route. It is clearly marked and easy to follow.

Once you are back in France and heading for Metz, there is a pay motorway, the E25, which gives an easy route to Strasbourg. There are alternative routes which go through Nancy and the St.Die tunnel to Selestat in the Alsace region of France, but we have experienced delays and poor roads while using this route.

It is an easy motorway system to and through the city of Strasbourg which is clearly marked all the way on a very straight road and on to Selestat, Mulhouse/Basil towards Switzerland.

Due to the customs delays at the border, we usually take a break at one of the above mentioned hotels in order to have an early start through Basil and into Switzerland.

On entering the Swiss border, there is a road tax which covers your vehicle for one year and a coloured sticker is placed on your windscreen. This is a cost of about £25. You soon realise why you have to pay this fee as the roads through Switzerland are scenic, good and have many long tunnels where delays are normal. The scenic areas are excellent and you can also find good refreshment/wash/shower areas.

The best route from here is the A2 to Luzern and to head for the 15 mile long tunnel at St.Gothard. It usually takes us 1-2 hours to get through the delays leading to the tunnel. So be aware.

After coming out of the tunnel, the road heads through the Italian sector of Switzerland and heads for Bellinzona, still on the A2 and on to the Swiss/Italian border at Como. On passing the border into Italy, the road changes to the A9 heading for Milan.


We found the Italian drivers to be very impatient and regularly tail gate while flashing their lights and regularly sounding their horns. Just smile and be patient with them.

When you planned your route you should have decided on the most suitable Italian port to sail from. Our destination is to the island of Kefalonia so we personally found the Venice line to be best and by turning left on the Milan ring road onto the ‘pay’ motorway, the Venice route is clearly marked and on leaving the motorway at Mestre there is just a short journey to the Venice dock area.

Our ferries leave at approx 6pm and we are on the Minoan Line or Venuris Line. Other ports are at Ancona, Bari and Brindisi at the foot of Italy. The overnight ferries are the cheapest but you must consider the petrol and motorway charges through Italy before rejecting the luxurious but expensive Superfast ferries.

From Bari and Brindau, the Agoudemus line sails to the island of Kefalonia while other ferries sail to Corfu, Igiamenitsa and on to Patras on the Greek mainland.

The sailing from Venice takes 36 hours and gives a restful cruise. The views of the Grand Canal and St. Marks square are wonderful and not to be missed. The ferries which sail to Patras means that to get to Kefalonia island, the 2 hour ‘Blue Star’ island ferry, which runs 3 journeys daily to the island. Times can be checked on on the internet. Patras is a busy port town and a minimum stay here is advised if possible.

The ferry to Kefalonia goes to either the port of Sami or to Argostoli, the capital of the island. An alternative ferry goes to Poros on Kefalonia from Killini, which is about 50 miles south of Patras and is the cheapest, quickest route to the island.

Rooms on the Venice/Greece ferries are adequate and meals are usually good. The cruise heads down the Grand Canal and down the full length of Italy and calls into Corfu, then to Igiumenitsa on the Greek mainland before heading into Patras. Recommended ferries are the Minoan, Superfast, Venturis and the direct Agoudemous ferry.

Tickets can be pre-booked on websites by English speaking staff at the agents offices or by booking on the websites.

6 Compelling Reasons to Move to Switzerland

What do you know about Switzerland? Lots of banks. Lots of snow. Beautiful mountains. Most people don’t realise what a wonderful country Switzerland is, and what amazing benefits there are for citizens of this small European country.

Gorgeous scenery. The Swiss Alps are perhaps the most famous mountain range in the world, and easily some of the most beautiful peaks on earth. Other areas of Switzerland offer lush, green rolling hills and perfectly manicured city streets.

Your taxes mean something. Sure, Swiss citizens are taxed more than many other countries, but their dividends come back in the form of free healthcare, public services, a great education system and a clean environment.

Excellent public transport. The Swiss are about on par with the Germans in terms of public transportation: excellent. All Swiss cities are equipped with speedy buses and trams, and are interconnected by a convenient network of trains.

Access to all of Europe. Switzerland is located right smack dead centre in the middle of Europe. It is also a small country, which means that no matter which city you’re in, the Swiss border is not far, and the rest of Europe is literally on your doorstep, with countries like Italy, Germany, Austria and France within only a few hours’ drive or train ride.

Great healthcare. Along with higher Swiss taxes comes the fantastic Swiss healthcare system, which offers free care to all citizens, anytime, no matter what. This socialised medical system greatly improves the overall Swiss quality of life and brings down Switzerland’s statistics regarding disease and death.

Higher salaries. Sure, living in Switzerland costs more. However, the Swiss Franc is an incredibly stable currency and the country is rich, meaning that employees here earn a generally higher wage than in other places.

An Unforgettable Experience – Grass Roots

Wayanad, the mystical land of paddy, where the musty fragrance of tea fills the air, Where the smell of white coffee flowers, mingle with fresh dew, where little frogs croak by the dozen before a rain, where adivasi beats, the sandalwood fragrance from the temples, the incense from the churches & calls from the mosques, waft together with the mist, creating a magical weave in this magical land.

Grassroots is set on a coffee plantation, with the Vythiri ranges and the majestic Chembra peak looming large to the right and the Banasura range to the left. An ideal destination for the traveler who enjoys trekking, fishing, bird watching, wildlife sighting, biking, off road driving or just plain relaxing. It overlooks the tea plantations, that have been there since the British first turned up.

Five plush, luxury Swiss tents welcome you. They are spacious, airy and come with warm, clean furnishings that fit right in. All tents are air-conditioned and contain all the amenities that a discerning traveller could ask for. The tents come with satellite television; hot water is available all through the day. Wifi is available. A select collection of film CD’s, a range of books on the surrounding regions and wildlife can be found in the library.

The restaurantcaters to the global taste buds. The cuisine is mostly continental with a few choice Indian dishes. There are special menus for the little guests. Parents are encouraged to take part in the informal sessions and spend time with the in house chefs. The dining area opens to an outside space that has a commanding view of the surrounding magical mountains.


Visit to the Gurukulam

Visit Gurukulam botanical sanctuary, home to about 2000 species of endangered plants. Meet the founders Wolfgang Theuerkauf and Suprabha Seshan. Distance from the property is 65 Kms

The International union for conservation of nature has rated Gurukulam as one of the 25 centres of Bio diversity in the world

There are no charges, but voluntary donations to the organisation are most welcome and accepted with gratitude

Half a day

Bicycle Trips

Cycling trips from half to a full day can be arranged

They have geared Bicycles on the property and there are very Scenic roads to cycle. Traffic density is low.

Hiring charges extra

Nature Drive

A 28 kms Jeep ride through spectacular forests of spectacular flora. The possibility of seeing wild life is high. This can also include long walks at the end of the 28 kms ride.

The return journey by Speed boat is also possible.

Visits to the Arlem Wildlife Sanctuary and Wayanad wildlife sanctuary.


Trekking is amazing into the Wayanad sanctuary. Possible in three ranges of Chethalayam( kuruva/kabini forest), Muthanga and Tholepatti forest. It is better done after a few rains as forests are pretty dry now.

Arlem is a birders paradise and can also be done on foot. This again is a full day programme

Trek to the Chembra Peak. There is a motorable road to the base camp. Half a day.

Trek to the Banasura peak. A whole day program.

Trikepetta Bamboo village

Walk through the village and lunch at a local villager’s house.

Duration: 4 hours

This will be through Trikepetta village also called Bamboo village

There will be a guided tour of the area with walk through the paddy fields/ plantation. Visit to Uravu (an Ngo involved in the field of Bamboo and Bamboo related products). One could buy their products and for those who attend a course in any of the bamboo making skills, that could be arranged at a cost and prior notice

Visit a bamboo plantation and visit the 100 year old Trikepetta Shiva temple for those who are interested.

Plant a bamboo sapling, which will be nurtured by the villagers in your honour (Only sapling cost to be paid to Uravu)

Walk to the forest, not strenuous

Lunch at villager’s house (vegetarian traditional meal)Rs 150/head

Added to this would be the cost of a local guide which is Rs 300/- which will apply if the group is 1 or 20 people. The larger the size the lesser the cost/head

Boating and walk along the river

Walk along the river, paddy fields and the Tea plantations; approximate time 3 hours. This is right next to the property. One could also have a swim in the river.

Cruise along the river in a village boat, seeing all of rural wayanad, time could be three hours. Could also include a lunch in a village home.

Cost of boat trip would be Rs 350/trip

Bird watching

Bird watching trips can be arranged around the property with a naturalist to explain; Duration 3 hours

Banasurasagar lake

This has become a very poulatr activity. There are no crowds. Drift along the Backwaters of the Banasurasagar reservoir in a country ferry known as Changadam. One can travel for hours stop at will in the islands and forests and Lunch or breakfast or tea can be arranged. Overnight stay in a mud hut close to the water can also be arranged.

Ayurvedic Spa

The resort has a tie up with an ayurvedic hospital. Various medicines and treatments are available.

Getting There


The nearest domestic airport is Kozhikode (Calicut), around 100 km away (approximately a two-hour drive).

Kochi International Airport is 140 km away. The drive from Kochi is around three to four hours.

Bangalore International Airport is also about 282 km away. The drive will take you roughly five and a half hours.


The nearest station is Kozhikode (Calicut), 100 km from the resort. The station is well-served by trains from major cities in India, including Mumbai and Chennai.


Take the NH – 209 and take the Mysore – Kollengal route to the resort. The drive from Bangalore to Wayanad(282 kms) takes about 5 hours. The drive from Mysore(192kms) takes about 2hrs 20 mins. The hotel can arrange pick-ups from Mysore and Calicut.

White Sky Hotels and Resorts are a handpicked collection of beautiful hotels across India.Our hotels are for those who dream of the freedom of exploration, discovery and travel with style, simplicity and elegance.

What is the Best Survival Knife?

Bring up a subject around the campfire, like the best caliber for a deer rifle, prettiest girl, toughest NFL team, most reliable four-wheel drive pickup or the best all-around survival knife and you will get opinions!

But the survival knife topic begs to be explored. Of all the tools needed to ensure your survival in an emergency urban or wilderness situation, a good knife would have to be ranked number one. Then the debate begins!

First, you have to know what you need. Your survival knife must be lightweight, easy to carry, do the job for which it is intended and be adaptable to the situation. Probably most importantly, it needs to be tough, durable and easy to sharpen.

Over the years, my preference in such survival knives has changed.

On my 1980 Mississippi River canoe trip, a Buck folder rode on my hip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minnesota, to Venice, Louisiana. The folder, with two, 3-1/2 inch blades, worked well for cleaning fish, sharpening wiener sticks, whittling kindling for the fire and spreading peanut butter. The knife went on backpacking trips on the John Muir Trail, through Yellowstone National Park, and on many canoe trips.

But, any folding knife’s weak spot is the hinge. When that breaks, you end up with two pieces. So, as well as the Buck had performed, it was retired two decades ago when I moved to Idaho. I was hunting elk and deer in the mountains, and needed a sturdy hunting knife, in addition to a survival tool.

Now, after several decades of on-the-job testing, I have narrowed my survival knife choices down to three:

Swiss Army Knife Classic: I was given a Classic in 1994. Immediately, I went from wondering what good the dinky little knife could be, to wondering how I ever got along without it!

Measuring 2-1/4 inches long, and weighing one ounce, the Classic contains all the classic Swiss Army tools, including a small blade for cutting, a pair of mini scissors, a nail file with a screwdriver tip, a toothpick, tweezers, and a key ring.

The Classic is a favorite with the lightweight backpacking crowd. I ran into a through hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail last summer, near Elk Lake, Oregon, and the only knife she’d carried since Mexico was a Classic. She claimed it was all she needed.

The Classic goes everywhere with me, including hunting camps, but it is definitely not the only knife I carry. Along with a bigger sheath knife, the two knives can handle everything. Of the tools in the Classic, you’ll find yourself using the tweezers and scissors the most. In fact, you’ll find the Classic is worth carrying just for the superb tweezers!

Fixed blade Mora: The current rage among survival schools seems to be the four-inch, fixed-blade Scandinavian Mora style knives. I love the design. It looks like a paring knife with a sheath, and works well for peeling potatoes, cutting rope, and other camp chores. The Mora style is a superb choice for cleaning fish, upland and small game, and it rides in my hunting vest when I’m after birds.

I ordered six different models several years ago to test the steel for firemaking potential and their use with the Boy Scouts. My favorite Mora ended up being a J. Martinni knife made in Finland. The knife weighs 2.5 ounces, and the sheath, wrapped with about six feet of bright duct tape, adds another 2.5 ounces. The forged blade holds an edge and is easily sharpened. It’s another of those knives I wouldn’t want to get along without.

Cold Steel SRK: I bought my SRK in 1991 to use as an all-around general hunting knife. The blade is 3/16″ thick and 6″ long; the Kraton handle is 4-3/4 inches long; overall length is 10-3/4 inches. My SRK, without sheath, weighs eight ounces, and 10.5 with sheath wrapped in duct tape.

The SRK comes with a black blade so the first thing I did was remove the paint. I intended to use the SRK for meat cutting and hunting, so the painted blade seemed weird and Rambo-like. Besides, I hunt with several former military types, and they would have laughed a “tactical” or survival knife out of camp!

For what I need, the SRK is perfect. The knife has field dressed about 50 deer and been used on several elk. In one instance, I field dressed and quartered three deer without the knife needing to be sharpened. In hunting camp, it is my most-borrowed knife.

The knife still gets a lot of hard use, since most of camping I do these days is with Boy Scout troops. The SRK is pounded with a wooden baton to split kindling, and that allows us to leave the hatchets and axes at home. It has also whittled countless weiner sticks, and been part of many carving projects around the campfire.

I have way too many knives, of all sorts, sizes and descriptions and 20 years ago I never needed to buy another. So here’s my take: the best survival knife is the one you have when it’s needed. Don’t worry about the current fad, or how pretty or cool a knife may look. The knife you have along is the only survival knife you have! Make sure it’s a good one!

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn’t claim to be a “survival expert” or expertise as a survivalist. Leon teaches common sense wilderness survival techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters.

This lead to the creation of, a website that promotes a hefty application of common sense to emergency situations. Leon’s emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival, particularly as they relate to teaching kids. Every post or article on his website, has been thoroughly tested and researched.

Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and a wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District.

10 Lorries in Harmony

To some, trucks and lorries may seem functional, but not exactly prime inspiration for songwriting. But maybe that’s why you’re not a multi-platinum selling artist, because all of these artists have managed to find their muse in the form of the humble HGV or the owner operator’s job…

69 Eyes – Truck On

While some have used the lorry as a metaphor for life, Finnish gothic metalers 69 Eyes talk no uncertain terms about the lorry as means to deliver loads from one place to another. Things do get a bit weird at one point though – perhaps the lead singer is getting stir crazy from being in his cab all night:

“Well I’m drivin’ amok Doggone’s my luck But I don’t give a **** And I’m feelin’ mean Bleedin’ gasoline Would you lick it clean?”

Pavement – Heaven is a Truck

The song title makes it look like Stephen Malkmus is going to create a stunning ode to the truck as paradise… though the lyrics give the impression that Pavement’s idea of heaven is slightly more down to earth than most of us:

“Heaven is a truck It got stuck On a breeze Asked the driver nicely, I need a lift? I need release The sands in the boats On the rose-covered floats”

Yello – The Lorry

Swiss electronica act Yello played up the lonely elements of long distance haulage in their ode to lorries.

“Inside my lorry I am driving through the night Inside my lorry The world does look all right Five to five I’ve got to drive And if you ask me where I go I tell you coast to coast is what I do”

As they’re Swiss, we’ll forgive them not knowing that “go” and “do” don’t rhyme.

Bobby Bare – Truck Driver, Truck Driver

Bobby Bare’s truck driving song is taken slightly differently, all sung from the perspective of “a highway bum” hitching a ride, making increasingly bold requests. Starting of with “Don’t suppose you could sorta scoot over a little bit and give me a little more room cause I got long legs” via asking for cigarettes and the truckers jacket all the way up to “I see in that plastic frame a picture of a sexy blonde and you know that’s my kind of dame, man I’d really like to grab onto your wife huh.” Eventually the patience of the truck driver is worn out, and the hitcher says “Now if you lend me a dollar and half I’ll move on down the line.”

James Coffey – Hard Workin’ Truck

We’ve seen truck songs from the perspective of the driver and the passenger, but this one sets a new trend by being sung by the vehicle itself! The song outlines all the tasks that lorries can comfortably accomplish including picking up rubbish, digging ditches, construction work and haulage. The vehicle is evidently boastful about its talents: “No load is too heavy for my rig, no hill too high, no job too big…”

Bill Monroe – Lonesome Truck Driver Blues

As the title of this truck driving song suggests… this is another song highlighting the loneliness of the open road. The song describes the entire journey all the way down to the truckstops, but the drivers’ concerns about the road laws certainly ring true with our current fears about government interference: “If you load too light you can’t make a dime, if you load too heavy then you get a fine.” The song does have an upbeat ending however, highlighting the best part of many a long distance haulier’s day:

“Oh the motor’s purrin’ I’m makin’ time Takin’ me back to that baby of mine She’ll be purrin’ like a kitten When I walk in the door The truck driver blues I won’t sing anymore”

David Lynn Jones – Bonnie Jean (Little Sister)

A country ballad about a woman left by her husband with 3 young children to look after who takes up long distance lorry work to make ends meet. It’s a sad tale, but some of the details will sound familiar to all truckers:

“She’s a runnin’ down the road from coast to coast, It’s the little things she misses the most She’s a mother all day and a trucker all night Livin’ on coffee and mini-whites”

Weird Al Yankovic – Truck Drivin’ Song

Comedy songwriter Weird Al Yankovic’s Truck Driving Song starts off in much the same style as the other truck songs:

“I’m driving a truck Drivin’ a big ol’ truck Pedal to the metal, hope I don’t run out of luck”

But quickly goes a little strange:

“Rollin’ down the highway until the break of dawn Drivin’ a truck with my high heels on”

The song continues this theme to reverse the macho stereotype of the industry, probably angering a few truckers in the process:

“Oh, I don’t mind when my crotchless panties creep right up on me And my nipple rings don’t bother me too much But when I hit those big speed bumps My darling little rhinestone pumps Keep slippin’ off the mother-lovin’ clutch”

Of course, lorries aren’t the only bigger industrial vehicles that have inspired songwriters – here’s two more which move slightly further away from the trucking remit.

The Wurzels – Combine Harvester

The number one single – a reworking of “Brand New Key” by Melanie was a change of direction for the band, after the death of songwriter Adge Cutler – at this point, the band moved away from original composition and in to altering other people’s work. The West Country band moved away from farms and cider to pen another trucking themed song “I Want to be an Eddie Stobart Driver”

Nizlopi – JCB Song

Alt-folk act Nizlopi made it big by having the Christmas number one in 2005 – a song about a boy escaping into a fantasy world on his Dad’s JCB away from the bullies at school. Aside from having a delightful video, the song is notable for its sudden change of fortune – the Christmas single was a re-release of a song which had made #160 in the charts on its first go 6 months earlier.

So if you spot a lorry heading past you on the motorway, or take on an owner operator job, perhaps its time to pull out the guitar and start strumming!

How The Swiss Diamond Company Influence The Face Of Cookery

Swiss Diamond pans are gaining its popularity as having a distinctive non – stick surface that is known to be almost nonbreakable because of the embedded diamond crystals. According to studies, the diamond is the hardest substance known to man and it can surpass extreme heat. Swiss Diamond Pan technology uses nanotechnology, which is the science of organizing molecular elements at that level. Nanotechnology has revolutionized our lives by producing items such as wrinkle-resistant clothing, digital cameras and computer hard drives. A few years ago, the company produced their unique cookware made of this new non-stick surface, using diamonds.

Diamonds are a Pan’s Confidant

Although the hardness of diamonds is familiar by many, most people don’t appreciate that they are non-porous and contain non-stick qualities fundamental to its composition. Researchers at Swiss Diamond discovered that when diamond crystals are bonded with a non-stick nano, the cooking surface produced is one which has unrivaled non-stick excellence, is easy to clean-up and has its extreme hardness helps resist blistering or cracking. If you will put a Swiss diamond pan in an oven and set the oven to 500 degrees, no damage will be done to the pan. Besides, they are dishwasher friendly and will still look sparkling new even after continued use.

Technology Makes for Great Food

With the use of Swiss’, each families can now enjoy digestible meals at home. The diamond-chipped surface browns food evenly because these minuscule pieces of diamonds allow for the smooth conductivity of heat. Cleaning up is not a burden since it will only take seconds to wipe away food residues off the pan. There is no soaking or scrubbing involved when cooking with Swiss Diamond pans. In addition, these pans will never warp or bend if they are hot from the stove and put instantly into cold water.

Why Buy Swiss Diamond Pans?

The non-stick surface of SDPs and cookware is produced using PTFE non-stick material instead of the standard Teflon which is used on most cookware advertising to have a non-stick finish. In the past, clients have questioned the health risks of Teflon, which the United States Environmental Protection Agency discovered contained a potential, chemical-causing cancer. PTFE, on the other hand, has not been found to contain any harmful substances and produces a more efficient non-stick finish than Teflon. Swiss Diamond pan technology has been using PTFE since its inception several years ago.

Innovation in Cookware

During the middle 1980’s, the use of titanium became popular with producing ceramic cookware containing a non-stick surface. Although titanium is one of the hardest substances on Earth, it is not nearly as hard as the diamond crystals used in the making of SDPs. The engineers at the Swiss diamond Laboratory in Switzerland invented this pioneering material particularly for the Swiss Diamond pan technology and have customized their invention as to have non – stick cooking feature. This, combined with pressure cast aluminum results in cookware that is unrivaled. For their pioneering development in the cookware industry, they were awarded the Gold Medal Inventor’s Award in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Joys of Cooking with Swiss Diamond Cookware

Besides the non-stick finish and durable construction of SDPs, the other benefits of owning SDPs are numerous. The pans are durable and not as heavy as stainless steel cookware, which reduces problems for those who have trouble lifting heavy pots and pans. They are dishwasher friendly and they contain no harmful chemicals that are detrimental to the health of its users. In addition, a Swiss Diamond pan left in a heated oven will not burn your hand because of its ergonomic handle. With Swiss Diamond pots and pans, cooking will become a treat instead of a chore.

Find intricate luxury bedding [] and other home decorating accessories and apparels like swiss diamond [] s that are perfect solutions to all your cooking needs. Visit the links and order now!

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Swiss Army Knife – Stories From Lovers of Swiss Army Knives Part 2

Swiss Knives Express offers a free knife if you send in a Swiss Army knife story that gets published or used on their website. Here are some of the interesting stories and uses that people have for Swiss Army knives. See Part 1 for previous stories.

Story 4 – M. Bourgeois from Idaho Falls, ID

One Christmas I gave each of my two girls a “Miss A” knife. You’ve probably seen these things – pink and purple, with lots of girl “tools”. I was hoping the girlies, ages 13 and 11, would think the knives were fun and maybe somewhat useful. As any dad could have told you, I was destined to be wrong. My girls are never ungrateful, but the “Miss A” knives were greeted in a most unenthusiastic way. It turns out the girls thought they were ready for a “real” Swiss Army knife. These little cutsie knives just did not cut it. Indeed, they felt a little insulted! So, we discussed what they liked and wanted in a knife and decided on a couple of Victorinox Hunstman Pluses. They’ve been happy ever since – cleaning fish, sawing branches for walking sticks, and using their real knives for whatever else comes up. I was happy the Swiss Army knives got me out of that jam!

Story 5 – P. Haynes, Ozark, MO

I’ve been carrying a Victorinox Tinker for almost 15 years. I can’t say it has saved my life (yet) but it has definitely made things a lot easier. Like the time a friend and I were driving a rust bucket 1980 Chevy truck through rural Kansas. It was 3:00 AM and we were probably 20 miles from ANYTHING and the truck quits running. My friend was a mechanic but the only tool in the truck was a rusty pair of pliers. Thankfully I had my Tinker in my pocket. He messed around with the carburetor and we were back on the road in about 10 minutes.

Story 6 – P. Laurence from Toledo, OH

I got my first Swiss Army knife a month ago because I heard they were invaluable for use in everyday life. I chose a Victorinox Huntsman. My friends were right. They are useful tools. I use the scissors to open boxes and the screwdriver to drive screws. I’ll definitely order some more Swiss Army knives, maybe even some for the family.

Story 7 – J. Schmidt from Blair, NE

I have carried a Classic Swiss Army knife for about 25 years. The first one I had was the original red. After about 15 years the inset metal emblem fell out, but I still carried it because it was still good for a lot of things from opening cardboard boxes to fixing my watch. I currently have about 20 various models and I have never been disappointed in the quality or versatility.

Story 8 – F. Porzelt from Glen Ellyn, IL

I have carried Swiss Army knives daily for over 20 years. I have a small one on my keychain and carry a larger one in my pocket. I have used them at work for everything from opening packages to repairing printers to cutting up pizza for lunch. They are used regularly at home for applications ranging from tightening kitchen cabinet hinges to opening cans and bottles. The most fun, however, is outdoors use such as whittling, making kindling for fires and trimming small branches with the saw. The knives are so solidly built that they work as well now as when I first got them. There are so many uses I can’t see how I could ever get along without a Swiss Army knife!

Lisa Gunther is a freelance writer and product reviewer. Swiss Knives Express is the perfect place to select a Swiss Army knife for yourself or loved one: Groomsmen Gifts – Gunther Gifts specializes in unique groomsmen gifts and wedding favors.

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Tips For Easy Driving in Europe


Driving in Europe

Travelling around in Europe can cause a great deal of trepidation in many travellers. Whilst Europe is renowned for its fast and reliable trains, we chose to drive ourselves. Eurail passes are very popular amongst travellers to Europe, but when we did the figures and calculated the cost of four passes, we realised it was going to be cheaper to have our own car. Having a car also gave us more flexibility which is very important when travelling with children. Another advantage of having your own car is that you don’t need to carry your luggage everywhere.

Our car was booked using the Peugeot Leasing scheme. This is a scheme where you actually purchase a brand new vehicle (Renault and Citroen have the same deals) and Peugeot guarantee to buy it back from you at the end of your trip.

This is a special arrangement that allows the French to get their vehicles into other European countries tax free, therefore saving some money.

Another added bonus is that full comprehensive insurance and a full factory warranty are included, as are unlimited kilometres. The daily rental rate reduces the longer you lease the car, and our Peugeot 407 diesel station wagon cost around $70 per day for 44 days. We chose a diesel model for the better fuel efficiency. Fuel is even dearer in Europe than in Australia, and whilst we paid more at the pump for diesel, the improved fuel efficiency made it worthwhile. The tax-free leasing scheme is only valid for rentals of 17 days or more, so if you require a car for less than 17 days, hiring is the way to go.

General driving tips

Whilst it may take a little while to get used to driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, we found the driving relatively easy. European drivers are quite courteous and we didn’t witness any ‘road rage’ incidents, however they do drive fast!! In Germany, the autobahns (freeways) don’t have a speed limit, so it is not unusual for cars to speed past you at 200 kph!! We decided not to try and outdo the locals, so we tended to stay in the ‘slow’ lane, doing 160 kph! Don’t feel you have to keep up – most autobahns/autostrades are three or four lanes in each direction, so stick to the far right and let the speedsters use the other two lanes.
Allow plenty of time on your trip for delays such as roadworks. When three lanes suddenly becomes one lane, it certainly slows down the traffic.

“Autogrille” restaurants which are situated along the autobahns/autostrades offer an excellent choice of food. Unlike our service centre restaurants in Australia, “Autogrille” offers a wide range of foods, often in a buffet-type set up, with a full menu, not just the usual fried take aways.

European road signs

Driving in smaller towns can sometimes provide for an interesting experience, too! Many ‘old towns’ still retain their cobblestones and are pedestrian-only zones, whilst some of Italy’s towns have streets so narrow you wonder how a car could ever drive down it! Public car parks are always sign-posted and are generally only a few hundred metres from the town centre, so take advantage of them.

In cities, use public transport or walk to save the hassle and cost of inner-city parking. Public transport in most European cities is clean, convenient, efficient and cheap.


It’s a good idea to take a couple of CDs or an iPod, especially a couple of the kids’ favourites if you are travelling with children. On long trips, having some familiar music can keep them happily entertained. Whilst most radio stations play plenty of English-language songs, of course the announcers speak the local language.

Child Restraints

In many countries in Europe, the use of a restraint system is mandatory for children up to 10 years old. Kids up to seven must use an approved child restraint seat, whilst those from 7 – 10 require a booster seat. Check in advance with your car hire/lease company to make sure these are available for hire (an additional fee will apply).


Never leave your valuables on display in your car even if you are only going to be away from it for a short time. Always carry your passport, money, credit cards, airline tickets, etc in a money belt on your person, and remember, thieves love cameras and laptops, so lock them in the boot out of sight.


Have a really good map of your destination town/city and know exactly where your accommodation is located. There is nothing more frustrating than driving around a city trying to locate your hotel if you have absolutely no idea where you are! This is guaranteed to cause tempers to fray and get your stay in your new location off to a bad start! Find out in advance if your hotel/apartment has parking available, and print off a map and directions to your destination using Google maps,, The AA route planner, or Via Michelin.

Stick to the golden rule that, when driving in Europe, four eyes are better than two! Whenever we approach an intersection or roundabout, both driver and passenger check both ways for traffic to be doubly sure that it is clear to proceed.


Many autobahns/autostrades have toll booths so always carry some coins to pay for these. Tolls are determined by the distance you travel on the autobahn/autostrade. Some toll booths accept credit cards, but not all, so be prepared.

Switzerland and Austria also require motorists to purchase a Vignette. These can be purchased at Swiss and Austrian border crossings or nearby petrol stations. The Swiss vignette is valid for one year and costs (approximately) 40 Swiss francs, whilst the Austrian vignette can be purchased for periods of 10 days, 3 months or 1 year (cost approximately 7.70 Euros for 10 days).

Road signs

Road signs in Europe are generally very similar to those in Australia. Many signs showing distances to towns, cities, or popular tourist attractions, are in the local language as well as English.

International Driving Permit

If you are planning on driving whist in Europe, you will need to obtain an International Driving Permit prior to your departure from Australia. An IDP is an internationally recognised form of identification, and in many cases is a pre-requisite for hiring a car. IDPs can be purchased from your local motoring organisation (RACV, NRMA, etc) by presenting your current drivers licence and a passport-sized photo. The International Driving Permit is valid for 12 months, and at the time of writing cost around $30.

Happy travels!

© Carolyn Schonafinger, 2009.

All information is of a general nature and is to be used as a guide only.

Carolyn Schonafinger is the founder of online European travel directory Carolyn has travelled extensively in Europe and has used the tax-free leasing program on a number of occasions. Carolyn is happy to answer your travel questions about European holidays.

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Swiss Nature Parks Celebrate the Land and People of Switzerland

It takes a few gentle kicks and commands from Franz Lustenberger to rouse the cows for the 4:30 a.m. pre-dawn milking. Once his eleven cows are standing, Franz primes each nipple by producing a few jets of warm milk before attaching the milking machine to the overstretched udders.

Singlehandedly, he pours the creamy contents of the milking machine-about 12 liters per cow-into 40-liter milk cans. By 5:15 the cans containing the morning’s output are loaded onto a small cart and wheeled to a shed at the south side of the hilltop pasture. The shed houses the upper terminus of a tram system-a sort of ski lift for milk cans. Franz hoists the milk cans onto the bed of the tram cart and starts the drive wheel of the tram. In five minutes the tramload of milk has arrived at a transfer station over a kilometer away in the valley below. Within the hour Franz has milked the cows, shipped the milk, and fed the calves. Sunrise is still an hour away.

The patchwork of dairy farms stitched into the hills surrounding Entlebuch in the Swiss canton of Lucerne embody a traditional but rapidly disappearing lifestyle. It’s an area rich in history-the cradle of the Swiss confederation-and still steeped in the human enterprise that has distinguished Swiss farmers from the peasant class that fled much of Europe’s farmland over the past 150 years. Today, the Entlebuch Nature Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, showcases the land, culture, and traditional lifestyles of central Switzerland.

Entlebuch is Switzerland’s first regional nature park and protects a landscape where one third of the population still makes their living in agriculture. It is a prealpine paradise where you can explore wooded nature trails, immerse yourself in a traditional lifestyle, dine on freshly produced local foods, and sleep comfortably at local hotels or even in the straw as part of a farm stay-all for much less than you might shell out in Switzerland’s trendy resorts or spendy cities.

In addition to dairy farming, forestry and small-scale mining have been a traditional part of the Entlebuch landscape. The Gross Fontanne, a stream that undercuts the limestone cliffs of Napf Mountain, has been luring gold miners since the 15th century. Gsto (pronounced “Shtoe”) Watti, a descendant of those early miners, leads visitors on outings to pan for gold.

Each prospecting guest is outfitted with a shovel, a flare-sided pan, and a pair of rubber boots. Then Gsto wades into the stream and demonstrates how to dislodge the boulders to access the underlying sand and gravel where gold is most likely to be found. Shoveling the slushy gravel into the pan and leaning over to meticulously wash away the sand is backbreaking and painstakingly hard work. After an hour of shoveling gravel and panning I have three flecks which combined are far smaller than the head of a pin.

As I carefully drop my shimmering flecks into a small vial (which magnifies them to appear immensely larger than they really are), I notice a nugget about the size of a grain of wheat dangling from a chain around Gsto’s neck. It’s the total production from his best day ever-weighing about three grams and worth less than US$100, even at today’s lofty gold prices. My production is worth perhaps pennies, but it’s given me a fun, hands-on connection to the centuries of gold miners who followed the undeniable siren song of prospecting.

Back at the farm, Franz stands on his patio in front of a wood-fired brick oven and places spice-encrusted strips of pork onto the grill. He cuts into a large loaf of crusty bread and serves up a glass of fresh whole milk. Franz advises me that this is yesterday’s milk-good thing, since, according to Franz, milk consumed on the day it’s produced taste “cowey.”

When it’s time to hit the hay, try schlafen im Stroh, or sleeping in the straw-a popular option on a Swiss farm stay. Sure, more modern bedding is available in a dormitory above the large shed where Franz keeps his tractor, but the straw in the barn is clean and surprisingly comfortable. As I slip into bed, sandwiched between two blankets, I don’t feel any of the prickliness I first expected. But I do want to be asleep by 10:00-after all, I need to be up at 4:30 to milk the cows.

Need to know

Entlebuch Nature Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, has become a model for sustainable tourism in Europe. It is one of 20 Regional Nature Parks in Switzerland protecting over 15 percent of Switzerland’s land.

How to get there: Entlebuch is in the Lake Lucerne region, about 30 minutes southwest of Lucerne by train. The nine villages within the park are served by the Swiss PostBus system.

Accommodations: Hotels, restaurants, and B&Bs are located in villages throughout the park.

Greg Witt is the author of Ultimate Adventures: A Rough Guide to Adventure Travel and the U.S. Editor of Off the Tourist Trail (DK Eyewitness Travel). Each summer he guides walking and hiking tours in the Swiss Alps through his company, Alpenwild.

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