Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"I Always Feel Like, Somebody's Watching Me"

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi directed House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard to post lawmaker spending records online on Wednesday. House and Senate lawmakers are given an annual allowance between $1.3 million and $4.5 million to run their offices, which is used for operating costs and staff salaries, as well as equipment, travel, and operating supplies. The thousands of pages were previously only available to those who requested them in Washington, D.C., or those who were willing to pay for copies sent their way. Beginning in August, the documents will be available online in order for operations to be as transparent as possible. With all that attention on spending, will you be looking for travel deals this year?

If you'd like to go somewhere that's affordable but doesn't feel inexpensive, you'll probably love visiting Africa. Mauritius is located off the coast of Africa in the southwest Indian Ocean, and both English and French languages are spoken widely on the island. Foodies will love the blend of cuisines at one meal, and adventurous types are urged to visit the back country, where they can indulge in zip lining, horseback riding, deer hunting, and quad & mountain biking. Enjoy this island (said to have "inspired heaven") by staying at the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius in Anahita, which allows breathtaking views of mountainous lands and lagoons surrounding the incredibly luxurious resort and golf course.

Mauritius might spoil you rotten, but perhaps you'd prefer something different than an island atmosphere. The Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco could be one of the most stunning locations you'll visit this year, tucked into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. After taking in the river and mountains near the hotel gratis, head out to explore Marrakech, which is an experience that's not only unforgettable, but often so amazing that you'll want to repeat it soon. Just a few important stops include Majorelle Garden, Le Bains de Marrakech, and the Museum of Marrakech, which displays lots of Moroccan tile work and ancient artifacts. Walking through the Semmarine Souk, you'll find plenty of traditional garments with exquisite detailing for very little, and antiques and jewelry, too. Those with extra time must stop by the Jemaa El Fna, where storytellers and snake charmers perform day and night. When you finish up your trip in the city, consider taking the overnight Marrakech Express train for an affordable overnight trip to Tanjier.

Wouldn't you rather watch your pennies on vacation while the House scrambles to explain their expenditures?

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