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Celebrating Cherry Blossom Festival 2015 in Washington D.C

by amit.uniyal 2. April 2015 05:20

It’s a celebration of spring in Washington D.C. now. The capital of the United States is all set to welcome this beautiful season with the National Cherry Blossom Festival due to take place from March 20 through April 12, 2015.

The 3-week-long annual city-wide event is a joyous celebration of the age-old tradition showcasing the lovely 3,000 cherry trees given by the city of Tokyo to the U.S. capital as a gift of friendship. The festivities offer something for everyone – arts shows, exhibitions, sports activities, gastronomy delights and much more. You just name it and they will all be there for you. Get ready to be delighted with over 90 special events and more than 200 international cultural performances.

National Cherry Blossom Festival - Fare Buzz

It’s a visual treat to find the blossoming cherry trees in the city heralding the arrival of spring and spreading bright hues with the vibrant white and pale pink flowers in the areas surrounding the Tidal Basin or the Jefferson Memorial. The National Cherry Blossom Festival also marks the start of the busy tourist season here.

Tidal Basin and National Mall best places to enjoy
The biggest challenge for you will be how best to enjoy this festival. It can be quite challenging to get around the city during this hugely popular event, particularly on the weekends. The city during this time offers limited parking. So, what should be done now! Make use of the public transportation to navigate the Tidal Basin and the National Mall.

There are some exciting things to do when in the Tidal Basin. Go on a walking tour in the early morning. This is the best way to avoid the crowds and soak up some breathtaking views of the blossoming cherry trees. You are going to thoroughly enjoy the amazing sight. Also, don’t forget to take beautiful photographs as well. If you are visiting the east side of the Tidal Basin, between the Jefferson Memorial and the National Mall, you are likely to face huge crowds. Nevertheless, this area is also great for a picnic too.

It will be simply great to take a free cherry blossom walking tour seeking the help of a National Park Service Ranger. You will get to learn a lot about the fascinating history of the cherry blossom trees and many other related things. There a many tourists who consider taking a boat cruise to enjoy the marvelous cherry blossoms. You may consider a 45-minute sightseeing tour or even a dinner cruise of nearly 3 hours.

The list of activities during the festival is endless. There are many people who enjoy paddle boating and enjoy the views of the beautiful Japanese cherry trees from the water of the Jefferson Memorial. This is also a great opportunity for you to know about the life and contributions of Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. President and writer of the Declaration of Independence. There are still many others who prefer taking a 2-hour bike tour particularly designed for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Ride past the Jefferson Memorial, Potomac Park, Japanese lantern, Hains Point, and more.

Enjoy cultural performances and special events
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a gala time. You can look forward to enthralling free cultural performances held across the city every day during the entire duration of the festival. These include martial arts demonstrations, song, dance, and traditional and contemporary music performances. Among the popular special events held during the festivities include the Opening Ceremony, the Sakura Matsuri- Japanese Street Festival, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, and the Fireworks Display on the Southwest Waterfront.

Conclude the celebrations with a special meal at one of the restaurants in Washington D.C. Most delicacies served at the restaurants on this special occasion have cherries added to their recipes.

The scintillating performances and special events held during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival are not to be missed in any case. It not only brings people together but also provides great opportunity to celebrate the season and Japanese culture in a unique way.

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Top ten world’s Island Beaches for Snorkeling and Swimming

by amit.uniyal 12. March 2015 02:59

Swimming and snorkeling can be great fun. It provides opportunity to see myriad colorful marine life underwater. Moreover, apart from enjoying a blissful snorkeling vacation, the activity will also let you keep your body in shape. Snorkeling doesn’t need rigorous training. If you are a good swimmer, then you can snorkel too. The pleasures of swimming and snorkeling become simply fantastic when you do it in some of the popular Island Beaches in the world. Here we have specially curated for you world’s top 10 Island Beaches you should consider heading for your snorkeling vacation.

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Honda Bay, Palawan - Philippines
The reefs off Honda Bay are particularly great for snorkeling as they are teeming with varied marine life, including ghost pipes, starfish, seahorses, and three kinds of endangered turtles. You will find at least 400 species of coral and 800 fish species. The white sandy beaches in Palawan also welcome avid snorkelers. If you plan deep-sea dive in Palawan’s waters, you may be lucky to see dugong or sea cows as well.
Rakeedhoo, Vaavu Atoll - Maldives
Rakeedhoo shouldn’t be mistaken for a beach. It’s in fact a small island in the Vaavu Atoll, which is flanked by broad coral shelves. An impressive array of marine life and coral species are ready to welcome you when snorkeling on the reef top. You will be thrilled to see turtles, sharks, tuna, hump head parrot fish and blue-fin jacks. Rakeedhoo Kandu being an excellent dive site in the Maldives is also great for swimming.
Smith's Reef, Providenciales - Turks & Caicos
Smith’s Reef is situated in the Princess Alexandra National Park on Providenciales’ northern coast. It is home to most diverse seascapes in  Turks & Caicos Island. You will love snorkeling here. Get ready to discover neon trumpetfish, yellowtail snappers, green parrotfish, purple gorgonians, and colorful fan and brain corals. You will also come to know about the reef’s marine life and ecosystem.

Carlos Rosario Beach, Culebra - Puerto Rico
If you want to skip the crowds at the beautiful Flamenco Beach, then simply head to the Carlos Rosario Beach, which forms the part of the Luis Peña Channel Natural Reserve. It is undoubtedly a good spot for swimming and snorkeling in Puerto Rico. The largest diversity of marine life and coral are to be found here. Want to hit “The Wall”? Then just swim a little north of the Carlos Rosario Beach to see the mile-long stretch of colorful coral with plenty of turtles, urchins and tropical fish.

Temae Plage Publique, Moorea - French Polynesia  
You will find it too tempting to spend some time lying on the deserted, silky shores of Moorea. The island is surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with rich, diverse marine life. The splendid Temae Public Beach or Temae Plage Publique is also a great spot to see colorful coral reefs with hawksbill sea turtles, trumpetfish and stingrays.

Jellyfish Lake at Eil Malk, Rock Islands - Palau
The silky white sands at Eil Malk are stunning. But the real discovery beneath its turquoise waters is its golden jellyfish or million mastigias papua. They are concentrated in the appropriately-named “Jellyfish Lake”. They are stingless, and therefore harmless. Snorkeling among them is quite thrilling experience as you can get up close or even touch them. Swimmers and snorkelers find it great with many reefs off Eil Malk.

Matira Beach, Bora Bora - French Polynesia
Bora Bora’s Matira Beach is among the most beautiful island beaches in the world. The clarity of water and temperature here makes it an excellent spot for snorkeling. The diverse marine life at its spectacular reef, including above 1,000 tropical fish species, octopus, eagle rays and manta rays prompt snorkelers to go for a snorkel safari and enjoy swimming among the reef sharks.

Lady Elliot Island, Great Barrier Reef - Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is home to hundreds of snorkeling spots. It has the world’s richest ecosystems and boasts of 2,900 individual reefs. However, Lady Eliot Island is at the top of the list. You can look forward to discover kaleidoscopic coral, carpet sharks, manta rays, tropical fish species and sea cucumbers. Snorkeling between November and March is the best as you will be able to spot green and loggerhead turtles nesting on the beach.

Mnemba Island - Tanzania
The tiny Mnemba Island in Tanzania has been declared as a Marine Conservation area. It is encircled by pristine coral reefs. The area boasts of over 430 species of reef fish and marine life, including turtles, stingrays, moray eels, and bottlenose dolphin.

Cayo De Agua, Los Roques - Venezuela
The Cayo De Agua forms the part of the Los Roques Archipelago National Park. It is the Caribbean Sea’s largest marine park. Its waters are home to around 280 species of fish, 200 species of crustaceans and 61 species of coral. You can enjoy leisurely laps in the crystal clear, pool-like waters surrounding the arch-shaped cay, if you are not in snorkeling mood.

These are undoubtedly among the best island beaches in the world for snorkeling and swimming. Plentiful marine life, gentle currents and clear water – are all that you need to look out for a fantastic snorkeling trip.

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The best time to plan your visit to Cairo

by amit.uniyal 11. March 2015 03:42

Visiting Cairo, the capital city of Egypt and Africa’s largest city, can simply be an astounding and overwhelming experience. The city is home to above 16 million people. With its centuries-old history, the city will just amaze you. It is dusty, smelly, exotic, chaotic and beautiful, and at the same time quite fascinating, exhilarating, vibrant and welcoming. Cairo is ready to bewilder you endlessly with some of the best Islamic, Coptic and Pharaonic sites found in the country. The mighty River Nile, the Sphinx, the Giza Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, medieval markets by Khan El-Khalili, modern malls, theaters, cinemas and much more – are all there for you to keep you fascinated and entertained. Don’t all these ever excite you to visit and spend your vacations in this magnificent historic city!

So, why not plan a trip to Cairo right away? Before making plans for your visit it would be appropriate to know beforehand after all when it would be the best time to do so. Let’s now figure out the best times to head to this beautiful city.

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December-February is prime tourist season
If you are planning a trip to Cairo during the winter months between December and February, you can expect an influx of tourists from different parts of the world. This is the most popular time to visit the city. It is the peak tourist season and can be quite expensive. The days are sunny and warm, while the evenings are windy and cool. The pleasant weather is just great for sightseeing. If you have decided to go ahead with your travel during this period do remember to book your hotel rooms at least one or two months in advance or else you have to spend a huge amount because of the huge tourist arrivals. Planning your travel during the winter months has its other advantages as well. You can look forward to taking part in some major festivals such as Cairo Biennale, Sphinx Festival, Cairo International Festival, International Nile Song and Coptic Christmas.
Great time to visit during springtime March-April
The spring months from March to April are also considered to be the best time to visit Cairo. It offers a respite to the travelers as the winter crowds start waning. You don’t have to stand in long queues or rub shoulders with other to visit some of the popular attractions in the city. Above all, the weather is also perfectly fine. The hotel room rates are also somewhat low and require three to four weeks advance booking. The Egyptian National Film Festival and Caravan are the two main events held during this period.

Desert climate during summertime May-September

Most tourists don’t prefer to visit Cairo during the months from May to September. It is summertime here and you will have to face desert climate when visiting the city. The dry weather is not quite appealing. If however you decide to visit the city then you are sure to get some fantastic hotel deals. The major events taking place during summertime include Spring Festival and Egypt Now.

Best to visit during late fall October-November
The late fall months of October to November are also great in Cairo’s tourism calendar. These are pleasant times with the summer heat vanishing and winter crowds planning to arrive. You can make the most by visiting famous attractions and indulging in other outdoor activities. This is the time when hotel rates start climbing, but you can still get a good deal when booking a month in advance.
Whichever month you choose to visit Cairo, it will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience for you.

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SXSW 2015 – Austin readies for premier music and film event!

by amit.uniyal 10. March 2015 04:35

Hey, all the music and film lovers. This is your moment. Austin is beckoning you!

The popular South By Southwest music festival, also called SXSW, is again all set to take the city by storm and ready to enthrall all those heading to the city for the wonderful March 13-21 event. So, this is just not the time to waste any more. Book your flight tickets to Austin right away and have a gala time.

Do you know what all awaits you in Austin? The nearly 10-day-long event will be attracting some of the renowned musicians from world over. Get ready to regale with several unknown up-and-coming musical performances in blues, country, electronic, hip-hop, rap, pop and rock as well. The year 2014 was simply fabulous. There was an impressive lineup of more than 2,300 bands, which thrilled thousands of fans with their amazing performances on over 100 stages. Last year was also special as it attracted many big names in the film and music industry, including Lady Gaga, St. Vincent, Lucinda Williams, Soundgarden, Willie Nelson, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Kanye West and Jay Z.

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The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival will be celebrating its 22nd year. An impressive lineup for this year’s has already been announced. The craftsmanship by master filmmakers, auteur-driven comedies and emerging directors will be prominently showcasing their independent discoveries. This year 145 feature films are to be shown. This includes 11 U.S. Premieres, 13 North American Premieres and 100 World Premieres. At least 60 films to be featured will be those from the first-time filmmakers.

Whether you are a regular at SXSW or visiting it for the first time, attending multitude of events can be stimulating as well as stressful. Several performances, presentations, business meetings and networking events will keep you heavily engaged and stressed out. Here are some of the important tips that you need to take note of in order to make the most out of your Austin trip.

Packing up for your trip
You must know that SXSW is essentially a work event. With about 10-day-long stay, you need to stock up clothes that would go for both pleasure and business. Check for the weather forecast before you reach Austin as the climate conditions can be rather unpredictable. It may sometimes rain, so carrying an umbrella would be okay.

An insight into music events
A lot of things will be taking place within a short duration. More than 2,200 musical performances will be staged at over 100 places across the city. The Music Gear Expo will be among many activities to be hosted at the convention center. There will be many sessions for you to attend such as Digital Music Streaming, Data Technology, Convergence and A&R. You may choose any of these themes. You can even take part in few networking events as well and meet with artists and music industry professionals.

Where to find accommodation
If you have already made your hotel reservations in advance, it’s good. However, if you arrive in the city at the last minute, finding suitable accommodations might not be difficult if you know what to opt for that suit your budget. You can choose to book hotel rooms, stay in hostel dorms or share home rentals. If you want to lower accommodation costs significantly then prefer home rentals.

How to get around
With many events taking place throughout the city, getting around might just prove to be difficult. The first thing you must do is to download  Austin city map on your smartphone. Additionally, you may also download a SXSW GO app to view events schedule, navigate the tradeshow and city, engage and post on social media, and connect with your friends. The Austin Convention Center will be the main venue for most of the events. You will be having easy access to nightclubs, restaurants and local bars situated nearby. If you want to attend events in other parts of the city, then choose the budget-friendly public transportation option. You can also get rail and bus tickets from Capital Metro and also make extensive use of the SXSW Festival shuttles.

Now that you have got an overview of this premier music and film event in Austin, you will thoroughly enjoy and have a memorable visit.

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Discovering natural beauty of eco-friendly Costa Rica

by amit.uniyal 9. March 2015 05:41

Costa Rica is one of the most eco-friendly travel destinations in the world. Discovering the natural beauty of this fascinating place has been a matter of great excitement for tourists from world over, particularly adventurous, young backpackers. This Central American country has so much to offer to people of all ages. It’s undoubtedly an enriching experience for all those visiting along with their families and kids.

There are various ways through which you can have enjoyable experience in Costa Rica. The activities can be quite hectic or you can have a relaxing sojourn. It’s totally your call and how you want to make the most of your holidays in this beautiful country.

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Costa Rica can prove to be a great destination for a family adventure. The best way to enjoy your holidays here is to be quite open to everything. You can thoroughly enjoy your stay at this ‘Pura Vida’, which literally means enjoying your life to the fullest. Here are some of the ways in which you can have a blissful sojourn.

Travel from one end to the other
The best way to have endless fun and excitement in this country is not to stay at only one place. Travel from one end to the other. This is surely one of the best ways to explore this fun destination. Plan a trip to the jungles, mountains and coasts. The beautiful diverse landscape presents an awesome sight. It will give a fascinating insight into this magnificent land. The lifestyle in Costa Rica is slow-paced. You will get opportunity to see and experience all that this country has to offer and de-stress yourself.  
While you travel from the northern coast to the southern part of Costa Rica, the journey can be strenuous as it involves travel by a boat, a small plane and a jeep. The experiences can be varied and exciting. The landscape is diverse from region to region. You will get to see much and enjoy most. There are different activities to be pursued in each region, such as surfing on the beaches or hikes through the jungle. You will also love getting closer to the wildlife, such as colorful frogs, giant golden orb web spiders, and howler monkeys.

Stay at fabulous resorts
There are many fabulous resorts where you can choose to stay while on your holidays. You need to do some careful research before choosing the right place to stay. Some of the resorts offer basic amenities and are affordable, while there are others providing many facilities and can be expensive. The all-inclusive Lapa Rios resort in Puerto Jimenez is a family favorite. It is nestled in southern Costa Rica’s rainforest and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The resort offers beautiful vistas and delicious meals prepared from locally sourced items. There are plenty of things to see and do while staying at the resort, such as bird watching, night walks and seeing waterfalls.

There are lots of excursions that you can undertake while staying at the resorts. Take your kids to Monterverde's Selvatura Park where they will enjoy activities, such as jumping from the Tarzan swings, zip=line excursion through the cloud forest, and nature hike.

Costa Rica is surely the place that will unleash the adventurer in you and provide a fantastic experience to your family that will remain etched in the memory forever.

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Exploring UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia

by amit.uniyal 6. March 2015 06:45

Australia is home to a number of World Heritage Sites. There are a total of 19 such historic sites listed by the UNESCO. The prominent ones among these include some of the world’s oldest rainforests and nearly one-third of the protected marine areas in the world situated here. Let us take a look at some of the important regions in Australia where these World Heritage Sites are located.

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There are many World Heritage Sites in Western Australia. The famous sites worth visiting here include Purnululu National Park in the Kimberley. The Ningaloo Coast is the latest addition on the UNESCO list. The Ningaloo-Shark Bay National Landscape in this part of Australia has two World Heritage areas situated at its southern and northern ends. Even Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is also likely to gain the status in coming years as it is meeting 7 of the 10 criteria.

The Willandra Lakes Region in New South Wales, and the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia across New South Wales and Queensland have gained World Heritage status and attract a large number of tourists from different countries of the world.

There are several World Heritage Sites in Australia that can be found in remote locations. These include Riversleigh in Queensland and the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites at Naracoorte in South Australia. Visiting these places is an arduous task and you will require an adventurous spirit to do so.
There are a total of 11 sites that together fall under the World Heritage Australian Convict Sites. These sites include Old Great North Road near Wiseman's Ferry; the Cockatoo Island Convict Site and Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney; and the Domain and Old Government House at Parramatta. All these sites are situated in New South Wales and prominently showcase Australia’s rich history.

These are only few places mentioned here. Australia has many more similar World Heritage Sites and you will need to visit the country to discover all that remains unexplored.

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Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Travel to Cuba

by amit.uniyal 26. February 2015 03:37

Cuba is one of those exotic locations that everyone should travel to at least once. With the changes in Cuban regulations,  flights to this foreign country  will soon be available for Americans to visit. We highlighted some of the special attractions that Cuba has to offer, from enjoying the fresh mojitos to adoring the surf and sand of the Caribbean. There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t wait to get over to Cuba.

To help seal the deal, we have compiled some of our favorite things to do in Cuba once you arrive.


Get Fresh Cuban Cigars Straight from the Plantation
Take a walking tour of the local tobacco plantation. Located in the southwest area of Pinar del Rio, you’ll find a spot where they have been growing fresh tobacco since 1845 - and in 1997 they launched a famous line of cigars known as the Vegas Robaina.

This plantation has been unofficially open to the public for quite some time. But, if you visit, get ready to do a little work to earn those cigars. You’ll have to take a walk through the fields, see the tobacco-making process and even check out the wrappers and rolling process yourself. There is an on-site café that gives every guest a complimentary cigar, but you can also purchase a few more to go if you would like.

Visit Downtown Havana
Havana is easily one of the most popular spots in all of Cuba. There is plenty to do right here and you could spend your entire vacation in this one spot and have access to amazing food, stores, and of course the beach. Its central location is perfect for quick travel and the historic districts provide you with plenty of sights to take in. Don’t forget to check out the even more exciting nightlife that Cuba is known for while you’re in the downtown area.

Visit Christopher Columbus Cemetery
Also known as the city of marble, the Cemeteries de Colon is worth the time. Here you will find a beautiful mixture of tombs and you can even hire a guide to take you through and give you a little background on the cemetery, including its inhabitants.

Take in the 50’s
One thing you will notice from the moment you get off the plane is that Cuba is all about the 1950’s. You’ll see plenty of 1950’s automobiles in mint condition still driving down the streets of Havana. Here owners have a real sense of pride in their vehicles and these relics to the United States are still used for everyday getting around in Cuba. You can even rent a 1950’s car at some car rental places or take a taxi ride down the coast in one.

Drink Delicious Mojitos Just About Anywhere You Go
You cannot visit Cuba without having a mojito or two. Make sure no matter where you go you are getting the authentic Havana Club Rum though - for the true experience. Some great places to get authentic mojitos include Hotel Nacional de Cuba, La Bodeguita del Medio and El Floridita. While most of these bars are full of fellow tourists, they still offer some of the best drinks in Cuba.

If you go at the right time of the day you will even see first-rate artists playing music. But, if you are bar hopping mid-day, don’t be surprised to find a lot of establishments closed. Cuba is known more for their nightlife, which means you won’t see the best bars open their doors until well after the sun goes down.

Spend a Day at Playa Ancon
One of the finest beaches in the world is in Cuba. Playa Ancon, with its perfect white sand beaches and crystal blue water, is considered one of the finest beaches in the area. You’ll find plenty of all-inclusive resorts parked right here on the shore, snorkeling lessons and even opportunities to go diving into the reefs just off the sand.

Walk through Museo Historico Municipal
Get a real taste of Cuba’s culture at the grandiose museum located just off of Plaza Mayor. This mansion used to belong to the Borrell Family until 1830 and eventually was passed down to the Cantero family. You can see all of Trinidad from the top of the tower, check out the neoclassical decorations inside each room, and more. The view alone makes it worth every penny of the admission fee -but we recommend showing up before 11am so you can avoid the tourist crowds.

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Travel Advice

How Cool! The Best Ice Bars from Around the World

by amit.uniyal 26. February 2015 02:19

Ice bars don’t just sell ice, they are made of ice. From unique ice sculptures to walls made from ice, these cool establishments are definitely a place to chill out. Ice bars are hot tourist destinations, but they can make for some great Friday night fun too. You may be surprised to find an ice bar in your own city - or a place you are traveling too soon enough. Even more surprising, ice bars tend to pop up in some of the warmest destinations around the globe.

Even if you aren’t one for the cold, you have to visit an ice bar at least once in a lifetime - after all, how can you miss out on the opportunity to sit on a couch made from ice?


Orlando, Florida: The First Ice Bar in the United States
The Ice-Bar, located in Orlando, Florida, is the first and largest ice bar in the U.S. It features unique ice sculptures by a Master Carver and boasts over 50 tons of ice inside. This icy crystal palace has a throne, sofa, fireplace and even chairs all carved out of ice. Cocktails are served up nice and chilled in glasses that are molded from ice - you will never have to worry about your drink losing its chill. The bar, walls and even shelves are made from ice too. You’ll want to bring along your coat, because while the temperatures outside are always tropical and inviting, the inside is certainly frosty.

Sweden, Stockholm: Absolut-ly Cold
The Absolut Ice Bar in Stockholm takes “on the rocks” to a new level. This bar, inspired by the Absolut Vodka brand, is a sight to be seen if you are in Europe. Drinks are served in hollowed out ice cubes over a bar made from solid ice. Walls and tables are made from ice that was harvested from the Torne River (between Finland and Sweden). Every six months this bar goes through a renovation - replacing and re-carving the iced up interior.

London: Frosty and Extreme
In London? You can experience an extreme ice bar where your glasses, walls, bar and even the tables are carved from some of the clearest ice you will ever see. Another Absolut Ice Bar establishment, this is the only permanent ice bar in the United Kingdom. The interior is kept at -5 degrees Fahrenheit at all times and everything inside is made from crystal clear ice that was harvested out of the frozen Torne River in Northern Sweden.

London: An Icy Space
London sure likes to keep things chill. Not only do they have a permanent ice bar, but they also have the Ice Space located next to the  Tower Bridge in London. This place features an entertainer dressed like an Ice Queen who performs daily. The icy interior is not all made of ice, but does feature ice sculptures, an ice bar, a skating ring and performance art. The attraction boasts over 2,000 blocks of solid ice that weigh more than 200 tons.

Tokyo: A Wintry Experience
Enjoy a frosty cocktail on a bar made from ice at the Absolut Ice Bar in Tokyo. This is Asia’s first ice bar that was made from ice blocks cut out from the infamous Torne River. The entrance fee is rather steep to this chilly locale - about $30 USD. You will get one drink and you will definitely want to wear winter clothes, because it is kept at a chilly below zero temperature at all times.

Take a Cruise and Stay Cool
Ice bars make their appearances all over, including on cruise ships. NCL Cruise Ships has their own ice bar - one of the first ice bars at sea. This bar is small, but still features ice seats, an icy bar table and unique ice sculptures created by world-class artisans.

St. Petersburg
Don’t be surprised - St. Petersburg, known for their below zero temperatures naturally, also has an ice bar (or two) popping up each year. These ice bars have hand carved ice tables, chairs, and drinks served out of carved ice cups. You can order everything from cocktails to mixers - all served in frosty mugs.

Ice bars are literally showing up around the world. The exciting fun experience you get into visiting an ice bar will make for lasting memories in your travel diary. You may even find one in your own state or a country you’re traveling to regardless of what time of the year it is.

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Flight Cancelled, Now What? Tips for Handling Flight Cancellation

by amit.uniyal 25. February 2015 03:31

Inclement weather, medical emergencies or just bad luck - there are plenty of reasons why your flight may be cancelled. But, a flight cancellation could mean you are stranded at an airport waiting around for another flight or worse, you are scrambling from airline desk to airline desk to find someone else to get you home. No matter the reasons why, there are good ways and bad ways to handle those overwhelming flight cancellations.

Flight Cancellation

Always Have Extra in the Budget
Flight cancellations happen - and always unexpectedly. You can be better prepared by having a little extra in the travel budget for these situations. Extra funds could help you stay a little longer in a comfortable hotel or even pay the extra cost of switching airlines last minute to get home. If flights are cancelled because of bad weather, you may have a few days where you are stuck in your current location, so pad the budget enough to handle food, accommodations and even a rental car for at a couple days.

Decide How Long You’re Willing to Wait
There are times where getting home is important - or you just cannot deal with another day in your current location. There are ways around flight cancellations, but it might mean traveling to a different location and catching a connecting flight rather than a direct flight back home. For example, your flight from New York to California was cancelled, and you cannot stay in New York another day. Your only option for getting home in one day rather than next week is to fly to Denver, wait overnight, and then fly to California. While it is a hassle, it gets you home when you want to be there.

If your flight is cancelled decide how long you are willing to wait or how far you are willing to go to get home.

Check Your Flight Status before Going
Before you check out of the hotel or even pack your bags that day, check your flight’s status online. If it’s cancelled, start the hunt for alternate flights right away. Even if there are no flights, keep looking. New flights pop up and sometimes due to connection issues, seats will open up on flights that were already booked full.

Always Fly with Airports that Maintain Multiple Airlines
Small airports are limited on how many flights they have coming in and out. But, large international airports can cater to over a dozen airlines at once - increasing the chances you will find another airline to take you home even if your flight was cancelled.

You Can Go to Another Airport
Just because the airport you are at now doesn’t have any flights does not mean you are out of luck. Other airports in the area may be able to accommodate you. For example, your flight at Burbank Airport in California was cancelled. But, if you take a cab or shuttle to LAX, you will have a plethora of new airlines and flights to choose from that aren’t.

Don’t be Afraid to Call
If your flight is cancelled, call the airline and see what they can do. After all, it wasn’t your fault the flight was cancelled. Airlines may be able to find you a connection flight or another flight leaving from a different airport. Also, an airline may be willing to compensate you for an overnight hotel stay, last minute flight change, etc. - especially if the cancellation was not due to poor weather.

Book through Travel Agents

The money you pay a travel agent helps in these situations. A travel agent has access to hundreds of flights at their fingertips. When your flight is cancelled, give them a call and see what flights they can find. They will be able to continue to look for a flight faster and more efficiently - and even be able to purchase you a ticket on a new flight. Even if they cannot find a flight right away, your travel agent can find a hotel or some form of accommodation so you are not stranded at the airport or sleeping in the lobby.

Flight cancellations are never fun and they can be stressful. But, by being prepared with a padded budget, flight information at your fingertips and access to backup plans, you don’t have to feel stranded. Even if you are in a foreign country, a flight cancellation can be an easy fix. Just use these quick travel tips and handle your next flight cancellation like a pro.

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Travel Advice

Why your next scuba dive trip should be to Abu Dhabi

by amit.uniyal 18. February 2015 23:22

UAE’s capital city Abu Dhabi has of late become one of the most frequented tourist destinations in the Middle East. The city offers all that a quintessential visitor might just be looking for – cosmopolitan outlook, great relaxation, hospitality, cleanliness and modernity. Above all, the city has also become a prime attraction for all those who love water sports and related activities. Before you head off to Abu Dhabi for enjoying great diving in the city, it would indeed be right to know some of the important facts to make your visit quite enjoyable and memorable.
Things to know before diving in Abu Dhabi

  • The waters of the Persian Gulf are known for warm temperatures and good visibility. It is quite appealing to both experienced and novice divers.
  • Water temperature averages 77 degree Fahrenheit round the year. However, during the summer months from June to August it can reach above 90 degree Fahrenheit.
  • The underwater visibility is good and you can hope to see 15 to 30 feet in the water, which though depends on exact location and depth.
  • Scuba diving is quite popular. The city also has only-of-its-kind free diving center in the UAE, where you can get beginner, intermediate and advanced free-diving courses.

Scuba dive trip in Abu Dhabi

Popular Dive Sites
A variety of dive sites can be found here. The deepest dive sites here include Jasim and Ledwen shipwrecks. Most of the dive sites are teeming with a variety of marine life. These include rabbit fish, emperor fish, goatfish, gobies, bream, anemone, angelfish, and large game fish and exotic fish of other kinds. Among other marine life found here include large barracudas, black-tip reef sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, sea snakes and hammour. The popular dive sites in Abu Dhabi include Sea Hawk Water Sports, Desert Islands Watersports Centre, Western Marine Sports Club and Ocean Dive Center. Let’s take a look at these dive sites and see what all they have to offer.

Sea Hawk Water Sports: An Emirati PADI Master Driver owns the famous Sea Hawk Water Sports. This dive center offers certified courses designed for every visitor’s needs. For foreign visitors the center arranges special intensive courses for complete certification in only four days. The Sea Hawk Water Sports also provides daily packages for visitors to five dive sites off Abu Dhabi’sexpansive coastline, where you will get opportunity to get up close with the teeming marine life and explore mysterious ship wrecks.

Desert Islands Watersports Centre: Situated on the picturesque Sir Bani Yas Island, the Desert Islands Watersports Centre offers certification as well as diving expeditions. The waters around the island have abundant marine life of various kinds, most of them being unique to this region. The centre also allows remarkable snorkeling to the visitors.

Western Marine Sports Club:  The Western Marine Sports Club is situated in Al Gharbia. It is the first, purpose-built dive centre to be established in Mirfa. The well-qualified Emirati guides and instructors will be there for you to provide dive tips and lessons with their local experience and knowledge. You can look forward to a wide range of marine activities and sports.

Ocean Dive Center: The Ocean Dive Centre is situated in the Beach Rotana Hotel and Towers and has been into operations ever since it came into being in 2006. The centre is renowned for its PADI diving courses and experiences ranging from beginner’s courses, children’s diving programs to snorkeling.
Come and explore these amazing dive centers and sites. Abu Dhabi is beckoning you for a diving expedition in the warm waters of Persian Gulf!

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