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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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travel guide

Best Restaurants in Honolulu

by amit.uniyal 13. February 2015 02:02

Honolulu’s dining scene is by far one of the best. You’ll find an eclectic mix of cuisines for every budget and taste. Whether you are craving authentic Hawaiian dishes or you want something that tastes more state side, you’ll be impressed with all Honolulu has to offer.

Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha
Dive into true Hawaiian cuisine at Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha. This restaurant received a certificate of excellence in 2014 and is one of the top-rated restaurants on multiple user review sites. It is known for their all-natural, homemade real fruit ice cream. Referred to as “HOPA” by the locals, this restaurant treats every patron as if they were family. They are family-friendly, delicious and easy on the budget.

Ono Hawaiian Seafood

Get a taste of the sea and a few land-friendly options as well at Ono Hawaiian Seafood. Close to the airport, this place is a hotspot for tourists that are looking to get a bite to eat before or after their flight. Do not let its location fool you though - it has some of the best Lau Lau, Poke Bowls, and Lomi Salmon on the islands.

Dishes in Honilulu Restaurants

Lucky Belly

Lucky Belly features an Asian-inspired menu and is definitely for the more refined palate. Here you’ll find reservations don’t start until 5:00pm for dinner, but the restaurant will take seats up until midnight. Lucky Belly is located in Honolulu’s Chinatown and has a very friendly staff and fun menu. While the menu is small, there are plenty of interesting variations of their food items. They are best known for their coconut gnocchi and pork belly. If you want to eat here, you’ll want to reserve a table quickly. Because it is so small, it tends to fill up fast around dinner.

The Honolulu Cookie Company
You can satisfy your sweet tooth and head over to the Honolulu Cookie Company. They have one of the biggest selections of cookies, including Swedish, French, Hawaiian, and even Italian recipes. It’s a small shop that focuses on fine pastries and there are plenty of samples to try so you know which cookie you want to leave with. Plenty of tourists will come to the Cookie Company just to buy their family Christmas gifts - they are that good.

La Mer - L’Aperitif
If you want a classy, fine dining experience, La Mer is the place to go. The chef puts a lot of focus in the dishes he creates - so the menu is constantly evolving. You’ll have the choice of two menu types: a three course and an eight course. Each one is perfectly delightful and full of great food. The restaurant is very romantic, the wines are perfect, and it is an excellent dining experience for those who want a more upscale dinner.

Steak Shack
Get a casual breakfast or brunch over at the Steak Shack. This small eatery has a few outdoor seats, but it is really meant to take the food on the go and sit on the beach. It’s one of the cheapest, tastiest eats on the islands too. You can use it as a last minute stop on the way to the airport or as a mid-day snack while at the beach. The food has excellent reviews from diners all around the world and the restaurant is well-kept, staff friendly, and food hearty.

Alan Wong’s Restaurant
Enjoy a classy dinner at Alan Wong’s Restaurant and see some of the most beautiful plating work anywhere on the islands. It overlooks King Street and creates a tasteful ambiance that makes you want to sit back, relax and enjoy food for hours. While it is definitely upscale, the atmosphere is very relaxed and inviting. They have an extensive dessert menu, but you have to pace yourself if you want to still have appetite enough to enjoy it.

Nanzan Giro Giro

Enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine and artistic plating at Nanzan Giro Giro. The menu changes frequently, so it is hard to pin down a favorite dish, but the presentation is always breathtaking. In fact, some reviewers list the dishes as too pretty to eat - but equally tasty once they do eat them. The chef here is all about using local, seasonal items, so you will notice the menu flow with what is available at local farmer’s markets. You will get a multiple-course menu, which can go up as high as eight courses. While the restaurant is a little out of the way, it offers a quaint, private place to eat.

Azure is all about pairing multiple courses with delightful wines. The waiters are extremely skilled and can help you find the perfect wine for every dish. The staff is very attentive and gives you enough space to enjoy the meal, while still being close enough to help you with anything you need. The food is light, but filling by the end. And, while the restaurant is one of the higher priced ones in Honolulu, most reviewers state that it is well worth the extra cost.

Goofy Café and Diner
While they specialize in breakfast and brunch dishes, they’re open all day at the Goofy Café. This restaurant features organic, American cuisines and serves some of the best French toast in all of Honolulu. It’s not a flashy restaurant, which is why most visitors walk right past it. But, if you are in the mood for great food at an affordable price, make sure you seek out the Goofy Café and Diner.

Honolulu is packed full of restaurant options. Regardless of how long you’re staying, you now have a long list of great places to eat based on your tastes and budget.

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Best time to visit and enjoy vacations in Argentina

by amit.uniyal 10. February 2015 23:07

Are you planning to visit Argentina on your next vacation? Then you will surely want to know what, after all, is the best time to visit the country and how to enjoy your vacation fully. Here are some of the important facts to know in order to make your visit quite memorable.

When to visit Argentina

  • The best time to visit Argentina is during fall (March to May) and spring (September to November). The temperatures are mild during these periods.
  • The summer months (December to March) are the busiest. The resort towns and beaches are packed with tourists on vacation.
  • Summers are best to enjoy your holidays in the southern Andes and Patagonia. The days during this season are longer and warmer.
  • Iguazi and the Northwest are the best to visit during winter (June to August), when the heat wave and rains have subsided.

Tango Couple in Argentina

Enjoying Festivals and Special Events in Argentina

  • Plan your visit to Argentina during June to enjoy the famous Carnaval (Mardi Gras). It is held a week before the Lent. The Gualeguaychú, in north of Buenos Aires, is the best place to participate in the event. Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun is another important festival which is celebrated in towns across the Northwest in June on the night before the summer solstice. It is celebrated to pay special thanks for the year’s harvest.
  • Argentina is renowned world over for its Tango dance. The country celebrates the World Tango Festival in October. The festival is marked by many events, with most of them being held in the tango neighborhood of San Telmo.  
  • The month of November is also great for polo fans. The Argentine Open Polo Championships, the biggest polo event in the world, is held every year during late November in the polo grounds in Palemo.

Knowing some of these important facts prior to your visit will undoubtedly make your vacations in Argentina quite enjoyable.

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