Fun before the sun

I am a firm believer that every second of your holiday, including the moment you leave your house, should be enjoyed as much as humanly possible. It’s easy to let ‘have I turned the gas off’ worries plague the beginning of your journey, but stop right there! You’re on holiday, you have turned the gas off, worry not!

 Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 8.11.17 PM

I used to dread the journey from home to the airport, as I’m not the most coordinated of people and whenever I have a heavy item with me, i.e. my suitcase, there is always a comedy moment of some kind, that usually leaves me or some poor unsuspecting person victim to an accidental bruise or two. Trains never fared me well, and coaches were a disaster, not to mention all of the above being quite pricey, so I took to driving myself to the airport and leaving the car for the duration of my holiday.

This turned out to be one of the best holiday decisions I ever made, and is now a service I book repeatedly. I recently looked into Heathrow parking for my upcoming trip to the airport and the price was so low, I booked it immediately. In the past I’ve also used Luton Airport parking, the facilities for parking at both of these airports were great in terms of customer service, the service itself, and the price, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Once you’re safely at the airport, parked up, checked-in, through security, and you’ve felt that magical sensation of widened eyes when you see the array of glittering duty free stores, you’re raring to go, perfectly placed to enjoy your holiday.

I always head straight to a restaurant, as I think a well-fed person is a happy person, and much less stressed! A great idea to kick start your holiday is a delicious meal, a few drinks, and a nosey around duty free, which should take you right up to when you need to head to the gate, to board your plane.

Of course, airports can be stressful places, and if you want to remain in a calm environment, then why not pre-book time in an airport lounge, where food and drink are generally complementary and you can relax whilst waiting for boarding. Most airports have this facility, and are at a competitive price, so certainly research this idea for a bit of pre-flight R & R.

Enjoying the airport experience is all part of a happy start to a holiday, and a bit of food, drink and shopping is the perfect way to kick-start your summer or winter break. Don’t fault victim to pre-holiday stress, firmly enjoy every second, after all, we work hard for our holidays.

Holiday Locations you should think about this summer

Summer is almost upon us and it is time to seriously think about some of the places we can visit for our annual summer holidays, there are so many places that you could go and so many of these are great, read on to find out about some great places to get away to this summer.

Turks and Caicos

This is probably not a place that you have heard of often, if at all, however it is one of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets that everybody should experience. Turks and Caicos is well known to celebrities and many have even built houses there in order to get away during their down time.

It features a relatively dry tropical climate, with stunning beaches and features a vast network of reefs, which are a dream for snorkelers and scuba divers. It is a great place to explore as the country is made up of many small islands and this presents an opportunity to visit some amazing secluded places that offer privacy and breath-taking scenery.

With many oceanfront Turks and Caicos holiday villa rentals this is a great place for anyone, whether you want to relax or explore, there is something to do for everyone on this wonderful set of islands.

Thailand

Thailand is truly a diverse country with its refreshing variety of locations that will suit every type of traveller, whether it be the party town of Patong Beach, the ultra-modern skyscrapers of Bangkok or the quieter and much more relaxed parts of the North.

Thailand truly has so much to offer in terms of history, culture and religion. It also offers some of the best cuisine in the world, which is renowned throughout the world for its flavour and spice.

Some locations that you must visit in this wonderful country are Koh Samui, Hua Hin and Chiang Mai, however there are many more that can be explored and you can find most of these on the Thailand Tourism website.

Bali

Bali is a famed Indonesian island that is well known for its forested volcanic mountains, beaches and coral reefs. It has a rich culture and history and is famous for the many religious sites such as the Uluwatu temple

Like Thailand it offers a wide variety of places to go and these will all depend on the tastes of the traveller, for example there is the lively beachside city of Kuta that offers world famous nightlife and surf beaches; in contrast there are many resort towns such as Sanur, Seminyak and Nusa Dua, which are aimed more at relaxation rather than the nightlife of Kuta.

Heavenly Getways for $5k or under? Easy!

With every celebrity and their dog seemingly on an never-ending luxury holiday around the entire globe, it can leave us normal folk feeling a little green with envy. The instagram pics, the snap chats, the facebook updates – jealously doesn’t even come close to conveying our emotions.

We’ve decided to cheer everyone up with a more realsitic approach. If you can scramble together $5k, what can you do with it? Sure, you could blow it on three days in the Maldives, but we’re thinking something a little bit more epic. Something to tell your grandkids about, so here are three ideas to get your hearts racing:

A) Three months in South East Asia

Five thousand dollars may not be peanuts, but it’s a figure that lots of us can aspire to save, and with that we could have a life changing attitude. If we figure around a a quarter of that will go on flights, that leaves us with just over $3500 to burn on our trip. So here’s how to do it.

First of all, forget the luxury hotels, they’ll be waiting for you in your old age. Strap on a backpack, travel over land and stay in high-end hostels – no dorms necessary, private rooms all the way.  We’d recommend a flight into the north of Vietnam, and then an overland trip all the way to Thailand. Here’s a rough itinerary: Start with a cultural tour of Hanoi, head over to the world class sights at Halong Bay, make your way south via the beach paradise of Nhatran to Ho Chi Minh city for some Asian chaos.

Land journey to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat, one of the wonders of the world, in all it’s Splendor. Into Thailand, to Bangkok the ‘City of Angels’. A couple of day trips to Ayutthaya, the old Capital, and a visit to the Bridge of the River Kwai at Kanchanaburi before your last ten days are spent lounding around the islands – cocktails and hammocks. All possible on $5k, just be a little careful along the way, or cut the trip to two months. Either way – trip of a lifetime. To save eben more money, check out some great deals at Scoopon.com.au, no one likes to overpay, so use these guys and you’ll be set.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 6.06.38 PM

B) South American Highlights – one month

$5k won’t seem so much after flights to South America are taken out of it, but if you plan carefull you can still see some of the major highlights. Fly into Lima in Peru, and out of Rio, Brazil – the rest is overlanding via Bolivia and Argentina. Highlights include Machu Picchu, perhaps the world’s most famous ruins, the Salt Flats in Boliva, Tango in Buenos Airies and of course Iguazu falls on the Argentinian/Brazilian border. Finish up on Copacabana beach in Rio De Janeiro, with the iconic Christ the Redeemer overlooking you’re everymove. This is $5k well spent.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 6.06.53 PM

C) Africa for beginners – 50 days of Exploring

South and East Africa don’t have to be the scary destinations that a lot of people think, in fact they’re becoming real tourism hotspots, and here’s why…

Start with a flight into Cape Town – cage dive with some Great White Sharks and climb Table top mountain. Head west for a safari in Kruger national park. On you go, via Swaziland, to Mozambique for some spectacular diving. Head north to Lake Malawi to see the ‘real Africa’, en route to Tanzania to gaze at Kilimanjaro and check out the Serengeti. One month and a half, overland travel, lifetime of memories. Done.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 6.06.32 PM

Dining Etiquette Around the World

Australia may be a country with an abundance of multicultural food however; how often do we adopt the eating habits which complement a cuisine?

Let’s be honest, it takes practice to successfully finish a noodle dish in a timely manner using chopsticks. Is it acceptable to use the training wheel equivalent of a chopstick with one end pre glued together for ease? If you travelled to China, Japan or Singapore, would this be accepted or would it be classified as counter to dining etiquette? As a young nation we have not been as exposed to traditional formalities so what other customs might we be oblivious to?

 

Eating in Japan

When entering a traditional Japanese restaurant you may be advised to take off your shoes and wear indoor slippers to keep the outside germs out. If you are being greeted, make sure to bow instead of shake hands as a sign of respect. This can either be a nod of the head or a 45 degree angle bow depending on how casual or formal you would like to be.

Often you will be served miso soup with your meal, be sure to cup the bowl with two hands when lifting the bowl to drink. How you carry your chopsticks is also very important, never should you leave your chopsticks stuck into your food while eating. Better to rest them parallel next to your plate or bowl.

Unlike America, tipping is not expected and is accounted for in the price set. It is an offence to try and tip and your money will most likely be returned.

 

India

Unlike modern dining etiquette, eating with your hands is customary. The Indians believe that eating should involve all the senses, including touching. When people think of Indian cuisine they think of curries, that’s where the naan comes in handy and acts as a spoon for mopping up leftover sauce. Just make sure to wash your hands before and after. Traditionally, the left hand is used for personal hygiene and should not be used for eating. You should also leave a small amount on your plate to illustrate your satisfaction, if you have wiped the curry clean with naan it is a sign that you are still hungry and that your host has failed to feed you.

 

 

Australia

If an international traveller were to arrive in Australia what would they expect? If invited to the quintessential Australian BBQ they would be greeted with a handshake and a cold beverage. When it comes to dining out though, make sure you’re respectful to wait staff and always eat with your mouth closed. According to a study by online restaurant booking service Yumtable, 56% of survey respondents said snapping of the fingers to get a waiter/waitress’ attention was a no-no. 50% said it’d aggravate them if their dinner party chewed with their mouths open. According to Levi Aron, General Manager at Yumtable, Australians are still defining its foodie culture: “We have a lot to learn and are lucky to have cuisines from overseas headed our way. The foodie culture will grow.” Watch this space and watch dining etiquette evolve down under.

 

Scandinavia

Ever wondered where the humble buffet was born and no, it was not Pizza Hut. For centuries, the Swedes, Danes and Norwegians have eaten from a smorgasbord. Literally translated as sandwich table, the Scandinavians are very particular about what to eat and how it should be eaten. It is bad manners to lump a range of foods on one plate and eat it all at once. Instead, it is polite to begin with a cold salad, then progress through the cold to hot dishes. You would not traditionally combine the two. This promotes a steady coming and going of the “buffet”.

 

Italy

Arriving fashionably late to a dinner invitation may be rude in some cultures, however in Italy it is accepted as the host is likely to still be preparing food.

When you break bread, understand that Italians are vocal people and it would be rude to tuck in to your meal before the host has announced Buòn appetito!

However tempting it is to slurp up your spaghetti, it is considered rude and should be eaten in one mouthful. To show your appreciation for the food, gestures go far; bring your fingers together and raise them up to your mouth and kiss them.

 

Knowing New York – 5 things every traveller should do

Everyone thinks they know everything about the city that never sleeps. We get most of our knowledge from TV, movies and glossy images that have infiltrated our minds from a young age – New York is seen as America’s central city. And with good reason! It’s mind blowing – packed with culture, art, shopping, food and home to some of the most amazing buildings in the world. Yes, we all know what we should do when we head to the big smoke, but some stuff that is less talked about is most certainly worth your time and effort.

5 things you need to do in New York

  1. New York by helicopter

Yes, this is an actual thing. You can take to New York’s sky on a helicopter and see the city from the sky. With views you simply can’t find elsewhere, the helicopter tour is an epic way to see the city.

  1. Taking the Highline

Go strolling. New Yorkers love this 1.45 mile long High Line that is situated on a once derelict elevated railway track. Brought to life by a maze of beautiful gardens (over 300 species of plants), water features and views of the awesome architecture – you can even see glimpses of the Hudson River from here.

  1. New York Movies

New York is the set to many a movie, and the city is a hub from those who love film. Swap movie star hunting for a visit to Film Forum. Indie features and documentaries, foreign art cinema and some of world’s top films are all presented here, it’s every local film buffs favourite.

  1. Grand Central Terminal

Beautiful, timeless and a favourite destination of so many who visit the city, and indeed those who call the city home. The gourmet culinary market is an excellent shopping/foodie experience.  . Explore the secret elevated passageways for a spectacular view of the concourse, and take a little wonder. There is a great history to the building itself and it’s just waiting to be explored (don’t forget to gaze at the celestial ceiling mural).

  1. Take in the views from the bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge came to life in 1883 and is one of the oldest steel –wire suspension bridges in the USA. It links Manhattan and Brooklyn and spans across the East River. A stroll across on the special pedestrian walkway offers all New York visitors great views of the city and at the Brooklyn end the area has been recently redeveloped with parks, piers and a carousel. The Manhattan end is close to the downtown sights of City Hall and the New York City Supreme Court. All in all it’s a pretty awesome spot and when in New York it’s definitely a must see.

Thinking of seeing it all for yourself? Taking in the views, eating the food and soaking up all New York City has to offer – what’s not to love? Great travel sights like Expedia offer great deals on cheap flights and hotels in New York City. Whenever you head to New York, you’ll be mesmerised by all the city has to offer and no matter what you read, see or do – nothing will quite prepare you for visiting a place like NYC!

Image – Pixabay

Wine Tasting and tasty Vineyard Lunch in Auckland  

Auckland is a large cosmopolitan city with about a third of New Zealand’s entire population residing here. It has an interesting mix – with European influences mixing with various Polynesian cultures – and this diversity shows through during festivals and in their food. The volcanic, clay rich soil are common across the wine growing regions in Auckland – Waiheke, West Auckland (Henderon, Kumeu) and Matakana.

Pinot Noir sign on grape vine

There are numerous wine tours, which will offer to pick you up from your hotel and take you around to 2-3 of the several small vineries in the area. Car hire rates in Auckland are quite reasonable, especially if you are renting a car for a longer period. You could do that to enjoy the city’s various wine regions at your own pace.

Tourists can begin their day with a morning tea in one of the charming cafes of the city, followed by a 40-minute ferry ride to the country’s most popular vineyards in The Waiheke Island. Waiheke is home to a fine set of vineyards as well as unique restaurants. Three premier wineries of the Waiheke are Mudbrick Estate, Te Whau and The Goldie Room. As you enjoy some of the finest wines in the country, enjoy the panoramic views of Mudbrick Estate. Take a tour of The Goldie Room, Waiheke’s first and most well-established vineyard, before experiencing their range of fine wines, accompanied some seafood classics exclusive to the region.  Te Whau Vineyard will be the last stop on the tour where the 360-degree views and spectacular architecture and the critically acclaimed range of wine leaves you totally smitten.

An hour’s drive north of Auckland through the lush green landscapes will take you to the award winning vineyards of the Matakana Coast and the Mahurangi River Winery. Exquisite wineries with day long tours that explore the art of making beautiful wine and cheese is the highlight of these places.

The Matakana Coast is popular for its succulent range of seafood and retail therapy. Lunch at Mahurangi set against the trail of contemporary sculptures with the ecstatic cocoa smell from the Chocolate Brown is indeed a feast everyone must experience.

The third region of repute within Auckland is the Kumeu and the Matua Valley. Tourists visiting Auckland are recommended to visit one of these areas to experience the wine growing experience of the region.

 

Freelance Teaching in Hong Kong

Are you a teacher looking for a great place to earn a living and experience an exciting and diverse culture? Or are you stuck at home working a job you don’t love, wishing you could fill your life for adventure? Whether or not you have teaching experience, there is an opportunity for you to live an incredible life in Hong Kong teaching students there on your own schedule. Talk about living in freedom! Want to learn how to do it? Just read on!

First of all, why Hong Kong? This is a buzzing city with thriving culture and so many things to see and do. There are tons of expats here, so you’ll easily find a community to mesh with. But most of all, there is a huge abundance of students here looking to improve their skills and keep up with the increasingly competitive job market. So as a native English speaker, you have an advantage here which will help you easily find work in Hong Kong.

Freelance teaching has many benefits over working for a school or institution. First of all, it allows you the freedom to set your own schedule with your students. If you want to keep your weekends completely free, you can do so – but if you don’t mind working weekends, you can have your day off in the middle of the week instead. You’re not bound to a specific schedule like you might be at a school or institution. Also, you are not bound by any contracts which will make you stay in Hong Kong for a number of years. You are free to leave at any time (but with the lifestyle here, you may find yourself wanting to stay forever!)

So how can you go about freelance teaching in Hong Kong? For students here, searching for tutors in Hong Kong is made easy using resources such as Findatutor, which matches up students with tutors in their particular subject area they want to learn. So as a potential tutor, we recommend you create a profile so you can be easily searched and connected with students looking for your services.

As you can see, it just takes a bit of effort and experience to start a successful career as a freelance teacher in Hong Kong. You will have a whole new world of experiences open up to you, and your life will never be the same.

Explore Qatar through these Splendid Means

Qatar is one of the fastest growing countries in the Gulf Region. Doha, its capital is one of the world’s leading markets and is trying to carve a niche as a cultural as well as educational capital. No wonder tourists are visiting the country in large numbers in order to be a part of this growing enterprise.

article 1.1

Listed below are the five great ways through which you can travel around Qatar.

 

  1. Flight – The Doha International Airport is located within five kilometres of the main capital city. Flights from almost all countries travel to and fro from this airport. Moreover, all the major hotels are located in the vicinity of the airport, such as Sheraton, Ritz, etc. Some of these hotels also provide you with pick ups and drop offs.

 

  1. Bus – As has already been stated earlier, Qatar is a fast developing place. A public bus service is being designed and developed by the Qatari authorities which will provide easy and comfortable transportation to the commuters. These air-conditioned buses shall travel to and fro from Doha to other cities such as Al- Khor, Al- Wakara, etc.

 

  1. Taxi – Another means of moving around Qatar is through taxis. The air conditioned green taxis are known as ‘karwa’ taxis. There is another kind of taxi which are known as ‘limousines’. They are however more expensive than their green counterparts.

article 1.3

  1. Car – You can also hire cars, through which you can explore Qatar with utmost convenience. It is advisable that you pre-book them, and settle issues like fare with the agencies beforehand, in order to avoid being cheated. Most of the car agencies operate in and around the Doha International Airport. Hence, availing their services is no big deal. A major car hire service provider that you can go for is Hertz car rental.

 

  1. Limousines – If you are really in the mood of splashing bucks, then limousine is the best option. They are as amazing as the name suggests and spending a hefty amount on it is worth it, because of the care and comfort it provides you.

Exploring Sydney’s Biggest Construction Marvel

Displaying Sydney.jpg

Considered to be one of Australia’s most well known and highly photographed landmarks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge attracts millions of visitors each year. While it may not be the world’s longest, it continues to be the largest bridge with a steel arch standing 134 metres above the harbour. Also known as the ‘coat-hanger’ among the locals, the bridge started construction almost a century ago in 1924.

Activities to Pursue on and around the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Conquering the Construction Marvel

Since 1998, thousands of tourists and locals are able to sign up for a Bridge Climb. Enthusiasts can climb through ladders, stairs and catwalks to experience breath-taking views of the city. These climbs are scheduled during the day, twilight as well as during the nights and usually take place in groups of 12 after every 10 minutes. Considered one of the ‘must-dos’ while in Sydney, some of the world’s biggest celebrities such as Matt Damon, Kylie Minogue and Princess Mary of Denmark boast of having accomplished this climb.

 Visiting the Pylon Lookout

For those who aren’t too adventurous, visiting the Pylon Lookout at the south eastern end of the bridge is an excellent way to gain some insight about the bridge through an elaborate exhibition. Don’t forget to enjoy the spectacular views from the top of the pylon.

 Dining by the Harbour Bridge

Choosing to dine in this area can prove to be extremely captivating in the day time and equally magical after the sun sets. With exquisite locations such as the Cockle Bay, Walsh Bay, The Rocks, Pyrmont and Woolloomoolo, visitors and locals cannot stop raving about the magnificent atmosphere and views made available through the restaurants here.

For instance, there are a number of waterside locations you can choose from. Here, you could choose to spend every single day of your trip selecting a different sparkling water view and enjoying the gorgeous food made available through unique eateries.

If you are looking for a truly opulent way to enjoy this area, consider booking yourself a seaplane that will take you over the gorgeous city while you enjoy a scrumptious lunch onboard.

With a host of activities to do and eateries to explore, consider renting a vehicle while in Sydney. With a car at your dispense, getting to and around the Sydney Harbour area becomes a lot more comfortable and convenient. With Hertz offering a host of tourist friendly services, getting around an unknown city is never a problem with the right on-road partners.

3 Interesting facts about Mt. Kilimanjaro

Soon I will be heading off on my long awaited trip to Mt Kilimanjaro. I can’t wait to get there, the excitement has been giving me sleepless nights! I’ll soon be boarding my trip to Tanzania for what I think will be the trip of a lifetime. Of course I’ve been doing non stop research, I have found out so many interesting facts over the past few weeks I wanted to share them with you. If you’re interested in Tanzania or Mt Kilimanjaro then you will find them very useful indeed.

It is the tallest free-standing mountain on the planet

Mt Kilimanjaro measures 19,341 feet, in meters that’s a whopping 5,898! It is obviously the tallest mountain in the whole of Africa and it can also take the title for being the highest free standing mountain on the planet. To get an idea of just how big it is – in Japan, Mt Fuji is 12,388 feet (3,776 meters), if we were to put these two free standing mountains side by side you would see Mt Kilimanjaro towering of Fuji.

mt kilimanjaro

Thousands try to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro each and every year

All climbers say that reaching the peak is absolutely amazing but the most exhilarating part is the climb, this is why more than 20,000 people head to the slopes ever year. Now here are the crazy facts about the 20,000 that attempt the climb each year; around two thirds will make it to the peak, 1,000 have to be evacuated from the mountain and unfortunately 10 perish. One of the main issues is that people fall foul to altitude sickness, at the peak of Kilimanjaro you will have around 50% less oxygen in each breath as you do at sea level.

Who was the first man to climb Mt Kilimanjaro?

As I have said just now, thousands of people climb Kilimanjaro each year but who was the first person to have made it to the top? A german man called Hans Meyer was the first to reach the peak way back in 1889 – it’s crazy to think how tough that must have been back then! I know that the air is thin up there but there must be something good about it because after giving tours of the mountain for seventy years, Mr Meyer lived to 124!