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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts from September, 2008

Turkey and televised football on the Thanksgiving menu

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Thanksgiving, a North American holiday, takes place on the fourth Thursday of November in the US.

The festival”s origins lie in early communities of the continent, who relied heavily on agriculture and were fervently religious. At the end of the each harvest they began gathering to literally ”give thanks” for all that God had blessed them with over the course of the season.

Now considered more of a secular holiday without specific religious allegiance, millions of Americans gather together on Thanksgiving Day with friends and family to eat a traditional turkey dinner and usually partake in another long-held tradition: a televised professional football game.

Across the country many parades are held in honour of the day, perhaps most famously the Macy”s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Many of the floats are themed around Broadway shows and popular film and television personalities, with the parade ending as Santa Claus” float marks the beginning of the Christmas season.

The day following Thanksgiving, colloquially known as ”Black Friday”, is often given as a holiday by employers. Visitors might be tempted to indulge in a more familiar tradition on this day: shopping for Christmas presents for their friends and families.

Family – Theme Parks – Treat the family to a day at one of the Disney resorts or to a splashing day out at a Spanish waterpark.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18802755-ADNFCR

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Reminder for backpackers to take care with cash

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Backpackers are not taking sufficient care with their money and personal property while abroad, an industry expert has warned.

While travelling, individuals should take more care with their valuables, especially in built up areas, he added.

Tom Griffiths, founder of gapyear.com, said: "Backpackers do take unnecessary risks with cash and are very loose about it like they are at home.

"In the olden days it used to be travellers cheques – the safe secure thing you used to delve into, but now you just carry your bank card like you do back home and forget that you are in a foreign country."

Jetlag and other factors can lead to complacency while abroad and he advised that backpackers should consider things like money belts and splitting cash and other valuables apart in their belongings.

According to recent research, 16 per cent of backpackers think the back pocket of your jeans is a safe place to store cash. In addition, eight million British holidaymakers are reported to have had personal property stolen in the last five years.

Seniors – Historic Tours – From the Roman Empire to the second world war, these tours bring world history to life.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18802680-ADNFCR

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Holidaymakers still travelling despite credit crunch

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The current economic downturn has not significantly affected the number of people going on holiday, an industry expert has said.

While many choose to downgrade their flights, choice of destination, standard of accommodation or even the length of their trip they”re still as keen as ever to take a break, according to Lonely Planet author David Else.

"The actual number of people (young and old) travelling the world or taking a simpler/shorter holiday has not been impacted much," he said.

He suggested travelling was almost a rite of passage for young graduates and those on a career break – "gap years for grown-ups" – looking for "a complete changes from everyday life at home".

The Lonely Planet series was one of the first series of books aimed at young, budget travellers and has grown to become one of the largest publishers in its field, with annual sales of more than six millions books on destinations worldwide.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18802620-ADNFCR

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Former warship to become man-made reef

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A decommissioned American warship is to be sunk into the ocean to create an articifical reef, it has been revealed.

The USS Kittiwake, a submarine rescue craft used by the US Navy during World War Two, will be sunk into a large sand patch off the island of Grand Cayman, near the popular Seven Mile Beach.

Over time it will form an artificial reef and should attract a variety of species of ocean life as it becomes an attraction for divers and snorkelers.

"It will be the biggest thing that’s happened in the dive industry in the last 10 years," said President of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association Steve Broadbelt.

Cayman is already a popular dive destination, with tourism accounting for around half its annual income.

Cayman tourism minister Charles Clifford stressing the environmental benefits of the plan, saying: "This site will also benefit our marine ecology by providing artificial habitats for fish and much desired relief for some of our frequently visited dive sites."

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18801473-ADNFCR

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Celebrate the New Year Brazilian style

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Revellers from across the world gather in Rio de Janeiro every New Year”s Eve to see out the departing year in style.

On the December 31st the city famed for the annual Rio Carnival is as alive with light and colour as at any time of the year during the celebration known as Reveillon.

The focus for the party is, of course, Copacabana Beach, where a four kilometre stretch is given over to three massive stages featuring traditional music from Brazil and modern rock tunes, along with bars, tents and all manner of other party paraphernalia throughout the day and night.

At 19:00 local time the fun really kicks off with live guests and big name DJs taking to the stages as two million partygoers descend on the iconic beach to soak up the atmosphere.

Along the beachfront, major hotels such as Copacabana Palace and Le Meridian hold all-night balls, serving champagne breakfast in the wee small hours to their white-clad guests, so dressed in observance of a deeply entrenched religious custom (and one which, if not adhered to, will make you stick out a mile).

The spectacular midnight firework display is only really the beginning as the party goes on until sunrise the next day, ringing out the old year and welcoming the new.

Special Interest – Nightlife – From an extravagant meal to an eerie ghost walk – plenty of things to keep you entertained after the sun goes down.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18801129-ADNFCR

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Folklore capital of Peru celebrates its foundation

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Each November the city of Puno in southern Peru celebrates its foundation with a lively pageant of dancing and traditional music.

The celebrations draw on an ancient legend that says the first Incas emerged from Isla de la Sol on Lake Titicaca (the world”s highest lake), created by the sun”s rays. To this day the sun is still held in reverence by the people of this mountainous area.

Geographically, the city of Puno is remarkable due to it being squeezed in between the banks of the lake and the neighbouring mountains. It sits on a strip of land less than two miles wide, and the pressure of expansion has forced its boundaries up onto the foothills.

Lake Titicaca itself is home to the man-made (but very naturally constructed) Uros Islands, built from reeds and existing quite separately from the mainland with their own distinct culture and customs.

Now they are opening themselves up to tourism which is lessening the cultural divide between islanders and those on the mainland.

This is a city with folklore and history, not to mention fascinating scenery and unique ways of life. Visiting during the Pageant of the Founding of Puno is the best way to see it in all its glory.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18800899-ADNFCR

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Oktoberfest 2008 – share your crazy stories!

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Oktoberfest Prost PhotoI got a lot of responses to the blog about Oktoberfest that I wrote back in July, which emphasized the importance of ‘planning ahead’ – i.e. months before embarking on your weekends of debauchery – so that you would avoid fronting huge amounts of cash, sleeping on train station benches, etc.

Many of you probably missed the blog or ignored my advice. Totally fine by me, as long as you will now share the details of your crazy adventures with us!  Who has the best story to tell?  What did you lose?  Where did you sleep?  Who did you meet?  Did you manage to experience some cool parts of Munich?

Tell us, tell us. (By posting below…)

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NY set for a ”Chilli” September

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This year”s Chile Pepper Fiesta will take place in Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in New York on September 27th 2008.

An afternoon of music and dance performances and workshops accompany a selection of spicy food celebrating the many uses for the much-loved food stuff.

Tourists will be able to attend this hot one-day event from noon until 18:00 local time.

For those that have already paid to get into the gardens themselves entry is free for this festival which, unsurprisingly, is a heated affair in everything from entertainment to cuisine.

Highlights include a special concert featuring guitarists Pete Seeger and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, as well as fire eating and juggling.

Meanwhile, Mexican, Indian, African and Thai dishes are among just some of the many foods that will be available for guests to sample at this spicy event.

Officials at the Botanic Gardens recently underlined its commitment to preserving rare wildlife by signing an agreement to concentrate on the conservation of plants heralding from outside of New York City.

New York – From the dizzy heights of the Empire State Building to the serene Central Park New York has it all!
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18799914-ADNFCR

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Spanish-American cinema on display in equatorial Quito

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The Ecuadorian capital Quito will hold the 6th annual Zero Latitude Film Festival, or Cerolatiud, as it is know among locals.

From October 9th – 19th the city will become the focus for the Spanish-American cinematic community as it promotes the output of this burgeoning industry.

The festival, so named because of Qutio”s equatorial location, will see more than a hundred films shown across a range of venues.

A mix of genres such as shorts, animation, student cinema and feature-length films are all on offer.

Each year the festival concentrates on a different area: this year it will be Mexican cinema.

Since 2000, the cinematic output of Mexico has had an increasingly high profile on the global stage, with the success of stars such as Gael Garcia Bernal becoming a part of the mainstream.

What”s more, directors such Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu have gone from strength to strength, staking their claim to be among the Hollywood elite.

The festival will also hold a number of workshops and educational events aimed at increasing participation in Spanish-American film, and generating interest in cinema in general around the region.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18798897-ADNFCR

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Spectacular fireworks celebrate a hero’s victory

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On October 9th, the Hindus of the Indian sub-continent will join together in the festival of Dussehra, which marks the end of a ten-day countrywide celebration.The significance of the event varies depending on which part of India it is performed in.In northern regions it remembers the victory of the hero Rama over the Ravanna, who held the former”s wife captive in his realm.Elsewhere, in the states of southern India the celebration commemorates the goddess Durga vanquishing the demon Mahishasura, with the former appearing in effigy and in parades.Both interpretations have come about because of their historical reference to places in modern-day India, highlighting the diverse nature of faith among India”s huge population.In the north a mass of fireworks and the burning of effigies mark the end of the celebration.Colourful costumes and mystical reenactments are a key part of the event, all signifying the triumph of good over evil and attracting many non-Hindus who come to enjoy the spectacle.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18798709-ADNFCR

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