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Hiking in Vancouver

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Hiking in Lynn Valley

Vancouver has some of the best places to go hiking in Canada. This is mainly due to the availability of trails for all skill levels and interests – from seaside hiking to mountain hiking to urban wilderness hiking. Let's have a look at some of the interesting hiking places:

Stanley Park Seawall: The most famous place in Vancouver, Stanley Park is famous for its recreational facilities and its natural attributes. It attracts 8 million visitors a year – including locals and tourists. The Seawall stretches 8.8km and loops around Stanley Park, running along the park's northern, western and southern coastlines. The Seawall is fully-paved and is an ideal pathway for hikers of all skill levels. Its route is undoubtedly beautiful with views of the city, northern mountains, and Lion's Gate Bridge.

Lynn Canyon Park: The park has lots of free activities for all ages, including the suspension bridge, waterfalls, mini hikes, and a swimming hole – all connected by hiking trails. Its most famous feature is of course, the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. The Suspension Bridge stretches 50 feet above the churning waters. The park also boasts of the popular Twin Falls, where a wooden bridge stretches over the river in view of the two gorgeous waterfalls. Another popular feature of the park, the 30 Foot Pool swimming holes is an ideal spot to keep cool in the summer months.

Burnaby Lake: A home to a large variety of wildlife – at least 70 species of birds making it their home – the lake occupies 3.11 square kilometres of land. The lake also has a 10km hiking path that loops around the entire park area.

Deer Lake: Located in the east of Vancouver is Deer Lake that offers nice scenery, a viewing tower, a beach area and pier. It is popular with locals walking dogs as well as for an afternoon stroll through the park. In the summer you can rent a boat, launch your own canoe or sailboat/rowboat on Deer Lake or enjoy sunbathing on the beach. There are also hundreds of rhododendrons blooming every spring.

Baden Powell Trail: Named after Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the world Scouting Movement, the trail is about 48 kilometres long and has lots of switches. It extends from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Deep Cove in North Vancouver. The hike takes you through an amazing range of vegetation – Oaks, Jeffery pines, Sugar Pines, Incense Cedar, White Fir and Limber Pines etc.

Iona Beach Regional Park: Located north of Vancouver International Airport, the park is made up of a long, narrow jetty of sand and grass along the mouth of the Fraser River. You will have a fairly unobstructed view of the Georgia Straight. Sea birds are visible throughout the area as well.

So there, you have our best hiking places in Vancouver. What about yours? Do share us your favourite hiking places.

Happy Hiking!

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Helping Hurricane Sandy Victims

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Hurricane Sandy Relief

With the festive period upon us, I was just thinking ways with which we could make a difference to fellow human beings. After all, the festive period is all about that – being generous, giving gifts, cherishing bonds and the like.

And what better way to show you care than help Hurricane Sandy Victims? It’s been close to two months now that the super-storm washed away dreams and hopes, along with houses and properties; but rebuilding from the disaster has only begun. Residents are still struggling and are in desperate need of shelter. The truth and the extent of the damage are sinking in now.

Read up on the multiple ways with which you could give to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Here’s our collection of various charity organisations – where you can donate/contribute – who help provide food, shelter, and other supplies to the victims of the super-storm.

Provide emergency supplies

 World Vision, AmeriCares, Catholic Charities USA, Direct Relief International, Feeding America and Operation Blessing International all provide food, medical supplies, emergency kits and support.

The Salvation Army has dozens of mobile feeding units and shelters along the East Coast that are working to serve thousands in the most heavily-hit areas.

Help children in need:

Save the Children pays special attention to the needs of children affected by the storm.

Attend to animals:

The Humane Society of the United States, the American Humane Association and ASPCA help rescue stranded pets and give pet food to those in need. They have also been going door to door looking for abandoned animals.

Sean Casey Animal Rescue group also has been taking in a lot of rescued and abandoned pets including dogs, turtles, birds, cats and snakes.

Volunteer:

Team Rubicon and Samaritan's Purse are asking for volunteers to help the storm victims, as well as for cleaning and rebuilding. 

Concert for Sandy Relief:

12.12.12 – The Concert for Sandy Relief will take place on December 12, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Various television channels in the US and other international TVs will air the four-hour concert which is expected to reach over 1 billion people worldwide. The concert will feature performances by such artists as Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Dave Grohl, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Roger Waters, Eddie Vedder, Kanye West, The Who.

NOTE: When planning to donate to a non-profit (in the wake of any disaster), make sure you verify that it is legitimate and that your funds will go where it is intended. Charity evaluators like Guidestar and Charity Navigator are good ways we recommend to check that the organisation you're donating to is established and legitimate.

Today, when you are thinking of festive period and holidays, spare a thought for ones who could not think past – how to stay warm, what to eat, and how they are going to survive. They have no heat, no running water, no power…and they are hurting.

Make a difference this season of goodwill.

Have you donated to Sandy relief efforts yet?

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10 Fast Facts about Sydney

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Sydney Harbour

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia. The city, which is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, has some interesting facts about it. Read on for our collection:

1. Sydney is the 73rd most populous city in the world. It is also the 21st most-expensive city in the world.

2. The local nickname for the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the ‘Coat Hanger’, because of its arch-based design. The Bridge is 1511.3 feet wide; and took over 8 years to build it.

3. The Rocks in Sydney is one of the most-visited sites. Called the “birthplace of Sydney”, some of Sydney’s oldest pubs can be found here. You’ll also find a maze of cul-de-sacs and courtyards, with historic buildings sitting next to vibrant modern cafes.

4. Sydney Tower is the city’s tallest building. You can have a great view of the city at the top of the tower.

5. Sydney Opera House holds 5 theatres. You can take a guided tour that’ll take you backstage to learn more about this world-renowned landmark. Approximately 4.5 million people visit the Sydney Opera House a year.

6. A resident of Sydney is known as a Sydneysider.

7. In terms of variety, the Fish Markets of Sydney rank as the 2nd largest in the world.

8. The main languages spoken in Sydney are English, Chinese and Arabic.

9. The Sydney Funnel web spider is considered the world’s most deadly spider. It is the only spider that has killed people in less than 2 hours.

10. Being Australia’s first and largest city, Sydney – also known as ‘Sin City’ – was wanted to be the capital of Australia, but its convict stigma counted against it.

What other interesting or weird facts have you got about Sydney? We would like to hear from you!

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First-timers’ Guide to Travelling to China

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Travelling to a new place can be a very daunting prospect for some. China, with it being so impossibly vast and diverse isn’t any easier. Being the most-populated land on the planet, it is imperative to know what to expect once you’ve decided to travel to China. To help you venture out to the unknown, here are some basic, important first-timers’ guide for you:

Use Public Transport: It is advisable to use public transport as much as you can. For one, China’s public transport systems are very extensive. And, ditching the taxis and airplanes in favour of bikes and buses let you see the place how the locals see it. You’ll see that many towns and cities are well set-up for cycling.

Toilet: When looking for a toilet, look out for the ‘WC’ sign. And an useful word to know at such times is cesuo, which means ‘toilet’ in Chinese. Some public toilets require a small fee, while others are free. 
Most public toilets are squatting ones; and be wary that most of them don’t have toilet paper.  So, it is highly advisable to always carry some tissue paper with you at all times.

Scams: Beware of the infamous ‘teahouse scam’ where unsuspecting tourists are charged exorbitant amounts for a cup of tea. Make sure you order only after verifying the prices. Another infamous scam is the ‘art student scam’, where scammers approach tourists and sell them mass-produced paintings misrepresented as original works to raise money for tuition fees and the like. There are also other scams you should be wary of, like the Black Taxi scams, and others.

ATMs:  There are tons of ATMs everywhere, and credit cards are widely accepted. At ATMs, check on the machine for a MC logo/Visa sign, as these machines accept overseas cards and have an English option. While AMEX is rare, Bank of China accepts Maestro.
When using an ATM, after you have entered your Pin, select Overseas, and then Savings (this seems to be the only option that works with overseas cards). If the Pin requires six digits and you only have four, add ’00′ to the beginning.

Medicines:  Make sure you bring basic medicines like Imodium/anti-diarrhoea pills and other over-the-counter medications you might need. While some of them are available in pharmacies, you’ll find that the names and dosage/instructions are in Chinese.

Consider your visiting time: Consider visiting the country during off-season, so as to avoid the huge number of people travelling in China. The numbers can be really overwhelming during these times:

Chinese New Year: Date varies but generally late January or early February
May Day: First two weeks of May
China National Day: Middle two weeks of October

Also, consider the weather too, as summers can be really hot in China; and the smog gets overwhelming.

Traffic rules: Traffic can be really rough; cars are allowed to turn right at red lights, so be particularly careful at zebra crossings. Also, look out for other cars that frequently ‘forget’ to stop. Silent electric bikes often travel the wrong way on the road and pavement too!

Hope these simple guides will make a long way to determining you have an awesome time in China. Happy travelling!

You are welcome to add more info/guides in the comments section that you think will help first-timers travelling to China.

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10 Interesting Facts about Portugal

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Portrait of Portugal FlagPortugal is one of the best value destinations on the continent offering outstanding landscape diversity as well as glamorous beach holidays destination. Below, we have collected 10 interesting facts about Portugal:

1. Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries.
 -  Portuguese is the official language of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome, Portugal, and Principe.

2. Oldest country in Europe. It also has the oldest Bookstore in the World.
 -  Portugal has had the same defined frontiers/boundaries since 25 July, 1139 – making it the oldest nation in Europe. The oldest bookstore in the world, Bertrand is also in Portugal.

3. Portugal has the longest bridge in Europe.
 -  The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is the longest in Europe, measuring 17 kilometres (10.5 miles).

4. Largest Cork producer.
 -  Portugal produces 70% of the world’s cork exports, making it the largest cork producer in the world. It also has the largest cork forest.

5. First colonial power to abolish slavery.
 -  Portugal abolished slavery – half a century before Britain, France, Spain or the US – in 1761.

6. World’s first commercial wave farm.
  -  Portugal established in 2006 the world’s fast commercial wave farm – the Agucadora Wave Park – to produce electricity.

7. Has largest casino in Europe.
  -  Estoril Casino, situated on the outskirts of Lisbon is the largest gambling outlet in Europe.

8. It is illegal to kill a bull in Portuguese bullfighting.
 -  Although bullfighting is legal in Portugal, actually killing the bull during the show is illegal.

9. Portugal was known as Luisitania.
 -  In Roman times, Portugal was called Luisitania.

10. Main religion in Portugal is Roman Catholic.
 -  Over 95% of the population practice Roman Catholicism.

 What else can you add about Portugal? Share it with us in the comments section.

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Ten Interesting Facts about Finland

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Here are ten interesting facts we collected for you about Finland, which we bet you probably have never heard before:

1. Finland has a wife carrying championship.
 Wife carrying is a sport in which the males compete in a race whilst carrying a female teammate through a special obstacle track in the fastest time. The prize depends on the wife’s weight in beer.

2. Finland is the only country in the world which broadcasts news in Latin.

3. Finland has two official languages – Finnish and Swedish.
The native language of 90% of the population is Finnish; while Swedish is the native language of 5.4% of the population.

4. Finland is the home of the Santa Claus.
Santa has his office in the North of Finland, on the Arctic Circle.

5. Finnish children don't start school until they are 7.
And they are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.

6. Teachers typically spend about four hours a day in the classroom, and are paid to spend two hours a week on professional development.
It’s more difficult getting into teacher education than law or medicine.

7. The amount you get fined for speeding on the roads in Finland depends on the amount you earn.

8. There are 1.8 million saunas in Finland.
 The sauna experience is considered a necessity in Finland for well-being. Prisoners are allowed to use the sauna once a week.

9. Land of the midnight sun.
Not only is Finland known as the land of a thousand lakes, it is also called the Land of the midnight sun. During the months of June and July the sun shines all day and all night in the north, not dropping below the horizon at all.

10. Finland probably holds the world record for hosting world championships. 
Finland holds world championships for wife carrying, mobile phone throwing, mosquito catching, swamp soccer, boot throwing and air guitar.
In addition to the above interesting facts, Helsinki – the capital has also been named Design Capital 2012. To celebrate this title, Helsinki will hold many festivals and events throughout the whole year.

Well, that's our ten there. Do you have any other interesting facts to share about Finland? Please do so in the comments section.

 


    

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Winner of the isango! iPad Poll Announced

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(Congratulations, Ges Southwood for winning the new iPad)

iPad Winner 

With our isango! iPad Poll Lucky Draw closed on 12 August – and the result drawn by random – we are pleased to announce Ges Southwood as the isango! Poll winner!

We are thrilled to see so many responses and would like to thank each one of you for your participation. Keep an eye out for our blog posts and our Facebook page, where we’ll let you know what’s up for grabs next!

About our winner:

Ges Southwood is passionate about travel and has studied Travel & Tourism.

Over the years, she has been fortunate to have been able to travel to the Caribbean, Florida and various places around Europe, including beautiful Britain.

Her Travel Recommendation: Within Europe, she recommends Menorca, Fuerteventura and Turkey as she finds them all very family-orientated and special in their own ways.

Her dream destination:  The first on her bucket list is to be able to go to Las Vegas for a 7 to 10-day holiday. And her holiday of a lifetime is to visit Sydney and Perth and see as much of Australia as she possibly can.

Once again, BIG CONGRATULATIONS, Ges! And a big thanks to everyone for your participation!



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Edinburgh Festival, 2012

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Right, with the Olympics now well and truly out of our way, it’s time for that trip to bonnie Edinburgh – Scotland’s capital. We are talking about six festivals being held here in the capital. And believe us; any one of these festivals will justify your trip.

Remember we wrote about Edinburgh Festival  earlier this year? Well, we discussed what the festival is all about. But NOW is the time to live and see all about it. Give yourself the chance to experience three weeks of this unique atmosphere of unforgettable opera, music, theatre, dance and more…starting from 3 – 25 August, 2012. Let’s explore each festival below briefly:

1. Edinburgh International Festival (Starting 9th Aug – 2nd Sept, 2012): This festival is lined-up with the world’s best dance troupes, operas, theatres, classical music and orchestras. Appearances include: London Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the European Union Youth Orchestra, Budapest Orchestra and many more.

For tickets: http://www.eif.co.uk/

2. Edinburgh Festival Fringe (3rd – 27th August, 2012): This year, the University of Edinburgh will collaborate with Universal Arts to use Old College Quad as Fringe venue once again. They will be joined by KTO Theatre from Poland.

For tickets: www.edfringe.com.

3. Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (3rd – 25th August, 2012): This is Scotland’s most iconic show that attracts crowds from all around the world with its visual extravaganza. The Tattoo in its 62nd year this year brings together talent from four continents to pay sparkling tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and the year of Creative Scotland. 

For tickets: http://www.edintattoo.co.uk/ 

4. Edinburgh International Book Festival (11th -27th August, 2012): Taking place under canvas in Charlotte Square, the Book festival is for all you book worms – novelists, poets, scientists, philosophers and others. This event brings together 800 authors in over 750 events each year.

For tickets: www.edbookfest.co.uk

5. Edinburgh Art Festival (2nd Aug – 2md Sept 2012): This festival is Scotland’s largest annual visual art festival. It aims to showcase diverse visual arts exhibitions and events, supporting the best international and emerging artists.

For tickets: http://www.edinburghartfestival.com/events

6. Edinburgh Mela (31st Aug – 2nd Sept 2012): Featuring a weekend of multi-cultural vibrant and colourful atmosphere of dance, food and music in the heart of Edinburgh is the Edinburgh Mela. Enjoy the family fun, delicious food with tastes and aroma from all over the world; as well as traditional and modern Bhangra beats – all in one place!

For more info: http://www.edinburgh-mela.co.uk/

That’s another summer fun to enjoy again!

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One Last Trip to Cap off London Olympics Stay

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Now that the Olympics is done and dusted, back to normal life, eh? Not quite. Not without one last trip around the beautiful city anyway. And the fact that you don’t need to schedule your time around the events anymore, what better time to go free and enjoy the sights in and around London city!

If you want a break from the cheers and thrills of the city, there are plenty of amazing sights you can see in the outskirts. These trips from London will do you a world of good. After all, would you want to leave Britain without visiting the smashing monuments of Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Oxford and others? So here’s your chance:

 Stonehenge tour: The very first sight of this massive stone will take your breath away. One of the most famous monuments in the world, Stonehenge is composed of large standing stones and is located 90 miles west of London.

 The true meaning of this ancient monument is not known. Speculation on the meaning can range from human sacrifice to astronomy – was it a temple of sun worship or a healing centre? How did our ancestors manage to carry the mighty stones? As you can see, surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress.

 Windsor Castle and Oxford Tour: Windsor Castle is another must-see place known for its architecture; and is also the official residence of the royal family for over 900 years. The castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world.

 Oxford, of course is the home to the world famous oldest English-speaking University that has inspired many scholars and authors including CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkien and other literary greats. Taking a walk along one of Oxford’s main streets will take you back to many points in history. You will also notice the splendid architecture from every century and every style, with each building steeped in history.

 

 If you’d like to visit the many attractions within the city itself rather than travelling outside, the best way to go about it is by obtaining the London Pass. The London Pass is the ultimate ticket that allows you to enter 71 of London’s top attractions for FREE. What’s more? It also comes with a free guidebook.

 Now this is what we called the perfect way of capping off your London stay!

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What to Do in Florence as Recommended by You – Our Facebook Users

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(Congratulations to Richard Fohrenbach, our winner!)

Feeling inspired just looking at this photo of Florence? If you could do anything in Florence what would you do? Would you take a tour of the Piazza del Duomo or maybe go on a wine tasting? Leave a comment about your dream Florence experience and one lucky person will win a £20 isango! voucher.

Our question on ‘what you would do, if you could do anything in Florence’ have some really interesting comments. We appreciate all your recommendations; however we most appreciate originality.

So, based on originality alone, we DECLARE Richard Fohrenbach* as the WINNER of our £20 isango! Voucher! The fact that Richard’s recommendation is nothing but romantic – we can’t help but ‘feel’ the romance he and his wife had on their first movie date – has totally touched the ‘romantics’ in us!

To quote Richard Fohrenbach “Visit the places my wife Linda & I saw in the film ‘A Room with a View", one of our first movie dates in New Haven, Connecticut”.

So some of the places to see, as recommended by our winner Richard, that are seen in the film ‘A Room with a View‘ are:

  • Hotel Quisisana e Ponte Vecchio, located on the Arno between the Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio.
  • Lungarno degli Archibusieri 4
  • Equestrian Statue of Grand Duke Ferdinand
  • Basilica of Santa Croce
  • Piazza della Signoria

So, what are you waiting for? Go see the movie for your locations guide and rush to Florence, Italy now!

 

*We request Richard Fohrenbach to get in touch with us at support@isango.com to claim his prize.

Once again, CONGRATULATIONS, Richard! And a big thank you to everyone for your participation!

 

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