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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 in ‘Things to do in North America’

California city revels in ”anti-festival”

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In a world where every event has to have a festival to go with it, one group of organisers – or, rather, ”unorganisers” – satirise the culture with the annual Doo Dah Parade.

Held in the Old Town district of Pasadena, a city on the outskirts of Los Angeles, the parade began life as a spoof of the Festival of Roses, held each year to celebrate the revered annual college football showdown, in 1976.

Its founders perceived an increasing tightening of rules and regulations associated with the event and decided to strike back with their own celebration which revels in having no rules, no restrictions and no theme whatsoever.

The result is a carnival like atmosphere where, it seems, anything goes – perhaps explaining it being described as a "passport to weirdness" by those behind it.

Thousands of spectators gather to watch performers cavort through the city under the watchful eye of the Grand Marshall.

While anyone can take part they should be mindful of just how random they”re expected to be given the past attractions, which have included Synchronised Precision Briefcase Marching Drill Team.

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-18855674-ADNFCR

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Happy Halloween from isango!

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BOO!

Halloween graphic

I must say – our readers certainly seem to be in the Halloween spirit. I wasn’t sure if Halloween was a popular holiday here in London, but I now know that it is!

May you dress in crazy costumes and eat too much candy……

Happy Halloween from all of us here at…

isango logo

 

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Exhilarating sport shows off its most spectacular event

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Aquatic daredevils are probably familiar with the thrills of surfing but perhaps the most incredible spectacle of the sport is the huge tunnel of water known as a ”pipe”.

The Billabong Pipeline Masters concludes the men”s World Championship Tour and is held each year at Ehukai Beach on the Hawaiian island of Oahu from December 8th – 12th.

The world”s finest surfers, including nine-time world champion Kelly Slater, will descend on this, one of the world”s most beautiful surfing locations, for the season finale.

Each stage on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) world championship tour boasts a total prize pool of $320,000, underlining how successful and popular this sport has become.

Visitors to the picturesque Oahu island have more than enough to enjoy at any time of year, with the stunning beaches, crystal clear water and world-renowned local food and hospitality.

With nine world championship titles under his Bermuda shorts, 36-year-old Floridian Kelly Slater – or ”Slats” to his friends – has dominated the sport like to no other surfer in the history of the sport.

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-18851163-ADNFCR

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Humorous Videos and Facts about Sarah Palin

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After reading Sarah’s recent post about her search for Sarah Palin’s view of Russia in Alaska (quite funny and includes some beautiful photos of Nome, Alaska) I realized that I have been a bad citizen: I should have been posting more information about the US election all along. I suppose I was avoiding jumping on the media bandwagon – this election has been nothing short of a circus. And after all, this is a travel blog!

With the election just days away, I figure, why not join in on the Palin-bashing fun while I still can…I have thus spent the last few hours scanning through humorous videos and interesting facts about Sarah Palin, but, of course, everything has been done…and overdone.

Nonetheless, I present to you some of my favourite Palin-tastic clips and links. So click away, but you must promise to go through all of them!

1. The ‘Sarah Palin Rap’, as performed on Saturday Night Live.

OK, so I could not resist linking to the following clip, which is a bit dated yet still absolutely hilarious. Please, please, if you haven’t already, watch the SNL ‘Sarah Palin Rap’, as beautifully executed by Amy Poehler. You won’t be disappointed, I promise:

http://blog.socialmedian.com/2008/10/amy_poehler_sarah_palin_rap_pr.html

“All the mavericks in da house put your hands up…”

Priceless.

2. The ‘Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator’

Inspired by the governor’s colourfully-named offspringTrack, Trig, Willow, Bristol, and Piper(yes, these are really Sarah Palin’s kids’ names!) this interactive name translator will make you feel like one of Palin’s own:

http://politsk.blogspot.com/2008/09/sarah_13.html

If I were Sarah Palin’s daughter, my name would be Mullet Troll Palin. Sexy.

What’s your Palin name? Let’s compare – post below!

3. The Miss Alaska Beauty Pageant Video.

The year is 1984, and the next contestant is…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSdFIDygFwM[/youtube]

.

4. More ‘Fun’ Facts about Palin.

This one is a bit more serious and includes a video of Palin in rifle training…

Basically, I found a blogger that managed to gather all of the, um, ‘fun’ facts about Palin under one roof: his name is Jake Marsh, and his post, ’33 Facts You Didn’t Know about Sarah Palin’, can be found by clicking the following link:

http://thejakemarsh.com/1025/#more-1025

Thanks for doing that, Jake.

Well folks, I hope you have found this post to be entertaining and somewhat enlightening. I must say, I had fun putting it together.

Until next time!

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What Sarah Palin missed when she (apparently) saw Russia from Alaska.

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Nome, Alaska is about as close to Russia as you can get and still be in the United States.

Although I never saw Russia while I was there, Sarah Palin suggested that Alaska’s proximity to Russia gave her some insight into foreign policy issues.  Well, I was there, hoping to see Russia’s Coast, or Putin. As I stood at the shore of the Bering Sea, I was disappointed that I did not see either.  But the view from the Alaskan coast was, nonetheless, breathtaking!

Bering Sea Alaska

As I walked though the town, I saw something better:  a quaint bush village full of history, native Alaskan culture, and the end of the 1049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Nome Alaska Boats

Nome is a unique dot on the map, where people can still make their living by prospecting for gold. The village is surrounded by mountains, and you can only get to Nome by plane. There are no roads leading there.

Mountains in Nome Alaska

Even if I never saw Russia (or Palin…or Putin…), I feel lucky to have been to one of the most remote villages in the United States of America.

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Last Minute Halloween Costume Shops in London

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For those of you on a mad dash to construct a fabulous last minute Halloween costume for that raging, fun fancy dress party you are attending on Friday, with one objective in mind—to win the (presumably alcoholic) prize for having the BEST COSTUME—I am here to help you…and help you fast! (Whew! Relief!)

If you haven’t seen it already, I wrote a blog last week about Halloween costume shops in London (or Fancy Dress shops in London—whichever term you prefer. You see, there is this British girl in my office (a British girl…in my London office… imagine that…) that refuses to celebrate Halloween on the grounds that it is a “poor excuse for American kids to rob our homes of candy.” What a drag! She’s not invited to my party—that’s for sure. British kids, get your fancy dress on and celebrate with your Yankee brethren. I just know how much you love fancy dress!)

Right, so back to helping you score that perfect last minute costume. My blog last week covered a few costume shops in West London, and though I vowed to visit fancy dress shops in East London, I must admit that I never made it past the vaguely Eastern part of Central London… because I got lost on my way to Bethnal Green, like a tourist. But I did manage to visit these shops:

1. Angels, near Tottenham Court Road tube.

Angels, to be quite frank, was my worst nightmare. Their Argos-style catalog/stock room approach is, in my opinion inefficient and irritating. The catalogues are full of misleading images…i.e. heavily-endowed blonde women, sporting next-to-nothing variations of service-industry uniforms and fairytale gowns…and the costumes are cheap, most of them slutty. However, if you are planning to score a costume on your lunch break today, this is one of the few costume shops in central London. You can probably find something in here—as long as you don’t mind not trying on your costume before you buy it.

“No, you cannot try it on, but we give full refunds if it doesn’t fit and you decide to return it,” said the brainwashed saleslady, as I indicated that their last flapper costume (by the way, they are sold out of a lot of costumes, so go in with an open mind!) was not in my size but could possibly fit—I needed to try it on to see. “It’s the same as buying on the internet,” she reassured me.

“This is not the internet, this is a shop.” I reminded her—in case she had, by chance, forgotten. She didn’t like that very much.

Idea: Base your costume around a wig.

Angels had some great fancy dress wigs—I’ll give ‘em that. Everyone loves a crazy wig. In fact, I would say that a wig could quite possibly be the most hilarious, transforming element of a costume. Forget being a specific character…go wig shopping! Grab some bright purple tresses, some face paint to match, an eyeball decal, a horn, and some wings, and voila, you are a ‘one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater’. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_People_Eater)

Or better yet—grab that amazing mullet, and become an 80’s rocker. Trim the mullet down into a homemade ‘Euro mullet’, and…well I’m going to stop here. After all, I don’t want to offend anyone. ;-)

2. Madword, near Old Street tube.

This costume hire facility—if you can manage to find it (it is hidden down a flight of stairs)—is pretty good. The staff were friendly, and (gasp!) they allowed me to try on several costumes. Who would have thought?

Their range of costumes is extensive—you must go in with a specific idea of what you want…and, importantly, a willingness to fork over a nice-sized chunk of cash. You could score a real gem in Madworld, especially if you are after a costume from a certain time period—they offer both the stereotypical (think: ‘Marilyn Monroe’ dress) and more mundane (think: simple sweater and skirt outfit) fancy dress options for almost every era imaginable.

Idea: Pick your favourite era, and try on all of the costumes in the shop section dedicated to that era.

I am guessing that you probably didn’t live in the 1920’s, and I am also pretty sure that not every single female from this era dressed like a flapper when she went out on the town (I speak from personal experience—I tried on several flapper costumes but found some of the other getups in the 1920’s section to be much more interesting).

See what the fancy dress hire shops have in stock for your favourite era, and be creative!

Happy Searching!

Need more Halloween costume ideas? Just ask me – I’m full of them. Seriously, I’ll respond quickly. Carrie Daniel is officially ‘on call’ for all of your Halloween costume inspirational needs until Friday October 31st at 5pm.

Best of luck to you all. May your costumes win you large quantities of cheap booze and/or some hot dates…

London fancy dress/costume shops:

Angels, 119 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8AE

Madworld, 69-85 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4BA

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Thermals at the ready for swimming in the depths of winter

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While people who can think of nothing they”d rather do less on New Year”s Day than jumping into freezing cold water and going for a refreshing paddle, many thousands around the world seem to find the perfect seasonal tonic year after year.

The annual New Year”s Day swim at Coney Island in New York is perhaps one of the most famous in the world, where plucky aquatic types take to the water off the shore of New York”s Brooklyn borough.

Organised by the Polar Bear Club, "the oldest winter bathing organisation in the United States", the New Year”s Day event is the highlight in a regular series of Sunday swims each week from November through to April.

The event is in support of Camp Sunshine, a charity which supports seriously ill children and their families – meaning that while it may appear a daunting thing to do, swimming in the East River on January 1st is a great way of supporting a very good cause.

The club can trace its origins back to 1903, when Bernarr MacFadden founded the Coney Island Polar Bear Club.

New York – From the dizzy heights of the Empire State Building to the serene Central Park New York has it all!ADNFCR-1652-ID-18847063-ADNFCR

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College football”s finest square up at the Rose Bowl

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While the National Football League (NFL) has a huge profile around the world, college football remains a peculiarly domestic phenomenon.

During the regular season, thousands of local people turn out to watch college teams play on a level comparable to the top flight of English football. The annual Rose Bowl game on New Year”s Day is the season finale that always tops the rest.

Played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the game pits two of the top teams, usually from the rival Pacific-10 and Big Ten divisions, against one another to find the nation”s best college side.

As might be expected from any American sport, even at this level, the game is surrounded by a raft of statistical analysis and awards for individual performances. There is even a Rose Bowl Hall of Fame into which outstanding players are inducted.

Known as ”The Granddaddy of Them All”, the game forms part of the Tournament of the Roses which opens with a televised New Year”s parade.

The college football system is a prime breeding ground for players entering the professional NFL, which each year”s Draft selection process attracting more punditry and commentary than individual matches.

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-18846812-ADNFCR

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Funky stuff well and truly strutted at the world”s largest disco

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Disco dancers of the world will come together once again in the city of Buffalo in New York State this year for the World”s Largest Disco.

The annual event takes place to raise money for cancer charities and is held at the Buffalo Convention Centre, only a few minutes drive from the world-famous Niagara Falls.

The disco is limited to 7,000 tickets and is sure to sell out once again as it has been known to in the past.

Even those without a ticket can still be a part of the event and raise money at the same time by sponsoring a song, with each contributor”s name shown on the many screens around the convention centre.

The organiser also points out that there will be an even larger ”beer station” than last year, with over 200 bartenders serving across a 160-foot-long bar.

The event began in 1979, where Gloria Gaynor and The Trammps performed live. Attendance by 13,000 people made the event officially the largest disco in history.

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-18845133-ADNFCR

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Freestyle divers take the plunge

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For those who like nothing better than watching grown men perform death-defying aquatic acrobatic feats on a religious holiday, this event could seem like a dream come true.

The spectacle of the cliff diving content on Mexico”s Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe is something to behold each year on December 12th.

Dozens of lithe, lean freestyle diving machines gather atop the perilous cliffs of La Quebrada near Acapulco in Mexico for the annual event, trying to outdo each other with their displays of guile, agility and, perhaps, downright lunacy.

The sight of tanned men in lycra flinging themselves to what looks like their inevitable, if very graceful doom attracts huge crowds, who nestle themselves among the rocky outcrops surrounding the venue all day long.

The highlight of the event is the notorious ”Ocean of Fire”, when a circle of gasoline is lit on the surface of the water below and a select few attempt to hit land in the drink without seriously scorching their Speedos.

The tradition of cliff diving at this locatin dates back to the 1930s and the original friendly rivalry has evolved into a fervent tourist attraction. Nowadays, fearless young men gather virtually every day at 1300 local time to perform for gasping onlookers.

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-18842757-ADNFCR

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