Tuesday, June 16, 2015

GUEST POST - 6 Great Reasons to Teach English Abroad

Have you been thinking about whether you want to teach English abroad? If you have been dying to step outside of your comfort zone and dive into a foreign country, teaching English abroad could be a fantastic choice. The perks of living in a foreign country - versus visiting it – include a deeper understanding of the culture and a chance to live like a local. Here are some reasons that might push you over the edge into saying, “Yes.”

1.      Living in a Foreign Country
Most teaching contracts are for 2 years,which is a long time to get acclimatized to a new country. There’s a whole new calendar of foreign holidays and festivals to be part of. Living in a foreign country makes you drop your comfortable routine and get out of your comfort zone. Have you ever wanted to learn another language? Total immersion is the best way to do so and you’ll have an unparalleled opportunity to brush up your language skills in another country – though it’s rarely expected by employers you’ll be familiar with the local language.
2.      Traveling
Duh. You’ll get to explore the world while making a paycheck. What’s better than that? Living in a foreign country puts other exotic locales at your fingertips. Pretty much all teaching contracts have a good amount of vacation time built in, so you can not only explore the country you’re living in, but nearby countries or entire regions as well. If you’re too busy during the school year to take a trip, you can travel at length after your contract is up before you head home – or before starting the next teaching assignment with another school.
3.      Personal Growth
Living in another country forces you to take risks. Many teachers report it being an exhilarating time that changed their life. You’ll learn a lot about yourself when you need to rely on the kindness of strangers to figure out the local public transportation system or how to order off a menu. Living in a foreign country can actually make you a better person. There is research that shows travelers are better problem solvers, more intelligent, and make more friends.
4.      Professional Growth
International work experience is great experience to put on a resume. Employers will see that you can handle stress, adjust to new situations, and are independent. Additionally, many countries offer English teachers hefty salaries and free room and board. It’s standard in countries like China to offer roundtrip airfare for teachers that finish their contracts. Throw in some health insurance and paid vacation and teaching English in another country is a really great opportunity for someone starting their career.
5.      New Friends
Make friends with the locals and you’ll have an unmatched “in” to the country you’re living in. Ask them where the best place to eat is and you might even win yourself an invitation to dinner. You’ll also have a built-in group of friends in the expat community. Expats will understand the challenges and rewards of living you’re experiencing by living in a foreign country because they are too!
6.      Make a Difference
As a teacher, you’ll be able to make a difference in the lives of your students. English is the primary language for business communication, among other things. Learning English can give someone in another country a step up in the global community.

These are just a few of the reasons why teaching abroad is a great opportunity, but there are many more perks and logistics to consider when making a big move. Don’t let you fears get the best of you. Teaching English in another country could be the best experience of your life! To get started with this new phase of your life, contact a reputable recruiter like Footprints Recruiting.

Friday, May 29, 2015

GUEST POST - Top Five Honeymoon Destinations

There are many different type of honeymoons: safaris, ski trips, and beach vacations, among others. Most honeymoons are based more on the couple's joint-personality as opposed to tradition. Here are some details of the top five hottest and most popular honeymoon destinations in the world: from snowcapped mountains to pristine and sunny beaches, as well as fairytale theme parks.

1. Turtle Island Fiji
As opposed to other resorts in Fiji, Turtle Island resort in Fiji only permits fourteen couples at any one time because it only has 14 picturesque beaches. In addition, the resort is truly all-inclusive meaning that you are able to enjoy everything from champagne by the bottle, world-class cuisine and dedicated nanny and butler service all without having to write any checks or sign any bills. The resort also offers exquisite seafood which is caught on a daily basis in the island’s pristine waters as well as vegetables and fruits that are grown on the island. To complement each menu, the management perfectly pairs top-flight wines with meals.
Turtle Island Fiji is only half an hour by seaplane from Nadi, a place where the Fijian international airport is situated. During the short panoramic flight, you will not only discover the turquoise waters of the Fijian seas, but also the picturesque islands which spread the azure waters of Fiji. For more information, contact the management through 1.800.255.4347.

2. Camino Real Acapulco Diamante
Acapulco, once the honeymoon destination for John and Jackie Kennedy, is still among the world’s most popular honeymoon destinations for new couples celebrating their new life together. Temperatures here are always in the 80s regardless of the time of year and Acapulco’s warm water is suitable for snorkeling and swimming. Apart from this, the prices here are affordable which allows for a memorable honeymoon even if you are on a tight budget. Besides having fine dining and a wide range of activities, Acapulco Diamante offers well-designed rooms that overlook the private beach of Pichilingue. The hotel also has a convenient location which allows visitors to appreciate the beache's natural beauty by day and Acapulco’s nightlife by night. The coolest thing about this hotel is the two adults-only pools are designed for a quiet escape. For more information; such as getting directions, call 52 744 435 10 10.
3. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Do you prefer spending this marvelous time with your beloved partner making snow angels instead of slathering on sunscreen? If yes, then the best place for you is Fairmont Chateau. Fairmont Chateau is located on the edge of the glacier-fed lake known as Lake Louise and it provides plenty of winter sports. These winter sports create an unforgettable honeymoon haven for snow lovers. Most of the activities in this place are winter activities and they include ice-skating, downhill & country skiing, dog sledding and snowshoeing among others. Visitors are able to pamper themselves in the spas found in the hotel before departing for a romantic but thrilling sleigh ride into the wilderness. Fairmont Chateau is a popular honeymoon destination even in the warmer months due to the idyllic lake setting. Guest’s can take advantage of outdoor activities during the warmer months at Lake Louise and these activities are hiking, whitewater rafting and horseback riding. The postal address for Fairmont Chateau is 111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake TOL 1E0 Canada. For more information, call +1 403-522-3511.

4. Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World Resort is undoubtedly the best place for a fairytale honeymoon for the bride and her prince charming. Honeymooners are able to choose from packages such as a romantic escape, the honeymoon escape and the deluxe escape. The romantic escape integrates time at a Disney resort and a cruise to the Bahamas. Packages encompass park passes and accommodation as well as a choice of amenities which consists of a couple’s spa treatment or honeymoon pictures at Disney sites. The coolest activity here is the private fireworks cruise. Use the address: Lake Buena Vista, Fl 32836, US, for inquiries and more information.

5. Amankila
Are you savvy world travelers who desire to travel to an enchanting and fresh honeymoon destination to celebrate a new life together? If yes, then consider Amankila as one of your destinations. Amankila, which is situated on Bali Island in Indonesia, not only translates to “peaceful hill” but is also a popular resort. This famous resort, which overlooks East Bali’s Lombok Strait, offers scenic views of the sea as well as a stunning three-tiered pool. A day away from Amankila promises encounters with rich culture and religious tradition at one of the 10,000 temples on the island.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A family of foxes at Dominion Beach, Cape Breton

GUEST POST - Learning to Surf

Surfing can be very intimidating to people who have never tried it before. Whether they are intimidated by standing up on the surfboard, catching a wave, or just intimidated by the ocean in general, it can be scary.

There are ways to get into surfing that can take away some of that scariness. The fact is, at the end of the day, surfing is not as hard as most people think. Especially if you do it right.

Before you try surfing, it is a good idea to research the surfing process online. There are a number of websites that can help people learn how to surf. Websites that show each step of the process. From catching a wave to jumping up to your feet to the correct place to stand on a surfboard. All of the information is out there. You just have to find it.

Learning the correct way to surf will give you a big head start. You can arrive to the beach with the knowledge of the proper way to catch a wave, stand up, and surf that wave. That can be a big help and a big head start.
Surfing Lessons

One of the best ways to get into surfing is by taking surfing lessons. No matter where you are located, whether you live there or are just on vacation, there are most likely multiple surfing lesson companies to choose from.

Even if you do hire a surf lessons company, I still strongly recommend that you look up the process online. It will most likely mean that you have to spend less time on the beach going over the process and more time in the water actually doing the fun stuff.

Finding The Right Surf Lessons Company

Like I said earlier, there are surf lessons available wherever it is that you are looking to go surfing. That means that you have a choice of who you want to take surfing lessons from. This is a good thing, but can also be challenging as you want to know which company is better and more fun.

There are two different variables that are the most important to keep in mind when it comes to choosing the right surfing lessons company to hire. First of all, you want to know about how skilled the instructors are. You want to know that they are good at surfing and will be able to properly teach you how to surf to the point where you are surfing on your own at the end of the lessons. That is the whole point of taking surfing lessons in the first place. Secondly, you want to make sure that the surf instructors are fun. After all, you are doing this because it looks like fun right? So make sure that you a company that will allow you to have fun while you are learning to surf.
If you are ever in Nantasket Beach in Hull, MA and would like to take surfing lessons, then contact a local Nantasket Surfing Lessons Company and find out more information on how you can learn how to surf.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

GUEST POST - How to Move Around When Visiting Los Cabos, Mexico

Travelling to another place has its perks and consequences. One perk being the ability to witness beautiful tourist spots. As a tourist, you want to have the best possible service to make your stay worthwhile. One of the things that would really bother a traveler, besides deciding on a place to stay, is figuring out how to get around the area. Walking is always an option but it's also tiring. How about getting a taxi? Taxi services in Los Cabos is a better option than commuting by bus. What makes your travel more enjoyable is being able to experience Los Cabos via an affordable transportation service that would help you get around while providing you with a tour while driving around Los Cabos.

There are transport services that offer rides from the airport to any place in Los Cabos and back. Cabo airport transfers are the most common transportation service that most travelers avail of when they are in Los Cabos. There are a lot of transportation service companies in Los Cabos that offer affordable rates for travelers. Rates and the kind of car used may vary but the service is the same.

Because Los Cabos thrives on tourism, it wants to be able to cater to visitors’ every need and this includes their transportation from the airport to their hotel. Travelers can choose from a wide range of car services. If they want a luxury transfer experience, they can choose a luxury car. Transportation services also cater to group transfers and they have vans that can bring your group to your desired destination.

It is actually not advisable to take a taxi from the airport. Some taxis entice tourists to take aroute that is not even in your plans so they can charge more money. So, to be safe, just hire a transportation service instead. Transportation services in Los Cabos are very affordable and you can be sure of a safe ride around Los Cabos.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

GUEST POST - Top 5 Must-See Sites in Lhasa

The capital of Tibet is the enchanting city of Lhasa. This is where many of the local attractions can be found. On any Tibet tour, your adventure will start in Lhasa and these top 5 Lhasa attractions.

Potala Palace
The Potala Palace looks down on Lhasa from a lofty mountain. This huge complex is now a museum and UNESCO site but for hundreds of years since its construction in 1645 it was the home of the Dalai Lama. The massive structure is 13 stores high and has more than ,1000 rooms. At the heart of the complex is the crimson colored “Red Palace” where the shrines of past Dalai Lamas are kept and where religious study is conducted. The White Palace is where the Dalai Lama actually lived. A yellow courtyard separates the Red Palace from the White Palace.

Jokhang Monastery
Jokhang is the heart of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located in the center of Lhasa on the popular shopping street, Barkhor. This sacred temple has architecture reminiscent of the Indian Vihara style and the Tang Dynasty architecture as well as elements of Nepalese architecture. The temple was built to hold the religious artifacts brought to Tibet from Nepal and China by King Songtsan Gampo’s two brides Princess Wencheng and Princess Bhrikuti. The temple has four floors and is topped by an iconic statue of two gold-colored deer standing on either side of a Dharma prayer wheel. Inside the temple is a labyrinth of chapels with the most precious Jowo Shakyamuni Buddha statue housed within the main hall.

This is a beautiful palace constructed in 1755 and surrounded by the largest park in Tibet. For almost 80 years the palace was the official summer residence of the Dalai Lama and the administrative hub of the region. The UNESCO property covers 3.4km² and the palace is one of the finest examples of traditional Tibetan palace designs. Within the palace are more than 30,000 cultural relics from a number of ethnic groups living in Tibet. The gardens are the highest in the world. They include open pastures, forested areas, lawns and landscaped flower beds. In the summer the surrounding gardens play host to entertainment, dancing and singing especially during the Shodun Yoghurt Festival in July/August.

Drepung Monastery
Just 5km west of Lhasa is the largest monastery in Tibet covering 250,000m². Drepung lies at the foot of Mt. Gephel and together with the Ganden Monastery and Sera Monastery it is one of the three great Gelukpa University Monasteries. Gelukpa is a form of Buddhism founded in the late 1300s by Je Tsongkhapa. It focuses on ethics and monastic principles as well as using yoga and the teachings of the Indian master Atisa. When you visit the monastery you may see some of the 300 monks who still live here. The monastery complex buildings are centered on two magnificent white pagodas. One of the highlights is the vast Sutra Hall with 83 pillars. The monastery is intricately decorated with bright colored tapestries, wall paintings, carvings, statues and flags.

Sera Monastery
This monastery got its name from the roses which grew on the site, the literal translation is “Wild Rose Monastery.” It is one of the three great Gelug (or Gelukpa) university monasteries together with the Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery. It was established in 1419 by a follower of Je Tsongkhapa and is responsible for about 19 hermitages in the foothills just outside Lhasa. The main structure in the monastery complex is the four-storey Great Assembly Hall which was built in 1701.

GUEST POST - Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Located in Lintong County, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses is a huge underground military museum and is known as “the eighth wonder of the world”. It was discovered in 1974 and includes two parts: the bronze chariots and horses and the three pits. Among the three pits, the first one is the largest, with an area of 14260 square meters.
Among the two parts, the bronze chariots and horses is very valuable, so don’t miss it and please listen to the guide carefully since there is no text description in the Museum.

The debris of the terracotta figurines was discovered in 1974 by local farmers when they were digging a well. The accidental discovery has been given great attention by the archaeological department, and from then on the underground cultural treasure buried 2000 years ago began to be known by the world. The first and third pits were discovered first, followed by the second one in 1976.

The three pits were arranged in a triangle shape, and they have 8000 pieces of terracotta figurines and horses in total. The Museum has received nearly 30 million visitors since the opening of the first pit. More than 10 heads of states have been here and all of them spoke highly of it. In 1978, the former French President Jacques Chirac praised: “it is the eighth wonder of the world”, holding that one has never been to China if he didn't take terracotta warriors army tour, just as one has never been to Egypt if he didn't go to see the pyramids.

The first pit is a rectangle in shape, covering an area of 14260 square meters. There are 6000 pieces of terracotta figurines and horses in total and all of them look extremely lifelike. In the east side, three lines of infantry figurines stands here, which is the vanguard, followed by the cavalry and chariots, which are the main military array. On both the left and right sides, there are 180 terracotta warriors respectively, which are the flank guard. In the west side, three lines of terracotta warriors stand here, which are the real guard of the troop. The whole military array is well-distributed, and it seems that they are ready to fight. All the terracotta warriors are armed with bronze weapons in their hands, which are still sharp after 2000 years of erosion.

The second pit locates in the northeastern side of the first pit and the east side of the third one, covering an area of approximately 6000 square meters. The buildings here are the same with the first one, but they are more complicated in the lineup and there are more arms. It is the most spectacular one among the three pits. There is a exhibition hall covering an area of 17000 square meters within it, which is the largest and most fully-functional modern site hall in China. The second pit has over 1300 pieces of terracotta figurines and horses, 80 chariots and tens of thousands of bronze weapons.

The third pit, located in the west side of the first one, covers an area about 520 square meters. There are 68 terracotta figurines. Seeing from the layout, we could know maybe it is the headquarters of the whole troop.

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses was built around the establishment of the Qin Dynasty, which represents the prosperity of the Qin Dynasty. Walking into the hall of the museum, we can see thousands of life-size warriors, which are 1.8 to 1.97 meters tall. They look magnificent and mighty. The mould of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses was based on the real life. The warriors look different in their clothes, postures and facial expressions, and from these aspects we can tell whether they are officials or soldiers.

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses has its distinctive characteristics of the times and they are the treasure of the statuary art. They not only glorified the brilliant culture of the Chinese nation, but also added a glorious page to the art history of the world.

It also provided a wealth of materials for people to study the military, culture and economy of the Qin Dynasty. The excavation of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses is known as one of the greatest discoveries of the archaeological history in the twentieth century.

Country or City? Either One Suits me Fine

I grew up in a small, rural village in eastern Nova Scotia on the small island of Cape Breton.  Lingan has all the makings of a country paradise complete with deep forest, sprawling coastline, large yards and a wharf with some fishing boats and colorful shacks overlooking a scenic bay.  With this picture in mind, you may be saying to yourself “now she must be a typical small-town country girl”.  And, in some ways, you are right.

I spent the first 19 years of my life in that picturesque little village.  I had the best childhood anyone could ask for.  My city friends would become jealous when they heard about my adventures in the country.  Summer days spent swimming at the beach or fishing off the wharfs.  Summer nights spent playing spotlight with endless possibilities for hiding places or roasting marshmallows over an open fire near the shore.  Winter was just as fun with days spent building snow forts in the woods, skating on the pond or sledding down the apple orchard.  Growing up in the country certainly had it’s advantages and I couldn’t imagine having any other kind of childhood. 

As I got older, the country life started to bore me and I longed for adventure in the big cities.  When I moved away from my childhood home at the age of 19, I didn’t feel sad.  I was excited.  I headed for a big city and a new, completely different life than the one I was used to.  Homesickness didn’t even set in until much later because I was too busy immersing myself in my new city life, meeting new people and doing new and exciting things.

I adjusted well to the big city and was having so much fun in my new surroundings that I hardly gave my old country life a second thought.  I immersed myself in the George St. bar scene, hung out in artsy coffee shops and learned the ropes of public transportation.  Having lived in the country all my life meant my family had a car to get around because there are no buses in the country!  In the city, many people don't own cars because it's more convenient and cheaper to take the bus and my first bus ride was quite embarrassing; I didn’t know how to make it stop at my stop so I just yelled to the bus driver to stop when he passed it!  It wasn’t until after I observed other commuters pulling the rope above the windows that I realized this was what made the bus stop on command!

Over the next ten years, I grew accustomed to city life and almost forgot what it was like to be a country girl.  When I returned home for a visit, my friends and family commented on how I changed.  They thought I dressed differently, talked differently and even developed a bit of an attitude!  My interests certainly changed.  My old friends who still lived in Cape Breton still spend weekends hanging out in the same places we hung around in high school.  I wanted more excitement and variety but they were content in just doing the same ol’ thing. 

During the last two years of my life in the city, things started to change. The party scene got old, the city streets were suddenly too loud, my neighbors were too close (literally – I lived in a townhouse that was a part of a long row of attached houses) and I started to long for my childhood home in the country.
In 2011, after being laid off from my job among other things, I decided a change of scenery might do me good.  I love St. John’s but, ultimately, I decided to head home for a while.  I was excited at the prospect of going home to spend time with my family while I figured out what the next big step in my life would be.  But, as the day of my departure loomed closer, I started to have second thoughts.  I was used to living in the city with everything at my fingertips.  It was familiar and it was the life I had become accustomed to.  I didn't think I would remember how to be a country girl.

In January of 2011, I boarded a bus to Port Aux Basques where I caught a ferry that was headed for Cape Breton and to the next chapter in my life.  Even though I grew up there, I knew it would be much, much different than I remembered it as a child.  I had been living as a city girl for my entire adult life up to that point and adjusting to living in a small village proved to be harder than I ever thought it would be.. 

The first couple of weeks were great.  I spent time with my family and got reacquainted with some of my childhood friends.  I went for long drives in the country and watched the sun set at the beach down the road.  I went on long walks in the woods behind my house and watched deer, fox and rabbits roaming about.  Those first just felt like a vacation.  But in reality, the shock of leaving St. John’s behind hadn’t sunk in yet…and when it did, it sunk in good and I became quite the sad wreck.  I missed my lovely downtown, top floor apartment that overlooked The Narrows.  I missed the sights and sounds of the bustling city and the never-ending excitement and endless things to do.  And most importantly, I missed my friends.  It took me a long time to readjust to life in the country.  The quietness, the loneliness, the lack of people, the lack of things to do… it was quite overwhelming!      

I’ve been back in Cape Breton four years now and, although it has been quite the adjustment, I must say, I am enjoying this peaceful, remote little piece of heaven on earth.  Do I miss the city life? Sure, from time to time.  But having lived both the rural and urban life, I can most definitely say that I would have no problem adjusting to either in the future.  Both come with their pros...and both come with some cons too.

Some of the pros to living in the city:

Everything is easily accessible.  I didn’t even need a car the entire time I lived in the city.  My work was right across the street, there were coffee shops and restaurants within walking distance, the grocery store was nearby and there were a number of parks right in my neighborhood. 

People are more open-minded.  You can be whoever you want, dress how you want, and believe in what you want without people judging you.  City dwellers are not as conservative in their beliefs and are more accepting of others who are different from them.

Cities don’t sleep.  Stores are open later and there is always something going on somewhere no matter what time of day it is.

Cities are more diverse.  Most cities have a large population of people who come from other areas of the region and even other countries.  Some come for work, others come to further their education and others simply come for a change of scenery.  Whatever the reason, this mixture of people from so many different places results in a very diverse environment of people from different backgrounds.

Everyone minds their own business.  Unlike in the country where everyone knows what you are doing at all times, in the city, no one cares. 

Some of the cons of living in a city

The lack of privacy.  Houses are located close together and there are always people everywhere you go…lots of people.  Even in parks, it's hard to find a quiet to relax.  There are always children, dogs or lonely/over-friendly people who invade your personal space.

The lack of space.  My yard in the city consisted of a concrete stoop in front of the sidewalk large enough for one person to sit on and my neighbors were, quite literally, on top of me.  Parking a car is a chore as everyone on the street fights for the few spots that are available because hardly anyone has driveways.

Sometimes it can feel lonely.  Although you are constantly surrounded by people in the city, it can, surprisingly feel lonely.  In the country, I sometimes find it annoying that everyone always knows where I am or what I'm doing.  I missed that in the city.  There were times I wanted someone to be looking out for me.

The good things are far away...like beaches and remote hiking trails and woodsy areas.  And for a person like me, who loves to escape the hustle and bustle from time to time, not being able to go to those places as often as I wanted to resulted in cabin fever.  Sometimes I felt a little confined by the crowds and busy streets.

Some pros of living in the country

There's lots of space. Large fields, deep forests, long and deserted beaches....the country is full of large, open spaces that provide freedom and privacy.

Beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Of course the sun rises and sets in the city but how can you see anything when you are surrounded by buildings.  And to actually enjoy the peacefulness that should come with watching a sunrise or sunset?  Forget about that in the city too because it's hard to find any peace and quiet with the constant sound of traffic!  In the country, sunrises are worth getting up for and sunsets are worth dropping everything for.

Peace and quiet.  Traffic is light, people are relaxed, houses are far apart, parks and beaches are almost vacant...need I say more?

Familiar faces. Everyone knows everyone in the country and someone always has your back.  In the city, I've literally gone days without seeing a familiar face.  In the country, everyone is a familiar face.

Driving is actually fun.  When I lived in the city, I dreaded commuting by car so much that I didn't even own one for almost ten years.  In the country, you pretty much need a car to get around but driving is enjoyable and even relaxing when you have the whole road to yourself! 

Some Cons of living in the Country

Lack of privacy.  In the country, everyone knows one another and that means that everyone knows everything about you and what you are doing at any given moment.  There is always someone trying to dish out information on you for their next gossip fest at the local Bingo hall.

Long commutes.  While traffic is light in the country, commutes to the grocery store, work or anywhere else can be quite long depending on how far away you live from the nearest town.

Lack of social activities.  Living in the country certainly allows one to spend some quality time alone but when loneliness sets in, it can be hard to meet to new people and social events are not as common as they are in the bigger centres.

I am still not really sure where I fit in most.  I do miss the city but I've gotten used to being in the middle of nowhere again and I really like it.  I think young people should spend some time in the city when they first start out but there is nothing wrong with going back to your roots.  Will I ever live in a city again?  It's hard to say.  I may have to for work purposes or I may just want a change of scenery in the future.  I feel I can adjust to any living arrangements at this point.  When I first switched from country to city and city back to country, it was hard to adjust but now I am an ol' pro.  I was born a country girl but spent most of my adult life in the city and now I am back in the country so I don't really know what you would call me!

Friday, May 15, 2015

GUEST POST - Broadening Your Horizons In Melbourne – Between April and June 2015

Have you considered Melbourne as your next holiday destination? No? Well read on, we have a few things that may well change your mind…Australia isn’t all spiders and snakes you know!

In fact, in recent years, Melbourne has become a cosmopolitan hub boasting culture and a range of things to stretch your body and mind – no matter what your tastes.

In the next few months alone there are several really exciting fixtures appearing on Melbourne’s social calendar…yes you’ve guessed it, read on:

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs from March 25th to April 19th and as it embarks on its29th year it has become an established addition to the local diary. It has also earned its stripes on the global stage - right alongside fellow comedy titans Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival.The program is eclectic and consists of everything from stand-up comedy, to street performance, to visual arts…one not to be missed!

Design Week (May 11th – 18th) is a celebration of design from home and abroad.An internationally respected event, Design Week is a platform in which members of the global community showcase the numerous benefits afforded by innovative thinking – both for individuals and the economy.If forward thinking excites you, you will really enjoy this programs.

The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival runs from May 7th to May 21st. As one of Melbourne’s leading not-for-profit organizations the jewel in the crown of its event calendar is the annual film and arts festival. The festival takes a topic that often gets overlooked by the masses and makes it entertaining through employing accessible mediums that resonate with the every-day-man. Whether you are a fan of art or an advocate for social change this is a real treat.

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival takes place between the 28th of May and the 7th of June and is an annual, world-class jazz festival.Jazz invades the city in this vibrant festival with programs that appeal to all the family. The ambition of this festival is to become one of the number one international jazz events and by all accounts it is well on its way to realizing this ambition.

The Good Food & Wine Convention will be tickling taste buds between the 5th and the 8th of June and will be pooling all of the country’s best food and drink exports so that they are all in one place, for your delectation. There will be a wealth of things for you to sample – some old favorites and some things you have never heard of before (but wish you had!) Celebrity chefs will be on hand to show you how to re-create their masterpieces in the comfort of your own home (we cannot guarantee the cast from Masterchef Australia but it is a possibility). Whether a seasoned foodie or a novice keen to learn more you need to make a beeline for this event.

One of the top reasons for booking a holiday is to recharge your batteries – if that is your motivation the Mind, Body and Spirit Festival (5th – 8thJune) could be the very thing! Here you will be able to learn about, sample and buy a vast range of natural therapies and remedies for some of life’s trials and tribulations.

So, how are you feeling about Melbourne now? Ready to experience its many festivities? We thought so…. what are you waiting for? After all it’s just a case of looking at flights from London to Melbourne(link: http://flights.etihad.com/en-gb/flights-from-london-to-melbourne) and taking the plunge, if you don’t book you will never go (wise words I know).

GUEST POST - The Ultimate Luxury Holiday

I love travel. I love seeing new places and experiencing new things, that’s why I spend my quiet hours at home scouting new destinations on the Internet and sketching out an itinerary of things to do when I get there. So it may surprise you to hear that I plan not to travel for a while as I plan to do some serious saving up, for my next trip, which will be the thing dreams are made of.

Sorry for going all Shakespeare but, for me, my next trip will be a massive undertaking worthy of any of the “Great Bard’s” protagonists, as I plan to go on the greatest luxury trip I can imagine. Okay, that may not sound like a chore to you but I am a man that prides myself on his backpacking credentials, my normal trip has been hitting hostels and experiencing the local culture to the full. Not to say that it hasn’t been a great way to travel and explore, for the most part, it has, however, I’ve yet to experience the life of a true jetsetter.

Maybe it’s my ever-increasing age making me less suited to the hustle and bustle of backpacking or maybe it’s the idea that holidays should be a reward for the long hours you spend at work to earn that pay cheque. Whatever the case, I feel that it’s about time that I indulge myself, so here’s my guide to the perfect opulent vacation, which I’ll be attempting, hopefully some time very soon:

The destination maybe the ultimate goal, but to me, how I arrive is of equal importance. Riding coach just won’t do and quite frankly neither will first class. For, you see, in the world of air travel, there is a class even higher than first and that is “residence class”, according to Etihad Airways anyway. Instead of a mere seat, residence travelers are treated to a lavish suite with a double bed and en suite bathroom. Moreover, each resident is afforded a butler trained at the savoy that caters to their every whim as well as a classically trained chef that can create a custom menu for those with a demanding pallet.

As you can tell by my sub heading, I plan to make this a multi-destination trip, after all, variety is the spice of life! That being said where will I begin my holiday? Paris, Rome, maybe New York? No, I’ll begin my journey in the modern home of extravagance…

UAE: Taking the residence flight from London to Abu Dhabi (link: flights.etihad.com/en/) is the most fitting way to start. This city has gradually built itself a reputation of being the premier destination for the wealthy. Most of its grandiose architecture is a testament to its economic might, boasting artificial islands that were constructed with the explicit purpose of housing its wealthiest residents and visitors. Whilst I am in the UAE I will also visit Dubai (of course). One of these man-made archipelagos off the Persian Gulf will provide accommodation during my time in the UAE metropolis. Frontrunner being The World, a group of islands shaped like a map of the globe, I quite like the idea owning a miniature British isles – a decadent home away from home. I’ll be spending my days shopping at the most decadent stores housed within the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall. After my urban adventure, I think I’ll decompress on a serene beach in the…

Maldives: I used to watch travel shows religiously as a child. I was captivated by the exoticism of the foreign and picturesque locales that drove home the mundane nature of my native environment. Non more so than the Maldives, a paradise in the middle of the Indian Ocean, so it’s no surprise that my ideal luxury jaunt across the globe would have a stop there. The Maldives is home to some of the plushest resorts in the world. With each high-end resort sitting in its own shallow lagoon populated by coral, I can’t make a wrong decision. However, if I’m forced to make a choice it’ll be the Ocean Haven suite at the W Maldives & Spa. A two bedroom villa situated in a private lagoon (perfect for some private scuba), it has all the modern amenities and yet retains that all too essential island charm. After getting my fill of sun I’ll head to my final stop on the trip…

London: Okay this may seem like cheating since I’ll be essentially be coming back home (capital boy born and raised) but after the paradise I’d have just experienced I’m expecting a need to re-acclimatise. That being said London is no slouch when it comes to providing a luxury experience. The city is home to the world famous Dorchester Hotel; this sumptuous accommodation has hosted generations of royalty, political leaders and celebrities. It also boasts the only 3 Michelinstar restaurant in the UK, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, providing the perfect staycation after my vacation.

This is the type of holiday most people dream of and very few experience, but in all honesty, isn’t that what a holiday should be in modern times? A rare experience that can be cherished for years to come! So why don’t you start planning your ultimate luxury trip?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Up-to-date Travel Deals for Spring

Well, now that the peak Spring Break season is behind us, it's time for those of us who couldn't get away (or couldn't afford the steeper Spring Break prices) to take advantage of the upcoming off-season for many places around the world and the lowest prices of the year! Sure, there is always a risk of a bit of rain but who cares if you are getting a good deal and getting away from home. I traveled to the Caribbean and to Central America 3 times during the rainy season and it was sunny 95% of the time on every trip! But dropping prices for beach destinations is not the only good thing about spring; places you would never think of traveling to in the winter are now gearing up for the start of their peak season!
This is what the weather looked like most of the time during my rainy-season trip to Mexico. This was taken at Playa Santa Fe in Tulum.

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