29 November 2013

Cliff and Scuba Diving in Cyprus

In the subtropical climate of the Mediterranean is the beautiful island of Cyprus where mild winters turn into warm to hot summers. Believed to be the seat of civilization the Greek isle of Cyprus is the home to breathtaking vistas with up to 13 hours of sunshine in the July. On shore, in the mountains, or under the sea, there is always a new world to discover where east meets west.

Scuba Diving
Cyprus has one of the longest diving seasons in the Mediterranean with sea temperatures that range from 27°C (80.6° F) to 16° F (60.8°F)The waters are perfect for both cliff and scuba diving.  For the scuba enthusiasts, the clarity of the water will entice you to explore the underwater coastal reefs that blossom with an ample variety of colorful fish, sponges, coral, sea anemones, octopus, mussels, and sea urchins. You might even spot a sea turtle or two due to the conservation efforts in the area. 

There are multiple underwater caves and tunnels calling out to be explored. If it is the local marine life you are longing to explore start with the Akrotiri Fish Reserve Diving Site. You will need open water (OW) qualification to interact with all the local marine life that starts at about 9 meters down. You will be able to hand feed grouper, moray eels, bream and bass. Visibility is reported as great as 30 meters. After you explore the fish reserve stop by the Three Stars Wreck. This is a site that dates back to a 1972 fire at sea that requires and OW qualification. You will enjoy the partially submerged wreck in the Akotori area. There are many levels to this wreck and all area are safe to enter. Don't pass this opportunity up.

If the adventure of wreck diving is more along the excitement you are looking for the Zenobia Wreck Diving Site, Green Bay Diving Site, and The Three Stars Wreck are all awe inspiring sites that await you. Zenobia is just 1.4 kilometers off the coast of Larnaka and will require and advanced open water (AOW) certification. This is often qualified as one of the 10 best wrecks in the world to dive. The Zenobia was a Swedish ferry that sank in 1980 and lies on its port side. The ferry and much of the cargo are still intact where many local fish have made their home.

Green Bay is the home of an ancient wreck that requires and OW qualification and is accessed by land after a drive from a car hire in Cyprus. The dive starts at 12 meters deep with a visibility of 45 meters. If history is your thing, you will be captivated by the dive at Green Bay.

Cliff Diving
It is said that it take a great deal of personal fortitude and psyche to hurl yourself off the cliffs on Cyprus. Some experienced divers who spend their lives learning the ins and outs of the terrain still end up fighting the fear while others go soaring into the sky and then the sea with great abandon. The thrill is unspeakable. There are multiple places around the island to go cliff diving.

Cape Greco and the sea caves are a national forest area that is relatively unspoiled offering untold natural beauty. From the summit you will stare out over the sea while plunging into the warm waters waiting below whether you are diving or jumping. After taking the plunge you can explore the sea caves that stretched from the eastern edge of Ayia Napa up towards Cape Greco National Park.

Green Bay is a good site with cave diving in the Protaras area that is a safe shallow dive (the height not the depth) that is safe for beginners. At Paramount there are two reefs for diving but reef diving is a bit different and should be done with care. Konnos point is one of the most beautiful sites in the Cape Greco area that is suitable for all divers. So you will often see newbies throwing themselves to the waters below next to professionals soaring through the skies to gracefully descend to the waiting seas.

There are many other options for both scuba and cliff diving in Cyprus. This list is not complete by far, so take the time out and explore this ancient magnificent island of secrets and surprises.

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28 November 2013

The Excitement Is Palpable!

2 more days and Konichi wa Nihon Desu! I have been planning this for so long, scrapping it and replanning again only to go somewhere else in the end.  This time, we are heading to Tokyo!

This trip is actually our Christmas gift to our daughter who loves anything Japanese. She's into the manga culture and anime freakdom of the Japanese. She loves drawing anime too so we decided to just take her to the Land of the Rising Sun, sushi, cosplay and tech.

I hope the weather is not rainy as some days will have few showers. I would like to be able to visit Mt. Fuji if the weather permits and also go around the gardens and parks around Tokyo.

So, I will be loading my good camera, charge my batteries and bring extra SD to save all those pictures because I am sure, I'll be clicking constantly.  And I'll post them as soon as I can.

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26 November 2013

Knowing How To Find Beavers Bend Cabins

Photo credit: brokenbowlakecabins.com

Planning your next getaway? If you’re lucky enough to know the top lake cabin retreats, you just have to book accommodations, put in vacation time at work and hit the road. Maybe you want to know how to find Beavers Bend Cabins atBrokenBowLakeCabins.com, though, or you’re wondering how far out of town you can get while still surrounding yourself with a chic rustic setting. Read on to find out the best lake cabin retreats in the country.

1. Love to ski? Head to The Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Plenty of nearby cities have cabin retreats, including Glenwood Springs, Estes Park, Florissant and Aspen.

2. There are few places more peaceful than Pennsylvania Dutch Country in Lancaster County. Shop at Amish markets, wander over covered bridges and stay at a cabin in Mifflintown, Gettysburg, Elizabethtown or Columbia.

3. Stay on the shore in Lake Michigan - there’s plenty of space to choose from, with more than 200 miles of shoreline. Cabins rentals are available in Manistee, Silver Lake, Grand Haven and Frankfort.

4. You can't read a list of great lake cabins without hearing about Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada. Visit this lake any time of the year, but if water activities are your favorite pastime, head there during the summer.

5. The Ozark Mountains in Missouri (simply dubbed “the Ozarks” by area residents) have the best of both worlds: peaceful nature and a happening nightlife. Branson is the most popular place for a cabin rental, but you'll also find accommodations in the Lake of the Ozarks and Table Rock Lake.

6. Hike, spot wildlife, fish and head to the waterfalls when you stay at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Book a cabin in Gatlinburg.

7. Asheville, NC, is considered one of the best places to live, but it’s also an ideal area for a vacation. Between the outdoor activities and the stunning, picturesque views, you'll have plenty to do day in and day out.

8. Love the city but dream of a rustic retreat? Head to Mount Rainier in Washington, which is close enough to Seattle to enjoy the city life for an evening.

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What To Pack For Your Winter Getaway

Photo credit: energiaesociedade.org

The onset of winter is one of my favorite time to travel. The weather is not yet unforgiving and there is still a remnant of the last season's foliage that can be viewed and enjoyed. However, not all places have the same kind of pre-winter. And if you are considering a winter getaway, you have to make sure that you've done your research, you've checked the local weather in that place and other weather forecast to ensure you pack the right stuff.

Important things to pack for your winter getaway are listed below to help you bring the essential ones and not leave you bitter and cold.

Boots with warm lining
This can be a snow boots or an all terrain boots with rubber sole for anti-slip and warm lining to prevent cool draft biting your skin.

Thermal shirts and sweaters
Some places may be ultra cold so be prepared to wear thermal clothing that you can layer because most establishments and public places will have the heater on and you may need to shed of some layers of clothing for that.

A long scarf or shawl
These are good bet for warming your neck and face area. It's a nice addition to insulate you from the cold.

Ear muffs
This can be optional in some places because it may not be as cold as what you imagine. However, there is no harm in packing your ear muffs just in case it gets too cold.

Hat, beanie, umbrella
Yes, anything to cover you head and protect it from the cold. The umbrella will be very useful for some days with rain.

Parka/wind-breaker/Insulated jacket
You can bring any of the above winter garment as long as it will keep you warm and dry.

Medications for cough and cold
Winter is the season of coughs and colds and just be prepared and pack your meds if in case you acquire the sniffles.

Thermal leggings
Carry some lightweight thermal leggings you can wear underneath your jeans or pants for extra warmth and protection from the cold weather.

So, don't be caught unaware. Keep your winter essentials ready for your getaway!

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23 November 2013

48 Hours in Venice: Romantic Options

Photo credit: yahoo images

Known as a jewel of the Adriatic, city breaks don’t come much more romantic than Venice and it’s the perfect place to whisk that special someone away too. There’s romance lurking around every canal and piazza in Italy’s Romance Capital, but with so much to see and do it can be difficult to decide on the best way to spend your time.

From gondolas to operas, make the most of a weekend away in Venice with our guide to the city’s top romantic attractions.

Gondola Rides
Okay so they might be a bit of a tourist trap, but there’s a reason gondolas are such a popular attraction! There’s nothing more romantic than cosying up and enjoying a slow cruise past the city’s famous baroque and Renaissance buildings. The boater hats and striped shirt of the gondoliers are hard to miss, and you can pick up a gondola at either of the city’s main bridges.

Take a Boat Ride
If you can’t get enough of being on the water, take a motorboat across the Venetian lagoon and pay a visit to the nearby unspoilt islands. Burano is famous for its picturesque pastel houses whilst Murano is a shopper’s paradise, offering plenty of places to pick up some bargain lace of colourful glass ornaments.

Watch the Sunset
Watching the sunset is one of the most romantic things to do with your partner, and the end of the day looks pretty spectacular at St Mark’s Square. It’s the perfect way to round off a wander past the Basilica San Marco, the ornate Doge’s Palace and around the quaint streets. Caffè Florian is a great place to enjoy tea on the terrace.

Rialto Market
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Venice, but why not shop like a local and treat that special someone to a home-cooked Italian meal? Named after the nearby Rialto Bridge, this brilliant food market at the front of the city’s oldest church (San Giacomo di Rialto, founded in 421AD) is hugely popular with Venetians and sells everything from fruit, meat and veg to its most famous produce – seafood. There’s plenty on offer to accompany a plate of pasta including baby octopus, soft-shell crabs, giant prawns and fish fresh from the lagoon.

Spend the morning strolling round the market before heading back to your apartment to cook it all up.

Watch an Opera
If all that wasn’t enough to make you book a weekend break at Secretescapes, then this next option certainly will! Venice is famous for its operas, and though La Fenice is the most popular option, a night at the Musica a Palazzo is just as romantic. Performances are much more scaled down and the setting is much more intimate, with candlelight adding to the romantic atmosphere.

See La Traviata and follow the performers from set to set as each act takes place in a different room. It’s sure to be a very special evening!

Explore the Churches
When you’re in Italy a church is never too far away, so take some time to explore some of these beautiful grandiose buildings. St Mark’s Basilica is the obvious choice, but if you don’t fancy braving the queues head to the Santa Maria della Salute. Considered to be one of Italy’s finest churches, this stunning octagonal building is easily accessible from St Mark’s via targhetto – the gondola ferry that will take you across the Grand Canal.

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22 November 2013

What is a Travel Insurance

I came to know about travel insurance when I became a travel agent few years ago. I didn't know that such kind of insurance exists apart from the usual we know like the life, property and health insurances.

What is a travel insurance anyway? A travel insurance is a meant to cover medical, property damage and loss, and financial default from travel suppliers during a travel either within your country or internationally. This can be issued on the time of your travel booking to ensure your safe and hassle free journey.

A travel insurance's normal coverage are the following:

  • Emergency evacuation
  • Medical emergency
  • Return of a minor
  • Trip interruptions like inability of travel supplier to provide for the services when already paid for prior to arrival or weather disturbance
  • Visitor's health insurance
  • Accident
  • Death
  • Disability
  • Repatriation of remains
  • Lost or damage to property

(Reference: Wikipedia)

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21 November 2013

Interest of Planning The Tropical Vacation

Photo credit: yahoo images

Everyone dreams of throwing away their troubles and taking a long, sunny beach vacation, but what if you're ready to take the plunge and make that fantasy a reality? Here are five of the best beaches around the world.

5: El Saler (Spain)

The beach of El Saler stretches for almost two miles around the glory of Valencia, one of Spain's oldest and bustiest cities. It makes for a beautiful getaway and even better memories.

4: Priaia del Fuoco (Italy)

Accessible only by boat, the Priaia del Fuoco is a quiet and private cove where the sands are soft and the surfs break gently on the rocks. If you're looking for a restful trip, or if you're a young honeymooner in search of a romantic beach for two, this is it!

3: Es Trenc (Majorca)

Is there anything more picturesque than green trees and white sand? If you're going to splurge on a tropical vacation, go to Majorca and do it right.

2: Cabo San Lucas (Mexico)

With sun, surf and avid whale watching, Cabo San Lucas is one of Mexico's hottest destinations in both a figurative and literal sense. The good news is that its blazing temperatures are easily offset by its cool, clear waters.

1: Elia Beach (Greece)

A popular, festive coast, Elia Beach is where you'll always find a party. Kick off your shoes and get ready for everything from sand volleyball to drinks around the bonfire!

These are just a few of the best beaches you'll find abroad. If you're interested in planning the tropical vacation of your dreams,
click here to learn more.

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Accommodations in Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan is not one of those places you can bunk easily with comfort for budget travelers unless you don't mind sleeping in a pod or capsule. I tried convincing myself that I could do it but honestly, much as I want to save money on accommodations in Tokyo, I cannot bear myself to sleep in tiny cubes. I will feel claustrophobic.

I have finalized the accommodations in our Tokyo trip. We're staying in 3 hotels in a span of 7 days. The first hotel (Dec. 2-3) is a stones throw away from Tokyo Disneyland. I booked overnight there so we don't have to hassle ourselves catching the subway or metro late at night after our Disney adventure. This hotel is walking distance only and if we need to freshen up, we can always come back later.

The second hotel (Dec. 3-6) is in the heart of Shinjuku. The hotel is attached to the famous Shinjuku station so we won't have any trouble going around Tokyo using the metro. I got a good deal from Hotels.com for this particular hotel and the review from Tripadvisor is also good. So, we'll see about that.

Lastly, from Dec. 6-7, we will move to a fine hotel, 5.5 kilometres from Haneda Airport. It is a beautiful hotel with a good view of the Tokyo Bay and the surrounding areas. It is also accessible to a train station which will easily connect us to the central part of Tokyo for last minute shopping and sightseeing. From this hotel, we will take the metro to Haneda Airport.

I will post reviews and photos of the hotels after the trip.

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20 November 2013

Eyes, Nose and Mouth: Traveler's Tips for Sudden Sand or Dust Storms

Photo credit: yahoo images

Dust storms and sandstorms, which commonly go by the Arabic name "haboobs," are among Nature's most impressive and unnerving phenomena. Under seemingly calm sunny or slate-gray skies, you might look to the horizon to see a veritable wall of tawny shadow. Minutes later, your visibility's down to virtually nothing and there's choking grit everywhere.
These monumental clouds of low, fast-moving particles present real hazards to anyone caught unawares. Even as motorists are slowed or stalled and those inside trapped for the time being, people overtaken outside on foot or bicycle--or who must for an extreme reason venture outdoors--must be equipped to protect themselves.
Haboobs, Related Storms, and the Risks They Pose

Sandstorms and dust storms are most common in certain arid and semi-arid regions such as the Sahara and Arabian deserts, the Australian outback, and the drylands of the American Southwest. Actually, blinding clouds of similar nature may be encountered in other regions, too, as long as there's a lot of barren and exposed sediment--big tracts of plowed ground, say, or a tract of seashore dunes--and the requisite atmospheric conditions. They may be kicked up by the chaotic winds of thunderstorms or the gusts of a big weather front (the volatile boundary of two air masses). In their true desert strongholds, their leading edge can tower 1,000 meters high, and they can motor along at a frightening clip: up to 100 kilometers per hour.
Bits of sand or dirt lodged in your eyes aren't just a sensory annoyance: They can also cause corneal abrasions--scratches to that all-important frontal tissue that facilitates image focusing and protects the eye's interior. Your eyelashes and tears do much to keep out irritants in normal conditions, but the full onslaught of a dust storm is a different story. Meantime such airborne particles, breathed in, can irritate and dry out your nasal passages, throat, and lungs.
In short, a haboob--or one of its little cousins--is not an event to dismiss as an exotic novelty or a sublime expression of earthly forces (although that it is). If you're traveling in country that might generate such a disturbance, you need to be prepared to swiftly protect those moist and sensitive breathing passageways and those delicate ocular nooks.
Protection for the Eyes, Nose, and Mouth

Staying inside is the best means of avoiding the respiratory and ocular complications of a sandstorm. That said, if you must go out in the gritty maelstrom, or if you're caught outdoors by a fast-moving storm, there are a few precautions you can take to lessen the impacts.

If the contact lenses you ordered from Next Day Lenses or some other outfitter become irritated, take them out as soon as you can do so with proper sanitation and care and don a backup pair of eyeglasses. Dampen a bandanna or light cloth and wrap it around your nose and mouth; even better, strap on a facemask or respirator if you have access to one. You can also apply a bit of petroleum jelly to the nostrils to protect them from desiccation. To shield your eyes, meanwhile, wear close-fitting goggles.
Monumental shelves of dust and sand are certainly sights to see, but ideally through the security of a window. Seek adequate shelter immediately if you spot one approaching or are forewarned.

Simon Walters is an experienced traveller. He enjoys taking his adventures and turning them into informative blog posts.

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19 November 2013

Tokyo, Here We Come!

I am shrieking with delight here!!! We finally got our Japanese visas today. It's only single entry for 15 days but who cares! We are full-swing ahead with the family vacation and a Christmas treat for our daughter who has been bugging me for a trip to Japan.

Here you go baby! A week-long family time in Tokyo in a very nice, cold weather... I love!

東京、我々は来ている! (Okay, I got that from the internet Translation! It means, "Tokyo, we are coming!")

Moshi-moshi Tokyo!

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14 November 2013

Hire A Campervan For Your Next Road Trip

The weather is getting colder and in some parts of the country, it is still pleasantly cold so there is still a chance to embark on that much awaited road trip with your family this season.

Engaging in a road trip does not have to be stressful and tiring. There are ways to overcome the stress and if you do not have any campervan and still raring to go, leave it to the experts and hire a campervan or RV for your road trip.

There are numerous sites proliferating the internet that offers packages for hiring a campervan for your holiday trip. One of the best sites out there is MyDriveHoliday.com. You can check out campervan hire from mydriveholiday.com and find the availability of campervan and RV rentals on your preferred travel dates and location. Not only that, mydriveholiday.com also provides you resources on various camping sites, from renting a motor home, find the right caravan parks, attractions, fun activities and more information for your travel in the following countries: New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA.

The site also provides 24/7 customer service so if you need more information or assistance with your booking, you can be assured that someone will be taking your query and provide you the aid and response you need. The customer service does not stop on your booking. If you happen to find your preferred vehicle unavailable, MyDriveHoliday.com will find the best match or provide you the option from their partner suppliers to ensure that you and your family will get that much deserved holiday you have been looking forward to.

Enjoy that road trip and make sure your travel is prepared and organized with the help of MyDriveHoliday.com.

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08 November 2013

The Advantages Of Having A Travel Checklist

If it is your first time to travel, the task of organizing everything can be very daunting. The tendency to forget or miss something is relatively high since you are still learning the ropes of organizing and arranging your own travel requirements.

I have been traveling for as long as I remember. I used to be a travel agent too so I prepare tour packages for my clients as per their preference. I normally do all the planning, cost analysis and comparisons and organizing using a checklist I developed. It's just a simple file where you can write down your travel details, put the costs, add them all up and check the list as you progress with your planning. So far, it has helped me countless of times whenever I need to prepare complicated travel details.

There are advantages of using a checklist when you prepare for your travel requirements. Here they are:

Well organized planning - you won't have any tendency to get overwhelmed as you see the plan in black and white. You get to arrange what is the priority.

Less probability of forgetting/missing out important stuff - arranging a travel itinerary or plan is really overwhelming. There are plenty of things to consider and if you forget one, the whole trip becomes a mess. Having a checklist will help you see your progress and avoid the mishap of missing out the most important details.

Easy to track and gauge your progress - when everything is written down, you have a clearer picture of how your travel planning is going especially with the money matters. When I don't use my checklist, I have the tendency to go overboard by budget because I just mentally calculate. However, seeing the numbers right in front of me puts me in my place and a constant reminder not to spend too much on a hotel accommodation, tour package, and even souvenirs.

Printable and can be filed - if you're like me who at this modern day and time still prefer the conventional way of carrying printed documents then printing your checklist is a good idea. I like to be able to manually check the ones I have finished and carry the checklist with me wherever I go, even at the Consulate where I need to apply for the visa.

I hope you consider using a checklist on your next travel. To make your life easy, I am sharing my checklist with you which you can print or save. You may download the file from my site. Just proceed to the sidebar with the header FREE CHECKLIST.

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07 November 2013

Our Studio Ghibli Vouchers Are Here!

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All's well that ends well! I am happy because the much awaited Studio Ghibli Museum voucher is finally delivered. I got the voucher today via mail at the office and I am certainly squealing in delight!

This voucher is very crucial to our trip to Japan because we really want to visit Studio Ghibli. It is a part of our itinerary simply because my daughter and I are big fans of their movies (eg. Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro) and this will be the highlight to my daughter's exposure to graphic animation - the course she will pursue in college.

Anyways, the crux of the matter is, I have the voucher with me and we will be exchanging this voucher to the ticket outlet there. Studio Ghibli will exchange it to a portion of their movies' reel like a souvenir token.

Oh, I am so excited! I wish it's December 4 already!!!

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03 November 2013

Studio Ghibli Tickets Are On Their Way

Well, this is an update on my recent post about our Studio Ghibli Museum tickets going MIA. After I called the office in UK, I also sent another email reminder to their other office handling the Japanese tours and packages section.

I am quite relieved and surprised to know about the status of our tickets. I am relieved that the tickets was sent last week. And I am surprised to know that they only got my payment details and not the shipping details. I could have sworn that I entered all the required details as the electronic form would now save unless shipping details were provided. No wonder there were no pending tickets in their office because no one had processed my orders!

I am happy that the JTB UK is professional enough to handle my request for immediate dispatch of the tickets. I do hope I receive them on time. I could have asked them to levy my shipping charges for the hassle I have been through but I didn't. I am not that kind of person. However, the tickets better reach Dubai in time for our trip or else...

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01 November 2013

Visiting The Rathaus Glockenspiel In Munich

What is a Glockenspiel, you might ask? It is a famous attraction in the town centre in Munich, Germany. This big clock with chimes tells  several stories of a royal marriage, jousting stories,  and a folk dance called Schäfflertanz (coopers' dance) which all became part of Munich's folklore.  The last to top of the attraction is the chirping of a golden bird which signifies the end of the show.

The Glockenspiel plays every 11 a.m., 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. every day. I'm so happy that my family and I managed to watch the whole performance. It was a good 12-15 minutes show and we all loved it.

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The Rathaus Glockenspiel is in the heart of Marienplatz. It is easily accessible by train via Hauftbahnhof or directly at Marienplatz S-bahn station.

If you are visiting Munich, this place is a must. Do add it in your itinerary.

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