Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Best of the 40th Edition of Ski and Snowboard Show in London from Monarch Airlines


http://blog.monarch.co.uk/the-best-of-the-london-ski-snowboard-show/


The winter is here. That means, no more fooling around in the beach but staying home next to the fireplace. Well, it sounds great but only if you don’t like ski! If you find skiing pleasurable, then probably you didn’t miss London Ski & Snowboard Show that was organized last month.

More than 250 brands exhibited their latest products while free ski and snowboard lessons were supposed to introduce amateurs into the delights of these two winter sports. It seems that the latest trend on skiing is off-piste ski. Ski aficionados are searching more for unpredictable terrains that can increase the levels of excitement.

Monarch Airlines gives us an account on what happened at this prestigious event. Read more.



Wednesday, 23 October 2013

St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland and in Tenerife

Scotland Fireworks at St. Andrew's Day,  Edinburgh.
credit: Grant Ritchie
 For as long as we inhabit this planet, we will always search for reasons to celebrate. Annual celebrations with historical and cultural significance in particular aim to strengthen community bonds and to preserve the collective memory and identity alive. Every nation, every culture, every group of people in this world maintain its cohesion by celebrations, specific events or even… myths! The creation of myths is necessary for writing of the history of any nation and group of people. Sometimes, it’s hard to separate myth from reality when it comes to celebrations of historical events; this is what makes people united and proud, though. 
Celebrations that bear a religious character are very significant even today, when religions aren’t as important for societies as they used to be in the old days. St. Andrew’s Day is one of these celebrations that look towards a glorified past and, at the same time, point out towards the future: Scotland will remain Scottish as long as in this particular day of the year its people will feel proud and connected with their particular history.

Scottish Flag in Scottish Skies, St. Andrew's Day
credit: Stewart White
St. Andrew’s Day is such a big day for Scotland because St. Andrew is actually the patron saint of the country. Every year, millions of Scottish take the flag of their proud country and celebrate in the streets and elsewhere what they feel it is a day for unity. St. Andrew never set foot in Scotland, but that’s somehow another story that we will leave for the historians to debunk! What’s of importance to us is that the celebration of St. Andrew takes place in Scotland since the 11th century, in one form or the other. Recently, in 2006, St. Andrew’s Day was declared a public holiday.

St. Andrews Cathedral, Scotland
credit: Daniel Peckham
The importance of St. Andrew’s Day is even greater in a Scot’s calendar, as the 30th of November is usually chosen as a day when important government announcements are made concerning the country’s future. In that sense, past, present and future are intertwined and combine each other.
It goes without a saying that the week around the 30th of November is an ideal time to visit Scotland. However, and in case you search for something more playful and warmer, why not visit Tenerife? In Tenerife they also celebrate St. Andrew’s Day in what it is to be a slightly different experience, though.


The fiesta of St. Andrew takes place mostly in the night before the 30th of November in the north of this magnificent Spanish island. In Puerto de la Cruz, which is located in the less touristic part of Tenerife, people flood the streets around midnight, ready for yet another Spanish fiesta. Little kids enjoy the freedom of the day that allows them to tie metallic objects in the back of parked cars; at the same time, adults taste the first wine of the year!
During the night of the 29th of November, wine producers from around the island bring their new wines for the people to taste along with delicious roasted chestnuts. The smell of roasted castañas will make you thirsty for more wine, just mind not to spoil your night by having too many of those glasses!

Autumn in Tenerife
photo: Zú Sánchez
Spanish are very well known for their fiestas that always tend to reveal their lightness and the playfulness of whomever is to join them at their parties. And the passionate Spaniards will never miss yet another chance for having fun! Of course, in Scotland the meaning of St. Andrew’s Days weights heavier, as we’ve already depicted: we’re dealing with Scotland’s patron saint and its national day, aiming to bring Scots together, to remind them of the glory of the country’s past. However, the Spanish fiesta and the chestnut with wine are not to be disregarded either!
It depends of your mood, after all! If you choose Tenerife for this year’s St. Andrew’s Day you will have a great chance to enjoy the sunshine and have some good old fun and, nevertheless, some brand new wine! However, in case you decide that Scotland is the best choice for you, then don’t forget bringing Scotland’s flag with you! And an umbrella! Whatever you’ll decide for, don’t hesitate to enjoy! Cheers!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Singing in The ... Shower: 5 Great Songs to Make Your Day!


Fabio Armiliato - To Rome With Love, Woody Allen
Remember the all-time classic American musical Singin' in The Rain, from 1952 starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds? It is one of the best musicals ever made. But don't bother if you do not remember the musical, this is not the point. For sure you know the melody of the song... it goes like “Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo-doo...I'm singing in the rain, Just singing in the rain/ What a glorious feelin'. I'm happy again” ... and it goes on! It makes one happy even about the sometimes inglorious feeling of singing in the rain, when it happens to rain for real and not in the movies, when it just happens to always rain on you, uncontrollably.
               
But what about singing in the shower? What about that glorious feeling? Aren't we happy again when we get under the splash of water, clean away the dirt of a day out working, walking, sweating or, why not, singing in the rain ... there is nothing like a good old shower accompanied by the best practice for an indeed happy and ... musical life, which is: singing in the shower.

Here is a compiled list of the best songs to accompany you during your shower experience, making your everyday life better due to the melody, to the message and due to the process itself. After all, it is all about having fun! Whether you are the happy owner or user of one of those truly modern and even futuristic models of Mira showers or you are still having your showers in the barrel just like in the old days, your life will certainly improve by trying out the following tunes (if you haven't done so already!), which will put that big smile on your face and give you a kick forward!

1.                  Daft Punk – Get Lucky!



"We're up all night to the sun,
We're up all night to get some.
We're up all night for good fun,
We're up all night to get lucky."

Regardless of the moment of the day, this song is going to put you in a good mood ... for partying and having fun. I would especially recommend to keep the tune for the weekends. The side effect of singing it is that you are going to feel as if in the bar or the club already while under the shower still. Next step that will come naturally to you will be to go out there, dancing and flirting. 'Get lucky' puts you in the mood for cocktails or dancing in the sand like no other song.
Or maybe, there might be just another oldie, but goldie, that could give a similar effect...

2.                  The Andrews Sisters – Run and Coca Cola



This song makes me feel just as if I am already by the beach sitting at the bar in Hawaii. And when you think of it, it fits perfectly well the setting: being sung under the shower. You can close your eyes and be transposed by ways of imagination directly in Hawaii. Enjoy!

3.                  Julian Cope – Greatness and Perfection of Love



Still, there is nothing like ... "The greatness and perfection of Love Love Love". What better message of a song to start your day with!? "Take your place and take your time and that's what matters" – some wonderful lyrics that, if sung every morning under the shower just like a mantra, might even turn you into an even lovelier or lovable human being! Why not!?

4.                  Herman's Hermits – No Milk Today



Still, there is an old proverb saying that love first passes through the stomach. And, since it all comes to that, it all comes to ... milk. The perfect way to cheer up in the morning in case you wake up alone, aside from having ran out of milk already, is to sing this wonderfully melodious song, while even taking your shower cold. Sometimes, humor is the best way of coping with realities...

5.                  The Beta Band – Dry the rain



"I will be alright, I will be ok .. Lalalalalal lalalalala" – this is what I usually like to sing under the shower, especially on rainy days. Since I personally like summer and all that sunshine, I'd rather think of something more positive than even singing in the rain, which in my case is to ... Dry the rain! I will be alright, I will be ok ... lalalalal lalalalalalal.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Greece, Cyprus, Turkey –The Perfect Summer Fun Destinations


There is no bigger punishment for one than that one of finding oneself in the big city during the hot summer month of August. The city seems just like a prison for the free spirit that might feel like wondering around or flipping and flopping in the Mediterranean sun. In case you feel somehow punished and kept prisoner in the big city, then it is time for you to fly away. And what better destination for a summer escape and for unleashing your senses than the Mediterranean? And the choices you have come in plenty!

Santorini, Greece
Credit:  Jeka World Photography on Flickr
 
Corfu, Greece
Credit:"DirkVandeVelde trying to catch up" on Flickr


Lefkada
Credit:  Rick Muusers on Flickr
 
Kefallonia
Credit : elsa11 on Flickr

Ithaca
Credit:   matt.hintsa on Flickr

First, there are the Greek islands. Whether you choose one of the refreshing and green Ionian Islands (Zante, Lefkas, Corfu, Kefallonia or even Ithaca) or the whiter than white Aegean Islands, you will not be disappointed. Zante is worldwide famous for its Navagio and for the Caretta Caretta turtles, usually spotted in Laganas. But if you go to Laganas, you will also be impressed by the party spirit of the place and its youthfulness – perfect for a summer getaway! Lefkas has perfect beaches, such as the world class Porto Katsiki, with its perfect stripe of white sand lying by the impressive cliff and the turquoise waters. Vasiliki is the ideal place for wind surfers. As for the gourmands, I'd recommend a visit to the village of Agios Petros just five kilometers away from Vasiliki; there is the perfect tavern awaiting there with the most awesome food and it is called Balkonaki. Enjoy the flavors! If you are in for an even larger dose of natural beauty and sandy beaches in all colors – including red sand! - then Kefallonia is the place! Fiskardo and Assos are places not to be missed for those who want to go wine and dine by the Mediterranean Sea. For the more sophisticated, there is Corfu with its cultured beauties awaiting for be admired and cherished, aside from the regular sun & fun that is by default included in the package. As for those of you who are into the most refined whiter than white experiences, there are the Aegean islands standing as the epitome of an ideal summer experience. For those who enjoy partying and socializing at maximum, there is Mykonos. As for the romantics, they will always have Santorini, with the most impressive sunsets and most gentle waters!

Ancient kourion, Cyprus
Credit : Ru Lochleaon Flickr
Aphrodite's Rocks, Paphos
Credit: ProPhoto.com.cy on Flickr
Sea Caves of Ayia Napa
Credit: KOSTAS GEORGIOU on Flickr

Another summer paradise lying right next to the Greek islands on the map is Cyprus. The wonderful Cyprus is easy to reach at anytime and from anywhere due to the affordable flights that take you there swiftly. The beauty and diversity of the island does not stop surprising its visitors. No wonder its waters are the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Ancient Greek goddess of beauty and love! These are among the best waters around the Mediterranean. Paphos is the place that manages to bring together myth and contemporary fun, as it is considered the exact birth place of Aphrodite. Whomever is on a quest for love and beauty won't regret going to Paphos. As for all that Dionysian summer fun, well... that's to be found at Ayia Napa, which has in store a real bacchanal of the sense, Ayia Napa is one of those places that can equal Ibiza or Mykonos when it comes to summer fun and partying on the beach – all day and all night! So, what are you waiting for! The party has already started! You cannot miss all that fun!
Olympos Turkey
Credit:  Laine Markus on Flickr
The Blue Lagoon
Credit:  artemisia_martin on Flickr


Antalya, Castle
Credit: Annette Elisabeth Rudolph on Flickr

Nevertheless, if that sort of laid back attitude got deeply into you and you already do not feel like moving a finger during your summer holidays, then I could only recommend you the Turkish Riviera. Antalya is worldwide famous by now not only for its natural beauty and the coastlines blessed with the clear waters of the Mediterranean, but also for the perfect all-inclusive services. If you just want to get out of the city walls and find yourself on the perfect beach and on the perfect beach bed, drinking the perfect cocktails and indulging in all that perfect food that comes in plenty, then the Turkish Riviera is definitely what you are searching for. And if you somehow feel adventurous, you can simply rent a gullet and go explore the coastline, swim wherever you feel like and indulge. What is for certain is that even on the gullet you will be surprised by the same high quality of the services offered. Turkey is already famous for spoiling its visitors with everything: it's the all-time all-inclusive heaven!

So, what are you waiting for!? Summer is not waiting for longer! It's August and now's the time for summer fun! Whether it's Greece, Cyprus or the Turkish Riviera, you will not regret it! Have fun!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Lord of the Rings: the Legend Lives on

The Lord of the Rings is possibly one of the greatest stories ever told and this is not simply my personal opinion. Almost everyone seems to be in agreement over this: experts, the public and even… history have adequately proved that the epic story of life and war in the Middle Earth is of unique beauty; its charms and its depth have won over the respect and the admiration of most of us and have proven resistant to the test of time.

Lord of The Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien, the writer of Hobbit and the three books that complete the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, is today considered to be a genius, a writer that managed to speak about the serious matters of his times through the creation of a fantasy world that, in some ways and metaphorically speaking, resemble ours. To put it differently, we might not be living among hobbits and elves, and thankfully there are no orcs or Uruk-hai around neither, however, basic elements of human life just like death, war, greed, ambition and most of all friendship are incorporated in Tolkien’s unique literary universe. We might all hide a little Hobbit (which reflects our kindness) inside us and, unfortunately for all of us, some people do resemble to orcs in terms of their nastiness and potentially destructive behavior.  

Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, Book Covers
Our generation came in contact with the legendary tales of the Hobbits and men through the movies of Peter Jackson that managed to transfer the magic to the big screen for the first time with the success that the books always deserved. That said, even after you watch the movies, reading the books is still highly recommended. Only by reading Tolkien’s books one can get fully acquainted with his mysterious world; only in there you will be able to grasp his visionary imaginary world at its full glory.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to underestimate the power of the moving image, not at all! I myself have watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy multiple times and of course I didn’t feel like waiting not even for a day when the fourth installment of this epic story came to our screens last Christmas. At this point, I do want to state that the last movie, Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (which actually narrates the story before the time the fellowship of the ring joined forces in order to save Middle Earth from the almighty evil of Sauron), even if  exciting, it did feel that it was slightly less impressive than the first three movies. This is what I felt when I saw the film a few months ago, but something tells me that this could potentially change in the near future and after I will have the chance to watch the movie again… and again… and again!

Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
What is more, with the second movie of the new Hobbit trilogy coming next Christmas, one must admittedly be patient a little bit. Nevertheless, there is a way out of the stress of waiting till this moment comes: one can head to New Zealand where all of Jackson’s films were shot! By booking early your GoSeeDo Attraction tickets you will have the chance to take the Middle Earth Filming Locations Tour and live the legend! As a big fan of Tolkien’s stories as you probably are, a guided tour will help you bring in mind all of the glorious battles you watched on the big screen as you will explore the beautiful Wellington region.
 
The Hobbit Holes. Photograph:
The Hobbit Holes. Photograph:

A 13m-long sculpture of Gollum diving to catch a fish awaits passengers at Wellington airport. Photograph:
A sheep farm near Matamata, doubles as the Shire in both The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogy. Photograph:
There might be numerous regions in this world that get to be perceived and described as paradises. For Americans, for example, Hawaii is the paradise, while for some North Europeans the Greek Islands of Cyclades are those lands that resemble the most to an earthy Garden of Eden. What is for sure, though, is that in the case of New Zealand most of us would agree that we’re dealing with a geographical region that is unique and renowned for its wild natural beauty. Its attributes and characteristics can only bring in mind a place that doesn’t belong to this earth, but to a rather imaginary paradise, where souls meet in the afterlife for a bit of relaxation.

What is more is that there is also a second choice for the Lord of the Rings fans and New Zealand aficionados. If you choose the Palliser Bay Seals and Lord of the Rings Sites Day, you will once again visit places like the Great River Anduin, Riverndell and Helms Deep. However, this time you will also enjoy a visit to a huge fur seal colony located at the Cape Palliser Bay. Let me put it this way: fur seals are much better than orcs, don’t you think!?
 Rangitikei River Bend in New Zealand, used as River Anduin in LOTR
Kaitoke Regional Park in New Zealand, used as Riverndell in LOTR,
Angitata River valley used for Helms Deep in LOTR


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

What to expect while driving around the globe



For some, cars might seem to be a relatively recent invention, as the year of birth of the automobile dates back to only 1886 (the end of the 19th century, that is). Comapred to the infinity of centuries going back in human history, 1886 makes for a quite recent date, being very close to nowadays. Still, cars feel so much part of our everyday realities that it somehow feels that they have been here, among humans and for humans, since times immemorial. But when I say "our" everyday realities I have to be specific and stress out that I am particularly refering to Western societies, defined by values which promote democracy, equity and equality of rights, personal, social and political freedoms and the like.

Western societies, though, are not the only societies existing in the wide world we live in. And, even though the planet is round, I won't pretend that just because of that I cannot see through to the other side of it. On the contrary, I insist on stretching my neck to take a look at what is the case with cars and car-related issues in other parts of the globe as well. Let's take China, for a start.

China

Did you know that, as a non-Chinese, you cannnot actually drive around China, even if you have the International Driver's License? Well, yes, it is true; unfortunately, China did not book for that. However, if you happen to go by plane to China and land in one of its major cities, you might want to convert your International Driver's Permit into a Chinese permit at the especially assigned counters in the airport. This is the only chance you've got! Otherwise, I guess you will just have to pass the Chinese examination for a Chinese driver's licence and I wish you good luck with it!

Central Ningbo -
Immediately after, you might also need to forget any driving rule you might have known, as there will be no other way for you to adapt to the Chinese traffic otherwise. Maybe just because of that, taking the car in China might prove to be dangerous, especially if not adapted to the chaos. There are twice as many car accidents happening in China annually compared to the United States, even though the numbers of cars registered in the US are four times more than those registered in the whole China. Interesting numbers! Not to mention that most of the car accidents happening in China prove to be fatal in too many instances. So, if you are in for some extreme adventure and for that drive on the 'wild side', just try out driving in China!

Eastern Europe – Romania

However, if China seems too far away, but you are still into a drive on the wild side, why not take a car tour of countries that used to belong to the former Eastern European block? You might be impressed with the number of very expensive and truly luxurious cars that you might be faced with in these parts of the world. It so many times happens to get surprised when over there!

Transfăgărășan Highway, Romania
Romania is famous for the very expensive cars that one might get to see on the roads, but also for the ... unfinished highway leading to the West – or linking the Central-West to its more Eastern paths. So, if coming from the west, pay attention to this uniquosity and avoid the road that leads to nowhere. As funny as it might seem, I think that it might get less amusing if you find out, for instance, that the AA breakdown cover will be of no use in these "off the beaten track" situations - literally speaking! Good luck with it!

Africa


Cars are also present in Africa, even though to a much lesser extent than in other parts of the world. Safari in Africa sounds very posh to anyone's ears, as it stands for a very exquisite treat that one might offer to him/herself, don't you think? Maybe because for a safari in Africa you need a car and cars are rather scarce on the African continent. You will find the rather practical cars, well equipped with a very strong engine to take you out of troybling roads – as a paved road is hard to find on the Black continent – that's a fact!

Saudi Arabia



Last, but not least, in case you go to Saudi Arabia, well ... you will be seeing cars. But the cars will only be driven by ... men. Saudi Arabia is one of those cases of striking discrimination when it comes to gender issues that could drive any European nuts. Over there, only the boy can play with his toy – namely, the car – and women are left outside of it. Maybe that is why the roads are also unsafe, as the drivers tend to onfenly get agressive.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the car ride around some of the places you could visit around the world. I also conclude that, even though it might come natural to many of us to drive a car, it seems that the car is, indeed, a rather recent invention and it still has a long way to go. Maybe not for us – those offspring of Western societies -, but certainly for those born non-Western.