Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category

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EXPERIENCE DAMMAM

Situated on the calm turquoise seas of the Arabian Gulf, Dammam is now Saudi Arabia’s premiere port and a major export hub for petroleum and natural gas. It is also the centre of learning in the kingdom, thanks to the celebrated King Faisal University.

However, There is more to this city than trade, commerce and industrious students. The city offers quite a bit in terms of adventure, such as the thills and spills of desert safaris and dune bashing. Or for a more relaxing time, you can always take wander through the 20-year-old Red sea coral house that has now become the Municipal Museum, where the traditional style rooms are exhibits by themselves.

You can sample the local culture at the lively bazaars , and pick up high quality jewellery at good and affordable prices at the gold souk. Also worth a visit is nearby jubail. Nestled on the arabian Gulf coast, Old Town of Al Jubail, was originally a small fishing village, but after much government investment has now become a commercial hotspot.

EXCURSIONS
Rub Al Khali: Those wanting to push the limits can explore the Rub Al Khali, or the Empty Quater- one of the world’s largest sand deserts. It is a place of harsh extremes that often called the most barren place on earth.

Al Hofuf: The colourful and bustling camel market of hofuf is the perfect place to spend am amusing afternoon. For a unique insight into how the people of the region have lived for centuries, a visit to the nomadic settlements is a must.

A PLACE FOR EVERYONE

The Arab penchant for luxury is particularly pronounced in Saudi Arabia, and Dammam boasts its share of opulent 5-star hotels. Even the 4-star and 3-star establishments are rather well appointed. Service is warm and pleasant all around.

GETTING AROUND

While Dammam takes pride in its four wheel drives, the city has made sure there is no lack of transportation facilities. Buses and service taxis ply to all the popular sites for around the same price, and interstate trains between Dammam and Riyadh run three times a day except on thursdays.

DAMMAM FACTS
Official Currency: Saudi Riyal
Languages: Arabic (officilal), English
Time Zone: GMT/UTC ‘Q’ 3 Hours.
ISD Code: +966
Best Time To Visit: November – February
Visa Information: http://www.sauditourism.com.sa

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General Keep a checklist

  • Make a checklist of what you want to take with you about a week before your vacation to avoid packing in a panic.
  • Keeping a list in your hand luggage, will prove handy, should anything go missing and an insurance claim ensue.

Medication

  • Please carry your medication & all medical details along with a prescription with you, making sure they include:
  • Your Health Insurer’s contact details and your policy number
  • Name and address of contacts in the event of an emergency
  • Your blood type, general medical history, list of any medications you are taking, known allergies, glasses/ contact lens prescription, etc.

Must Haves-Make sure to carry:

  • At least one set of clothes in your hand luggage in case of baggage delay or loss
  • Your sun glasses, scarf, hat/cap, cardigan, camera in your hand luggage if your tour starts on arrival itself
  • A comfortable pair of walking shoes; you may be on your feet for a long time en tour
  • Appropriate swimwear / beachwear for swimming activities. You will not be allowed to enter the pool (at hotels and on cruise) without suitable clothing
  • Your camera, if you are planning on taking photographs on your holiday. Check the batteries and carry spares, since it is often difficult to buy replacements. More importantly, carry a good supply of film rolls, as it can be both expensive and troublesome finding the right film and quality.

Airport: Pre Departure formalities include readying your

  • Passport
  • Air tickets
  • Foreign exchange
  • Airline Bookings

Airport Formalities

  • Report at least 3 hours prior to departure.

Baggage X Ray and Check in Counter

  • All check in baggage must be X – rayed
  • Check in baggage must not exceed 20 Kgs and handbags must not exceed 1 piece (7 kgs)
  • All check in baggage must be locked
  • Do not put any cash/jewelry/expensive items inside the check in baggage
  • Use some form of permanent identification on your check in luggage and also note its make/brand. This is useful at the time of baggage claim and to trace the same in case of any delay/ loss en route
  • Proceed to check in at the airlines counter and hand over your passports and air tickets
  • A baggage identification slip showing the destination of baggage, your boarding card, passport, air ticket & embarkation card will be handed over to you
  • Fill the embarkation card & proceed to the immigration counter

Always keep the following in safe custody:

  • Baggage identification slip
  • Passport
  • Air ticket
  • Boarding card -till the end of the journey
  • Personal Foreign Exchange
  • Immigration
  • Proceed to the Immigration Counter; hand over your passport, air ticket, boarding card & embarkation card to the officer
  • You may be asked about the reason for travel. Furnish the same; in case of any problems contact your SOTC tour manager
  • All documents (except the embarkation card) duly checked and stamped will be returned back to you

Customs

  • Hand over your passport, air ticket & boarding card to the officer. The same will be stamped & returned back to you
  • You are not allowed to carry more than Rs.2000 and US$ 10000 (cash limit US$ 2000) as per the RBI rule
  • Any foreign currency carried along must be endorsed on your passport
  • Value goods like zoom cameras, video cameras, computers, laptops, etc. should also be endorsed on your passport
  • (If you do not endorse these, you will have to pay a customs duty when you return back to India, as the same will be treated as imported items)

Boarding Gate

  • Proceed to the boarding gate as specified on your boarding card where your hand baggage will be X-rayed

On Board

  • On board please be seated as per seats allocated
  • Snacks/ meals will be served as per airlines policy
  • En route, you will be handed a disembarkation card to be filled and kept ready on arrival
  • Airport Formalities on arrival
  • As you leave the aircraft, please ensure you carry along all personal belongings & documents including- passport, air tickets, handbag, wallet, cardigans/ clothing, etc.
  • To use a prepaid Cart (‘trolley’) at certain airports, you will have to insert the required coins in the cart machine and a single cart will be released.

Immigration Counter

  • You may be asked about your itinerary, purpose of visit and place of stay, etc.
  • Hand over your passport, boarding card and disembarkation card (Counterfoil of disembarkation card is a very important document and it is your duty to retain the same till the time you depart from the destination country. You may not be allowed to board your return flight if you lose this counterfoil)

Baggage claim

  • Proceed to the baggage claim area to collect your bags from the baggage belt

Customs

  • Fill out your declaration in advance to speed your customs and immigration clearance. When making your written declaration, you must list all goods accompanying you other than your personal effects, along with their price or value.
  • Prohibited items: In general, you may not carry explosive, corrosive or inflammable products, arms and ammunition in your luggage.
  • Duty-free items: Personal effects intended for your personal use during your trip, and purchases made at airport duty free shops are considered free of duties and taxes.
  • Your Exemptions

Articles brought into the different countries are subject to duty and internal revenue tax unless they are prohibited entry, but as a visitor or nonresident, you are allowed certain exemptions and privileges.

  • Prohibited and Restricted Articles
  • Lottery tickets, narcotics and dangerous drugs, obscene articles and publications, seditious and treasonable materials, hazardous articles switch-blade knives, biological materials, pirated books, video tapes, computer programs or cassettes, artifacts/cultural property, firearms & ammunition, food products, fruits, vegetables, plants, meats, livestock, poultry, hunting trophies
  • For more information please contact the local Embassy.

Hotel

  • Check-in and check-out times are usually 1400hrs and 1200hrs respectively. However, this may be different for some properties.

Rooming

  • Room/s will be assigned to you at the time of check-in and can vary in specifications according to the availability at the time of check-in and at the discretion of the hotel.

Room key

  • Each time you leave the room, please ensure you deposit your room keys at the front desk making it easy for your room mate to access the same
  • It is not advisable to carry the room key outside the hotel; you may be charged (often, a huge sum) if it is misplaced

Security of documents

  • Always keep copies of your passport, air ticket and any important documents securely
  • Responsibility of all your documents lies with you and SOTC will not take any responsibility for the same
  • It is suggested you keep your passport and air ticket safely in your locked bags or you can use a locker at the hotel. Locker facilities are available on request (You may have to pay a deposit to use the facility, the same is refunded on checkout)
  • Hotel address
  • It is advisable to carry a hotel card/ brochure with you; the address mentioned will be helpful to guide you back or if you lose your way.

Room Facilities

  • Coffee/ Tea
  • Some hotels may have in room coffee/ tea making facility (please check with the hotel staff if this service is complimentary)
  • Refrigerator/ Mini Bar
  • Some rooms may have a mini refrigerator or a mini bar stocked with soft and hard beverages or a basket of eatables
  • Please note that these are chargeable of utilized and not included in your tour itinerary package
  • Pay Channel/ Pay T.V.
  • Rooms may also provide subscribed pay channels, the use of which will be charged when you check out

Other Services

  • If you order anything extra like Tea/ coffee, laundry services, liquor, make telephone calls, breakfast in the room, or cause any damages to the room you are staying in, it will be charged to you directly.
  • Breakfast timings at the hotel are generally 7:00am onwards (unless specified otherwise in itinerary) and generally served at the hotel restaurant.

Food General Tips For Europe

  • Vegetarians can safely try the wide variety of continental food available in Europe, that consist of hearty portions of soups, salads, fruits, shakes, juices or drinks. For others, varieties of meat and local cuisine are also recommended.
  • Tap water is generally safe and portable throughout the continent. However, a bottle of mineral water will cost you the same as a bottle of coke i.e. about Euro2. You will often find that beverages (alcoholic/ non-alcoholic) come cheaper.
  • Meals in Europe typically cost about EUR10 – EUR15 if you choose a Mc Donald’s or similar fast food joints. This will buy you a burger, shake or drink.
  • If you opt for a restaurant, an average meal consisting of soup, salad, light main course and a drink will cost you about EUR20 – EUR25.
  • Italian & French cuisine with their variety of pastas and pizzas come inexpensive (EUR10 – EUR15). Pizzas are also served by slice (EUR3 – EUR5), making it a good in between snack.
  • Indian food in London is very easy to find but relatively expensive. A very average meal at a restaurant will cost you about £15 – £20

For Far East & Islands

  • Vegetarians can safely try the wide variety of continental food available, that consist of hearty portions of soups, salads, fruits, shakes, juices or drinks. For others, varieties of meat and local cuisine are also recommended.

For USA

  • Vegetarians can safely try the wide variety of continental food available consisting of hearty portions of soups, salads, fruits, shakes, juices or drinks. For others, varieties of meat and local cuisine are also recommended.
  • Tap water is generally safe and potable throughout the continent. However, a bottle of mineral water will cost you the same as a bottle of coke ie. about $1.5.
  • Meals in US typically cost about $10 – $15 if you choose a Mc Donald’s or similar fast food joints. This will buy you a burger, shake or drink.
  • If you opt for a restaurant, an average meal consisting of soup, salad, light main course and a drink will cost you about $20 – $25.
  • A variety of pastas and pizzas come inexpensive ($8 – $12). Pizzas are also served by slice, making it a good in between snack.

Check out from Hotel

  • After checking out, please clear all personal/ extra bills, if any, at the Front Office.

Tips/ Porterage

  • Porterage is not included at hotels and are not part of any itinerary/package
  • You may have to pay for portage and the tips or any service charges as per local rules or customs at the destination

Cruise Carnival

  • The Hollywood inspired ‘Fascination Fun Ship’ is a modern & luxurious world-class fleet that takes you on your cruise to the Bahamas and other exciting destinations. With plenty of on board and on shore activities, this 5 star floating resort offers you quality service and loads of unimaginable carefree days. You can drink & dine at the restaurant of your choice, there’s on board entertainment, performances, fitness centres, a comprehensive computer learning centre, video games & recreation centre, shopping mall and much more.

Star Cruises

  • Super Star Virgo and Leo are both very modern & luxurious world-class fleets that offer you quality service at the most exotic parts of Asia.

Points to remember Boarding:

  • You must check in at least 1hr/30 min prior to departure.
  • Proper travel documentation is required: Valid Passports and relevant visas are mandatory.
  • Liquor Policy: Guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages of any kind on board. You may purchase the same from any of the ship’s bars and lounges. Alcoholic beverages purchased in the ship’s gift shops or in foreign ports will be retained by cruise authority until the end of the voyage.

Money:

  • Sail & Sign: You may charge most of your on-board purchases to your Sail & Sign account.

Clothing:

  • Casual attire is the best option during the day.
  • For special events like the evening Cocktail and other parties, please carry at least one set of formal attire.
  • The dress code for other evenings ranges from sport coat and tie to casual resort wear.

Shopping & Punctuality:

  • You are advised not to be lured or encouraged by anybody to shop at a particular place
  • Please use your own judgement about price or quality before you buy anything
  • Passengers will be responsible for any services missed out by them due to not following the stated time; this includes meals, transfers, sight seeing, flight, etc.

BEACHES IN LAGOS, NIGERIA

The noisy and heavily populated Lagos, Nigeria‘s former capital and largest city, attracts visitors who like to live on the edge. Lagos has its share of crime, yet visitors still come to the bustling city because of its vibrant nightlife, shopping and nearby beaches. Lagos is home to almost a dozen beaches that offer visitors the chance to soak up the sun and surf along West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea.

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Getting There

Because Lagos is not a primary choice of travelers leaving from the United States, you will find few direct flights from the U.S. to Lagos. Delta Airlines (delta.com) has offered daily service to Lagos from Atlanta since 2007. Expect to connect in London, Paris or Amsterdam if you fly with a European air carrier. You may also find connecting flights from major cities in South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya. Once you arrive in Lagos, you will find that minibuses and bush taxis are plentiful and an inexpensive way to travel to the area’s beaches from your hotel.

Beach Features

The beaches near Lagos all share many of the same features. You will find powdery white sand, swaying palm trees and an overabundance of large waves. Additionally, the beaches remain relatively quiet throughout the year, except on public holidays when many locals head out to enjoy the sun and water. The beaches closest to the city – especially Bar Beach, which is located within the city – may include some interesting characters such as prostitutes and drug dealers. The farther you go from the city, the more secluded the beaches. Lekki Beach, once a favorite tourist spot found a few miles from Lagos, has struggled with continued erosion because of strong tides and the harvesting of sand for construction.

Best Beaches

Two of the most popular beaches near Lagos are Tarkwa Beach and Eleko Beach. Tarkwa Beach is only a few miles from the city and remains relatively secluded. Although Tarkwa Beach is quiet, it offers visitors a wide selection of shops for food and local handicrafts. The man-made beach is sheltered by a harbor, so there is no undertow, making the water safe for swimming. Lighthouse Beach, another secluded beach near Tarkwa, is famous for its namesake lighthouse, which guards Lagos Harbor. Eleko Beach, a 45-minute taxi ride from downtown Lagos, remains a favorite of the locals. The relatively clean stretch of sand is home to a market where you can purchase local art. Bars and restaurants that cater to tourists are plentiful.

Considerations

Traveling to Nigeria is best left to the experienced world traveler. A travel warning issued by the U.S. Department of State in April 2011 warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Nigeria. Political and ethnic conflict within Nigeria has resulted in the kidnappings of more than 140 foreign nationals, some of whom were killed. In parts of Lagos, violence can be rampant, especially during the night. Muggings, carjackings, rapes and kidnappings do occur, so visitors must always be aware of their surroundings during their visit and take great care to stay in the safest areas of the city.

LONDONOne of the world’s most visited cities, London has something for everyone, from history to culture, art, grand museums, dazzling architecture, royalty, diversity and irrepressible pizazz.

More than seven million people, from six continents, are crammed into this heaving metropolis, creating one of the largest cultural mixing pots on earth. This is where the money that drives the British economy is made and spent, where the Queen reigns and parliament governs, and where trends in music, fashion and the arts are made and discarded, sometimes in the space of a single evening.

Ready? Here are ten of the best London experiences.

1. ‘Off with their ‘eads!’
The castle founded by William the Conqueror in 1078 found a new use as a prison. Dozens of heroes and rogues were locked up or beheaded inside the Tower of London, from Sir Thomas More and Sir Walter Raleigh to Guy Fawkes and Ann Boleyn.

Don’t miss the Crown Jewels, perhaps the most ostentatious collection of baubles in existence, or the gruesome armoury of medieval weapons in the White Tower, or the Bloody Tower, which stills contains graffiti scratched into the walls by former prisoners. The cheerful Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters) lead free tours around the castle daily.

2. One powerhouse of architecture…
Thousands pose for photos in front of the Houses of Parliament and their famous clock-tower, Big Ben, named for the giant bell inside. Across St Margaret’s St is Westminster Abbey, where British monarchs have been crowned ever since 1066, and where a dozen former kings and queens are buried. Close by is the famous black door of Number 10 Downing St, occupied by the Prime Minister.

3. …And another architectural masterpiece
Emerging from the ashes of the Great Fire of London and surviving the firestorm of the Blitz during World War II, St Paul’s Cathedral still gleams inside and out. Head straight to the vertiginous Golden Gallery atop St Paul’s famous dome, reached by 530 winding steps. En route, explore the open-air Stone Gallery (378 steps) and the acoustically brilliant Whispering Gallery (259 steps) inside the dome. In the crypt are tombs and memorials to the greatest heroes of the British Empire – Nelson, Wellington and Churchill.

4. Great works of art within a work-of-art
Housed in a stunning conversion of the power station that once supplied the city with electricity, the Tate Modern is the world’s most popular modern art gallery. The focus is on well-known modern names, like Picasso, Mondrian, Pollock, Lichtenstein and Mark Rothko. Stand-out works include Francis Bacon’s Triptych, Max Ernst’s Celebes, Alberto Giacometti’s spindly figurines and the excellent collection of Russian propaganda posters.

5. The green lungs of London
In 1808 the parliamentarian William Windham declared that Hyde Park should be preserved at all costs as the ‘lungs of London’. Good thing, too. Along with London’s other Royal Parks, Hyde Park is a national treasure. Together, these open spaces make London (surprisingly) the greenest city in Europe, and Londoners love the parks as places to picnic, sunbathe, observe wildlife, see bands, play sport and even demonstrate against the government.

6. Cruise the Thames
Passengers on the river already get a grandstand view of all of the above, the maritime precinct at Greenwich and the garden of office towers at Canary Wharf. Half a dozen companies offer transfers along the river, from chugging commuter boats to the zippy shuttle service between the Tate Modern and Tate Britain. With time to spare, you can even ride the river all the way to Kew Gardens or Hampton Court Palace.

7. Greenwich mean time
Green and pleasant Greenwich is the precise location from which global time and points of distance around the east–west axis of the earth are measured. These things aren’t so important in the digital age, but back when Britain depended on its navy for its wealth and its power, a few degrees out here or there could spell disaster – as happened in 1707, when the British fleet sailed too close to the Scilly Isles and 1400 perished.

As well as the historical attractions, people come to Greenwich for the feeling of escape from the big city. Greenwich was – and still feels like – a village, and the backstreets are lined with interesting and quirky shops.

8. The world’s a stage
Londoners first got the theatre bug in the 17th century when Shakespeare and his contemporaries starting performing comedies and dramas for the masses on the stage of the original Globe Theatre. Four hundred years later and Londoners are still obsessed with the stage. Theatre-land in the West End around Soho and Covent Garden boasts more than 50 theatres, staging everything from period romps and big-name musicals to occasionally cringe-worthy shows based on banging dustbin lids and rap poetry.

9. Find treasures in the museum
Founded in 1753 to house the personal collection of Sir Hans Sloane, the museum was dramatically extended in the Georgian period, and the central Grand Court was covered by a soaring geometric canopy by Sir Norman Foster in 2000.

Inside you can see such historical wonders as the Rosetta Stone and the controversial Elgin (Parthenon) Marbles, swiped from the Acropolis by Britain’s ambassador to the Ottoman  Empire. The collection of Egyptian mummies in rooms 62 to 63 is legendary.

10. Old masters and familiar faces
The National Gallery and the neighbouring National Portrait Gallery fill in all the gaps in the history of painting that aren’t covered by the Tate Modern and Tate Britain. These grand neoclassical monuments house some of the country’s finest paintings and, refreshingly, not all are stuffy 17th-century oils – there are wacky modernist works and cartoon caricatures as well.

Ready to visit any of these?
Email – info@worldtraveland.com or visit www.worldtraveland.com

BARCELONA, SPAIN

Sun and Sand in the City

When travelers think of hitting Europe’s beaches, images of quiet coastal towns and revered beach resorts normally come to mind. Wouldn’t it be great to have the beach option coupled with the culture and sightseeing that a big European city has to offer? Visitors to Barcelona can have their urban sightseeing and big-city fun, with a little beach time thrown in on the side. And after a day of traipsing around town to take in the best of the city, what better way to unwind than on the beach?

Here you’ll find is a wide stretch of coarse sand packed with hip 20-somethings and teens strutting along the beach in the tiniest bikinis. You can also expect to find clean sand and clean water (tested daily). In Barcelona, the most popular urban beach is Platja Barcelona at Vila Olimpica, the home of the 1992 Olympics. Another nearby beach is Platja de Sant Sebastian. Both beach areas have lifeguards to watch over swimmers, areas for the kids to play and showers where you can clean up before heading to a nearby restaurant for some tapas. A trip to Platja de la Mar Bella might get you more than you hoped for: this is the city’s nude beach. Even while relaxing on the beach, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re in the city and not at a small beach town — be mindful of your personal belongings and don’t leave your stuff unattended.

If you’re looking for a quick escape from the city’s more hectic pace, these beaches should do the job. If you’re looking to get farther away, hop on the train and head out of the city to try some of the other beaches along the coast. The most popular coastal town nearby is Sitges, which is just 30 minutes south of the city. A bohemian, artsy beach town, Sitges is a favorite getaway with the young, partying crowd. The welcoming atmosphere welcomes the gay community and the let-loose vibe is reflected on this town’s nude beaches, making this hot spot not the greatest for visiting families.

Getting There
Nearest Major International Airport: Barcelona’s airport, El Prat de Llobregat, is about 7 miles outside the city. From there, visitors can grab a cab into the center of town or hop on a train to Barcelona’s Estacion Central de Barcelona-Sants. Direct flights from North America are hard to come by, and a layover in Madrid is common.

Ground Transportation: The city’s metro service is clean, efficient, fast and, most importantly, it can get you just about anywhere you want to go in the city. Trains run until 11 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on the weekends. Other transportation options include the city’s bus system, private taxis and even a funicular, a sky-ride option that gives a great panoramic view of the city below (with limited seasonal hours).

Timing
Barcelona summers can be hot and humid, the temperatures hovering around 81 degrees F, making this a perfect time for the beach but maybe not the best time to be wandering around the city. The spring and fall are milder, but not ideal sunbathing weather.

Lodging
Hotels by the water tend to be pricey, as you’re paying for direct access to the beach and harbor — an amenity most of the city’s hotels cannot offer. The snazzy Hotel Arts Barcelona in the Olympic Village is just 100 yards from the beach, and rooms offer a choice of sweeping views of the ocean or the city. This hotel is run by the Ritz Carlton, so travelers can expect the best in luxury and some of the highest prices in the city. Just 5 minutes from the beach is the lower-priced Marina Folch in the Barceloneta neighborhood (“Little Barcelona”).

Cuisine
The Olympic Port is packed with crowded restaurants where big pitchers of sangria and big plates of food are easy to find at any price. One of the most unique restaurants in the port is Talaia Mar, where the chef serves Catalan cuisine and some of his own inspired concoctions, like bacon ice cream. Can Costa, in Barceloneta, is one of the oldest seafood restaurants in the city and has a great view of the water and even better paella. Why eat near the beach when you can eat right on it? Budget travelers can pick up picnic fixings — a fresh loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese, and some smoked sausage or ham — and enjoy a casual meal outside.

Travel Tips
In most European towns and cities, it seems like everyone takes a holiday in August. This means that the touristy spots are more crowded than usual.

While You’re There
Get off the beach and get some culture. Many of the best things to do in Barcelona still involve being outside. Spend a morning taking in the works of Barcelona’s favorite architect, Antonio Gaudi. His fantastical designs can best be enjoyed at Parc Guell. Walk through the crooked streets of the Gothic Quarter, or stroll along Les Rambles and take in the shops, sights and street performers. Finally, end the day like the natives do — with lots of food, even more wine and some dancing at the clubs.

Linking for a Better Vacation
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SHEIKH ZAYED MOSQUE ABU DHABI

This architectural work of art is one the world’s largest mosques, with a capacity for an astonishing 41,000 worshipers. It features 82 domes, over a 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. The main prayer hall is dominated by one of the world’s largest chandeliers –10 meters in diameter, 15 meters in height and weighing twelve tonnes. The mosque’s first ceremony was the funeral of its namesake, Sheikh Zayed, who is buried at the site.

Reflective pools surround the mosque, amplifying its beauty. The striking white and gold colours shining in the sun are transformed at night by a unique lightning system which reflects the phases of the moon.

Visitors’ Tip
Why not finish sight-seeing or shopping for the day and take the 5pm ‘Sunset Tour’? Get to the mosque around 4:30pm – a wonderful time to take photos – to wind down and chill out for 20 minutes in the lovely, afternoon breeze before the tour.

Opening hours: Unlike other mosques in Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open daily to visitors, except on Friday morning, which is for worshippers only. Complimentary one hour guided tours run (Sun-Thurs) at 10am, 11am and 4.30 / 5pm. Friday times are 5pm and 7.30 /8pm and Saturday 10am, 11am, 2pm, 4.30 /5pm and 7.30 / 8pm.

The times for the last two tours of the day vary between 4.30 and 5pm, and 7.30 and 8pm, depending on the time of the  year. To check the current times, visit
http://www.szgmc.ae

Ramadan opening hours: During the Holy Month the mosque is open daily except Friday from 9am to 12pm (midday), and the one-hour complimentary tours start at 10am and 11am.

Other Attractions
Abu Dhabi Corniche
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Al Ain Oasis
Al Ain Paradise Garden
Emirates Palace
Yas Viceroy
Qasr al Sarab
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Jebel Hafeet
Hili Fun City
Al Ain Camel Market
Al Ain Zoo
Arabian Wildlife Park
Arabian Nights Heritage Village

 

Maui Island

Discover your own reasons to love Maui as you stroll the seaside streets of Lahaina and the lovely beaches of Kaanapali. Feel the mana (power) of Haleakala National Park or discover the arts and culture of Kahului and Upcountry Maui. From championship golf courses to the scenic road to Hana, your vacation on the “Valley Isle” promises to be unforgettable. It’s no wonder why thousands of humpback whales migrate to Maui’s warm waters year after year.

Stand above a sea of clouds high atop Haleakala. Watch a 45-foot whale breach off the coast of Lahaina.  Lose count of the waterfalls along the road as you manoeuvre the hairpin turns of the Hana highway. One visit and it’s easy to see why Maui in Hawaii is called “The Magic Isle.” Though second in size among the Hawaiian Islands, the Maui Island is first in people’s hearts. Repeatedly at the top of the “best island” surveys of consumer travel magazines, Maui possesses a magic that lingers in the heart and grows.

Getting to Maui
Kahului Airport (OGG) is the Maui’s main airport. There are two smaller commuter airports as well: Kapalua Airport (JHM) in West Maui and Hana Airport (HNM) in East Maui. Many airlines offer non-stop flights direct to Maui. You may also fly into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu before heading to Maui on a short, 30-minute flight. There is also daily ferry service to and from the nearby islands of Lanai and Molokai.

Getting around on Maui 
You can get around Maui by shuttle, tour bus, taxi, or public transportation. But to really experience all that Maui offers you should consider reserving a rental car in advance from the Kahului or Kapalua Airport.

The main airport on Maui

The main airport on Maui is Kahului Airport (OGG). There are smaller commuter airports in Kapalua (West Maui) and Hana (East Maui). It’s about a 45-minute drive from Kahului Airport to Lahaina. Both Molokai and Lanai are served by their own airports.

Dining

Pack a hearty appetite because Maui offers an exotic blend of savoury dining. Indulge in the flavours of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, made from produce, picked right from the farms of Kulaand and fish caught fresh from the sea. Try a traditional Hawaiian meal at a sunset luau or get off the beaten path to try some local favourites in small towns like Wailuku and Paia. In Maui you can feast on everything from haupia to hamburgers. Learn more about Maui restaurants in KaanapaliKahuluiKapaluaKiheiLahaina and Wailuku. Visit www.gohawaii.com orwww.worldtraveland.com

Accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodations on Maui, including resorts, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and condominium rentals. You’ll find resorts and hotels of every size and budget in KapaluaKaanapaliLahainaKiheiMakena and Wailea on the sunny western coast as well as one resort in Hana in East Maui. Whether you’re looking for a 5 Diamond resort or a seaside cottage, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in Maui. Learn more about Maui hotelsbed and breakfastscondominiumshostelsvacation rentalsKapalua vacation rentalsKaanapali hotelsKapalua hotelsKihei hotels, and Hana hotels. Visit www.gohawaii.com orwww.worldtraveland.com

Activities: Places to be on Maui

From Luau to land adventures, fine art to fine dining, Maui has a wide range of activities to make your vacation unforgettable. From whale watching to surfing, you’ll have plenty of chances to experience an array of outdoor adventures on Maui.

On Maui, you’ll have plenty of chances to try an array of outdoor adventures you’ve never experienced before. Snorkelers will be rewarded with unforgettable sights in Molokini’s luminous waters. See your first humpback spout as you whale-watch from Kaanapali Beach . Or feel the rush of your first surf lesson off the shores of historic Lahaina .
On land, horseback ride atop Haleakala: Maui’s highest peak. You can even take your first helicopter ride to see breathtaking views of Maui’s pristine valleys and waterfalls.
Plan your trip during one of Maui’s many special events. Experience one-of-a-kind cultural performances, stage shows, musical events and sports competitions throughout the year on Maui. But if you didn’t have enough time to do it all, you can always come back for more. For most visitors, their first adventures on this miraculous island are rarely their last.

click here for more info: What you should know about Maui: The Island.

PORTUGAL

Europe’s West Coast

Portugal is in southwestern Europe, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, to the west of Spain, and is mountainous north of the Tagus River, with rolling plains in south. One of the world’s seafaring powers during the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Community.

Capital: Lisbon
Time Zone: DST +0100 UTC
Population: 10,676,910
Languages: Portuguese, Mirandese
Currency: Euro – Currently 1 EUR € = 1.3094 USD $
Climate: Portugal has a maritime temperate climate that leaves the country cool and rainy in the north, and warmer and drier in the south. – Currently 59º.

Portugal keeps all of its charm shielded behind its jagged coast – a line of sand and foam caressed by the sea breezes. Cloaked in an air of mystery that has lasted for more than 800 years, this country is genuinely diverse, and it is here that all of the most intriguing dualities become inextricably intertwined: past and present, a long cultural heritage and the simple joy of living.

A place of sun and sea, history and cosmopolitanism, Portugal’s rich collection of monuments brings great charm to the nation’s life and provide a contrast with the lightness of its inhabitants’ relaxed and carefree spirit. With its unique geographical location and its distinctive Atlantic flavor, the West Coast invites visitors to enjoy the pleasures of nature, beaches, gastronomy and entertainment. In this land filled with sunlight, an inexhaustible source of energy, the past reinforces the sense of the present.

In the midst of medieval castles and modern shops, Roman, Gothic and Manueline monuments, beaches with deep blue seas and rolling green plains disappearing into the distance, historic villages and luxury resorts, the sophisticated cuisine of great chefs and the simple delights that the sea can offer, contemporary art museums and prehistoric rock drawings, golf courses and busy, vibrant avenues, there live a people who are creative, open and welcoming, who wish to share with you the best of everything that they have and know about, appealing to your senses and celebrating life.

DESTINATIONS IN PORTUGAL

 

 

 

Lisbon: Often compared to San Francisco in the United States, Lisbon is a juxtaposition of urban sophistication and antique charm. See the historic port of Belem and the huge Praca do Comercio waterfront market, as well as Castelo de Sao Jorge with its free admission in the Alfama district.

Faro: In the capital of the Algarve region, you can find beaches, nightlife, and Moorish buildings along the coastline. You can still see the scars from a catastrophic tidal wave in 1755, however, sights like the eerie Capela de Ossos, or Chapel of Bones decorated with the remains of more than 1200 previous monks, and the Carmo Church are some of the architectural highlights that make up the landscape.

 Oporto: Located at the mouth of the Douro River and the Douro Valley, Porto, locally called Oporto, is Portugal’s second largest city, and features a lot of wine bars serving food and port, the country’s namesake wine. Shop in the Ferreira district, the cosmopolitan center of Porto, or see some of the museums or churches before setting sights on a nice glass of port served with your meal to enjoy.

TIPS

Azulejos: These are traditional hand painted Portugese tiles, and can be found all over the country. Normally blue and white, they can be found in churches, public buildings, and for sale in local shops.

When To Visit: About six weeks before Easter, Carnaval is celebrated, making a huge appearance with parades and parties, similar to celebrations across other parts of the world.

Food: Cod is one of the traditional staples, along with varieties of caldo, a mixed broth, and sopa de marisco, shellfish soup, and the traditional caldeirada fish stew. Port is the primary wine recognized, but Portuguese white wines are also excellent.

Phrases: Yes = sim, no = não, hello = olá, please = por favor, thanks = obrigado

Tipping: The standard tip of 5-15 percent is fine, but check the bill and round up to the next whole Euro as the service charge is normally included. Cab drivers expect an extra 10 percent.

TOUR PORTUGAL: For affordable  Hotel Accommodation, Visa, Flight Ticket, Airport Transfer  CLICK

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EXPERIENCE THE SWEET CREOLE WAY OF LIFE

 

REUNION ISLAND
Capital: Saint-Denis
Time Zone: UTC+4
Population: 781,962
Languages: French, Creole
Power: 220V, 50Hz
Currency: euro – Currently 1 EUR € = 1.2904 USD $
Climate: Reunion has a tropical climate, with the temperature moderated with the elevation as you climb. Seasonally, the island is cool and dry from May to November, and hot and rainy from November to April with the greatest risk of cyclones in February and March. – Currently 89º, Partly Cloudy

DESTINATIONS

Saint-Denis: Colonial French architecture can be seen around Saint Denis, and the restaurants are the best on the islands. See the Leon Dierx Art Gallery, with interesting collections of local artists, and the Botanical Gardens, and especially Le Barachois, the main thoroughfare near the waterfront with the nicest cafes and shops. From here you can book trips into the surrounding mountains or Cirques, but before you go, spend a few hours in the African influenced Grand Marché.


St-Gilles-les-Bains: Beaches are a big attraction, judged by the crowded weekends on the multicolored sands. Although sharks are common in the waters, the beaches at St-Gilles-les-Bains are protected by coral and are considered safe, as is Saint-Leu about 10 miles to the south. There are restaurants in the main town that make spending time here very easy. Saint-Paul is 6 miles to the north and worth half a day to stroll through the nation’s previous capital and see the colonial buildings.


Cilaos: A simple spa resort in the late 1800s, Cilaos is a small town nestled inside a mountain crater called a cirque with fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, plus a small museum and thermal spas to occupy you after going on hikes through the area. Longer day hikes are possible to areas like the Cirque de Mafate, a very remote and difficult to access area of ridges and small villages, or the Cirque de Salazie, more easily accessed with waterfalls like le Voile de la Mariée, the Bride’s Veil.

TIPS

Culture and Language: The island is casual in its approach to life and suits are uncommon. French is spoken and knowing a few phrases will make your life easier.
Banking: Note that the local currency is the Euro, local banks will help exchange most currencies, and most stores will take credit cards and traveller’s checks with ease.
When To Visit: April to September is the peak tourist season and also has the best weather for hiking and traveling the island, although May and June can often be relatively quiet. Towns and villages have annual festivals honoring the town staple, for example, vanilla in Bras-Panon in mid-May, saffron in Saint Joseph in August, and lychees in Saint Denis in mid-December.
Food: The French influence is easy to see but mixes with India spices and African staples. Rougail, a vegetarian chutney with tomato and hot spices, fricassees or garlic, ginger and tomatoes served with rice, beans or lentils, or stews of poultry, meat or fish, often ending with sweet potato cake, chocolate tarts and puffed pancakes with banana examples of the desserts.
Phrases: Yes = oui, no = non, please = s’il vous plait, thank you = merci, do you speak English = parlez vous anglais?
Tipping: Check your bill, as a 10% service charge may have been added, and include the same as a gratuity for good service.

Detours: Stand clear of protests or demonstrations, which while uncommon can uncover heated tempers, and note that the island is home to an active volcano in the southeastern corner of the island, which occasionally erupts and sends lava flowing into the ocean, crossing and covering any roads in the way, so detours may be needed. Other than that, all you need is a little common sense when visiting.