Sunday, September 30, 2012

Enjoying Fall and Winter in the City

Many people may argue that fall and winter are best enjoyed out in the wilderness where you can fully appreciate the beauty of fall foliage, the crisp, fresh air, and make snow angels to your heart's content. However, with the right attitude, attire, and sense of adventure these seasonal pleasures can also be enjoyed in the city.

New York

In the Big Apple, the most obvious place to venture to is Central Park. Beautiful in any season, it's the ideal location for a warming power walk, building a snowman with your kids, or ice skating on the central rink.

For a little something different on a sunny fall or winter morning, hop on the subway to Brighton Beach. It's much less crowded than during the summer, and the air is so very fresh that makes a nice change from inner city New York.

Watch the waves lap the sand while sipping on a hot beverage from one of the many Russian cafes nearby. To warm up after your brisk seaside stroll, head for a hearty lunch of Siberian dumplings or soup such as borscht.


New England is famed for its stunning fall foliage, and Boston is a wonderful place to admire it. A popular route to stroll along is the charming, tree-lined Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile track with 16 historical sights to discover.

To warm up in the winter, there's nothing quite like ice skating at the Frog Pond rink on Boston Common with views across the city's Downtown landmarks. Join families, couples and other fun-loving folk in a dance on the ice.


Snow has a tendency to cover the ground fast and thickly in Seattle, making for picture-perfect winter scenery. Madison Park and its Japanese Garden are ideal for snowball fights and boast beautiful views across Washington state's snow-capped mountains.

After a chilly few hours in the cold, seek comfort at Banya urban spa that boasts warming treatments from massages to super-hot saunas, or indulge in a hot toddy at one of the city's many trendy bars, some of which are speakeasy-themed.


One of the perks of being in Atlanta during the fall and autumn season is its mild climate with temperatures rarely falling below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Thanks to the pleasant temperatures, the zoo stays open all year round. Visiting the array of animals, including flamingoes and orangutans is an excellent pastime. Bring along a thermos of hot cocoa or soup and have a brief outdoor picnic.

Albeit slightly outside the city centre, Stone Mountain Park is the ultimate winter destination complete with a slope for sledding. The snow may be artificial, but the experience feels as real as it gets.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Goa: Lusty and Hearty!

A holiday in Goa gives endless memories to cherish in the future. There are fascinating beaches, where a perfect mix of sea, sand and surf can be enjoyed. There are wonderful colonial structures, which announce themselves with a breathtaking architectural grandeur. There are awesome flea markets for delightful shopping and a range of restaurants & hotels to satiate your taste buds. And so on.

Actually, Goa has almost everything that tourists find interesting. Most often, a Goa tour begins at its beaches, which have a matchless fascination to offer. Swaying palms, arousing water waves, warm golden sand and an abundance of modern luxury make Goa beaches perfect for relax and rejuvenation. Some of Goa beaches find place among top Asiatic beaches, and are thronged by thousands of travelers year-round.

Must-visit Attractions

Goa is truly what depicts everything hearty and larger than life. Lovely beaches Calangute, Baga and Anjuna have always been in the list of must-visit attractions. Apart from that, breathtakingly picturesque hamlets on Goa coastline make perfect sojourn for nature-lovers and romantic couples. When in Goa, take a tour to the capital city Panaji and Old Goa, the best architectural features of the state. Gorgeous churches like Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral, mammoth fort Aguda and beautiful Cabo Palace draw hordes to visitors inclined towards culture & history. Goa has several museums too, which are worth exploring.

Goa has three wildlife sanctuaries, which have a lot in store for nature-loving tourists. Scintillating scenery, exotic flora & fauna and interesting animal shows - these sanctuaries deliver its visitors an unforgettable experience.

Navigating Goa

It's easy to orient yourself to Goa from the capital city Panaji. The city is a great starting point for getting all Goa sightseeing done, being the central location and well-endued with transfer options. However, to know and love Goa, you must opt for a walk or ride. Hiring motor-bikes is a good option, especially you come with friends. You can also use excellent bus network or can hire car services available all around the state.

Goa has an international airport in Debolim, which has flights from all major cities around the world. Flights from Delhi to Goa remain in high demand, as a large number of backpackers visit the state from northern hill-lands and plains.

Shopping extravaganza:

You can shop till you drop in Goa. The state offers a plethora of options including gleaming shopping malls, traditional flea markets and street-side stores to cater shopping needs for visitors and the locals alike. Wednesday Flea market at Anjuna beach attracts a large number of tourists who love shopping and dining. An open air market, it has stalls selling local artifacts, fruits & vegetables, hand-made pots & vessels and a variety of garment items at reasonable rates. Shehnaz Shopping Center in Panaji, Goa Shopping Cenetr in Vasco, Acron Arcade in Candolim and Caculo Mall in Panaji are other great choices for shopping in the state.

Apart from that, you would surely love Goa's nightlife and awesome selections for dining and boozing. The best time to visit here is winter, from October to March.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Travel To Burma: What Will the Weather Be Like?

As with any holiday, those who are preparing to travel to Burma might be thinking ahead and anticipating the myriad delights that this incredible country has to offer. But looking forward to a trip is not just about daydreaming; it's also important to know what to expect, and how to prepare accordingly. Understanding a little more about Burma's climate, its seasons, and what the weather is like in different parts of the country can be tremendously helpful for those wanting to get the best experience possible. It can inform everything from the choice of when to go, to the packing checklist - so read on for an overview and some practical advice.
The Climate: An Overview
Located in Asia's tropical monsoon region, Burma is generally warm and sees a lot of rainfall, although due to its diverse geography - particularly its differences in altitude - it is also a country of considerable regional variation in weather, and the climate experienced by those who travel to Burma will depend in part on where they go. There are three seasons: summer, from March to May; the rainy season, from June to September; and winter, from October to February. In the coastal regions, there is heavy rainfall and more seasonal variation in temperature than in the central lowlands which stay hot and humid all year round. The delta area of the River Ayeyarwady also receives abundant rainfall, and like much of the interior of the country, can be very hot and humid in the rainy season. Meanwhile, the eastern and northern mountains also see abundant to heavy rainfall, and temperatures can drop very low at higher altitudes in the winter months.
The Seasons: When to Go
While exploring this beautiful country is enjoyable at any time of the year, the effects of the seasons do create a different atmosphere. Some prefer to travel to Burma during the winter, particularly in January or February which are the coolest and driest months, offering considerable relief in the interior - including Mandalay and Bagan - from the intense 30 - 45°c heat of the summer months; the winter is also generally sunny due to reduced cloud cover. However, there are things to enjoy in all seasons: the mountains and hill stations of Shan state are pleasant during the summer, and witnessing the drama of a tropical monsoon is a delight in itself - although accessibility to parts of the country is restricted during the heaviest periods of rainfall between July and September.
Preparing For the Weather
Depending on when they are planning to travel to Burma, visitors will need to pack accordingly. Lightweight clothing will be a relief in the summer heat and humidity, while waterproofs are recommended for all but the driest months. And whatever the season, be sure to take a hat and sunscreen.
Jude Limburn Turner is the Marketing Manager for Mountain Kingdoms, an adventure tour company who run tours enabling people to enjoy travel to Burma. Operating in Asia for over 20 years, they now offer treks and tours worldwide, including destinations in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Central and South East Asia.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Cycling Vacation in Tropical Cairns

Vacations should be a time of relaxation. A time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of normal daily life and ease temporarily into a period of leisure and discovery.
Unfortunately many of us go on vacation only to return exhausted with our rushing around, afraid to miss anything. We jump onto buses,boats and trains to get from attraction A to attraction B, and often miss out on the bits in between.
Cycling gives you the freedom to still get from A to B, but at a pace that encourages more exploration and discovery of your holiday destination. Cycling for leisure in Cairns is an excellent way to get around, and a perfect way to keep fit and healthy following the excesses of holiday eating and drinking.
As mentioned, Cairns is flat and therefore easy to navigate for the casual bicycle rider. Provided you abide by the rules of the road and keep well to the left you will find Cairns a bicycle friendly city. In fact, cycling is being encouraged within the local community too, and the council have supported this with the recent completion of a dedicated cycle way that stretches from The Pier alongside Cairns' swimming lagoon up to the suburb of Aeroglen, close to the international airport. My wife and I regularly cycle this 13 km round trip. From this track you can easily divert to visit Cairns Botanic Gardens and Centenary Lakes that you can also cycle around.
In Cairns it is OK to use the sidewalks for cycling, remembering of course to give way to pedestrians. In addition, most of the roads have a cycle lane to the immediate left of the traffic lanes, so cycling anywhere within the Cairns area can be easily achieved. If you do choose to cycle you will join many others making their way around points of interest in Cairns.
For the more energetic you can go further afield and visit the northern beaches, or out to Copperlode Dam at Lake Morris, or out to Crystal Cascades for a cool freshwater dip after the ride out there. Port Douglas is not beyond reach either, being 70 kms north of Cairns. In early June each year the Airport Adventure Festival stages an Ironman event that includes a 180 km bicycle leg up towards Port Douglas and back. There are also mountain biking tours available if you are into extreme sports.
If you don't take a bicycle with you on vacation you can always hire one for as long as you like. Different bike types are available and prices range from around $20 for a half day up to about $95 for a full seven days. Extra weeks are nominally about $65. What better way to see Cairns at leisure. Three days economy hire will cost you just $45 for the duration.
Finally, bear in mind that you are vulnerable when cycling anywhere in the world, but as long as you respect the road rules and have respect for other users you should enjoy your relaxing cycling vacation in tropical Cairns.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Holidays to Burma: Important National Events

There is always plenty to do on holidays to Burma, from exploring ancient monuments to sampling the delicious wares of city teashops. But certain days of the year also bring their own experiences and delights. It is always worth finding out about Burma's national events, in part because public holidays mean that banks and many businesses will close and some forward planning might be necessary, but also because learning about important celebrations can help the visitor to better appreciate the country's social and cultural life - and depending on the nature of the event, to join in and have fun. For an overview of the most significant festivals and other events, read on.

Religious Festivals

The most important of all holidays to Burma's people is Burmese New Year's Day, which falls, in the Buddhist calendar, on the 17th of April. It is preceded by the water festival of Maha Thingyan, from the 12th to the 16th of April, during which the king of Nats (a group of spirits honoured alongside the Buddha in Burmese religion), Thagyamin, is believed to descend to Earth, bringing blessings for the year to come. The water-pouring ceremonies of old have been replaced in much of the country by lively but good-natured water fights, providing fun for anyone who wishes to participate, whether they be locals or visitors enjoying holidays to Burma. Other key religious events include the pagoda festivals held in March (known as Tabaung), in which the harvest is celebrated and decorative sand temples are built, and Kason, a festival commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. Buddhist Lent runs from July 3rd to October 29th, a time for tilling and planting and religious observances. Deepvali, on October 30th, the start of Ramadan, and Christmas Day, on December 25th, are also public holidays.

Political Events

There are also a number of days marked in the Burmese calendar in honour of important historical events, starting on the 4th of January which is Independence Day, commemorating Burma's Declaration of Independence from the British Empire in 1948. It is observed with fairs and sporting activities. Other national events that visitors may encounter during their holidays to Burma include Union Day on February 12th, the anniversary of the Panglong Agreement between the government and leaders of minority groups, May Day on the 1st of May, held in honour of Burma's workers, Martyr's Day on July 19th, held on the anniversary of the assassination of revolutionary leader Aung San in 1947, and National Day, which commemorates the students' strikes of 1920 against the colonial education system. Beyond these nation-wide events, there are days held culturally or politically significant to the country's many ethnic minorities, including Mon National Day in February and Karen New Year on January 5th.