Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Crippled Costa Allegra Cruise Ship towed to Seychelles

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Karsten
A crippled cruise ship owned by the company whose giant liner the Costa Concordia was wrecked off Italy last month is being towed by a French tuna boat to the main island in the Seychelles, its owners said on Tuesday.
 
An engine room fire on the Costa Allegra knocked out the ship’s main power supply in the Indian Ocean on Monday, leaving it adrift with more than a thousand people on board — including 13 Canadians — in

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Southwest Airlines' pilot sends cabin into panic

Photo courtesy of Reuters
A pilot caused momentary panic on board a flight after wishing happy birthday to the mother of an air traffic controller.

The problem was he said there was a "mom on board" and many people on the flight thought he said there was a "bomb on board."

According to the New York Daily News, many of the passengers on the Southwest flight between Baltimore and Long Island went into a panic when they heard

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Via train derailment in Ontario kills 3

Viarail Derailment ~ Photo courtesy of CBC News
A Via Rail train derailment on Sunday has claimed the lives of three people in southern Ontario.

Halton Regional Police confirmed that three people are dead and at least two people have been taken to hospital via air ambulance.

The Toronto-bound train was travelling from the Niagara area of

Climbing Mt. Everest Costs More Than a Sports Car

Photo Courtesy of Steve Satushek
Have you ever dreamt of one day climbing Mount Everest, if only you could muster the guts to attempt it? Well, a thirst for adventure isn't all you'll need. The journey to Earth's highest summit also requires a considerable wad of cash -- more than most people might think. 

Experienced climber Alan Arnette of Outside magazine outlined the

Saturday, 25 February 2012

An Amazing 17-Mile Drive at Pebble Beach - California

One afternoon break in the office, Pacita and myself are exchanging our travel stories and the topic is about her trip to the United States.  "It's exciting! The 17-Mile of the Pebble Beach in California is just amazing," she says.

I, myself,  have only a couple of trips in this neighbouring country and I want to have this journey my next. I find her story interesting so I want to give you a brief history of this widely recognized and the most scenic drives in the world. Who knows, after reading this, you will start planning and creating your own Pebble Beach experience.
Photo Courtesy of Pebble Beach Resorts
The following are just some of the most important information to start with.  I will give you site references at the end of this story so that it can assist you find your way. 

History tells us that before the automobile had become a way of life, 17-Mile Drive was navigated by horse-drawn carriages from the famous Hotel Del Monte, now the site of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.

It was 1881 and excursions through the Del Monte Forest and along its spectacular coastline usually ended up at a picnic spot at Pebble Beach.  

The following Points of Interest are detailed below to help you plan your trip.  
  • Shepherd's Knoll - This vista point gives a grand view of Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz mountains.
  • Huckleberry Hill - Named for the abundance of native huckleberry bushes, this is one of the highest elevations in the forest.
  • Poppy Hills of Golf Course - It is the home of the Northern California Golf Association and one of the three courses in play during the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. All facilities are open to the public.
  • The Inn & Links at Spanish Bay - Established in 1987 by Pebble Beach Company, this world-famous, five-star resort and Scottish-style links course is a mecca for golf enthusiasts worldwide.
  • Spanish Bay - A scenic picnic stop, this is also a pleasant location for a stroll around  the shoreline.
  • The Restless Sea - Take note of the unique offshore turbulence generated by the submerged terrain off Point Joe from this vista point.
  • Point Joe - Early mariners often crashed upon these rocks after mistakenly setting their course for this point, believing that it was the entrance to Monterey Bay.
  • China Rock - Here and at Point Joe, Chinese fisherman built lean-tos against the rocks for their homes in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
  • Bird Rock Hunt Course - This longtime site of the once popular equestrian hunt and steeplechase competitions was also used in the 1920s  by the 11th Cavalry for riding and saber practice.
  • Bird Rock - This stately landmark is home to the countless shorebirds and groups of harbour seals and sea lions.
  • Seal Rock Picnic Area - Relax and picnic here, surrounded by a vibrant mix of marine and bird life.
  • Spyglass Hill Golf Course - This golf course takes its name from the classic tale 'Treasure Island', inspired by the wonders of the peninsula's forest and sea.  This facility is open to the public.
  • Fanshell Overlook - The pure white sand of the beach below is irresistible to habour seals, who each spring return to bear their young.  Closed during the harbour seal pupping season, April 1 to June 1.
  • Cypress Point Lookout - This point has been a preferred view of the dramatic Pacific coastline.  Closed April 1 to June 1.  
  • Crocker Grove - This is a 13-acre nature reserve harbours numerous species of native pine and cypress.  The granddaddy of all Monterey cypress is located here.
  • The Lone Cypress - Considered as one of California's most enduring landmarks.  It has prevailed on its rocky perch for over 250 years.
  • The Ghost Tree - With a trunk bleached white from wind and sea spray, this unique
  • Pescadero Point - This location marks the northernmost point of Carmel Bay and Stillwater Cove.
  • The Lodge at Pebble Beach - It was built in the year 1919, The Lodge is the heart and soul of Pebble Beach and home to the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links. Offers a variety of dining and shopping options. The golf shop, a refreshment at the Tap Room, picnic supplies from The Market, first tee, and views of the sweeping 18th fairway and green have been must-dos for visitors and guests.  Open to the public.
  • Peter Hay Par-3 Golf Course and 100th U.S. Open 2000 Pebble Beach Monument - Inquire at the kiosk for tee times and golf club rentals.  Standing at the top of Peter Hay Golf Course is the 30,000 pound bronze sculpture, Encircling Centuries of Excellence.
  • Pebble Beach Equestrian Centre - Guided horseback trail rides, riding lessons, boarding, and numerous major West coast equestrian events are held here annually.
The foregoing are just a lot of excitement. Enjoyment that I want to share with you.  I am giving you some precautionary measures though....
  • The surf in coastal areas along 17-Mile Drive is subject to unexpected life-threatening waves and currents.
  • Climbing on rocks, swimming, and wading in these areas is unsafe.
  • Be aware of wild coastal deer while driving in these areas.
  • Motorcycles are prohibited entry onto 17-Mile Drive. Don't be disappointed, CHP banned the motorcycle right from the entrance.
If you have not seen this in other blogs, this is your chance to explore more of the unique beauty of the coast and forest, an area often described as "the greatest meeting of land and water in the world."

The decision is yours. The information here are correct at the time of writing. Find the rest of the information here.

Discover nature's splendor along the Pacific coastline.

From the desk of: 
Freddie Miranda
A blogger and a Canada-based freelance writer. He shares the value of his travel experiences and discoveries with his friends and fellow travellers. Share your passion, join and visit him. Send a message @ fromatravellersdesk(at)gmail(dot)com.






Thursday, 23 February 2012

Niagara Falls' Maid of the Mist may soon come to an end

One of the largest tourist draws in Niagara Falls may not be open this year because the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company has lost the contract to operate boats in the Niagara Gorge after 165 years.
Maid of the Mist-Photo courtesy of Reuters
The Niagara Parks Commission announced Wednesday it had awarded a 30-year land-lease agreement for boat tour operations in the Niagara Gorge to Hornblower Canada, a California-based company.

"This is a great day for the Niagara Parks Commission and a great day for the tourism industry in Niagara and across Ontario," chair Janice Thomson said in a release.

However, the Hornblower service isn't scheduled to begin until the spring of 2014 and the Maid of the Mist company isn't sure it can stay in business for this summer's tourist season.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Larnaca, a Taste of Cypriot Culture

Cyprus is a small and beautiful island

In spite of its size, I have been coming back many times because I love the this country and have good memories. My latest and 8th visit is very recent. 

On my 7th, my visit before last, the immigration officer asked, "I have noticed you'd been coming here quite often, what is the purpose of your frequent visits?"  

I learned to love your country, and the people, and am wanting to experience more of your hospitality.  


"Enjoy your stay!", he replied.

Larnaca Beach

I checked in with my family in a hotel called Lysithea as it was a very convenient place to stay being close to the Larnaca International Airport.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Mardi Gras is Big Business for Gulf Coast

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
Mardi Gras. It brings to mind beads, parties and fancy floats in New Orleans as people cram in all the fun they can before Lent begins.

In reality, Mardi Gras has long been celebrated in coastal towns from Texas to Florida. And it means big business.

"It is more of a regional thing, Mardi Gras is, from Texas down to (the) Gasparilla

(pirate festival) down in the Tampa area," said Stephen Toomey, whose family started a chain of Mobile, Ala.-based Mardi Gras party supply stores.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Dark Side of New Zealand

Bay of Islands is so far the best of the islands I have visited. It has many interesting historic towns including Paihia, Russel, Waitangi and Kerikeri. I, myself, cannot believe that I have explored the bay up to the edge of the world at Cape Brett.  

But before I lost control of jumping to the climax of this story, let me start with our scary flight via Air New Zealand from Auckland to Kerikeri.

Hole in the Rock ~ Cape Brett NEW ZEALAND
I am not used to fly with small aircraft with only 8 passengers on board. Though it's not the flight itself which is scary.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Flights Cancelled - Frankfurt Airport

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
Hundreds more flights were cancelled Friday at Frankfurt Airport, Europe's third busiest, as a ground workers' strike entered its second day, but airport lines and delays appeared to be limited.

Mike Peter Schweitzer, spokesman for airport operator Fraport AG, said "just over 290" flights had to be cancelled but that the airport was otherwise "operating smoothly." Airline Lufthansa said that 68 flights within Europe had been called off.

Herbert Mai, executive in charge of labour relations for Fraport, said the airport was able to maintain 70 per cent of its daily flights on Thursday, the first day of the strike, exceeding its goal of operating more than half its 1,300 daily takeoffs and landings.

"We think that we can process even more today so that the strike repercussions are lower than expected or feared," Mai said.

Workers walked off the job Thursday afternoon for seven hours, and were to be on strike all day Friday.

The GdF union is engaged in a dispute with airport operator Fraport over pay and working conditions for some 200 ground workers.

GdF spokesman Markus Siebers said the strike would be suspended Saturday and Sunday but would likely continue next week, although he said he could not say what days or times. 

Courtesy of The Associated Press

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Top Airport in North America - Ottawa International Airport


Photo courtesy of CBC
I have not landed at the Ottawa International Airport although I have been to Ottawa a couple of times.  I have yet to see how my fellow Canadians at this airport serve efficiently with millions coming to visit our country.  Kudos to the customer service staff and the whole airport staff in general for job well done.  I have no complain with our own Pearson International Airport in Toronto whatsoever.  The following is a news story by Jordana Divon based on a survey.....

Visitors flying into the nation's capital are landing in world-class style, says a new Airports Council International poll.

According to the survey, Ottawa boasts the top airport in North America for customer service and high quality facilities, and places second overall in the world for airports that serve between two and five million passengers.

Though it sits at the top of the North American list, the airport slipped from the number one worldwide spot it earned in 2010.  This year's slot was awarded to Ecuador's Guayalquil airport.  
Read the full story here.

Courtesy of Daily Brew - Yahoo News

Monday, 13 February 2012

Go Ahead with the Cruise - After the ill-fated Costa Concordia?

I have not been to a luxury cruise but have had enough information on how luxurious the cruising was.  The sailing I am referring to are the ones on the high seas for a couple of nights.  The ones that stop on some ports that give the passengers experience what the stop-over has in store for them.  To me, it is a better way of exploring and discovering small places. 

I have been to short cruises that last from four hours to a day.  I always want to experience all the transport facilities in my destinations.  I fly, take the bus, the taxi, the train, and cruise to go around must-see places.

Taking a week-long cruise is not in my itinerary but I had planned on cruising to Alaska just before the mishap in Giglio, Italy.  I never question my original travel plan after the disaster and I don't see any reason why I should change my mind.  

Cruise bookings after the Costa Concordia disaster remain strong according to the cruise industry. Daily Telegraph in UK confirmed that prospective holiday makers are still making almost as many inquiries about cruises as they were before the mishap.

To read the details of the story released by Tribune Information Services, please click here.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Wanted Volunteers to Live in Ecuador City for a Month

Consider retiring abroad?  You could win a month living in Cuenca, Ecuador courtesy of International Living Magazine.

Reuters published this fresh news today.  I am sharing this information to those interested in adventure and exploring new places.


Ecuador - Photo Courtesy of Julia Rubinic

An international magazine is looking for volunteers to spend a month in Cuenca, Ecuador to test its potential as a retirement destination.

Applicants must be near retirement age, from the United States or Canada and be willing to explore, shop, try local restaurants, maybe take a Spanish class, and report on their experience during an all-expenses-paid month in the Latin American country.

"We're not giving away a free vacation," said Jennifer Stevens, the executive editor of International Living magazine, which launched the competition.

"The idea is we will find a candidate who is already thinking about living overseas, is excited about the prospect. We are looking for someone who is adventurous and eager to try something new," she added in an interview.

The winner of the competition, who will be announced on May 30, will receive round-trip air fare for two, a furnished apartment and $1,500 in living expenses, according to an ad posted on InternationalLiving.com.

The magazine said the competition gives it the opportunity to show readers the benefits of retiring abroad.

Ecuador, Panama and Mexico, in that order, were the top destinations in the magazine's Retirement Index 2012, which assessed a country's retirement potential based on property prices, special benefits, cost of living, assimilation, entertainment, health infrastructure, healthcare and climate.

Malaysia, Colombia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Spain, Thailand and Honduras rounded out the top 10 destinations in the index.

InternationalLiving.com estimates that a couple can live in Cuenca for as little as $915 per month after rent.

It is the first competition of its kind for the magazine, which is expecting thousands of applicants. If it is successful, Stevens said, she is open to repeating the opportunity.

"I'm hoping we can get tens of thousands of people interested," she said.

The contest is limited to Americans and Canadians because they make up the bulk of the magazine's readership.

People interested in entering the competition, either solo or as a couple, should post a video no longer than three minutes to YouTube saying why they would want to spend their golden years abroad, as well as a month in Ecuador.

The competition closes on March 15. Magazine staff will select a shortlist of 20 applicants that will be posted on its website, where people can cast votes online. But the ultimate decision will be made by the magazine staff.
"Anyone can vote," Stevens said.

No writing experience is necessary but if the magazine publishes the winner's report, they will be paid its normal freelance rate.

To read more about this story, follow the link:
http://www.canada.com/travel/Wanted+Volunteers+live+Ecuador+city+month/6126484/story.html

Monday, 6 February 2012

Destination: New Zealand is hot for 2012

Hot on the heels of Rugby World Cup, and a bag full of international tourism accolades from 2011, New Zealand is set to stay in the international spotlight for 2012.

The 2011 collection of significant awards - designating New Zealand as hot, popular and eco-friendly - confirms Aotearoa New Zealand as a top international destination for visitors looking to fulfill their travel dreams.

Travel authority Lonely Planet has picked New Zealand’s Southern Lakes in the ‘top 10 regions to visit in 2012’, and New Zealand was voted top global eco-tourism destination at both World Traveller and Viagens e Turismo tourism awards in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

New Zealand ranked third strongest country brand in the 2011 FutureBrand Country Brand Index (CBI), and in the past 12 months many individual Kiwis - sports people, film-makers, authors, designers, artists, wine-makers and tourism operators - have been recognised as among the best in their field.

Researched destination
New Zealand is among the most researched destinations for UK tourists according to flight comparison website Skyscanner’s 2012 global travel trends report - an analysis of flight search data from 15 million monthly users.

Spain remains the favourite British destination, but a 35% year-on-year increase puts New Zealand in the top 10 destinations receiving growing interest from the British travelling public.

In October, The Telegraph (UK) readers named New Zealand as their second favorite worldwide destination at the Telegraph Travel Awards, and Wanderlust (UK) travel magazine readers voted New Zealand their third most satisfying holiday destination.

Rugby World Cup which brought 133,000 visitors - including significant numbers of UK tourists - to New Zealand in September and October, also delivered New Zealand landscapes and culture along with live rugby coverage to a massive international viewing audience in 230-plus countries.

For 2012, two New Zealand regions have been singled out for international attention.
The Southern Lakes region which includes three major New Zealand tourist destinations - Queenstown, Lake Wanaka and Fiordland - is the only New Zealand region to feature in Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel 2012’. Queenstown and Southern Lakes is ranked at #8 for its year-round activities and spectacular scenery.

Kaikoura - New Zealand’s southern whale watching capital - became the first destination in the world to achieve gold in a new global green benchmark for community sustainability efforts. The Gold Community certification awarded by Green Globe recognises the Kaikoura community’s efforts and contribution to New Zealand’s world-leading sustainable tourism credentials.

Cycling and hiking
In 2012, there will be plenty to entice travellers to experience Destination New Zealand’s natural wonders, unique culture and lifestyle including some outstanding new cycling and walking attractions.
New Zealand’s developing national cycle trail project - 18 ‘great rides’ through some of the country’s iconic landscapes - is on track for completion towards the end of the year / early 2013. Several cycle ways are already open and others will be opened progressively during this summer and over the coming months.

The ‘great rides’ will join New Zealand’s well established network of nine ‘great walks’ - multi-day hiking treks through a series of wild New Zealand landscapes which include the famed Tongariro Crossing, in the volcanic central North Island, and the Milford Track through the dual world heritage parks of Fiordland on the South Island’s remote southwestern coast.

For intrepid hikers, the Te Araroa Trail - traversing the length of New Zealand - will provide the newest and ultimate walking experience but there are also many opportunities for recreational walkers as the 3000-kilometre trail covers a multitude of shorter day and overnight walks.

Courtesy of Breaking Travel News

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Share your GREAT Britain

VisitBritain has called upon the British public to invite their friends and relatives from around the world to visit the UK in 2012. The rallying cry for the nation to get involved is the latest phase of the national tourism agency’s ‘GREAT Britain – You’re Invited’ marketing programme and follows a similar invitation from celebrities including Jamie Oliver, Dame Judi Dench and Matt Smith. 

Under the slogan ‘Share Your GREAT Britain’, the British public, local communities and businesses across the country are being encouraged to make use of a free online toolkit that will allow users to personalize their greeting and enable them to invite their global network to the UK for their next holiday. 

A variety of tools are available free of charge for the public to help send their invite around the world. This includes a ‘10 GREAT Reasons’ app on VisitBritain’s highly popular LoveUK Facebook page, along with a personalized postcard that can be downloaded from visitbritain.org. International friends or relatives who receive an invitation will be entered into a draw to win two return flights to the UK, while anyone sending an invite has the chance to win a Samsung Galaxy Tab. 

Launching the campaign, Tourism Minister John Penrose said: “This is an innovative and personal way of encouraging more visitors to the UK and comes at a time when we want to ensure Britain is top of everyone’s holiday wish list. 

“From the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, to the Diamond Jubilee, we want as many people as possible to come and join in the celebrations, so an open invitation from UK households to friends and family abroad is an ideal way of increasing visitor numbers and making 2012 a truly memorable year for tourism.”

Courtesy of: Breaking Travel News