Author: Richard Telling

Monaco Yachts

There is a restraint, exclusivist rich group that has a thing for yachting, mainly because they can afford to! You and I, we both know that we’d like to own even a small, “unpretentious” sailboat, don’t we? And have at least once dreamed to relax on the deck of a luxury yacht in Monaco. But, hey, who needs a yacht in a so busy world? Do we wake up in the morning with nothing better to do than dress in white completely (maybe some blue too), have our cafe au lait (maybe a croissant also if not on diet) and go to the quay ordering around the employees to rub up better that side? We certainly don’t! If you say you do, that’s another story!

What better place (and object) for a competition: who has the bigger, more expensive model, envies arise, disputes start… Shirley Bassey reportedly complained of the big size of “Le Grand Bleu” belonging to the Russian billionaire Abramovich. The yacht apparently spoiled the view on the port of her uphill apartment. Well, what else would you like rich people to do?…

Beside occasional cruises and constant care some rich people find a practical use to their yachts: some rent them, others live there. Owning a yacht can be extremely useful if you are a tax exile, especially UK citizens who live in Monaco but work in the UK. Renting is very profitable, especially during holidays season or when big events happen in Monaco: prices go from 25,000EUR per week to 365,000EUR per week, depending on the size and facilities.

Some of world’s famous yachts rest in the waters of the bay. Some of them are so big that they have helicopters on their top decks. Among worlds’ 100 largest yachts are:

  • Octopus – owned by Paul Allen, the Microsoft cofounder;
  • Tatoosh – owned also by Paul Allen;
  • Atlantis II – owned by the Niarchos family, descendants of Onassis’ rival Stavros;
  • Le Grand Bleu – owned by the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich;
  • Delphine – owned by the American car magnate Horace Dodge;
  • Montkaj – owned by Prince Mohammed bin Fahd, son of Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd.

Following its policy of capitalization of all (though scarce) natural resource, the Principality quickly became aware of the potential of the Hercules Bay and started a yachting tradition. There is a Yacht Club founded in 1953 by Prince Rainier and it was all along supported by him and his son Albert, who is also its President. The Yacht Club de Monaco gained international fame attracting worlds’ greatest names in sailing to come and battle on the Monegasque waters.

Naturally, there are also prestigious yachting events of international interest, excellent opportunities for yacht owners all over the world to show off.

  • Primo Cup – Trophée Credit Suisse
  • Challenge Inter-Banques
  • Monaco Classic Week
  • Fête de la Mer
  • Régates Corporatives
  • Monaco Yacht Show

The events are organized with the support of H.S.H. Prince Albert I and of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III. All these events have display and competitions parts, except for Monaco Yacht Show, which is the greatest in-water yacht exhibition in Europe, without competition show.

Types Charter Yachts

Bareboat charter is for the more experienced person who has been sailing before. In fact the boat owner will insist on some type of qualification from a national authority before agreeing on the charter. This qualification will be something like an Offshore Skipper Certificate, depending where you are from. On a bareboat charter you are your own skipper, mate, mechanic, deckhand, chef and dinghy driver. Whilst on charter it is up to you to arrange all the watch keeping, safety, daily routine etc. To be able to take on a bareboat charter you will be familiar with a yacht routine and know what to do. If you are a little rusty or not familiar with the type of yacht then you may wish to employ a skipper for the whole charter or for just a few days. You will quickly learn from the skipper before taking over on your own but you must realize that the skipper will require a cabin for his time on board so allow for that when planning your vacation.

Yachts offered for bareboat charter are more than likely to be older yachts that have been used as instructional yachts as well as hired by less than accomplished sailors. They are unlikely to be in pristine condition as they have been used and have acquired bumps and scratches from contact with jetties and inside galley spills leaving their mark. However you will still have lots of fun with good value for money a the charter rate will be lower for this type of yacht.

The size of the yacht could be anything up to 60 feet and will be comfortable and easy to handle for you and your party. Single hull sailing yachts, catamarans and power yachts are all available for the same cost or less than the cost per person on a mid range cruise ship. If you wish to employ a skipper or a chef/deckhand then obviously the cost will increase to pay their wages, possibly up to $300 per day for the skipper, who will do most of the work on board and make life easier for you.

If you are lacking the experience or would feel happy with company nearby then you might choose to take a flotilla charter instead. This allows you to sail your own yacht but have the support of a professional skipper and crew member leading the flotilla on their own yacht. You sail in company with other yachts and the agenda is arranged by the flotilla skipper who has all the local knowledge to make your vacation pleasurable. As you acquire knowledge and become more confident you may wish to sail independently of the flotilla but arrange to meet up with them at the next harbor or anchorage. You will still be able to stay in contact with the flotilla by radio in case you need help.

The other category is that of a crewed yacht. This can be any amount of crew from just a skipper/owner through to a large yacht with captain, mate and full crew. A husband and wife crew on their own yacht is quite common where the wife will do all the cooking and domestic chores and lend a hand crewing as well. You will not be asked to do too much work but of course you can be involved as much as you want. So what is the difference here to the skippered bareboat, it is the fact that the yacht is owned by the husband and wife team and will be in better condition and well maintained. They will take greater pride in their yacht and will see themselves as hosts rather than paid crew.

Nile Cruise Holidays

A Nile Cruise is so much more than a conventional holiday. From the magical Temples of Karnak and Luxor to the stunning Valley of The Kings, the burial place of The Pharaohs, you will lazily follow the Nile visiting some of the most spectacular ancient sites in the world.

Every day you will visit new sites and learn more about The Nile, Egypt’s lifeline since ancient times. In the afteroons you will cruise down The Nile aboard your chosen cruise vessel and relax whilst witnessing the life of those who live on the banks of one of the worlds’ most mighty rivers.

Almost all Nile Cruise Holidays either include a full program of 10 or 12 excursions and the accompaniment of an experienced Egyptologist in the basic cost or offer you them at an additional cost.

You should look for an operator that offers you these extras as part of the overall price.

Normally, you will visit the archealogical sites and temples first thing in the morning to avoid the intense heat of the mid-day sun. This then leaves you free in the afternoon to relax and enjoy watching life as it takes place before you as you cruise gently down The Nile.

You will find that you will also see a wide variety of wildlife and birds along the edges of the Nile and you will be able to take lots of wonderful and evocative photographs to enjoy on your return.

Your Nile Cruise operator should also be able to offer you a “Cruise and Stay” arrangement where you enjoy a 7 day Nile Cruise and then a further choice of extra days of relaxation in a hotel in Luxor, Cairo, Hurghada, Sharm-El-Sheikh or other Egyptian city or Red Sea resort.

To give you an insight into what your Nile Cruise experience might be like you can purchase a number of books on the subject from Amazon.com.

Alaska Cruise Packages

Humpback whales. Sailing fjords. Gazing at glaciers. These are the key attractions of booking an Alaska cruise package. The magic of Alaska is the mystery of the ice and wildlife. Where else can you go sailing and come face to face with a huge wall of ice, not many cruise packages offer such an amazing view from sea!

The two most popular Alaskan cruises are the “Inside Passage” cruise and the “Gulf of Alaska” cruise also known as the glacier cruise. With the Inside Passage cruise of Alaska, you will visit several ports of call like Juneau, Glacier Bay and Skagway. With the Gulf of Alaska cruise, you will see more glaciers, sail more fjords and have opportunities of side trips to places like Denali National Park.

The typical Alaskan cruise is 7 days, although there are options of an extended stay of eleven to fourteen days. Once you decide between the Inside Passage or Gulf of Alaska cruise, you have to consider the size of ship that you would be most comfortable with. Smaller excursion ships usually carry up to 140-160 passengers and tend to offer a little more adventure and can often sail closer to a glacier than would a larger cruise ship that sails with a few hundred to thousands of people on board ( This is a key advantage for many selecting an Alaska Cruise package ).

If an adrenaline rush is more your speed, look into the smaller ships. If you prefer a more luxurious way to travel with every amenity possible, stick with the larger ship.

Norwegian Cruise Line

A particular cruise feature that Norwegian Cruise Lines introduced is free-style dining. Historically, shipboard dining has been a structured affair, with meals served at preset hours, usually with assigned seating in the dining room and a dress code. Free-style dining changes all of that to match the contemporary American lifestyle. Passengers may choose from eight to a dozen dining areas on board and eat when they wish. Some dining areas serve cafeteria-style, with food already prepared and jean-clad passengers taking a tray and selecting their food items. The main dining areas serve menu-based meals with full service wait staff and where jeans and shorts are prohibited at the evening meal. All food in the dining rooms and cafeteria is included in the price of the cruise.

And you get more than your money’s worth in the quality and presentation of all food items. The average passenger gains seven pounds on a week-long cruise! In addition, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a selection of specialty or upscale restaurants on each ship and meals in these restaurants are offered at additional cost. For example, Asian, French, Japanese or Italian cuisine may be featured in a suitably decorated small restaurant. But know full well, the upscale restaurants excel in service and cuisine and provide value for the dollar for the more discriminating.

Food service is a major attraction on any cruise, but Norwegian Cruise Line also provides a full range of on-board activities 24 hours a day. A fully equipped fitness center attracts those who want to stay in shape on their vacation. The pool area is the hub of live entertainment day and evening. Ships have a number of bar, lounge and disco areas that come to life with talented performers every night. Also included in the price of the cruise is theatre entertainment that ranges from stand-up comedy to full show revues that rival those found in Las Vegas. And speaking of Las Vegas, while in international waters, passengers can enjoy all the amenities of a sparkling casino, including slots and gaming.

Norwegian Cruise Line, a premier cruise line, currently has ten large and modern ships in its fleet. The most luxurious ship in the fleet, the Norwegian Star, seasonally alternates on trips to Alaska during the summer season and cruises to the Mexican Riviera in the colder months. One of the newest ships, Norwegian Spirit, also sails to Alaska in the summer but crosses the Panama Canal to sail the Caribbean in the winter. The Norwegian Wind follows the whim of the wind and sails to many major destinations: Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, and the Caribbean while Norwegian Sun and Dream quietly cruise the Caribbean.

The brand new Pride of Aloha, as its name implies, is dedicated to custom cruises hopping between the islands of Hawaii. There is no better way to thoroughly tour Hawaii than on a cruise ship. Also brand new, Norwegian Dawn is dedicated to sailing from New York to ports in Florida and the Caribbean.

The newly renovated Norwegian Sea routinely sails from Houston, Texas through the Caribbean. A ship fit for royalty, the Norwegian Majesty, also sails through the Caribbean to ports of call in Mexico and the Bahamas.

The Norwegian Crown is nearly 20 years old but, with only 527 staterooms, provides a much more intimate atmosphere than the newer ships that accommodate nearly 2,000 passengers. Two more luxury ships will be added to the ever-expanding fleet in 2005. The soon to be introduced Norwegian Jewel will expand ports of call to Scandinavia, the French Riviera, and Italy.

Early Christmas in Prague

The tradition goes that on the 5th of December the children gather round the three figures of Saint Nicholas, the Angel, and the Devil as Saint Nicholas asks them if they behaved well during the year. Naturally, most children jump up excitedly and say “Yes!” They’re then asked to sing a song or recite a short poem, which they do with much enthusiasm knowing that they will be rewarded with sweets and other treats.

But if they misbehaved and their answer is “no” they receive a sack of black coal or hard potatoes! And if they were deemed really bad, they are put into a sack and taken to hell!

This story, told over many generations, scares the local children of Prague enough to almost guarantee good behaviour!

There really was a Christian Saint Nicholas. He lived in Greece, just a couple hundred years after the birth of Christ, and Mikulas Day is celebrated in honour of Saint Nicholas and his life.

Saint Nicholas became a priest and, later, a Bishop of the early Catholic Church. True to the Christian concept of giving up belongings and following Christ, St. Nicholas gave up all of his worldly goods. He was well known for helping out people in need – especially children.

The practice of hanging up stockings originated with Saint Nicholas. Legend has it that one day, one of the small bags of gold that were thrown into poor households by Saint Nicholas fell into the stocking of a child. News got around and children began hanging their stocking by their chimneys, hoping that St. Nicholas would arrive.

It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the spirit of St. Nicholas’ life evolved into the creation of what we now know as Santa Claus.

Around the time of Christmas in Prague, the city comes to life in the Old Town Square between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. You can wander through the city centre from Old Town Square to Wenceslas Square, stopping off at the red-canopied wooden huts for wooden toys, embroidered lace and traditional Christmas decorations. You may want to buy a Czech glass bauble ornament – they are known for their quality and aesthetic appeal and make a wonderful souvenir. Be sure to take children to see the nativity scene at Old Town Square, where they can pet sheep, goats and the Christmas donkey.

The market stalls, which resemble wooden huts, invite tourists to treat themselves to a host of culinary delights and tasty beverages, and are open until midnight. As evening falls, lights are illuminated and the Old Town square becomes a magical feast for the eyes.

Tourists come early during holiday season to experience Christmas in Prague in a very unique way, not seen in other parts of the world.

When celebrating Christmas in Prague, be aware that it will be very cold and you may even experience a downpour of fresh snow. Layers are recommended as well as boots and thick socks if you intend to do a lot of walking.

Make sure to plan ahead and book early so that you can get the best prices available for flights, airport transport and accommodation at this expensive time of the year.

Reasons for Choosing to Cruise

Vacation activities while cruising!

What is your idea of vacation activities? Is it water sports? Cruising certainly has that with swimming pools and resort beaches. How about sightseeing? Do the historic cities of Europe intrigue you or would exotic ports of call be more enticing? Think vacation cruise! How about cultural lectures and educational tours? What about golfing on a different island every day in port? Does your vacation include a visit to the casino? Or, is your idea of vacationing soaking up the sun and relaxing on the beach or by the pool? You guessed it. You can have any of these vacation activities by choosing an appropriate cruise vacation!

Cruising for family vacations!

Cruising is fantastic for family vacations of all ages! (See Family Cruise Vacation.) Many of the larger cruise lines and cruise ships offer special programs for children and teens. Kids get to get away from mom and dad, and mom and dad get some free time to relax and enjoy each others’ company. With all of the activities available on board ship, no one should become bored. Add the interesting and educations shore excursions at the various ports-of-call, and everyone gets an appreciation of how others live. Special menu offerings for children make dining a breeze. And on some ships, there are 24 hour pizzerias! Ice cream stations add to the enchantment. Some cruise lines also offer a special coupon or ticket for soft drinks at a minimal cost. Some ships offer babysitting as well – but it’s best to check first. Choose a cruise for your next family vacation!

Choose a cruise to experience new horizons!

Unpack your bags when you arrive on board your cruise ship and that’s it! On some itineraries you will be in a new port-of-call every day. But you won’t have to pack… unpack… pack… unpack… – you get the idea! Experience some of the best destinations the world has to offer while relaxing and enjoying your time between ports! No more long waits in airports or cramped seating on trains or busses. Relax by the pool, work-out in the gym, enjoy some free time gaming, read a good book – you decide how you use your time between the fascinating and intriguing ports. Go to sleep in your comfortable stateroom in one port and wake up in a new port with adventure ahead!

The simplicity of cruises for vacationing!

With a little investigation up-front, your cruise vacation is as simple as booking… then enjoying! Once on board, your time is your own – no pressure to be here at this time and there at that time. Enjoy your vacation and return from your cruise refreshed (not needing a vacation from your vacation). Do as much – or as little – as you like! Nearly all expenses are paid for with your cruise ticket. A little spending money is about all you need. Talk about simple – come on board and have everything looked after for you! Now that’s a vacation!

Romance and cruise vacations!

For hundreds of years there has been a romantic mystique about the seas. What could be more romantic than sailing off into the sunset while sipping a glass of fine wine on your private balcony? Perhaps strolling arm in arm on an elegant formal night with your better half dressed to the nines. What about a honeymoon to some of the most romantic ports in the world? Perhaps a quiet secluded cove with white sandy beach. Enjoy each others’ company at a quiet table in one of the intimate lounges. Or dance into the night under the stars. Take a while and lose yourselves while utilizing the spa services for two. Nothing could be more romantic than a cruise vacation!

Vacation cruises’ pampering service!

For many people, nothing is more important for enjoyment while vacationing than service. If you receive good service, you are content. Be prepared to have your socks blown off! Most cruise lines train there staff in the fine art of customer service. Your room steward or stewardess will do their absolute utmost to ensure that your stateroom is kept just the way you like. From the bartenders to the wait staff to the activities staff, each cruise staff member’s aim is to please. On our last cruise, our wine steward and the table staff in the dining room were absolutely wonderful. When you board your cruise ship be prepared to be pampered!

Cruise vacation dining!

Many people will tell you that this is the number one reason for taking a cruise. The fabulous menu options have your mouth watering. Then the presentation arrives and you are certainly not disappointed. The main dining rooms are places of elegance and formality. Most ships have alternate dining options as well – some with a small cover charge. There are usually casual dining options as well. Some ships have poolside grilles and some even have 24 hour pizzerias as mentioned earlier. Most offer 24 hour in-suite dining as well. And don’t miss out on the midnight buffet! Special menus can – in most cases – be provided with advance notice. Pack a pair of stretchy pants or slacks – just in case !

Ananda Temple

One side of the Ananda’s central structure measures 175 feet/53 metres. The roof above the central structure comprises five in circumference successively diminishing terraces, each one building up on the previous larger one. Out of the innermost, smallest and highest terrace rises the ‘Sikhara’. This is a 25 layer beehive-like superstructure topped by the golden stupa, which in turn is capped by a ‘Hti taw’ as the upper umbrella of a temple or pagoda is called in Burmese.

The temple’s Sikhara has five in vertical sequence arranged windows and reaches a total height of 168 feet/51 metres above ground. The four smaller structures rising from and above the four corners are small pagodas and down-scaled copies of the main sikhara. The overall design serves the purpose of creating the ragged shape of the Himalayans.

Caused by the heavy earthquake in 1975 the graceful temple sustained severe damage. However, it was relatively quick repaired and the Ananda is still Bagan’s most beautiful and best preserved temple.

The Ananda was built by king Kyanzittha, who is also known as Thiluin Man or ‘Soldier Lord’. He ruled the kingdom of Pagan for 28 years from 1084 A.D. to1112/13 A.D. and lead the capital Pagan into what has become known as the ‘Era Of Temple Builder’. Since he was a deeply religious man he carried the building of religious monuments to a whole new level what developed Pagan into what was called the ‘City of Four Million Pagodas’. But this is not all; under Kyanzittha’s rule Pagan also prospered greatly in economic and cultural terms. This he achieved thanks to the highly skilled Mon people brought to Pagan by his father king Anawrahta after the victory over the Mon at Thaton.

According to legend king Kyanzittha developed the idea to build this temple inspired by the stories of eight Indian monks who told him that they had lived in the ‘Nanda Mula Cave Temple’, a legendary temple in the equally legendary Shandamadana mountain what is actually the Nanda Devi mountain in the western Himalayas (Sanskrit for ‘abode of snow’).

The construction of the Ananda Temple was completed in 1091 A.D. This set at the same time an end to the life of its very able architect who was executed by king Kyanzittha himself in order to avoid the temple’s duplication.

Entering the Ananda’s main structure through its western entrance there are two footprints of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. They are mounted on pedestals and each of them is as prescribed in the old scriptures divided in 108 parts. In the sanctum behind them are two images depicting king Kyanzittha and his ‘Ga nar par mouk kha’ (primate/arch bishop) Shin Arahan, the Mon pongyi who converted King Anawrahta to Theravada Buddhism.

Shin Arahan died in 1115 A.D. at the age of 81 after having served four kings, namely Anawrahta (who ruled from 1044 to 1077), Sawlu (who ruled from 1077 to 1084), Kyanzittha (who ruled from 1084 to 1112/13) and Alaungsithu (who ruled from 1112/13 to 1167). Behind the two statues is the huge statue of Gautama Buddha who, indirectly though, might be connected to the temple’s name.

The inner passageways are lined from wall to wall and floor to ceiling with rows of niches containing seated and standing Buddha images. The Buddha statues in the lower niches are protected from being damaged or stolen by metal grids.

Outside on ground level at the temple’s corners are ‘Chinthes’ and ‘Manokthihas’ (mythical creatures half-lion half-man that are like nats symbolic of guardians. Their heads and torsos are human and their hindquarters are that of a lion.) Up at the corners of the main sikhara and terraces are statues of nats. Wherever one goes in Burma it does not take long and one sees them; they are important guardians and therefore worshipped by everyone and omnipresent; at home on alters, in nat houses on balconies, in gardens, in trees, in temples and pagodas.

The Ananda Temple is a corridor temple. Its proportions are of exceptional harmony built on the architectural concept of a so-called ‘Greek cross’ of which all four arms are of equal length with a centre dome.

The lower floor of the temple is a chessboard patterned maze of passageways that divides the ground floor into 84 fields that are symmetrically arranged around the centre. The antechamber/vestibule of the western main entrance is one end of the two axes that constitute the centre cross with each of its ends pointing at one of the four cardinal points. The antechamber or porch has on the left and right side an entrance. If one draws a line connecting the two entrances the line divides the vestibule in two equal halves.

The next passageway is the outer corridor that is running parallel to the four sides of the inner structure, thereby forming a square as does the next corridor that forms the inner square of the two.

The inner passageway is running along the four sides of the centre cube with its four niches pointing in direction of the four cardinal points. Each of these niches is housing a huge teak Buddha statue. Entering the Ananda from west and looking straight down the corridor into the temple’s inner part one sees the lower part of a pair of legs and feet. That are the legs and feet of the statue of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha (c 563 to c 483 BC), which is facing west. Gautama Buddha is the 28th Buddha in a long line that is shrouded in the mist of myth and legend beginning with Tanhankara the 1st Buddha.

In the niche to the east is a statue of Konagamana, the 26th Buddha, in the one to the north Kakusanda, the 25th Buddha and the one to the south Kassapa, the 27th Buddha. The present statues are all made of wood. There are people who say that Kassapa (south) is made of bronze. This is not true because only the original was. This copy here is carved out of teak. The statues of Kakusanda and Kassapa are said to be the original statues whereas those of Gautama and Konagamana are later copies. The originals were destroyed; Kassapa most likely by alchemists. As for Konagamana some say by a fire ignited by a careless worshipper’s candle or oil lamp others say by temple robbers. The fact remains that new statues had to be made.

The statue of Gautama Buddha has a height of 28.5 feet/9.5 metres. All of the four Buddha statues are of almost the same height and depict the respective Buddha in a standing posture but with two different cape styles as well as different arm positions and hand gestures. These different symbolic postures/gestures and ways of positioning legs, feet, arms, hands and fingers are called ‘mudras’ what is Sanskrit and means ‘sign’ or ‘token’.

To protect the Ananda the architect put according to king Kyanzittha’s instructions, outside the temple eight nat images and a total of one hundred forty eight crested chinthes’. These statues are guarding the entrances, the corners of the base and terraces/roofs as well as the sikhara of this temple.

The corridor walls and the upper terraces are lined with one thousand four hundred fifty tiles. At the base are about four hundred of them. They are depicting scenes from the ‘Jatakas’. The name Jataka has its roots in the Sanskrit word for ‘birth’ or ‘born under’. They include all of the stories of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha’s different existences before he became ‘Buddha’, the ‘Enlightened one’. The early canon of Buddhism, the ‘Tipitaka’ (Pali for ‘Three Baskets’), comprises a total of five hundred forty seven such stories. These Jatakas that also contain references to the earlier Buddhas and Gautama Buddha’s teachings on mental discipline and morality are used to instruct about moral virtues and the law of ‘Karma’ (Sanskrit for ‘action’). Karma is ‘ones actions and their effect on this and/or future lives’. The story is depicted here at the Ananda Temple very detailed in a series of 80 most skilfully carved tiles. It takes real masters to create something as beautiful as this. These ones are not as usual Terracotta tiles but carved from volcanic stones from Mt. Popa. They are arranged in two tiers and can be seen on the lower part of the outer passageway of the Ananda Temple.

Apart from the fact that the Ananda temple is one of Burma’s main Buddhist pilgrimage sites that is throughout the year of considerable importance to Buddhists (as well as foreign visitors) the certainly most important time is the Burmese month of Pyatho (December/January) when the Ananda Temple Festival takes place. Other pagodas and temples too have festivals and most of them are celebrated during the dry season but the biggest of all is the Ananda festival. This year (2015) the festival is celebrated from the 4th of January to the 19th of January and the festival’s high-time is on the day before the full moon day, at the full moon day and the day after the full moon. Its zenith is an impressive morning procession in the temple’s courtyard on the full-moon day of Patho. This annually held festival is a particularly large, colourful, entertaining and joyous affair and an event not to be missed when being in Bagan.

The main reasons for the festival are to worship Gautama Buddha, celebrate the founding of the Ananda Temple, commemorate important events in its history such as its consecration and collect donations for the funding of repair and maintenance of the temple buildings.

One of the interesting aspects of this festival are perhaps the caravans of bullock-carts with people that come from all over the country to sell their products, celebrate here and make donations; the former being most probably more important to them. The travelling shop owners and their families live here in encampments as long as the festival lasts. Afterwards they move on to the next pagoda festival or return home.

Alaska Day Cruise Destinations

When you are going to be on a day cruise it is important to remember to make plans for accommodations after your cruise is over. Each of these destinations does offer many wonderful accommodations options from Hotels to the stylish bed and breakfast. It is however important to make reservations ahead of time because during the peak season accommodations can be difficult to find.

The peak cruising season for each of these destinations is May through August. In May and June you can expect a good chance for the sun to be out. In July it will be on and off again type weather and in August there is a good chance you will find the rain. None the less, whether it is sunny or overcast a day cruise in Alaska is still a lot of fun.

Popular Alaska day cruise destinations:

  • Whittier – Whittier is a small town close to Anchorage that is now accessible by car or train. Through Whittier you will have access to all the beauty that can be found throughout the Prince William Sound. It is a well protected port with many amazing Glaciers nearby. There are several day cruise options out of this port and even a ferry that will take you all the way to Valdez if you like.
  • Valdez – From Anchorage you can reach Valdez by air, car or the ferry out of Whittier. Valdez also offers access to the amazing Prince William Sound with its crystal clear waters. Out of Valdez you are likely to see Glaciers, whales, puffin otters and more. Being one of the furthest ports from Anchorage can be a drawback of this day cruise destination but the beauties of the scenery will more than make up for it.
  • Seward – Seward is probably the most popular cruising port in Alaska. The large cruise ships will dock here because of the easy access. From Anchorage you can access Seward by car, tour bus or train. There are many Alaska day cruise options here including stop on private islands such as Fox Island. You will have the chance to see otters, sea lions, puffins, orcas and humpback whales. At this popular Alaska port there is never a dull moment.
  • Homer – Homer is known mainly as a fishing port however, there are still some day cruise options here. Homer can be accessed from Anchorage by car or air. There is a water taxi that will take you from Homer to the secluded town of Seldovia. There are private boats for hire that will allow you access into Tutka Bay and other secluded area nearby. Out of Homer you can expect to see many sea otters, puffin, humpback whales, beluga whales and even the occasional pilot whale.

One thing you will find that all of these great day cruise destinations have in common is the amazing experience to be had by all who participate. You will see sea life, most likely a glacier or two, possibly some orca or humpback whales but for sure everyone will witness the amazing landscapes and scenery Alaska has to offer. A day cruise in Alaska will definitely be an experience to remember.

Tourism in Mombasa

Mombasa is not short of tourist hotspots given its strategic position as a port city. Many local people from interior Kenya have been guilty of overwhelmingly filling the city to capacity during December holidays. From the white sandy beaches, wild habitats and coral reefs, to variety of fishes and snakes, mangrove swamps and coral islands, Mombasa city is a tourism gem for Kenya.

Nature and Wildlife-Related Tourist Attractions-

Haller Park

Arguably the largest wild animal sanctuary in this city, Haller Park is situated in Bamburi estate, a few minutes to the Kenyatta public beach and Bamburi Cement Factory.

  • The park hosts numerous species of animals from crocodiles, snakes and spiders to turtles, hippos, giraffes and water bucks etc.,
  • The park is home to hundreds of insects and several botanical gardens
  • You will get an opportunity to share water taps with friendly monkeys
  • The park offers a serene environment, with overgrown indigenous trees that makes you feel that you are one with nature

Also known as crocodile farm, this hot spot is located in Nyali and it is rated the largest crocodile farm in East Africa.

  • If crocs are your kind of thing, the Mombasa mamba village will surely sort you out, from the educational videos about the conduct and lifecycle of crocodiles to observing the beasts feast.
  • The highlight of the place is the marvelously grilled crocodile that is served hot!

A marine protected zone, Mombasa marine national park & reserve showcases the Kenya’s best in terms of marine life from the sea urchins and coral reefs to diverse fish life

  • You can enjoy fishing, scuba diving, deep sea diving and snorkeling here

Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary

Established in early 1930s to preserve a wildlife corridor situated on an ancient elephant migration area, the Sanctuary currently harbors and protects endangered African elephants while conserving indigenous deciduous trees and riparian flora.

  • The sanctuary is breath taking and it features meandering water sheds, rolling hills, overhangs and sharp ridges
  • Flora and fauna here is diverse comprising of a primordial and exceptional cycad woodland that can grow to almost two hundred years
  • You can also enjoy bird watching

Nature Rides

If you would love to get intimate with nature and obtain a 1-on-1 encounter with the locals in their traditional settlements and smell the air filled with scents from palm and mango trees and ocean salt, you may consider taking nature rides and cycle around the city.

Enjoy the amazing creeks, climates and typography of the city on your bicycle

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