Life is a constant celebration in Brazil

July 25, 2011

By Getachew Teklu

Life is a constant celebration in Brazil. Experience the lively spirit and  passion for fun while dancing in street parades during Carnival. A city for  lovers, hit the world-famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema for non-stop  exotic sights and sounds. For nature lovers Brazil offers a rich ecosystem  including the unforgettable Amazon rainforest, stunning Iguassu waterfalls and  the vast wetlands of The Pantanal. Embrace an exciting Latin American mix that  celebrates everything from culture and cuisine to samba and sunshine.

The most visited places in Brazil includes Fernando de  Noronha Island, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (the two bustling megacities of  the south-east), the more relaxed city of Salvador in the northeast, or the old  colonial towns of Ouro Preto and Olinda. For natural beauty, try a visit to  Iguacu Falls. If you have the chance the best time to visit is Carnival.

There is nothing in the whole wide world like Carnival in Rio. Brasilia, the  capital city of the country, is known by its great architecture. It is a  planned city. The most up-and-coming resort in Brazil is now the small friendly Praia de  Pipa, in the NE of the country; serviced by international airports at Natal and  Recife, this small town is popular with both Brazilians and foreign tourists.  The laid back attitude of the open and friendly locals make this a welcome  change to some of the more recognised but less safe and inviting destinations.

In Southern Brazil you can visit the state of Santa Catarina, which is visited  every year by people who prefer not too crowded spots like major cities or  places where all tourists go. Small beaches like Mariscal, Garopaba, Taquaras  or Estaleiro beach are not too far away from medium size cities, so they  provide all necessary structure, but at the same time still conserve their  natural enchantments. Praia do Pinho (close to Balneario Camboriu – the most  important touristic spot in southern Brazil) is the paradise for naturists as  it is the first official nude beach in Brazil (  Many options of adventure activities such as rafting, diving, fishing, trekking  are aso available in this beautiful region.

Brazil enjoys a strong economy with thriving business and a strong currency.  Most recently, the trend has been for Brazilians to purchase real estate in Florida. This is due to the
combination of their strong currency, coupled with the weak US dollar, plus  Florida real estate prices are currently depressed by 30% or more. Add to this  the Florida sales tax of approximately 6% compared to a VAT tax in Brazil and  shopping for cars, cloths, electronics, etc are all much cheaper in the US  which is why Brazilians are choosing to earn their money in Brazil and spend it  in Florida.  To learn more about Brazil click here:

Travel & Food: Raw meat, a manly dish in Ethiopia

July 16, 2011

By Harry Kloman

When tourist James Barker had dinner at the home of his Ethiopian hosts, he knew he’d have to be polite and eat whatever indigenous cuisine they offered him. He didn’t know it wouldn’t be cooked.

Ethiopia is “a nation who generally live[s] on raw meat, and it cannot be supposed that they have made great advancement in their cuisine,” the Briton wrote in “Narrative of a Journey to Shoa,” an 1868 account of his Ethiopian odyssey.

Nearly a sesqui-century later, it looks like Barker was prescient. Ethiopian restaurants in America often tout their vegan options, and Ethiopians certainly appreciate their culture’s vegetarian cuisine. But they relish meat even more, and if it’s not a holiday fasting season, during which meat is forbidden, they hungrily embrace beef — sometimes cooked, sometimes not.

The recipe for raw beef hasn’t changed much since Barker’s visit. And how could it? Raw is raw, no preparation required. You melt some Ethiopian butter (niter kibe), combine it with freshly ground beef, toss in the requisite spices and voila, it’s what’s for dinner — a favorite Ethiopian dish called kitfo.

Unless, of course, you don’t fuss with all of that. Just take some bite-sized chunks of raw beef, dip them into the red pepper paste awaze or the even hotter red pepper powder mitmita, and you’re feasting on gored gored, most likely the no-frills meal that so repelled Barker.

The even simpler tere siga, or “raw meat,” requires no preparation at all : Presented with long strips of meat, the gourmand uses a knife to cut off piece after piece. This ritual is called q’wirt, from the Amharic word q’warata, to cut. Read more:

Experiencing the high life in Kenya

July 13, 2011

By Rick Shively

Kenya, the acknowledged birthplace of the safari and home to some of the richest and most verdant wildlife you’ll find in Africa, is also utilizing its “Magical Kenya” powers today – not to mention taking a lesson from the success of the luxury andBeyond and Singita camps and lodges in South Africa – to develop some unforgettable luxury camps and lodges of its own.

The trouble with defining and identifying a luxury product in a place like Kenya is dealing with the issues of subjectivity, taste and the changing nature of the luxury marketplace in terms of the changing demands of the luxury traveler. So to help define that product and the demands of high-end travelers, we went to three different luxury tour operators—all of whom said the majority of their luxury clients customize—to get their input on their experiences in this very unique and diverse destination.

For example, David Jones, v.p. at Ker & Downey, emphasizes that luxury these days is not just about booking over-the-top, drop-dead gorgeous properties. “It’s more about experiential travel now, it’s not just luxury anymore. We’re finding that our particular clients have the means to spend pretty much whatever they want on travel and they want to incorporate the luxury with the experience. They want to ensure that it’s a valid experience and not just a luxury hotel because they can go to a wonderful Four Seasonsanywhere in the world. But they want to make sure the experience matches up with the luxury.” Read more:

How To Secure Your Cell Phones and PDAs

July 12, 2011


What unique risks do cell phones and PDAs present?

Most current cell phones have the ability to send and receive text messages. Some cell phones and PDAs also offer the ability to connect to the internet. Although these are features that you might find useful and convenient, attackers may try to take advantage of them. As a result, an attacker may be able to accomplish the following:

Abuse your service– Most cell phone plans limit the number of text messages you can send and receive. If an attacker spams you with text messages, you may be charged additional fees. An attacker may also be able to infect your phone or PDA with malicious code that will allow them to use your service. Because the contract is in your name, you will be responsible for the charges.

Lure you to a malicious web site – While PDAs and cell phones that give you access to email are targets for standard phishing attacks, attackers are now sending text messages to cell phones. These messages, supposedly from a legitimate company, may try to convince you to visit a malicious site by claiming that there is a problem withyour account or stating that you have been subscribed to a service. Once you visit the site, you may be lured into providing personal information or downloading a malicious file (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks for more information).

Use your cell phone or PDA in an attack – Attackers who can gain control of your service may use your cell phone or PDA to attack others. Not only does this hide the real attacker’s identity, it allows the attacker to increase the number of targets (see Understanding Denial-of-Service Attacks for more information).

Gain access to account information– In some areas, cell phones are becoming capable of performing certain transactions (from paying for parking or groceries to conducting larger financial transactions). An attacker who can gain access to a phone that is used for these types of transactions may be able to discover your accountinformation and use or sell it.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Follow general guidelines for protecting portable devices – Take precautions to secure your cell phone and PDA the same way you should secure your computer (see Cybersecurity for Electronic Devices and Protecting Portable Devices: Data Security for more information).

Be careful about posting your cell phone number and email address – Attackers often use software that browses web sitesforemail addresses. These addresses then become targets for attacks and spam (see Reducing Spamfor more information). Cell phone numbers can be collected automatically, too. By limiting the number of people who have access to your information, you limit your risk of becoming a victim.

Do not follow links sent in email or text messages – Be suspicious of URLs sent in unsolicited email or text messages. While the links may appear to be legitimate, they may actually direct you to a malicious web site.

Be wary of downloadable software – There are many sites that offer games and other software you can download onto your cell phone or PDA. This software could include malicious code. Avoiddownloading files from sites that you do not trust. If you are getting the files from a supposedly secure site, look for a web site certificate (see Understanding Web Site Certificates for more information). If you do download a file from a web site, consider saving it to your desktop and manually scanning it for viruses before opening it.

Evaluate your security settings – Make sure that you take advantage of the security features offered on your device. Attackers may take advantage of Bluetooth connections to access or download information on your device. Disable Bluetooth when you are not using it to avoid unauthorized access (see Understanding Bluetooth Technology for more information).

Author: Mindi McDowell | Produced 2006 by US-CERT, a government organization.

What to Do When Vacations Go Bad

July 9, 2011

By: Susan Young

When Cruise West unexpectedly ended its World Cruise last fall and asked guests to leave the ship in Newfoundland, some insurers paid claims quickly, given the line’s failure to complete the voyage. But not all did, and because the line didn’t immediately state it was in default or filing for bankruptcy, most insurers waited before starting to pay claims for the line’s future cruises.

And when political turmoil broke out in North Africa this year, many insurers performed admirably to help clients whose vacations were interrupted get home. But when some clients with future bookings wanted to cancel and get their money back to book alternative vacations, they were told to stand by as the situation of civil unrest was under evaluation. Ofcourse, payment of any claim depends on the insurer and the specific policy details. If the colloquial phrase “God is in the details” applies anywhere, it’s to travel insurance. “With insurance, there is no policy that covers everything; there are gray areas within most products,” acknowledges Michelle Fee, CEO and co-founder, Cruise Planners. “Insurance is one of those things that most customers don’t want to buy, but as agents, we know how important it is to sell. It’s always that one customer who doesn’t buy it that ends up needing it and, unfortunately, I’m sure every agent has some horror story to tell.”  Read more:



July 8, 2011

By Getachew Teklu

Paris had always been a destination for traders, students and those on religious pilgrimages, but its ‘tourism’ in the proper sense of the term began on a large scale only with the appearance of rail travel, namely from state organisation of France’s rail network from 1848. One of Paris’ first ‘mass’ attractions drawing international interest were, from 1855, the above-mentioned Expositions Universelles that would bring Paris many new monuments, namely the Eiffel Tower from 1889. These, in addition to the Capital’s 2nd Empire embellishments, did much to make the city itself the attraction it is today.

Paris’ museums and monuments are by far its highest-esteemed attractions, and tourist interest has been nothing but a benefit to these; tourism has even motivated both city and State to create new ones. The city’s most prized museum, the Louvre, sees over 8 million visitors a year, being by far the world’s most visited art museum. Paris’ cathedrals are another main attraction: its Notre-Dame cathedral and Basilique du Sacré-Cœur receive 12 million and 8 million visitors respectively. The Eiffel Tower, by far Paris’ most famous monument, averages over 6 million visitors per year and more than 200 millions since its construction. Disneyland Resort Paris is a major tourist attraction not only for visitors to Paris, but to Europe as well, with 12.4 million visitors in 2004.

The Louvre is one of the largest and most famous museums, housing many works of art, including the Mona Lisa (La Joconde) and the Venus de Milo statue. Works by Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin are found in Musée Picasso and Musée Rodin respectively, while the artistic community of Montparnasse is chronicled at the Musée du Montparnasse. Starkly apparent with its service-pipe exterior, the Centre Georges Pompidou, also known as Beaubourg, houses the Musée National d’Art Moderne. Lastly, art and artefacts from the Middle Ages and Impressionist eras are kept in Musée Cluny and Musée d’Orsay respectively, the former with the prized tapestry cycle The Lady and the Unicorn.

Many of Paris’ once-popular local establishments have metamorphised into a parody of French culture, in a form catering to the tastes and expectations of tourist capital. Le Lido, The Moulin Rouge cabaret-dancehall, for example, are a staged dinner theatre spectacle, a dance display that was once but one aspect of the cabaret’s former atmosphere. All of the establishment’s former social or cultural elements, such as its ballrooms and gardens, are gone today. Much of Paris’ hotel, restaurant and night entertainment trades have become heavily dependent on tourism, with results not always positive for Parisian culture.


July 7, 2011

By Getachew Teklu

Jordan is a modern country with an ancient culture, a land of which visitors can walk through the valleys, hills and plains whose names have become part of human history by virtue of the simple deeds and profound messages of prophets who walked the land and crossed its rivers during their lives. Many of the sites where they are said to have performed miracles or reached out to ordinary people have been identified, excavated and protected, and are now more easily accessible to visitors. Jordan is an ideal destination for those seeking cultural knowledge and spiritual enrichment. Jordan values its ethnically and religiously diverse population, consequently providing for the cultural rights of all its citizens. This spirit of tolerance and appreciation is one of the central elements contributing to the stable and peaceful cultural climate flourishing within Jordan. More than 92% of Jordanians are Sunni Muslims and approximately 6% are Christians. The majority of Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, but there are also Greek Catholics, a small Roman Catholic community, Syrian orthodox, Coptic orthodox, Armenian orthodox, and a few protestant denominations. Several small shi’a and Druze populations can also be found in Jordan.

As Jordan is an Islamic state, one may explore the principles of Islam through direct interaction with the people of this monotheistic religion. As the capstone of a long tradition beginning with Judaism and Christianity, Muslims believe that Islam completes the revelation of god’s message to humankind. Islam – which in Arabic means “submission” – is an assertion of the  unity, completeness, and sovereignty of god. Muslims believe that god, or Allah as he is known in Arabic, revealed his final message to humankind through the prophet Muhammad and the holy Qur’an, which is the divine immutable word of god. Islam focuses heavily on the equality of all humans before the one true god, and therefore it is in many ways a return to the original doctrine of the pure monotheism that characterized the early Judeo-Christian tradition. Learn more about Jordan here:


July 4, 2011

By Getachew Teklu

Egypt is probably the world’s oldest civilization having emerged from the Nile Valley around 3,100 BC, historically. Egypt is probably one of the oldest vacation spots. Early Greeks, romans and others went there just for fun, and to see the wonders of some of mankind’s earliest triumphs. But Egypt is much more than Pyramids and monuments. It is also Red Sea scuba diving, hot night spots, luxury hotels and five star restaurants. It is romantic cruises down the Nile on festive river boats, a night at the grand opera and it is a cultural experience like none you have ever experienced. Egypt is a land bustling with life, sound, visual beauty and excitement. More than anything else, we want you to think of Egypt as fun. For thousands of years, it has been the playground of emperors and kings, and we hope you will take the time to find out why.

Visit one of the most awe-inspiring remnants of ancient civilization. Dating back to 5,000 B.C., Egypt boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of artifacts and monuments on the planet. A trip to Egypt will include a visit to the Pyramids of Giza, the enigmatic Sphinx, magnificent Abu Simbel, monuments of Luxor and granite statues in Aswan and of course a cruise down the ancient Nile river. Your experience in Egypt will be one of luxury, with attention to every detail of the itinerary, from the private transfers, to the sophistication of your guides
and level of accommodations. For more info visit

Enjoying the ambiance of Spain’s paradores

July 2, 2011


by Henk Bouwman, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands

Years ago I took a trip through the mountainous area of Sierra de Gredos in central Spain and was enthralled by the crystalline waters, wild rocks and green pine groves of the region. During that trip I ended up in a village called Navarredonda, and, while I was looking for a place to spend the night, I was advised to choose the local parador. It was my first encounter with the Paradores de Turismo de España (based in Madrid; phone 00 34 902 54 79 79).

A special introduction

The one in Navarredonda, Parador de Gredos, turned out to be an impressive historical building situated in the middle of nature, high above the Tórmes Valley, with stunning views of the Gredos massif and the Piedrahíta and Béjar mountain ranges. The old building had been converted to a modern hotel with all the necessary amenities while retaining its special, ages-old atmosphere. My bedroom was very comfortable, with a terrace and traditional-style furniture, and the food in the impressive dining room was, in one word, glorious. I learned that the Parador de Gredos, inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1928, happened to be the first of what is now a collection of 93 paradores spread out all over Spain (including the Canary Islands, Ceuta and, in the north of Morocco, Melilla). All paradores — some really old, others more modern — are state owned, and they are always situated in the most beautiful spots in the area, be it in the middle of the mountains, overlooking the sea or perched high above an impressive city.

The Paradores de Turismo, the publically funded company which manages the properties, has a threefold goal: to renovate and preserve historical monuments for the future, to provide classy accommodation in a special environment and to allow guests to enjoy an outstanding dining experience with dishes that are typical for the area. Read full article here:


%d bloggers like this: