Going on a safari (African or otherwise) is often a one-of-a-kind experience that your entire family is unlikely to ever forget. Not only is a safari a great way to visit a strange and faraway land, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to build and foster an up-close and personal relationship with nature, flora, and fauna. When you’ve got a whole family to deal with, however, a safari can be a huge operation. Planning something like this can seem like an insurmountable effort, so we’ll talk about a few tips that’ll help you make your safari planning go off without a hitch. Continue reading
Boating can be an enjoyable activity, but it is important to have a number of things along for the trip. With the right supplies, a boat trip can be safe as well as fun.
Boat License and Credentials
Depending on where the boat is registered, there may be different requirements as to what is required and what things need to be posted or displayed. Generally, the boat needs to have a current registration sticker displayed on the hull of the boat. In some areas, the operator of the boat is also required to keep paperwork on board while the boat is in use. If these items are not current, an owner could face costly fines.
The hope is that these do not have to be used, but having the proper safety equipment on board is essential. It is usually required as well by the local or state authorities. A boat needs to have a life vest or flotation device for each passenger. These devices also need to be suited for the age and the weight of the passenger. Be certain to check this before heading out each time.
Like the life jacket, the hope is that the radio beacon does not have to be used. An emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) is used to alert the Coast Guard to the location of the boat in the event of an emergency or distress.
Food and Water
Regardless of the length of the trip, it is important to have an appropriate amount of food and extra water on the boat. Water is especially essential. While on the water, people often forget to keep hydrated. Having handy water bottles will certainly help with this. If the trip ends up being longer than expected, the food and water will be appreciated. Also, if small children are on board, these supplies will be quite valuable.
Every boat operator should know some of the basics when it comes to minor repairs. Depending on the boat, there could be a variety of mechanical or electrical issues that could arise. Having a small supply of tools and knowing how to make these minor repairs could potentially save the day. There will be times when assistance needs to be called, but these basic tools should help to limit that.
Depending on the location and the duration of the trip, there are many other items that could be considered as essential. This would include things such as a first aid kit, cell phone, marine radio and extra rope. Customize the packing list based on particulars of the trip, but be sure that these top five items are included every time the boat is out on the water. For supplies and expert advice, a boater can check out Lake Hoptacong Marine.
Image Credit: Thomas Hawk
As an American fantasy writer, the next few months show great promise. Presidential elections never fail to bring out some of the most creative fantasy writing. The distinctions between fact and fantasy blur, and large segments of the population redefine their willing suspension of disbelief.
Words are a writer’s stock and trade. During election campaigns, words take on new meanings and connotations.This is a good thing from a writer’s perspective. In the absence of such a thing as an “original” story, an expanded lexicon permits a greater variety of ways to retell an otherwise threadbare tale. If the leftist press is too slow to appreciate the new significance of a word, the politician’s followers can always explain it to these unusually obtuse individuals on Wikipedia.
Fear mongering is a staple of political campaigns. Demonizing portions of the populace is part of a standard political playbook. This is great for fantasy writers. I’ve got demons in my books, too. I’ve got major demons, minor demons, and even nano-demons. If the public is willing to accept half of the nonsense spewed by politicians, then the professional fantasy writer should be able to seize the imagination of at least, say, a quarter of it. This should translate into increased sales.
Let’s examine what can politics do for fantasy writing. Voodoo is no longer limited to zombies. It extends to economics. Huge treasures can appear or disappear by redefinition, without the aid of a magic lamp. Mana trickles down from socio-economic demi-gods to the plates of mere mortal day laborers. Rabid, drooling organized labor mercenaries drag poor unsuspecting workers from their travails, and force them to become mindless union members (defying the very plain, straightforward explanations of the feckless, deluded Supreme Court, that there is no such thing as mandatory union membership). People’s health and well being is improved by allowing companies to pour more pollutants into the environment. This is great stuff. Why didn’t we published fantasy writers think of it?
Actually, we did. Since facts so often get in the way of the politician’s goals and objectives, the politician has learned to rely on fantasy. There is a natural give and take between the fantasist and the politician, an undeniable and powerful symbiosis that should be embraced by both. The most resolute hard core “values” voter would be cast adrift without some underlying evil to be thwarted. Who knows better how to create evil and how to thwart it than the fantasy writer? So every time a politician rises above the rabble as a champion of the people, the fantasist should be taking notes.
One gets bored with standard Utopian themes like expanding human rights (religious and racial tolerance, acceptance of sexual orientations other than one’s own, etc.) or actually improving access to health care. Yawn. Since facts are not an issue, it is time for politicians to reach out and explore new fantasies.
There are some fantasy themes that I’d like the politicians to take a crack at in the coming year. Let’s have some politician threaten to take away anti-trust exemptions from major league baseball until the Cubs win the World Series. According to the 2011 Farm Subsidy Database, http://farm.ewg.org/progdetail.php?fips=00000&progcode=tobacco, “Tobacco Subsidies in the United States totaled $1.1 billion from 1995-2010,” and $194,435,671 in 2010 alone. Let’s have some politician insist that health care benefits for congressmen be reduced dollar for dollar to match and fund tobacco subsidies.
Fantasy writers have given politicians so much material to work with. It is only fair that politicians repay the favor. If the politicians play their part in the coming year, then when the recount challenges work their way through the courts, like Rick and Captain Renault at the end of Casablanca, the politicians and the fantasy writers can start a beautiful friendship.
Thanks for letting me ramble. CK
EARTH ANGEL By CHARLIE KENMORE
Blurb: There are seven parallel worlds known as the Seven Realms which are separated by a Veil. Six are inhabited by all manner of entities, some natural, some not. That may not be the case for much longer. The first portion of the High Sidhe Prophecy of the Sevens has been fulfilled. The Anarch, who is one with the Veil, has escaped. If she chooses, she can part or drop the Veil or she can lift the Veil in its entirety. The Seven Realms will converge. The laws of physics and magic will collide head on. Unless she is stopped, there will be nothing left.
Queen Amura has called for an assembly of the signatories to the High Sidhe’s Second Accords, a multi-realm peace treaty to consider how to deal with the threat of the Anarch. An Earthside TechnoWitch and other dark forces also are seeking to control the Anarch. Prince Dzhok (Jack), High Sidhe Ambassador Salash (Jack’s oldest friendand lover), and Valkyrie Brunhilde set out to find and befriend the Anarch before all is lost.
Jack took a moment, and then he saw the light. Unfortunately, it appeared to be attached to an oncoming train. Jack was no pacifist. Like Salash, he would kill to protect his children (and had). But as a pansexual high blood Prince of the Human Whisperers and Allied Kinds, “make love, not war” was not a mere platitude, but rather was the very core of his being. Jack knew that he would have little influence on the upcoming gathering in Paradox. This was not a symposium. It was a war council. The outcome was fairly certain. His Mother and her allies would seek to kill the Chosen. And they would fail miserably.
“We have to find her first.”
You’ve got mail.
Salash reached over and pulled the MAPP out of Jack’s pocket. She rolled down her window, and with a flick of her wrist, sent it pin wheeling into a fresh steaming pile of bison dung. Salash paused and scanned the tree line. She was fairly certain at least one of the shadows had flinched.
California is unquestionably one of the most exciting areas in the continental forty-eight states. It offers a wide variety of terrain, featuring both expansive natural beauty and impressive man-made feats of art, architecture, design, and development. If you’re planning on visiting a new part of your country (or are looking for a vacation destination in a foreign one), then California has everything you’ll need to achieve a comprehensive experience of American culture. Continue reading
Tokyo despite its bombings and earthquakes it has risen to be one of the world’s largest urban areas. With more than 35 million residents and a third of that visiting, it has surely rose to the occasion. Today, it is a thriving metropolis known around the world as the little fashion capital. It provides a mystic of traditional culture mixed with some modernization and provides a wonderful relaxing and fun opportunity for travelers.
Millions of people take flights to Tokyo every year for diverse reasons. Some go for the best bargains of some of the finest clothes and brand clothes at remarkable prices, which can be found in Tokyo. Maybe it’s their sushi bars and faced paced night life that attract them to grab a flight to Tokyo. Whichever reason they have or you may have for visiting Tokyo, you can surely find some real bargains to get there.
Since there are so many airlines that travel to the nearby airport, airlines offer discount rates, non stop flights, and other perks for choosing them for booking you flights to Tokyo. You can also find discounts on airfare by booking with a travel agency, where you can also get your accommodations through as well. Some travel agencies offer travel packages that will include seeing some of the major tourist attractions that Tokyo has to offer.
When looking to book any flights to Tokyo, you should always compare costs, amenities, and businesses. Since the competition is fierce in the travel industry there are many remarkable packages that consumers can take advantage of. Shopping on the internet, in most cases, will provide the best deals for getting and seeing Tokyo. You should take heed though to make sure you are purchasing from a verifiable web site. After all with the costs being so low, there are those unsavory sites that will promise you great expectations for little when you will get just a little for a lot.
Some of the attractions you can enjoy include Tokyo Disney Resort which contains two of the world’s most visited theme parks and museums. You can take notice of Mount Fuji which is Japan’s largest mountain can be seen from Tokyo on a clear day. You can also see the world Trade Centre and Metropolitan Government Building as well as other platforms.
There are many reasons to take advantage of some of the best savings on flights to Tokyo and have an experience that will last a lifetime. Some of the travel agencies offer up to 65 percent savings on some of their vacation getaway packages. Simply by doing an internet search you can find some of these deals and maybe even better ones.
Don’t forget to check out cheap flights to Tokyo offered by the airlines though because certain times of the year provide a better bargain for consumers. It’s true with travel agency packages as well, that certain times of the year can provide an even bigger savings to consumers. You can easily find this information on Tokyo’s official website, some travel agencies, and by searching the proper keywords.
Historic Forts from within Malta are certainly something to behold. You will of course experience a past which takes you back to the way things used to be and in seeing such forts you will also experience Malta in a completely different light. There are of course 6 main forts in Malta and all in fact uniquely positioned and each with its own history.
Fort Saint Elmo
Fort Saint Elmo is one of Malta’s many fortifications and stands on the seaward shore of Sciberras Peninsula which divides Marsamxett Harbour from Valletta’s Grand Harbour. Before the arrival of Malta’s Knights in 1530, a particular watch tower existed in the vicinity of this point; reinforcing this site was strategically commenced in 1533. The Dragut Raid of 1551 was a time when the Turks sailed unopposed into Marsamxett Harbour and work commenced even further on this project. By the time of a certain Ottoman Siege of Malta in 1565, the fortification had been reinforced and thus extended into a star fort.
Fort St. Angelo
Another great fort is the Fort of St. Angelo and is most certainly part of Malta’s heritage. Legend has it that this particular fort is on top of a Roman settlement site. As the Knights came onto the Island in circa 1530, Fort St Angelo became the seat of Grand Master of the Order. The Fort played a major role in Malta’s Great Siege in 1565 where it managed to resist a powerful enemy, the Saracen Armada and was eventually was taken over during the 19th century. In recent years Fort St Angelo was granted the Order of the knights of St John the upper part of the fort and of which comprises St Anne’s Chapel and the Magisterial Palace.
Fort Rinella & Dwejra Tower
As the British played a major role in the majority of these forts yet another one was still to be cultivated. Fort Rinella was built by the British in 1878 and 1886. Fort Rinella was erected during a threat to Malta’s sovereignty by the Italian navy. Rinella had been especially equipped with a huge 100 ton cannon, which is in fact one of the world’s largest cannons. The furthest of such Forts is located in Gozo and is named Dwejra Tower.
Fort Madliena & Manoel
Fort Madliena in particular was in fact built by the British for defences to the Island on the north east. This fort was used to defend the Victoria Lines which spanned 12kms. Additionally Fort Manoel is one of Malta’s forts you will find on Manoel Island in Marsamxett Harbour. The Fort was constructed by the Knights of Malta between 1723 and 1755 and was built from its own native rock of Manoel Island itself.
All in all, these Forts have really commanded a great deal of respect in what they were used for. Each Fort had its own part to play in the history of Malta.
About the Author: MaltaHotel.Net provides discounted hotel rates on the Island of Malta and offers 86 hotel choices.
Valletta is a place of great prominence and has come down through the ages as one of Malta’s great cities. Currently known as the capital of Malta, Valletta provides anyone visiting the Island with everything that one could need and with its nightlife and facilities one will certainly be well entertained. The hotels in Valletta are particularly well suited for a combination of business and pleasure. Each city in Malta is from an ancient time period and Valletta is most definitely no exception. Most of the hotels in this city were established back in the 1950s and have been operating ever since.
The hotels from within Valletta have a particularly high standard with unparalleled comfort. Ones stay will be made that much more pleasant. Some of the hotels early 30s, 40s and 50s established looks still very much remain intact and include some of the original colours, rich fabrics and general feel. Even so, the hotels have come way up to date with the inclusion of some of the latest TV and wireless internet services available. Valletta can host some really great retreats and also be the ideal place from which to do business as the hotels also caters for conference and meeting rooms.
As Valletta is so adequately situated centrally it stands itself as one of the ideal places to host weddings. Valletta in particular receives a large majority of requests on the Island and with all the services being available within one city what more could one ask for. The elegant and refined lounges and rooms give ones wedding the quintessential location for some of the cosiest dinner parties. Valletta hosts some of the most gorgeous and ancient architecture in the world and with iconic ballroom to bastion settings ones wedding will quite literally be made that much special.
The hotels in Valletta manage to really take care of their natural organic looks. Hotel gardens are cultivated to some of the most special standards with all types of floral arrangements making the walks around any hotel visually stunning. With the celebration and festival of colour being enjoyed for many years in Malta, the hotels in Valletta most certainly know that this is an important factor when representing Valletta.
The hotels in Valletta have a large array of superior accommodative facilities which range from balcony rooms, executive suites with all the facilities required for that added comfort and luxury. Valletta is simply one of the best places to stay on the Island and will give you peace of mind and comfort all in one. With the great Valletta nightlife only seconds away and of course with the vast choice of outdoor eating venues, you’ll be happy you choose this magnificent city for your special hotel stay in Malta. Ones stay in Valletta is of course made that much more pleasant with Malta’s stunning weather and will make for the most perfect stay in any regard.
MaltaHotel.Net provides discounted hotel rates on the Island of Malta and offers over 70 hotel choices. The company offer a particular specialisation on hotels in Qawra, St Julians and Sliema.
Fortified cities surrounded by huge stone walls were a commonplace throughout medieval times and were designed to protect and defend citizens against attacks. But changes in thinking with the coming of the Renaissance and an increased focus on trade and commerce as a way of gaining financial advantage instead of war removed the need to encircle a city with massive walls. Today most walled cities are far-removed from the original goal of protecting citizens and instead serve to fascinate and entertain historians and culture buffs.
Here are five of the best walled cities to visit in summer 2012:
5. Obidos, Portugal
The City of Obidos is synonymous with being a “fortified city”. The city survived through Roman occupation and after the fall of Rome the Moors encircled the city with marble and limestone walls to make it a true fortress. Dominating the top of a hill, Obidos served as a secure city for centuries and became dotted with tiny medieval streets and authentic Gothic architecture within those walls. In the 14th century the city underwent renovation and construction, though this did not interfere with its original fortress and that authentic spirit is still preserved today.
4. York, England
York is a legendary city with ambiguous roots. Before it had been incorporated in the Kingdom of England, the city of York was shaped by the Romans, then the Angles and also spent a few years under Viking rule. It is no surprise then, the city was surrounded by high walls to defend it since the medieval epoch of the 12th century. Today the city is used to foreign visitors packing York for its medieval architecture and authentic warlike spirit.
3. Harar, Ethiopia
In the majority of walled cities the fortifications serve a purely functional purpose. But Harar is an exception. Harar is an ancient city in eastern Ethiopia that transformed its walls into a symbol of an authentic Islamic city. Harar has encircled since the 16th century and its walls include five stunning gates that attract tourists across the world.
2. Itchan Kala, Uzbekistan
Itchan Kala is an inner town incorporated into Khiva. It is believed to be a final stop for caravans before crossing the sun-baked desert leading to Iran. The city thrives on a flow with tourists who visit to see the 19th century palaces, mausoleums and beautiful examples of Muslim architecture. All the architectural wealth of the city is contained within its rectangular-shaped brick walls with four spacious gates at each side of the wall.
Charming, romantic and a bit intimate… Many tourists apply these words to Venice, but just a few know the fact Venice has a city rivaling its beauty on the Adriatic coast. It is Dubrovnik that caught-up with Venice in the early 15th century. For its stunning beauty, pristine beaches and marine-inspired architecture Dubrovnik earned the nickname of “Pearl of the Adriatic”. Today many visit Dubrovnik to enjoy its crystal-clear waters and tour the world-famous walls that have surrounded the old city from the 12th century.
By Olga Leleka, content writer at hotel reservation website www.booked.net. The site includes listings of hotels in all of the destinations listed above including Dubrovnik and York. Obidos photo: Flickr user Pedro Ribeiro Simões, York: Flickr user James Preston, Itchan Kala: Flickr user dalbera, Dubrovnik: Flickr user Sean MacEntee
Going on holiday is meant to be carefree. Whether we look forward to sunny beaches or prefer exploring architecture, we expect to have a memorable time. However, sometimes holidays can be unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.
1. Dangers of the Local Wildlife
Sandy Henson and his friend went camping in Yosemite National Park. One night, he was wakened by terrified screams. A giant black bear was attacking his friend. Running for their lives, they reached an old toilet hut. Inside, they trembled as the bear hurled itself against the door. Only then did Sandy realise his friend had a large bite hole in his neck. Luckily, the bear eventually decided to look for a more accessible meal.
2. Nightmare at the Holiday Camp
Robert and Geraldine Adams were unlucky when they took their disabled daughter Lindy to Butlins in Bognor Regis. The three were amongst two hundred people who contracted the norovirus, which causes sickness and diarrhoea. Robert vomited every fifteen minutes throughout his stay and all three had a miserable time.
3. Sunshine and Sewage in the Dominican Republic
The Edwards paid £4,000 for a luxury Caribbean holiday. First, Mr Edwards came down with food poisoning. Then a storm arose, causing the drains to overflow and large amounts of raw sewage to flood into their hotel room. Mrs Edwards, standing ankle-deep in filth, had to brush the sewage out of the room herself.
4. A Fiery Time in Greece
Cathy’s family were enjoying an idyllic holiday in Greece, when from their hotel balcony they saw distant smoke: a forest fire was raging. They were assured it wouldn’t reach them. Later, however, the sky was red with flames. They ran towards the beach, hot ash raining down on them, and stayed there all night. They felt lucky to be alive.
5. Water, Water, Everywhere
Lisa Holmes wanted adventure for her fortieth – she and her friend Tracy got that when they went on a South African safari. Torrential rains broke out during a game trip and their vehicle was engulfed in floodwater – in a ‘lion hotspot’. They were rescued two days later.
6. Terrorist Attacks
Mr and Mrs Cairns-Lawrence look normal, but they have an unusual holiday jinx. They had three holidays ruined by terrorists. They were visiting the Big Apple on 11th September 2001. They were on a double-decker in London when the 7/7 bombings took place and in Mumbai during the terrorist bombing attacks. This was bad timing, but not bad luck since they themselves escaped harm.
7. You Can’t Rely on the Weather
Mr and Mrs Flores chose St Lucia for their honeymoon. They had to change planes in Puerto Rico. They were dismayed when their ongoing flight was cancelled, and horrified to discover why: hurricane George was heading their way. They spent the night huddling with others in a concrete-walled room, while George roared outside. The earth literally did seem to move that night.
8. Accidents Happen
Suzanne Cassidy was swimming in Ibiza when she got sucked into the blades of a speedboat propeller, which sliced into her leg. Friends pulled her to safety. It took surgeons four and a half hours to set the badly mangled leg.
9. Train Ride to Nowhere
John was travelling by train from Gujarat to Jaisalmer. After twelve hours the train stopped. The guard told him the line did not go any further. It was still under construction and they had reached the end of it – in the middle of the desert. John spent a small fortune getting to the nearest bus station.
10. Exchanging Sun for Snow
Emma wanted Christmas in Goa and booked with a Bulgarian airline. The plane landed in Bulgaria – and didn’t leave. Civil unrest in India meant Emma had to stay in Bulgaria all week. She had packed only summer clothes, but instead of sunny Goa she spent Christmas amongst icy streets and snow.
Usually, we have a great time on holiday, and nightmares are rare. Often we can look back on them with a sense of humour, or at least with relief that we survived. What is certain is that, when on holiday, you should always be prepared for the unexpected.
Photo by Johan Douma
Luxury holidays by ITC Classics wishing you a safe and nightmare free trip.
With a variety of different jump spots and zones throughout the world, it can sometimes be overwhelming to decide where your next jump will take place. Finding that unique view or vantage point can make the difference between a good skydiving experience and a phenomenal one. In our search across the continents, we have selected five unique and insane skydiving destinations and compiled them into this list for you to consider in your future journeys.
Taking the plunge in the Swiss Alps is an extraordinary journey and will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated. The dive requires you to be fully geared up in winter clothing when jumping and with good reason: you are jumping into the Swiss Alps. As you descend, you will be privileged to breathtaking views of glacier-encrusted mountains, snow-capped peaks that gradually recede in the summer months and a full-on view of the city of Interlaken. Skydive Interlaken in the main provider of skydiving events in the area and is well-known for having a professional and friendly attitude.
In the far-eastern fringes of Russia, there is a skydiving thrill that many do not venture out this far to experience. The main tour company in the area offers an exhilarating option of skydiving directly over an active volcano, Mutnovsky. While the area is active with volcanic activity, it will be more likely to see ice flows and glaciers within the caldera than an active presence of lava. Nevertheless, this dive is one that cannot be replicated in many other places and for that reason, it makes the list.
If you want expansive views of sky, sea and land alike, then head down to the eastern tip of Australia. When you make the jump from one of the tours offered in the area, you may catch a glimpse of a large national forest bordering the pristine water or the view of the more rural settings off of the coast. Some tour companies offer jumps that allow you to see the Great Barrier Reef. From Sydney to Queensland, you will find a plethora of jump zones from which to enjoy the awesome beauty of the Australian atmosphere.
If you really want to get away from it all and see the world in peace from far above, then Guam offers you a unique opportunity to do just that. Just imagine seeing from coast to coast across this large island as you make your descent, falling through the clouds that dot the hills and cities below. The premier skydiving team in the area, Skydive Guam, offers the best jumps in the area and has teams that work with skydivers from all over the world.
Perhaps one of the most popular and diverse jumping zones in the world, New Zealand offers something for everybody. The “hub” of skydiving in the country, Taupo, has plenty of guides and companies that will give you the experience not only locally, but can also arrange trips to distant areas within the country for more isolated jumps. The beauty of the mountains, hills, cliffs and seas cannot be matched.
Laura Ginn writes for Extreme Sports X, an extreme sports magazine that is growing by the day! You can read more about skydiving by visiting the magazine and also follow her on Twitter @ExtremeSports_X
If you are planning a trip to New York, then you absolutely must visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met is one of New York’s premier art museums and home to a world-famous collection of over two million pieces of fine art. Divided into nineteen different departments and two separate buildings, the Met is no casual excursion, and you should plan on spending an entire day exploring all it has to offer. To help you map out your itinerary, here is a visitor’s guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Ticket costs. Tickets to the Met are fairly inexpensive, at $25 for adults, $12 for students, and $17 for seniors. Children under twelve get in for free. You may also become a member of the Met to get special discounted rates. Tickets may be purchased at the door or ordered in advance online, and include entrance to both buildings and all special exhibits.
Hours. The Met is open Tuesday through Sunday, and some Monday holidays (like President’s Day, Memorial Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), so it is a great place to visit when the kids are out of school. The hours of operation are Tuesday through Thursday, 9:30am to 5:30pm, Friday and Saturday 9:30am to 9:00pm, and Sunday 9:30am to 5:30pm.
Exhibits. In addition to its extensive art collection, the Met hosts a number of exhibits. These exhibits are rotated throughout the year, and include themes such as Byzantium and Islam, Medieval Jewish Art, American Indian Art, Storytelling in Japanese Art, and much, much more.
Getting around. Whatever your must-sees are while you are there, it’s a good idea to review a map before your trip so you can plot your course. Don’t forget that you will be covering a lot of ground, and with so much to see, you must plan carefully to avoid missing out. You can find detailed Met maps on the website www.metmuseum.org, or you can get a map at the door.
For navigation. The Met website includes a page full of suggested itineraries if you are not sure where to begin when planning your trip. These itineraries include such themes as visitor favorites, families with children under five, and families with children five and up, among others.
Visiting New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is sure to be an experience you will never forget. Plan your trip carefully to get the most out of your day at the Met.
About the Author: Nana Sigmund loves visiting New York City, trying different Manhattan bed and breakfast suites and enjoying all that the area has to offer. She highly recommends a weekend trip, at the least, to visit the area’s hottest museums.
Almost five years have passed since European Union membership was granted to Bulgaria, but the question of joining the Schengen visa zone is still an item on the EU agenda. The Schengen Area operates like a single state for travel with border controls at the border of the area but no internal border controls. Last year, the EU postponed Bulgaria’s entrance to Schengen zone because of the perceived risk of mass migration to European countries. This week it was decided to postpone entry until September at the earliest, something that was met with fury in Bulgaria. The hold-up, which also affects Romania, is due to the Netherlands continued insistence the two countries have not made enough progress against organized crime and corruption. However, when it comes to tourism the decision means a potential double-edged sword, it means the difficulties for some Western tourists to visit Bulgaria will be alleviated; conversely it could lead to increase in problems for visitors from the emerging Eastern tourism market. In 2010 alone, Russia accounted for the fourth highest number of visitors to Bulgaria with 378,382 tourists flocking to the country.
Obstacles to visa-free regime
While the EU has concluded there has been a lack of measures to fight against corruption and organized crime in Bulgaria, other opponents, including Germany, Netherlands and France, have also shown resistance due to a possible increase of illegal migrants to Europe through Bulgarian borders. “We doubt quality of control on this border,” French Minister for European Affairs, Pierre Lellouche, was quoted as saying. France and Netherlands, in particular, expressed concerns about safety of EU borders and Bulgaria’s migration policy, giving both countries strong reason to oppose Bulgaria’s pretensions to Schengen membership. Along with the problem of EU borders security France posed the question of corruption in Bulgaria. EU expects “visible and steady results” to be achieved in a fight against corruption to establish visa-free regime in the country.
The EU hasn’t been completely without praise. Bulgaria was complemented for the introduction of special court to combat organized crime. Unfortunately, the EU claims these measures have not gone far enough for Bulgaria to join the Schengen zone. The EU further recommends Bulgaria take a set of measures to get a positive answer from EU members. According to an EU report, the country still has to adopt laws on confiscation of stolen property and maintain transparency in state business, such as tenders.
Changes to visa policy: Bulgaria and CIS countries
It’s not all bad news, the EU doubts still place Bulgaria in good stead. Tourism to the country is greatly influenced by travelers from neighboring countries and members of the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), such as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. In 2010, Bulgaria changed its visa policy for these countries making it much easier for nationals from them to visit, this led to a flood of tourists from Russia who accounted for the fourth highest number that year. Prior to this change, it was necessary to wait from 10 to 30 days to receive a Bulgarian visa, the new rules slashed that waiting time to just 10 days. This step fueled an increase in CIS tourism to Bulgaria and proved a windfall for the country’s economy.
Unfortunately, tourists from the CIS could run into problems, if and when Bulgaria enters the Schengen Area. Meanwhile, a visa-free regime for visitors from the Western world will rule out the need to obtain an additional Bulgarian visa.
By Olga Leleka, who is part of a team of writers at hotel reservation website www.booked.net. The website includes a comprehensive listing of Bulgarian hotels.