Category Archives: News

How strong is your passport!

Two thousand four hundred and sixty-odd years ago in Persia, King Artaxerxes granted one of his officials, Nehemiah, leave of absence to travel to Judea. With him, the King sent a letter to the “governors beyond the river” requesting safe passage for his servant as he crossed the Euphrates on his way to Jerusalem.

Thus began the story of the passport. Two and a half millennia later, one in three Americans, nine in ten Norwegians and 5% of Chinese have one. The UK prints five million of them a year, or one every 2.5 seconds, at a secret location in the north of England. Three million of them are flying 30,000 feet above you as we speak.

Of course, passports have taken on additional functions and evolved in both style and content since the days of Nehemiah, but they still serve the same essential purpose: granting its bearer freedom of movement across borders.

Also read: Sweden has the strongest passport in the world

A passport’s source of value is the extent to which it is acknowledged as an entry permit to jurisdictions around the world and while some passports are hardly worth the paper on which they are printed, others are worth their weight in gold (and sometimes a lot more, actually: weighing in at about 25 grams, a Cypriot passport, if you’re buying one, is worth 100 times its weight in gold).

American passports, for example, are in high demand, and for good reason: they afford access to 174 countries and territories around the world, including most of Europe. Of course, holding a passport from a superpower can also have its disadvantages; nobody ever hijacked a plane threatening to kill all the Estonians.

Afghan passport-holders, conversely, have visa-free access to only 25 countries (the land beyond the Euphrates not being one of them) and have no choice but to endure byzantine and bureaucratic ordeals to obtain one even to travel their neighbours in Central Asia.
And if you are interested in knowing in how your Indian passport fares in the world, than Indian passport takes you visa-free or with visa on arrival to 59 countries. So long way to go for Indian passport to become stronger.

The 25 Most Powerful Passports Around The World

The 25 Most Powerful Passwords

Infographic by Extra Passport

 

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Get up-close and personal with killer whales!

These are close encounters of different kind. Visitors to SeaWorld Orlando in US now have the opportunity to experience the park’s majestic killer whales in a brand-new way. The Killer Whale Up-Close Tour gives guests the opportunity to meet the park’s killer whales in ways never before offered at the park. The 45-minute tour includes learning from the park’s killer whale trainers, meeting the whales and understanding their unique personalities and even taking part in an interaction with one of the whales.

During the tour, which takes place daily, SeaWorld’s trainers share stories and information about the killer whales, demonstrate how the whales take part in voluntary husbandry sessions and discuss their healthcare, feeding habits and more. The engaging and interactive tour also gives participants the chance to try their hand at a session with the whales alongside a trainer. Throughout the entire experience, guests can take photos to help forever preserve the memory of the one-of-a-kind experience.

Also read: Seaworld returns two more Sea Turtles to the Ocean

The Killer Whale Up-Close Tour is the latest in the SeaWorld’s collection of memorable, educational and inspirational tours. Popular guest experiences, including the Dolphin Up-Close Tour and Penguin Up-Close Tour provide hands-on interactions with some of the park’s most popular animals while encouraging guests to care about all of the animals found in the oceans. The Behind-the-Scenes Tour, a guest favorite, provides an inside look at the park’s amazing animal rescue operation and ends with the opportunity to touch a shark and meet a Magellanic penguin. The Killer Whale Up-Close Tour begins at 10:00 a.m. and lasts approximately 45 minutes. Space is limited, and guests are encouraged to make reservations online in advance. Prices start at $79 per person.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 30,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

‘Superwoman’ Lilly Singh is now UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador

Actress, comedian, and author, Lilly Singh was appointed UNICEF’s newest Goodwill Ambassador at a special event in New Delhi on Saturday, 15th July 2017. Lilly, who is known by her digital alias Superwoman, was in India to meet children and young people being supported by UNICEF, the world’s leading children’s organization. In her role as a Goodwill Ambassador, Lilly will use her unique digital presence to engage children and young people and empower them to speak out about the challenges they face. Lilly Singh is based in Canada and is immensely popular among teenagers mostly for her YouTube channel ‘IISuperwomanII’. She is also a vlogger, comedian, writer and actress. So, no wonder that though I am a YouTuber myself, but first I heard of ‘Superwoman’ was from my teenage daughter.

“I am honoured to join UNICEF as a Goodwill Ambassador, and to use my voice to support its mission of reaching every child,” Lilly said. “The children I have met here are overcoming so many challenges – and they are living proof of what a child can achieve, if given a chance,” she added.

Lilly travelled with UNICEF to state of Madhya Pradesh, where she met with adolescents and young people growing up in challenging circumstances including extreme poverty, but who have been able to bring positive changes to their lives. One of the many projects that Lilly visited was the UNICEF supported Youth4Change initiative, a leadership programme for young people that brings them together to support their peers and communities in taking action on the issues that impact them most such as of health and hygiene, protection from violence and exploitation, gender equality and the importance of a quality education.

“It was beyond impressive to see the ‘Change Loomers,’ as they called themselves, create so many diverse and impactful initiatives to help improve their community,” Lilly said. “It was also incredibly inspiring to see free karate lessons for girls that not only build their self-confidence, but teaches them self-defense tactics to help them face the real-life threat of violence and harassment,” she added.

“Lilly Singh is already a Superwoman, helping empower girls around the world – and we are delighted that she will lend her passion and her powerful voice to speak up on behalf of the most vulnerable children,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth.

Lilly, 28, has gained a huge fan base of over 11 million YouTube subscribers. This year, she released her international and New York Times bestselling book How To Be A Bawse, and was recently cast in HBO’s film adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451.” Additionally, Lilly was ranked 1st on the Forbes Magazine Top Influencers List in the entertainment category.

As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Lilly will use her platforms to showcase UNICEF’s work and to engage her millions of supporters in advocating for children’s rights. Her new role with UNICEF is complemented by her Girl Love initiative, which aims to end to girl-on-girl hate and instead focuses on positivity by encouraging support of women and girls.

Lilly was joined at the launch event by Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India, who officially welcomed her to the UNICEF family.

“Lilly is a role model to so many young people, especially girls, and we look forward to the role she will play in generating greater discussion – and greater action – around the value of girls in India and everywhere,” Haque said.  More than 50 per cent of India’s population are below the age of 25 and India is already the second largest market for YouTube, Facebook, and many other video platforms.  Lilly joins an impressive list of other UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors that includes David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, Jackie Chan, Muzoon Almellehan, Danny Glover, Liam Neeson, Priyanka Chopra, Ricky Martin and Shakira.

Balloon’s Day Parade, Tintin Rally to end Brussels’ summer on a high note

Balloon’s Day Parade

As it does each year, the month of September in Brussels will start with a bang as the 8th annual Brussels Comic Strip Festival gets under way. To mark the occasion, the European capital’s streets will be cheerfully decked out in the thousand and one colours of the “Balloon’s Day Parade.” At the same time, the Tintin Magazine Rally will bring its share of activities and new attractions to make this latest edition a real party.

Everybody loves Tintin

New happenings this year

  • A Gaston balloon will appear at the Brussels Comic Strip Festival to celebrate his 60th birthday
  • The Ducobu balloon will also make its parade debut this year.
  • This year the Comic Strip Rally will specially feature cars ripped right from the pages of the Tintin and Spirou magazines.
  • Instead of the customary single kick-off, there will be four starts this coming Sunday, 3 September.
Comics have no age bar

Since its debut in 2010, the Brussels Comic Strip Festival has become the main event for comics fans. Young and old, novices and experts, all share a passion for the ninth art and come together each year to participate in the variety of activities on offer.

Great occasion for kids to learn
Children get to have first hand experience of drawing cartoons

On Sunday, 3 September, comics fans will eat, sleep, and breathe Belgian comics thanks to the seamless combination of the “Balloon’s Day Parade” and the Tintin Magazine Rally. The parade of giant comics character balloons will invade the capital early in the afternoon. Next, the forerunners of the Tintin Magazine Rally will reach the capital, ending their journey on Place des Palais.

Writers are there to sign the books
Artists are there to give some lessons in sketching
There is art of sculpture of cartoon characters
And cartoon characters themselves in live
There are games to play, from angry birds…
…to simpsons on play machines
There is everything from billboards…
… to food stalls, loved by everyone!

Balloon’s Day Parade

Once again this year, the “Balloon’s Day Parade,” will roll through the streets for nearly two hours. This time two new balloons, Docobu and Gaston, will be delighted to take part in the procession. The spectacular balloon inflation will begin in the morning on Place des Palais.

Parade of the balloons
a big pomp and show!

Over the course of the afternoon, Spirou, Tintin, Le Chat, Boule, Blork de Kid Paddle, Lucky Luke, and their new friends will begin their annual promenade and take over Brussels’ main arteries. During this latest edition, schools (circus, music, sport, etc.) from all over Belgium will be in charge of the parade.

Tintin Magazine Rally

All the Tintin’s cars!

Since its first running in 2013, the Tintin Magazine Rally has become an essential event at the Brussels Comic Strip Festival. This year the rally will take place once again and Tintin Magazine will host Spirou Magazine. In all, about 100 collectors’ cars will participate. In another significant new development, the event will start at four different locations: Lier, Verviers, Jumet, and Anderlecht.

Cars on the stroll!

On Sunday, 3 September, period cars that have appeared in Tintin Magazine and Spirou Magazine since 1946 will lead the way. At about 2 PM, after completing a nearly 100 kilometre course, these legendary cars will arrive on Place des Palais. It’s a wonderful opportunity to immerse in the comics of yesteryear and rediscover these rare gems.

with all the characters!

Two people per car will be invited to dress up and join the rally and take part in a meal among fans. At the end of the rally, a panel will award prizes to the teams and cars that were the most faithful to the two magazines’ original illustrations.

…also top of the class designs!

So if you are fascinated with anything related to comics and cartoons or want to give your cartoon loving kids a treat, than plan a trip to Brussels this September.

SeaWorld returns two more Sea turtles to the Ocean

Two loggerhead sea turtles are back home in the wild thanks to SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue Team. In partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) the turtles were returned to the ocean at Pineda Beach Park on Wednesday morning.

Rescued in December 2016, a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle was transported to SeaWorld Orlando from Massachusetts, where the animal received initial treatment from the New England Aquarium. Upon intake, the turtle had a dangerously low body temperature and a large wound under its right flipper. As a part of the turtle’s wound care, SeaWorld utilized radiographs, antibiotics, and laser therapy to heal the injury.

The second turtle released, a sub-adult loggerhead, came to SeaWorld in March after it was found upside down in the surf at Port Canaveral. The animal was covered in barnacles, emaciated, and lethargic. At SeaWorld, the veterinary team discovered blockage in the turtle’s digestive track caused from seashells. Through fluid therapy, the team helped the animal pass the impaction and gain 28 healthy pounds.

With two more sea turtles back in the ocean, SeaWorld has now returned 14 total turtles this year. In partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued nearly 2,000 sea turtles since 1980.

It is critical that beachgoers are mindful of the impact they leave on Florida coastlines as sea turtle nesting season is in full swing now through October. Debris and trash left on beaches can threaten the survival of sea turtles during this vulnerable time of year.

The successful rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles is another great example of SeaWorld’s commitment to protecting sea life. For more than 50 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has helped animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. More than 30,000 animals have been rescued by the expert animal rescue team that is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 30,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

Want to see the video of the release? Please click to link below on my YouTube channel-

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

Time for some wine & food indulgence!

Immediately after the Comic Strip Festival at start of September, European Capital Brussels will get ready for another extravaganza, this time for the connoisseurs of food and wine. From 7 to 10 September this year, Brussels Park will once again serve as the setting for the eat! Brussels, drink! Bordeaux festival. Twenty Brussels chefs will slave over their stoves to share their signature dishes with the public. Fifty Bordeaux wine growers and sellers will also be on hand to provide the accompaniment for these delicious foods. They will offer the optimal wine pairings to complement the chefs’ dishes. There’s sure to be plenty to delight the senses of their foodie visitors! For its sixth edition, the eat! Brussels, drink! Bordeaux Festival has once again invited a selection of Brussels’ best chefs to the heart of Brussels Park. There will be new workshops: Wine & patisseries; Wine and chocolate.

Also Read: Comic Strip festival gets bigger, bolder and rewarding too!

Photo: VisitBrussels/ ©E.Danhier

A sixth edition with its fair share of new offerings

  • Restaurant offerings are expanding. Several chefs on the Brussels scene are joining in the fun to present their iconic dishes to the public.
  • A central “square” will be set up right at the heart of the festival grounds. It’s a chance for visitors to partake and socialize with family and friends.
  • This year, the eat! Awards are making their debut. These prizes will be awarded to chefs whose dishes enjoy the greatest success over the course of the event.
  • In this latest edition, several pastry chefs will complement the event menu with dessert plate suggestions.
  • The Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux invites amateurs to discover new wine workshops that focus on patisserie and chocolate.
  • The Tchin Vittel! space will offer cooking workshops to visitors. Accompanied by talented chef Bruno Antoine, they will concoct their “bistronomy” box together, which they will then be able to savour in this friendly atmosphere.

Also Read: Getting tipsy in Belgium

New iconic Brussels chefs are joining the party and enhancing the festival’s offerings. The will offer visitors a signature dish representing their culinary identity at the special price of € 9. Several pastry chefs will also enhance the festival’s menu. They will offer sweets aficionados delicious desserts by the plate at the special price of €9.

The perfect pairing

Vins de Bordeaux, the festival’s essential partners, are coming together once again on this journey through fine cuisine. For the occasion, nearly 50 Bordeaux wine growers and merchants will meet in Brussels to reveal the history and secrets of their wine.

These elegant and unique wines, the fruits of the meticulous blending of several grape varieties, will thrill the public’s taste buds. It’s a singular chance to discover the new Bordeaux reds, fresh and fruity, the dry whites, the rosés, the clairets and the sweet wines that can be paired with all cuisine, whether simple or refined. A wine pairing carefully selected for the occasion will also be offered for each dish, sweet or savoury, presented at the festival.

eat Brussels

The Bordeaux pavilion, the Belgian selection

For the second year running, the pavilion will present the 2017 selection of Bordeaux wines chosen by a panel of Belgian wine and gastronomy professionals. These wines, selling for €4 to €25 are all available in Belgium. eat! Brussels, drink! Bordeaux will be the only opportunity to sample the sumptuousness of this 2017 selection.

The Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux pavilion

The Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux will once again be on hand to conduct a variety of workshops for Wine Pass holders. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the public, expert or novice, to (re)discover Bordeaux wines in an original, fun way and participate in tastings.

Young tourists look for kicks other than waffles

Well, these are maps which are as good as any tourist guide but actually they are so good that they are also souvenir in themselves. That means, when you are visiting a city then in search of a good souvenir, you first get a souvenir in form of a map. And these are no normal maps. These maps are now turning 10. USE-IT, the tourist info for young people, will soon celebrate its first ten years in European capital Brussels. They’re a household name for city maps made by young locals, with no-nonsense tips for how not to be caught as a tourist in Belgium. (Nope, we don’t have fruit on our waffles.)

These maps are starting to conquer Europe, and the research team Expeditions has measured the impact on tourism in the entire network. Does alternative city info really make people move outside of the city centre? Do they stay longer? And what does this imply for the local economy? The results were very positive, and Brussels stands out. 59% of users say they went further from the centre indeed. Desk personnel at hostels and the tourist infos confirm. 86% think also that off-the-beaten track information boosts the investment in the local economy. Furthermore, 14% of the young tourists extended their stay with one or more nights, and nearly everybody (97%) would like to get the same kind of no-nonsense info on their next city trips.

When asked about their best experience in Brussels, the maps’ local tips are mentioned more often than the tourist classics. Highlights include the panorama on top of Parking 58, the vegetable garden on top of the Albertina library, a walk through Molenbeek, going out at Bonnefooi until the morning, and pissing in the public urinal that’s built against Sint-Katelijne church.

The survey ran in the entire European USE-IT network (more than 40 cities) and Brussels came out on top. Of the 4,000 respondents, one out of three had already used the Brussels map. Strikingly, a large number of them (38%) was also motivated to start up a USE-IT map for their own city.

ALSO READ: Travelling to Where Locals Go

“The creative side of Brussels speaks to many tourists’ hearts, and USE-IT embodies that side well. As Alderman for Tourism it’s important that we support young innovative teams. So we’re proud that these city maps have spread out all over Europe from Brussels,” says Philippe Close, the Alderman of Tourism in Brussels.

The USE-IT headquarters is stationed in the Galerie Ravenstein, where it attracts more than 20,000 travellers per year. Apart from all the European free maps, visitors also get tips about nightlife there from the young Brussels volunteers, or they head out together for a walk along the Anderlecht supporters’ bars or the latest genital graffiti in town. Anything but the Manneken Pis.