Category Archives: News

Riding this Eel is indeed electrifying

SeaWorld San Diego threw open Electric Eel —  San Diego’s tallest and fastest roller coaster with astounding loops, twists and airtimeon May 10, 2018. Featuring multiple-launch experiences, Electric Eel propels riders forward and backward as they speed through the ride’s station house accelerating to more than 60 miles per hour in seconds. Riders then rocket skyward nearly 150 feet where they will brave an inverted “heartline” roll and a twisting loop for an exciting feeling of airtime as riders crest the top before breathlessly returning to the station.

“Electric Eel will bring a whole new level of excitement to SeaWorld,” said SeaWorld San Diego’s Park President Marilyn Hannes. “This new, first-of-its-kind coaster at SeaWorld will give riders the rare opportunity to feel what it’s like to move like an eel as they twist and flip along nearly 900 feet of undulating track.”

Complementing the Electric Eel roller coaster is a hypnotic live eel habitat featuring a collection of moray eels. The eel habitat, located at the eastern edge of the Ocean Explorer realm and already part of the guest experience at SeaWorld, features large viewing windows where visitors can plunge into the world of the eel as they swim and dart through the caves and crevasses of their naturalistic deep-ocean environment.

The Electric Eel attraction area will also feature an interactive educational experience called  Mission: Deep Discovery, which will allow a team of one to four players to embark on a virtual deep sea adventure aboard a manned-vehicle while they encounter the marvels of the deep ocean.

“We always strive to provide new reasons to visit SeaWorld and give our guests experiences that matter with a blend of exciting rides and incredible animal and educational experiences,” said Hannes. “We want our guests from around the world to not only have a great time, but be inspired to care about the ocean and the animals that live there.”

Electric Eel joins Manta and Journey to Atlantis as the third coaster-type ride experience at SeaWorld San Diego. It is located on an approximately 2-acre site on the eastern side of the park between Ocean Explorer and Journey to Atlantis. The new coaster is an expansion of the park’s Ocean Explorer realm, which opened in summer of 2017 as part of the park’s largest new attraction premiere in its history, also including the inspiring documentary-style Orca Encounter; and the summer nighttime extravaganza Electric Ocean, a nighttime transformation of the park into a sea of glowing color and energy, inspired by the phenomenon of ocean bioluminescence. Electric Ocean is set to ignite at SeaWorld on June 16 and light up the park on select dates through Sept. 2, 2018.

SeaWorld is open 365 days a year and is located on SeaWorld Drive off of I-5. Park admission is $89.99 for ages 10 and older; $84.99 for ages 3–9.

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 31,000 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.

Have a look at a video of this Electrifying Eel on my YouTube channel by clicking on the link below-

Have you ever had such an amazing roller coaster ride? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!

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India Summer Days return to Karlsruhe and lot more in SouthWest Germany


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On the weekend of 14th to 15th July 2018, the INDIA SUMMER DAYS return to Karlsruhe under the heading ‘Baden-Württemberg meets Maharashtra’: a small piece of India right in the centre of Karlsruhe, with all its sumptuous colours, music and dance. India fans can indulge in live music, an Indian bazaar, culinary delicacies and numerous other cultural highlights, as well as Ayurveda and yoga workshops.  Last year India Summer Days were held for the first time alongside the “Pre-Festival” in the middle of the Günther-Klotz-Anlage.

SouthWest Germany, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, is right in the heart of Europe and is bordered by France, Switzerland and Austria. Easy to get to, easy to get around, easy to have fun: that’s SouthWest Germany, a real four-season destination! With history and high-tech, romantic palaces and vibrant cities, natural beauty, glamour and fun, SouthWest Germany guarantees something for everyone. 

Also Read: Germany Unplugged – Holidaying in the SouthWest

Due to its varied historic and cultural heritage, South West Germany is abound in cultural monuments. Six of 42 UNESCO World heritage sites in Germany are located between the lake of Constance and the northern part of South West Germany. Ice Age Art in South West Germany, Historic Stone Age lake-dwellings on Lake Constance, the Frontiers of the Roman Empire , the Maulbronn Monastery and the Monastic Island of Reichenau. Worth mentioning as well, are the apartment buildings of the French architectLe Corbusier in Stuttgart, „the Weissenhof Estate“. Le Corbusier designed as well the master plan of the Indian City Candigarh in 1952 which was declared by UNESCO as World heritage in July 2016.

Wherever you go in Southwest Germany you are never far from a grand palace, a romantic castle, half-timbered houses – and something good to eat and drink. Stop in a café for coffee and cake; linger in a beer garden over a locally-brewed pint; taste wines at a traditional wine festival; sample schnapps and world-class gin in the Black Forest. Order traditional dishes in a Weinstube (tavern) and gourmet meals in Germany’s most Michelin-star studded region. In 2018 there are many foodie reasons to come to Southwest Germany, or Baden-Württemberg, as we call it.

Europa Park

In the heart of the border triangle, between the Black Forest and Vosges, lies the best theme park worldwide- Europa-Park. Whether Ireland, France or Spain ‒ 15 European themed areas with exemplary architecture, gastronomy, and vegetation are waiting to be discovered by visitors from around the world, embarking on a journey of discovery through Europe with over 100 attractions and shows and the promise of lots of fun and adventure for the whole family. The park’s own 4* hotels provide everything visitors need for a perfect family holiday or romantic wellness weekend with an authentic atmosphere and ambience unique to each themed hotel.

Shop till you drop! Read: Munich is a ultra-chic shopping destination

At India Summer Days, visitors will experience the great diversity of Indian culture and tradition in an authentic way. The focus will be on Maharashtra, Baden-Württemberg’s partner region in the heart of India, which has been linked to Karlsruhe for years. Last year Balaji També and a team of Ayurveda doctors, yoga teachers and cooks traveled from Atmasantulana Village, India, to the summer festival in Karlsruhe and offered many informative workshops on Ayurveda, Ayurvedic products, pulse diagnosis, Ayurvedic nutrition, healing music, meditation and yoga. Numerous other artists and musicians as well as yoga and Ayurveda experts will be arriving in Karlsruhe directly from India. This region has got special relations with Maharashtra. Stuttgart meets Mumbai wine festival also celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014. The long and enduring town-twining between Mumbai and Stuttgart which dates back to 1968.

India Summer Days, Credit: jowapress.de

Susanne Schlung, Marketing Director of the State Tourist Board said after her recent visits to Mumbai and Delhi that  she could see a lot of interest in traveling to Europe and especially the interests of travellers who travel the second or third or….time to explore a region of Germany – such as SouthWest Germany. She was really surprised that a lot of the people she met during our stay, know of Cuckoo-clocks, the Black Forest with its delicious Black Forest cake and Baden-Baden with its Spas and Casino.

Sharing culture! Read: A culture feast at Upper Rhine Valley

Susanne said, “Due to the demand for smaller family groups, apartments and smaller busses for more people are more relevant. Small groups and individual travellers also like to try our lovely traditional food and beverages (beer and wine) as well as our high level cuisine in lots of Michelin starred-restaurants. But on the third or fourth day of their journey they need to have Indian food again. No problem; south west Germany has a lot of Indian restaurants to offer! Indians also like Shopping! So, in south west Germany they have lots of possibilities to go shopping – from traditional souvenirs , e.g. the Cuckoo-Clock at the Tiitisee-Shops up to designer wear in the Outlet City in Metzingen which is a 30 minute drive to Stuttgart or Wertheim Village in the north of SWG. Outlet City Metzingen offers at about 80 different luxury designer brands (such as Hugo Boss, Prada, Nike, Michel Kors, Armani, Burberry, Gucci & Jimmy Choo).”

Europa Park

German cars, especially Mercedes Benz and Porsche are well-known and loved in India. There are two museums in the capital city of SWG, Stuttgart, were one can see a lot of cars and learn something about the history of the cars. Traveling by train, which is very fast and convenient in Germany is also very popular with travellers.

Have you visited SouthWest Germany or Europa Park? How was the fun? Please share with us all!

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David moves on from Nahm and leaves a legacy of Thai food behind

After 18 successful years, multi-award winning chef David Thompson has concluded his involvement with Nahm, the restaurant he created with Como Hotels. Renowned worldwide for his dedication and commitment to Thai food culture, David took the decision to leave Nahm last year in order to continue his work exploring and protecting the history and legacy of Thai food and flavours and to pursue new opportunities through Aylmer Aaharn, the Thai food group he co-founded in 2014. Final Dinner Service under Chef David Thompson will be on Monday 30th April 2018. 

Photo Credit: mycitylife.com.au

Chef David Thompson, who was presented a lifetime achievement award in 2016 for his dedication to Thai food culture at Asia’s 50 Best, has left Nahm at a point of excellence. The restaurant has remained on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list for 7 consecutive years and was recently awarded a Michelin star in Bangkok’s inaugural year of the guide. 

Photo Credit : nytimes.com

David Thompson visited Thailand for the first time in his twenties and immediately got enchanted by the country, the culture and some of the cuisine. He hardly knew that in next three decades he would be one of the fines Thai chefs of his generation. That fated journey in mid 80s resulted in the beginning of his love affair with Thailand, its food culture and gastronomic history.  Initially he achieved success back home in Sydney in the 90’s, opening two popular critically acclaimed restaurants: Darley St Thai and Sailors Thai.  His research and connection with Thailand continued, as did his love for the language and people, allowing him to tap into ancient recipes and deeper layers of Thai food culture. In 2001 this research cumulated in Nahm, which opened in London and within 6 months it had achieved a Michelin star (the first Thai restaurant to do so).  In 2010 David took a decision to live in Thailand full time and opened Nahm in Bangkok. David Thompson also opened Long Chim in Singapore at the city’s Marina Bay Sands shopping mall in 2015 and in just third week of opening he was cooking for more than 50 of Asia’s finest chefs and restaurateurs.It was indeed a feat of sort for any cook. 

Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

David Thompson writes: “Nahm grew into an extraordinary restaurant with its success acknowledged in so many ways. I believe that this has been due to the hard work and talent of all those involved, but most particularly the staff. For me, the most rewarding aspect is that Nahm has been a happy restaurant. Even as Nahm’s reputation grew, refined its service and succeeded as a business, the restaurant always retained its sense of sanuk; the pleasure in looking after customers. The application of culinary integrity in the kitchen was never to the cost of the joy in doing what we all loved. This is what I will always remember. It is a rare restaurant that can achieve all of this”. 

Nahm restaurant in Bangkok. Photo courtesy: cwfoodtravel.blogspot.in

Nahm opened at COMO’s Halkin Hotel in London to immediate critical success and was awarded a Michelin star within six months. David received the ‘London Chef of the Year’ award at the Carlton Evening Standard Food Awards in 2003. Throughout this time David worked on his highly regarded cookbook, Thai Food, which provides a comprehensive overview of Thai cuisine, features over 300 recipes, and has won an extensive array of celebrated book awards. David opened the current Nahm restaurant at the Metropolitan Hotel in Bangkok in 2011, again with the COMO Group. Aylmer Aaharn, the Thai food group headed by David Thompson, currently manages operations across six countries including Thailand and Australia.

Have you ever been to Nahm and tasted some of Chef David Thompson’s preparation? Share your experience in the comment section below.

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Block the dates! Seventh edition of the Eat! BRUSSELS, Drink! BORDEAUX this September

On 6, 7, 8 and 9 September, lovers of good food and wine have a date with Eat BRUSSELS, Drink! BORDEAUX Once again, the festival will spotlight the big names in Brussels gastronomy and the wines of Bordeaux. The visitors can embark on a culinary voyage, tasting the signature dishes offered by the great chefs of Brussels. All amid the greenery of the Parc de Bruxelles.

For the seventh year of the Eat! BRUSSELS, Drink! BORDEAUX festival, the best chefs in Brussels are once again taking over the stoves in the pop-up kitchens set up in the Parc de Bruxelles. Each of them will offer a gourmet public his (or her) signature dish. A great opportunity to discover the talents of Belgian gastronomy in a pleasant, convivial setting. visit.brussels have been in partnership with Les Vins de Bordeaux for the last five years.

Over fifty wine growers and wine merchants will be present at the event to show off the full range of wines from Bordeaux – reds, whites, rosés and crémants – that will be the perfect partners for the dishes concocted by the chefs. The 6 families of Bordeaux wines are each represented in their own special pavilion. Bordeaux Red & Bordeaux Supérieur Red; Côtes de Bordeaux; Saint-Emilion Pomerol Fronsac; Médoc & Graves; Sweet Bordeaux; Rosés, Dry whites and Crémants de Bordeaux. The Bordeaux Wine School will offer workshops in which novices can be initiated into Bordeaux wines and the more experienced can enhance their knowledge.

New features in 2018:

– An updated offering: New chefs will be joining the event to fly the flag of their restaurants. Several signature dishes will also have a vegetarian version. Ten restaurants have already confirmed their attendance. Returning are Vincent, Garage à Manger, Brinz’l, Le Tournant, Augusta, Rouge Tomate, Racines and Stirwen. And two new participants have already confirmed: Crab Club and San Bol.

– New cheese and dessert bar

– The festival will have 4 new, original themes for the Masterclasses: Crus classés from Graves, grands crus classés from Saint-Émilion, grands vins from Médoc from the 2015 vintage, Sweet Bordeaux & Belgian cheeses.

– The eat! Awards: This year, the eat! Awards will make their appearance. They will reward the chefs who were most successful during the event.

Photo: VisitBrussels/ ©E.Danhier

Have you enjoyed any such gastronomical event? How was the fun? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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World’s largest cruise ship ready for the first voyage

The world’s biggest cruise-liner, Symphony of the Seas, has left the shipyard of Saint-Nazaire in France to embark on its maiden voyage in the Mediterranean. French shipbuilder STX handed over to U.S. giant Royal Caribbean International on Friday. The ship, which weighs 228,000 tonnes, is 362 metres long just 20 metres shy of the length of the Empire State Building. It is marginally bigger than its sister ship, the Harmony of the Seas, which STX France delivered to Royal Caribbean in 2016.

Love cruising? Read: Which are the world’s most popular cruises!

Majestic view of the Symphony of the seas

The Symphony will head to Malaga in Spain and spending its first season in the Mediterranean before heading to its home port of Miami. Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Laurent Castaing, General Manager of STX France, led the traditional flag-changing ceremony, which symbolizes the ship’s official delivery from the ship builder to Royal Caribbean.

Crew celebrating the inauguration

Symphony of the Seas will welcome her first guests on Saturday, March 31 for a one-time-only, 5-night preview sailing, calling on Naples and Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy. The ship’s maiden 7-night Mediterranean voyage departs Saturday, April 7 from Barcelona, Spain, where the crescendo of thrills will be brought to life by the 2,200 international crew members who proudly represent 77 countries around the world. Symphony of the Seas will homeport in Barcelona for the summer, visiting Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; and Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy.

The 25th ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, Symphony of the Seas is 228,081 gross registered tons, measures 238 feet tall and spans 1,188 feet long. She will welcome 5,518 guests at double occupancy in 2,759 staterooms, including 28 additional balcony rooms that overlook the ocean or signature Boardwalk neighbourhood. One Oasis Class ship, seven distinctive neighbourhoods, the tallest slide at sea with the Ultimate Abyss and countless adventures for guests of all ages, the family adventure of a lifetime has surprises at every turn.

Language of the cruise! Read: Cruise Lingo to help travellers talk the talk!

New Culinary Adventures

• Hooked Seafood: This upscale eatery atop of the world’s largest cruise ship in the Solarium serves up the real taste of New England-inspired seafood and unparalleled ocean vistas to match. Approachable and unassuming, the menu offers classic coastal favorites, such as lobster rolls, crab claws, signature fish sandwich, and a raw bar where oysters are shucked to order.

Playmakers bar at the Symphony of the seas

• Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade: Stretching the length of a reimagined Boardwalk, now touting fresh energy and swagger, the whole family can watch the home team play across 31 big-screen TVs, during the day and into the late night. The indoor and outdoor arcade, packed with over 20 games, offers the opportunity for friendly competition. The on-point menu of classic American bar food features everything from wings, burgers and popcorn shrimp to picture-perfect sundaes; as well as craft beers and cocktails.

• El Loco Fresh: Made-to-order tacos and burritos wrapped with fresh tortillas are among the Mexican “street food” favourites that will hit the spot for adventure seekers looking to fuel up with minimal downtime.

• Sugar Beach: The signature candy and ice cream shop is the sweet spot on the Boardwalk with more than 100 types of candies, a lineup of ice cream flavors and even DIY activities for the aspiring culinary artist.

New destinations for cruise! Read: Adventure seekers can now visit Havana on Empress of the seas

A view from balcony of the rooms around central park

New Ways to Play

• Battle for Planet Z: Royal Caribbean’s first glow-in-the-dark laser tag game brings two teams of eight head to head in an out-of-this-world adventure to determine who will claim the last planet in the galaxy.

• Escape the Rubicon: In the ultimate race against the clock, friends old and new must band together in the Rubicon submarine – a sophisticated, custom-built escape room – to solve a collection of puzzles before time runs out.

Royal suite with a loft

Unparalleled Family Accommodations

  • Ultimate Family Suite: A two-level, 1,346-square-foot suite filled with awesome thrills offers more than enough room for the whole family – and friends – to come together and catch up on “me time.” Features include an in-room slide, a private cinema with an 85-inch HD TV, a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, a 212-square-foot balcony complete with table tennis and a full-size whirlpool. Complete with a Royal Genie, who caters to every whim, there are many more surprises awaiting guests along the way.

Fly into cruise! Read: Cruisefly for Royal Caribbean cruises

A family suite at the Symphony of the seas

Beginning Nov. 10, Miami, FL. will become the ship’s year-round homeport, making Symphony of the Seas the first new Oasis Class ship to sail from the cruise capital of the world using Royal Caribbean’s new state-of-the-art Terminal A. The 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises will call on Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s newly revealed destination in the Bahamas.

Aerial view of the helipad of the Symphony of the seas

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 49-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry “firsts” never before seen at sea. The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean, including jaw dropping, state-of-the-art entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike.

Also read: Vagabond at a cruise- Super Star Virgo

On board, guests are catered to with the cruise line’s world-renowned friendly and engaging service by every staff and crew member. Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 15 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards. The cruise line sails 25 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in Bermuda and the Caribbean, Europe, Canada and New England, Alaska, South America, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand.

Have you been on cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruises? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

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A marathon on ice for preservation of water 


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Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer)

Located in Siberia, Lake Baikal is the largest, deepest, and richest freshwater lake in terms of biodiversity in the world. The annual Baikal Ice Marathon offers competitors from around the globe the opportunity to race across the frozen surface with the goal to help keep the water clean. One of the top 25 adventure marathons in the world, the Baikal Ice Marathon is both psychologically and physically demanding. The event is held at the start of March, when practically the entire lake is covered in ice. It is a long, cold, lonely 42.2-kilometre trail across the barren white landscape where progress is marked only by checkpoints positioned at 5 kilometre intervals. The vast open spaces, the bright rays of the sun, and the incredible, breathtaking beauty of the landscape help the hundreds of elite runners complete the course between the opposite shores.

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer)

Carl F. Bucherer keeps the commitment to environment

With their participation in the 14th Baikal Ice Marathon, Carl F. Bucherer once again demonstrated a respectful attitude toward the environment and the brand’s commitment to the value of preservation. The idea of participating in one of the world’s most difficult tests of strength and endurance was born in September 2017, when the Swiss watch manufacturer’s Executive Vice President Sales, Laurent Lecamp, and friend of the brand, renowned businessman, and four-time IRONMAN finisher Vladimir Voloshin first met at the opening of the Carl F. Bucherer boutique in Moscow, Russia.

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer/Alexey Sedov)

Along with the values of the watch brand itself, both men share a passion for sport, considering it a source of inner strength and inspiration that allows them to move forward innovatively while preserving traditions. To prepare for the challenging race, Laurent Lecamp and Vladimir Voloshin, who live in different parts of the world, developed a groundbreaking formula for cooperation based on their shared outlook and values.

Due to extreme weather conditions, temperatures of –31°C, and a wind speed of 108 km/h, this year’s marathon had to be cut short after 21 kilometers, turning it into a challenging half-marathon with 153 participants. Laurent Lecamp and Vladimir Voloshin both finished 56th.

Clean Water Preservation Run 

Lake Baikal is located on the border of the Irkutsk region and Buryatia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lake’s shape is reminiscent of a giant crescent moon, stretching some 620 kilometers from the Northeast to the Southwest. Its width ranges from 24 to 79 kilometers. The ice marathon crosses over one of the most beautiful parts of the lake. As part of the Winteriad, a larger winter games festival that takes place at Lake Baikal, the Baikal Ice Marathon is held for a noble cause – the preservation of clean water. All of the participation fees from all of the athletes are donated in full to protect the lake and to maintain its purity and beauty. By participating in the event, Carl F. Bucherer is once more demonstrating their commitment to the value of preservation by supporting various international environmental projects.

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer/Alexey Sedov)

A Strong Friendship 

The Baikal Ice Marathon marked the start of a close relationship between Carl F. Bucherer and Vladimir Voloshin. In April, Vladimir Voloshin will visit the company’s headquarters in Lucerne and the manufactory in Lengnau, Switzerland. “Being a friend of the watch brand Carl F. Bucherer is a great honor and a great responsibility at the same time,” said Vladimir Voloshin. “We complement one another perfectly because we share the same goals and values. Reliability, accuracy, and quality are extremely important to me, as these characteristics are what enable people to achieve good results in both business and sport.” Laurent Lecamp said: “Our shared experience of coping with extreme situations was unforgettable. It was proof that together, we can overcome any obstacle.”

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. On the left Vladimir Voloshin, Friend of the Brand of Carl F. Bucherer. On the right Laurent Lecamp, Executive Vice President Sales of Carl F. Bucherer. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer)

Vladimir Voloshin 

With a career in international marketing that spans more than 20 years, Vladimir Voloshin has worked for global companies in the Baltic states, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and Russia. He is the Managing Partner of Newman Sport & Business Consulting, founder of the international IRONSTAR triathlon competitions and the ROSA RUN festival, host and moderator of a talk show featuring business leaders and top athletes, and an expert speaker at international marketing conferences and at TED events. He is also the first President of the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO Alumni Association.

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer)

Sporting achievements: 

  • Four-time IRONMAN finisher, participant in the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii
  • Two-time IRONMAN 70.3 finisher
  • Two-time finisher of the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon and Abu Dhabi International Triathlon
  • Finisher of the Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim and the legendary Paris–Roubaix cycle race
  • Finisher of the Quintuple Ultra Triathlon (19 kilometers swimming, 900 kilometers cycling, 211 kilometers running)
  • Finisher of the 186-kilometer 24-hour ultramarathon
  • Finisher of the Marathon des Sables multiday 240-kilometer run through the Sahara Desert
  • Finisher of the HARD RUN 2017 50-kilometer ultramarathon
  • Eight marathons (pacemaker in six), 12 half marathons (pacemaker in 11) in Russia and abroad
Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer)

Have you ever run a race in ice? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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In memory of a Star on International Day of Forests


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Star breathed its last yesterday and it is certainly the most disheartening news to hear on the International Day of Forests. Star, also called as Sitara was actually one of the stars of the forests of Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. As per news reports Star or Sitara, which was named T-28 in forest records died after being tranquillised. Perhaps a tranquilliser overdose took its life. He was tranquillised in attempts to rescue him from a village in Khandar area on the park’s periphery. It is said that this 13 year old male tiger had strayed close to a village where people had surrounded it. Forest officials reached there and in attempts to rescue, tried to tranquillise it.

Ironically, the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests is : Forests and Sustainable Cities and we probably lost Star because of this ever-increasing pressure on forests from the surrounding human settlements. The news of his death reminded me of the day, I had seen him on the safari. Just a short encounter of 11 minutes was enough to get etched in the memory for ever. That’s the reason that news of his death saddened me. Star was named so because it had a 5 point star mark over its left eye and also has bird shaped mark over the right. Rajbagh area of the park was his favourite place to give audience to curious, thrilled, overjoyed travellers from around the world.

It was cold winter day on January in the year 2011. Our morning safari  yielded no tiger sightings. Then came the afternoon safari. Normally in all tiger reserves across India, safari vehicles will have a specified route. There might be three-four or more different zones in the park and a safari vehicle is limited to a particular zone. That means, if you are in zone 2 for the morning safari, your route is limited to zone 2 only. Vehicles are not allowed to overlap the zones. This is done to manage the tourist traffic inside the park and ensure that a particular area or the wildlife in a particular area is not abused quite often because of any particular attraction and tourists are evenly distributed.

Also read: Some wild moments in Sariska!

But on that particular trip, we were guests of the district officials and hence we had a special number safari vehicle which has access to all zones. Although I am not at all fond of sighting sprints of safari vehicles inside the reserve, but that day our driver thought that he had the duty to give us a tiger sighting. Hence around 5.20 pm in the evening he received a call on his walkie-talkie about a tiger sighting and then for next ten minutes we had a bone-churning dash towards Rajbagh, which was quite a distance from that place. That’s where the T-28 or the Star male aka Sitara was on his evening stroll.

There were already hordes of safari vehicles there, might be more than 60 to 70 people around at that particular time. He was already spotted inside the jungle and everybody was waiting for him to come out in open, which he eventually did with full gusto fit for his stature.

Also read: Shh…Tiger is here!He than proceeded to make the marking. One of the favourite acts of tigers to mark their territory.

Have a look: Two cubs on play at Panna- A photo essay

It then cam to the road. Looked in a very playful mood. It was  very interesting to see how these big cats maintained their composure as well as indifference despite of being surrounded by so many humans. They were least afraid but equally attentive. I don’t think they would be unaware of any lurking danger. But they were quite sure of their territory and their command over it, where they were kings. Sitara has history of getting too close to safari vehicles.And, then relaxed itself giving full view to all safari vehicles.After few minutes, it again made the move. Kept playing in the mud.Looking for tiger? Read : Spot the tiger in this wild image!

And then Sitara decided that it was the time to end the day’s audience and it walked away. It crossed our way, moved to jungle on to the right. Even than it didn’t disappear immediately. It kept everybody interested, but didn’t return. After a couple of minutes, it went deep inside. In the fading light, it was soon impossible to keep track of its stripes.Love wild? Read: Dudhwa sans tigers!

It all ended in just 11 minutes- the royal show, but gave everybody around a plenty to cheer about for rest of their lives.

Changing colours? Read: White Tiger – When mutation becomes exhibit!

Star aka Sitara aka T-28 was a young tiger, full of life and glory as well. Having born to tigress T-27, it was first spotted in 2008 but it established itself very quickly among the ranks. Got the name and fame as well when it got the courage to challenge the great tigress Machali. It is being said that in 2009 Sitara and Machali had many territorial fights. Sitara controlled a large territory and despite fights with Machali, also mated her two daughters including Sundari.

But all will be tales now. Goodbye Star!!

Have you been fortunate to have sighting of this particular tiger? How was the experience? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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Nightclubbing: Spring parties you should not miss in Brussels


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Every year, Brussels lights up on fine days. Clubbers and fans of electronic music are not left out. New concepts emerge and iconic venues in the capital offer attractive line-ups for aficionados of the dance floor. C12, Surrender and the not-to-be-missed Listen festival invite night clubbers to get out on the dance floor. The queen of diversity with its 183 nationalities, Brussels also prides itself on offering a wide range of late night party venues. From tech house to dance, not forgetting hip hop, all musical styles can be found here. Many head for a night out in the capital to see the latest DJ or have a crazy time in one of a string of lively late night venues.

At this time of year, new night-time events organised by the well-known names of Brussels nightlife erupt in the capital to the great delight of night owls. As well as the birthday of Fuse, which, as happens every year, offers a programme worthy of its international renown, the Listen festival has unveiled an impressive line-up. Among the DJs present, great names like Mount Kimbie and Floating Point from Britain, or John Talabot from Spain will be presiding over the decks in the iconic venues of the capital, including the magnificent Art Nouveau gallery designed by the architect Victor Horta and Flagey.

This season’s list of venues and events for partygoers is very long. Here is a glimpse of what’s in store:

Tourisme Bar Halles Saint Géry Sint Gorikshallen © Jean-Pol Lejeune

The events

Libertine Under My Garage Last edition:

Libertine Under My Garage is the very recent merging of 2 Brussels groups, Libertine Supersport and Under My Garage, which share the same vision of clubbing and the same sense of a future-oriented musical direction… Their aim is to build a coherent programme of Belgian and foreign artists whose sole concern is to liven up the dance floor. No headliners or hype producers come to play their five-tracks and three remixes, just real DJs who know how to mix and offer a musical journey, without getting stuck in just one genre.

  • Date: 23 March 2018
  • line-up: Young Marco (NL), Central (DA), DJ Sports (DK), Rick Shiver (BE), Arthur Tixhon (BE), Rey Colino (BE)
  • Venue: QUAY 01

Listen festival

The Listen festival consists of DJ sets, concerts, showcases, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, a vinyl exchange, a music equipment market, and much more. The festival welcomes the best of ‘left-of-centre’ electronic music and national and international clubbing to Brussels. Clubbers will discover up-and-coming new artists and get carried away by the rhythms of well-known artists.

  • The headliners: Actress x Mount Kimbie (B2B DJ), Antal, Bicep (DJ), DJ Stingray, Floating Points (DJ), Hunee, John Talabot, Jonny Nash & Suzanne Kraft ‘live’, Lefto, Luke Slater & Mr. Scruff
  • Dates: 29 March to 1 April 2018
  • Venues: Horta Gallery, Flagey, Beursschouwburg, La Madeleine, ING Art Center…

Surrender

The second year of this new electro party concept. The project was started by Darko, the DJ who created the famous Statik Dancin nights and a member of the team that founded the Brussels Electronic Music Festival. In close cooperation with the arts of the digital scene, in 2018 Darko is expanding Surrender to QUAY 01. “Surrender” grew out of an original idea that came to the Belgian DJ following a long stay in Berlin, the temple of electro. Its concept is a series of events intended to promote up-and-coming Belgian and international artists and to indulge a shared passion for electronic music.

  • Date: 7 April 2018
  • Venue: QUAY 01
  • Line-up: Hubble (live), Andrea Ferlin (DJ), Darko (DJ)

The birthday of Fuse: Len Faki extended set

Founded in 1994 by Thierry Coppens and Peter Decuypere, Fuse is THE techno temple of Brussels. It has seen the greatest names of the genre behind the decks (with no exceptions). It’s a must for every self-respecting clubber. The unique atmosphere that reigns here attracts people in the know from far away and the scenes at the end of the night, bordering on hysteria, have become almost legendary.

  • Date: 14 April 2018
  • Venue: Fuse

BOZAR Night

Enjoy an international line-up of acclaimed and up-and-coming electronic music DJs and producers whilst visiting major exhibitions: that’s the unique concept behind BOZAR NIGHT. This edition is one you can’t afford to miss. The minimal house and techno of Detroit-born Magda, the subtle and elegant electronic music of veteran Frenchwoman Chloé, the raw, danceable beats of Kyoka, Haring’s playful experiments, the dark abstract textures of Monolithe Noir and the narrative sounds of Liyo will lift your spirits into this unique BOZAR Night.

  • Date: 30 April 2018
  • Venue: BOZAR
Tourisme Bar Halles Saint Géry Sint Gorikshallen © Jean-Pol Lejeune

The venues

C12

After more than 5 years spent organising musical events in Brussels, as well as Antwerp, Ghent, Paris and Berlin, Deep in House has just launched its new project: C12. The name comes from one of the unused spaces of the Horta Gallery, a gallery located in the bowels of Brussels Central Station and designed by Victor Horta.The aim of this new space is to promote tolerance and open-mindedness in a cultural, festive setting. On the programme: concerts, exhibitions, parties and artistic performances.

  • Dates: several dates every week
  • Venue: Horta Gallery
Tourisme Nightclub ¬© Jean-Pol Lejeune

Le Zodiak

Founded in 2016, the ZODIAK is a club that is open to everyone. The ZODIAK offers a night- time experience that is out of this world only a few steps from the Grand-Place de Bruxelles. Fans of electronic music will be able to enjoy a journey through sound and light in this new place where the clubbing and underground cultures rub up against each other. This spring, ZODIAK’s programme focuses on the promotion of local artists and labels, but also hosts artists from Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

  • Dates: Every Friday and Saturday
  • Venue: Zodiak


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Aquatica Orlando celebrates 10 years of fun memories

On March 1st, Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, Orlando celebrated ten years of providing extreme and serene watery fun to Orlando visitors and residents alike. The park, which opened March 1, 2008, quickly became a staple in the vast landscape of Orlando water parks and ranks as one of the best water parks in the United States by TripAdvisor®.

To commemorate the park’s special day, Aquatica commissioned the sculpting of a 22-ton sand sculpture depicting a birthday cake inspired by Aquatica’s latest addition, Ray Rush. The sculpture measures 15’ wide, 8’ tall and took skilled artisans nearly 25 hours to complete. The park was also recently voted “Best Water Park” by Orlando Sentinel readers in the publication’s annual Best Bets reader’s choice awards in 2017. “The Sentinel just confirmed what everyone already knew, Aquatica is the place where Orlando residents go when they want the best water park experience,” said David Heaton, Aquatica Orlando vice president. “We are so excited to be the water playground of choice for Orlando locals and visitors alike.”

Orlando’s best water park is only getting better in 2018 with the ultimate birthday gift for park guests, Ray Rush. The new attraction promises to be a fully-loaded water adventure which will combine three unique slide elements, never before seen at Aquatica, into one action-packed attraction families can enjoy together. With a height requirement of only 42”, this all-new triple-fusion family raft ride will allow guests of all ages to slide, splash and soar like never before on a slide that is both thrilling and family-friendly.

The park is also celebrating the occasion by offering an incredible deal on Annual Passes. Aquatica Pass Members enjoy unlimited admission and free parking as well as discounts and the opportunity to be among the first to ride Ray Rush when it opens in spring 2018. The park is also offering guests the opportunity to purchase 6” x 8” photos in the park for just $10 through the end of April.

Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark Orlando

From high-speed water slides and exhilarating wave pools, to tranquil beaches, Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark® Orlando, delights all ages and interests. This one-of-a-kind waterpark is home to some of the world’s most thrilling water rides, featuring 42 slides, rivers and lagoons and 84,000 square feet of sparkling white, sandy beaches. Get ready to brave a watery free-fall on Ihu’s Breakaway Falls™ – the steepest and only multi-drop tower slide of its kind in Orlando. Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, offers exclusive attractions that promise unlimited fun, sending guests on amazing undersea adventures.

About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

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 organisations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioural 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 31,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

Photo: Busch Gardens

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognised 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. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company.

Traditional folklore and cool technology are woven together at Taiwan Lantern Festival

The 29th Taiwan Lantern Festival was officially opened, with the lighting of the lanterns in the Main Lantern area. The exhibition scale for this year’s festival reaches 50 hectares, making it the biggest lantern festival ever held in Taiwan. The exhibitions will feature the main lantern which depicts an indigenous child with a Taiwanese dog, portraying the theme of Loyal Auspiciousness. Besides this main attraction, the innovative designs area will showcase various exquisite traditional lanterns that embody traditional customs and auspicious themes; these are sure to dazzle people.

For the first time, full-field spotlights will be used to shine the latitude and longitude beams in the sky and present the Tropic of Cancer going through the mountains, sea and plains of Chiayi County. The design incorporates folk culture and will give people a brand new sensory experience. International tourists who visit the “2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival” and present their passport or relevant entry certificate from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 3-10 at the No. 1 Service Desk can receive a 2018 Year of the Dog DIY paper lantern, a limited edition gift and a voucher (valid from March 3-10), which they can use to access the Main Lantern Area to watch the light show.

On the 15th day of the first lunar month, the Lantern Festival, also known as the Little New Year, celebrates an important traditional folk activity for the Lunar New Year. Traditionally, residents celebrated by setting off firecrackers, displaying hand-held lanterns, and going to temples to look at beautiful lanterns. Amid the fun atmosphere, it’s also a time to wish for peace and prosperity for the country and people. Every year, during the Lantern Festival, throughout Taiwan, large and small scale celebrations are held. The biggest difference between the Taiwan Lantern Festival and the lantern festivals held in various counties and cities in Taiwan is that it integrates tradition and modernity.

Based on traditional culture, the Taiwan Lantern Festival each year uses the animal sign on the Chinese zodiac as the theme of the main lantern. It also pays attention to traditional customs in determining the location, construction and placement rituals. The Main Lantern’s base is designed based on the Chinese Eight Trigrams, which symbolises Taiwan’s traditional philosophy and culture. The Main Lantern lighting ceremony time is selected based on what is considered an auspicious moment. It also involves the traditional blowing of the whistle. (When the President lights the lantern, a team of people blow whistles 9 times, when the Premier lights the lantern, the whistles are blown 8 times and when the Minister of Transportation and Communications lights the lantern, the whistle is blown 7 times). In addition to that, drumming, and hitting the gongs precede the lighting of Main Lantern. And with traditional etiquette, and folk tales as the theme, we cleverly combine lanterns with scenario-based technology to create an ambilight-like scenery.

To bring refreshing results to the public, a number of initiatives have also been planned for the “2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival,” including the center of attention, the Main Lantern “Loyal Auspiciousness ” which for the first time will depict not only the zodiac animal of the year but also include a Taiwan indigenous child waving, so that spectators can feel as if the child is greeting them and sending them good wishes with a smile. With the vigorous development of mobile payments and the introduction of cashless bazaars, the public also can experience the convenience and friendliness brought by science and technology. In order to showcase Taiwan’s intention to promote the protection of the bay resources, the “Bayside Tourism Lantern Area” has also been established to demonstrate the unique vitality of Taiwan being surrounded by the sea. A National Palace Museum water lantern area has also been laid out, and set up a Lantern Festival environmental navigation area, an environmental live broadcast and digital carved water curtain projection.

Through years of constant innovation, the Taiwan Lantern Festival has become one of Taiwan’s premier folk festivals. It has been selected as one of the “World’s Best Festivals” by Discovery and praised by international media as a Disneyland without a roller coaster! Through the holding of the Lantern Festival, the development of various types of Lantern Festival celebrations in Taiwan will be further promoted and world-class lantern designing and making technology will be cultivated. Chiayi County sits in front of a mountain range and faces the sea. It is the only county in Taiwan that spans Alishan, Siraya and Yun-Chia-Nan, three major national scenic areas. In addition to enjoying the sunrise and sea of clouds on Alishan, visitors can also visit the villages of the Zhou indigenous tribe on the mountain, as well as the eco-rich Aogu Wetland, Ruili Scenic Area’s Yanziya, the Dongshi Fisherman’s Wharf’s famous White Sand Beach and eat delicious seafood, Fengtian Temple, which is dedicated to the worshipping of the Goddess Mazu in Xingang, and Bantou village cochin pottery village. Visitors also shouldn’t miss delicious local food such as Minxiong goose, Budai seafood, Dongshi oysters, Xingang peanut candy, and duck soup. Traveling to various tourist spots in Chiayi County during the day and enjoying the Taiwan Lantern Festival in the evening will surely be the best way to celebrate the festival.

In order to promote Taiwan’s unique activities, the Tourism Bureau Chiayi County of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has been highlighting the special festivals of Taiwan in the past few years. In addition to the continuous integration and marketing of the Taiwan Lantern Festival, and other Lantern Festival events, such as the Taipei Lantern Festival, the Kaohsiung Lantern Festival Art Festival, the New Taipei City Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, Miaoli Fire Side Dragon Festival, Tainan Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival, and Taitung Bombing of Master Han Dan Festival, since 2013 has been promoting the “Taiwan Tourism Calendar” program, which integrates information on various large-scale special events in Taiwan, including the upcoming annual meeting of the world’s most beautiful bays in Taiwan (Penghu), the Taichung World Flora Exhibition (Taichung City), the 9th Asian Birdwatching Exposition (Chiayi County) and other international conferences and activities. Visitors from home and abroad are welcome to visit the unique and magnificent sightseeing activities of Taiwan’s folk festivals.

About Taiwan

Taiwan is located in the western Pacific Ocean 160 km (100 miles) off the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland and is a convenient gateway to Asia for the Indian traveler.

FLIGHTS: A number of airlines such as China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Southern and Thai Airways fly directly or with a stopover, in to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the Kaohsiung International Airport and the Taichung International Airport from the Indian metros of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata. Scoot Airlines also connects the cities of Jaipur, Amritsar, Lucknow, Chennai, Trichy, Kochi, Lucknow, Bangalore and Hyderabad with a stopover in Singapore to Taipei. The average flight time between India and Taiwan is of about 6.5 hours; and Taiwan is 2.5 hours ahead of India.

VISA: Indian Passport holders can enjoy Visa exempt entry into Taiwan for 30 days via an online system. The applicant must have at least one of the following valid or expired visas issued by UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand or any of the Schengen countries.

  • Valid resident or permanent resident card
  • Valid entry visa (may be electronic visa)
  • Resident card or visa that has expired less than 10 years prior to the date of arrival in Taiwan

Photo credits : Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Have you seen any lantern festival? How beautiful it was? Share your views in the comments section below.

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