Goa is India’s Beachfront Destination

Goa India

The beach at Goa, India.

Goa is India’s beachside paradise, located in the far southern part of the country.  It’s recommended that you visit in December, since that’s when it has the best weather but be forewarned, the crowds might just be there as well. And if you think you’ve seen crowds before, brace yourself for an Indian crowd.

But Goa is still a wonderful place for a  beach vacation, and the golden sands and endless blue waters of Mirimar beach will relax and untangle your nerves.  At Mirimar, the sound you hear at night is coming from boats that dock just off shore to serve drinks and play loud music.  If you’re camping, like many people, you might want to camp out of range of their loud music.

For a day-trip, a visit to the Tambdi Surla Temple, built in honor of Lord Shiva, is a great idea. It’s an ornate and ancient place reached by narrow, winding roads. Let someone else drive if you’re nervous–you should be.  A hike to Nandran will take you through some of India’s deepest and darkest forests…be prepared to hear nothing and for many, it’s hard to adjust to. But let yourself unplug and enjoy the quiet, that’s rare to find in busy bustling India.

Another hiking destination is Dudh Sagar, again through the deep forest.  About nine km more hiking and you’ll reach Kuveshi and the next destination, the famous Majorda beach.  Nearby is the Devil’s Canyon, which is a lush pool surrounded by rocks. It may look innocent, but in the water is a dangerous current, that could easily swirl and suck you down into rocks and caves below the water. So don’t go in…unless you’re a very strong swimmer.

Another Goa tradition is parasailing.  You just let yourself be taken along, and go higher and higher until you’re looking down at the pretty blue ocean and sparkling beach from a new perspective.  To some it’s scary but for others, it’s something they cannot resist. But you can go parasailing with a friend, that makes it less scary.   Sancole beach is another of Goa’s many enjoyable places to cool off, along with Donna Paula beach. You see, Goa is all about beaches, and you can take your pick to find the one that’s perfect for you.

If the idea of camping and trekking in Goa is not what you’re after, try finding a small guest house. At the luxury end of the spectrum, the Taj Exotica Goa gets fantastic reviews from guests on TripAdvisor.  One couple said that even their tiny infant got the royal treatment from the staff, they’re totally prepared to care for a newborn baby, unlike many hotels.  They even make their own special baby food to make the littlest guests feel at home.  Most of the reviews are quite positive about this property.

The Goa area is truly India’s premier beach resort center. In Old Goa, the beautiful Basilica of Bom Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also a fine example of baroque architecture. If you visit during Christmas you can experience both the Christian traditions but in the context of a totally new set of eastern values…and that’s something you’ll remember for a long time!



Rwanda is Proud to be Naming 24 New Baby Gorillas!

Photographing a gorilla in Rwanda. photo: Silverback Lodge.

Photographing a gorilla in Rwanda. photo: Silverback Lodge.

Tourists from Around the World Will Travel to Rwanda for the 11th Annual Kwita Izina, Themed “Conserving Now and For the Future”

Kigali, Rwanda – On September 5th, 2015, the Rwanda Development Board will host the eleventh annual Kwita Izina – gorilla naming ceremony – at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains. The theme for the 2015 festivities is “Conserving Now and For the Future.” The growing gorilla population has become a major tourist draw, and thousands are expected to turn out for the naming of 24 baby mountain gorillas this year.

“Gorilla naming is an important part of Rwanda’s conservation efforts,” says Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, the Head of the Tourism & Conservation Department under the Rwanda Development Board. “The centuries-old tradition now serves to play a significant role in the monitoring of each individual gorilla in their habitat and with their families. The Kwita Izina ceremony is a demonstration of the commitment to the conservation of Rwanda’s wildlife by the local communities, conservation groups, researchers, rangers, and tourists.”

Although gorilla naming, a uniquely Rwandan tradition, has always been a part of the country’s culture, Kwita Izina was introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness for the endangered mountain gorilla. This year’s Kwita Izina will take place as Rwanda carries out another general census of the gorilla population in the Virunga Massif. The last report in 2010 showed encouraging growth in the gorilla population, registering a 26.3% growth in a period of seven years. The Rwanda Development Board has been continuing their conservation efforts and expects to once again see growth in the gorilla population.

New to the ceremony, the Kwita Izina Awards will launch this year. The Rwanda Development Board will bestow the Kwita Izina Award to celebrate achievements that have had a significant impact in improving of tourism and the protection of the wildlife globally. Awards will be given to recognize local conservationists for their life-time contributions to conservation and tourism.

Throughout the event, a business expo will highlight the economic growth in Rwanda. The Kiningi Community Complex will exhibit and sell their products including honey and handicrafts and offer interactive weaving sessions. It will also provide an opportunity for operators to sell packages and for hotels to showcase their services.

For more information on Kwita Izina and other activities in Rwanda, visit http://www.rwandatourism.com.  Read more articles about Rwanda on GoNOMAD

Are You Ready for Travel? Medically, That Is

Planning a vacation takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. Making sure to maximize every minute of your time away is often difficult and not realistic for travelers. William Brady, MD, Medical Director at leading travel insurer Allianz Global Assistance USA and Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Virginia is sharing his top five questions on what travelers should ask themselves before they travel to the airport in advance of their next trip.

  1. Do you know your medical history? Speak with your doctor and seek advice.  Certain patients with significant, long-term illness likely should not travel to isolated areas of the world where advanced medical care is not available.  Should you find yourself abroad with an urgent or emergent medical need, consulting your travel insurance specialist, like Allianz Global Assistance (AGA), is the most appropriate means of securing medical care as soon as you feel sick. A good medical travel insurance policy, like one from AGA, can help you find a doctor, advise on when to go to a hospital, which hospital to go to base on your symptoms, and can provide coverage for your emergency medical care and evacuation, if needed.
  1. Are you fit to travel? Request guidance from your doctor.  If you have recently undergone a procedure or experienced an illness, travel and related stresses may not be appropriate for you at that time.  Rather, a delay or postponement might be more appropriate.  Finding oneself in a foreign land with an unfamiliar medical system if a recurrent problem should arise is very inconvenient and can be medically dangerous.  Your travel insurance specialist is the most appropriate means of securing medical care while abroad.
  1. Are you medically able to fly in a commercial aircraft? The cabin of a commercial aircraft is not pressured to sea-level; rather, pressures at cruising altitudes within the cabin range from that equivalent to a 6,000-8,000 foot elevation.  In other words, a very high altitude.  Thus, those patients with chronic respiratory (i.e., breathing) problems may not be the most appropriate candidates for air travel.  Consult your doctor and / or your travel insurance specialist on this matter and make preparations as needed in advance.
  1. Do you have a medical condition that requires the use of specific devices and / or medications? If yes, make sure that you will have access to these treatments prior to leaving your home.  For example, a patient requiring hemodialysis on a regular basis can certainly travel with physician guidance but the destination location must have the appropriate, pre-planned access to hemodialysis.  Your travel insurance specialist, like Allianz Global Assistance, will be able to assist in securing these services prior to departure and if you run out of medicine on your trip.
  1. Have you planned to partake in dangerous activities on your trip? Certain leisure activities and practices can be dangerous, whether you are at home or abroad.  If partaking in such events, please realize that you may be in a region of the world with medical care that is less advanced and less accessible than your home region.  Thus, adverse actions occurring during these practices may not be managed in a fashion consistent with your home region.

For more information on the benefits of a travel insurance policy from Allianz Global Assistance, please visit www.allianztravelinsurance.com.


Air France Partners for the First Ever France Run 8K in Central Park

Airplane running. Drawing by Marc Johns.

Airplane running. Drawing by Marc Johns.

New Yorkers are invited to experience French culture in Central Park. Air France will be the lead partner of New York Road Runners’ (NYRR) first-ever France Run on Saturday, August 29, 2015 in Central Park. The France Run is inspired by the dynamic French culture of running and Air France’s history of providing its passengers with the unique opportunity to fuel their passion for the sport through its Flying Blue Running Club.

The 8K (approximately a five-mile distance) run will begin at 8 a.m., and will be followed by a kid’s race for children ages 2-12 years old at 9:30 a.m. A festival showcasing the best of French culture will be set up throughout the event, open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The France Run is a qualifier for the TCS New York City Marathon through the NYRR 9+1 Program, but visitors don’t have to run to enjoy the French festival on race day.

The France Festival will be at the Naumburg Bandshell, located mid-park between 66th and 72nd Streets, throughout the duration of the event for runners and visitors to enjoy. The festival will feature a variety of complimentary offerings by French vendors, including delicious refreshments like crepes, biscuits, fruit teas and fun activites to learn more about the country, culture and language. There will also be opportunities for runners to enter raffle drawings and win prizes, such as a trip to Paris, FIAF language learning course gift certificates and a 5-piece Le Creuset signature set. Runners who want to participate in the raffle may do so by removing the raffle part of their bib and putting it in a designated NYRR container onsite. Dedicated Air France tents will be set up at the festival featuring something for everyone including free massages for runners, a children’s area with face-painting and an interactive photo booth. There will also be a tent dedicated to the Flying Blue Running Club where participants can enroll in Flying Blue for a chance to win a trip for two to the Paris Marathon on April 3, 2016.

“Customers who fly Air France have always shown a strong interest in running, which is why we have the Flying Blue Running club, and sponsor many races around the globe including Paris, Vancouver, Santiago, Milan, Rome, Venice, Malibu and Nice,” said Marnix Fruitema, Senior Vice President, Air France-KLM North America. “We wanted to promote the lively spirit of a race and help create a unique experience for our US customers, so we are proud to be a part of the first-ever France Run in New York’s iconic Central Park. Whether you are a runner, foodie, travel enthusiast, or Francophile, the France Run will be an interactive exhibition of French culture and a celebration of the historic relationship between France and the US – including Air France’s 69 years connecting Paris and New York.”

“We are excited to host our first-ever France Run,” said Michael Capiraso, President and CEO, New York Road Runners. “The entire event, from the nearly five miles in Central Park, to the interactive French festival at the Bandshell with activations by Air France and their partners, will bring our diverse running community together to celebrate their health and fitness alongside French culture, while having a whole lot of fun with family and friends.”

To find out more about the France Run and festival, visit bitly.com/FRANCERUN and follow #FRANCERUN.


Things to Consider Before Traveling Abroad in Europe

European Health Card, don't leave home without it.So you’re getting ready for a long August holiday in Europe? Before you stow all of your suitcases in the boot, and get ready to drive out the driveway, here are some reminders to make  your trip smoother and a bit easier.

First of all, what about money?   Is your wallet now fat with euros, anticipating peeling them off one after another at every stop?  There is a better way and that is the UK post office travel money card, where you can get a card that acts like cash.  No need to tempt fate and carry a big billfold, just buy a card like this, and maybe another for your traveling mate, and your good to go.

OK, how about your passport?  That photo does look a bit old—is the thing expired?  You would hate to make it all the way from the carpark to the airport terminal and be chagrinned to find out that the expiry date next to your out of date photo is also, gulp, out of date. And don’t laugh.  Famous travel writers have been stopped at the airport for such a silly thing. So make sure your passport expiry is way, way in the future. In some countries you might even get a hard time for having the expiry date be too close to the present date. So renew that passport!

Now, what if something goes wrong—you slip off a dock,  you suddenly get deathly ill from a bad plate of clams in Spain, or you break your leg while waterskiing on Lake Como?  For this, you need to know about the new European Health card, which you can find and apply for easily at http://www.europeanhealthcard.org.uk.   The old E111 form is no longer valid, in case you still have one.The old E111 paper form has been replaced with the new European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). the card holder will have access to state-offered healthcare in Switzerland and all European Economic Area.

It is advisable for all UK residents traveling abroad to carry these cards. It should be ensured before every trip that the card is valid; EHIC is valid for up to five years. you can apply using our website.

“America” is the Newest Paddle-Wheeler on the Mississippi River


The newest paddlewheeler river cruise ship, The America,  from American Cruise Lines.

The newest paddle wheeler river cruise ship, The America, from American Cruise Lines.

American Cruise Lines announced today the successful launching of its newest paddle-wheeler “America” three weeks ahead of schedule.  “America” is being built for the Mississippi River at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland.

The launching, which took place this morning, was picture perfect.  Immediately after being launched seamlessly, tugboats skillfully nudged the new riverboat into Chesapeake Shipbuilding’s East Outfitting Basin where the upper decks and outfitting will be completed.
The launching comes just a few weeks after the joining of the two hull sections.  With the installation of the upper decks, the new riverboat will come together quickly, and upon completion will be the third new riverboat built for the Mississippi River by American Cruise Lines.  Construction of the new “Queen of the Mississippi” is also underway and is slated for delivery in 2017.

The newest paddlewheeler “America”, will have a capacity of 185 passengers and will introduce features never before seen on a riverboat.  American built, American flagged and American crewed, this new vessel symbolizes the true all-American experience provided by American Cruise Lines.  It is scheduled to begin navigating the Mississippi River and its tributaries next spring.

About American Cruise Lines
American Cruise Lines is the largest U.S. cruise company and operates the newest fleet of riverboats and small cruise ships on more than 35 itineraries around the country including the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New England, the Southeast and the entire Mississippi River system.  To learn more about American Cruise Lines, visit http://www.americancruiselines.com or call 800-814-6880.