Amsterdam by Dan Rocha

For One and All – Amsterdam

When people think of Amsterdam they usually jump to the conclusion that it is male orientated when really it couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, Amsterdam may have a red-light district but as the name suggests it is just a district and not the city as a whole. Females should not be perturbed with going to Amsterdam as those who don’t go really are missing out. There are numerous places that females will enjoy.

Let us start with the De Wallen (red-light district), which in itself is a place of cultural importance. The area dates back to the 18th Century and while you may not agree with the principle, general curiosity does take over. With sex museums, shows and other new experiences you should not bet against enjoying yourself. Whilst at night it is an absorbing mix of red neon and revellers, all of whom are caught up in Amsterdam fever.

For a city of culture they don’t come more cultural than Amsterdam. There was an artist long-time back who went by the name of Vincent van Gogh, his paintings nowadays change hands for upwards of £100million. Located in Museum Square is the Van Gogh Museum which as the name may suggest has an extensive amount, the largest in the world in fact, of Van Gogh artwork.

One of the famous Van Gogh paintings (Creative Commons)
One of the famous Van Gogh paintings (Creative Commons)

Not far from the Van Gogh Museum you have the Rijksmuseum, a museum dedicated to all things Dutch. This glorious museum hangs masterpieces from Rembrant, Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals. The eclectic mix of new and old really is extraordinary. The museums are three minutes (walking) apart and the combined worth of the artwork inside is probably equal that off a small country’s GDP. How is that for culture?

People go to the Dam for the coffee shops which are an enjoyable experience. Even if you are not an ardent smoker you can still enjoy them. Most places sell hash cakes for those who do not want to smoke any tobacco whilst they also offer pre-rolled joints which are very handy if you cannot skin up. It is a bigoted view to look at coffee shops as a male thing; they are unisex and extremely enjoyable for both genders.

Coffeeshops in Amsterdam (Creative Commons)
Coffeeshops in Amsterdam (Creative Commons)

Getting a MacBike is the only way to do the city justice. With an extensive bicycle lane network it is easier traversing the city on bike than car, it’s probably safer as well. The thing with Amsterdam is, there is something for everyone, most of which isn’t listed in the tourist guides. For a sense of adventure hire a bike and tootle around. There are numerous parks to chill out in and the natives are the nicest people you could ever wish to encounter and will always make time to answer your questions.

Amsterdam certainly has a female touch, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It may seem seedy and sordid but in reality it is one of Europe’s cultural hubs.

Football

A winning approach to the World Cup

Finally it’s here; the World Cup has started, after all the build-up, the tournament finally began yesterday, when during the first match we’ve seen Brazil facing Croatia at Sao Paulo stadium. This was the first of the Group matches to be played.

So how you will play it? Are you someone who can’t explain the off-side rule or do you live and breathe football? Even if you don’t really enjoy watching the game, the chances are that many of your friends and associates will be glued to the progress of the World Cup over the next month, so if you don’t fancy spending the next four weeks by yourself, you may as well get involved.

One way to boost your interest in the matches is to have have a punt or two on the World Cup matches. It’s so easy to place bets these days, especially if you download mobile betting app. All the betting sites like Betfair have these and with the competitive nature of the betting industry, there’s a whole host of special offers to take advantage of around the World Cup. At Betfair, any new customers signing up can benefit from a refund on a single bet placed on England’s group matches if England then lose. The refund comes in the form of a free bet, up to the value of £25. Alongside that money back offer, new customers at Betfair will also receive a £50 matched bet that they can use at any time.

World Cup fan by Monte Isom (Creative Commons)
World Cup fan by Monte Isom (Creative Commons)

If you don’t know which team to back, a quick look at the odds on any site will tell you that Brazil is down as favourite to win the whole tournament. The team is priced at around 3/1, which isn’t a huge gamble. If you’re looking for a bit more value in the bet that you place, you can find it if you choose to back Italy, France or Belgium for a win. Of course, these countries aren’t the hot favourites but if they did happen to win, you’d win a lot more cash than you would by backing Brazil.

There are plenty of other bets that you can place to make the different stages of the World Cup Finals more exciting. For example, you can bet on which countries will make it through the Group stage, or on which players will get the most goals. Once you’ve got a betting app on your mobile, you’ll be well-placed to get some live in-play bets on too – great for when you’re watching the game at the pub and a team’s fortunes suddenly seem to be changing mid-match.

You’ll probably not come close to the knowledge that some of the people you watch the games will have about football, but here are a few fun facts about the history of the World Cup that you can have to hand to add to the conversation.

  • Only eight countries have ever won the World Cup. Brazil has won it the most times, followed by Italy, with four wins. The other countries to have won are Germany, France, Uruguay, Spain and England.
  • FIFA doesn’t make all of its money from selling tickets to the World Cup matches; 65% of its revenue from the 2014 World Cup will come from television rights.
  • By the beginning of April more than 1.6 million tickets had been sold to World Cup matches, and over 150,000 of those were purchased in the US.
  • Since 1930, the World Cup has been held once every four years. There were only two times when it didn’t go ahead because of the Second World War – in 1942 and 1946. The 2014 World Cup will be the 20th World Cup.
  • The first time the World Cup was held in Brazil was in 1950, so it’s 64 years since Brazil hosted the event. However, it’s the eighth time that the tournament has been played in South or North America. The last World Cup held in South America was won by Argentina at home in 1978.
  • There will be approximately 600,000 tourists flying into Brazil for this year’s World Cup and the average spend per head will be $2,500.
  • After the party is over in Brazil, the next two World Cup tournaments will be held in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
Arc

Will Nadal break his own record at Roland Garros?

The French Open is one of the big four events in the tennis playing world. There are four Grand Slams or Majors in the tennis calendar, and it’s these that every top tennis player wants to win.

This week, play started at Roland Garros – the venue and second name for the French Open in Paris. Last year, Rafael Nadal won at Roland Garros for a record eighth time, making history as the first player ever to win the same Grand Slam eight times. Other players who have come close to this include Pistol Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, who have both won at Wimbledon seven times, but no player apart from Nadal has achieved the eight victories. If all goes to plan for Nadal during the next fortnight, he’ll break his own record and win the French Open for the ninth time. Betting sites like bet365 have him priced as the favourite, with Novak Djokovic , Stan Wawrinka, and Roger Federer also in the running.

Will Rafael Nadal win for the ninth time? (Creative Commons)
Will Rafael Nadal win for the ninth time? (Creative Commons)

However, following Nadal’s defeat by Djokovic at the Rome Masters only last week, it’s not looking like a sure thing that he will win. In fact, since the clay season began in April, Nadal’s form has been looking decidedly weaker than in previous years. He has only won one title of the four clay tournaments he’s played in, so he’s not really matching up to his reputation as the best tennis player in the world on a clay surface at the moment.

Anyone who’s in Paris this month would be well-advised to see if they can get tickets to Roland Garros if only to soak up the atmosphere, even if they can’t get tickets to watch one of the big matches. If you’re on a budget, the cheapest tickets are for evening entry to the grounds, from 5pm. You can book the ticket the day before you want to go from 5pm online, or turn up on the day itself to the ticket office at Gate B – Mousquetaires.

Of course, if Nadal were to win the tournament again this year, it would be fantastic to say you’d been there the year it happened – even if you didn’t actually have tickets to watch the final. Going to a great sporting event always adds to the memories of a trip to an amazing city like Paris. It makes you feel less of a tourist and more a part of what is going on in the city, much as being in London during the 2012 Olympics would have done, or being in Brazil when the World Cup kicks off this month. It’s not always possible to get up close and personal to these big events, but somehow being in the same city or country while a big event is going on increases that connection you have with it.

casino, work, travel

Work in Casinos around the World

There are plenty of ways to work around the world as means of saving and replenishing your travel funds. You’ll probably have heard about a few of the more popular options: teaching English, bartending, working holidays, employment on cruise ships, and more.

But, did you know it’s possible to find work in casinos? You’ve played the online games — like at 888 Casino — and, provided you’re willing to invest in some initial training, there’s no reason why you can’t travel in between dealing cards and strumming your suspenders. Here’s how you can do it.

Would working in a casino be right for me?

Like any work environment, casino life is not for everybody. One must be content working a constant stream of late nights, dealing with numbers and handling large sums of money, and maintaining a professional persona.

And, even if you don’t personally gamble, you’ll need to be cool with the idea of others partaking. It doesn’t hurt to slap on a killer smile — remember, this can be a highly tipped position! — and it’ll be hard to do this all the time if you’re not comfortable around people splashing their cash.

casino, work, travel
Packed house in Las Vegas (Creative Commons).
What are the requirements? What should I expect?

First, you’ll need training. Dealer courses in the US, for example, can cost about $200 to be trained in a particular game, though you may be entitled to discounts if you decide to learn about more than one at once. Of course, shoot for whatever games you feel most proficient in, though it’s a good idea to be skilled in a number of areas (poker, blackjack, roulette) to maximise your hiring potential.

When you first start out, you’ll likely be working graveyard shifts. Some people might enjoy this, though if you’re partial to early nights, you’ll struggle in the beginning. It’s also worth bearing in mind that, depending on where you’re hired, pay will differ greatly between casinos in different countries — even between casinos in the same town!

What are the benefits?

The biggest perk of working in casinos is the potential for travel. Gambling is a worldwide pastime, and you’ll therefore find casinos in most locations around the world — think China and Macau, all across the US, Australia, and New Zealand, and more. Moreover, because many casinos are part of international chains, there’s always the potential for relocations and promotions if you’re willing to work hard enough.

And, of course, casino games are universal. They’re not like a currency or customs or languages — the rules stay the same no matter where you are in the world. Hence, once you learn about the different games, your skills become very portable. There’s little adaptation needed.

casino, work, travel
Bright lights and “hungry tigers” in Macau (Creative Commons).
Where do I find the work?

There are a few avenues of sourcing and applying for casino work. Casino Dealer College, Let’s Make a Dealer, Career Builder (type in “casino”), and Casino Careers are good bets. There’s also the option of taking your new skills to the seven seas — cruise ship lines regularly employ dealers, and there really are just so many to choose from (too many to list), all with varying demographics of people and itineraries. They don’t all employ the same way, so look up individual companies for their hiring requirements.

May luck be on your side in your search for a work and travel balance!

Serra De Tramuntana (Creative Commons)

Exciting Holidays in Majorca

Majorca is the largest island in the Balearic Islands, Spain. This beautiful island is one of the most popular tourist destinations. Its exquisite beaches and abundant sunshine make it one of the most visited islands across the globe.  Sites like HolidayGems.co.uk offer affordable packages to this exotic place.  If you are planning a holiday to Majorca, then here is a list of things that you could indulge in.

Take a bicycle Tour

If you want to explore this lovely island closely then nothing could be better than a bicycle tour across the city. You could rent a bicycle and pedal around the busy streets of this lovely city. Numerous outlets offer bike and car rentals throughout the island. It is best that you sign up for a bicycle tour using the concierge desk in your hotel. Biking tours are ideal for families as well as couples as they allow you to spend quality time while enjoying the beauty and culture of this place.

Go Hiking

Serra De Tramuntana is one of the highest mountains in Majorca. You could sign up for a hiking trail to this lovely mountain. The peak of Serra De Tramuntana offers a panoramic view of the entire island. If you are looking for a more challenging trail, you could hike the area near Cape Formentera. You could also enjoy a family picnic at lakes Gorg Blau and Cuber that are based on the foot of Serra De Tramuntana.

Serra De Tramuntana (Creative Commons)
Serra De Tramuntana (Creative Commons)

Discover the architectural magnificence

Majorca is dotted with several villages that are reminiscent of historical and architectural brilliance of the past. You will be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of villages like Capdepera, Fornalutx, Arta and Soller. Stone alleys, artistic buildings and colourful flowers hallmark the roads in these villages. You can experience serenity and peace here. There are several picturesque historical monuments in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Majorca. Don’t forget to visit Palma Cathedral and Belver Castle; you will be mesmerized by their sheer beauty and grandeur.

Lovely beaches

A visit to Majorca is incomplete without a visit to its famous beaches. Majorca boasts of one of the most tranquil and beautiful beaches in the world.  You could enjoy the pristine sands and calm waters at Alcudia Beach. Similarly, Cala Barca beach which is situated on south-east coast of Majorca is heaven for divers and snorkelers. Some of the other beaches where you could enjoy solitude are Cala Dén Borgit beach, Cala Diea and Cala Dór Beach.

 

 

Montreal at night (creative commons)

Make Best out of Your Visit to Montreal

If you are looking to holiday at a destination that is loaded with modern amenities and quick faced life and yet sports the old country charm at heart then Montreal is an ideal place for you. This beautiful city can overwhelm you with its exotic art and appetizing food. Montreal is a haven for food lovers. Here are some tips on how you could make the best out of your visit to Montreal

Montreal (creative commons)
Montreal (creative commons)

Sight Seeing

Montreal can leave you amazed with its art and cultural heritage. A trip down its metro stations and you can see a collection of 100+ artworks displayed prominently at each station. Don’t forget to visit its Olympic stadium. It features the tallest inclined tower in the world. You could take a ride up to the incline and enjoy the bird’s eye-view of the surrounding area.  Notre-Dame Basilica is a must visit on every tourist’s list and you should definitely not be an exception to it. You will admire the delicate artwork on the walls of this basilica. If you are a nature lover then you must also visit the Botanical Gardens and Bio-dome in central Montreal. Also, don’t forget about the Quartier Des Spectacles for witnessing live music, comedy shows and opera.

Montreal at night (creative commons)
Montreal at night (creative commons)

Accommodation

Prices can be slightly high during the peak season. It is best if you book your accommodation in advance when you visit Montreal.  Montreal offers accommodation for all budgets, ranging from dormitories to Star hotels. If you want to experience the serenity of old Europe, than choose any of the old Montreal Condos for your stay. These Condos are equipped with all modern amenities; and still, they carry a distinctive style and charm of the European Era.

Eating Out

Montreal is a paradise for food lovers. You can sample different local delights from restaurants, sandwich shops and cafes. There are several speciality restaurants that whip up some amazing delicacies for you. You could also sip aromatic coffee from Tim Horton’s as you travel across the busy streets of this beautiful city. Lastly, try out some delicious and hot sesame bagels at Fairmont Bagels.

Shopping

Tourists flock Jean-Talon Market to get the best bargain on local products. You could shop for almost everything under the sun in this busy market. If you are looking at shopping at high-end stores, then you should probably head towards Sainte-Catherine Street and Mont Royal Avenue. Don’t forget to buy some tasty Maple products at the local market.

 

 

Broadway at night (creative commons)

New York, New York

In what city or country on planet Earth no less than 800 distinct languages or dialects are spoken? Maybe no other than the cosmopolitan New York. Well, it seems like a Babel tower for the tourists and that is why we recommend you to choose a very reliable source of information and guidance. Number one is of course NewYork.com, offering absolutely all you need from accommodations through to tours, events and food in the city, all in one single place.

If we only consider the figures, we won’t be sure whether we are talking about a country or a city: 8,336,697 people on 302.64 square miles, the centre of the largest Metropolitan Area in the US with 19.8 million people. That said, and given the enormous number of attractions, it is very important to make use of the tours especially designed by experts, in order to help you get through the most populated area in the USA.

And before presenting the most important two must-see objectives, please do yourself a favour and purchase a New York Pass which includes entrance to all attractions, as well as numerous tours getting you in the hot spot of the city without any effort.

Statue of Liberty (creative commons)
Statue of Liberty (creative commons)

The Statue of Liberty

You can actually visit the statue by entering in its pedestal which is in fact a museum, or by getting right into the crown which is by far the most spectacular part. A marvellous view over the waters and the city will open to you from the top, so this should be the first point to reach in exploring New York.

Situated on the Liberty Island and welcoming the people coming to New York Harbour since 1886,  the goddess of liberty standing on the broken chain of slavery became the symbol of the city and of the American nation, although it came as a gift from the French people.

Technically speaking, the copper exterior and the strong steel structure inside weight no less than 225 tones, the statue itself measures 46.5 meters, but together with the pedestal it gets to 93 meters. The seven rays of the crown stand for the seven seas and continents, the 25 windows represent 25 precious stones, and the goddess is holding in its left arm a tablet evoking the Declaration of Independence.

As you don’t want to waste your trip on standing in an endless line to get access into the statue, it is highly advisable to make a booking in advance through the New York Pass you have bought.

Broadway at night (creative commons)
Broadway at night (creative commons)

Broadway

There is no way you can get such magnificence of performances elsewhere in the world for shows like Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and dozens of others. Here no budget is too big for the producers and 12 million people a year attend the astonishing spectacles on 40 stages which make up the so called Broadway Theatre District.

There are shows available for all tastes and ages. And when Hollywood well known celebrities play live a couple of meters behind you, then it becomes clear that you live the American dream.

Please note that there are no shows on Monday, as this is a rest day for the performers, and throughout the rest of the week the evening shows begin at 7 or 8 PM. Afternoon shows are also available at 2 or 3 PM, but only on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Needless to say that advance booking is a must.

 

 

 

Navy Pier

Discovering Chitown: The First Places to Go to When Visiting Chicago

Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field

The Windy City is known for a lot of things: Wrigley Field, the L, Derrick Rose, Michael Jordan, and arguably the best hot dogs in the world. While not exactly at the level of New York and Los Angeles in terms of worldwide popularity, Chicago is nevertheless a prime vacation destination in its own right.

Like many places that are unfamiliar to first-time tourists, making the most of a trip to Chicago can be rather overwhelming. It is, after all, the Midwest’s biggest city. That said, taking full advantage of the sights and sounds (and tastes) the city has to offer is doable, as long as you know where you’re going. To that end, here’s a quick rundown of some of the most essential stops when planning a tour of Chitown.

1. Judging by the reverence that the aforementioned Wrigley Field gets, it’s as if Chicago only had one Major League Baseball team. The so-called Friendly Confines is the second oldest active MLB ballpark, which further adds to its significance. It has been around since 1914, but if the historical angle isn’t enough, know that it plays host to the president’s favorite ball club.

2. Speaking of historical, the city’s oldest surviving structure is the Chicago Water Tower, built in 1869. There’s a legend claiming that the 154 ft. tower was the only building to come out of the Great Chicago Fire unscathed. While the legend is largely unfounded (lots of buildings came through the disaster), the tower has nonetheless become a symbol of the city’s resilience.

Chicago Water Tower
Chicago Water Tower

3. Stopping by the Navy Pier is an unwritten rule when exploring Chicago. Not only does it have a near-carbon copy of the world’s first Ferris Wheel (which incidentally was also unveiled in Chicago), but it also has museums, a funhouse maze, an IMAX cinema, and even a live theater for that authentic 3D experience.

Navy Pier
Navy Pier

4. Aside from hot dogs, Chicago is also rather renowned for one other delicacy. As Ree Saunders gleefully states in a DialAFlight blog post, “deep pan pizza is a Chicago staple and a visit to the city isn’t complete until you’ve sampled a slice of the city’s finest,” the finest being Gino’s East. Located at 162 E. Superior St., the pizzeria prides itself as the home of the original Chicago deep-dish; a claim that celebrities like Katie Holmes, David Letterman, and even “His Airness,” Michael Jordan, subscribe to. If anything, your taste buds will be in good star-studded company.Gino's East

Gino’s East

It goes without saying that going to these places should be done by L Train for that authentic city feel. There’s nothing quite like giving yourself in completely to a city’s rich history; and Chicago has definitely lots of that for you to experience.

Cirque du Soleil

Incredible Shows in Vegas

A lot of credit has been given to the glittering casinos in Vegas and too little was said about its mesmerizing shows. As a grown-up in Vegas you are pretty much like a child in Disney land: you start off with a great deal of enthusiasm, once there, you don’t really know what to do first and by the time your trip finishes, you are too tired to realize what has been going on for the past days. And then you look at the photos.

Las Vegas (creative commons)
Las Vegas (creative commons)

Where to stay

The wise thing to do is to start by booking your flights and accommodation. Accommodation-wise, you want something that’s right in the heart of the city, where everything happens, because you don’t want to lose too much time on your way to the casinos, shows, malls, bars etc. Most hotels are expensive and despite their high prices, they don’t offer much. Since you are in Vegas, you might as well take advantage of your stay and book a classy room in one of the city’s symbols, like the Flamingo Las Vegas, which is not only ideally located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, but also offers quite a great deal of entertainment options.

Enjoy the shows

X Burlesque

Speaking of the Flamingo hotel, the sexiest show on Earth – X Burlesque – takes place right here! Visitors can enjoy 90 minutes of sensual topless dancing, heart-thumping vibes and astonishing visuals. 6 gorgeous women let themselves to be admired, in their most provocative stances, creating an incredible feast for the eyes. The dancers entice the spectators into a seductive display of voluptuous curves, free flowing hair and some wild dance moves. I could say more, but I would be spoiling the surprise. Last thing though… there will be a pink pole involved in the show.

The Dream

An impressive water-based show, this fascinating performance is something that you will not forget for sure. Showcasing a surreal world, The Dream is an experience more than just a show.

Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil

Mystère by Cirque du Soleil

If you are lucky enough to have the chance to witness one of Cirque du Soleil’s performances, be it in Vegas or in another part of the world, than you should definitely not miss it! This is not only one of the deepest, most impressive shows put up by Cirque du Soleil, but also one of the most abstract and artistic performances that one can witness in Vegas.

Other magnificent shows that you can see in Vegas, include the Blue Man Group, The Mentalist and many, many more.

(Sponsored by Travelbag)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Travel Insurance and backpacking in Australia

australia1

If you are about to jet off on your first ever backpacking experience in Australia then take a moment to check you have all the angles covered. Backpacking in Australia’s can be a once in a lifetime opportunity and full of fun and adventure. Before you step out the door you should ensure that you have travel insurance. Anyone going to Australia should have travel insurance to help them be protected should the worst happen. Being far from home means staying safe and using your head, check out these tips for travel insurance and your first time backpacking.

Get your Paperwork Sorted

The first thing you need to do is get your paperwork sorted. Depending on where you are coming from and how long you plan to stay in Australia you may need a visa. Contact the consultant and see how you can go about securing your entry into the land down under. Don’t forget to check your passport is also in date with six months to spare and that you have contacted your travel insurance company and let them know that you are off on and adventure to Australia.

Bring Extra cash

Along with travel insurance and your visa you shouldn’t forget to bring extra cash when backpacking in Australia. Backpacking can be done on a budget but it always helps to have a spare stash of cash should the unexpected happen. Travel insurance will help you out if you lose your wallet or get robbed but having that extra security of spare money will give you peace of mind.

Do some Research

Before you go you should try and map out your journey a bit and figure out where to stay. You can usually get cheaper deals on hostels if you book in advance and online. Checking out the areas you plan to visit will also give you I depth knowledge on what to see and where to avoid.

Know what to do

It always helps to have you head screwed on in emergencies and by planning what to do should the unexpected happen, this will help you stay cool and calm. Carry your travel insurance documents with you along with the number of your embassy or consulate. Don’t forget to sort out a cell phone when you land and keep it topped up and on you at all times.