Big Inks https://biginks.com Had Your Break Today? Tue, 01 May 2018 11:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.3 4 new cruise ships for Carnival in 2018 https://biginks.com/4-new-cruise-ships-for-carnival-in-2018/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 06:29:49 +0000 https://biginks.com/?p=474 You have probably heard of Carnival Cruise Line but you may not know that Carnival sails the sevens seas under several guises – an impressive stable of 10 brands in their porfolio – including Cunard, Costa and P&O.

This year four of the brands will be launching new ships: the family friendly Carnival Cruise Line fleet, the sumptuous Holland America, the eco friendly AIDAnova and the luxuriously intimate cruise line Seabourn.

Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival Horizon – expected launch date in April 2018

As the 26th ship for Carnival Cruise Line, the largest cruise line in the world, Carnival Horizon will offer a number of unique innovations, including the first Dr. Seuss WaterWorks aqua park, the line’s first teppanyaki dining venue and Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse | Brewhouse, a new restaurant that combines BBQ offerings created by Food Network star Guy Fieri along with four specifically designed craft beers brewed at an onboard brewery.

Carnival Horizon will also offer indoor and outdoor dining, bar, entertainment and activity options that debuted in 2016 on its sister-ship, Carnival Vista, such as the bike-ride-in-the-sky SkyRide attraction and an IMAX Theatre.

Accommodation includes spa cabins with exclusive privileges at the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, and tropical-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

The 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon will debut with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona in April 2018 – the first of four round-trip departures from the port. Carnival Horizon will then reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018, positioning the vessel for a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple. Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami to launch a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018, and will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

Seabourn: Seabourn Ovation – expected launch date in May 2018

The fifth all-suite ship in Seabourn’s fleet, Seabourn Ovation will carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy who will enjoy a private veranda in each suite.  Cruisers will be treated to “An Evening with Tim Rice,” the acclaimed English musical theatre lyricist of Broadway, West End and film. The experience highlights some of Sir Tim Rice’s most loved work – from “Jesus Christ Superstar” to “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

Seabourn Ovation’s maiden voyage will be an 11-day inaugural voyage departing May 5, 2018, from Venice, Italy, to Barcelona. The ship will spend the majority of her maiden season cruising the waters of Northern Europe, offering a variety of Baltic and Scandinavian cruises, which will include the line’s signature three-day stay in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Seabourn Ovation will also sail on longer 14-day voyages, visiting the majestic Norwegian fjords and British Isles. Select sailings will also include the Ventures by Seabourn program, which are optional for-charge expedition-style excursions featuring a team of experts, Zodiacs and kayaks with a focus on allowing guests to experience nature up close.

AIDA Cruises: AIDAnova – expected launch date in December 2018

Arriving in late 2018, AIDAnova will be the first cruise ship fully powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel, with nearly zero emissions. This ship will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG to generate 100 percent of its power both in port and on the open sea – an innovation that will reduce exhaust emissions to help protect the environment and support Carnival Corporation’s aggressive sustainability goals.

AIDAnova’s next-generation, fully LNG-powered design is an evolution from the brand’s previous award-winning class of ships that includes AIDAprima and AIDAperla, the first two cruise ships in the world to use LNG while in port. AIDAnova will be followed by six additional fully LNG-powered ships scheduled to be delivered across several Carnival Corporation brands by 2022.

AIDAnova marks a new generation of AIDA Cruises ships that combine innovative design with state-of-the-art technology to provide even greater onboard comfort – the onboard brewery featuring the first-ever beer garden, the beach club and Four Elements, complete with three water slides, in addition to a new escape room for puzzle lovers and 360-degreee Theatrium and Studio X, a TV studio at sea.

Highlights include 20 different stateroom types, ranging from a two-deck penthouse suite to spacious family and patio cabins to comfortable single options with a balcony. The ship will also feature the Body & Soul Spa, spanning two decks and offering over 80 treatments from around the world. For the first time, the ship has two private outdoor sun islands for couples; an all-new concept with 17 restaurants – five specialty restaurants, six à la carte restaurants, five buffet restaurants and one snack bar; 23 bars offering a variety of culinary trends from around the world; and the new Time Machine restaurant, blending experience and culinary art to take guests on a dinner trip through time.

In its debut season starting in December 2018, AIDAnova will offer seven-day trips around the Canary Islands. Prior to the Canary season, AIDAnova will make a stop in Hamburg, and will visit the Hanseatic City on the Elbe before setting off toward Gran Canaria.

Holland America Line: MS Nieuw Statendam – expected launch date in December 2018

Nieuw Statendam is the second Pinnacle Class ship for Holland America Line, joining MS Koningsdam, which launched in April 2016.

The 99,500-ton ship is the ultimate expression of the brand’s evolution, with grand light-filled spaces; visual drama; and sumptuous interiors inspired by the fluid curves of musical instruments. created by leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany and designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten.

The ship will carry 2,666 guests and feature fine-dining options at alternative restaurants Sel de Mer, a French seafood brasserie, and Tamarind, an Asian fusion concept, in addition to the Grand Dutch Café with traditional Dutch treats and European beer.

Onboard entertainment will include the popular Music Walk area featuring all genres of music showcased in venues including Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard Onboard and the dynamic B.B. King’s Blues Club. With the 270-degree LED projection at World Stage, show-time performances will immerse the audience in panoramic visual and sound effects.  The ship will also launch with the newly created Exploration Central’s hub located in the Crow’s Nest, now a comprehensive resource and engagement center with interactive screens and a Virtual Bridge.

Holland America Line’s first ship to be called Statendam sailed in 1898, and this will be the sixth ship in the company’s history to carry the name. In combining the Dutch word for “new” with the classic “Statendam,” Holland America Line is celebrating the company’s past, present and future.

Nieuw Statendam is scheduled to depart December, 2018, on its maiden voyage with guests – a 14-day transatlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. The ship will then spend the winter season cruising roundtrip from the South Florida port on seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with select three- four- and 10-day options.

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When is the best time to visit Puglia, Italy https://biginks.com/when-is-the-best-time-to-visit-puglia-italy/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 06:23:53 +0000 https://biginks.com/?p=467 Puglia, located in the south, in heel of Italy, sandwiched between the Ionian and Adriatic seas, has become one of Italy’s most popular holiday destinations. It offers ancient towns with long histories, extravagant churches, bizarre conical-roofed trulli houses, fabulous masseria hotels which have been converted from traditional fortified manor houses and a great deal of Baroque splendour.

Spring

Spring arrives early in Puglia and at this time the weather is generally warm and sunny, with temperatures rising to the early twenties by the end of April rising steadily through May. Another perk of visiting at this time is lack of crowds making it a pleasure to explore cities such as Lecce, Galipoli, Alberobello or Bari that are much loved by tourists.

Summer

Summer time in Puglia lasts from the end of May when it is already warm – and the strawberries and peaches will be ripening – to the end of September. In July and August, Italians on holiday flood into Puglia and though this is the most crowded time, the area is busy with food festivals, concerts and other spectacular music events. You may even learn the local dance such as the tarantella or pizzica, at one of the many music and dance festivals that pop up across the historic towns and beach villages.

Autumn

The quiet time is from October to April. It’s a little too chilly to go swimming as the water is too cold and there may be some rain and feel a tad damp. This is a good time to enjoy cosy café moments by a fireside.

Hotels are a lot cheaper, sometimes a third of the hotel rates during the summer months which means you will have more to spend on food. And that’s a good thing because the autumn is harvest time and at this time Puglia’s cuisine is at its best. During this period the shops are emptier and the prices have lowered, there are more seats available in restaurants and the food is altogether more bountiful and at its freshest.

Winter

Winter months can be a little rainy but are generally mild, with average temperatures hovering around the 12-15°C mark.

If cold is an issue then give February a miss. At this time temperatures plummet to their lowest (lowest is 7°C). However if you do so you will also miss the Carnevale di Putignano, the region’s oldest and most colourful carnival.

During the winter months the landscape is still beautiful and life centres inland and perhaps into the mountains and certainly away from the beaches. The areas is ripe for trekking, horseback riding and cycling.

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5 reasons to visit Beau Vallon and Savoy Seychelles Resort & Spa https://biginks.com/5-reasons-to-visit-beau-vallon-and-savoy-seychelles-resort-spa/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 06:19:25 +0000 https://biginks.com/?p=459 Beau Vallon is the only beach on the Mahe island on the Seychelles that has it all. A peaceful ocean laps onto a sandy beach offering two impressive snorkeling sites, an active and buzzing night life and a range of 5 star hotels, including the Savoy Seychelles Resort & Spa.

Ocean is by your side

Beau Vallon stands for “beautiful valley”. And this is indeed a beautiful valley with a curved ribbon of beach that stretches over 3km along the ocean. It is peppered with trees that hang lazily over the water and its soft sand.

The calm waters and sandy ocean bed has no underwater current, stones or corals making Beau Vallon a safe and ideal place for young families to holiday.

Snorkeling

Close by are couple of excellent snorkel sites. One of them is Anse Major – a small bay in the northern part of the Mahe Island. You can reach it in around an hour by foot hiking through the forest or by taxi from Beau Vallon.

Reef Anse Major has well-preserved corals home to various fish and marine life that hide in their crevices. In particular you may find blue-spotted grouper, the green birdmouth wrasse, the white-spotted boxfish, or young specimen of several species of moray eels.

The other is Ste. Anne Marine Park. It is about 5 km by boat from Victoria. Fishing is forbidden but among the sea grass you can see big sea turtles and friendly fish who will swim right beside you. A huge amount of plankton attracts big manta rays into these waters throughout April to December.

Spa Center

Relax in the calmness and comfort of the hotel’s Spa after an active day on the beach or a hectic long night filled with music. There are several treatments including massages, wrapping and some signature treatments that exclusively use Sothys products. Romantic couple treatments are available too.

Local markets and fairs

The popular Bazar Labrin market opens on the beach every Wednesday and on the last Saturday of each month. There’s an abundance of fascinating stalls and the market gets particularly lively from around 4 pm until 8.30pm.

Stalls sell delicious food, spices and fish alongside local arts and crafts while barbecues offer freshly caught fish and banana St Jacques fritters, grilled breadfruit and plenty of other local delicacies including papaya chutney, mango salad or red lentils.

Live music ensures a party atmosphere, as local musicians and bands often hold impromptu performances

Night Life

For some heady nightlife hop into a taxi for a short 15 minute ride into the city. Located on Francis Rachel Street, the Gran Kaz Casino boasts a bar area with a widescreen TV that shows the latest sporting events.

Barrel Night Club on Revolution Avenue is a good place to meet local people, play some pool and to hear a mix of music including reggae, local Creole music, dance and hip-hop. Open from Thursday through to Sunday, it is spread over two floors – the lounge bar is on the ground floor and the music hall is in the basement.

The Boardwalk Bar and Grill on Eden Island, around 3.5km from Victoria has superb views of the mountains, marina and ocean. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and anything in between – including morning coffees and cocktails. Special events include karaoke every Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday with live music from La Mezcla, resident DJs and live bands on a Friday and Saturday.

Rogan’s Irish Bar (Level 3 Docklands, Latanier Rd) is an authentic Irish pub run by an Irishman. It is the only place on Seychelles where you can taste a legendary Guinness watch sports on big TV screens and even enjoy some karaoke.

But you can enjoy the night and the ocean staying at the hotel and on Beau Vallon. The Ocean Deck Bar is open till midnight and you can drink a draft Seychelles beer while being entertained by live music band.

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International Travel with Car Seats: What Do You Really Do? https://biginks.com/international-travel-with-car-seats-what-do-you-really-do/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 06:10:09 +0000 https://biginks.com/?p=452 If you want to travel, start a conversation about car seats. I’ve learned from posting a guide to car seats and air travel a few years ago that car seats can bring out the worst in millennial and Gen X parents. The judgement is real. Don’t keep your child rear facing until their teen years? Judgement. Have that chest clip a half-inch too low when you snapped a photo of the kiddo in a car seat? Judgement.

So lesson learned? No way! Here I am stepping in it all over again with an important discussion that I think needs to be had about car seats for those of us who travel abroad…. what do you really do about car seats when you are in international destinations where they aren’t the norm? It’s confession time.

I was having this conversation earlier this week with a friend and fellow family travel blogger As the Joe Flies, so I blame him for making me wade into these waters again. When it comes to child safety, both Joe and I are pretty conservative. We both use car seats religiously back home with our kids. We know how to install and use them safely. I kept my son rear facing until he was almost 3. Joe still uses a convertible car seat with his 4 year old with no plans to graduate her to a booster. We do more than what the American Association of Pediatrics and the laws of our state require. We have schlepped car seats all over this great country on dozens of planes and in numerous rental cars to keep our kids safe.

But where have we let things slide? International trips. Joe has Hong Kong roots and confessed to me that his family there thinks he’s crazy when he uses a car seat with his kids when they visit. He’s gone without with his daughter on occasion when the logistics necessitated it. Sorry Joe, I’ve outed you.

Since I’ve tattled on a fellow travelling parent, here comes the time where I should tattle on myself. We went without a car seat or booster for my daughter in Hong Kong when she was 5. More recently, I let my son ride in an Uber in Panama when he was 2 without a car seat. (That was the infamous Uber ride where my son threw up all over me, but that’s another story.) We used a car seat to and from the airport in Panama but there was just no way to use one when touring the city. Public transit wasn’t really an option there with the time we had and where we wanted to go. It was a Uber or taxi or nothing. There was just no way to take a car seat with us when we planned to stroll around the city and see various tourist sites, as we had no where to store it and no easy way to carry it.

That’s the challenge – logistics. The realities of international travel mean that bringing a car seat with you everywhere in a vehicle just isn’t possible. If you find yourself in a country where car seat use is not the norm, forget finding a car service that even has car seats unless you are independently wealthy. There’s no Uber Car Seat service in Hong Kong. Or Panama.

Of course, there are some international destinations where car seats are exceptionally easy. We had no trouble in Montreal renting a car seat for our son with our rental car when we visited when he was 9 months old. When we weren’t using the car, the city’s public transit system was more than adequate to get us everywhere we needed to go so no car seat was needed for safe travel. I imagine the same would be the case in many major European cities with extensive subways and transit systems. I didn’t even have issues in Cancun, Mexico, as the tour company we hired to take us to Chichen Itza made a car seat available in our touring van (no doubt being used to dealing with American tourists who demanded it).

So, it’s confession time. I want to hear about your personal experiences with car seat use at international destinations. Have you gone without one with your kids? At what ages? Does being able to use a car seat (or not) shape the destinations you travel to with your kids when they are at peak car seat age? Do you have any clever workarounds to share? This is a judgement-free zone.

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6 Hidden Features on Airplanes You Had No Idea Existed https://biginks.com/6-hidden-features-on-airplanes-you-had-no-idea-existed/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 06:04:36 +0000 https://biginks.com/?p=443 Keep an eye out for these on your next flight.Whether you’re in the aisle or window seat, don’t make the mistake of doing these things you should never do on an airplane.

The magic button for extra room

Did you manage to snag an aisle seat? Not only can you get up without crawling over people, but you can make your seat extra roomy at the push of a button, thanks to one of the coolest secret airplane features. Reach under the armrest closest to the aisle and feel around near the hinge. You should find a button, which will instantly let you swing the armrest up when you push it, according to Travel + Leisure. Once it’s in line with your seat back, it won’t dig into your side anymore, and you can move your legs around without hitting anything.

The hidden handrail

We’re willing to bet you hate it when people aggressively grab your seat on the way to the bathroom. Once it’s your turn to make your way down the aisle, though, you realize you have no choice but to follow suit—or do you? Flight attendants don’t just touch the ceiling for fun when they walk; the bottom of the overhead compartment has a scalloped area that gives better grip when walking down a moving airplane, according to Condé Nast Traveler. Next time you need to get up, reach to the ceiling for balance. Your fellow passengers will thank you, as will your flight attendants if you pay heed to these 7 pet peeves all flight attendants have.

Secret sleeping area

long-haul flight is hard enough on passengers, but imagine being a pilot or flight attendant trying to make it through a 14-hour workday. It’s an exhausting job, so some planes, like Boeing 777 and 787 planes, have secret passageways that let staff can get some decent shut-eye, according to Insider. A locked door near the front of the plane or a door posing as an overhead bin hides the entrance to a set of beds, kept private with thick curtains. Here’s the one word you need to say to get your flight attendant to really like you!

Hooks on the wings

If you peek out the window to an Airbus plane’s wing, you can spot yellow bumps with holes in the middle on an otherwise smooth, white surface. If there’s an emergency water landing, the wings would be very slippery for passengers trying to get to the inflatable slide that would have deployed. To help travellers get off without falling, the easy-to-miss airplane features let cabin crew slip a rope through one hook and fasten it to the next, according to pilot “Captain” Joe. Passengers could hold on to the rope while on the plane to make it away from the plane safely. Find out how to survive a plane crash, according to science.

Triangle above window

Scan the wall of your plane; above four windows, you’ll see a black triangle. Each one lines up with the edge of the airplane’s wing, according to pilot “Captain” Joe. If a flight attendantneeds to check the airplane’s slats or flaps—the moving parts on a wing—they’ll know exactly where to go for the best view. If you’re getting motion sick on a plane, you might want to see if you can move to a seat between the triangles. The wings are the plane’s centre of gravity, so sitting between them would give you the smoothest ride. Here’s the reason why you should never take off your shoes on an airplane.

Holes in the windows

Look closely at an airplane window and you’ll spot something weird: a little hole in the bottom. Take an even closer look and you’ll realize that unlike other windows, this one is made of three panes, and the hole is in the middle one. The quirk is there to protect against the pressure drop of flying high into the atmosphere, according to Slate. As a plane ascends, the pressure outside drops massively, but the cabin is designed to stay at a comfortable pressure. That leaves a big difference in pressure inside and outside of the plane. The outside window takes on most of that pressure, and the hole in the middle one helps balance the pressure difference. The inner window is just to protect the middle one.

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San Diego is America’s Coolest City https://biginks.com/san-diego-is-americas-coolest-city/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 05:56:01 +0000 https://biginks.com/?p=438 Make sure to spend a day at Balboa Park, which happens to be the largest urban cultural park in the States. And it’s more than just a park; it’s a cultural landmark, with acres of gardens, 17 museums, theatres and galleries to discover. For some impromptu free entertainment, checkout the street performers and artists that line The Prado. Of course, since we are in San Diego, you can also enjoy a charming meal at The Prado restaurant, or wade into the craft beer scene at Panama 66, which is a more casual outdoors hangout – all while surrounded by the beauty of Balboa Park.

Forbes called San Diego “America’s Coolest City”, and it’s easy to see why. This is a paradise for the young and the young at heart. With an average age of just 35, San Diegans have created a mecca for adventure seekers who expect just a little more from life. If your idea of a great time involves perfect weather, great food, craft beer and a vibrant arts scene, you will find it here, in addition to spectacular surroundings and some of the best beaches in the world.

You can’t mention San Diego without talking about its phenomenal outdoor lifestyle, much of which has a lot to do with the fact that it lies at the southwestern tip of the US, right along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. This is matched by its fantastic year-round weather, with the temperature rarely dropping below 16°C or soaring above 25°C. The fact that you can surf, snorkel, boat and paddle all year makes it a must visit destination for any Canadian that might have been a fish in another life!

Those who would rather not get their feet wet can immerse themselves in the city’s beach life by playing beach volleyball, biking on endless beach paths or just laying in the sun. San Diego also offers hiking, world class golf, rock climbing and more. Its perfect year-round weather makes it the ultimate outdoor playground.

La Jolla Cove

Take a short drive North to experience the beach town of La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) – there is a reason why it means ‘the jewel’ in Spanish. Consider exploring the oceanside caves of La Jolla Cove, an ecological reserve, where you can mingle with the seals and spot other wildlife. Later, take a stroll to experience the fantastic Murals of La Jolla, a project of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library commissioned by the community to demonstrate La Jolla’s unique personality and vibrancy. Scope out the town’s many coveted dining options, including some of San Diego’s best upscale eateries. Here you can enjoy gourmet open-air dining and stunning coastal views like nowhere else.

Food is at the centre of the city’s rich craft scene. For a truly San Diego experience, get to know Cali-Baja food – a mixture between Mexican cuisine and California’s emphasis on fresh, local food. It’s about shocking your taste buds and doing the extraordinary, like grilled octopus on a tostada or grilled avocado in a taco. The Cali-Baja scene has kept those in the know buzzing for years, and could be reason alone to visit the city, especially if you are a foodie.

Speaking of foodies, do go to Little Italy – one of the buzziest food neighbourhoods in the city, and an area that Forbes dubbed as one of the US’s top 10 hottest neighbourhoods. This foodie’s haven is home to more than 50 restaurants and cafés, some of which are dotted along what locals call “Top Chef Alley”. This strip is famous for the many restaurant creations of past Top Chef contestants including Brian Malarkey and Richard Blais.

Best place to view downtown:

Coronado Island.
To get there, drive across San Diego’s iconic 2-mile Coronado Bridge or hop on a ferry from downtown. The island showcases San Diego’s downtown skyline in all its glory.

Best spot to watch the sunset:

Sunset Cliffs.
Watch as the horizon changes colors as the waves crash along the side of the cliffs. You may even spot a couple of surfers.

Best hike to view the city:

Cowles Mountain.
Take in a panoramic view of the city on this three-mile hike. You can even bring your four-legged friend.

Best location to view wildlife:

La Jolla Cove.
Get up close and personal with San Diego’s marine wildlife. Catch a glimpse of the seals that make La Jolla Cove home year-round, or view the many birds bob in the water.

Best historical view point:

Cabrillo National Monument.
Discover the history at your feet as you step onto one of the first places that explorers discovered on the great West Coast.  Cabrillo National Monument offers scenic views of San Diego’s bay and a monument commemorating Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s voyage.

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This Is Your Ideal Vacation, According to Your Zodiac Sign https://biginks.com/this-is-your-ideal-vacation-according-to-your-zodiac-sign/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 05:49:47 +0000 https://biginks.com/?p=429 Are you the type to go hang gliding in Australia or cozy up for a week-long staycation? The answer is in your stars.As a water sign, Pisces is the one that would be most happy with a tropical vacation. Pisces loves to relax and daydream, so a beach or a cabin by a lake would be ideal. If this sign does feel up to doing some activities while on vacation, kayaking, surfing, or scuba diving are all great choices. Mostly, Pisces just wants to take it easy and get lost in their imagination.

Aries (March 21–April 19)

For an Aries, vacation doesn’t necessarily mean just laying back and soaking in the sunlight. Aries feels liberated by the excitement of activity. They need to get all of their energy out on vacation so they can return to their daily lives refreshed. “Vacations with lots of activities and action will appeal to Aries’ energetic and outgoing nature,” says Sage Goddess astrologer, Dr. Athena Perrakis. “Think an all-inclusive resort with outdoor sports activities in an exotic and warm location, like the Caribbean or Hawaii.” Whether it be wakeboarding or cliff diving, Aries is ready for anything!

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

Whatever type of vacation it is, a Taurus better be treated like royalty. They love to be pampered—but they also tend to feel most comfortable when they’re in a familiar place. “Taurus is something of a homebody,” Dr. Perrakis says, “so for vacations, they like to have their creature comforts.” Still, she adds, “they do feel wanderlust at times and especially if they have a fire sign rising or moon, this will be even more pronounced. A staycation at a beautiful resort, or a lavish vacation to Paris where the hotel will have all of the amenities in place while they explore, will be very appealing to Taurus.” So whether a Taurus stays local for a week or catches a flight to Europe, they absolutely need their spa days!

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

The key to a perfect vacation for a Gemini is to cater to mind, body, and spirit. Gemini love to roam from place to place, so there is really no destination they won’t circle on their map. But the best way for a Gemini to enjoy whatever city they’re in is to get their brain involved. “Gemini is a natural explorer,” Dr. Perrakis says. “The most important thing for a Gemini is to feel intellectually engaged, so trips that include sightseeing excursions with guided tours would be a big hit! A surprise trip to Italy to tour the Uffizi Gallery and view all of Botticelli’s original art? Gemini would say yes, please!”

Cancer (June 21–July 22)

Cancer might be the hardest to get out of the house, but they still need excitement in their lives. If you’re a Cancer and you have a week or two off from work, split it up into blocks of home time and away time. Dr. Perrakis says, “Cancer is another homebody of the zodiac, so while they may sometimes get excited by the idea of travel, they’re not as excited about the actual process of leaving home for very long. Short trips that don’t take them far from home are best; especially ones where they are surrounded by family and friends.” You aren’t likely to find a Cancer backpacking around Europe solo trying to find themselves. Instead, they’ll probably prefer to take the family to Disneyland for a few days.

Virgo (August 23–September 22)

It is very hard for a Virgo to take a real vacation. The mind of a Virgo is constantly working and overthinking. They might be in the most beautiful place in the world, but are blind to the views because they left their brain at the office. “Virgo loves to work,” says Dr. Perrakis, “so with them, you have to watch out that a vacation doesn’t become another task to complete—or that they don’t end up working all vacation long! This means taking Virgo outside of their comfort zone. Parasailing in Barbados? Hiking to ancient Mayan ruins in Mexico? Touring new wineries in South Africa? All of those ideas would keep Virgo from thinking about the tasks on his or her to-do list.” For a Virgo to get the most out of their vacation, they have to be totally engaged. Just kicking back on a beach chair for seven days straight will drive a Virgo nuts. They need to be physically and mentally active.

Libra (September 23–October 22)

Libra is all about culture. They love interacting with other people and becoming a more well-rounded person because of it. The best bet for a great Libra vacation is to hit major cities in other parts of the world. Tropical vacations won’t be as fulfilling for a Libra as touring the breweries of Berlin, for example. “Libra likes to explore and people-watch,” Dr. Perrakis explains, “so take them anywhere you’ll find street-side bistros and cafés full of people and movement: tapas in Barcelona, dinner outdoors in Venice along the canal, or wine at sunset on Santorini gazing at the Mediterranean while tourists dance to local music.”

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The Best Places to Travel in April https://biginks.com/the-best-places-to-travel-in-april/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 05:43:49 +0000 https://biginks.com/?p=422 Rising temperatures, frequent showers, and even-more-present sun—a perfect equation that ushers in riots of color. Japan, and particularly Kyoto, celebrates the very brief but truly beautiful cherry blossom season in April when, for a mere two weeks, landscapes are aglow in pink. Over in the Netherlands, tulips also reach their peak, blanketing the country’s rolling fields and windmill-dotted meadows with deep shades of yellow, purple, red, and white. Both are spectacle to behold.

There might be no better way to celebrate the season than to take part in some of its most anticipated outdoor events. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Carnival takes over the streets of St. Thomas, where drops in room rates after high season mean great deals to be found while the parades and the parties are still raging. Meanwhile, in mainland America, Georgia gears up for the famed Masters Tournament in golf, drawing fair-weather fans to charming Savannah and its parks filled with oak trees dripping in Spanish moss—ideal for afternoon picnics and leisurely strolls.

Kyoto, Japan

A 1,000-year-old history. Countless shrines and temples. Geishas strolling down ryokan-lined streets. It’s easy to see why this former imperial capital of Japan was voted the world’s best city in 2015 by Travel + Leisure readers. Kyoto’s romance peaks in April, when the country’s famed cherry blossoms blanket the landscape in pink. The place to stay is Hoshinoya Kyoto, a century-old riverside villa opening this month with not one but two landscaped gardens where one can take in the foliage after a traditional kaiseki meal. For a further retreat into nature, head two hours southeast to the Mie Prefecture, where the minimalist Amanemu, Aman’s new hotel inspired by the classic Japanese onsen experience, looks out over tranquil Ago Bay.

Copenhagen, Denmark

The allure of Hans Christian Andersen town is irresistible from May through October. April, in contrast, marks the tail end of Scandinavia’s brisk spring, making Copenhagen one of the world’s cheapest places to travel this month. Those that take advantage of low-season rates are in for another treat: the seasonal reopening of Tivoli Gardens, one of Europe’s oldest and most charming amusement parks. After a spin on the wooden roller coaster or the Star Flyer, the world’s second-tallest carousel, stop by Kähler i Tivoli for a traditional open-faced sandwich snack.

Bogotá, Colombia

Rain falls often in Bogotá during the summer, and April is no exception. But this Colombian capital offers more than enough shelter in way of its culinary scene, which is currently experiencing something of a renaissance. An increasing food hot spot, Bogotá has everything one needs to embark on a cultural culinary adventure, from empanada stands to ramen bars to burgers to Middle Eastern comfort food at Israeli-born chef Nimi Molad’s Baita. Make your base the Four Seasons Casa Medina, housed in a storied 1940s mansion—and don’t miss the tapas at its glass-roofed courtyard restaurant, Castanyoles.

Even as its winter gusts wind down, Chicago remains one of the most affordable places to travel this month—and the hotel , what with newcomers like the Art Deco-spun Chicago Athletic Association and the enovated Peninsula Chicago becoming destinations in their own right. Outside your digs, all signs point to warmer weather, and in Chicago, there’s plenty to keep you busy: world-class museums, restaurants, a nightlife scene that continuously raises the bar, and—finally—baseball, as both the Cubs and White Sox home openers kick off the season to roaring crowds.

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7 Designed Dream Trips You Can Book Right Now https://biginks.com/7-designed-dream-trips-you-can-book-right-now/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 05:38:43 +0000 https://biginks.com/?p=413 We travel for the thrill of seeing and experiencing something new — be it an awe-inspiring monument like the Grand Canyon, a city going through dynamic change, such as Lima, Peru, or nature at its most elemental, in wildlife-rich destinations like Tanzania.

This self-guided driving trip focuses on the country’s scenic west coast; you’ll stay in five-star castles throughout the journey. Explore the Burren, renowned for its alpine flowers and limestone landscape; the charming streets of Galway; and the bogs and bays of emerald green Connemara, what many consider to be the spiritual heart of Ireland. Spend the night at Ashford Castle  — where you can walk the beautiful grounds of the 12th century estate, sip a pint of Guinness, and take a falconry lesson. Six days from $5,295 per person.

Arizona Great Adventure

The spellbinding beauty of the Sonoran Desert — one of the most bio-diverse deserts in the world — comes to life on this epic journey in the heart of the American Southwest. Outdoor adventures include rafting and kayaking on the Salt River, cycling through the desert itself, and then taking a thrilling flight over the Grand Canyon. Your luxurious home base: the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. Five days from $8,195 per person.

Rioja Great Adventure

On this picturesque two-wheeled trip of Spain’s gorgeous wine region, which begins in San Sebastian, you will bike parts of the Camino de Santiago in Basque Country, see mind-bending architecture in Elciego, and taste delicious local tapas and Michelin-starred cuisine. This entire region is home to beautiful boutique hotels and inns — two of which, Hotel Viura and Marqués de Riscal, will be your home base after days spent on the road. Five days from $5,995 per person.

Peru Great Adventure

From the culinary and cultural pleasures of Lima and Cuzco to the archaeological wonders of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley — including the Inca village of Ollantaytambo, the stone terraces of Tipón, and the Maras Salt Pools — this is the definitive Peru trip. In the Sacred Valley, you’ll stay at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba,  and an intimate property known for its restful atmosphere. Nine days from $7,995 per person.

Tanzania Great Adventure

With far more walking than the typical safari experience, this one-of-a-kind itinerary through the northern part of the country offers extraordinary opportunities for wildlife encounters in the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the often-overlooked Tarangire National Park. Over the course of your journey, you’ll connect with nature at top camps including Kuro Tarangire, Ngorongoro Entemanu, and Serengeti Safari Camp. Nine days from $7,895 per person.

Canada Great Adventure

This Vancouver and Whistler trip offers the perfect combination of urban sophistication and outdoor adventure in British Columbia. In the city, you’ll bike through Stanley Park and on to Granville Island, renowned for its market, stopping for a bite whenever hunger hits; hike the magnificent old-growth forests above Howe Sound; and explore Whistler’s extensive Valley Trail Network, as well as the trails that surround the pristine Joffre Lakes. You’ll also get to enjoy plenty of downtime in Whistler village. Seven days from $6,495 per person.

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Plant-filled spheres open at Amazon headquarters in Seattle https://biginks.com/plant-filled-spheres-open-at-amazon-headquarters-in-seattle/ Sat, 03 Feb 2018 12:23:49 +0000 https://biginks.com/?p=373 Retail company Amazon has completed a set of glass orbs filled with “cloud forest” gardens for its headquarters in Seattle, providing work areas for employees and green space for the public.

The Spheres comprises a trio on connected glass domes, located in the centre of Amazon-occupied office towers in Downtown Seattle.

Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, officially opened the project on 29 January 2018, by giving a voice command to the company’s digital assistant, Alexa.The structure was designed by American architecture firm NBBJ, which gained approval for the project in 2013.

“This particular design was chosen due to its natural occurrence in nature and as a nod to historic conservatories, like Kew Gardens [in southwest London],” said an announcement on Amazon’s blog. Similar projects also include the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, and the cooled conservatories at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay.

In Seattle, the three glazed orbs are constructed from 620 tons of steel and supported on a thick concrete base. All three units share an open-plan indoor area that is filled with thousands of plants, which can be viewed from multiple vantage points.

Of the trio, the largest “sphere” measures approximately 90 feet (27 metres) tall and 130 feet (39 metres) in diameter. The entire structure is covered in 2,643 panes of clear glass, tessellated to form a seemingly curved surface.

The facade’s geometric pattern is derived from a shape found in nature, known as a Catalan solid. Underneath the glass, a layer of film helps to limit the level of infrared radiation that enters and therefore keep the interiors cool.

Over 40,000 individual plants from all over the world fill the building, which provides work areas and meeting places for Amazon employees away from its traditional office towers in the city.

The company described The Spheres as “a direct link to nature” for employees, who can make use of a “treehouse” meeting room. The layout is guided by timber decking, floating staircases, terraces and water features, and includes a four-storey wall covered in living organisms.

“Studies suggest that spaces that embrace biophilic design can inspire creativity and even improve brain function,” said Amazon’s blogpost.

Other offices that are designed around plants include Italian furniture manufacturer Cassina’s headquarters in northern Italy by Patricia Urquiola, the all-female co-working club The Wing in New York City, and co-working spaces by Sella Concept in east London.

Many of the plant species at The Spheres are from cloud-forest ecosystems, which are typified by cool, humid conditions. The collection includes specimens from The University of Washington and Atlanta Botanical Garden, as well as a Ficus rubiginosa names Rubi – the tallest plant inside – which was planted in California in 1969, measures 55 feet (17 metres) tall.

The Spheres operate on a diurnal cycle – the daytime temperature inside will average 72 degrees with humidity around 60 percent, and the nighttime temperature will average 55 degrees with humidity around 85 percent,” said a statement from Amazon.

The Spheres is also open year-round to the public, who can access an areas at the base of the garden called Understory, which acts as a visitor centre.

Our goal with The Spheres was to create a unique gathering place where employees could collaborate and innovate together, and where the Seattle community could gather to experience biodiversity in the centre of the city,” said John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate and facilities.

The company has invested heavily in Seattle, reportedly adding $38 billion to the city’s economy from 2010 to 2016, and is also using its home to test new ideas for the future of retail.

Our goal with The Spheres was to create a unique gathering place where employees could collaborate and innovate together, and where the Seattle community could gather to experience biodiversity in the centre of the city,” said John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate and facilities.

The company has invested heavily in Seattle, reportedly adding $38 billion to the city’s economy from 2010 to 2016, and is also using its home to test new ideas for the future of retail.

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