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The Bahamas, So Near Yet So Far

The Bahamas, So Near Yet So Far

Berrouaghia - Ain El Melh البرواقية - عين الملح
Source: Flickr

Made up of about 700 islands and located just a short flight or cruise from the mainland United States, the Bahama Islands are a wonderful tropical retreat.
It is perhaps the most popular destination for cruisers, especially first time cruisers. Like its Western “cruise cousin”, the 3-day jaunts to Ensenada and points in Nortwest Mexico, a Bahamas cruise is a great choice of busy people who need a few nights away from it all.

Nassau, the capital city on the island of New Providence, is an easy to explore city with losts of history, shopping and food. A day’s excursion brings with it ample charm by exploring it’s grand architecture and getting to know its charming residents.

The architecture is mostly 18th and 19th century colonial which remind one of the city’s origins as a modern city. Be sure to see Parliament Square when you tour the city to get a real feel for the history of the islands.

Like tropical beaches? Make sure to leave time for relaxing on the Bahamas‘ warm Caribbean beach and waters. Here you’ll find sailing, snorkling and diving opportunities. Or, just kick back and enjoy the wonderful tropical sun.

And, when you’re ready to kick up your heels and party, the nightlife in Nassau is alive with great dining and casinos and nightlclubs.

Freeport, the Bahamas’ second city on Grand Bahama is a must visit. Like its name implies, Freeport offers duty free shopping in its huge internationa bazaar. Bring your credit card!

But Freeport is not just for shoppers. It’s night life is known the world over. It offers world renowned entertainment and cuisine.

The Bahamas are just a short hop away. But, even though close, offers American travelers a whole different world. Visit this tropical paradise. You won’t come away dissapointed.

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About the Country

About the Country

Belgium is situated in the west of Europe. The land here mostly comprises of flat coastal plains in the northeast, and southeast is occupied by the Ardennes Forest. Dutch, Flemish, French and German are the official languages of Belgium, with Dutch being the widely spoken followed by French. The weather here is pretty predictable. Months from April to September are the warmest. Otherwise the weather is pretty humid and skies are gray, that explains why umbrellas and raincoats are a part of the dressing. So, if the visit is planned for holidays during the rainy season, one must not forget to carry sufficient cover for maximum protection, as this is a coastal region. In case of emergency call 100 or 112.


Belgians are English-friendly and will make every attempt to speak in English with a foreigner. Always remember to carry a small gift or at least flowers especially when invited over dinner. The dress to wear will be mentioned in the invitation, when invited for a party. Smoking in public is acceptable.


Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ostend, Namur, Mons, Liège, Ghent and Mechelen are the main shopping centers. Belgium is famous for ceramics and hand-beaten copperware from Dinant, laces from Bruges, crystals from Val Saint Lambert, woodcarvings from Spa and Belgium’s finest chocolates. In jewelry, diamonds from Antwerp are on high demand.

Eating Out

The specialty of most of the restaurants is horse and rabbit meat dishes. Although visitors can find a wide range of ethnic foods, but the most famous are frites and mayonnaise and mitraillette; mitraillette is a large bun filled with fries, donair meat and garlic sauce, the vegetarians can ask for a veg. substitute for the donair meat. While eating at a restaurant, tipping is considered customary along with the value-added tax. At the cinemas, leave a €0.50 tip for the attendant and €0.25 after using the public toilets.


Voltage is 230 V and frequency is 50 Hz.


Delta Air Transport has inaugurated its new European airline SN Brussels Airlines recently. It flies to more than 58 destinations in Europe and as well as worldwide. The Brussels Zayentem airport is twelve km from the city and it takes 35 minutes to reach the city from the airport. The airport has facilities like duty free shops, car parking, taxi booking, car hiring, banks, post office, restaurants, and medical help. Internet and fax services are provided for the passengers. The Airport City Express train transports passengers to three main railway stations – Brussels North, Central and South. One can avail a bus which runs regularly from the airport, taxis can also be hired which wait outside the arrival hall. Tipping the taxi drivers is considered customary. Train runs every 15 minutes.

Another airport, Brussels South Charleroi, is 5 km away from Charleroi and 46 km from Brussels. Ryan air serves as the local airline here and has cheap deals for several European destinations to and from Charleroi. The facilities provided here are bus and train services, café, car hire, and duty free shops.

Ostend airport is 5 km away from the city and car parking, car hire, duty free shops, and restaurants are provided here.

Antwerp airport is just 2 km away from the city. Buses run to the Brussels Central Station every few minutes.

Liege is situated at a distance of 5 km away from the city. Buses run at regular interval here.

The departure tax at Brussels Zayentem is €20.93, Brussels South Charleroi is €3.49, Ostend and Antwerp is €10, and at Liege is €7.

There is a network of high-speed trains, which are operated by Thalys, from Belgium to France, connecting Brussels with other destinations like Bordeaux, Chambéry, Cannes, Marseille, Lyon, Nice, Valence Perpignan, and Rennes. Booking should be made in advance for these trains. The national railway operates through out the day providing service every few minutes to destinations such as Andorra, Austria, France, Czech, Germany, Italy, Poland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the UK and the Netherlands. Insiders can avail the Inter-Rail pass which allows visitors to travel almost 29 European Countries. This service is valid for residents who have been settled there for more than 6 months.

Duty Free Items

Visitors can carry alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes, coffee and tea without getting customs duty levied on them, but only the goods should be limited. Check out for the limits before carrying such goods. Food items that are not preserved are better avoided.

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About the county (11)

About the county

Cape Leeuwin First Light
Source: Flickr

Ukraine which is located in Eastern Europe is one of the largest country in that region of Europe bordering Russia in the northeast, Belarus in the north, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary in the west, Romania and Moldova in the southwest and also Black Sea and Sea of Azov in the south. It is a popular tourist destination especially for tourists from Western Europe and North America. The main selling point is the rich historical character of the country with as many five hundred cities dating back as early as nine hundred years. Visitors are spellbound by the architectural beauty of Ukraine. Kiev is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine where most travelers begin their journey.

Population & Languages

Ukraine has a population of roughly 46.7 million and the official language is Ukrainian. The other languages spoken here are Russian, Romanian, Polish and Hungarian.


Voltage – 220 volts, Frequency – 50Hz. Standard European Round pin attachment plug

Geographic Location

Ukraine is located in Eastern Europe bordering Russia in the northeast, Belarus in the north, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary in the west, Romania and Moldova in the southwest and also Black Sea and Sea of Azov in the south. The strategic location of Ukraine between Asia and Europe made it a transportation hub in the region.

Local Customs

Ukrainians are warm hearted and welcoming people. Casual dressing is mostly worn here though it will be a good idea to wear smartly for theatres. Small gifts are appreciated. Tipping is not very common; service is usually included in fine restaurants and hotel bills.

Places to see
St Sophia Cathedral – As old as nine centuries, it is one of the architectural marvels of Ukraine.
Kiev-Pechersk Lavra (Caves Monastery) – These caves are as old as one millennium and dating back to 11th century.
Great Patriotic War Museum
Statue of the Motherland, Kiev


By Air – The national airline of Ukraine is Ukrainian International Airlines. In collaboration with Aer Fi Group and Austrian Airline it links Kyiv to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Rome, Rotterdam, Vienna and Zurich. There is one more airline in Ukraine called Air Ukraine which serves relatively less number of European cities. Lviv is also connected to New York, Warsaw and Washington. It is connected to Turkey through Simferopol and to UK through IvanoFrankivsk. The major airport is Boryspil State International Airport (KBP) which is located twenty five miles from Kiev.

By Sea – The primary ports of Ukraine are Izmail and Odessa which are situated on the River Danube. The ferry services connect Ukraine with Russia and Georgia. They also connect various cities on the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Sevastopol is the port which connects Istanbul, Turkey.

By Rail – Ukraine has approximately 14,000 miles of railway tracks linking most towns and cities. Kyiv and Lviv are the main stations which connect with Moscow on a daily basis. Ukraine also has direct lines to Berlin (Germany), Budapest (Hungary), Warsaw (Poland) and Bucharest (Romania).

By Road – Ukraine has an extensive network of roads with approximately 107,000 mile of road network out of which nearly 18,000 mile is main or national roads.

Duty Free Items
1. Up to 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 gm tobacco
2. 1 liter spirit over 22% or 2 liter wine or 32 liter beer
3. Goods for personal use with a combined value of €200

Prohibited Items
Narcotics, firearms, ammunition, weapons, most meat and dairy products, eggs, plants, endangered species, fireworks and alcoholic beverages that contain more than sixty per cent alcohol.

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Duty free shopping? Your eyes probably popped out of their sockets. And why not? But before you start taking out the money you stashed from five Christmases ago, list down only the most important things you need to buy. Those pennies and cents may be more than enough to buy you a year’s worth of perfume and a different wardrobe for each day of the year, but are you sure you can take home that much?

Well, sorry to pop out your balloon this early, but Aruba is not exactly a duty free port. Before you decide to spend your vacation watching reruns on TV, lighten up. Aruba is not considered duty free port for nothing. Shopping here makes you get away with great buys because the duty is low, especially on such merchandise as perfumes, jewelries, clothes, and electronic gadgets.

So before you splurge, make sure you’re aware of the Aruba Customs Regulations, and shopping can be more fun!

* According to Aruba Customs Regulations, guests at least 18 years old are allowed to bring into the country not more than 2 liters of liquor, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, and 250 grams of tobacco, on top of those they have for personal use.
* Aruba Customs Regulations has set that you are only allowed $600 worth of duty free goods back home. Families traveling together can add up their exemptions. For Canadian guests who have been outside their country for at least 7 days, duty free shopping is allowed up to $500. Exemptions cannot be pooled with any other member of the family.
* The next $1000 goods bought is taxed at a 10% rate, as stated in the Aruba Customs Regulations.
* Tourists who are not staying for at least 48 hours are allowed to bring only $25 worth of duty free items.
* On top of the $600 exemption, a tourist can mail unlimited number of duty free mailed parcels, except alcohol or tobacco, or more than $5 worth of perfume, provided the addressees are different.
* A $200 worth of items can also be mailed for personal use, with a list of their contents and retail value.
* Tourists who wish to send home used items duty free should indicate “American Goods Returned” on the package.
* Goods sent home as gifts may be mailed provided that the package is labeled “Unsolicited Gift’.
* All the mailed items do not, in any way, affect your exemption allowance upon your return.

Well, Aruba Customs Regulations does not really prohibit you from spending until all of next month’s pay, however, be sure that you have gotten well acquainted with the regulations before you splurge. You don’t want to end up paying as much tax as your flight costs.

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Wyndham Resort in Aruba, A Window to Your Soul

Wyndham Resort in Aruba, A Window to Your Soul

20180101-IMG_4456 NYE Fireworks Portland
Source: Flickr

If you are looking for the perfect summer get-away in the exotic Caribbean, the Wyndham Resort in Aruba is definitely the place for you.
Perched along the coast of the Caribbean sea in the world-renowned Palm Beach, the Wyndham Resort in Aruba embodies the ideal tropical destination. With the magnificence of the Palm Beach fully carpeted with fine white sand and a superb view of the luminous turquoise depths of the Caribbean, the Wyndham Resort in Aruba unfolds the beauty of the Caribbean right at your doorstep.

A thrill of excitement comes in being presented with an array of choices on how you can fully enjoy the many charms of the island. There is a quiet kind of joy in simply lying on the soft sand, basking in the heat of the tropical sun like a sun goddess and just reveling in the splendor of the place. Or you can go sailing or windsurfing on the tranquil waters of the Caribbean sea. It teems with an exciting and colorful diversity of marine life within a short distance from the resort which makes for scuba-diving and snorkeling as the perfect adventure.

The Wyndham Resort in Aruba boasts of facilities and amenities designed to achieve the perfect mixture of tasteful elegance and cozy comfort. Each room is provided with a satellite television, refrigerator, floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony for you to drink in and have your fill of the fascinating beauty of the sea and a tropical sunset which mesmerizes with its panoply of vibrant shades of red and gold vividly etched on the midnight blue canvas of the skies. The resort has its own fitness and tennis room, and offers the comforts of a spa where you can indulge in a soothing, relaxing massage. Or enjoy a lazy day at the delightful seaside pool where concierges wait on you for a personalized quality service. The resort has its own casino where favorite games of baccarat, blackjack and the like are played to fever-pitch excitement.

A taste of the festive, carnival nightlife of the island is availabe within a short distance from the resort. Lose yourself to the beat of Caribbean music at the nearby Aruban Revue or go wild with excitement at the night-round games played at the famous Casablanca casino. There is an array of restaurants , each one serving different cuisine and every restaurant provides a different ambience that will certainly capture your imagination, making each dining experience unique and delightful.

The Wyndham Resort in Aruba intoxicates with its beauty, truly a sanctuary in the midst of the Caribbean, where you can soothe your tired, restless soul.