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Posted on Nov 9, 2010 in Travel |

Prison Tourism

If participating in abduction or tornado-chasing tourism is not thrilling enough for you, you can try staying overnight in a real prison. Prisons all over the world that have once operated as real jails, are now reopened to function as tourist attractions, museums and hostels. Spooky tours are organized at night, and you can even choose to sleep there as well. Here are some famous ‘prison’ destinations: Alcatraz in San Francisco is one of the most famous prisons in the world as it has a reputation for being impossible to escape. It is located on an island in the San Francisco Bay, and is surrounded by dangerous currents. Since it’s one of the most popular locations in the area, you need to book a tour a few weeks upfront. Ottawa Jail Hostel in Ottawa, Canada was first called The Carleton County Gaol –the first stand-alone jail that opened in 1862. For 110 years it operated as prison. In 1973 it reopened as a youth hostel. Old Melbourne Gaol was built in 1841. This jail in downtown Melbourne kept the famous Australian bushranger Ned Kelly, who was also hanged there in 1880. You can his death mask and revolver on display, in addition to the haunted night tours and live performances. Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin was first built in 1796. This prison’s history is full of some of Ireland’s most tragic and important events such as the execution of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising for Irish independence. Éamon de Valera, the president of Ireland, was the last person to be released when the jail closed 1924. St. Augustine in Florida is a an old jail from the 1800s and see the real living conditions for prisoners of the time. There are some great review about it on TripAdvisor. One of the easies ways to get there is by hiring a privat van from LuxtransO. Source: bbc.com blog.visafirst.comMore...

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Posted on Nov 5, 2010 in Travel |

Keep It Simple

I recently saw Into the Wild, a 2007 true-story movie directed by Sean Penn with Emilie Hirsch starring. Now, I’m not going to summarize the movie – you really need to see it for yourselves – but I have few thoughts I’d like to jot down because, believe me, this movie does wake you up from the routine and makes you question the true meaning of everything you do. So, what would happen if you just give all your money to charity, quit your job, destroy all your credit/debit cards, the social security number, the cell phone, and hit the road? Imagine your only fellow travelers are nothing but the road and the wild. It’s ambitious to even think about it, and a few brave souls do it, but once you separate yourself from the clutter of our society, you start enjoying life in a much simpler way: the farther away you go from people and the closer to nature, the happier you become. Isn’t this the greatest adventure and challenge one can ever get into? Balancing in between the extremes is indeed very fulfilling as you benefit from both sides. When you go travelling, you just need to get rid of the superfluous “things” and thoughts, free your mind and backpack, get closer to the wild, enjoy the very moment – only then you have been to the ultimate travel adventure. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci Watch the Into the Wild trailer: blog.visafirst.comMore...

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Posted on Nov 3, 2010 in Travel |

Australia Is Heaven!

Olya Antonova, a senior marketing manager at Taxback.com in Ireland, had an opportunity to experience the Australian life firsthand. Thanks to her adventurous nature, in less than three months she managed to partake in countless breathtaking activities which turned into some of the best memories she’d ever had. No wonder she is now passionately recommending this trip of a life time to anyone.   Q: When did you visit Australia? Which places did you go to? What ‘fun’ activities did you take part in? A: I was in Australia from June to August. I visited Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. I surfed, sky dived and swam with sharks; visited Blue Mountains, vivid Sydney and the World Cup parties, and did hop on hop off tours as well as towers in Melbourne – Eureka and Sydney tower. Q: What were some major differences between the Australian and Irish everyday life that impressed you the most? And, some similarities? A: The difference is that Ozzies are very laid back and relaxed. Life spins around beach, sun, outdoor activities even in the winter. Everyone runs, jogs, treks, surfs and works out given the great climate. Similarities – I would say – are, that both countries are very “green” aware. Both are amazingly clean and with great nature, and the people have habits of recycling, eating organic food and being very cautious about their carbon footprint. Q: Did you have an extraordinary experience over there that you’d like to share? A: Well, swimming with sharks was the craziest thing I have ever done. It is an experience of a life time- no nets, no protection, just being one with the nature (despite the mad adrenaline rush). I recommend it to everyone!!! Eating kangaroo and emu was also challenging. Q: Finally, why is it worth visiting? Why would you recommend Irish people to go there? Why Australia? A: OMG, where do I start from? It has everything- the beach, the desert, the parties, the forest, the mountains. There is always something going on, people are extremely social, so you can hit the bars on your own at anytime. It...

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Posted on Nov 2, 2010 in Migration News, Travel |

Beware of Cheap Plane Tickets

There is an alert of a web site offering airline tickets with up to 50% lower than the regular market price. The site cheaper-flights.com.au advertises cheap plane tickets via social media, and was spotted by the Western Australia Consumer Protection. Investigations are already taking place, according to Anne Driscoll, consumer protection commissioner, but consumers should still be careful and not give out any bank or credit card details on this Web site. “We have discovered that this site is operating out of Eastern Europe and that emails which they send to customers emanate from the United States,” she said. Consumer Protection is concerned about consumers who might have had troubles with the site, so they are willing to consult them. Source: news.com.au blog.visafirst.comMore...

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Posted on Oct 22, 2010 in Travel |

Tornado-chasing – A New Tourism Niche

Tornado-chasing tourism is becoming quite popular lately, the University of Missouri has recently found out. Every year, between April and June about 1,200 tornadoes occur in the U.S. in an area called Tornado Alley, which covers Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma states. Texas reports the most tornadoes annually than any other state in the U.S. followed by Kansas and Oklahoma. For the chance to witness a tornado in this area, tornado tourists pay between $3,000 and $5,000 for one- or two-week tours. Then, they are taken on vehicles and might travel as much as 500 miles a day to reach the tornado-location. Despite the modern technology and most current forecasts, however, tourists are not guaranteed to see a tornado. “There is no guarantee to see a tornado,” Todd Thorn of Storm Chasing Adventure Tours, said. “If you come just to see a tornado, then this storm chasing tour is not for you. The odds of seeing tornado are about 25 percent… come on this tour to see the other parts of storm chasing like the storm clouds, the lightning and the countryside, as we are driving all day.” He explained that they cannot ‘pre-map’ the route of the tour because ‘it’s all up to the storm where we go and where we end up each night.’ Few years ago they even saw 22 tornadoes in one day. As far as safety, no one has been hurt so far. It’s even safer to be with the crew in the storm rather than at home, he said, because they have computers showing their location and the direction of the storm – minute by minute. Source: Gizmag.com blog.visafirst.comMore...

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Posted on Oct 6, 2010 in Travel, Travel Destinations |

Visa First Now Processes Kyrgyz Tourist and Business Visas

Visa First recently started processing tourist and business visas for Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan is considered the highlight of Central Asia and here’s why: The country’s natives are famous with their hospitality – in fact, they are known as being the friendliest people in the Central Asian region. The country is easily accessible while, at the same time, it is still distant and unknown for countries outside Asia. Although the infrastructure is not well-developed, it is actually quite attractive for the adventure-thirsty travellers due to the picturesque lakes, mountains, grasslands, and more. You may even run into wild nomads who again, are extremely friendly. Getting a visa in Kyrgyzstan is quite easy compared to the other Stan-countries, and visa extensions are practicable. Sleeping in a yurt is an unique experience. A yurt is a wooden lattice-framed structure covered by felt, and is traditionally used by nomads in Central Asia. The Kyrgyz cuisine is quite unique as well. The preparation of the meat has been widely influenced by the nomadic way of life. The national dish, called besh barmak, is made of boiled horse meat and homemade noodles with parsley and coriander. The name is literary translated as five fingers because the meal is typically eaten with hands. And, men are considered better cooks than the women. 🙂 Accommodation is low-cost. CBT makes travellers’ life quite easy – the Community-Based Tourism is an agency established by several organisations, and is cheap and well-organized. The CBT makes is possible for tourists to blend in with the locals and get to know their culture deeper; they organize accommodation and transport, and provides guides. They can also arrange for you to stay in a yurt. If you want to get a feel of  Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan may be your safest bet – low-cost, easy to access, with an extraordinary way of life influenced by nomads, and beautiful nature. blog.visafirst.comMore...

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Posted on Sep 30, 2010 in Travel |

Tourist vs. Traveller vs. Backpacker vs. Flashpacker vs. Expat vs. Location Independent Professional

Tourist, traveller, backpacker, flashpacker, expat and location independent professional – do you know which one is what, and, more importantly, do you know exactly what are you? These words are similar and overlap at times, but differences still exist, and I’ll try to straighten them up below. According to several dictionaries, tourist is: ‘One who travels for pleasure.‘ thefreedictionary.com ‘A person who makes a tour, esp. for pleasure.’ yourdictionary.com ‘A person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure.‘ oxforddictionaries.com They are distinguished by being part of tour groups, going to the main attractions and sightseeings of a place, and passing only through the surface of the culture and customs. Tourists are being taken care of by tour guides and tourist companies. Here’s what Daniel J. Boorsin, an American historian, professor, attorney and writer, said about the tourist: “The traveller was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes ‘sight-seeing.'” Let’s see now what is out there for traveller: ‘A person who travels, esp habitually.‘ thefreedictionary.com ‘One who travels or has traveled, as to distant places.‘ yourdictionary.com Traveller is someone who gets deeper  into the culture and experience the authenticity of the place. He avoids the popular tourist attractions and blends in with the locals in order to get to know them and their lives better. But how does the traveller differ from the backpacker? ‘A backpacker is someone, especially a young person without much money, who travels around an area on foot or with public transport, often carrying a backpack.’ macmillandictionary.com He tries to experience the local life as he lives along with its inhabitants for awhile. He always looks for the lowest cost accomodation, food, way of getting around, etc. regardless of the quality of service and product he gets in return. He is also known for working jobs abroad such as fruit picking, farm work, etc. in order to finance his travels. He drinks beer, likes the freedom to wonder around and go to the outbacks of...

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