General Travel News
Two AIDA vessels bring thousands of tourists to Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Ports had one of its busiest days on February 23, as the AIDAaura and AIDAdiva both arrived at the same time in Zayed Port, carrying thousands of passengers.
The visiting cruise passengers were given the opportunity to explore the capital for two days, making the most of the attractions on offer. Numerous four-wheel drives and coaches were waiting ready to depart at 7am on Tuesday morning at the Zayed Port, taking the tourists on a wide range of desert tours, trips around the city of Abu Dhabi and trips to Al Ain, where they saw the famous UNESCO World Heritage sites and were given insights into the country’s history and authentic Arabic culture.
In addition, more than 80 tourists from AIDAaura and AIDAdiva decided to go for a bike tour. The escorted tour started on the port site and took the cyclists to Abu Dhabi’s local fish market, along the Corniche, to the Emirates Palace, the financial district and through some of the most beautiful residential areas.
Both, AIDAaura and AIDAdiva belong to German tour operator AIDA Cruises which targets the German-speaking market. After the two-day stop in Abu Dhabi, the AIDAaura continued its Mediterranean tour, while the AIDAdiva left to visit Bahrain as the next port of call on its itinerary.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 February 2015 14:10
Great Wall of… India?
Welcoming around 10 million visitors each year, China’s most popular tourist attraction, the Great Wall of China, is not much of an unknown architectural wonder to people around the world. For those looking for a far more relaxed, yet equally astounding Great Wall attraction, you might be surprised to find out there is one available in China’s neighboring country of India.
The Great Wall of India, also known as Kumbhalgarh, is the second longest wall in the world extending to over 36 kilometers. The Kumbhalgarh was built in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha, ruler of Ragasthan’s south-central state Mewar at the time. The wall was built to separate the Mewar region from the Marwar region, acting as a place of refuge for the rulers of Mewar in times of danger.
The Kumbhalgarh is 4.5m thick in some areas and has seven fortified gates. The wall climbs up steep hills to lead you to a beautiful palace fort. Upon reaching the fort, visitors are rewarded with a breathtaking view of Rajasthan’s mountainous terrain. There are also over 360 temples within its boundary walls and a wildlife sanctuary full of wolves, leopards, hyenas and jackals surrounding it.
Despite its size and history, the Great Wall of India remains as one of the unknown architectural wonders of the world. For this reason, visitors are advised to look out for ancient defense mechanisms and traps - although most have been disabled - while strolling through this area.
Last Updated on Sunday, 22 February 2015 17:24
Dubai’s most expensive ice cream worth Dhs 3,000
Made with the finest Madagascar Vanilla ice cream, the most sought-after Iranian saffron, slices of black Italian truffle and topped with a sprinkle of 23-carat edible gold, this ‘Black Diamond’ treat is eying Dubai’s collection of records, hoping to be named as the most expensive ice cream in the world.
At Dhs 2,999, Scoopi Cafe on Jumeirah Beach Road will serve you this delectable delight in a Versace bowl and spoon to match - items customers are welcome to take home as a keepsake.
The ‘Black Diamond’ ice cream is a result of a five-week experiment with ingredients from all over the world. The cafe also provides customers with other world tour-inspired flavours, such as handcrafted chocolates from Belgium with sea salted pecan, candy peanuts and coffee for a cheaper price of Dhs 126.
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 17:42
Architectural Wonder of the World: Great Mosque of Djenne
Located in the African Republic of Mali, the Great Mosque of Djenne is the largest mud-structure in the world. It was said to have first been constructed in the 13th Century, but was destroyed and rebuilt several times - so much so that the mosque you see today is one that was finally completed in 1906, almost 7 years later.
The Great Mosque of Djenne is completely constructed from mud - sun-baked mud bricks, sand and earth based mortar, and mud plaster. Structures made from mud can last for many centuries if regularly maintained. For this reason, the entire community of Djenne gathers for a festival that takes place annually to make repairs to the Mosque. The festival, Crepissage de la Grand Mosquée, includes music and food, but the main purpose is to repair any cracks or eroded areas of the structure usually brought about by rain or changes in temperature and humidity.
The qibla of the Great Mosque faces east towards Makkah and overlooks the city marketplace. Half of the mosque is covered by a roof and the other half is an open air prayer hall. The roof of the mosque is supported by ninety wooden pillars that span the interior prayer hall. Jutting out from the main wall are three large minarets. These are not your regular minarets, however. The cone-shaped spire at the top of each minaret is topped with ostrich eggs for added beauty (see picture below).
The citizens of Djenne aim for this beautiful and unique structure to be kept as traditional as possible, resisting modernization. Consequently, the only added modern aspect since its creation is a loudspeaker system, for the adhaan to be heard from a distance. While there are mosques that are far older than this still standing today, the Great Mosque of Dijenne in Mali has a uniqueness that makes it one of the architectural wonders of the world.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 February 2015 18:27
Mall of the Emirates celebrates the Chinese New Year
Mall of the Emirates is ushering in the Chinese New Year with cultural festivities from February 17th to March 5th. The festivities at the mall during this period aim to provide a ‘home away from home’ feel for Chinese visitors and residents of the UAE.
“Chinese guests are a growing and vital part of the Mall of the Emirates community, and celebrating Chinese New Year enables all shoppers to enjoy the color and energy of this holiday period,” said Hussain Moosa, Associate Director for Shopping Malls, Majid Al Futtaim Properties.
The festivities at the mall include traditional Chinese performances, such as the Umbrella Dance, Fan Dance and the Lion Dance. It also includes rewarding Union Pay (China’s National Bank Card Association) cardholders with a complimentary snow park pass to visit the world-famous Ski Dubai snow park for every AED 5,000 spent on the card, as well as rewarding Chinese shoppers with a chance to win AED 10,000 daily, with a minimum AED 1,000 spend.
Mall of the Emirates is Majid Al Futtaim’s leading shopping, leisure and entertainment destination located in Dubai at interchange four on Sheikh Zayed Road.
Last Updated on Monday, 16 February 2015 14:09
A Nutella-lover’s guide to Italy
In honor of the death of the famous chocolatier, Michele Ferrero, here’s a short list of things Nutella-lovers should do if they were to find themselves in Italy.
1. Make your way to Alba, Piedmont.
What better way to start the list off than to travel to the actual place Nutella was invented? Michele Ferrero created his first Nutella jar on the 20th of April, 1964 in his factory in Alba - a quiet town of only 30,000 residents. Alba is located in Piedmont, one of Italy’s 20 regions.
2. Wander through hazelnut trees
Nutella’s main ingredient is of course, hazelnut. Along the countryside you’ll find great numbers of Hazel trees, growing right between the lush green hills of Alba. The harvesting of hazelnuts is done annually in mid-autumn, as the trees begin to drop their nuts and leaves. It would be best, therefore, to visit this town in autumn, so that you can pick up a couple of nuts and eat them.
3. Visit a coffee shop
Even if coffee isn’t your thing, if you order a hot beverage and ask them to put Nutella in it, they will. And you will love them for it. A few of the popular cafe’s are Caffe Calissano and Vincafe.
4. International White Truffle Fair
So this one might not have much to do with Nutella itself, but in the months of October and November Alba holds its annual International White Truffle Fair - and since you might be visiting the city in the fall in time for hazelnut harvesting season anyway, why not check out one of the world’s most famous festivals, too?
The fair starts off with a donkey race, follows through with a medieval parade in which thousands participate in costume, and concludes with the World White Truffle Auction - all truly memorable experiences for tourists.
5. The Ferrero factory
As any tour guide would tell you, stepping inside the Ferrero factory is next to impossible - for health and safety (but mostly secretive) measures. I’ll admit, that is quite a let-down for a die-hard Nutella-lover. However, it is still a great sight to see, and if you get close enough you can smell the delicious chocolate. You can also drive by and see the Ferrero family’s mansion, which is not too far from the factory.
6. Taste test!
It’s a given that you’re in love with Nutella, but hey, you’re in a city that produces hazelnut spreads, why not give another local brand a try? Brands like Novi is also famous for its chocolate, and the Crema Novi is very similar to Nutella. Check it out, maybe you’ll love that more!
Alba is one of the most picturesque locations in the world, with beautiful castles, medieval palaces and towers surrounded by many green hills. One of the important things to keep in mind, however, is that Alba, like the rest of Italy, is famous for its wine and vineyards. To be on the safe side, always ask what ingredients will be used when you eat at any of the restaurants here.
Last Updated on Sunday, 15 February 2015 18:19
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