Good Friends in Virginia

Virginia BeachDay two here in Richmond, Virgina, although my first day was spent on buses. I took Amtrak and buses in order to cut down on my traveling expenses so I could afford to stay at one of the luxury hotels in Virginia . Let me tell you, it was worth it! My accommodations are fabulous, I feel like someone important and I can get quite use to the great treatment all the hotel staff gives. But, the reason I’m here is to visit with my longtime school buddy and best friend.

She came a picked me up at my hotel, but before we could do anything, she pulled out her bathing suit and said she wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to play in a luxury hotel. For me it was too cold, but that didn’t stop my friend. We also had some drinks at the poolside bar. After she showered in my hotel room’s wonderful shower, we headed off to her home in her beat up Volvo. I’m glad to know somethings have never changed about her.

When we arrived, we hung out in her kitchen and all these people kept dropping by, they heard so much about me from my friend that they all wanted to meet me. I don’t remember how many people came by or for that matter their names. It was nice to see that she had made tons of friends here in Virginia, I was secretly hoping things might be miserable here, but she’s extremely happy and she has her own business selling import pearls on-line. It doesn’t make that much money for her, but she’s her own boss and it pays the bills.

She told me that tomorrow, she’ll give me a tour of Richmond, but for now it’s catch-up time and party time back at my hotel’s spa and bar. It seems that I might just have to move down here instead.


Kolkata’s Cynical Recess

For savvy travelers, our five-star Kolkata hotels offer some of the most lovely amenities available in contemporary accommodation.  Much like the city itself, our hotels offer a unique blend of the old world and the new, with excellence in hospitality and technology.  Guests will find themselves well-connected to the world at large, and in a setting where escaping from the world in absolute luxury is also possible.  Design here is at a premium, and style meets substance in a very happy marriage of tastes.  Not to mention the excellent food, reliable customer service that is always friendly and gracious, and all the creature comforts that make life worth living, these are truly exceptional places that will leave you remembering your stay for a lifetime.

KolkataCarsKolkata is a fascinating city with an extremely rich history.  One of the longest continually-inhabited places on the planet, there is a constant buzz of activity here.  And there is always something to do, day or night, so whether a rich experience with the family or an exciting time after dark are on the menu, Kolkata will accommodate.  There is an excellent cultural scene, with the film industry here, fantastic visual artists creating new worlds with paint and photography, and music.  There is an amazing scene for traditional music, with some of the best players in the country gracing clubs and music halls.  There is also an upcoming contemporary music scene, and Cynical Recess is one of the hottest new groups.

Born and bred in Kolkata, with five performers and their own engineer, Cynical Recess plays a style of music that is a kind of socially conscious 80’s rock with tendencies toward both progressive and alternative rock.  They have won a number of competitions, and played a god number of shows, since they formed in December of 2008.  Their lead vocalist, Abhishek, came with a generous supply of kudos for his lead vocals before joining their ranks.  It is an exciting music, with energy and conscience.  Having been noticed by the likes of the Telegraph, Cynical Recess is off to a sweeping start, with enormous promise.

Why a Tropical Vacation is Good for Mental Health

Today, it isn’t uncommon for people to live very busy lives. Between going to work every day, coming home to take care of our children, making dinner to then repeat this several times each week, it’s easy to understand why we get burnt out so easily and need a vacation.

Though vacations can be costly, they are very beneficial to our health. Now, if you are planning a tropical vacation, here are some reasons it can be so therapeutic for your mental health:

Something to look forward to
When we have a vacation we’re planning to go on, our brain releases endorphins, also known as those feel good hormones. This is great for our mental health because it instantly reduces stress and gets us excited for our trip.

The warm weather
Warm weather can put anyone in a great mood. So, when you plan a trip to a tropical island, not only is it exciting to look forward to, but the warm weather on our trip can really help us relax and unwind. Warm weather has a great affect to our mind and body. Not only is it calming, but it’s also comforting, especially if we come from a cooler climate.

The scenery
The scenery of a tropical island is enough to get anyone excited. Though our hometowns are unique in their own way, a tropical island has scenery like no other. Not only can you stare at miles and miles of ocean, but the palm trees, white sandy beaches and all the beautiful colors put together are unlike any other thing.

The laid back lifestyle
When someone goes on a vacation to a tropical island, as opposed to a busy city vacation, one can relax and enjoy the sights and sounds around them while staying relaxed. Not only is lying out by a pool enjoyable, but so is the spa time, as well as the ocean views. Though it’s nice to stay busy and have all sorts of fun things planned for a vacation, it’s also nice to just take it easy and get away from that busy lifestyle that we live at home. In order to fully unwind and relax, it’s best to just take advantage of the laid back lifestyle of a tropical island like Hawaii.

As you can see, there are some tremendous health benefits to taking a tropical vacation. Though vacations in general can help the mind and body, the more relaxing ones tend to be even more helpful.


The Rebirth of Knoxville

Knoxville in Tennessee is a large city – but one that is largely undiscovered by many Americans.  Why is that?  The city has a vast historical significance and many areas that are attractive to visitors – Market Square, Ijamns Nature Center and the Knoxville Zoo come to mind.

Knoxville started off as an outpost in the Southwest Territory of the US.  It became the capital and upon statehood became the capital of Tennessee.  The city played an active part due to the railroad during the Civil War.  The railroad also played a large part in the growth of the city as it developed into a trading center including marble which was mined nearby.   The city continued to grow into the next century and became hub point for the textile industry and a center for the University of Tennessee.  With the decline of the railroads during the middle of the century the downtown area went into decline.

The city center began to get redeveloped towards the later parts of the century ,  Apart from the attractions listed above the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is a major attraction.  The local convention center brings many business conventions to the city.  This has helped to attract businesses to relocate to downtown.

The downtown area has been growing as a center for cultural events.  There are two refurbished theaters and many art galleries – many located in the Gay Street area.  This has attracted many bars and restaurants to the area and so downtown is now reliving its glory years.

Perhaps it’s because it’s off the beaten track that Knoxville is undiscovered.  However as the word gets out the city is sure to grow into a major visitor destination.

October 26, 2011Permalink 1 Comment

Defeat the Funk and Travel

If you’ve ever got yourself into a state of drinking and taking drugs as a means of escaping your present reality then you’ll know it’s only a short term fix. Sure it’s great when you’re high but then you have the crashing come down to deal with. If that doesn’t make you unwilling to get out of bed the realization that just chasing the dragon is unlikely to reap rewards can make you literally despair.

This vicious circle of substance abuse as a means of self-medicating your way through a period of depression does not usually have an easy or happy outcome. Whilst it can be fun at times, over a sustained period not only do you damage your health (not that you particularly care at the time) but you also don’t tend to sort the underlying problem out.

When all is lost pick up your passport
Now whilst I’m not advocating that you ever just run away from your troubles, for they generally still tend to be there when you get back, I do believe that a bit of perspective can do wonders for your mental state. And where better to get that perspective than in some foreign land where you can broaden your horizons with new experiences, see other people’s lives and living conditions and, in short, give you the bit of zest that may have been missing for a while.

Where to go
Well it depends on how fragile your mind is. If you’re feeling particularly vulnerable maybe a short simple holiday in the sun is all you really need. This can include adventure holiday activities like mountain biking or sky diving as a means of getting a different high or simply just doing some physical activity like running on a beach. The fact is any break from your normal routine can help for a lot of dependency problems can come down to a need to break out of routine and common surroundings.

For some, however, that will not be enough and a proper plan for a three to six month break is in order. As there are so many reasons for depression it’s hard to prescribe any one particular place to visit. What I do believe though is that something that challenges your perspective on life can only help.

Reorder your reward system
If you have got yourself into a bit of a mess through a reliance on a chemical of one sort or another to get you through your days you need to replace your reward system with something fulfilling. This is where a properly structured volunteer environment can play wonders.

By working as part of a community with an end goal in site you can work towards something with a clear outcome. This gradual, step by step process of taking one day at a time is a great confidence booster and supplies the body with natural endorphins for a job well done. Whilst not the immediate rush of old this feeling of empowerment can win out against that inner voice if given enough of a chance. Not only that but a shared development project can often be back breaking work so should the pull of temptation come your way later in the day, with any luck, you’ll be too exhausted to respond.

Where not to go
OK so that is but one example of how to put structure back into your life whilst challenging your reward system. What’s best to avoid is any idea of going to a country that is known for the free flow of your given substance. So if you’re looking to get off cocaine the last place you really should be thinking of heading is South America. Likewise if you’re hoping to dry out then you might need to focus your travel plans on predominantly Muslim countries. In short go somewhere where there is not a ready and easy supply of your drug of choice to at least give yourself the chance of sorting your head out.

Whilst that may seem like obvious advice its amazing what you’ll convince yourself of when making your plans! Believe me when I say I’ve been through this with a number of friends who have tried to get clean. The fact is if they can do it you can do it. You just need the determination to start.

About The Author: Josh Aggars writes about surf and travel with his twin passions taking him to amazing places around the world as explored in his regular articles. He sells havaiana flip flops to help fund his travels. Over the years he’s faced down dependency problems with a number of his surf crew. Connect with him on Facebook for tips and advice at any time.

Map Pinboard Helps Reinforce Postive Outlook

A great way to keep a positive outlook is to create a map pinboard. While it will be visually appealing and add a fun look to your room it will also help you to reflect on the past, enjoy the present, and look forward to the future.

So what is a map pinboard you might ask? Well, it is a way to track where you have been and where you want to go. You can either make it yourself or buy one. While buying one is the easier way, making one yourself might give a sense of accomplishment.

To make it yourself you will need a corkboard, adhesive and a large map that will fill the corkboard. You can choose what type of map you want to use, for example, a world map or a country map. You can even get custom maps made, which would allow you to focus in on a certain area or region. Then you will want to take the map and attach it to the corkboard using the adhesive and let it dry. Once it is dry, hang it on the wall or wherever you deem is best.

Once you have your map pinboard, take pins of different colors and stick one color in all the cities or places you have been, then choose a different color and put pins in places that you loved or would want to go back to, and lastly put a different color in places that you want to visit.

This pinboard acts as a way to see where you have been and reflect on the great memories and trips of the past but also allows you to dream and plan for the future. A board like this will not only serve as inspiration and motivation for you but it will also make a great decoration for your room.

The Rich History of Coffee

In modern America coffee is as common a beverage as water. There are whole aisles dedicated to it at the grocery store and coffee shops on nearly every corner. We even buy fancy coffee machines that allow us to brew it from the comfort of home. However as much as we drink it, most of us probably don’t know the history behind this delicious drink.

The earliest story of human’s consuming coffee is probably more legend than truth. Supposedly Kaldi, an Arabian shepherd from the 13th century, noticed his flock of goats vigorously eating the fruit from a green shrub. Wondering what all the fuss was about he tried it and immediately noticed their stimulating effects. He then took it to a local monastery where they condemned its use and threw it in the fire. However the aroma began to fill the air and they decided to use the roasted fruit in water and thus the first cup of coffee was born.

While this story may or may not be true, coffee is known to have been used in parts of Africa as early as the 17th century. From there it spread to Yemen, Egypt, and the Middle East. Eventually it made it’s way through Europe and to the Americas.

Even though the first coffee came from Ethiopia, most of today’s coffee comes from South America. The climate is ideal for growing coffee plants.

So the next time you are sipping on your favorite cup of joe, you can appreciate its long history and what it took to get it here.

Famously Resting in Las Vegas

It might be one of the more obscure corners of celebrity hunger, where any sign of a famous person becomes something of interest. There are those who make their lives, or at least lifetime hobbies, out of pursuing the rich and famous. Maps to celebrity homes, and keeping up with the latest celebrity gossip and celebrity sightings, are just part of the whole trick and trade.

There are certainly some places where a celebrity sighting is more likely than others. A stay in Las Vegas Hotels usually involves a brush with someone that’s been on television or in films, and if they don’t happen to be guests in the hotel, there are likely candidates in the live entertainment. There are also some who come to Las Vegas for a much more assured celebrity sighting. Sonny Liston is a good example. He was buried here, and his site can be visited most any time.

There are those who have decided on making Las Vegas their final resting place, and it falls into the realm of nostalgia, where one might like to be placed near the ocean or in a forest. This city does have a pull on people that can last beyond a lifetime.


Boston Joins the Bicycle Celebration

The Bicycle Film Festival was founded in 2001 in New York City when founding Festival Director, Brendt Barbur, was hit by a bus while riding his bike. Barbur turned the negative experience into a positive platform which celebrates cycling through film, music, and art. During this 10th Anniversary of the Festival, over 35 cities around the world are participating with their own local BFF. Festival hoppers (those traveling from festival to festival), will find a number of quality Boston Hotels near the event venues.

The Bicycle Film Festival: Boston will run September 23-25. Fourth Wall Project kicks off the event on Thursday the 23rd with the Boston Area Handbuilt Exhibition featuring bikes, art, music, and beer. This Bikes-Rock-Art Show will be held at the Fourth Wall Project space on Brookline Ave.

Friday and Saturday will feature screenings of short and longer form films that celebrate bicycles, their riders, and the cycling experience at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge as well as After Parties in Boston (Friday) and Jamaica Plain (Saturday). Films include The Birth of Big Air, Riding the Long White Cloud, and the Cyclecross Meeting. Details and festival passes are available at the BFF Boston site.

Grabbing a Quick Bite in West Palm Beach

Clematis Street is the historical heart of Downtown West Palm Beach. Starting at Flagler Drive on the Intracoastal Waterway, walk west along Clematis Street, right past some of the best hotels Palm Beach offers its visitors and experience the indigenous flavor of the area’s colorful boutiques, nightclubs, live music, antique shops, historical landmarks, but most important, places to get a quick bit to eat while on your way to having a great time on Clematis Street.

Massa on Clematis, located at 330 Clematis Street offers affordable foods made with fresh, quality ingredients. Massa is a sandwich-plus take-out establishment. Owner Julian Dranga’s specialty is her house-made soups, salads and crepes. Besides sandwiches, she also serves up a mean Panini. Massa does offer a few seats outdoors is you don’t want to eat while on the move.

Carlucci’s – A Downtown Deli, located at 322 Banyan Blvd., is a small, family operated Italian delicatessen in the heart of Downtown West Palm Beach. They offer gourmet New York style sandwiches, salads, soups and breakfast! They only use the freshest ingredients such as tomatoes and cucumbers that are served on their hand trimmed boneless and skinless chicken breast fillets. Their slices of roast beef comes from a slow-roasted USDA Choice Top Round making for the juiciest, most flavorful roast beef sandwich in Palm Beach.

Jimmy John’s , located at 330 Clematis Street, is one of the better sandwich eateries in Florida. Jimmy John’s started his first sandwich shop in Charleston, Ill., in 1983. After mastering his bread recipe, he acquired a huge fan base with his low prices and great delivery service. The sign inside the sandwich shop states: Free Smells and Subs So Fast, You’ll Freak.

September 2, 2010Permalink 1 Comment