What Not to Miss in Doha

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doha

Doha, the sparkling pearl of the Persian Gulf is a hotbed of wealth, grandeur and deep routed Qatari traditions. Ten years ago, Lonely Planet described Doha as one of the most boring cities on earth. I am sure the Sheik of Qatar and his aids care little about Lonely Planet writer’s opinions on their capital.

Nevertheless, over the past decade positive changes have been made, including a boost in the rejuvenation of historic sites and exciting new projects, including the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which have rapidly projected Doha onto the world stage. This was cemented when it was officially recognised as one of the New7Wonders cities in 2015.

With direct flights from an increasing number of UK cities and numerous Qatar Airways promo codes floating around there has never been a better or cheaper time to head to Doha, so let’s take a look at some of the best attractions in the area.

Museum of Islamic Art

Designed by IM Pei who also designed the Louvre in Paris, the Museum of Islamic Art is a must see when in Doha. Perched on its very own manmade island, the museum boasts the largest collection of Islamic art in the world with its pieces originating from 3 different continents.

If you are not incredibly interested in art, the building itself, complete with its own virtual moat, is enough to warrant a visit. Perched like a modern fortress on the edge of the bay with skyline of Doha twinkling in the behind it, this building is a microcosm for modern Doha; grand, modern and strikingly impressive.

For art enthusiasts, the 1st and 2nd floors are home to the museum’s permanent collection of delicate textiles, exquisite ceramics and ornate jewellery. There are informative 40 minute free tours in both English and Arabic on Thursdays and Saturdays and an impressive café and outside seating area if you would like a break.

When visiting the museum, like most attractions in Qatar, make sure you dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees to ensure you get in.

Souq Waqif

When you think of a middle eastern market, images of exotic jewels, colourful spices and beautiful rugs spring to mind. It’s hard to find traditional souks nowadays in the ultra-modern cities of the middle east.

However, after a fire in 2003 destroyed the site of its original souk, Doha decided to completely refurbish the market to resemble its historic glory days in the early twentieth century. Even the onsite police men wear old fashioned uniforms from the 1940’s. Keep your eyes peeled for the traditional porters, who cart around shoppers purchases in wheel barrows, a tradition which has been around for centuries.

An Aladdin’s cave of marvels you could spend hours wondering the narrow alleyways of the Souq Waqif. Bursting with Arabian spices, perfumes and traditional dress this is the souk offers a glimpse into Qatari life prior to the oil boom and all the modern luxuries it brought with it.

Falcon Souq

Considered more than just a sport, falconry is firmly cemented as part of the national identity of the vast majority of Qataris. Dating back over 5000 years ago, the sport which involves the hunting of quarry by trained falcons, may seem rather brutal. Despite this, it is something that is so entrenched in Qatari culture it would be wrong to completely ignore the sport while you are there.

Such is the importance of Falcons in middle eastern culture that most of the airlines operating in the area, including Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad, allow falcons to travel in the cabin with their owners. They even have a hospital dedicated solely to caring for sick and injured falcons.

The Falcon souk is a great way to see the magnificent birds of prey. Located next to the Souq waqif, people trail the souk looking for the perfect bird. The best time to go is Thursday evenings when the most amount of activity occurs. Any budding vets or animal enthusiasts can find the falcon hospital located next to the souk.

Make sure you stay in a centrally located hotel or serviced apartment in Doha to ensure quick and easy travel around the city without the hassle of having to wait on taxis to get everywhere.

The Future Is Now – Sport Simulators

As advancements in computer processing speeds and efficiency continue to climb, programmers and engineers have had no trouble finding new and creative applications for their newfound capabilities. Video games have become more immersive and realistic than ever, but some innovators have decided to take things a few steps further. Virtual reality (VR for short) was once a cumbersome, blocky, and overall un-impressive experience that saw limited success in the late ’90s. There was very little “reality” in the earlier versions of virtual reality; however, advanced computing and graphical processing have completely changed the landscape of the industry.

Modern systems have found value beyond the entertainment arena. VR is now widely used in simulators for aeronautics, law enforcement, and Olympic athletic training. Advanced simulators employ sensors, large format screens, and realistic replica interfaces to produce ultra realistic environments. Simulators such as these are priceless assets allowing for repeated training in controlled situations, helping the user to hone their skills in the relative safety and comfort of a simulator.

sport-simulators

Sport simulators have become quite popular, both for entertainment as well as for serious athletic preparation. There are simulation tools for nearly every non-contact sport and even a few for contact sports. At The ROX: The Olympic Experience at the Richmond Olympic Oval, patrons are given the opportunity to bobsleigh, kayak, racecar, ski-jump, or sit-ski an actual Olympic course through VR. The ability of modern sport simulators to bring challenges and experiences from around the world into a single location has an impact that is game changing.

It is now also common to find virtual golf pubs offering golfers the opportunity to play a full round of golf within the walls of a small restaurant or bar. Virtual Reality can provide young people who would normally have little or no access to a given sport the opportunity to experience it firsthand; aspiring athletes an affordable resource to continue pursuing their passions; and performing artists or extreme athletes the opportunity to develop and innovate new movements and tricks with a lower level of risk for injury. The opportunities for VR games and programs are immense. If you’re planning a vacation in or near Richmond, B.C., take a look online at the vast number of immersive activities available for you and your family. Visit http://therox.ca if you would like to try out these incredible simulations yourself at the world’s only interactive attraction endorsed by the International Olympic Committee.

The same appeal that allows competitive athletes to pursue their dreams is also an attractive dynamic for casual thrill seekers. How many people would otherwise have the opportunity to ski the alps or run with the bulls? Sports simulators grant this opportunity to people from any background in any part of the world. This type of unique experience also makes sports and other simulators a great choice for team building events and corporate workshops, allowing participants to face fears and compete with one another in a friendly, safe environment. It is an immersion experience that will not soon be forgotten by anyone. If you’re planning a trip to B.C., where else can you find the opportunity to kayak, sit-ski, and bobsleigh, all in one afternoon?

When reflecting on the advancements in VR technology and the progression of modern sports and other simulators, it seems amazing the amount of progress that has been made in the last 20 years. As developers continue to innovate this technology, it will serve to offer all of us better and more realistic experiences, allowing participants to live their lives to the fullest. For some, it just may motivate and inspire them to make their “virtual reality” experience a “reality”. If you’re interested in an Olympic-themed day of interactive activities and simulations, consider a visit to The ROX.

Holiday in Spain? 10 reasons why you should book a holiday villa rather than a hotel

If you’re considering booking a holiday in Spain for you and your partner, friends or family, you’re truly spoilt for choice. Head to the Spanish Costas for endless sun, sea and sandy beaches all along the Mediterranean Sea and take advantage of a developed tourist industry that caters for every taste and preference.

Package holidays are the traditional way for us Brits to travel to southern Spain, and there are good reasons why this has become so popular over the decades. It’s easy – the holiday company sorts everything out for you. From the moment you step on to the plane, it’s all organised: flights, transfers, hotel rooms, meals, amenities, entertainment. Any problems and a holiday rep is on hand to help. For those holidaymakers who like structure and routine, who want no responsibility or decision making, preferring just to turn up and relax, it’s perfect.

However, there are limitations, and some of them may be deal breakers:

  • Resorts can be noisy and impersonal. They cater to the mass market, with a programme to match. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach that may not be what you’re looking for.
  • Hotels can be crowded places, especially in high season. How relaxing is it to have to queue up for breakfast or have dinner at the same time as all the other hotel guests?
  • Hotel rooms can be small. Imagine a family of four spending a 2-week holiday in a cramped hotel room with en-suite shower and tiny balcony.

Why don’t you consider the alternative? A Spanish villa holiday is a cost-effective option that provides you with all the flexibility that a hotel based package holiday simply can’t offer. No more scrambling around for sun loungers or sharing pools with other holiday makers – with a self-catering holiday villa you get all the peace, quiet and relaxation to do exactly as you please.

Here are our top 10 reasons why renting a Spanish holiday villa may give you the best holiday you could wish for.

  1. A holiday villa will give you much more space than a hotel room. Depending on the size of the villa, there will be several bedrooms, separate private bathrooms, large dining and reception areas, your own fully equipped kitchen, an outside terrace (usually with a private pool) and a garden.
  2. You have exclusive use of all the facilities: your own private pool, no noisy neighbours, no set routines, no sharing with other holidaymakers, no compromises or disturbances. You’re free to do whatever and whenever you like in the privacy of your home from home.
  3. A holiday villa provides the perfect balance needed for a relaxing holiday in the sun: space to share and space to be yourself. Get away from the tourist scene and discover the local area on your own terms, or simply relax in peaceful tranquillity. The choice is yours.
  4. Customise your holiday accommodation to your needs and for your convenience. Air conditioning, private swimming pools, satellite TV and a dishwasher may come as standard, but why not ask for a villa with breathtaking views and full internet access? Private gym? Housekeeping services?
  5. A holiday villa is the ideal choice for families, friends and any group of people who want to spend some time together. Planning a family reunion, a wedding celebration or a yoga retreat? Renting a luxury Spanish villa may be the most suitable, practical and relaxing holiday environment for you and your group.
  6. Holidaying with young children can be challenging at the best of times. A Spanish villa rental is a family friendly option, with plenty of safe space to play while the parents relax nearby. Most villas can be fitted with cots and highchairs, stair gates, inflatable pool toys and anything else you may need.
  7. Self-catering in a fully equipped modern kitchen will give you the opportunity to sample local delicacies bought at markets, rustle up a simple lunch for the kids, or stick to your preferred dietary regime without the need to compromise. If you don’t fancy cooking, take your pick of local restaurants and dine out in style.
  8. Holiday villas are rented on a weekly basis. Considering the space and amenities you’ll be getting, as well as the lower running expenses and overheads compared with hotel accommodation, they offer exceptional value for money.
  9. Add to that the price saving you will achieve by cooking for yourself and your group rather than eating out every mealtime, and you could save yourself a pretty penny there too.
  10. Renting a holiday villa in Spain means you have the freedom to shop around for the best deals for the most suitable flights, car hire and travel insurance. The growing popularity of low cost airlines has made flights to many holiday destinations cheaper than ever, making self-catering villa holiday in Spain a competitive alternative to traditional package holidays.

Written by Mike James, an independent content writer working with Marbella’s longest running real estate agent Panorama.es

 

Tips Choosing Motorcycle Tires

 

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motorcycle-tires

Are you having trouble deciding on the tires that are best suited to your motorcycle and the surfaces and road conditions you will be riding on?  You are not alone, as this is a problem many motorcyclists face at some point.  Apart from just producing the visual and physical connection to the road, they are just as crucial as any other vital part of your bike.  It would be naive and foolish to expect tires to last forever, as like most things made from rubber they depreciate over time.  This is when you need consider various elements before deciding whether to replace them yet or not.

Consult Owner’s Manual

Before you start looking for the best online motorcycle store, you should always begin by looking over your owner’s manual for your bike as this will specify the type of tires you require.  It is important to focus more, especially at this point, on the type rather than any particular brand as this will give some clues to tread design, speed rating and size.  You should also look out for any information on composite materials that are recommended and tire bias.

Motorcycle tires at the front and the back are different from each other, as they both have specific goals for which they were manufactured and designed to achieve.  While acceleration comes from the rear tire, braking power comes from the front tire.

As you are obviously aware, the front tire can turn from left to right and vice versa to help you move in the direction you want, whereas the rear tire does not and is subject only to the bike’s lean.  As the rear tire carries and supports the majority of the weight, it’s spec and design are affected appropriately.

The main elements you should be looking for is how they connect to the surface and the leaning angles.  Tires should enable tight corners, extreme acceleration when in a standing position or when coming out of a turn.

Tips For Enhancing The Durability Of Your Tires

Even the best motorcycle tires do not last forever, so it is wise to maintain them at as high a standard as possible to get the most use out of them.  Below are some simple to follow suggestions for this:

  • Use detergent to clean tires and make sure you rinse them properly
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals that could deteriorate them quicker
  • Clean and properly wax your wheels every single week, and unless they are made of aluminium, use corrosion-free chemicals to make them rust free.
  • Before you head out on the road always check the tire pressure.
  • Regularly inspect tires and wheels for loose nut bolts and cracks to avoid accidents.
  • Look at motorcycle bags and find one that suits the style of your bike, as you can use these to store tools and other equipment you may need if you breakdown or have tire trouble on the road.

Even if you are looking for cheap motorcycle tires, you need to choose wisely because you will want tires that not only keep you safe but provide you with a smooth and enjoyable ride.

5 Reasons You Should Visit the Caribbean

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Caribbean

The Caribbean is one of those places that many of us have on our bucket list. The scorching sunshine, glistening sea and white sandy beaches all luring us to hop on a plane and explore the wondrous Caribbean region.

However, the Caribbean has much more to experience than its famous beaches and scenery. Whether you enjoy some of the local dishes (jerk chicken is a favourite) or explore the colonial history that the country is steeped in – you’re spoilt for choice.

With so much on offer, it’s no wonder that the Caribbean has recently seen a surge in tourism. According to this report, more than 30 million people are expected to visit the Caribbean in 2016.

Just in case you’re still not convinced, we’ve put together a few reasons why the Caribbean should be at the top of your bucket list!

Landscapes

When it comes to stunning landscapes, nowhere else has scenery quite like the Caribbean. If you’re after incredible beaches with a backdrop of lush mountainous greenery, then you’re headed to the right place.

Antigua has 365 beaches – if you’re planning a longer trip, then you definitely don’t need to visit the same beach more than once. Barbados is only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, so it’s easy to explore on foot. Dominica is home to the Waitukubuli National Trail which is around 115 miles long and travels through local villages before ending at a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Island Hopping

Travelling to the Caribbean can be costly, so it’s essential you make the most of your time while you’re there. There are over 7,000 islands in the Caribbean, with 28 of them being classed as nations – there’s plenty of islands to choose from, so take your pick.

Some of the most popular for island hopping include; Guadeloupe, St Marteen, St Vincent, Tortola and Trinidad. There are plenty more destinations to choose from, all of which have other islands either a short ferry or plane ride away.

Festivals

Festivals are a big deal in the Caribbean and are a huge display of colourful costumes. Steel drum bands and incredible street foods. Many festivals revolve around partying and dancing the night away so you’re in for a good time if your trip coincides with festival season.

Junkanoo in the Bahamas on Boxing Day is a celebration of different groups dancing through the streets in some of the most creative costumes. Reggae Sumfest in Jamaica is a bit like a festival without the mud; reggae music plays throughout the weeklong event with a beach party to start the celebrations.

Diving and Snorkelling

If you like your holidays to be filled with water-based activities, then the Caribbean is just the ticket. The seas surrounding the islands are full of marine life including; bottle nose dolphins, coral, rays, turtles and some of the most colourful tropical fish.

Many of the beaches on the islands offer diving lessons and courses, but if you just want to paddle around then pick up a snorkel and begin exploring. The sea is warm and clear making the conditions ideal for swimming around and seeing the aquatic wildlife.

Food and Drink

For foodies the Caribbean will be a delight to the senses. With jerk seasoning, a combination of allspice, thyme, coriander, nutmeg, garlic, chillies, ginger and thyme, sprinkled on chicken, beef and fish dishes.

Caribbean food is a fusion of African, European, East Indian and Chinese cuisine, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to dinner time. Plantain is another dish you simply have to try – it’s a member of the banana family and is often fried.

The Caribbean really is a destination for all, whether you want to spend your time relaxing on one of the many beaches or exploring in land you’re in for a trip of a lifetime.

Italian Holiday Travel Tips

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Italian Holiday Travel Tips

With Britain seemingly soon to leave the European Union, Italy might again become that slightly more exotic and foreign destination for your holidays.

Brexit or no Brexit, though, travel to the country is likely to remain exceptionally easy with many daily flights from the UK to all the major Italian cities.

If you are planning to take advantage of these, you might be interested in a few travel tips:

Make the most of your stay

Flights might be plentiful, but they are still quite costly if you are going to be drawn back to such a fascinating and appealing country time and again.

So, with many places to visit and so many things to experience, why not make the very most of your flights to and from the country by arranging an Italy multi centre holiday.

The adventure of designing your own itinerary

One of the excitements of tailoring your own multi centre itinerary is choosing the destinations you will be visiting along the way and what to see and do whilst you are travelling.

Using an Italian multi-centre holiday specialist, such as Bellarome, who are a premier provider of tailored and customised holidays, you can create your own itinerary, or take advantage of a pre-packaged 2, 3 or 4 centre holiday that combines the best of Italy.

Learn (at least a little of) the language

Wherever you go in the world, even a little knowledge of the local language helps you to get about the place, understand what you’re eating and where you’re staying and, above all, allows you to communicate with the locals – and earn their respect by having learnt a smattering of their own tongue.

The case for learning Italian is even stronger, given the immediate familiarity you are likely to find in much of the vocabulary – around a third of the words we use in the English language, in fact, come from Latin roots and the modern-day Italian is easy to pronounce.

When to go

One of the great things about Italy is that it stretches some 736 miles from its northernmost border to its southern tip on the Mediterranean Sea.

Although the four seasons reflect changes in general weather patterns throughout Europe, there is almost always some part of Italy on which the sun is shining – or snow on the mountaintops, if that is your preference.

Bear in mind, however, that August is the month when most Italians take their holidays, so the peak season at this time of year may be especially busy in the most popular resorts and cities.

Places to visit

Italy attracts nearly 50 million visitors a year – and that may be largely explained by the fact that there are so very many places to visit and things to do.

The ones you choose for your own holiday, of course, is largely a question of taste and personal preference. That said, Rome, Florence, Venice and Tuscany are perennial favourites – for very good reasons, given their historical and cultural significance and combine perfectly into an Italy multi-centre vacation.

If you have decided on a visit to Italy, you are already likely to have at least an outline itinerary in mind. These tips and suggestions might help you to tailor and fine-tune the visit in just the way you want.

Travel Insurance Tips

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Travel Insurance Tips

Travel insurance is something you may not want to skimp on. While the majority of people who go on holiday enjoy a trip that is trouble free, sadly others find that disaster strikes. Ending up in hospital when on holiday isn’t fun or cheap when abroad,but at least if you have insurance you have financial security. Finding the most suitable policy at a suitable price doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you follow our tips.

Choose the most suitable policy

Savings on travel insurance typically start by ensuring that you choose the most suitable policy for your needs. There are different policies for travelling and some of the most popular include:

  • single trip insurance;
  • annual insurance;
  • over 65 insurance;
  • cruise insurance;
  • family insurance;
  • backpacking insurance.

Choosing the most appropriate type of policy ensures that you have the most suitable cover for your specific holiday needs and it may help you to get competitive premiums. For instance if you travel more than once a year it may be more economical to get annual insurance rather than single policies each time you travel. If you are over the age of 65 it may pay to shop with a specialist provider for an over 65s insurance policy.

What do you plan on doing on holiday?

What you plan on doing on your holiday may have an effect on the insurance policy that you need. Certain activities and sports may require additional insurance, these may include;

  • skiing;
  • snow-boarding;
  • scuba diving;
  • bungee jumping;
  • tobogganing;
  • horse riding.

Any of the above activities and sports may require you to take out specialist insurance to ensure you are protected against financial costs associated with accident or injury while partaking in them. Generally insurance is going to cost less if you are not taking part in any of the above activities. However, if you are it may not pay to skimp on the cost of insurance to include them.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Pre-existing medical conditions are something that insurance companies worry about so they affect how much you have to pay. For instance if you have asthma or high blood pressure you may be asked to pay more for insurance than someone who doesn’t have existing conditions.

Always check the small print of a policy as insurance providers may even factor in the health of relatives to avoid paying out if you have to abandon your holiday to come home to be with a relative.

What to look for in a policy

What to look for when choosing travel insurance is largely going to depend on your needs. However, there are some things that you might want to make sure are included in the insurance you take to cover eventualities. These may include:

  • medical expenses of around £2 million;
  • personal liability insurance around £1 million;
  • cancellation of the holiday, typically around £3,000;
  • loss of cash around £250;
  • loss of baggage around £1,500.

As you can see there are many factors to take into account when looking for travel insurance. Using a standalone provider of travel insurance may typically help you to find a policy that provides suitable cover and at a competitive price.

What is the Best Way to Convert a Travel Video for Mobile Phones?

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If you like to watch travel videos then why not start doing so from your mobile phone? Nowadays most mobile phones are able to play videos, and if you transfer the travel videos that you watch onto yours then you’ll be able to watch it no matter where you are.

While that may sound appealing, just keep in mind that mobile phones tend to have limited storage space – and travel videos can eat into it quite quickly. Also, not all video formats are compatible with mobile phones.

On the bright side, the only thing you need to overcome both those problems is Movavi Video Converter. It is a lightweight and easy-to-use software that will let you convert your travel videos so that they are perfect for your mobile phone. In other words, you won’t have to worry about compatibility and you can also compress your videos so that they don’t take up too much space.

The reason why Movavi Video Converter is hands down the best way to convert travel videos is that it makes it an entirely painless process. Using it you can add the travel video, select a format, and start converting almost immediately. For example, you could convert MP4 to MOV by just selecting MOV from the list. To make things even easier, the software also includes hundreds of presets that you can use to automatically optimize your video for the mobile device that you’re using.

If you want to compress your video, you’ll find that can be done without any issues either. The easiest way to do so with Movavi Video Converter is to simply set the desired output file size and let the software handle the rest. Alternatively, you could manually adjust the frame rate, resolution and bitrate to shrink the file size yourself.

As you can see, Movavi Video Converter is a nice asset to have on your side, and that’s just a glimpse into its potential. It is able to cut and combine video segments, create animated GIFs, enhance the quality of your videos, grab screenshots, insert customizable text, as well as convert image and audio files too.

The only real way to truly appreciate just how easy it is to convert videos with Movavi Video Converter is to try it firsthand. Just add a video and give it a whirl to see how quickly you can convert your video so that it is compatible and optimized for your mobile phone.