5 Oscar-nominated destinations to make your next trip a Winner

Over the span of two hours, a good movie can transport viewers not only to a different state of mind, but a completely different part of the world.

 

Just in time for the upcoming Academy Awards, here are five travel ideas inspired the locations of some of this year’s nominees.

 

1. New York City

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The Big Apple played backdrop to three vastly different Oscar-nominated films this year.

The Big Short covered the lead up to 2008’s financial crash on Wall StreetBrooklyn was a story of the immigrants in 1950s Brooklyn.

Head downtown to Wall Street for a peak at the financial world. Although the public can no longer visit the New York Stock Exchange, economics-minded visitors can take a “Financial Crisis Tour” to learn more about Wall Street. While downtown, be sure to check out Zuccotti Park, where the Occupy Wall Street movement found its footing.

Brooklyn has undergone a complete transformation since the early 20th century, when it was a hotbed of immigrant communities. Fans of Brooklyn the movie can visit Coney Island to relive scenes from the film. The Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side recounts the story of Irish and Italian immigrants to New York and gives visitors a look at what life was like for them.

 

 

 

 

2. Copenhagen

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The Danish Girl is the story of Lili Elbe, one of the first people to undergo sexual reassignment surgery, and her former wife Gerda Wegener.

The film showcases the burgeoning art scene that was Copenhagen in the 1920s.

Visitors hoping to retrace the film can follow the city of Copenhagen’s guide to the filming locations, including Rainbow Square, which was renamed in 2014 in support of the LGBTQ community.

A pivotal scene of the movie takes place at a market in Nyhavn. Today the canal-front neighborhood is a bevy of outdoor restaurants and tourist boat tours.

Through May, the Arken Museum of Modern Art is showing a retrospective of Gerda Wegener’s paintings, many of which feature Lili Elbe.

 

3. Berlin

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In Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks plays a Cold War-era lawyer sent to Berlin to negotiate a prisoner exchange with the Soviet Union.

Although Berlin has changed considerably and rebounded from its division, many Cold War sites remain.

Glienicke Bridge — the real-life Bridge of Spies — still stands. As one of the only places where Americans and Soviets met face-to-face, curious visitors can go relive both the movie and actual history.

Although the Berlin Wall — the physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain — fell in 1989, a part of the wall still stands, in memorial to those who died while the city was divided.

Another must-see stop on any Cold War inspired itinerary is the Gethsemane Church, where civil rights activists in East Berlin used to gather.

The city’s newest museum, the Spy Museum,  that — on top of being a definitive resource for Cold War era espionage — is interactive, offering visitors the chance to imagine themselves as spies.

 

4. Alberta

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Although the story behind The Revenant may make viewers want to completely avoid tundra conditions for the rest of their lives, the landscapes of Alberta, Canada, are beautiful enough to make anyone reconsider.

Most of the filming locations are actually pretty easy to visit. Kananaskis Country has campsites and hiking trails, and the desolate Badlands of Drumheller offer activities for those looking to test their survival skills like Leo DiCaprio. It’s also where Tom Hardy’s character, Fitzgerald, sees a shooting star.

At one point, filming had to be relocated down to the southernmost tip of Patagonia in Argentina. DiCaprio attributed the warm conditions to global warming, however this happens every year in Alberta due to a phenomenon called Chinooks.

 

5. Mojave Desert

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Mad Max: Fury Road is two hours of nonstop action, an unusual choice among Oscar-nominated films, but a welcome choice for adventure travelers. The film’s location of post-apocalyptic Australia was actually filmed in Namibia, but the Mojave Desert is a good stand-in.

Those seeking to replicate the film’s heart-thumping action can dirt bike or 4×4 through the desert. Zero1 Vegas offers extreme extreme tours, races and multi-day trips.

When the time comes to slow down, there’s horseback riding, hunting or even just settling in for a night of desert camping.

 

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

 

Original post by Cailey Rizzo/MASHABLE

15 of the best Food Trucks from London are in Dubai for Eat the World DXB

Well the mother of all food truck events Eat the World DXB is landing soon and we’ve got the lowdown on exactly which trucks will be there.

The fleet of trucks have made the 4,000-mile journey from London, have safely arrived in Dubai and are warming up for the Eat the World DXB event, part of the Dubai Food Festival 2016 from 25th February to 3rd March.

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Not heard of it? Eat the World DXB is a cool food event being held in Burj Park, Downtown between 25 and 27 February, and is part of Dubai Food Festival. It will be three days of 15 of London’s best food trucks (and some locals ones too) all congregated in one place, selling everything from fish finger sandwiches to ice-cream sandwiches.

Day session 12-5pm: AED30 at the door, AED25 in advance
Evening session 6-11pm: AED40 at the door, AED35 in advance

Think delicious food, live music, cake decorating competitions and happy people.

Here’s a rundown of all the English trucks that will be there…

 

What The Dickens!

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What the Dickens! was founded in 2010 by three friends Michael, Adam and Dominic who, disappointed with the complete absence of British food on the street food scene, decided to right this injustice to British food culture. Calling themselves producers of ‘uncommonly classical culinary craft’, What The Dickens! continues to resurrect and revive time-honoured British recipes at street food markets and events across London.

So put on your bowler hat, jump back in time and come and find these three besuited and uncommon gentlemen!

 

2 The Roadery

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The Roadery are creative chefs finding the magic in the ‘forgotten cuts’ of meat that deserve a place on our plates. Their British ‘Head to tail’ food is served from the hatch of a beautiful 1979 Renault Estafette van and will include low and slow cooked beef cheek Braco’s (British tacos) with a home-made blackberry hot sauce, fresh mint yoghurt, tomato salsa, coriander & pickles; a Halloumi Braco and an Earl grey panna cotta for dessert.

British Street Food Awards 2015 Finalist

 

3 The Other Side

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Fried chicken is just one of those foods. When done justice it can be so good it’s dangerous… like when the boneless thigh is brined for real depth and flavour; double breaded for extra crispy crunch; topped with a four-hour smoked honey butter and served between a potato bread bun…

It’s almost reckless that the converted Ambulance it’s served from is no longer in service.

 

4 The Crema Caravan

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The street food circuit is full of innovative savoury meals on wheels, but the same creative zeal has not been applied enough to desserts. Until The Crema Caravan entered the arena, that is.

Sourcing only the best ingredients, The Crema Caravan make creamy, rich vanilla desserts with blow-torched, burnt sugar tops; Crema Catalana & Crème Brûlée. Served from their sleek, retro Renault van these guys have mastered the art of creating the perfect brulee, and they burn to order.

Winner of the Best Dessert at The British Street Food Awards 2015.

 

5 The Cheese Truck

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Showcasing and celebrating British cheeses in one of the most honourable ways possible, Matt specialises in the humble, but irresistible grilled cheese sandwich.

Normally found trading with Alfie – a bright yellow, converted 1973 Bedford CF ice-cream van – The Cheese Truck has received many accolades for their obscenely oozing, cheesy creations.

“The cheese truck could be the best street food truck ever” London Metro

 

6 Oli Baba’s

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Holding the firm belief that we are all ‘Hummusapiens’, and wishing to spread the love and message of ‘Peas’, Oli Baba’s take meat-free Levantine cuisine and give it a contemporary street food twist. Their Halloumi Fries are legendary and come pimped up with a Za’atar Yogurt, Pomegranate Molasses, Sumac, Mint and Pomegranate Seeds.

And may peas be upon you too.

 

7 Milo & Hector’s

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Milo & Hector’s are the UK’s first ice cream sandwich truck. Their bright blue 1965 Piaggio Ape van has been installed with a freezer and fully customised to serve creamy ice-cream, handmade chewy cookies and soft salted butter caramel. With a range of flavours and combos to choose from, you can build your own ice cream sandwich creation.

 

8 Made of Dough

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Made of Dough is the story of how two food obsessed friends of Italian and Spanish heritage learnt the art of handling dough and authentic Neapolitan pizza making to become ‘London Pizza Festival 2015 Champions’.

Their pizzas mix both their culinary cultural inheritance; Italian pizzas with Andalucían influences, while Raffaella, their very British Land Rover oven truck, is a fitting nod to where it all came together.

 

9 Hix’s Fishdog

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The Fish Dog is Mark Hix and Kevin Gratton’s take on a very English dish; the classic fish finger sandwich. Using only the best fish from sustainable sources, it’s fried to a mouthwatering crispness and married with minted mushy peas and tartare sauce. Now that’s deep sea perfection.

They have been taking what they call the ‘Rolls-Royce of fish finger sandwiches’ to the food market and festival scene in and around London in a beautiful 1971 Citroen H van and now they’re coming to Abu Dhabi too. And if you’re lucky they might also be serving their amazing dog-nuts; hot cinnamon doughnuts with a salted caramel dipping sauce.

 

10 Happy Maki

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Everyone loves sushi, but this is street food sushi with a difference. We’re not talking raw fish here (that’s sashimi). Su-shi actually means ‘seasoned rice’ and Happy Maki take a novel approach to this classic dish, with fusion fillings alongside more traditional flavours of ginger, wasabi and seaweed.

Happy Maki is all about high quality, forward thinking, healthy sushi with zero compromise in flavour. Their menu is also vegan and they take sourcing seriously.Find them rolling in glorious Gloria, their vintage Renault Estafette.

British Street Food Awards 2015 Finalist.

 

11 Dixie Union

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After a stint living in South Carolina, these guys began to understand why they call the local cuisine ‘Soul Food’ and wanted to bring back some of the Deep South magic to London.

From South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama to Louisiana they found food made with such pure passion and soul that you can taste and feel it!

Ten years on and after a lot of experimenting and testing, Dixie Union have a strong pull to creole and cajun style food and will be serving up their special po-boys; the traditional fried submarine sandwich from Louisiana, with shrimp and oysters; and their take on the Philly Cheese Steak.

 

12 Crabbie Shack

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Styling his outfit on the traditional British crab shacks found along the harbour of his home town in Folkestone, South East England, Douglas Robertson-Ritchie has won plenty of affection and accolades for his soft shells crab burgers.

Deep-fried in a light batter, held within a brioche bun and dressed with the likes of harissa, avocado, fennel and almonds or pickled cucumber, coriander and wasabi lime mayonnaise, it’s easy to see why Crabbie Shack won the best of London in the British Street Food Awards.

British Street Food Awards 2015 Finalist

Winner of Best of London at the British Street Food Awards 2014

 

13 Churros Bros.

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Trading from a beautiful and iconic Citroen H Van, Churros Brothers are famous for their traditional Spanish Churros freshly cooked to order and served with Valor hot chocolate. These seriously luxurious sweet treats are 100% organic and Halal.

 

14 Big Apple Hot Dogs

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A champion of London’s street food movement, Abiye is responsible for first bringing serious quality, tasty hot dogs to Old Street in East London.

His secret recipe hot dogs have gained him legions of fans and his hot dog carts quickly spread across London and far beyond. As part of the first wave of Americana to rock London’s food world, Big Apple Hot Dogs have set the standard and led the way for the street food revolution.

 

15 Bangwok

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Bangkok is often touted as the street food capital of the world, where hawker stalls crowd every available space with an explosion of flavours. But for a taste of its vibrant street dining there’s no need to go to Thailand, because Dong is behind the wheel of a tuk tuk, armed with a wok, a big personality and cooking the perfect Pad Thai.

Winner of Best Main at the British Street Food Awards 2015

 

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

11 D.I.Y. Valentines to surprise your True Love

Why waste your hard-earned cash on flowers and candy when you can give something that truly comes from the heart?

Holidays are the perfect time to break out your craft supplies and make some thoughtful gifts for friends and family. But Valentine’s Day is about celebrating the one you love most, so it’s important to go above and beyond construction paper hearts. If you really want to wow your significant other, you’ll have to be a little more creative.

There are plenty of easy and fun projects to do to show your sweetheart that you care. Not only will a beautiful handmade gift make your valentine smile, you’ll receive plenty of hugs and kisses in return.

1. Fortune Cookie Valentines

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Use a takeout box or small plate to dress up these adorable love notes for the apple of your eye. You can write as many sweet nothings as you like.

 

2. Giant Crepe Paper Rose

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Normal-sized roses are nice, but bigger is always better. This simple tutorial not only yields gorgeous results, your loved one will be reminded of how much you care for years to come.

 

3. Celery Stamp Rose Card

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Who knew you could show your love with groceries? Perfect for kids and adults alike.

DIY stamp..how is it that so many natural fruits & veggies make for fabulous art?? Hmmm…God is GOOD!

 

4. Paper Roll Owls

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Use these cute little owls to hide love notes, or just hang them for decoration. Either way, they make a cute handmade gift for the one you love.

Great material to re-purpose & this is so cute! (you could always play with the color combos as well). Is there anything you can’t make with a toilet paper roll?

 

5. Vintage Style Message Arrows

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Be your own Cupid with these colorful and stylish message arrows. Write a short message or a whole sonnet and send it over to the object of your affection.

 

6. Paint Chip Valentines

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When you need a quick and inexpensive way to say, “I love you,” head to your local home improvement store and pick up some swatches. It’s not just easy, it’s a clever use of resources.

Walking by the paint section at Home Depot, it’s hard not to be distracted by the array of colors mounted on the walls. Sometimes you even find yourself wandering in the section, looking at the different shades, even if you have no plan to paint anything! Maybe you’re even guilty of taking some.

 

7. Chalkboard Mug

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Give your Valentine something personal and a great gift, all rolled into one. Write your own thoughtful message, Valentine’s Day drawing, or just a simple “Be Mine.”

“Naturally when I discovered porcelain chalkboard paint I had to grab some. The inventor must be some kind of genius. Now I have the most amusing coffee mug ever, and you can have one too.”

8. Personalized Tea Box

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If your significant other loves tea, why not make it all their own? Grab their favorite brand and customize it for a Valentine’s Day treat.

Make your own tea blends from herbs from your Summer garden, dry in the fall, mix and have wonderful tea-tastic 2016

9. Duct Tape Rose Bouquet

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Flowers are great, but duct tape lasts forever. A bouquet of realistic roses is stunning and ever lasting – kind of like your love. Have fun with the wide range of multi-colored duct tapes out there. Everyone loves a rainbow!

 

10. Glitter Glass Jars

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Add some sparkle to your Valentine’s Day gift with these jars. Fill them with candy, small gifts, or use them as votives to make them extra special.

 

11. Felt Envelope Valentines

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Don’t be afraid of a needle and thread to make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. These adorable felt envelopes are perfect for love notes or even wrapping gift cards.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Original blog by Andrea Romano/MASHABLE

5 Adventurous Movies to Inspire the Traveller in you

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” –T.S. Eliot

Nothing inspires wanderlust quite like a good travel film, however far removed from reality it may be. From the rogue adventures of The Motorcycle Diaries, to the secret world created in The Beach, look no further than the following list to ignite that traveller’s itch.

 

Under the Tuscan Sun

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Under the Tuscan Sun tells the story of a recent divorcee who, heeding the advice of a friend, travels around Italy before impulsively buying a Tuscan villa. If the scenery isn’t enough to have you reaching for your wallet, the romance and charming streetscapes should do the trick.

 


 The Motorcycle Diaries

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“We travel just to travel.” — Ernesto Guevara de la Serna.

The Motorcycle Diaries tells the tale of two comrades who travel from Brazil to Peru on, you guessed it, motorcycles. Their trip takes roughly nine months, and the epic road trip is totally repeatable thanks to this comprehensive guide — you know, in case you’re interested. This film proves that journey can be more important than the destination.


Into the Wild

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Perhaps the best travel film, or at least the most deserving of a spot on this list is Into the Wild. The film details the off-the-grid adventures of Christopher McCandless who abandons his conventional life after graduation and ventures across North America. Despite its grim conclusion, this real-life tale is firmly anchored in the hearts of travellers everywhere.

 


 The Beach

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The Beach is the ultimate white sands, turquoise water and isolated paradise dream. Until things get strange, it will make you want to throw out all your belongings, fly to Thailand and camp out under the stars at Maya Bay. While the bay is much, much busier in real life, there is one tour company that offers the “real” beach experience. You arrive after everyone else has left, camp out on the beach, then pack up and leave before the boats of tourists arrive. Oh, and if you’re like someone people we know, you’ll probably try and find a 90s Leonardo Di Caprio of your own.

 


 Lost In Translation

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Unlike the other films on this list, Lost In Translation won’t inspire you to off-the-grid. Instead, Sofia Coppola’s beloved 2003 film will inspire you to plant yourself in a completely alien culture — in this instance, the neon lights of Tokyo. The film is driven by the friendship between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson’s characters. There’s karaoke, drinks and plenty of new experiences and perspectives.

 

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ORIGINAL Post on MASHABLE

10 Unlikely places you haven’t been to, but must Visit in 2016

Start making your 2016 travel plans right now…

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A few years ago, a study in the Netherlands found that people who took vacations were most happy before a trip, but no happier than non-vacationers after a trip. Anticipation, the researchers suggested, was what had the biggest effect on happiness.

With that in mind, why not start planning your next trip right now?

January is one of the busiest times for travel planning. A new year is a reminder of everything you want to do with your life: It’s all hope and possibilities as the clock strikes midnight.

Don’t just say you want to travel more and expect to get to it some time in February or March or never. Get started planning. Now.

 

If this inspires you to travel anywhere — or even to plan a future trip — we’ve succeeded. But if you’re looking for something more specific, here are our 10 recommendations for where to go in 2016.

 

1. TOBAGO Trinidad and Tobago

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Tobago is the smaller island of the Caribbean duo, Trinidad and Tobago. The island’s history has been fraught since Christopher Columbus saw its shore in 1498, but after centuries of British rule Tobago is now autonomous under the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Though lying outside the hurricane belt, Tobago still has a defined wet season from July to November, making the best time to visit from December to June. And why should you visit? Gorgeous, sandy beaches along with diverse tropical forest are the perfect setting for relaxing, boating and surfing, hiking and touring, or scuba and snorkeling. And that’s to say nothing of Tobago’s rich multi-ethnic heritage on display year round.

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If you go

When to go: January to May

Approx. round-trip airfare: 1900 AED from Dubai, UAE to Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago

Must see: Pigeon Point Beach, a picturesque Caribbean spot


2. EL CALAFATE  Argentina

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Patagonia is tremendously large, covering more than 400,000 square miles across southern Chile and Argentina.

At that size, there’s little chance of fitting in all the sights in a single trip. For those of us who don’t have a couple months to backpack across South America, it is possible to fit in some amazing highlights in about 10 days. (Shorter than that and you’ll be spending as much time getting there as seeing the place.)

El Calafate is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, the largest national park in Argentina. Thirty percent of the park’s 2,800 square miles is covered in ice, and the crowning jewel is the Perito Moreno glacier.

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If you go

When to go: November to December, March to April

Approx. round-trip airfare: 11600 AED from Dubai, UAE to San Martin De Los Andes, Argentina

Must see: Perito Moreno Glacier, the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park


3. ANDALUCÍA Spain

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Imagine a place where the light is always golden, where great wine and tasty appetizers are plentiful and cheap, and where gorgeous architecture comes with a rich multicultural history. Then see it firsthand — in the south of Spain.

In the past three years, this European country has seen strong growth in tourism, setting new records each year. The reasons are many: For one, a weaker euro and a not-so-hot Spanish economy make it a great value for foreign visitors. For another, the southern coast along the Mediterranean is a great option for travelers who would have previously headed to destinations now considered dangerous, like Egypt and Tunisia.

Each region of Spain is amazingly unique. In southern Spain, there isn’t just one city that should get all your attention, and so we’re thinking instead of an ideal Andalucían road trip: Córdoba to Sevilla to Cádiz to Málaga to Granada. And if you’re feeling inspired by the generous tapas, maybe make a second round (if you’ve got the means).

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If you go

When to go: October to November, April to May

Approx. round-trip airfare: 3800 AED from Dubai, UAE to Granada, Spain

Must see: The Alhambra, a hilltop palace and fortress, at sunset

 

 


4. CHENGDU China

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Chengdu has two claims to fame: The Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and the amazing food characterized by Sichuan spice.

With a population of more than 4.3 million, the city is already a popular destination for domestic Chinese tourists while foreign tourism still has a ton of room to grow. This bustling metropolis offers visitors a taste of history with which the West can’t even compete. Chengdu has been an important cultural center for civilization going back 4,000 years.

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You’ve probably seen photos from the Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding — that’s where so many of those adorable panda cubs are born. The base is a bit of a trek from the city, but seeing the pandas is a must.

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If you go

When to go: April, October to November

Approx. round-trip airfare: 2300 AED from Dubai, UAE to Chengdu, China

Must see: The pandas

 

 


5. SPLIT Croatia

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Split, Croatia’s second largest city, has at its center Diocletian’s Palace, built by the Roman emperor in the fourth century. Surrounding the palace is a seaside city that is only going to get more popular with visitors. The vibrant blues of the Adriatic Sea and red-roofed architecture are too inviting to ignore.

The architectural marvel of a city center is also surrounded by the lovely Croatian climate; a day hike or boat trip to a quiet beach should definitely be on the itinerary.

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If you go

When to go: April to September

Approx. round-trip airfare:2700 AED from Dubai, UAE to Split, Croatia

Must see: Diocletian’s Palace, built by the Roman emperor

 

 


 

6. SKYE & LOCHALSH Scotland

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The Scottish Highlands are getting attention for an unexpected new attraction: A highway route circling the northern part of Scotland called North Coast 500 is the north Atlantic version of U.S. Route 66, except with castles instead of the world’s largest ball of twine.

Skye & Lochalsh, on the western coast of northern Scotland, is just part of the route circling the Highlands, but a great one.

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If you go

When to go: May to September

Approx. round-trip airfare: 4900 AED from Dubai, UAE to Inverness, United Kingdom

Must see: Eilean Donan castle, built in the 13th century


7. MAFIA ISLAND Tanzania

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Mafia Island is a hopper flight from Dar es Salaam, making it remote but akin to the Island of Sal in Cape Verde, another distant paradise that makes a point of rewarding a long journey.

Located in the Indian Ocean, what stands out about this destination — aside from the sparsely populated beaches — is the amazing underwater life on display to snorkelers and scuba divers.

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If you go

When to go: Year round

Approx. round-trip airfare: 1300 AED from Dubai, UAE to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Must see: What’s in the sea. Scuba divers will be in heaven.


8. SAVANNAH Georgia, USA

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Savannah, a beautiful southern coastal city in the state of Georgia, is all about American history.

British General James Oglethorpe, along with 114 men, women and children, arrived in what is now Savannah in 1733 aboard a galley ship, “Anne.” He was looking for a place to resettle poor people from Britain who had been held in debtors’ prison, and founded Georgia — named after King George II — for that purpose.

In the almost 300 years since then, Savannah has had more than its fair share of triumphs and failures. Oglethorpe formed alliances with Native Americans, but colonists brought with them conflict and disease. The economic successes of the region throughout the 18th and 19th centuries were built on slave labor.

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If you go

When to go: September to November, March to June

Approx. round-trip airfare: 4800 AED from Dubai, UAE to Savannah, USA

Must see: Bonaventure Cemetery, a hauntingly beautiful final resting place on a bluff above the city


9. KAKADU National Park Australia

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If Kakadu National Park looks familiar, that would be because of a little movie called “Crocodile Dundee,” which changed Australia’s international image exactly 30 years ago.

Part of the film was shot in the park, which was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1981, and has become synonymous with the Australian outback for many foreigners who have never set foot on the continent.

Kakadu is located in the Northern Territory, a couple hours’ drive east of the city of Darwin. The park is described as a “living cultural landscape” because the traditional owners, the Bininj/Mungguy, have lived on and cared for this gorgeous landscape for millennia.

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If you go

When to go: May to October

Approx. round-trip airfare: 7500 AED from Dubai, UAE to Darwin, Australia

Must see: The ancient rock art at Nourlangie


10. SVALBARD Norway

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Svalbard isn’t just fun to say. (But it is fun to say. Say it! Sval – bard!) The frigid island is also an otherworldly destination for people who would rather wear a snowsuit than a swimsuit on their next vacation.

Located above the Arctic Circle, Svalbard is part of Norway. The region around the island is home to an estimated 3,000 polar bears — a few hundred more than there are people on Svalbard.

Like most far-flung destinations, Svalbard is not cheap. This is no budget holiday; there will be no bargain deals to swim with the polar bears. So if bundling up to go out in sub-sub-zero temperatures to see breathtaking natural landscapes is your thing, you should probably start budgeting.

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If you go

When to go: November to February for Aurora Borealis, May to September for outdoor activities and polar bears

Approx. round-trip airfare: 5200 AED from Dubai, UAE to Longyearbyen Norway

Must see: A polar bear (from a safe distance)

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Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

ORIGINAL BLOG BY Jessica Plautz/MASHABLE

9 luxury locations on earth to welcome 2016 in style

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New Year’s Eve is one of the most extravagant days of the year, with millions of people around the world indulging in excess. But if you’re looking to truly embody the spirit of the season (re: over-the-top), take a tip from the 1%.

If your resolution for 2016 is to live more extravagantly, you can get started on December 31.

This year, sing a round of Auld Lang Syne, drop thousands of dollars on a single meal and wave goodbye to 2015 at these nine elite celebrations around the world.

 

The Knickerbocker (NYC, New York)

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This year, well-heeled New Yorkers can get the best view of the Times Square ball drop that money can buy, while avoiding the throngs of people in the streets.

The historic hotel re-opened earlier this year: Its location directly across from the ball makes the roof an amazing place to ring in 2016.

Booking a room for New Year’s Eve at The Knickerbocker includes access to the rooftop New Year’s Eve gala and a New Year’s Day brunch the following morning. Packages start at $2,890.


 

The Drake (Chicago, Illinois)

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The Drake has a reputation as one of the best New Year’s Eve parties in the United States.

The party starts with a $195 black tie dinner that includes oysters, sushi, foie gras and steak. A VIP table at the party in the grand ballroom runs $1,750.


 

Milestone Hotel (London, England)

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For a low-key New Year’s, partygoers can book a suite at the Milestone and head downstairs for an elaborate $280 seven-course meal.

For about $2,200 a night, guests can book a suite overlooking Kensington Palace and Gardens for a perfect view of the midnight fireworks to kick off 2016.


 

Le Cinq V (Paris, France)

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If you want to ring in the new year in style, go all out with a $1,300 dinner at The Four Seasons’ George V restaurant.

Booking the penthouse suite for the night will cost about $30,000, but you’ll have the best views over the Champs-Elysées and Seine to the midnight fireworks over the Eiffel Tower.


 

Hotel Arts (Barcelona, Spain)

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Hotel Arts in Barcelona is offering guests the chance celebrate New Year’s like James Bond.

The 007-inspired gala dinner includes oysters, truffles, sashimi, burrata and just about every other fancy food you can imagine. After the dinner, guests can spend their first night of 2016 in a luxe one-bedroom apartment for $2,700.

And don’t worry about a hangover: an American Breakfast and late 2 p.m. checkout are included on Jan. 1.


 

Burj Al Arab (Dubai, UAE)

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The Burj Al Arab — one of the most expensive hotels in one of the world’s most elite cities — goes all out for New Year’s.

Ending 2015 at the hotel starts with a $1,200 gala dinner — the invite urges guests to “dress to impress” — which offers attendees the closest views of thelongest firework display in the UAE, live entertainment and unlimited alcohol.

Once 2016 hits, guests can retire to the $15000 a night Royal Suite.


 

Belmond Copacabana Palace (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

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Rio’s second biggest party after carnival is Réveillon on Dec. 31.

Every year, thousands crowd onto Copacabana Beach to watch the fireworks display. But for $1,430, the well-to-do can avoid the crowds at a party on the balcony of the Copacabana Palace, with a buffet and live entertainment.


 

Potato Head Beach Club (Bali, Indonesia)

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If partying hard into 2016 is more your style, head to Potato Head Beach Clubin Bali for DJs and cocktails that will last well into the new year.

Access to the VIP lounge runs a cool $253,000 and includes drinks and canapés throughout the night.


 

Luxury on the go: Private Jet

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Jump on a private jet and celebrate two NYEs in one single night. Start your night in Sydney for the first celebration, then party on the plane for 12 hours and touch down in Los Angeles with hours to spare until your second midnight.

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“This is the ultimate in luxury ways to see in 2015, in two of the world’s most exciting party cities,” said Carol Cork marketing director of PrivateFly. “The flight time from Sydney to LA in a Gulfstream G650 is now just under 11 hours, so with the 19-hour time difference, you can gain eight hours of party time by flying eastwards.”

If you rent from PrivateFly, the 24-hour party for you and 17 friends will cost about $200,000.

 


 

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Original blog by Cailey Rizzo/MASHABLE

11 Outlandish Christmas traditions from around the world

 

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Christmas is just a marketing ploy used by corporations to keep our consumerist society plugging along, according to cynics.

But once upon a time, Christmas was a delightful and odd celebration, honoring Saint Nicholas — a Turkish bishop who dropped gold down a chimney — or Jesus, a baby who was born in a food trough. This year, it’s time to get back to Christmas’ roots — by celebrating the day’s inherent strangeness.

 

Here, in the spirit of the holiday, are 11 countries keeping Christmas festive:

 

Sweden

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In 1966, a 43 foot tall goat was erected in the middle of Gavle, Sweden. On midnight of New Year’s Eve that year, somebody set it on fire and out of the flames, a tradition was born. There have only been 8 years in the goat’s history that he was left in peace.

In 1996, the town installed webcams to guard the goat, which stopped all tomfoolery that year. But every year since, someone has attempted arson — and most succeed. Every year, bets are taken for when the goat will be burned down.

 

Venezuela

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In Caracas, roller-skating to Christmas early morning mass has become a tradition. In many parts of the capital, vehicular access is cut off and the streets are taken over by skaters.

The night before mass, children tie long pieces of string to their big toes and let the string dangle out of their bedroom windows. Those skating below give the strings a tug as they pass by to wake the children up.

Somehow this has not yet ended in a child being pulled out of a window.

 

Spain

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Caga Tió — roughly translated to “pooping guy” — is one of the most delightful traditions to ever come out of Spain’s Catalonia region.

A smiling face, red nose and legs are stuck on a log filled with candy. During advent, children pretend to feed the log, cover it with a blanket when they think it’s cold and take care of it like a pet.

Then, on Christmas Eve, they beat it to a pulp and eat the candy that it excretes out. Sweet.

 

Austria

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The monster has horns, dark hair and fangs, and carries a chain and a belt that he uses to beat naughty children into being nice.

A Christmas tradition so beloved that it’s the inspiration for this season’s infamous horror film, Krampus has been terrifying children in Austria since the 1600s.

The very, very bad kids get dragged down into the underworld with him.

 

Iceland

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On Christmas Eve, a giant monster cat creeps along Iceland, eating people who didn’t receive clothes as presents. Jólakötturinn, as he is known in Icelandic, teaches children that hard work will bring you new clothes and save you from being devoured by a demon cat — apparently.

Because nothing says yuletide joy quite like new clothes and a giant, man-eating cat.

 

Japan

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In 1974, thanks to a very successful marketing campaign — Kentucky Fried ChristmasKFC became the quintessential Japanese Christmas food, in a country where less than 1% of the population is Christian.

Today, people queue up for hours to buy the festive fast food meal that now includes cake and champagne.

It’s not long until the Japanese are caroling with Little Drumstick Boy, right?

 

Portugal

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Ghosts come to Christmas dinner in Portugal — and not the Charles Dickens kind.

On Christmas Eve, the Portuguese lay out extra plate settings for deceased friends and family and scatter some dinner crumbs across the hearth to honor them. Leftovers stay on the table for any ghouls that arrive late to the party — or humans looking for a midnight snack.

 

Wales

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A Christmas tradition that will also give you nightmares, Mari Lwyd in Wales entails a man from each village parading around with a horse skull peering out from underneath a white sheet.

A small troupe follows the Mari Lwyd around and if they knock on your door, you are expected to invite them in for booze and conviviality.

 

Czech Republic

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Bringing new meaning to that terrible song Christmas Shoes, single ladies in the Czech Republic stand in front of a door on Christmas Eve and throw a shoe over their shoulder.

If the shoe lands facing the door, they will be married within the year. If the shoe is facing any other direction, they’ll have to endure another holiday of relatives asking when they’re finally going to settle down.

 

Norway

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Long ago, Norwegians believed that witches and other mischievous creatures came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride. Before going to bed on the 24th, Norwegians hide away their brooms and gird their cleaning cupboards.

The tradition still carries on for superstitious Norwegians.

 

Guatemala

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Guatemalans probably have the cleanest Christmas on the planet.

Everyone sweeps out their houses, creates a giant pile of communal dust with their neighbors, puts an effigy of the devil on top and then burns it all.

Happy holidays!

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

 

Original blog by Cailey Rizzo/MASHABLE