Bon Camino! Buen Camino! Bien Camino! I must have heard or said some version of “Good road” fifty times a day for 35 days but never tired of hearing it. That is over 1,750 wishes of good traveling from and to people that honestly meant it – not the oft said Have a Nice Day people say without expecting a response back. Those heartfelt greetings were heard as I walked across Northern Spain from France on the east to Santiago just miles from the Atlantic Ocean on the west.
The Camino Santiago is what they call a pilgrimage and people have been walking these routes since the middle of the 11th Century; some of those cobblestone roads are still in existence today. Many people take this journey for religious or spiritual reasons. Others walk the hundreds of miles to clear their heads – eight to twelve hours a day of walking provides a lot of silent time to think. It can be a social experience – allowing people from all over the world to meet, walk, talk, eat and sometime share rooms together. Many of the hikers, or pilgrims, stay in accommodations called alburques where for a small price people sleep in shared rooms with bunkbeds – I did that twice and, fortunately, got the bottom bunk. In these alburques, those staying there share their stories over evening meals- as best they can as English is not always a traveler’s native language. Most are up early to start their next day’s trek. What people may not comprehend is that there are no maps; I had no guide or GPS; all that we needed to go from place to place were arrows; painted on walls, posts, the ground or made of stones and twigs.
Prior to the pandemic, in 2019 close to 350,000 people took to the road; pent up demand over the next three years elevated the number to near 440,000 travelers in 2022; over 500,000 are expected to journey this year. Along the route in May and June, when I walked the trail, people were amazed at how crowded the roads and towns were; but I found that amazing as I compared some of these villages to old western ghost towns and sang to myself the song Long and Winding Road many times.
Longer articles may follow but right now I want to share photos of my journey along the way.
The Camino starts in a small town in France called St Jean Pied de Port. Here I am enthusiastic and ready to begin.
The scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino. It represents the different routes to Santiago as the ribs of the shell all lead to one spot. It was also carried by the pilgrims as a cup for water and as other utensils that may be needed along the way. My companion’s and my feet are at the first marker of this route. Every long journey begins with one step.
The archway includes a statue of St James who is supposed to have walked this route spreading the gospels. You can see other pilgrims starting their trek with their backpacks. We had heavier loads to carry so we opted for the daily transport service that took our bags from one night stay to the next.
Just steps passed the archway is a beautiful sky and river flowing. Love the reflection of the sky on the still waters.
As we travel from France to Spain our greetings changed from Bon Camino to Buen Camino but all languages are spoken along this journey. We met people from Brazil, Korea, Germany, Japan and every continent except Antarctica.
The camino has been traversed for hundreds of years and some of the original cobblestone roads still exist (barely). Foot travel and rain water have eroded and moved these stones over the decades making them far more treacherous to walk than if they were no longer there.
It is amazing that people say that the trail is crowed this year. Have they never been to Grand Central Station at rush hour?
Show-Stopping Entertainment to Debut on Icon of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International is pulling back the curtain and revealing the entertainment taking center stage on the highly anticipated Icon of the Seas. In January 2024, the first-of-its-kind vacation is set to debut a bold, new lineup of full-scale shows across the cruise line’s four signature “stages” – air, ice, water and theater – and more live music and comedy than ever before. From the first rendition of “The Wizard of Oz” at sea and a live showband extravaganza to the debut cast of robots, skateboarders and more, the playbill of entertainment on Icon is made for every type of family and vacationer.
Developed in-house by Royal Caribbean, the largest producer of live entertainment in the world, the variety of productions and performances will come to life across Icon day and night. More than 75 world-class performers will be under the spotlight at the all-new AquaDome and its next-level AquaTheater, the Royal Theater and the Absolute Zero ice arena, which showcase state-of-the-art technology like 3D flying systems and robot arms that act as diving boards for high divers (and more). When it comes to entertainment beyond the stage, 50 live musicians and comedians will set the tone throughout Icon and in more venues, including the new Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues and Dueling Pianos, and all-time favorites with a twist such as Schooner Bar and the Point & Feather English pub.
“At the heart of so many of the memories made on Royal Caribbean vacations is a combination of live entertainment that’s unmatched in the vacation industry, and we’re taking it to the next level on Icon of the Seas,” said Nick Weir, senior vice president, entertainment, Royal Caribbean International. “If you’re a fan of full-scale productions on Broadway and the West End or live music and comedy in hot spots like Las Vegas, Icon has it all for every mood and style in one vacation – alongside never-before-seen twists only found on Royal Caribbean.”
Vacationers can go behind the scenes on how all the entertainment is coming to life in the newest episode of Royal Caribbean’s monthly video series, “Making an Icon: Creating Show-Stopping Entertainment.”
From setting the stage to setting records, the first-of-its-kind combination of the best of every vacation – from the resort getaway to the beach escape and the theme park adventure – is where everyone can make memories together and on their own terms. Highlights of the game-changing experiences in store include six record-breaking waterslides, seven pools – one for every day of the week – a stay-all-day neighborhood designed for young families, entertainment across air, ice, water and stage; 40-plus ways to dine and drink; and more across eight neighborhoods that are destinations in and of themselves.
In between the thrills and ways to chill on Icon‘s 7-night vacations, adventurers can explore the islands of the eastern and western Caribbean and The Bahamas, including Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis; Roatan, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; and Royal Caribbean’s award-winning private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay and its new adults-only Hideaway Beach (opening January 2024). More details about Icon are available at www.RoyalCaribbean.com/Icon
Travel: Mount Athos By The Holy Father, Geron Nektarios, Abbot of the Kalyve of Holy Cross in Skete of Saint Anne in Mount Athos
We have showed you insight to Mount Athos, in several articles thanks to The Holy Father, Geron Nektarios, Abbot of the Kalyve of Holy Cross in Skete of Saint Anne in Mount Athos. He also sent us Mount Athos in winter.
In these video’s Mount Athos weather’s a storm, showing God and his infinite glory.
The Abbot was suppose to visit New York in late October, but was ill and will now hopefully be here in April of 2024.
What makes coving Mount Athos so. special is that Mount Athos has never been inhabited by women and now the head of the island is personally showing his photo’s and video’s to our readers.
Mount Athos for those who do not know is a mountain on the Athos peninsula in northeastern Greece. It is an important center of the Eastern Orthodox religion.
Mount Athos has been inhabited since ancient times and is known for its long Christian presence, which date back to at least 800 AD during the Byzantine era. Because of its long history of religious importance, the Monastic community of Mount Athos was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.
8 Authentic Emirati Dishes to Enjoy in Dubai
The city of Dubai is a commercial hub in the Middle East. Its skyscrapers are world-famous, but out of the many, the Burj Khalifa stands out. Its spice souk and gold market are visited daily by hundreds, and likewise, its gold souk is quite popular as its shops feature some really exquisite designs.
Dubai is a shopper’s paradise due to its large number of shopping malls, which feature goods from all over the world. This city attracts hundreds of tourists every year because it is an exciting place to vacation. Fly Dubai Flights offers a low-cost means of arriving in this city with your family.
A Look at Eight Traditional Emirati Dishes That You Must Experience
While touring it, you will be visiting restaurants to have various meals of the day according to your preference. However, eating the food you like regularly is not exciting, so you need to try out popular local dishes that are spicy and aromatic. Here is a look at some traditional Emirati dishes that are a must to enjoy while vacationing in Dubai.
- Rigag is a very simple dish, usually enjoyed at breakfast. It is a very thin flatbread that can be enjoyed with many accompaniments, such as honey, jam, cheese, and eggs. It can also be infused as such into meat dishes to give them more volume and taste. Made from just flour, water, and salt, it can be prepared quickly and enjoyed whenever you feel hungry.
- Try the Shakshuka, which is a dish made using tomatoes and eggs. Making it is quite simple, as it involves sautéing various vegetables in olive oil, to which tomato puree is added along with honey. Once this has come to a boil, the eggs are broken onto its surface, which is lightly mixed into the broth, while the yolk is left undisturbed to become perfectly poached.
- When you want something heavy and flavorful to make you full, you need to enjoy the Marooga. It is a dish that is an interesting mix of various species, soaked Arabic bread, different kinds of veggies, and tasty meat. It is best paired with rice, as it is in the form of a thick broth. It’s a dish that you can enjoy on different occasions as well.
- If you love pancakes, then you would surely not want to miss out on the chebab. It is a fabulous cake dish that is made in the traditional way of making pancakes in this part of the world, which is by using yeast. However, it is not a plain dish, as it has saffron and cardamom sprinkled into it. Topped with honey, it is a delicious snack, a breakfast dish, or something that you would take with you to the office for a small lunch or a picnic.
- Majboos is a very Emirati dish that is traditional to the core and quite filling as well. It is a rice dish that is loaded with veggies, meats, and nuts. As it has the most exotic spice mix, it is quite aromatic. It can be prepared quickly, and it is usually accompanied with a salad to make it a satisfying meal that the entire family can enjoy. Instead of using white rice, it can be made with red rice, lime juice can be added, and meat can be fried brown before being added.
- Try balaleet, which is the Middle Eastern way of making noodles, and it is usually served at breakfast with an omelette on top. This dish makes use of vermicelli noodles, which are sautéed and then cooked in water till they are soft. Sugar is then added to make it sweet, and rose essence as well as cardamom and turmeric are added, which give it a lovely taste and aroma.
- If you like sweet cakes, try out the Khanfaroosh, which is a lovely doughnut dessert that can be enjoyed in the evenings with tea. It is made using wheat flour, sugar, rosewater, saffron, cardamom, baking powder, and eggs. The dough is shaped into small round cakes, baked, and turned into soft, spongy cakes.
- Robeyann Nashif is a lovely dish made from shrimp, which is a must-try for those who love fish food. This one is easy to make as the juicy shrimp is cooked slowly with loads of spices, making it very relishing. It is spruced with loomi, curry leaf and bezar, and enjoyed with rice.
Reach lovely Dubai to take a break from your hectic work-life by booking tickets on low-cost Fly Dubai Flights. Enjoy these delicious dishes during your stay, which are tasty, healthy, and filling. A fun-filled family vacation is incomplete without trying out these wonderful food items at traditional restaurants with your family.
5 Must Visit Places to Explore in Agra
Agra is among India’s most popular tourist destinations because to its enormous history along with cultural heritage. The TajMahal along with the other world-famous sites might be located in a city. However, TajMahal is a one of the Agra’s many attractions. So, you should plan 3 to 4 day trip for agra. You can consider staying at resorts as resorts in Agra provide comfortable accommodation for visitors. Every visitor should include these 4 Agra attractions in their itinerary:
On a Yamuna River’s southern bank, near the city of Agra, is where you may find the TajMahal. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ordered its construction between 1632 and 1653 AD as the last resting place for his cherished bride, MumtazMahal. While giving birth to their 14th child, MumtazMahal passed away. Shah Jahan, the emperor, was devastated by his wife’s passing and made the decision to honor her by creating a monument of unparalleled beauty and majesty. To plan and build the TajMahal, he hired architects from the Persia, and Ottoman Turkey, along with the Islamic world.
To include features like expansive arched entryway, symmetrical layout, domes, and minarets, they were inspired by Persian as well as Islamic architectural traditions. The building’s construction required 22,000 employees and more than 20 years. On the walls, pillars, and tombs, along with intricate patterns as well as verses from a Quran were carved using semi-precious stones such lapis lazuli, jade, crystal, and mother-of-pearl. For its exquisite carvings, impeccable symmetry, and magnificent beauty, the TajMahal is known. The cenotaphs of MumtazMahal and Emperor Shah Jahan are located inside the main tomb. The compound also features a guest house, mosque, and symmetrical garden.
2. Agra Fort
Just 2.5 kilometers west of the famous TajMahal in a city of Agra stands the enormous brick fort known as Agra Fort. Emperor Akbar began building the fort in the year 1565 AD, as well as his successors continued the project. Over time, it developed into the Mughal monarchs’ primary palace until Shah Jahan moved the capital to Delhi in 1638. The fort has walls over 2.5 kilometers long and 20 feet height that cover an area of the 5.5 square kilometers. Several opulent palaces and buildings that exhibit the best Mughal architecture and workmanship may be found behind these intimidating walls.
The fort’s JahangiriMahal as well as KhasMahal, which served as royal homes, are two of its most renowned buildings. The emperor spoke to the people at the Diwan-i-Aam, or public audience hall. The TajMahal may be seen from the fort in all its glory across the Yamuna River. The gleaming white marble mausoleum may be seen from a fort’s ramparts on the clear day. One may get a sense of how the Mughals lived by seeing the fort’s elaborate palaces and courtyards, from the richness of the royal quarters to how the fort functions on a daily basis. The fort is still in excellent shape and gives visitors a peek into the world of the Mughal rulers.
A stunning marble mausoleum called Itimad-ud-Daulah may be seen across the Yamuna River from the TajMahal. Due to its resemblance to the TajMahal’s famous architectural features, it is also known as the “Baby Taj” and is regarded as its forerunner. In honor of her father MirzaGhiyas Beg, NurJahan, the wife of Emperor Jahangir, ordered the construction of the mausoleum in 1622. The mausoleum, which is made entirely of the white marble, is notable for its elaborate pietradura craftsmanship and usage of semi-precious stones. Lapis lazuli, and topaz, as well as malachite, along with coral, and the mother-of-pearl are used to carve floral designs and phrases from the Quran into the outside of the building.
This showcases the exquisite lapidary and stone inlay work that became a hallmark of Mughal architecture. Inside the tomb, the marble walls and ceilings are decorated with beautiful pietradura patterns and verses from the Quran. An octagonal marble screen surrounds the cenotaphs of MirzaGhiyas Beg and his wife inside the main chamber. Whatlainlaid with stones, creating images of flowers and vines. The interior is much smaller in scale compared to the TajMahal but no less impressive with its intricate craftsmanship and attention to detail.
MehtabBagh is a scenic garden located across the Yamuna River from the TajMahal in Agra. As per historical records, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had this site developed so he could admire the beauty of the TajMahal, the tomb of his beloved wife MumtazMahal, from a distance. He would spend time here taking in the mesmerizing views of the monument reflected in the river waters, best experienced during full moon nights. That is how the garden got its name – MehtabBagh, which translates to “Moonlight Garden”. The emperor would enjoy gazing at the illuminated white marble mausoleum under the moonlight from this location.
Over the centuries, the garden fell into disuse but in recent times has been meticulously restored to resemble its former glory. Spread over 12 hectares along the riverbank, the garden follows Mughal-style charbagh principles with symmetrical layouts. Pathways lined with flowering trees and fountains divide the space into squares and rectangles. At the center lies a large platform that offers uninterrupted views of the TajMahal across the river. Being located right opposite the monument, this vantage point allows visitors a unique perspective to appreciate and photograph the TajMahal from its riverfront angle, which is not possible from within the Taj complex due to heavy tourist crowds.
Living in resorts in Agraallows you to taste the high-end lifestyle of the Mughals along with its unique cuisine. The city offers a glimpse into India’s glorious Mughal past through its iconic monuments, palaces and forts. While the TajMahal is undoubtedly the crown jewel, exploring places like the Agra Fort, Itimad-ud-Daulah, MehtabBagh and FatehpurSikri provides unique perspectives on Mughal architecture, history and culture. Taking the time to visit some of Agra’s lesser known attractions helps appreciate this city in all its diversity. You can stay at one of the resorts in agraallows travelers to fully experience all that this historical city has to offer. The monuments should not be missed for a more well-rounded understanding of Agra’s rich heritage.
ITA Airways Fresh New Look in North America
ITA Airways presented its new marketing campaign called “A Sky Full of Italy” to local media representatives and stakeholders during a press event that took place at the Consulate General of Italy in New York. The presentation was held in the presence of Fabrizio Di Michele, Consul General of Italy, Giovanni Perosino, Chief Marketing Officer ITA Airways and Massimo Allegri, Regional Manager Americas ITA Airways.
On the occasion, the Consul General Fabrizio Di Michele stated, “We are delighted to host the presentation of ITA Airways new marketing campaign. Its nonstop connections to the United States are important, as they bring America even closer to Italy and allow us to strengthen not only tourist flows but also economic, cultural and people-to-people relations between our two countries.”
With the goal to become the preferred airline for travel to and from Italy, the new campaign shows how the things that people are searching for when they are thinking of Italy can be found already onboard and how ITA Airways is able to provide an amazing Italian customer experience.
The starting point was to learn and understand what people look for when searching about Italy and this was achieved thanks to the support from Google, who shared key insights from Google Search Trends from around the world and specifically from the US related to Italy.
Visually, the most iconic and universally recognized symbol of where people go to find information, the “search bar”, was creatively used throughout the campaign. So, passengers can find onboard the ITA Airway aircraft “the Italy they are searching for, before they even touch the ground” whether that be food, style or design, and enjoy in advance of arriving in Italy the full all-around Italian experience that they will discover upon landing.
This concept is also expressed in the new payoff ‘A Sky Full of Italy’, also launched with this new campaign.
It kicks off in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where it will be aired for about a month. From September 28th the campaign will debut in Boston and Washington and continue starting October 5th in New York and Miami.
The campaign will be visible on the main streaming TV platforms and will be running on digital billboards in key areas in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, on completely personalized buses in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, on a digital double-sided boat in Miami and, through a significant digital and online presence in all cities.
As a global campaign, it was launched earlier in Italy, Brazil, Argentina, France, and Spain. In fall, it will be debuting in Israel, India and Japan.
With 6 destinations in North America served with nonstop flights – including New York, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and the recently launched Washington and San Francisco – the United States is the first international market for ITA Airways and the most strategic one after Italy, as well as the country with the highest number of citizens of Italian origin. Direct flights from North America to Italy are not only means for leisure and business travel but also “bridges” connecting the broader Italian community in the United States.
All ITA Airways flights can be purchased on ita-airways.com or through the Company’s call center, travel agencies and airport ticket offices.
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