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Stay With The Animals At These Awesome Hotels

  

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Picking a hotel to stay in can be tough. Are the rooms nice enough? Do the hotels have any activities that I would be interested in? Is it a good deal? What’s the room service like? All these are questions you have to ask yourself when you are doing your research. Sometimes you find the perfect hotel but there is still something missing. That’s when you need to kick your hotel stay up a notch by adding animals into the mix. Our travel experts, especially TJ that crazy guy, wanted to pass on their suggestions for hotels where interacting with animals is actually part of the intended experience. So get ready to experience some hotels like you’ve never experienced it before in these awesome hotels that have their own animals.

 

Kimpton Hotels
Kimpton Hotels run throughout the United States and each one has its own dog that helps greet patrons right when they walk through the door. If you love adorable doggos to pet and give a treat then definitely give these hotels a try. The dogs actually have their own titles around here, they are each known as the director of pet relations. Also, you can bring whatever pets you want to stay at the hotels as well. As long as the pet can fit through the door it is allowed to stay at the hotel which is pretty cool of them. Now I finally have a place to take my pet alligator.

 

 

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Lapland, Finland
This Finnish hotel has a ton of animals on site. There are 400 huskies alone, not to mention the other horses, reindeer, and cats. You will definitely see some cool animals rolling around here and you will be blown away at just how hard most of them actually work. From October to April these pets are employed but they enjoy a nice holiday for the rest of the year making it a pretty nice schedule to live by. Plus, not only does this place have cool pets, it also has glass-top igloos that make for excellent viewing of the Northern Lights.

 

 

Farm Sanctuary, New York
If you’re tired of the Big Apple then maybe it is time to get out and go hang with some livestock. Head upstate to the Farm Sanctuary and see more than 500 animals that have all been rescued and given access to the 175-acre resort. You’ll see adorable pigs, sheep, cows, and turkeys all living a happy new life. Spending a few nights here is sure to make you smile. You will see animals that are truly free to roam huge pastures and live out their lives in a fun and natural way. Staying here is truly special.

 

 

Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya
If dogs and livestock aren’t your thing then why not give giraffes a try. Is that exotic enough for you? The Giraffe Manor is a super nice hotel that is unbelievably beautiful thanks to its gardens and huge fireplaces. But what makes this place special isn’t the yule logs in the fireplaces or the hydrangeas in the gardens it’s the giraffes. Twice a day the giraffes wander up to the hotel and guests feed them grass pellets. Now that’s seriously cool.


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Destinations

Air Canada Announces Reopening of Delhi-Toronto Route

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To help eradicate COVID-19 transmission within Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau imposed several travel restrictions, limiting entry into the country. Thus, most foreigners cannot travel to Canada despite owning a valid visa or even an eTA (electronic travel authorization).

At present, however, Air Canada has resumed its Delhi-Toronto flights. This arrangement will last from 15 to 30 August. Flights are scheduled during Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. At the moment, tickets are already for sale via GDS and all the different travel agencies.

Guidelines for Entering Canada

Nevertheless, there are several guidelines that necessitate strict adherence.

Who is allowed to Enter Canada?

As mentioned, not everyone is allowed to enter Canadian borders. Nonetheless, passengers who will be originating from Delhi may be the following:

  • Canadian citizens
  • Dual Canadian citizens with either:

a. a Canadian passport or

b. a distinct authorization permit

  • Canadian permanent residents
  • Students
  • Work permit holders
  • Indian passport holders with valid visitor visas

Indian Nationals Allowed to Enter Canada

Nevertheless, several guidelines must be followed. Indian passport holders with valid visitor visas must be either of the following:

  • Immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident who will be staying in Canada for a minimum of 15 days
  • An Indian national who is travelling for an essential reason

Who is considered an Immediate Family Member?

Immediate family members are the following:

  • Spouse or common-law partner
  • Dependent child
  • Dependent child or a dependent child
  • Parent
  • Step-parent
  • Guardian
  • Tutor

Before Boarding a Flight for Canada

Before you are allowed to board the plane bound for Canada, passengers must be able to:

  • Pass the health check done by the airlines
  • Wear a face mask upon arrival in the airport, upon boarding the plane, and during the flight

Arriving in Canada

When arriving in Canada, here are things you should do.

  • Provide personal details via the travel contact information form which is available via

a. The ArriveCAN mobile app (available for both iOS and Android)

b. An available online form

c. A paper-based form

  • Have yourself examined and screened by the quarantine or board services officer who will assess you for COVID-19 symptoms

Quarantine Requirements

Upon arrival in Canada, you will be examined for COVID-19 symptoms. All foreigners must provide 14-day quarantine details which include:

The place you will stay in

  • How you will get there
  • How you will purchase your groceries
  • How you will access various essential services
  • How will you get emergency and medical care

Quarantine is a compulsory requirement. Even individuals with no visible COVID-19 symptoms are mandated to strictly follow this order. Border services officers will determine your eligibility to enter the country or not.

Penalties for not following these guidelines shall be:

  • An up to $750,000 fine
  • Jail time of up to 6 months
  • Removal from Canadian soil
  • A 1-year ban from entering the country

Summary

Air Canada shall be operating the Delhi-Toronto route from 15 to 30 August. However, all requirements must be fulfilled so that Canada’s entry is approved upon arrival.

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My List of Must-See Things To Do When in Austin

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View of downtown Austin, TX
Austin is known for its incredible music, delicious restaurants and food trucks, excellent university, and vibrant tech scene. It’s a city on the move, where people who love the outdoors, warm weather, and succulent BBQ flock to live. And with its never-ending conferences and music and sports events, it’s one that attracts people from around the world. Austin is a weird little big city that I have yet to see someone not love.

I’ve been living here since May, and in the last couple of months since taking a break from my travels, I’ve buried myself in two things: writing and keeping active (OK, copious amounts of eating and drinking, too).

Since you’ve already seen the writing (it’s all in the previous blog posts), I want to share some of the favorite things I’ve done in this amazing city (for when you visit — come stay at my hostel, HK Austin, when you do!). I hope they’ll help you fall in love with it just a little more quickly.

Barton Springs

People relaxing at Barton Springs in Austin
Barton Springs is a pool/creek that everyone flocks to in the warm summer months. Fed by a natural cold-water spring in Zilker Park (see below), the city-run Barton Springs Pool features manicured lawns that are great for lounging on and relaxing with your friends. The wide pool gives you plenty of room to float around and cool off, as the temperature can hit 100 degrees in the summer. The pool costs $3 to get into (for residents, but they never ask for proof), and while there’s lots of space around it, I often prefer to lounge on the creek itself. While the banks are rockier and there are fewer places to lounge, it’s free, it’s the same water, and you can drink and eat along it (something that is prohibited in the pool).

Zilker Park

Gardens in Zilker Park in Austin
Zilker Park is in the heart of South Austin and offers many different types of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, kayaking, jogging, and anything else you can do in a park. Barton Springs (see above) is here, and there’s a botanical garden and the ever-awesome outdoor Umlauf Sculpture Garden, centered on the artistic works of Charles Umlauf.

The Greenbelt

A trail on the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin
Located in south-central Austin, the Barton Creek Greenbelt contains 12 miles of gorgeous trails where you can bike, run, or walk. There are even beautiful limestone bluffs for rock climbing and — when there’s enough water in the creek — several swimming holes to cool off in. If you are looking to get out and enjoy the nice weather, this is one of the best places to do it. It’s a favorite of everyone in the city and one of the best things about Austin!

Two-stepping

Performers playing at The White Horse in Austin
When in Rome…err, Austin, two-step! Country dancing is all over the city, with the White Horse being the most famous spot (if you go on Wednesday, they give free two-step lessons). The Broken Spoke is another popular place too.

Movie at the Alamo Drafthouse

The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX
The Alamo Drafthouse is a local institution with multiple locations, where you can watch a movie, drink beer, and order food. Besides showing mainstream movies, they also screen quirky movies and weird previews, host the local Rocky Horror event, and play many classic and cult films throughout the month. This place is more than just a theater, it’s a place for those who love and appreciate film.

LBJ Library

Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin
Lyndon B. Johnson was one of the most powerful US presidents of the 20th century. A complex man, he helped push forward the Great Society, expanding civil rights and the social safety net, while at the same time expanding the war in Vietnam. His presidential library is in Austin, and while it’s not a “hot” thing to do, I highly recommend a visit to learn about one of the most colorful and controversial presidents the country has ever seen.

Rainey Street

Rainey Street in Austin, TX
This nightlife area is filled with old houses that have been converted into bars. Originally the “hipster” part of the city, it’s now mainstream and teems with people on the weekend. Personally, I hate coming here on the weekends: it’s too crowded and there are too many bachelor/ette parties. I find the scene a little too wild for me (though you may not). Instead, my favorite time to visit is for after-work drinks, when there is just the right amount of people to feel busy and exciting but not overwhelming. From Banger’s for Sunday brunch to Clive Bar, Half Step, and Bungalow for drinks, and Craft Bar for craft beer, Rainey is an eclectic and fun place to hang out — as long as you avoid the weekends.

First Thursday

People celebrating at an event in Austin, Texas
One the first Thursday of every month, the South Congress Hotel hosts a huge event with musicians and an all-night happy hour. It’s one of the biggest nights of the month for young professionals and a wonderful place to have fun, meet new people (Austinites are very friendly), and drink cheap. You don’t want to miss this if you’re in town. It’s one of my favorite monthly social activities.

Drink a cocktail

Drink a cocktail in Austin, TX
While beer and cheap drinks are still king here, there is a growing cocktail bar scene in the city. I’d personally rather drink a cocktail than be at a noisy bar. If you’re looking for the perfect cocktail, try Firehouse Lounge, Floppy Disk Repair Shop, Midnight Cowboy, Garage, Whistler’s (see below), and Weather Up (but only for happy hour, as their drinks are slightly overpriced).

Whistler’s

Lots of whiskeys
This bar on the east side of the city is one of the coolest in town, and when I’m in Austin, you’ll probably find me here (it’s also pretty close to my hostel). You’ll also find a robust whiskey selection, knowledgeable bartenders, a cool crowd, and a giant outdoor patio space. On the weekends, an upstairs mescal bar opens. Whistler’s also hosts one of the most famous food trucks in Austin, Thai Khun, which serves some of the city’s best Thai food (the khao man gai (chicken with rice) is spot on). This is a must-visit bar!

Music

A crowd enjoying music at Stubb's in Austin, TX
Austin’s music scene is world-renowned, and there’s always some live music going on or a big musician in town. You’ll find a lot of music on Sixth Street and in the downtown area. Most of the bars host musicians. Stubb’s is a world-famous music venue downtown and hosts a lot of big-name musicians in its outdoor venue. Try to see a show there if you can!

Eating

Delicious Austin, TX BBQ
Austin’s food scene is damn good (though it needs a few more ethnic places). From BBQ to American to organic to Mexican, you can’t go wrong here. Here are some of my favorite spots (longer list can be found here) that will help you put on 10 lbs. before you leave:

  • Bar Chi (206 Colorado St., (512) 382-5557, www.barchiaustin.com) – Decent sushi but an unbelievably affordable happy hour (5-7pm each day). My friends and I come here because it satisfies the sushi craving on the cheap!
  • Wu Cho (500 W. 5th St. #168, (512) 476-2469, wuchowaustin.com) – This is one of the best Chinese restaurants in Austin. It serves a very popular dim sum brunch on Sundays. Be sure to come early as it gets packed during dinnertime and Sunday brunch, and the wait for a table can be up to an hour.
  • Launderette (2115 Holly St., (512) 382-1599, launderetteaustin.com) – Located in an old laundromat, this restaurant is one of the hottest spots in town and serves an amazing menu of Americana and seafood, as well as a decent selection of wine. Some of my favorite dishes include crab toast, burrata, okra, Brussels sprouts, and grilled octopus. If you’re coming for dinner, come early, as it fills up fast.
  • Truluck’s (400 Colorado St., (512) 482-9000, trulucks.com) – This is my favorite steak restaurant because it’s one of the few places where you can also get fresh seafood (crab, oysters, lobster). It’s not cheap, but if you want an upscale steak house, try this.
  • Péché (208 W. 4th St., (512) 494-4011, www.pecheaustin.com) – A New Orleans–inspired restaurant serving Bayou food, with a very friendly staff, tasty cocktails, and an extensive whiskey list.
  • La Barbecue (1906 E. Cesar Chavez St., (512) 605-9696, www.labarbecue.com) – BBQ is a matter of perspective. A lot of people say Franklin’s is the best, but La Barbecue is #1 to me. It opens at 11am. Expect two-hour waits during lunchtime, so get here early.
  • Veracruz (1704 E. Cesar Chavez St., (512) 981-1760, veracruztacos.com) – The best food truck in town (conveniently located across the street from my hostel). It makes wonderful breakfast tacos, and the migas was voted #1 in the country. There is never really a line, but service is slow.
  • Torchy’s (multiple locations, torchystacos.com/in/austin) – World famous (and another spot where the president ate), this taco restaurant has multiple locations around town. It lives up to all the hype! The food here is pretty spicy. I’m a big fan of the fried avocado and “trailer park” tacos. Every location is always packed, so expect a wait, especially on the weekends.
  • P. Terry’s (multiple locations, pterrys.com) – This is the best burger bar in town. It’s delicious and cheap (you can get a burger, fries, and a drink for $6 USD), with filling portions. This is one of my all-time favorite spots in Austin, and since it’s close to my house, I tend to eat here too often!
  • Leaf (115 W. 6th St., (512) 474-5323, leafsalad.com) – This new lunchtime salad place is incredible (also the line is long). Its gigantic salad bar has anything and everything you could ever want to put in a salad. It’s one of my favorite places for a healthy meal in Austin.
  • True Kitchen (222 West Ave. #HR100, (512) 777-2430, truefoodkitchen.com) – This new restaurant is incredibly popular with people after work. All its food is natural and organic. You’ll find healthy wraps, salad bowls, sandwiches, and fresh and flavorful seafood, as well as an incredible selection of wine and cocktails.
  • Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar (1400 S. Congress Ave., (512) 291-7300, www.perlasaustin.com)Some of the best seafood and oysters in town!
  • Home Slice Pizza (1415 S Congress Ave., (512) 444-7437, www.homeslicepizza.com) Hands down the best pizza around!
  • Clark’s Oyster Bar (1200 W. 6th St., (512) 297-2525, www.clarksoysterbar.com) – Another awesome spot for seafood, with an incredible oyster happy hour from 3 to 7!

Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market in Austin, TX
Why visit Whole Foods? I mean, they have those everywhere, right? Well, this one is special. This is the original store — and it’s massive. Its salad bar goes on seemingly forever, there are very good restaurants in the store, the rooftop features patio seating, and musicians play on the weekends. It’s an amazing place that is also a popular spot for after-work drinks and Sunday brunches. Stop by at least once to get your fill (and enjoy the walk-in beer fridge).

***
Austin is a perfect little city, offering visitors a plethora of activities to fill the 3-4 days most people spend here. It’s a city to live in. You don’t really sightsee here; you get active. You go out, hang out, and eat out. Skip most of the local museums, get outside, enjoy the food, the drinks, and the music, and get the most out of one of the best cities in the United States — and the place I call home!

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

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Destinations

What Americans Should Know about Europe’s Travel Restrictions

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In July, the European Union finally reopened its borders to travelers from several countries. The US, however, was not included in the said list. If you plan to take a trip to Europe during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, here are several things you should know.

Who is allowed to visit Europe?

There are just 14 countries currently permitted to enter the 27 EU member states plus the Schengen-linked countries of Switzerland, Norway, Lichtenstein, and Iceland.
They are the following:
· Algeria
· Australia
· Canada
· Georgia
· Japan
· Montenegro
· Morocco
· New Zealand
· Rwanda
· Serbia
· South Korea
· Thailand
· Tunisia
· Uruguay

For purposes of COVID-19 travel, citizens from these countries are allowed to enter Europe as well:

· Andorra
· Monaco
· San Marino
· Vatican
Unless they qualify for several exemptions, Americans cannot enter Europe at present.

Why are Americans not currently permitted to visit Europe?

One of the main criteria mandated by the European Council is that permitted visitors must originate from countries that do not have a total number of COVID-19 cases higher than the EU average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 individuals. The country of origin should also have a decreasing trend of COVID-19 transmission—a pattern that is examined every couple of weeks. Currently, America’s ever-increasing number of cases does not fit the given requirement.

Are there certain exceptions to the current EU travel ban?

On-going restrictions do not cover long-term residents and their immediate family members. Individuals who need to travel to Europe due to a vital function or reason are also exempted.
Exempted travelers include the following:
· Humanitarian and health workers
· Students
· Diplomats
· Seasonal Workers

Is there any chance that the decision to ban Americans from entering Europe be modified or revoked?

The current list of permitted countries is examined and reviewed every couple of weeks. If the US’s COVID-19 trend improves—if the cases decrease and reach the total number asserted by the EU, Americans may eventually be permitted to travel to Europe. Similarly, all countries presently included in the said list get reviewed in that manner and can be eradicated from the list when the COVID-19 cases in those nations go above the specified number stressed.

To know more about the different travel guidelines and restrictions outlined by the EU, visit the European Council Recommendation.

If Europe is currently off-limits, where then can I go?

Americans can travel to several countries at present. These places include:

· Countries in the Caribbean

· Select states in Mexico

· Kenya

· Albania

· Turkey

Most countries that permit entrance to US citizens; however, issue strict health protocols, including 14-day quarantine, COVID-19 testing, compulsory insurance premiums, and decreased travel capabilities.

Equally, the US government asserts that travelers returning from several restricted locations (like several European Schengen nations, Iran, and China) are merely permitted to land in 15 airports to undergo US-imposed safety measures. Visit the website of the State Department for more information regarding various country-specific guidelines.

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