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Traveling To Japan To Have A Sip Of Teacup Pig

We’ve seen cafes full of cats and guinea pigs… now the teacup pigs want to be a part of the fun.

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     Back in 1998, the world’s very first cat cafe – Cat Flower Garden – opened in Taipei (Taiwan). It was the ideal concept that allowed young city workers to unwind after a hectic day in the downtown office and for those who lived in nearby apartments that were unable to have pets of their own but sought companionship. Slowly but surely, the fascinating concept made its way to Japan where the idea instantly surged in popularity.

     As of 2015, there are over cat cafes in Tokyo alone. Since the advent of the cat cafe, several similar businesses have popped up since then, yoga with baby goats and a cafe with guinea pigs being just two. Even then, humans can also mingle with dogs, owls, and even hedgehogs while grabbing a bite to eat or while sipping their coffees. Nonetheless, the decision to bring the smaller, warm, and fuzzy friends closer to the people seems to be working out for everyone. Cats are adoptable, small businesses are gaining followers and patrons, and nearby locals are enjoying the benefits of the very temporary but very real “pet rental” business. As long as safe practices are put in place for customers and animals alike, this seems to be a perfect situation. 

 

Cu(t)e the Next Trend

     Yet another animal-focused cafe has recently opened up in Tokyo. This time, customers have the opportunity to have a cuddle with mini-pigs! A spokesperson for Mipig has mentioned that some of their pigs can actually fit into a teacup – thus real teacup pigs! The founders of the cafe explained, “We would like Japanese people to feel more familiar with the animal and eventually become a beloved member of the family.” While their invitation to adopt is legitimate, travelers should be aware that these are simply very young pigs. In other words, these pigs of no-specific breed, will eventually grow up and gain much weight. Still, until that growth spurt occurs, locals and visitors alike are absolutely enjoying the experience. One visitor mentioned to a CNN affiliate that “Their noses feel cool, but the bodies are so warm. How cute!” As we’ve personally not had any interaction with a pig (or mini-pig for that matter), we would be incredibly down to play around with several tiny piglets! 

No word on if you can feed them, people, food but we’re sure we can all partake in caring for these cute little guys.


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Destinations

The Cost Of Traveling To Seven Game Of Thrones Filming Locations

Game of Thrones may be ending after season 8 but let your adventure live on when you explore these seven supernatural filming locations.

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     As we all know, and as much as it may hurt to accept, we are in the midst of the last season of Game of Thrones. With only a few episodes left in “the world,” viewers will be seeking story and television alternatives to continue the adventure that began eight years ago on April 17th, 2011. But, what if we told you that you could keep the magic alive and travel steadfast on your own journey? Became an independent traveler and fighter as you make your way around the world to seven of the most iconic and scene filming locations from eight seasons of GOT excitement.

     Thanks to the iOS and Android travel app – Hopper – the realistic expenses to fly to some of the most accessible and iconic filming destinations are presented for your interest and convenience. The costs presented here are for flight expenses only, pulled from the average prices of round-trip tickets departing from U.S. airports. In addition to average prices, Hopper also provided the round-trip summer flights costs so that you can plan a vacation during the warmer months after the show finally concludes.

Therefore, let us begin.

 

Iceland

Roundtrip airfare to Reykjavik – $651

Summer roundtrip airfare to Reykjavik – $651

Upon entering Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, you’ll instantly begin reliving the “natural” landscapes shown “North of the Wall.” Iceland will also be home to the lava cave Jon & Ygritte expand their “relationship”, the scenes of the Wildling camp, and the Skogafoss Waterfall used on the premiere episode of season 8. 

Spain

Roundtrip airfare to Madrid – $714

Summer roundtrip airfare to Reykjavik – $833

Spain’s architecture and pedicured gardens have provided their show with several shooting options. The Royal Palace of Dorne was shot at the Real Alcazar while the meeting of Jon, Dani, and Cersei at the Dragonpit took place at the Roman site of Italica.

 

Scotland

Roundtrip airfare to Glasgow – $837

Summer roundtrip airfare to Glasgow – $1,006

About 34 miles north of Glasgow stands Doune Castle. Doune was the real-counterpart of Winterfell. The pilot episode of the show was shot here in which King Baratheon and accompaniment visit the Stark castle.

 

Morocco

Roundtrip airfare to Marrakech – $980

Summer roundtrip airfare to Marrakech – $1,106

If you would like to retrace Dani’s campaign march, you should plan on visiting Morocco. The slave-trade city of Yunkai was filmed at Ait-Ben-Haddou, a UNESCO world heritage site, while the Red City, Astapor, the home of the Unsullied, was shot at the port city of Essaouira. 

 

Croatia

Roundtrip airfare to Dubrovnik – $1,004

Summer roundtrip airfare to Dubrovnik – $1,198

The scenes from the King’s Landing were shot in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The city’s 13th-century walls are extensively used throughout the series. Tourists may also visit the Jesuit Staircase in which Ceresi was forced through her walk of shame in Season 5. The Fortress of Klis can be found in the city of Split. 

 

Northern Ireland

Roundtrip airfare to Belfast – $1,101

Summer roundtrip airfare to Belfast – $1,109

These woods should look incredibly familiar as they are home to the Starks and Night’s Watch. The journey to King’s Landing can be viewed by taking a stop at the Dark Hedges near Stranocum. CGI may be heavily used in the show but the Magheramorne Quarry is the stand-in for the Castle Black. In addition, Ballintoy Harbour is the real-life home to the Iron Fleet & House Greyjoy. 

 

Malta

Roundtrip airfare to Valletta – $1,207

Summer roundtrip airfare to Valletta – $1,224 

Malta’s capital of Valletta has the steps of the Lannisters and Dothraki in its history. Second (and third), St. Dominic’s Convent was used as the Red Keep Garden while Fort St. Angelo was also used as the Red Keep Prison. Lastly, the Mtahleb Cliffs were used as picturesque backdrops for the Dothraki camp scenes and Drogo’s funeral pyre. 


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Destinations

Traveling To Cuba Just Got Harder

In order to fight American dollars from empowering the Cuban regime, Trump’s security counsel has placed new restrictions on travel to the country.

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     Last week, the Trump administration placed further restrictions upon nonfamily travel to the Cuban country, a mere 100 miles from the tip of Florida. During a speech given to the veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the failed 1961 event that sought to overthrow Fidel Castro, Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, added that the new regulations were also placed upon the countries of Nicaragua and Venezuela. Alongside Cuba, Bolton has stated that these three countries are “the troika of tyranny.”

     During his speech, he mentioned “The Department of the Treasury will implement further regulatory changes to restrict nonfamily travel to Cuba… These new measures will help steer American’s dollars away from the Cuban regime.”

Background

     For many years, tensions between the US and Cuba did not allow for travel. From 1999 until 2003, the US government allowed “people-to-people” licenses. These licenses allowed Americans to travel to the country if the purpose was for a short list of reasons. Educational or religious needs were two of these. During his term, President George W. Bush’s administration then restricted those licenses.

     However, in an effort to thaw tensions between the countries, the Obama administration granted the American people even greater opportunities. Americans who were not even journalists or scholars were able to visit the country – given that it was with an officially licensed operator. Come March 2016, Americans were free to travel to the country as long as they interacted with the Cuban people during educational exchange activities.

     This policy included 12 approved categories: family visits, support of the Cuban people, educational/religious/journalistic activities, humanitarian projects, professional research or business, private foundation activities, research or education at institutes, public performances, competitions and exhibitions, official US government matters, foreign government/intergovernmental organizations, export transactions, and transmission of information.

 

Easy No More

     In recent years, the process to travel was quite simple. Direct flights to Cuba could be purchased at airlines like JetBlue, American, Southwest, and United. Travelers would then apply for a tourist card, a Visa, that was valid for 30 days and that could further be extended for an additional 30 days in Cuba.

     However, in 2017, the Trump administration canceled the people-to-people licenses. Visitors were only given permission to visit if they were part of an educational program. As of late, American tourists are now banned from government-owned shops and hotels as they are controlled directly by the government.

     The Treasury Department has stated that Americans who are caught violating these new guidelines could face an up to $250,000 and be jailed for 10 years. So far, these two punishments have not been doled out.

     With much dismay, we suggest you find some sort of educational program, and quick… if you had ever planned on visiting our southern island neighbor.


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Destinations

Do You Want In On A $1 Italian Dream House?

Don’t let your eyes fool you. Some Italian villages are selling homes for $1!

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“Honey, pack up your things, we’re moving to Italy!” Two villages in Italy are offering homes at little more than one American dollar to lure new residents to their towns in the hopes of offsetting their declining populations. They’ve even launched websites to best match potential home buyers with their “dream” property. Amazingly, potential suitors are even able to apply to purchase one of these homes even before setting foot in the country.

Paolo Caruso, the mayor of Zungoli, one of the villages offering this insane deal has stated “I’ve created a special task force of young volunteers who assist buyers, leasing with convenient construction firms on the restyle… Transparency is key but people must really come see for themselves the beauty of the place, taste the great good and breathe the fresh healthy air.”

Simplicity

The best part about this home-buying process… it’s super easy to get started! Even if you’re not interested, it might be fun to explore the numerous offers. To start, head over to the city of Zungoli’s official website – www.comunezungoli.it – on the left column, look for a bright link entitled “Case in vendetta a E(Euro)1”. Once you open the link, you will be greeted with a list of 50 – 100-meter homes available. They all require some renovation and restyling, which is demanded in the $1 agreement, but this cost is largely tax deductible. From there, download the application form for the properties you could imagine yourself moving into. It’s at this portion of the application at which you must decide if your home will ultimately turn into a private house, bread & breakfast, or artisan shop. Heads up, you must renovate your property, if chosen, within three years. Next, simply attach a copy of your ID and send all accompanying documents to the mayor’s office – email or normal postage is requested. Lastly, when all applicants have been picked, Caruso will send you an official contract regarding the property. This step requires you to actually fly to Italy and close the deal in person.

The fine print does require a 2,000 Euro security deposit and agreement to refurbish the property, but once the property is properly taken care of, the deposit is returned.

A Second Opportunity

There is also another larger town, Mussomeli, in Sicily, which has made this 5 step process even easier. They invested in a new, multilingual real estate agency to handle their own version of these 1 Euro deals.

As above, Mussomeli homes can be seen at www.case1euro.it. Even better, this site is in English. Take a second to look around and view the homes with tremendous potential.

Mussomeli Heritage councilor Toti Nigrelli has stated “Original owners calls us each day to dispose of their old houses. There are 100 on sale now and potentially another 400 are suitable… This project is my life mission but had I dealt with it on my own, I would have gone nuts.”

Clearly, this opportunity is an important call of the mayors and people of Zungoli and Mussomeli. The $1 is much more a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, it’s an investment into their towns for years and decades to come. 

 


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