Monday, October 17, 2022

Samoa

Samoa Flag



"Cradle of Polynesia"


Why visit Samoa?
Ideal for the traveler seeking to enjoy active volcanoes, beaches, blowholes, culture, deep-sea fishing, hiking, jet skiing, natural pools, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, villages, waterfalls, water sports, and wildlife.


At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Baskets, kava bowls, shell jewelry, weave mats, wood carvings, and wrap arounds clothing.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Kalo (vegetable). Koko Alaisa (dessert). Masi Samoa (cookies). Oka i'a (fish dish), Paifala (stuffed pastry). Panikeke (pancake). Pani Popo (rolls). Palusami (stuffed leaves). Pisua (dessert). Sapasui (vermicelli noodles). Samoan Poi (dessert).
  • Local Drink to Try: Ginger Mojito (cocktail). Kava (classic). Niu (coconut). Taula (beer). Vailima (beer). 

Photo Credit: David Mark/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • The fa'a Samoa culture dates back over 3,000 years.
  • O Tamaiti won the prestigious Best Short Film (1996).
  • An 8.0-magnitude earthquake caused an Tsunami (2009).
  • Samoa 'ava Ceremony is a solemn ceremonial beverage ritual bestowal of matai chiefly titles consumed in a ranking order.
  • A dance performed by males is said to be derived from slapping insects on the body (fa'ataupati).
  • Traditional dance (sasa) consists of rows of dancers performing synchronized movements with wooden drums.
  • Highest peak (6096 ft) is Mount Silisili (Savai'i Island).
  • Pose culturally significant tattoos; for male its geometrical patterns covering from the knees up towards the ribs (Pe'a) and below knees to the upper thighs for females (malu).
  • Once called Western Samoa is now simply called Samoa.
  • Consists of two large islands: Savai'i and Upolu and smaller islands: Apolima and Manono.
  • Savai'i is their largest island.
  • Elections are held every five years.
  • Government provides mandatory 8 years of primary and secondary education tuition-free until the age of 16.
  • Has 5 uninhabited islands.
  • Samoan cocoa beans are of very high quality and used in fine New Zealand chocolates. 
  • Majority of the population resides on main island of Upolu (Apia).
  • Burial site (Mount Vaea) of Robert Louis Stevenson (1880 - 1894), Scottish Author best known for Kidnapped and A Child's Garden of Verses, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Treasure Island.
  • National sport is Rugby.
  • Customarily, families with a shortage of females are known to raise boys as girls.

Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (March) Apia Arts & Crafts Fair, (April) International Game Fishing Tournament, (May) Fire Knife Festival, (June) Fautasi Outrigger Canoe Competition, (July) Tafesilafa’i Festival, (September) Apia Jazz Festival, and Teuila Festival.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Mothers' Day, Independence Day, Labour Day, White Sunday, Lotu a Tamaiti, Arbor Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.


Photo Credit: Simon/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Both men and women should dress conservatively by covering their legs.
  • Onward/return tickets required for entry.
  • Blowhole areas tend to be very slippery. 
  • Official languages are English and Samoan.
  • Polynesian culture compares to Fiji, French Polynesia, and Hawaii.
  • From October - November locals are known to search for "Caviar of the Pacific" (coral worms).
  • Given their location "Ring of Fire” makes them vulnerable to earthquakes which can trigger a tsunami.
  • Cruise ships dock at the Main Wharf on Beach Road (Apia).
  • Beyond tourist areas credit cards are not widely accepted.
  • Most popular beaches are Lalomanu Beach (Upolu), Manase Beach (Savai'i), and Return to Paradise Beach (Upolu).
  • Health care is considered below our western standards.
  • Do not leave your belongings unattended.
  • Avoid tap water consumption.
  • A small fee is required at Return to Paradise (Upolu).
  • Prevalent diseases: Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika.
  • Hiking is popular at O le Pupu-Pue National Park (Upolu).
  • Tourism is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections do not commonly occur.
  • For a local shopping experience visit Old Apia Market (Apia).
  • Aggie Grey's (Apia) and Tanoa Tusitala Hotel (Apia) host weekly traditional Samoan Dance Shows.
  • Stray dogs are known to wander the streets.
  • Traffic travels on the left side of the road.
  • By local customs, do not eat while walking.
  • Buses tend to be crowded, slow, uncomfortable, and undependable.
  • Same-sex acts are a crime and punishable up to seven years in prison. 
  • Sunday is commonly a day of worship amongst locals.
  • By local customs, do not point your feet or legs at anyone. 
  • Nude or topless sunbathing is illegal.
  • Avoid transporting through villages at 6:20PM while locals practice their daily devotionals (sa'a).
  • Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended on secondary roads.
  • Rainy Season is from November - April.
  • Ferry Service operates between Apia, American Samoa, and Pago Pago.

This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport and one blank page for entry stamp.

Prone to earthquakes, heavy rains, landslides, monsoon, strong winds, tropical cyclones, and tsunami.

  • Best Time to Visit: June - October
  • Coolest Month: June - October
  • Hottest Months: December - April
  • Peak Season: December - January

Photo Credit: Holger Detje/Pixabay 



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                                        All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice.   

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Rwanda

Rwanda Flag


"Land of a Thousand Hills"


Why visit Rwanda?
For the outdoor adventurous traveler seeking to enjoy birdwatching, caves, hiking, Lake Kivu, lush rainforests, mountain gorillas, national parks, safaris, and wildlife. 
 

At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Baskets, calabash gourds, coffee, drums, earthenware statues, embroidery goods, kitenge fabric, masks, pottery, six string harp, tea, and wood carvings.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Agatogo (stew). Akabenz (BBQ pork). Brochettes (national dish). Groundnuts. Ikinyiga (soup). Isombe (delicacy stew). Mandazi (fried pastry). Matoke (plantain mash). Sambaza (sardines). Ugali (porridge). 
  • Local Drink to Try: Icyayi (black tea). Ikivuguto (yogurt). Urwagwa (beer). 

Fun Facts
  • One of Africa's smallest countries.
  • Home to the rare mountain gorillas (Volcanoes National Park).
  • No zoo has a mountain gorilla around the globe.
  • Largest faith is Catholic Christianity,


Photo Credit: MikeOgilvie/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (March) Rwanda Mini Film Festival, (April) Hillywood Film Festival, (May) International Peace Marathon, Kigali International Peace Marathon, (June) Gorilla Naming Ceremony, KigaliUP, (July) Rwanda International Movie Award, (August) Centre X Centre Festival, (September) Hobe Rwanda Festival, Kwita Izina, (October) Festival Arts Azimuts (FAAZ), and (December) Rwanda Film Festival.
  • HolidaysNew Year's Day, National Heros Day, Independence Day, Liberation Day, Umuganura Day, Assumption Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Tutsi Memorial Day, Good Friday, and Easter Monday.


Lake Kivu, Rwanda. Photo Credit: Jon Mills/Pixabay 


Good to Know
  • Shop for local crafts at Caplaki Craft Market (Kigali).
  • All international flights arrive at Gregoire Kayibanda Airport (KGL).
  • Has no rail service throughout the country.
  • Photographing airports, government buildings, military sites, and monuments is not permitted.
  • Permits required before entering National Parks. 
  • Avoid referring to locals as Hutu or Tutsi.
  • Most banks and vendors only accept USA bills printed after 2009.
  • Exchange bureaus and hotels tend to refuse bills smaller than $100USD. 
  • Credit cards are not widely accepted, usually MasterCard. 
  • Avoid exploring after dark.
  • Speaking about Genocide is punishable 5 -7  years in prison and ranging from 500,000 - 1,000,000KWF in fines.
  • South of the equator, temperatures are seldom extreme due their high altitude.
  • Grocery bags and plastic bags are banned.
  • International Drivers Permit and third-party insurance is required.
  • Secondary roads tend to unpaved and require four-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Commute with doors locked and windows closed. 
  • Pack a sweater for cool evenings.
  • Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies.
  • Avoid demonstrations.
  • Vehicles tend to be poorly maintained.
  • Use only official city buses and licensed taxis (orange-striped). 
  • Use of mosquito repellents and bedtime nets are recommended.
  • Drone use requires a permit.
  • Rainy Season is February - May and September - December.
  • Carry your passport and VISA with you.
  • Do not swim or wade in still water due to Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection.
  • Prevalent Diseases: African Tick-Bite Fever, Chikungunya, Dengue, Hantavirus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Leptospirosis, Malaria, Measles, Rabies, Tuberculosis (TB), Typhoid, Schistosomiasis, and Yellow Fever.

This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA required.
  • Yellow Fever Vaccination required from select countries. 


Kigali Convention Centre, Kigali, Rwanda. Photo Credit: Andreas/Pixabay 


  • Best Time to Visit: January & July - September
  • Coolest Month: February 
  • Hottest Months: June - September
  • Peak Season: June - September


Photo Credit: David Mark/Pixabay 



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                                        All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice.   

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Russia

Russia Flag

 

Why visit Russia?

For the international traveler seeking to experience architecture, art, boating, cathedrals, fishing, health spas, hiking, historical sites, horseback riding, ice skating, performing arts, monasteries, museums, river cruises, rock climbing, scenery, skiing, snowboarding, trekking, and world class ballet.


Red Square, Moscow, Russia. Photo Credit: Joney Brain/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Amber, caviar, fur hats, hand embroidered tablecloths, hand painted lacquerware, matryoshka dolls, metal sculpture, music instruments, painted enamel jewelry, samovars, vodka, and wood sculpture.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Blini (pancake). Borsch (beet soup). Okroshka (cold soup). Olivier (salad). Pirozhki (stuffed buns). Shchi (cabbage soup). Solyanka (sour soup). Syrniki (pancakes). Ukha (seafood soup).
  • Local Drink to Try: Bvass (beer). Vodka (national).


Photo Credits: Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • The national symbol of the double-headed eagle, dates back to the Tsardom period (1547 - 1721).
  • Moscow State University (1755) and Saint Petersburg State University (1724) are the oldest universities.
  • Laika, Soviet Dog, became the first animal to orbit the Earth (1957).
  • Hosted (1980) the Summer Olympic Games (Moscow).
  • Hosted (2014) the Winter Olympics (Sochi).
  • Largest country in the world.
  • Rich in natural resources such as gas and oil.
  • Has over 100,000 rivers.
  • Extends across 11 time zones.
  • Home to the largest freshwater lake in the world (Baikal).
  • Mount Elbrus (18,510 ft) is the highest peak. 
  • Has access to three oceans: Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific.
  • Lakes Ladoga and Onega (northwestern area) are amongst the largest European countries.
  • Home to the finest caviar, beluga in the world.
  • Klyuchevskaya Sopka (15,584 ft) is the highest active volcano (Eurasia).


Moscow, Russia. Photo Credit: Evgeny GoTown.ru/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) International Festival of Snow, Magic Ice of Siberia, (February) Maslenitsa Festival, (March) Moscow Golden Mask Festival, Reindeer Herder’s Festival, (April) Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), (June) Chekhov International Theater Festival, International Moscow Film Festival, Open Look, Scarlet Sails, St Petersburg White Nights Festival, St Petersburg Beer Festival, Taste of Moscow, Wild Mint Folk Festival, (July) Nashestvie, (August) Afisha Picnic, (September) Circle of Light, Vladivostok Biennale of Visual Arts, (December) Russian Winter Festival, and Winter Festivals. 
  • Holidays: New Year Day, Christmas Day, Defender of the Fatherland Day, International Women's Day, Spring & Labor Day, Victory Day, Day of Russia, and National Unity Day.


St Petersburg, Russia. Photo Credit: Peter H/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • You cannot enter prior to the date on your VISA, and must exit before your VISA expiration.
  • The Black Sea and Green Grove are popular amongst the wealthy.
  • Cruise Ships and Ferry passengers (St Petersburg & Vladivostok) are permitted to stay up to 72 hours without a VISA accompanied by a licensed Tour Operator.
  • Most visited cities are: Kazan, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Saint Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg.
  • Students and Teachers avoid coaching or teaching English.
  • Avoid Chechnya and the North Caucasus region.
  • Missionary activity is restricted
  • Solovetsky Islands (north) is known for great canoeing and kayaking.
  • Ice fishing for whitefish, Baikal Omul is popular on Lake Baikal (Siberia).
  • Kamchatka area offers some of the best Steelhead fishing in the world. 
  • Altai Mountain area is popular for scenic horseback riding.
  • Most visited museums are: State Hermitage (Saint Petersburg), State Russian (Saint Petersburg), and Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow).
  • Tourist areas are prone to pickpocketing and robbery.
  • Use of satellite phones requires advance approval from the local government.
  • Avoid public demonstrations.
  • Third-party liability insurance is required for drivers.
  • Carry your passport with you at all times.
  • The "Golden Ring of Russia" connects the old cities of five Oblasts.
  • Most popular landmarks: Kazan Kremlin (Kazan), Lake Baikal (Siberia), Peterhof Palace (Saint Petersburg), Red Square (Moscow), and Trinity Lavra of St Sergius (Sergiyev Posad).
  • Keep all your receipt purchases.
  • Considered illegal to pay for goods and services in U.S. dollars.


Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Photo Credit: Сергей Петров/Pixabay 



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity and two blank pages for stamping.
  • Tourist VISA required.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry $10,000 and $3,000 Exiting.


Photo Credit: Larisa Koshkina/Pixabay 

  • Best Time to Visit: May - September
  • Cold Months: November - March 
  • Hottest Months: May - September
  • Peak Season: June - August


Photo Credit: Avetikov/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent, Architectural Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad, Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of the town-island of Sviyazhsk, Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex, Central Sikhote-Alin, Church of the Ascension, Churches of the Pskov School of Architecture. Kolomenskoye, Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands, Curonian Spit, Ensemble of the Ferapontov Monastery, Ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent, Golden Mountains of Altai, Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin, Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments, Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings, Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl, Kizhi Pogost, Kremlin and Red Square, Lake Baikal, Landscapes of Dauria, Lena Pillars Nature Park, Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve, Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea, Putorana Plateau, Struve Geodetic Arc, Uvs Nuur Basin, Virgin Komi Forests, Volcanoes of Kamchatka, Western Caucasus, White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal.


State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia. Photo Credit: Jeremy Zhu/Pixabay 



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                                        All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice.  

Monday, October 10, 2022

Romania

Romania Flag




Why visit Romania?
For the international traveler seeking to enjoy beaches, birdwatching, castles, charming medieval villages, culture, fishing, health spas, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, medieval monasteries, mountain scenery, skiing, and wine country. 



Pietrele Doamnei, Romania. Photo Credit: Dan Fador/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Brandy, ceramic dolls, crochet goods, embroidery goods, folk music, local wine, painted wooden eggs, pottery, and wooden boxes.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Alivenci (custard tart). Borș de Miel (lamb soup). Cașcaval (semi-hard cheese). Clătite (pancakes). Cheese Pie (snack). Chiftele (meatballs). Ciorbă de burtă (tripe soup). Cornulete (filled pastry). Cozonac (sweet bread). Drob (lamb). Gogosi (doughnuts). Mamaliga (porridge). Mici (meat rolls). Mucenici (pasta dish). Năsal (cheese). Pasca (cake) Potato Salad. Sarmale (cabbage rolls). Sausage Stew. Tobă (pork jelly). Tochitură (pork). White Cabbage Salad. Zacusca (salsa dip).
  • Local Drink to Try: Afinată (liquor). Bere (beer). Pălincă (beer). Pălincă (brandy). Pilsener (beer). Sana (drinkable yogurt). Secărică (vodka).Tuică (brandy). Turț (brandy). Vișinată (cocktail). Zmeurată (raspberry liqueur).


Brașov Romania. Photo Credit: Dan Novac/Pixabay 


Fun Facts
  • Human remains found in Peștera cu Oase (Anina) date back to 37,000 - 42,000 years ago.
  • Nicolae Constantin Paulescu (1869 - 1931), Professor of Medicine was instrumental on diabetes, and patenting pancreine. 
  • Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brâncuși at Târgu Jiu recognizes their heros of World War I (1914 - 1918).
  • Lazăr Edeleanu (1861 - 1941), Chemist was the first to synthesize amphetamine.
  • Traian Vuia (1872-1950), Aviation Inventor & Pioneer built the first first tractor monoplane.
  • Nadia Elena Comăneci Conner (1961) Retired Gymnast was the first Gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0 at the Olympic Games in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (1976).
  • During the 1984 Summer Olympics hosted in Los Angeles, California they won 53 medals.
  • Home to the first European city (Timisoara) to have electric street lamps (1884).
  • Carpathian Mountains run through the north.
  • Second-longest European River, Danube (Germany) empties into the Danube Delta. 
  • Moldoveanu Peak (8,346 ft) is the highest point.
  • One of the largest areas of undisturbed forest amongst European countries.
  • Tennis is the second most popular sport, football being the first.
  • Highest agricultural employment rate compared to any other European country.
  • Transylvanian Alps run east-west through the center.
  • Largest reserve of crude oil and shale gas amongst European countries.
  • A special exemption is required for the sacrifice of lambs during Easter and pigs during Christmas.
  • Bran Castle "Dracula's Castle" (Bran) myth is that vampires roam the Transylvania halls.
  • One of the largest plum producers in the world.
  • Traditionally women are gifted talismans (mărțișor) for good luck during in early March.
  • Has 6 terrestrial ecoregion.
  • Romanian Orthodox Church is the most popular traditional church.
  • Danube Delta is the largest continuous marshland amongst European countries.
  • Has the fourth largest railroad network amongst European countries.


Photo Credit: Jacqueline Macou/Pixabay



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (April) Jazz in the Church, Junii Brasovului Parade, National Easter Eggs Festival, (May) Bucharest International Jazz Competition, Eurovision Song Contest, (June) Art Film Festival, Dakini Festival, East European Comic Con, International Shakespeare Festival, Jazz in the Park, Rocanotherworld, Saga Music Festival, Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Traditional Crafts Fair, Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF)UEFA European Football Championship, (July) ARTmania Festival, Electric Castle, Feeric Fashion Week, Full Moon Festival, Maidens' Fair, Neversea Festival, Rockstadt Extreme Fest, Sighisoara Festival of Medieval Arts & Crafts, The Girls Fair at Mountain Hen, (August) After Hills, Awake Festival, Bachata Romanian Dance Festival, Folk Art Festival, George Enescu Festival, Dance at Prislop, Merry Cemetery, Rockstadt Extreme Fest, Sighisoara Medieval FestivalSummer Well Festival, Transylvanian Saxons Festival, Untold Festival, (September) RO-Wine, Sambra Oilor, Sanaia Forever Festival, Shepherd's Festival, White Night of Galleries, (October) Astra Film Fest, Beer Craft Festival, Cabbage Festival, Oktoberfest, Wine Festivals, Wine Making Festival, (November) Gay Film Nights, and (December) Bucharest Christmas Market.
  • Holidays: New Years Day, Day after New Year's Day, Unification Day, Good Friday, Easter, Easter Monday, Labor Day, International Children's Day, Orthodox Pentecost, Descent of Holy Spirit, St Mary's Day, Feast of St Andrew, National Day, Christmas Day, and Second Day of Christmas.

Peleș Castle, Sinaia, Romania. Photo Credit: Walter Kärcher/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Not ideal for travelers  who require deluxe accommodations.
  • Remains a developing country.
  • Between June - September are popular stays for mountain and seaside resorts.
  • Romanian language words are common in French, Italian, and Spanish. 
  • Northern region offers the most unique village experiences.
  • Cuisine is influenced by Austria and Germany. 
  • Credit card fraud occurs.
  • Has the highest vehicle road fatalities rate.
  • Pickpocketing is common in tourist areas.
  • Most visited towns are: Bistrița, Brașov, Cisnădie, Cluj-Napoca, Medias, Sibiu, and Sighișoara.
  • Public restrooms do not always offer toilet paper.
  • On Monday most museums are closed.
  • Use ATMs located inside banks.
  • Mountain flash floods occur in the Spring and Summer.
  • English and French are the primary foreign languages taught in schools.
  • Skiing is most popular in Poiana Brașov and Valea Prahovei.
  • Public telephones only accept phone cards.
  • Recreational drug possession is not permitted. Punishable up to three years in prison.


Rock Sculpture of Decebalus, Orșova, Romania. Photo Credit: Mariana Anatoneag/Pixabay 



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with three months of validity and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000EUR.


Sibiu, Romania. Photo Credit: Tudor George/Pixabay 


  • Best Time to Visit: May - October
  • Coldest Months: December - February
  • Hottest Months: July - August
  • Peak Season: June - August

Transylvania, Romania. Photo Credit: Szabolcs Molnar/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of EuropeChurches of Moldavia, Dacian Fortresses of the Orăștie Mountains, Danube Delta, Historic Centre of Sighișoara, Monastery of Horezu, Roșia Montană Mining Cultural Landscape, Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania, and Wooden Churches of Maramureş.

 

Photo Credit: pionut/Pixabay 


Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

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                                        All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice.   

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