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2-3 августа 2015

August 2-3, 2015

В Албании считается крутым не пристегиваться ремнем. А чтобы машина не пипикала, в разъем вставляется специальная заглушка.



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Новые модные фонари.



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Тут находится полуразложившийся римский амфитеатр, который Албания безуспешно пытается протолкнуть в список всемирного наследия ЮНЕСКО.



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Хорошо сохранившийся бункер времен Энвера Ходжи.

Типичное албанское жилье.

Исторический центр совсем причесали, подмели и помыли. Получилось симпатично, хотя и немного искусственно, потому что вокруг-то ничего не улучшали.

Кто-то построил себе дворец.

А кто-то достроил себе корабль, который я шесть лет назад видел еще в голом бетоне (см. последнюю фотку в старом рассказе).



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Город, созданный для производства оружия. В настоящий момент все заржавело и не работает.



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Вполне душевный город, расположенный на равнине.

С таким фоном даже мусорный бак выглядит благороднее.

С древней историей.

С граффити.

С объявлениями о смерти на стенах.

С брусчаткой под старину.

Тут очень приятный исторический центр с типично османскими вторыми этажами, которые нависают над первыми (очевидно, налог брали за пятно застройки, а надстроенные этажи обходили это правило).

Атмосфера тут расслабленная и туристическая.



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Самый юг Албании.

Геология тут любопытная. Похожа на амфитеатр и одновременно источник камня. Я прямо представляю, как это наталкивало на мысли древнегреческих архитекторов.

Здесь сохранились неплохие греческие и римские остатки города.

Паром на 

AirAsia Looks to Be an Unlikely Online Travel Agency Competitor is becoming a richer online travel platform by the day and is key to CEO Tony Fernandes’ plan to ramp up e-commerce and ancillary revenues this year.

The platform generated more than $4 billion (RM16 billion) in AirAsia’s online flight ticket sales last year, Fernandes revealed. The group is increasing its efforts to sell additional travel-related services such as hotels, tours, insurance and more to the millions who fly the airline.

The focus on and ancillaries comes as “exceptionally high” fuel cost, aggressive capacity increase, lower average fare, closure of Boracay, and the prolonged chain of natural disasters in Indonesia last year eroded AirAsia Group’s fourth quarter earnings, released this week.

The group reported a net operating profit of RM98 million ($24 million) in the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2018, compared with a net operating profit RM550 million ($135 million) in fourth quarter 2017.

Net profit for financial year 2018 rose 9 percent to RM1.7 billion ($417 million) over 2017. This is attributed to factors such as growth in domestic market share in the Philippines and Malaysia, increase in ancillary revenue and reduction in staff costs.

Giving his outlook for 2019 in a statement, Fernandes said, “We intend to transform into a platform of choice for all [guests] to fulfill any travel needs. We believe that this platform has enormous potential and will generate a significant increase in revenue for the group.”

He said is “in fact one of the largest revenue generating platforms in Asia today.”

‘True Transformation’

His “true transformation” of the AirAsia website and mobile app has started, with a revamp unveiled in late January that underscores its change from being just an airline booking site.

A few simple examples: On, passengers in Singapore can buy tickets to Gardens by the Bay or, if going to Hyderabad, purchase a private transfer from the Hyderabad airport to their hotel. They could also book a two-day package to Krabi including flight and hotel, or buy a bottle of perfume on the website and receive it on-board or collect in airport.

Customers can also plan and book a customized itinerary, choosing top destinations in Asia and Australia, adding restaurants, spas, tours and attractions, and completing the booking online within minutes.

These are powered by Vidi, formerly Touristly in which AirAsia acquired a 50 percent stake  in 2017, and AirAsiaGo, the consumer-facing website of the AAE Travel joint venture between AirAsia and Expedia, which now fully belongs to Expedia.

AirAsiaGo continues to be powered by Expedia, featuring air tickets from the carrier, hotels from Expedia, and packages of the two bundled together.

AirAsia said its mobile app alone has 3.3 million monthly active users. Latest features include a chatbot, Ava, who responds to guest enquiries in eight Asian languages; an interactive map that helps iOS users decide where to go by pinpointing all AirAsia’s destinations on a single page; and fast airport clearance for those who enroll.

“We will be adding more mobile app features in the months to come so it is no longer just a flight booking platform, but your complete travel companion,” said deputy group CEO for digital, transformation and corporate services, Aireen Omar.

Last month, AirAsia also opened a technology center in Bengaluru, India, which will have 35 engineers working on custom-built solutions for AirAsia website and app to provide “frictionless” journeys for guests.

Total Ancillaries Value aside, AirAsia Group makes a lot of money from traditional airline ancillaries, to the tune of RM2.1 b

Fvck War! A 10 Inch Penis Statue Made of Molten Weapons

Fvck War! A 10 Inch Penis Statue Made of Molten Weapons

photos: Magali Caillard

This hefty statue is an anti-war protest and a loud, unapologetic celebration of love, which are two things we’re totally into at iHeartBerlin. Better still, there’s more to it than meets the eye – beyond its simple yet enticing form and the significant message, this piece of work will amaze you in more ways than one.

What does the ”Fuck War” statue actually stand for? According to its creators from AKT Jewels, a Geneva-based team consisting of engineers, designers, and craftsmen, it’s supposed to be ”a way to turn war into a laughing stock”. The creators also maintain the piece is inspired by a quote from an iconic figure that incidentally has a special connection with Berlin – Iggy Pop.

The interesting fact about this pacifistic creation is that it was actually made using destroyed weapons and ammunition, specifically brass from Kalachnikov AK47 ammunition, collected and destroyed by the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action. The golden-colored bronze with a dash of red was achieved by adding the brass of the ammunition to tin.

After the initial preparation of the metal at the l’Ecole Nationale des Arts et Métiers in Cluny, Burgundy (France), the further works on the creations were carried out in Burgundy and South Central France.

This genuine piece of work is coming to town to be exhibited at the Berlin Porn Festival 2018 from 23rd to 28th of October. Come by and see it for yourself!


Venture Out

The wind hasn’t abated by daybreak. I’m torn between hiding in my sleeping bag a little longer and facing the elements as soon as I can. The weather forecast promises that conditions are only going to get worse during the day. I’m undecided on my route until I step outside and have to make a conscious effort to steady my balance in the wind. Heavy clouds already race above, and the highest tops – my original plan for the day – are hidden in the gloom. In the past, I would have stuck rigidly to my plan, relished a battle with nature. Forward progress at all costs, head down and pushing on.

Camp cooking, a small interlude: How to make packet porridge when camping. Fire up stove and fill pan with water. Belatedly realise the wind is blowing stronger than you realised and try and fashion a windbreak with some rocks and your rucksack. Casually half-read the instructions on the pack while you wait for the water to boil. Promptly forget them. Pour some/all of the water into the pack and stir. Roll over the top and wait for a few minutes. Weep a little bit inside when you realise you have made something closer to soup than porridge. Force yourself to consume at least a little before giving up and having chocolate for breakfast.

I change tack. I choose a lower option, working with the landscape instead of against it. Finding natural shelter in valleys and forests, I pass through endless microclimates. The weather changes my perception of place with disorienting speed. One moment a break in the clouds makes a remote hillside feel welcoming, and moments later the mood becomes forebodingly remote as the next rain squall passes through. As morning becomes afternoon I enter thick native woodland, impossibly vibrant despite the grey skies. Moss turns up the colour saturation levels to 11. Drystone walls are reclaimed by nature, carpeted in green. It’s hard to imagine them ever not being there, that they didn’t grow as organically as their current camouflage.

I break cover, setting my sights on my original campsite, but quickly abandon those plans as sheets of rain sweep along the valley. Back in the trees, I scan the map for flatter ground – for wider-spaced contours, just enough to put up a tent and hide from the elements. I climb the valley walls to find a shelf large enough to lie out on and rig my tent outer as a makeshift tarp, lashed to tree trunks and branches, angled against the prevailing wind.

Relief from the elements is instant. I strip off soggy layers and climb into my sleeping bag to warm up. The roar of my gas stove drowns out the creaks and groans of the trees above me, and I relish my oasis of calm while cupping my mug in both hands. It is only 4.00pm, but I am settled for the evening, happy again to feel part of nature without feeling the need to continue fighting through it. I close my eyes for a few seconds. Fine windblown rain sounds like static against tent fabric. Occasionally there’s a machine-gun volley of larger droplets shaken from the branches above me, punctuating the white noise.

Dark comes slowly in the forest – there is no noticeable sunset, just a gradual dying of light. As I drift off, I become aware that the weather has softened and calmed. I stick an arm out of my half-zipped sleeping bag and fall asleep feeling the subtlest of air movements against the back of my palm, a gentle reminder that I am outside.


KT Lim Doubles Down on Resorts World Catskills - Makes Proposal to Take Catskills Casino Private

Kien Huat, the family trust controlled by Genting Chairman KT Lim, filed paperwork today announcing the company's intent to acquire the remaining unaffiliated shares of Empire Resorts, the parent company of Resorts World Catskills.

Rendering of the Resorts World Catskills Resort

KT Lim Doubles Down on Resorts World Catskills - Makes Proposal to Take Catskills Casino Private

Hotel News Resource

Kien Huat, the family trust controlled by Genting Chairman KT Lim, filed paperwork today announcing the company's intent to acquire the remaining unaffiliated shares of Empire Resorts, the parent company of Resorts World Catskills.

Mr. Lim, who currently owns 86 percent of Empire Resorts, plans to immediately start discussions with potential financing sources to acquire all of the outstanding shares of the Company in order to protect the thousands of union jobs that the company has created at the facility and meet the economic challenges that have emerged.

"Today's announcement reaffirms Mr. Lim's strong commitment to Resorts World Catskills. We strongly believe that taking the company private will result in greater efficiencies and a bright future for Resorts World Catskills, and Sullivan and Orange Counties," said Stefan Friedman, Spokesperson for Genting Chairman KT Lim.

In addition to protecting the 1,600 jobs currently at Resorts World Catskills, Sullivan County's largest employer, KT Lim and Kien Huat plan to potentially expand operations into Orange County, creating an additional 300 jobs.

Friedman continued, "This is a natural next step for Mr. Lim to take on a larger role in leading Resorts World Catskills as it enters this next chapter. Mr. Lim strongly believes in the long-term potential of Resorts Word Casino Catskills."

Located in the heart of New York's Catskills region, Resorts World Catskills offers guests unmatched experiences in excitement, entertainment, and luxury. The integrated casino resort includes an 18-story all-suite hotel and a casino and entertainment complex featuring 100,000 square feet of gaming action including 150 live Las-Vegas style table games, 2,150 state-of-the art slot machines, a poker room and private gaming salons.

The casino resort destination also offers more than 10 varied bar and restaurant experiences, which includes an Italian steakhouse created by celebrity chef Scott Conant, and year-round live entertainment at the 2,500-seat RW Epicenter, casino bars and lounges. The hotel features 332 luxury suites, including 27 premium accommodations consisting of garden suites, penthouse suites and two-story villas. Additional hotel amenities include the Crystal Life Spa, two indoor pools, and two fitness centers.

The destination resort in which Resorts World Catskills is located also includes an entertainment project providing additional entertainment, food and accommodations. A Rees Jones-redesigned golf course will also be added, and The Kartrite Hotel and Indoor Waterpark opened to the public in April.


Why I blog

Today’s prompt for Vlogmas is ‘Why I Podcast’, but as I don’t podcast I’m changing it to ‘Why I blog’.

Unlike the past few days, I haven’t had any problems thinking of my answer for this prompt.

There are lots of reasons why I blog. Where do I even begin!? I’m going to tackle each reason individually…

Why I'm a travel blogger | The Travel hack

To document my life and preserve my memories

The main reason I blog and the reason this all started was as a way to document my life. I’ve always been a journal writer. I love the cathartic process of writing out my thoughts.

Writing helps me figure things out as I release a jumble of thoughts onto the page and rearrange my words until they make sense.

The other thing I love about keeping a journal is reading it back. There are so many tiny moments in life that would be so easy to forget but recording these moments, whether it’s through words, photos or videos, helps me remember even the tiniest and seemingly inconsequential moments in your short but precious life.

To help others

I started blogging primarily to record my memories, but an accidental by-product was an informative blog post that could help someone else replicate what I’d done.

I remember the first email I had from someone who’d taken one of my recommendations. A guy had stayed in the most incredible treehouse in Thailand after I’d mentioned it in a blog post. He was over the moon with the place and was so happy he’d stumbled across my blog because that experience had made his holiday.

I think that was the moment blogging changed for me. This was when blogging became about more than just me and it became about informing others and potentially helping them book incredible holidays.

To earn money

And then blogging changed again for me when I started making money from it. I’m not going to gloss over this part because earning a living through my blog is a big part of what keeps me motivated. If I didn’t earn money through my blog then I’d definitely still do it, but I’m sure I wouldn’t do it as frequently and I’d probably disappear for a few months without hearing a word from me.

I earn a very healthy income through my blog and I’m super proud to have turned my hobby into a business that supports my family.

If you want to know more about earning money through a blog, check out my e-course, The Blogger Course, and my sign up to my blogging newsletters where I send out blogging tips and my monthly income report.

To challenge myself

I’m typing this while sat on a plane on my way to Saudi Arabia.

Little bit of a smug side note here but I’m actually lying on a plane as I’m in business class with BA which is A-mazing and I’ve spent the last two hours sipping champagne and munching my way through the delicious menu.

Anyway, back to my point. I’m on my way to Saudi Arabia. Would I be flying to Saudi Arabia if I didn’t blog? Hel

Nos sumamos al #10YearChallenge

Tiempo de lectura 2 minutos

Las redes sociales arden con el reto viral #10YearChallenge, que consiste nada menos en remontarse diez años atrás para ver cómo hemos (o no) cambiado.

Y dicho y hecho, tras bucear en nuestros archivos, dimos con nuestra portada del número 14, publicado en enero de 2019. ¿El protagonista? ¡Robert Redford en Utah!

Y 110 diez números y muchos kilómetros de avión, barco, tren, globo ¡y hasta burro! a nuestras espaldas, llegamos a enero de 2019, cuya portada reza: "la Luna puede esperar".

Y es que nos pareció una buena idea ponernos el traje de astronauta y viajar a los lugares más lunáticos del planeta para celebrar el 50 aniversario del Apolo 11.

Pero viajemos un poco más, ahora en el tiempo, hasta ese enero de 2009 en el que nació la moneda virtual Bitcoin, Barack Obama se convertía en el 44º presidente de Estados Unidos y nosotros nos fuimos hasta Sundance (Utah), donde el actor Robert Reford nos enseñó su rancho de 2.500 hectáreas y nos habló de cine, política y medio ambiente.

También visitamos el desierto de Atacama, la Laponia finlandesa, la Cuenca más gastronómica; pasamos un fin de semana romántico en París y bailamos al ritmo de la música tradicional africana en Mali.


American business travellers behave themselves

US. companies tend to have stricter policies about business travel than their international counterparts, and — probably as a consequence — U.S. business travellers are more likely to understand and comply with the rules, according to a new report from American Express Business Travel.

The 2018 Global Business Travel Report, based on surveys conducted by research firm Gfk, found that 78 per cent of U.S. business travellers said they were extremely familiar with their corporate travel policies, significantly higher than the rate among travellers from Australia, France, Germany, the U.K., Singapore, and India. American business travellers also were the most likely (67 per cent) to describe their corporate travel policies as “strict.”

Just 40 per cent of U.S. business travellers admitted to violating those policies, or “going rogue,” compared to 79 per cent of travellers from Singapore, 67 per cent from Germany, 66 per cent from India, 64 per cent from France, 61 per cent from the U.K., and 52 per cent from Australia.

Reasons for diverging from official policy include the desire for a hotel closer to meeting locations or in a safer locale. However, not all such behavior was self-serving: between 85 and 92 per cent of business travellers said they went outside policy at times in order to save their company money.

U.S. business travellers were also the most likely to say that they didn’t need to receive incentives like cash rewards or vacation time to motivate them to follow corporate travel policies.


The Retail and Hospitality ISAC Teams Up with Earnst & Young to Help Retail and Hospitality Industries Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks

The Retail & Hospitality Information Sharing and Analysis Center (RH-ISAC) today announced that it has teamed up with Ernst & Young LLP (EY) to create new, executive-level cyber threat reports that will be available to its chief information security officer (CISO) and senior cybersecurity membership. Through this initiative, the RH-ISAC and EY will provide a breakdown of current and relevant cyber threats targeting the retail and hospitality sectors. 

“Providing strategic information for our senior-level executives is key to the RH-ISAC’s mission to mitigate cyber risk,” said Jennifer McGoldrick-Stenberg, vice president of membership and operations for the RH-ISAC. “Teaming with a leader like EY enables us to provide the information, trends and metrics that CISOs need to continue to strengthen their defenses. We are grateful to work with EY to provide key information that members can use with their teams and their boards.”

“When retail and hospitality organizations are targeted by cyber criminals, it leaves every consumer vulnerable, creating risks to our information security and economic prosperity,” said Tony Sibert, EY cybersecurity leader in the Consumer Products and Retail sectors. “Through our work with the RH-ISAC team, we can provide meaningful and actionable cyber risk insights for protecting networks, businesses and brands.”


Night and Day

The importance of light

Lighting is everything in photography. It matters not if we are talking about the kind of work I do in travel or be it any other form of the craft. Wedding photographers have to deal with tricky mixed light situations, studio photographers are masters of controlling all the light that hits their subject, wildlife shooters have the best of luck when the light is soft at sunrise and sunset, architectural interior photographers have to be meticulous with accent lighting, and even pure news photojournalists get the best results when the lighting offers them the opportunity to make a scene tell a better story.

As for me… My job is a lot about hurry up and wait for the best light to show up and it is all at the mercy of Mother Nature. I can revisit a place many times and I do that often with the photo tours I run all over the world but that doesn’t mean that I’m seeing the same scene again, just the same place but under different circumstances and lighting, of course.

Norway Discovery Photo Tour
“There is a crack in everything.
 That's how the light gets in.” 
 ― Leonard Cohen

Some places look stunning in the daytime with a beautiful sunrise or sunset light bathing the scene in a warm comforting glow. Other locations truly shine long after the sun has set and the magic of the contrast between light and dark plays out in front of my very eyes in their eternal battle for dominance. And then there are places like this magical spot in Lofoten in Norway that just have a tendency to shine no matter the time of day.

There is an ethereal quality to the light this far above the Arctic circle. In February, when I run my annual Norway photo tour, the sun remains closer to the horizon all day long and that provides us, intrepid photographers, the opportunity to get wonderful soft light all day long which of course improves our chances of taking better photos.

When darkness falls

Lofoten Photo Tour
“When he shall die,
 Take him and cut him out in little stars,
 And he will make the face of heaven so fine
 That all the world will be in love with night
 And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
 ― William Shakespeare

I love the way this scene looks incredible in both day and night time settings. I find that these locations are rare and that there will usually be one time of day where the place truly shines for photography purposes but in this case, I’m not even going to debate it. I’ll just sit back and enjoy both types of lighting with a grin on my face, knowing that I’ll be back there next February with another lucky group of photographers on my next Lofoten photo tour.

One of the coolest things about this particular photo is the fact that those red cabins are actually our hotel rooms while we are in Norway. The old red beautifully refitted fisherman’s cabins are the perfect setting not just for ph

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