Tag Archives: Travel

Five places to visit and shop in Tanzania

For in-the-know locals and travelers alike, the downtown area is a place to linger and shop in a city known as a quick layover to safari destinations.

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By By Shivani Vora


This sprawling city in the northern tourist region of Tanzania is the gateway to popular safari destinations and Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro. But even if your stay is a brief stopover, you shouldn’t miss some of the stores that locals enjoy in Arusha’s downtown, an area of mostly low-slung concrete buildings where street vendors hawk everything from local crafts and fruit to children’s toys. These establishments sell goods made exclusively in this East African country and show off a side of Tanzania that’s beyond its prime game viewing.

A social enterprise and destination for design lovers, Shanga sells handicrafts made by Tanzanians with disabilities. These artisans produce an expansive range of goods such as drinking and wine glasses made with recycled colored glass, woven cotton shawls and place mats and decorative metal objects. Prices from $1.

Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge, shanga.org

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When Arushans want to buy local culinary staples such as peanuts and cashews, honey, dried fruits like bananas and mangoes, and spices like turmeric, chai masala and clove powder, they go to this simple store. On the second floor of a mall, Gohil’s stocks premium versions of these staples at affordable prices. Prices from $1.

20, First Floor, AIM Mall, gohils.co.tz

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About 100 Masai women who live in the countryside around Arusha make the fashionable jewelry sold at this airy store. Their works range from delicate to dramatic, but beadwork is a common thread among the pieces — a slender cream bead bracelet was recently for sale, for example, but so was a thick cuff with bright red, blue and green beads. On Tuesday, market day, the women come from the countryside to display their talents on the lawn just outside the boutique. Prices from $15.

13 Kanisa Road, sidaidesigns.com

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Just beyond downtown, you can see verdant coffee plantations in the distance. A trip to this lush 1,200 acre coffee farm, built around 1899, is well worth it to learn about the pride Tanzanians take in their high-quality coffee production. Burka grows Arabica beans and produces five blends including its signature bold house variety; and for $35 a person, it’s possible to get a tour of the estate and the roasting facility, as well as a tasting. Prices from $7.

Dodoma Road, burkacoffee.com

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Beate Allard, a Tanzanian with a Swiss background, sells stylish home goods and clothing out of an airy 1952 bungalow that’s adjacent to her Mediterranean restaurant, The Blue Heron. Expect eye catching wares such as lampshades made of cowhides, beaded candle holders, handwoven table linens and wooden footstools adorned with bright, patterned fabrics. Prices from $3.

The Blue Heron, Haile Selassie Road


A version of this article originbally apeared on The New York Times website with the title: Five Places to Shop in Arusha, Tanzania.

Cover photo: Shanga is a destination for design lovers in downtown Arusha, selling goods made by Tanzanians with disabilities. Photo: Adriane Ohanesian for The New York Times

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Easy steps to renewing a U.S. Passport

If you’re planning to travel internationally in the next year, it’s time to check the expiration date on your passport. While processing times for passport renewal can vary (it typically takes four to eight weeks, depending on seasonality), travel experts and the U.S. Department of State recommend starting the process as early as possible.

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U.S. Passport Offices Face Record Demand for Applications. Photo: Skift

However, if you’re in a rush, you can choose expedited service – and receive your passport in two to three weeks – or you can visit a regional passport agency, but both will cost extra.

Read on for a step-by-step guide from U.S. News on renewing your passport.

Passport Renewal by Mail

If your passport was issued less than 15 years ago (and you still have it), you can renew your passport by mail. You’ll need to submit the existing passport, a new photo that meets passport requirements, a completed Form DS-82 and a personal check or money order for the fee. The fee for a standard passport book application is $110, and payment must be made out to the U.S. Department of State and include the full name and date of birth of the applicant. If your name has changed since your last passport was issued, you’ll need to also provide documentation, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree or court order, to prove the name change.

You can mail all your materials in a large envelope, including your old passport and any name change documents, through the U.S. Postal Service to one of the National Passport Processing Center’s designated post office boxes. The address varies depending on what state you live in and whether you choose expedited or routine service. Expedited service ensures you’ll receive your new passport faster, but it will cost an additional $60. To expedite your passport by mail, clearly write “EXPEDITE” on the outside of the envelope.

You can also choose to expedite the process by renewing in person, but you’ll pay the same additional fee. The Department of State also recommends applicants use a trackable delivery method.

Passport Renewal in Person

If your passport has been damaged, lost or stolen, or if it’s more than 15 years old, you’ll have to renew in person. You’ll need to fill out Form DS-11 and provide proof of U.S. citizenship along with a photo ID. Proof of citizenship can be an original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, a certificate of naturalization or citizenship, or a consular report of birth abroad. Your identification document can be a driver’s license, a government employee or military ID, a valid foreign passport or a certificate of naturalization or citizenship.

Keep in mind, applicants can use an expired passport as either evidence of citizenship or photo ID, not both. No matter what evidence you decide to provide, you’ll need to supply the documents in person, as well as submit photocopies of both your proof of citizenship and your photo ID. You’ll also need to provide a check or money order made out to the Department of State for the $110 fee, along with a photo that meets passport requirements. Credit cards are not accepted when renewing in person. When renewing your passport in person, you’ll also need to pay a $25 execution fee. (Note: This fee will increase to $35 on April 2, 2018.) An additional $60 fee applies if you choose expedited service.

Once you’ve gathered all your materials, you can make an appointment to visit a passport acceptance facility near you. Facilities range from post office locations to clerks of courts to other government offices. Some passport acceptance facilities include on-site photo facilities as well. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t sign your passport application until you’re instructed to by an acceptance agent.

Passport Renewal for Minors

Passports for children younger than 16 are only valid for five years, so parents will need to keep that in mind when obtaining and renewing passports for youngsters. Much of the same documentation used when first applying for a child’s passport will be needed for a renewed version. This means you’ll have to fill out the DS-11 form, provide proof of citizenship and present photo ID (as well as photocopies of both), submit a photo and pay the appropriate fees. Additional documentation is required to prove the parental relationship (like a birth certificate or adoption decree), and proof of parental consent is mandatory from both parents. The cost for renewing a child’s passport is $80, plus the $25 execution fee for applying in person. (Note: This fee will increase to $35 on April 2, 2018.) For more information on renewing a child’s passport, visit the Department of State website.

Passport Photo Requirements

Whether you’re applying by mail or in person, you’ll need to provide a photo that was taken in the last six months to go along with your passport application. The 2×2 color photo should have a white or off-white background with your head facing forward and a neutral expression or natural smile (don’t show your teeth). Keep in mind that glasses, hats and head coverings aren’t allowed in passport photos, except for medical and religious purposes. If that applies to you, you’ll need to provide a written statement from your doctor or religious official that verifies your traditional attire. You can obtain a passport photo from select post offices, passport acceptance facilities and some major drugstores. You can learn more about specific passport photo requirements from the Department of State website.


SOURCE: US News

New Google tools and tips for travelers


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These young Americans are seeking fun experiences and ‘cultural capital’. Photo: MarketWatch

Flight delay predictions, mobile trip-planning, automatic itinerary management, language translation through Bluetooth earbuds, and a smartphone that enables users to learn about landmarks by tapping an icon and aiming the phone at them: These are among the travel innovations Google has been introducing in recent days and weeks. While a Google Pixel 2 smartphone costs upward of $650, the company’s latest tools are free. In fact, they may already be on your phone, nudging Google closer to being a one-stop destination for on-the-go vacation planning.

Searching Google for a hotel or flight was once two separate activities. You could run a search for a flight across multiple airlines. Or you could search a city for hotels. Now, however, when you use an Android or iOS smartphone to search Google for a flight, a hotel or even a destination, you’ll find a blue navigation bar. It appears on your screen when you tap your Google search result — be it “Rome flights,” “Rome hotels” or simply “Rome.” There are separate tabs for flights and hotels (like you see on sites such as Priceline), as well as an “explore” tab to check out the destination’s top sights and best times to visit, and a “your trips” tab where Gmail users can see their future and past travel reservations, and email those reservations to others. (Travelers can also edit their itineraries and see them offline if they use the Google Trips app, which allows users to check out things to do and places to eat; review transportation options; see emergency numbers; and find out about local currency and free Wi-Fi locations.)

With the blue navigation bar, users can now easily move between flight and hotel options. The feature is currently being rolled out on mobile phones in the United States. A spokeswoman for Google said there are plans to expand globally in the coming months.

Google has also added new features to Google Flights, its online airfare search and comparison tool. Now users can see what’s included (or not) with new fare types like basic economy. For instance, you can find out whether a particular fare on Delta or United allows you to choose your seat or store a bag in an overhead bin. Users may also be able to find out why their flights are delayed (to check your status, just search your flight number on Google), as well as view predictions about whether a flight will be delayed, based on historic flight status data and machine learning algorithms. (Google said it will share predictions only when it’s at least 80 percent confident of the prediction). These days it’s also possible to book certain flights through Google, as opposed to clicking a link and purchasing the flight on the airline’s website or that of a third-party like Expedia.

While these digital tools are free, they aren’t the only additions that may be of interest to travelers. Google Pixel Buds ($159), Bluetooth earbuds that work with Google Translate on the company’s Pixel 2 phone, offer translation in 40 languages, including Italian, Hindi, Chinese and Spanish. For example, let’s say you’re in a cafe in Provence. You begin by gently pressing the right earbud touch pad and saying, “Google, help me speak French.”

“Sure,” the Google assistant virtual helper will say, “opening Google Translate” (the app must be installed on a Google Pixel phone for this to work). When the waiter comes by, you can touch the right earbud again and say: “May I have a coffee with milk and a glass of water, please?” Google Assistant will then speak aloud on the phone in French what you just said in English. When the waiter replies in French, you’ll hear his words translated into English in your ear. Throughout the exchange, the phone will transcribe the conversation in English and French, enabling both parties to read on the screen the words being spoken.

I’ve been testing the buds for language translation in controlled environments, and the performance has been impressive. Of course out in the real world — where there’s noise and rapid talkers who are not necessarily interested in playing along — results may be different. I’ll be road testing these in other countries soon. Stay tuned.

The buds can be used for other travel-related tasks as well. By touching the right earbud, you can ask for the location of the nearest museum, gas station or McDonald’s. Request directions to a restaurant and you’ll be shown a map and suggested route on your smartphone. Aiming to trip up Google Assistant, I said, “Google, make me a reservation at Nougatine,” referring to Nougatine at Jean-Georges, a restaurant in Manhattan. The assistant replied: “OK, let’s make a reservation with OpenTable at Nougatine at Jean-Georges. For how many?”

“Two,” I said. “Sounds good,” the assistant said. “For two people. For when?”

“Tonight.”

“At what time?”

“7:30.”

“Sounds good. For 7:30. It looks like that time isn’t available. Would 5:30 p.m. work for you?” It would not. But Google Assistant certainly did.

The Google Pixel 2 (starting at $649; the Pixel 2 XL starts at $849) comes with a widely praised smartphone camera. It also has Google Lenstechnology, which enables users to tap a Lens icon and then point the phone at things such as a landmark, an artwork or a movie poster to learn more, whether it’s about a building’s history, an artist or how a film was reviewed. Lens can also provide this kind of information after you’ve taken a photo.

That said, these are early days for Google Lens, just as they are for the Pixel Buds. Lens is currently limited to popular images: It can identify, say, the Golden Gate Bridge and Mona Lisa, but not necessarily lesser-known objects, making it a fun-to-have feature for early adopters who can afford a premium smartphone, though not yet a travel game changer. Google said it’s working on expanding Lens’ range.

New features were also added to the company’s smart speaker, Google Home, and its siblings, Home Mini and Home Max. Home has long been able to assist with travel by answering aloud the sorts of questions travelers type into Google search: whether they need a visa to visit a particular country, the best time to visit, current weather, currency conversions, how to say “thank you” in another language, as well as flight departure times and traffic conditions. New to that list is flight-price tracking.

Google Home users can begin by saying aloud, “O.K. Google, how much are flights to Hong Kong?” Google Home will then reply with the best current price for the route, ask you if you have preferred dates and if you want to track flight prices for those dates. Say yes and you’ll receive an email confirming that you’ve begun tracking prices for that route. If the cost of the tracked flight significantly changes, you’ll receive an email alert.

This has also been a feature of Google Flights, and indeed those who don’t have Google Home can sign up for route-tracking online instead.


Stephanie Rosenbloom writes the Getaway column for the Travel section, as well as features about solo travel and notable destinations. Over the years, she has had beats in the Business, Styles, Real Estate and Metro sections. @stephronytFacebook

SOURCE: New York Times

4 tips for choosing the right travel buddy

How to find a travel buddy? The key issue in the organization of travel is to find the right fellow traveler. Whether this trip will be exciting and interesting or will make you nervous and you will never want to repeat it again – all this will depend on your fellow travelers.

4 tips for choosing the right travel buddy
Photo: Grand Pacific Resorts

In order to completely exclude the second option, it is necessary to carefully approach this issue, taking into account all the nuances: from your wishes concerning the country of destination to the budget of the trip. So, https://vavadating.com/girls/ have some tips for you:

  1.      Travel alone

Sometimes we want to get away from people, think, and look deep into ourselves. Do you feel the same? Congratulations! You are a person with a rich inner world and a subtle spiritual organization who is not bored in seclusion. Here we can definitely guarantee: no one will spoil your trip (except perhaps you yourself). Before you go on a trip alone, look for appropriate country of destination. For example, we strongly don’t recommend going alone to the Amazon jungle. And, conversely, it is unlikely that you may get in some dangerous situation in Barcelona, for example. Although…. Anything can happen. Also, your experience and health condition is important. So, if you plan to travel alone, it will be not superfluous to undergo a medical examination.

  1.      Travel with your soulmate

It sounds very attractive, right? Even if you are going to a very ordinary place, there should be a place for romance. What can we say if your goal is a romantic city or country? Experts have different opinions concerning joint trips: some of them advise people to travel separately. But we will give the advantages of joint trips: finding a travel buddy in the person of your soulmate, a joint holiday will help understand each other better, reveal your inner selves, experience the brightest emotions with your loved one and immediately share your impressions. And it is also a trip that can help to breathe new strength into your relationship. In addition, after such a holiday, you can confidently answer yourself whether it is the right person.

  1.      Travel with friends

Carefully look at your future fellow travelers: it is very important that the worldview, goals, and, very importantly, budgets coincide. If all the above coincide, there is a great chance that the trip will pass as well as possible. But even in this case, there are no guarantees. Maybe you have no conflict for the years of friendship, but who knows what may happen during a two-week non-stop communication. When we travel, we live a few lives. This is an excellent indicator for any relations – all our bright points and flaws appear there. So, be ready because you can return home without friends. But if you don’t quarrel, know – this is a real friendship.

  1.      Travel with groups of interests

Often we want to completely change the environment. In this case, groups of the same interests will help you. So, looking for a travel buddy, you can organize a trip with like-minded people, but here you can’t guarantee a positive result, especially if, as it often happens, you see each other for the first time. Gloomy people don’t travel, but it is never out of place to be on the lookout. So, when you finally find a travel buddy, it’s best to meet this person a couple of days before you leave. Thus, you can discuss the details of a trip and make sure that this particular person or people are good. When this happens, you can actively prepare for the departure and go on your trip.

And whatever you decide, the most important travel buddy is you yourself. So, be always happy, regardless of the environment and country of destination.

Five tips on how to create memories when traveling with your friends

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Travelling and creating memories with a group of friends is one of life’s best adventures. The ability to share the highs and lows with one another, create stronger bonds, share travel stories, and even split travel costs, is priceless. Group travel, when done right, can be fun and fulfilling.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the trip ends successfully.

1. Set the expectations straight before the trip

We are all wired differently with varying expectations and needs. Before embarking on a group trip, it is important to set the expectations straight as a group and make sure everyone is on the same page. Be sure to do this before the planning phase begins as it gives people the option to opt-out if it does not align with what they have in mind.

2. Have the money conversations

Money remains a huge factor when travelling so it is important to have the money conversations before embarking on a trip together. Who pays for what? How are expenses shared? What mode of payment is allowed? What is the budget of the trip? Knowing this will help you plan more effectively.

3. Draw up a rough itinerary and share it with the group

While you should avoid over-planning a trip and leave room for spontaneity, it is also important to have a rough plan and itinerary of daily activities to take part in. There is nothing worse than going to a new city and having arguments on what and what not to do. Having an itinerary helps you put a plan in place so that everyone knows what is happening when, and can prepare accordingly.

4. Be willing to make compromises

While group travel is fun, it also involves a lot of compromises. Sometimes, you will have to let go of some of your plans to accommodate the plans of the group, for the greater good. Be open and willing to make some sacrifices and maybe try something new yourself. Isn’t that what travel is all about?

5. Remember to have fun!

What’s a trip without a good amount of fun and laughter? Travel isn’t always perfect and not everything will go as planned. But you are there now and you will make the best of it. Do not be the party pooper, the one who spoils all the fun for the group, isn’t willing to try anything new, or is constantly complaining. Go with the flow, get spontaneous and have fun while you can. You will be thankful for it.

Group travel is an amazing opportunity to bond with different people and create lasting memories. While it comes with a certain level of sacrifice, there are endless benefits to it. So, grab a friend or two, book those tickets, and go have the time of your lives in a new city. Happy globe-trotting.

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