Aintree-Race-Course-Grand-National-entrance.jpg

5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Grand National

From its humble beginnings in Liverpool in 1829 (when it was very much just a local affair,) the Crabbie’s Grand National has been a national obsession in England. Capturing the hearts and passions of devout horse-race enthusiasts (and its fair share of yearly bandwagoning armchair horse-race enthusiasts,) the race is considered by many to be More »

icefjord_mads-pihl Greenland

Greenland on the Definitive Bucket List: A Top 20 Destination!

Majestic landscapes, a unique Arctic fauna and icebergs the size of skyscrapers. With 80% of the landscape covered in ice, the great Arctic wonder has made it to National Geographic Traveler’s Top 20 Best of The World. The largest island of the world, also known as the great Arctic wonder, is often forgotten as a unique More »

Boryeong-South-Korea

Boryeong, South Korea

A 3.5 kilometre stretch of white sands with plenty of holiday makers cooling off and having fun in the water is what you will find at Boryeong’s Deacheon Beach. There are many seafood restaurants around town and close by, as well as plenty of cafes, bars and clubs providing more than enough entertainment for anyone’s More »

5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Grand National

Aintree-Race-Course-Grand-National-entrance.jpg

From its humble beginnings in Liverpool in 1829 (when it was very much just a local affair,) the Crabbie’s Grand National has been a national obsession in England. Capturing the hearts and passions of devout horse-race enthusiasts (and its fair share of yearly bandwagoning armchair horse-race enthusiasts,) the race is considered by many to be “the ultimate test of horse and rider.”

The Grand National is steeped in history, and with such an event comes a great deal of memorable showings by both the horses and the jockeys. Some of the more obscure goings-on of the race though tend to get forgotten over time. So without further ado, here are 5 things you (probably) didn’t know about The Grand National. 

1. 1928 was not a good year for finishers

Aerial view of jockey and horse

 Of the 42 horses that entered the competition that year, only two actually crossed the finish line. Because of wet, soggy conditions on the track, 41 of the horses fell at some point during the race, and only one managed to get back up. The only one that didn’t fall? Tipperary Tim ridden by jockey William Dutton. Allegedly one of Dutton’s friends called out to him before the start of the race, yelling: “Billy boy, you’ll only win if all the others fall down!” With odds at 100 to 1, the friend’s good-natured ribbing turned out to be eerily accurate. 1928 remains to this day as the record-holder for fewest finishers in the race. If you’re looking for Grandnational 2016 dates – check on WilliamHill website for the most current information. 

2. Fences have meaning

There are 30 fences along the course, and one of the more famous ones is Becher’s Brook — named after Captain Martin Becher sought shelter there from oncoming horses after falling off his horse Conrad in 1839. He famously quipped afterwards, “Water tastes disgusting without the benefits of whiskey.”

3. Race-goers like to drink

Aintree Race Course Grand National entrance

The annual event is held at Aintree Race Course in Liverpool, where attendees have the option of imbibing at any one of the over 80 bars. It is estimated that the thirsty crowd consumes over 250,000 pints of beer, 38,000 shots, and more than 5000 cocktails over the duration of the race. And that’s not including any booze they manage to sneak in. 

4. Even losers hold records

Poor sod Richard Johnson holds the unenviable record for most entries in the race without a win. He’s entered the Grand National a total of 16 times, but his best showing was only second place, a feat he achieved in 2002 riding a horse named What’s Up Boys. 

5. The course is also a grave

Red Rum horse grave  Aintree Race Course Grand National

Red Rum, perhaps the most famous horse to even grace the grounds after winning in 1973, 1974, and 1977 (and coming in second in 1975, and 1976) is buried at the winning post. His epitaph reads:

“Respect this place, this hallowed ground, a legend here, his rest has found, his feet would fly, our spirits soar, he earned our love for evermore.”

Now it’s your turn — what quirky facts do you know about the Grand National? Feel free to share any in the comments section below.  

 

Greenland on the Definitive Bucket List: A Top 20 Destination!

icefjord_mads-pihl Greenland

Majestic landscapes, a unique Arctic fauna and icebergs the size of skyscrapers. With 80% of the landscape covered in ice, the great Arctic wonder has made it to National Geographic Traveler’s Top 20 Best of The World.

The largest island of the world, also known as the great Arctic wonder, is often forgotten as a unique travel destination. However, each year the ice-covered country impresses thousands of tourists with its white and beautiful landscapes and its majestic icebergs rising from the gleaming surface. With a coast-to-coast ice cap as its claim to fame, Greenland has something that almost no other country in the world can boast of. National Geographic acknowledges the Arctic wonder by ranking the island as a top 20
must-see place of the world.

A Unique Adventure with the Big Arctic Five

Even though it does not seem so from the outside, the white island offers more than just snow and cold temperatures. Greenland holds a variety of Arctic adventures with a unique Greenlandic touch, where everybody from world travelers to winter sport enthusiasts can break away. The island offers a world of Arctic experiences with its five core attractions – also known as the Big Arctic Five. There is something about experiencing Greenland’s majestic landscapes from the perspective of a dog sled while the breathtaking Greenland Ice Sheet go as far as one can see. The enormous inland ice has become a sought-after spot for travelers in search of an unmistakable adventure, and there is no better way of experiencing it, than while feeling the Arctic breeze with dog sledding.

Under the surface of the dark ocean even more fascinating experiences awaits. The cold water holds some of the world’s most beautiful animals from mighty killer whales to huge walruses. These are just some of the core attractions when visiting the Arctic wonder, all influencing National Geographic’s ranking of Greenland. Jonathan Irish, Photographer of National Geographic states: “Greenland is beyond amazing. I’ve always dreamed of seeing this mystical place and it exceeded all of my expectations. From the massive icebergs of the Ilulissat Icefjord to the sled dogs and seals, it really delivers an experience that is unique and special. Don’t hesitate….go now!”

A Melting Arctic Wonder

And it is truly correct, that no one should hesitate in visiting the ice-covered country. In a world with warmer temperatures and the threat of global warming hanging over our heads, there is something deeply beautiful about an island covered in 80% ice. The amazing Greenland Ice Sheet is one of only two ice sheets in the world, and it has been present for almost 18 million years. Currently, the Greenland Ice Cap reaches a thickness of 3 kilometres and is visible from most towns in Greenland.

However, the warm temperatures heating up the earth is a great danger to the amazing landscape of the Arctic island. Statistics show, that the Greenland Ice Sheet is slowly disappearing, affecting everything from the unique Arctic fauna to the majestic landscape. Life underneath the surface of the arctic wonderland, is all tied together in a global, borderless ecosystem, affected by the huge changes in temperatures on land as well as under the surface of the dark ocean. Visitors of Greenland will face the effects of global warming, hopefully realizing why we must take care of our beautiful globe.

Lonely Planet ranks Greenland as well

The Official National Tourism Board, Visit Greenland, appreciated National Geographic’s Top 20 ranking of Greenland as a must-see place. “It is a great honor to be a part of the travel magazine and to be selected as one of the World’s Best Destinations 2016”, states Anders Stenbakken, CEO of Visit Greenland. The tourism agency values the nomination, as Greenland often is neglected as a unique tourist destination. ”The increased focus on Greenland as a unique travel destination is due to the fact that more and more travel agencies have included Greenland in their travel programs. New products are continuously developed and several air routes have opened, still with more to come. With a combination
of improved marketing as well as higher accessibility of the country, Greenland is now a destination where travelers can make their dreams come true”, Anders Stenbakken concludes.

National Geographic’s top 20 ranking of Greenland comes right after Lonely Planet’s ranking of Greenland as a top 10 of the best countries in the world to visit. “Come to see the midnight sun on the glaciers, sail among breaching whales, ride across the tundra on a dogsled, watch the Northern Lights dance across the ice sheet”, Lonely Planet writes after their experts have trekked the globe to select the best countries of 2016 to visit. Greenland is definitely a place to visit, and the two significant nominations hopefully bring the island into focus.

by Kirstine Dinesen – On behalf of www.Greenland.com

Infographic greenland 1

Boryeong, South Korea

Boryeong-South-Korea

A 3.5 kilometre stretch of white sands with plenty of holiday makers cooling off and having fun in the water is what you will find at Boryeong’s Deacheon Beach. There are many seafood restaurants around town and close by, as well as plenty of cafes, bars and clubs providing more than enough entertainment for anyone’s tastes. The nearby harbour also offers a plentiful selection of dining options as an alternative.

 

Deacheon’s unusual annual festival 

Besides all the usual water sports activities, Deacheon’s ample 100 meter wide beach pays host to a rather unusual festival during the month of July, namely, the week long mud festival. This week long fun packed festival draws in crowds of international and not so international visitors who come to experience the health benefits of Boryeong mud and also just to roll around in it, wrestle in it and throw it at friends and strangers alike, and all in the name of having a good time. The mud festival generates a somewhat free for all atmosphere which extends way into the night with music and firework displays and beach parties all taking the joviality into the early hours. Add to all this fun the fact that entry is free, then what’s not to like?

Take a boat from the beach

Boryeong South Korea
When you’ve had your fill of mud slinging, wrestling and bathing, you can take a cruise boat from the beach where you’ll be taken out far enough to able see the white pebbles that line the ocean floor. 

Another boat related activity can be found from the harbour which is only 2 kilometres away. From here you can take water taxis to some of the tiny sparsely populated islands dotted here and there. Some are known for their fantastic beaches that tend to be a little quieter than Deacheon so may provide a suitable alternative for those who like to bathe in more low key style.

Whatever you end up doing during your stay in Boryeong, ensure you take out adequate travel insurance while enjoying your South Korean break. That way you can enjoy the sites free from worry should anything go wrong.

Witness the Moses Miracle

A fascinating point of interest lies just 9 kilometres south of Boryeong in the form of the settlement known as Muchangpo. When the water recedes with the tide on certain days of the month a fascinating hidden path appears which links with a tiny nearby island. The phenomenon is so unusual it has been nicknamed the Moses Miracle, and with the view of streams of visitors seemingly walking across the water, it’s easy to see why.

While summer is the most popular time of year to come to Boryeong, it’s suitable to visit any time of the year.

So when considering where to go for your next holiday and adventure, and you maybe want to go to somewhere a little different, be sure to consider South Korea’s Boryeong. Maybe you too will be amongst those who experience the legendary health benefits of Boryeong’s famous mud baths.

The most gay friendly cities in Europe

gay-beach

When it comes to the gay friendly destinations, there are more and more cities that respect the gay communities. We are definitely moving towards a more tolerant and democratic world. However, there are some cities that exceed the level of one’s expectations when it comes to organizing events, having amazing meeting points and wild parties for the gay communities from all over the world.

One such place is the sophisticated London. From Soho to Vauxhall, London proves to be a highly tolerant city when it comes to diversity. If it’s your first time in London, check out the famous Soho, where you can see what gay parties are on and which are the best places to go if you are looking to have some fun. Vauxhall complements Soho by adding more pubs, discos and entertaining opportunities for the gay communities to enjoy.

Spain is extremely well known for its many gay friendly cities. Gran Canaria probably has the most pubs and clubs dedicated to the gay community. The Yumbo Shopping Center is one of Gran Canaria’s most amazing venues for the GLBT people. Usually the people who come here are mostly Spanish, but there are some British and Germans as well. However, this shopping center is open to GLBT people from all over the world, no matter what nationality they are. Another fabulous place from Gran Canaria is Maspalamos, a more relaxing alternative for the gay people who want to meet up. MalagaBarcelona and Madrid are also famous for their numerous districts, amazing festivals and wild clubs dedicated to the GLBT.

Gay beach

Amsterdam is another magnificent location that embraces the gay communities as much as Spain and London. There are a lot of festivals dedicated to the GLBT every year in Amesterdam: the Canal Parade, the Leather Pride, the Amsterdam’s Gay Parade and the Fetish Fantasy Weekend are all festivals that millions of gay people proudly attend every year.

Berlin is awesome when it comes to gay districts and festivals. It’s simply a city that has it all. Gay libraries, museums, magazines, parks, parades, it’s really the Heaven of the Gay people here! Schöneberg, Nollendorfplatz, Kreuzberg are just three of the areas in Berlin devoted to the gay community. Here is where most of the gay people meet up to go to fancy clubs, classy restaurants or simply enjoy each other’s company and socialize in squares that have been a meeting point for the GLBT communities for tens of years.

Gay Pride Toulouse France

Copenhagen is another city where most of the locals are open minded and relaxed, so there are many gay people who visit this impressive city. Although there are plenty of gay pubs and clubs, the LGBT are not necessarily going only to those venues, because it is such a free city, that they can have fun wherever they want.

It is great to see that so many countries are not only open to LGBT tourists, but they are doing their best to organize thrilling festivals, exciting parades and amazing events!

 

4 Ways to Stay Warm in Chicago

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Chicago is a great town but it has some of the toughest winters in the continental U.S. Between the icy streets, infamous wind, and cloudy skies, it can be a real challenge to stay warm in Chi-town. Thankfully, there are some delightful and delicious ways to keep Jack Frost off your back. Here are some local favorites.

1. Hot Chocolate in the Park

The ice skating rink at Millennium Park is one of Chicago’s top winter attractions, but it’s also one of the city’s coldest. When you need a break from the rink, there are two excellent nearby options for hot chocolate and other warming treats. The Park Cafe has famous (and affordable) hot cocoa with a floor of convenient rubber mats so skaters don’t have to change into shoes to enjoy their drinks. For those who are ready to call it a day, the Park Grill gets you indoors with some amazing hot chocolate on the menu.

 

2. Mexican Treats

Speaking of hot chocolate, local chain xocoatl serves up authentic Mexican versions of this most popular winter drink, plus fresh baked goods like cinnamon-dusted churros. It’s a bit more of a grown-up experience to take your hot cocoa original-style with the Spice Mexican, or delve into the creamy goodness of a White Chocolate cocoa. There are many other great flavors on the menu that do something special with a timeless classic. For something a little more upscale, Xoco Restaurant makes a fine Mexican sipping chocolate, as well as several other stone-ground confections and fresh craft cocktails.

3. Spice Up Your Life

For those who are more into the savory side of things, nobody does hot and spicy like the no-nonsense Thai restaurant, Pho’s Hot and Spicy. Part Northern Thai street food emporium and part challenge for your taste buds, Pho’s serves up some of Chicago’s hottest eats (literally), including the hearty noodle soup of its namesake and sweet, spicy chicken wings.

Pro Tip: if you’re a “five stars every time” kind of eater, ask your servers to make your food “Thai spicy.” You’ll be treated to some heat that’s off the charts.

4. Find Your Layers on the Magnificent Mile

Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time in Chicago can tell you that the secret to winter survival is layers. That means outfitting yourself from head to toe in the right pants, shirts, jackets, scarves and even long undies so the cold never touches you. There’s no better place in town to find the clothes you need for winter than the Magnificent Mile. It’s the stretch of North Michigan Avenue that’s lined with shops and high-rise malls with everything from designer labels to seasonal sales. There are also plenty of great hotels on or near Miracle Mile. Check out sites like Gogobot to get a great deal on a room that’s just a short walk to all the shops.

It may be a challenge to stay warm in the middle of a Chicago winter, but places like these make it a bit easier. Remember to wrap up, watch for ice, and keep an eye out for the best Chicago has to offer.