Welcome to Paradise!

Welcome to Paradise!

How many times have you looked out of your window at work, probably at a grey, dreary day, and you’ve wondered whether there is something better out there? Most of us have at some point, and it is during these times that we start to dream about far-flung destinations, drenched with sun and total and utter rest and relaxation.

There are many destinations like this on the planet, but most people tend to picture the same kinds of places, usually somewhere in the Caribbean. The bottom line is that the Caribbean islands offer total tranquillity for those who want to get away from it all; whether you stay in a huge five star hotel, you go camping, or you rent your own Caribbean beach house. However you do it, the Caribbean is paradise with a capital P.

Of course, you first need to narrow down your search, i.e. which island you’re actually going to visit! The Caribbean is classed as the area of island which lie in the Caribbean Sea, or in the area of the West Indies. This region lies between North America and South America, and stretches on for a large distance. The weather is guaranteed to be hot and sunny, though the Atlantic Hurricane Season does sometimes play a part in weather disruption from May to the beginning of November. Don’t worry about this however, the chances are slim, and the islands are very well prepared for such occurrences.

When once upon a time the Caribbean used to be a destination saved for honeymooners, retirees, or those who had a little luck in the lottery, nowadays this region is becoming more accessible to all, with lowered prices throughout the year, and many more direct flights to the main islands.

So, which island will you choose?

You have a large range to rifle your way through here, so it pays to do your research. The Bahamas are popular, and these are located just south-east of Florida, making them easily accessible from the US. From there, you could visit The Turks and Caicos Islands, which are south of the Bahamas. You also have Cuba, the Cayman Islands, the green landscapes of the Dominican Republic perhaps, maybe Haiti, hip and happening Jamaica, or even glittering Puerto Rico. The list doesn’t stop there! The Leeward Islands include Anguilla, the 365 beaches (one for every day of the year) of Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Saint Kitts & Nevis, the US Virgin Islands, and Saint Martin.

There is also the Windward Islands to think about, including Barbados, Grenada, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, as well as funky Trinidad and Tobago. Furthermore, how about Aruba, or Curacao.

This isn’t even the full list of islands, but you can see from this selection that some of the most famous islands in the world are situated in this region.

It’s not just about islands either, as some of the biggest cities in the world are found here, including colourful Kingston on Jamaica, Havana on Cuba, and San Juan in Puerto Rico. These are all large and famous cities in their own right, packed with history and culture to explore. Each island also has particular beach resorts, as well as natural elements to take into account. For instance, the Dominican Republic is known for its very green landscapes, and that means you can walk into the rainforest, explore the flora and fauna, and even say hi to the strange and wonderful wildlife too!

A holiday in the Caribbean need not all be about relaxation if you don’t want it to be, as there are many action-packed activities to try too. You will be able to snorkel, scuba dive, and enjoy watersports to your heart’s content, as well as treks into the countryside or the mountains too. The scenery on every single island really is something to take your breath away, but one activity has to be on your list – the beach.

Some of the most idyllic and downright stunning beaches are found in the Caribbean, and whether you want to lay there for the duration of your break and soak up the sun, with the swaying palm trees as your view, or you want to dip in and out of the sea, the choice is yours. Whatever you do decide, you’ll certainly return back home totally rested and relaxed.

Honeymooners obviously flock to the Caribbean in their droves, and the scenery is really what pulls them. Many weddings also take part in this region, and again, this is for the backdrop to those wedding photos. Golf enthusiasts will love the many top-class golf courses on offer, especially in Saint Lucia, Saints Kitts, and the Bahamas. Kids will love the fun of Jamaica, with the colourful and musical culture at every corner, and all-inclusive Varadero in Cuba is somewhere which everyone will be able to grab total R&R, with some massive hotels to choose from.

Put simply, if you’re thinking of visiting the Caribbean, you are going to be spoilt for choice. There is so much to see and do that you need to put ample time into choosing the right destination for you. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to look forward to a break in some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery on this planet.

Looking for total paradise? It has to be the Caribbean!

Dances Around the World

Dances Around the World

Dance is one of the most beautiful expressions of art that is out there. It is also a great way to get to know a culture. Local dances can represent so much about a country and their people. Here are just a few.

1. Hula
This dance is quite common in Hawaii and was brought over by the Polynesians partially as entertainment but also as a way to worship the gods. The traditions of hula have changed over time such as the lei and the costume. It has become more of a form of entertainment for tourists but that doesn’t mean that it has lost its beauty.

2. Bon Odori
This has been part of Japanese Buddhist culture for more than 500 years. They are apart of Bon Festivals, which are known as Obon which usually lasts for three days and is a time where deceased ancestors visit to check in on their family. Bon odori welcomes the ancestors and while there are many varieties of the dace they are usually performed during street parades.

3. Irish Stepdance
While it can look quite complicated, Irish stepdance can actually be performed at many levels making it a suitable dance for many. This dance dates back to pre-Christian times in Ireland but it is now quite common at Irish festivals or St. Patrick’s Day celebrations all over.

4. Ghoomar
A folk dance of Southern India, Ghoomar is a graceful dance that includes twirling colorful skirts which makes it even more enjoyable to watch. Women are the only ones who dance but men and women will sing together during this performance. It is a dance used to worship religious deities as is common with many folk dances.

5. Maypole dance
This dance started as a pagan custom in the United Kingdom in which women would dance around a wooden pole to celebrate sex and fertility. Nowadays, it is more common for children to wrap ribbon round the pole while dancing and singing.

6. Samba
In Brazil, the Samba is much more than a dance. It is a huge symbol of their culture and people. There are more than seven different kinds of samba but they are always danced with traditional samba music. A lively event with guitars, tambourines, and colorful headdresses makes it a great time!

7. Harlem Shake
This popular dance in New York actually came from Eastern Africa in the 1980s. It mostly incorporates a lot of shoulder shaking and movements of the head. The best part is how easy it is to pick up!

8. Flamenco
A dance that truly evokes emotion. It is known for its passion and intensity due to the exquisite body language of the dancers as well as their hand clapping and foot stomping. The costumes are important as well since the long skirts are often used to highlight the movements of the dancers.

9. Haka
Coming from New Zealand, this dance was originally more of a war cry. Overtime it has transformed into a dance but still with many variations. It includes much chanting, chest beating and stomping. It has become most popular as the rugby teams began to perform it in 1905.

10. Salsa
This Cuban dance has become especially popular in the last few decades. It consists of many different styles as it has spread all over the world which is probably partially due to the fact that it is quite easy for many to learn.

Ballet in New York City

Ballet in New York City

New York City is truly a limitless place. It is full of museums, parks, lively nightlife, and art of all sorts including dance. While the unending options are a beautiful thing, it can also become quite overwhelming. Many will only visit the big apple once or twice and may have limited time and so you’ll want to make sure you’re visiting the best places as to not waste any time.

To come to New York and not see the ballet would be a mistake. It is a beautiful experience no matter where you go. However, there are certain places where you can be especially sure to have an experience you’ll never forget.

David H. Koch Theater

The Koch Theater, which used to be known as the New York State Theater, is part of Lincoln Center and was created specifically for ballet. It has 2,600 seats but they can fill up quickly so it’s important to buy tickets ahead of time which can range anywhere from $150 to under $30. The principal company is the New York City Ballet but hosts over 60 ballets. It is most famous for its annual performance of the Nutcracker but has programs in both the spring and winter.

BAM

A shortened name for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, BAM has been around for 150 years and offers a variety of entertainment including ballet, music, theater and opera. BAM has locations all over the city including the Howard Gilman Opera House with 2,100 seats and the Beaux Arts building, which was built at the beginning of the 20 th century. Many companies perform here including the Lyon Opera Ballet and the American Ballet Theater as well as many contemporary ballet companies.

Joyce Theater

While it was originally built as a movie house, the Joyce was renovated to be one of the most remarkable places to watch ballet in the city. On the smaller side, it has only 472 seats and is located in Manhattan. Many companies frequent the Joyce but the Cincinnati Ballet, Pilobous, and Ballet Hispanico make appearances more than others. A few of the benefits of coming to the Joyce is that seats can be found at a very reasonable price and there is also public parking nearby as well as being located near to the subway.