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Taking a tip from the travel pros

Taking a tip from the travel pros

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Professional athletes are by default professional travelers, and they like routine. They may be both inspired and inspirational in their day jobs, but there is plenty we can learn from them in terms of how they travel as well. In situations where there are so many things that they cannot control, it only makes sense to have things as possible nailed down. Getting places on time, having the right food and drink at the right time, and getting their body to rest are all part of the deal (although as Rebecca Barlow has described, being prepared to interrupt those rhythms when you’ve got the flexibility to do so can also lead to some colorful experiences when things are little more relaxed!)

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Taking a tip from the travel pros

But in order to get the most from their planning, the pros make their travel as much a matter of routine as they can. These guys spend days at a time just getting from one city and one country to the next. Never mind professional athletes, they are also full time travelers. Incidentally, competitive travelling is a different thing entirely.

Examples to us all

But professional athletes are just rarefied exemplars of what we all do all the time. Instead of playing a football match, maybe you read a sales pitch. Rather than heading to a cup final, how about a once in a lifetime trip to your most dreamed of destination? The nature of competition may be slightly less obvious (there are always other bidders and other candidates and things that can sully the experience) and the training may be a matter of swatting up on your answers or your local knowledge rather than honing your ball skills. But the bottom line requirement to get yourself in order for the big day – whatever it is you’re doing – is pretty much the same once you strip it down to its bare essentials. And that logic applies equally if what you’re aiming for is simply to have a good time on your travels – why would you not want to aim for a world class experience?

As we’ve said, competitors like routine. Amidst the whirl of different venues in different cities and time zones, a routine represents a familiar safety blanket. It is the practical unspectacular set of mechanisms that allows that quiet voice in the back of your mind to tell you that ‘everything is ok.’ It may be a matter of checking into a more than hotel 24 hours before a big game, always having the same meal at the same time from the kick-off, and always having their iPhone to hand….

Of course, there are a million and one points of detail that go into the run up to any set-piece event. You can’t always control all of them, but the more you can, the more you will be able to focus on what you really want to achieve. If you’re travelling, for example, having a financial check list before you leave home is just one way to keep your mind in a good place, to be able to enjoy your time in transit, and to arrive ready for whatever your destination throws at you.

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And this is especially important to those who make their living as professional competitors. In careers that can be over in the blink of an eye, every point is a major event while every match is potentially pivotal. It is a scenario that sets up the professional competitors that we watch as examples to us all. The parallel is simple: our travel time is every bit as precious as an athlete’s career. Every second and every incident count. That means we need as much free head space as possible to be able to focus on what it is we want to achieve.

The lesson

There’s a little lesson on this point that professional poker player Eugene Katchalov wrote up in a blog post last year. On the face of it, the PokerStars pro was writing about something else, but his piece is worth revisiting because it offers a neat line on what we’re talking about here.

In a nutshell, Eugene realized that he was in danger of missing his flight to his next event. In an airport swarming with delayed passengers and stressed out staff, Eugene stayed cool, and it paid off. That’s an important lesson in itself. Letting emotions govern your behavior is great if you’re romancing, but for most other things it is usually not the best way forwards.

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But Eugene didn’t just stay cool. He stayed positive as well. He managed to sweet talk a hassled staff member into treating him as someone she wanted to help, rather than just another angry passenger. That positive attitude and an equally positive and sensitive regard for the people around him served Eugene well. He made his flight, made his tournament and made a healthy profit on the trip as a result. Positive thinking and a positive demeanor, and the ability to see the bigger picture can take you a long way. But that positivity and clear sightedness were borne of Eugene’s knowledge of the situation and his readiness to adapt.

 Comfort blanket

So routine can represent a comfort blanket in unfamiliar territory. It’s the first resource we all can call on whether we’re travelling, working or gearing up for our next big fight. But while that level of security might be necessary, it is not sufficient on its own. Things can go wrong, as traffic jams and airport delays can screw up our plans.

What’s more, if we are in one of those competitive settings, too much routine can become a drawback. If Eugene is playing poker and he makes the same move time after time, eventually someone is going to rumble him. And just like Eugene, if there are only three seats left on the plane and there are 30 people trying to get on it, you’re going to need to change the way you ordinarily sit passively in line waiting to get called if you want to make the flight.

Focus on the big stuff

So routine is a great tool to have in the bag. It’s what can help make sure you’ve got your toothbrush, your visa and your passport in the right pockets; it’s what means you can clear your mind of all the clutter and chaos and focus on what is important – whatever that is for you.

If all this talk of professional athletes seems a little far away from the experience that most of us enjoy, it is worth remembering just how many long hours those guys spend away from home, and how much of their regular working lives they spend on planes and coaches. It gives them a heck of a lot of time to reflect on the peculiar nature of what it is they do, and just how quickly a competitive career can be brought to an end. Making the small stuff routine is a way to be able to truly focus on what is important. That’s just as true for the rest of us as it is those happy looking guys in all their new gear in those glamourous venues.

If you mess up your travel, or if you have it messed up for you, it can have knock-on effects that can ruin an entire trip. It’s not quite the same neat and tidy an equation as a footballer losing his game and missing out on a big occasion, but the lingering sense of a wasted opportunity, and of frustrated dreams is every bit as painful. There is so much to be gained from travelling that it is always a double disappointment when things go wrong. Taking a few tips on the benefits of routine, but also the value of adaptability can be the difference between travelling in hope and travelling in confident expectation of a good time. We see the latter as the winning travel formula.

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Top 5 Historical Landmarks of Portugal

Top 5 Historical Landmarks of Portugal

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Portugal is a hive of culture, history, and architecture and is home to fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you plan a holiday to Portugal to discover some of its glorious histories, look through our top five Portuguese historical landmarks.

Alcobaça Monastery

This beautiful monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Monastery of Santa Maria de Alcobaça is a prime example of early Gothic architecture. The sanctuary is home to the ornate tombs of Ines de Castro and King Pedro I. There is a tragic love story associated with the burials. Ines de Castro was assassinated in 1355, and the king ordered his tomb to be placed next to hers so that he could face the woman he loved on the day of resurrection. They are considered to be the most beautiful medieval tombs in Portugal. There are also living quarters, including a refectory, dormitory, kitchen, and cloisters that have been inhabited by monks for 800 years.

Convent of Christ

The Convent of Christ is a beautiful roman catholic building located in Tomar. It was initially a stronghold for the Order of the Knights Templar. The building houses impressive art and examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, and Renaissance architecture. The walls inside are exquisitely decorated with paintings, carved stone sculptures, and a window depicting symbols and motifs. This site has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983.

Évora

Évora is a Portuguese city home to several historical sights, some over two thousand years old. The Cathedral of Évora is considered one of Portugal’s most important gothic monuments. Moorish palaces and courtyards, a renaissance fountain built-in 1559, and a one-of-a-kind Roman temple have become the city’s most famous landmarks. It is not surprising that Évorahas is classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Belém Tower

Belém Tower was built to be a fortress in 1515 to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor. The tower is constructed from lioz limestone that is local to Lisbon. It is considered one of the prominent examples of the late gothic Manueline style. There is a drawbridge, spaces for cannons, turrets, and arches that have been decorated with images of animals, plants, and royal coats of arms. Inside there are statues, pillars, and gargoyle facets. UNESCO has listed the tower as a World Heritage monument. 



Jerónimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery is considered one of the most beautiful monasteries in Portugal and Europe. Located in Lisbon, the monastery has various entrances that have been decorated with carved figures, gables, and pinnacles. There is a 16th Century Portuguese sculpture of Our Lady of Belém in the central doorway, a figure of Prince Henry the Navigator in the center of the monastery, and a statue of King Manuel I. The monastery has been classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

We hope this has inspired you to start planning your trip to Portugal today.

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Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Find out why Sand boarding, Diving and Safaris through the desert are included in the Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar.

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Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Qatar is a country of reinvention. Shimmering towerblocks rise against a desert horizon, and maze-like souks thrive next to 21st-century shopping palaces. It’s also one of the more accessible countries of the Arab Gulf, with a welcoming reputation towards visitors and plenty of attractions to keep them coming. Some of the best holiday activities you’ll find in Qatar are the adventurous kind. And these are the top 5 outdoor adventure activities in Qatar.

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Sunset in Qatar – Photo by wj2012

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Diving expeditions

The Gulf Sea is famed for its crystal waters and the exuberant marine life which lurks just beneath the surface. Messaid is a good jumping-off point where you’ll find angelfish and barracuda, while those intrigued by underwater wrecks will love the Hall Island dive site at Al-Sharqi, where bright clownfish circle the abandoned boat.

Sand Adventures

Many of the sports here have been adapted from colder climates, so instead of skiing down a mountain piste, try Khor Al Adaid beach to glide down the impressive dunes on a sand-board. Alternatively, race your blo-kart along the sands of Al Wakrah, south of capital Doha, to experience the thrill of wind-sailing on dry land.

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Sand Boarding – Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar – Photo by ground zero

Al Jassasiya

The ancient carvings of Al Jassasiya lie to the north near Al Shamal, amid a truly remote landscape of village ruins and limestone. Hire a 4×4 of your own and make the journey to see the 900 petroglyphs which riddle the rocks here. The carvings denote flowers, animals, fleets of shows, or traditional Arab boats, and to this day, their origins remain a mystery.

Sunset Cruise

When the time comes for a more relaxed excursion, you can do no better than a sunset cruise onboard a wooden dhow as you drift past the super-modern Doha seafront of Al-Corniche and the old harbor at Al Khor. If you’re still hankering after some adventure, rent a smaller vessel and go for a fishing trip the following day.

Desert Safaris

Much of the inland desert in Qatar remains inaccessible on foot, but fortunately, that’s where a 4×4 comes in very handy for a safari trip you won’t easily forget. There are numerous options available from Doha, including day-long excursions, bumping, and rolling to the inland sea at Khor Al Adaid. Or make the trip at dusk for a spot of star-gazing before you settle in Bedouin-style tents for the night.

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Desert Safari – Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar – Photo by robertpaulyoung

Most activities can be arranged via a tour company. Although cash has been the predominant payment method in Qatar, this is beginning to change, which is good news for tourists since  HSBC offers protection against loss or theft. If you’re planning on taking part in several activities, it can be handy to have some plastic on you to avoid expensive traveler’s cheques, plus credit cards from HSBC and other familiar providers also enable easy access to money at the ATMs. However, it’s wise to exercise caution, using only official bank machines here and sticking with local currency at the market and in smaller shops.

There’s no doubt that Qatar offers some world-class cultural attractions beyond the more energetic highlights, and while you’re in the country, set aside some time for the historic Al Zubarah fort or browse the recreated 19th-century Souk-Waqif, in Doha.

This country has been undervalued in the past but is now coming to the world’s attention. With its desert adventures, ancient sites, and thriving culture, this attention is thoroughly deserved.

This is a travel feature by world traveler, Jose Capelo. He loves exploring the top 5 outdoor adventure activities in Qatar and has spent many trips exploring the wild deserts of Qatar.

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8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter

8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter

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Bondi is well known for sun, surf, and fun, but what can you do if you find yourself there in the colder months from June to August? Here are a few suggestions for things to do in Sydney’s most popular suburb when the temperature drops.

Adventure Travel Activities in Sydney

8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter

1. Go on an art tour

If the weather doesn’t allow for the typical outdoorsy activities Bondi is known for, a tour of some of its first-rate art galleries can be a great way to spend an afternoon. Don’t miss the Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery, dedicated to promoting Indigenous art, and the Bondi Art Lounge, where you can view works from local artists or even take a beginner class and create a masterpiece of your own.

2. Take a hike

In crisp cool temperatures, a hike along the coastal cliffs with a view of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean below can’t be beaten. One of the most popular hikes is the Bondi to Coogee Walk, which is 6 km and takes you through Sydney’s eastern suburbs and past plenty of cafes, restaurants, and kiosks where you can stop to rest and take in the sights.

Outdoor Activites in Sydney - Spit Bridge

 

3. Head to Bondi Icebergs for some winter swimming

Even during winter, swimming is not entirely out of the question in Bondi. The Oceanside pool at Bondi Icebergs Club is open year-round, and the winter swims every Sunday from May to September have become a time-honored tradition. Although club members must complete at least three winter swims a year to retain their lofty membership title, non-members who are up for the challenge can pay a one-time fee to use the pool and sauna.

4. Strap on your skates and visit the only beachside skating rink in Australia

If winter swimming is a step too far for you, why not skate instead? Bondi has Australia’s only beachside ice rink, and the ocean view in the background makes for a striking contrast. The ice rink is open from June 27 to July 13, and aside from hosting skating sessions that are open to the public, it also features spectacular ice shows from Stars On Ice.

5. Settle in for brunch at one of Bondi’s decadent cafes

Winter wouldn’t be the same without a few indulgences, and after all your skating and hiking, you’ve probably earned a hearty brunch anyway. Fortunately, Bondi is full of great brunch options, from Trio Café with delicacies like poached eggs with truffle oil and char-grilled halloumi; to the rustic Brown Sugar, where you can indulge in classic comfort food like buttermilk pancakes and English muffins with bacon.

Coffee and cake around the world

 

6. Join a cooking class, dodge ball game, or salsa lesson

During the winter, it may seem like most people have gone off to hibernate, but if you know where to look, you can still find plenty of social things to do. Start by checking out the Bondi community page on Gumtree. You can find like-minded individuals to explore the area with or even join a group for fun activities like hiking, biking, or cooking.

7. Score some vintage fashion at Bondi Markets

The Bondi Markets, held every Sunday on Bondi Beach, are known in Sydney for being the best place to shop for vintage clothing and accessories and hip new fashions from emerging designers. Aside from style, you can also shop for art, furniture, flowers, books, local produce, and delicious street eats. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a great place to do some people-watching and see the Bondi locals in their element.

8. Stop by the Bondi Pavilion

The Bondi Pavilion is one of the suburb’s oldest landmarks dating back to 1928 when it first opened, featuring grand dining rooms, a lounge, a ballroom, and the Turkish and Hot Sea Water Baths. Today, it’s used as an art and cultural center and is home to a theatre group, recording studio, and art gallery. There’s always something going on here, from pottery classes to festivals to open-air cinemas, so check it out if you have a chance.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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