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7 things you have to know before you visit Belize

A natural attraction (Picture: Getty)  article by Ellie Hattersley   https://metro.co.uk/2018

 

Beautiful Belize, a small country in the northern part of South America, sure packs a punch. Despite its relatively diminutive size, it manages to fit in some of the world’s best beaches, the second biggest coral reef in the world, a unique natural phenomenon, and some seriously impressive ancient ruins. 8 things to know before you go to the Czech Republic And honestly, it’s worth going just to spend some time sprawled upon the sands of Caye Caulker, perhaps its most famous island. Here are seven things you should know before you go to Belize.

  1. It’s the only Central American country with English as an official language. Due to its history as a British colony, the majority of people in Belize speak English, alongside Spanish and Creole. Belize became independent in 1981 and changed its name from British Honduras in 1973.
  2. The capital is, surprisingly, not Belize City. Though Belize City was the capital of the country but after the hugely destructive hurricane Hattie hit in 1961, plans were conceived to move the capital inland. The newer capital is called Belmopan. However, Belize City is still the country’s cultural and commercial capital, and also hosts the country’s only major airport.
  3. It’s got a whole bunch of Mayan ruins Mayan ruins. 7 things you have to know before you visit Belizeat Cerros (Picture: Getty) More than 900, in fact. They are spread out across the country, and many can be reached easily from Belize City.
  4. The second biggest coral reef in the world lies off its coast. After the Great Barrier Reef, Belize’s barrier reef is the largest in the world. It stretches more than 180 miles along Belize’s Caribbean coast, and supports wildlife as wide ranging as West Indian manatees and American crocodiles. It has plenty of fish, too.
  5. And the most bewildering natural attraction in the Great Blue Hole. 7 things you have to know before you visit Belize (Picture: Getty) The Great Blue Hole is the biggest sea sinkhole in the world, at a depth of 407ft. It’s a diver’s dream, with crystal clear visibility, and even snorkelers can spot nurse sharks and reef sharks patrolling its outer rim.
  6. It has more than 450 small islands, called cayes. 7 things you have to know before you visit Belize Caye Caulker. (Picture: Getty)
  7. Cayes are low-lying, sand-based islands, located at the surface of a coral reef. Caye Caulker is probably the most famous of these, but they are all pretty paradisiacal.
  8. Belize has the lowest population density in Central America. With only 382,000 people, and just 37 people per square mile, it’s little wonder that Belize’s population density is the lowest in Central America. But, of course, the population numbers are considerably boosted by the tourist crowds.

 

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/05/01/7-things-you-have-to-know-before-you-visit-belize-7488826/?ito=cbshare   Ellie Hattersley

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5 Best Caribbean Islands to Live in 2018 Revealed

Great article-some of my favorite Caribbean Islands made the list including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic and Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Long ago when it was affordable, I lived on St John & St Thomas & I love it. Going on a trade mission the Dominican Republic in October 2018.

According to a new report from International Living, based on affordability, value, safety and lifestyle, these five islands made their list of the Top 5 Caribbean islands to live in 2018.

Vacation News » Miami Edition | By Monsef Rachid |2018  http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/

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Ambergris Caye, Belize

Over the last few decades, expats have flocked to English-speaking Ambergris Caye, Belize, and there are good reasons for its popularity. (Among them the fact that in 2013 and 2014, TripAdvisor readers ranked Ambergris as the best island in the world.)

Ambergris and the small nearby islands are not overly developed, which means they’ve maintained a laidback vibe. Ambergris is Belize’s center for ocean sports during the day and for partying at night. In view of all this, it’s easy to understand why real estate prices have risen, especially for beachfront property.

Getting to Ambergris is easy because both of Belize’s domestic airlines–Tropic Air and Maya Island Air–have frequent flights to the island from Belize City. You can also reach Ambergris by water taxi.

San Pedro is the major population center on Ambergris, a town of roughly 18,000 part- and full-time residents. The once-sandy main streets are now paved. But golf carts are still expats’ favorite means of transportation from home to the beach, or to the dozens of restaurants, nightclubs, and friendly mom-and-pop stores.

Surprising to many, moving to Belize is easy–U.S. currency is accepted, credit cards are widely used and well-known U.S. brands are available too; they’re expensive, but substitutes are easy to find.

After years of 16-hour days as owners and operators of a Victorian B&B and cupcake shop in Richmond, Virginia, the easy-going lifestyle of San Pedro is just what Dawn Schick and her husband, Albert, were looking for.  And in 2010, they made the move.

“We’d been vacationing here several times a year for more than six years and decided this would be our eventual retirement home. But after years of hard work we thought, why wait until ‘someday,’? Why not take the plunge right now?” Dawn explains.

“We love being outdoors and the year-round warm weather lets us go snorkeling or paddle-boarding anytime we want. The marine life here is amazing. Swimming alongside rays, tropical fish, and turtles is like being in another world. We also love that it’s not touristy here.

“Life on the island moves at a slower pace, and that’s just fine with us.”

For between $2,700 and $2,900 per month, a couple can enjoy a comfortable retirement in Ambergris Caye–a budget that includes the cost of a house or apartment rental. If you own your own home on the island outright, then expats report it’s possible for a couple to live quite comfortably on less than $2,000 a month.

Roatán, Honduras

On the English-speaking Bay Island of Roatán, 30 miles off the coast of Honduras, you will find what is arguably the best-value island real estate in the region.

For less than $175,000, you could have a two-bedroom Caribbean home right on the water in a quiet neighborhood with no tourists–your own private getaway. If you stayed just part of the year, you could rent your place out to help cover your holding costs.

If you lived on Roatán, you’d have the sound of gentle waves and the rustle of palm fronds to wake you in the mornings. Looking out your window, you’d see clear, blue skies and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. You could occupy yourself with a swim…enjoy a cup of coffee on your deck…or just sit back in your Adirondack chair, warm up in the sun, and take in the view of your own private stretch of beach…

On this tropical island, beachfront lots can be had for under $100,000. We’re talking established developments, with amenities like a community pool and/or shared or private docks. Utilities are in place. Construction costs are reasonable, and you can build a home to your specs.

There are also plenty of turnkey condos for well under $200,000–in resort communities on the beach. And if you’re okay with walking a few minutes to the water, or setting up on a hillside with views, you’ll pay even less for a lot, home, or condo.

This is an island where “normal” people can buy a vacation home or permanent digs to live out their sunny, low-cost, and comfortable retirement. The infrastructure is good and getting better all the time, with a new power plant online and the recent opening of a hospital with specialist care and a 24-hour emergency room.

It’s still out of the mainstream, at least compared to other Caribbean island getaways, and that has kept prices affordable for real estate and day-to-day costs. A couple could live well on $2,000 to $2,500–that includes all expenses.

And it’s simply a beautiful place to look at, thanks to the tall, jungle-covered mountains, white-sand beaches, and blue Caribbean (turquoise within the reef and a deep azure beyond it). Living here, you’ll have no shortage of things to do, with plenty of parties, sunset happy hours, water sports, and other fun.

Roatán boasts an international airport–with regular flights in and out it’s accessible and it’s quick and easy to see family back home.

“The one word that always comes to mind when asked how I like living here is ‘contentment,'” says Ann Winters of her retirement on Roatán. “I have never felt so content anywhere.”

Ann and her husband Ron have much to be content about. The couple are settled into a three-bedroom house set amid lush vegetation, overlooking the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea.

“I immediately loved the sounds and smells of Roatán,” says Ann of what drew her to the island. “The sound of the ocean soothes me. I love the smell of the salt on the breeze and the way the air smells so fresh after a rain. I love the cooking smells in the downtown mercado (market) and along the streets of West End, the scents coming from the open-air fruit and vegetable stands and the fish and meat markets. The flowers in my gardens that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.”

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Legend has it that an ancient Maya Goddess of childbirth, identified Isla de Mujeres as a sacred place. The name Isla de Mujeres means Island of Women.

It was the Spaniards in the 16th century who decided that Island of Women would, therefore, be a fitting name for this tropical paradise where they noted hundreds of idols and carvings of women.

Today Isla Mujeres, eight miles off Cancún on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, is a retreat for tourists and retirees alike and offers easy living in the sun year-round.

You can own a one-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse condo with a view from $230,000 or rent a one-bedroom place for $700 to $1000 a month, according to local expats.

When it was time to retire back in 2008, Lawrie Lock and his wife Lynda drove from their long-time home in Canada’s Okanagan Valley to Isla Mujeres.

“We live on the windward side of the island, facing the open ocean,” says Lynda. “That’s where all the action is. We often see pods of dolphins feeding just offshore and sea turtles basking right on the surface.

“We’d vacationed on the western side of Mexico for many years. But when we discovered the Caribbean side back in 2002…Wow! The turquoise and green water, fresh sea food, and the friendly islanders here on Isla Mujeres, along with the warm weather, were too much to resist.

“We have a large circle of friends. Some live here full-time and others come for the winter months. Winter is our busiest social time and summer is our wind-down, re-group time.”

The island enjoys a warm tropical climate (low to mid-80s F for most of the year) and a laidback vibe; golf carts are preferred to cars as the main means of transport.

Every winter, the permanent population of around 13,000 is joined by thousands of snowbirds fleeing colder weather up north. At four miles long and less than a half-mile wide, this tiny Caribbean island is connected to the mainland by high-speed ferry service that leaves every 30 minutes during daylight hours.

There is plenty to do on Isla Mujeres. Naturally, water activities top the list as the nearby reef offers amazing opportunities for scuba, fishing, swimming, boating, and snorkeling. There’s even an underwater museum set up by an English sculptor to explore, if the local sea life isn’t enough. And of course, there is the seasonal migration of whale sharks which draws many to view and swim with them.

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Most Americans have never heard of the little beach town of Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic’s northeast, on the Samana Penninsula. That’s understandable–it’s a spot better known among Europeans. But it offers one of the Caribbean’s best-value escapes today.

Here you’ll find 19 miles of public beaches, and palm trees swaying in the breeze. And compared to other Caribbean islands, property in this little corner of the D.R. is a roaring bargain.

French and Italian vacationers have been coming here for decades–vacationing and then coming back to stay. Along with the tang of saltwater in the air and the scent of fresh-cut coconuts, you’ll smell French bread and croissants baking. The Italian influence is strong, too, with rich Italian gelato on offer and strong, Italian-style coffee. There’s steak, sushi, and grilled seafood, too.

Las Terrenas has everything going for it that a Caribbean island escape should. It’s not overdeveloped–there are no mega-resorts here, just boutique hotels. It has great dining, stunning scenery at every point, and a vibrant expat community.

The most incredible thing about it, though, is the real estate prices. A one-bedroom, one-bathroom loft apartment can be had for as little as $99,500.

A couple can live in this tropical haven for around $2,000 a month, although most choose to spend closer to $3,000 a month.

When Dan Williams decided to retire there, he had been working for eight years as an environmental engineer for the Missouri state government. At the time, he was 57 years old, single, and longed to retire to the beach.

“The country is a mini-continent, with a wide variety of terrain, from oceans to the highest mountains in the Caribbean, and everything in between,” he says. “The climate is wonderful. It is close to the U.S. and is economical. Weighed in the balance, it is the ideal country for me.”

After a few months in Sosúa on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Dan decided to tag along with a friend who was taking a road trip to Las Terrenas.

Dan was enchanted and decided to relocate there. “I loved the beach, the vibe, the natural beauty, and the European flavor of the place,” he says. “It seemed like a hidden Shangri-La.”

Corn Islands, Nicaragua

The Corn Islands are two little dots of paradise just 50 miles off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast–a retirement nirvana with white sands, gently swaying palms and blue waters where English is the official language.

Big Corn–about four square miles in size and with maybe 6,000 inhabitants–is just 10 miles (or a 30-minute boat ride) from Little Corn, one-fourth the size of Big Corn in both land mass and population.

On Little Corn, there are no roads, just a three-foot-wide sandy walkway…so no vehicles allowed.

It’s a truly undiscovered, little-developed escape. Many say it’s like the Bahamas or Grand Cayman 30 or 40 years ago.

If you’re looking for a “throw-back” getaway, you won’t find a better one in the Caribbean. Here a custom-built home with an ocean view a 15-minute walk to town and beaches can be had for $150,000. And that’s fully furnished.

“With no vehicle traffic on Little Corn and lots of hotels, hostels and restaurants, it’s fun to walk around and see what there is to see,” says Bonnie Hayman, IL Nicaragua Correspondent. “This is the place where the tourists go.

“Big Corn is more adventurous with fewer tourists. Many hire a taxi to travel from one gorgeous beach to another sampling the wonderful “Islander” food like coconut bread and rondon (fish/seafood coconut stew). Either way, a fabulous time is to be had on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua.”

The Corn Islands aren’t for everyone. Supplies that aren’t locally grown or pulled from the waters must be shipped in. With small exception, restaurants tend to serve variations of the same dishes.

“The cost of food on the island is slightly higher than on the ‘main,’ as islanders call mainland Nicaragua,” says Mike Hopkins who lived on Big Corn while housesitting on the island. “However, in general, costs are still less than U.S. prices. Weekly, my food costs averaged about $30. I also ate at some local restaurants, where meals and a couple of drinks ranged between $15 and $20. My total food and drink cost for the three-month period was approximately $610.”

The islands have a rustic charm, perfect for those looking for an off-the-beaten-track retirement.  The healthy reef is ideal for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and lobstering. With friendly locals and very few tourists an authentic island experience is ensured.

Two Islands not making the 2018 list

The beauty and tropical appeal of St. Thomas and Grand Bahama are impossible to deny. However, they can be costly.

“While we at International Living have nothing against St. Thomas or Grand Bahama–they’re thoroughly ‘discovered’ and that translates to more expensive,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor of International Living. “If money is no object, you might well like the polished escape either island can provide. But our list of 5 better-value picks in the Caribbean points you to lesser-known retreats where you’ll find a more laid-back vibe and lower costs.”

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Located in the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands is made up of over 60 islands–most of them uninhabited. The three most populated, and most visited, are St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.

The appeal of these tropical islands is the mixture of the exotic and the recognizable–an island paradise with modern comforts and a balance of Caribbean culture and American practicality.

While St. Thomas may be a nice place to live, the International Living report says “avoid” due to the high cost of living. Apartments rent for about $2,000 a month and to buy a two-bedroom house in a good neighborhood will cost about $285,000-plus.

Grand Bahama Island, the Bahamas

The Bahamas is often thought of as a paradise–an upscale group of islands with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

And the Bahamas has many advantages–friendly to newcomers, there’s no foreign language to cope with, crime is relatively low, and the islands are positioned just off the Florida coast.

But the bad news is that properties aren’t cheap. Medium-sized residences in exclusive gated communities with ocean views often cost more than $2 million.

Grand Bahama is the closest major Bahamian island to the U.S.–about 55 miles off the Florida coast. It has become a haven for beach-lovers as well as divers, fishermen, golfers, and sports enthusiasts of all kinds. It’s also a prime destination for people who enjoy world-class shopping.

But living here costs a premium as it’s between 30% and 50% more expensive than in the U.S.

This a great checklist to read & keep if you plan to move from one country to another. Take a deep breath, tackle one thing at a time and remind yourself that you can do it!

from    https://www.justlanded.com/english/United-States/USA-Guide/Moving/Before-you-move?sf154660322=1

Preparing everything to move to another country involves much more than simply packing. If you do not plan in advance, you may have many difficulties when you arrive (or even be refused to enter the country).

 

from   https://www.justlanded.com/english/United-States/USA-Guide/Moving/Before-you-move?sf154660322=1

 

My heart, hopes, prayers & love go out to Mexico and the many island countries including Barbuda, Puerto Rico, St John, St Thomas, St Croix, Cuba, Dominican Republic, the British Virgin Islands & others that have been hit so terribly by the hurricanes & earthquake.

 

 

What a great opportunity to make business connections in the Bordeaux region of France while enjoying the beautiful landscape, food, wine and, of course, the graciousness of the people!

If you are interested in being of part of this adventure, you must act quickly-the deadline for reserving your place on a trip of lifetime is AUGUST 30th. 

 

Please contact Marina for more information.

 

 

 

Originally International Women’s Day was called International Working Women’s Day. It is celebrated on March 8th every year. The first time it was celebrated was In New York on February 28, 1909, YES 1909!!, to remember the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union in New York City.

In August 1910, an International Women’s Conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. 100 women from 17 countries met to promote equal rights. The following year on March 19, 1911 International Women’s Day  was celebrated by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Women demanded that they be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination. (Well, some things haven’t changed). For many years it was predominately celebrated in socialist & communist countries. Hmmm…

Not until my generation was it embraced by the USA & much of the world. In 1975 The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day because it was also International Women’s Year. 1975!! Then in 1977 the United Nations invited its member to declare March 8th as the United Nations Day for women’s right and world peace.

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Happy International Women’s Day!

San Diego Air & Space Museum 7

I am so excited. After a long 58 year break, the St Petersburg Yacht Club Habana Sailing Race has been re-instated this year. The fleet of boats left the St Petersburg harbor this morning at 10am and will sail 284 nautical miles to arrive at the Hemingway Marina in Havana on Thursday, March 2nd. On Saturday there will a Nautical Parade & the Torreon de la Chorrera Regatta to Morro Castle.

castillo-3

photo by Annalisa Weller July 2015

The Micara, a Cuban boat with all Cuban sailors, is among the 81 yachts & 550 sailors.

In 1929 George S. Gandy, Jr., a well known yachtsman and son of the builder of the first bridge across Tampa Bay, sailed his 36′ ketch Cynosure to Havana.  There he met with Commodore Rafael Posso of the Habana Yacht Club and the St. Petersburg-Habana yacht race was born.

The first race started off The Pier in St. Petersburg March 30, 1930 and finished at Morro Castle at the Habana harbor entrance. Eleven boats participated and was won by the schooner Haligonian owned by Houston Wall of Tampa.  The race was sailed over the same route from 1930 through 1959 with the exception of three years of World War II, when the race was cancelled, and 1958 when political conditions in Cuba required the fleet to go to Miami. The last race in 1959 race had 37 yachts participating.

Glad to see it back! Wishing you smooth sailing.

The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, and traditionally ends the Chinese New Year period. In 2017 it falls on February 11.

from  http://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/lantern-festival.htm

Lantern Festival Facts

  • Popular Chinese name: 元宵节 Yuánxiāojié /ywen-sshyaoww jyeah/ ‘first night festival’
  • Alternative Chinese name: 上元节 Shàngyuánjié /shung-ywen-jyeah/ ‘first first festival’
  • Date: Lunar calendar month 1 day 15 (February 11, 2017)
  • Importance: ends China’s most important festival, the Spring Festival
  • Celebrations: enjoying lanterns, lantern riddles, eating tangyuan a.k.a. yuanxiao (ball dumplings in soup), lion dances, dragon dances, etc.
  • History: about 2,000 years
  • Greeting: Happy Lantern Festival! 元宵节快乐!Yuánxiāojié kuàilè! /ywen-sshyaoww-jyeah kwhy-luh/

Lantern Festival Dates from 2017 to 2019

The Lantern Festival is on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month (always between February 5 and March 7).

Year Lantern Festival
2017 February 11
2018 March 2
2019 February 19

The Lantern Festival is Very Important

lanternslanterns

The Lantern Festival is the last day (traditionally) of China’s most important festival, Spring Festival (春节 Chūnjié /chwn-jyeah/ a.k.a. the Chinese New Year festival). After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down.

The Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, most people cannot celebrate it with their families, because there is no public holiday for this festival.

When Did the Lantern Festival Begin?

The Lantern Festival can be traced back to 2,000 years ago.

In the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220), Emperor Hanmingdi was an advocate of Buddhism. He heard that some monks lit lanterns in the temples to show respect to Buddha on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Therefore, he ordered that all the temples, households, and royal palaces should light lanterns on that evening.

This Buddhist custom gradually became a grand festival among the people.

How Do Chinese Celebrate the Lantern Festival?

0colorful lanterns

According to China’s various folk customs, people get together on the night of the Lantern Festival to celebrate with different activities.

As China is a vast country with a long history and diverse cultures, Lantern Festival customs and activities vary regionally, including lighting and enjoying (floating, fixed, held, and flying) lanterns, appreciating the bright full moon, setting off fireworks, guessing riddles written on lanterns, eating tangyuan, lion dances, dragon dances, and walking on stilts.

The most important and prevalent customs are enjoying lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, eating tangyuan, and lion dances.

Lighting and Watching Lanterns

LanternsPeople are watching lanterns in a lantern display.

Lighting and appreciating lanterns is the main activity of the festival. When the festival comes, lanterns of various shapes and sizes (traditional globes, fish, dragons, goats! — in 2015, up to stories high!) are seen everywhere including households, shopping malls, parks, and streets, attracting numerous viewers. Children may hold small lanterns while walking the streets.

The lanterns’ artwork vividly demonstrates traditional Chinese images, such as fruits, flowers, birds, animals, people, and buildings.

In the Taiwanese dialect, the Chinese word for lantern (灯 dēng) is pronounced similarly to (丁 dīng), which means ‘a new-born baby boy’. Therefore lighting lanterns means illuminating the future and giving birth.

Lighting lanterns is a way for people to pray that they will have smooth futures and express their best wishes for their families. Women who want to be pregnant would walk under a hanging lantern praying for a child.

Read more about Chinese lanterns.

Guessing Lantern Riddles

Guessing Lantern RiddlesPeople are guessing lantern riddles in the Lantern Festival.

Guessing (solving) lantern riddles, starting in the Song Dynasty (960–1279), is one of the most important and popular activities of the Lantern Festival. Lantern owners write riddles on paper notes and pasted them upon the colorful lanterns. People crowd round to guess the riddles.

If someone thinks they have the right answer, they can pull the riddle off and go to the lantern owner to check their answer. If the answer is right, there is usually a small gift as a prize.

As riddle guessing is interesting and informative, it has become popular among all social strata.

Lion Dances

The lion dance is one of the most outstanding traditional folk dances in China. It can be dated back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220–280).

the Lantern FestivalFour people are performing Lion Dances.

Ancient people regarded the lion as a symbol of bravery and strength, and thought that it could drive away evil and protect people and their livestock. Therefore, lion dances are performed at important events, especially the Lantern Festival, to ward off evil and pray for good fortune and safety.

The lion dance requires two highly-trained performers in a lion suit. One acts as the head and forelegs, and the other the back and rear legs. Under the guidance of a choreographer, the “lion” dances to the beat of a drum, gong, and cymbals. Sometimes they jump, roll, and do difficult acts such as walking on stilts.

In one lion dance, the “lion” moves from place to place looking for some green vegetables, in which red envelopes with money inside are hidden. The acting is very amusing and spectators enjoy it very much.

Nowadays, the lion dance has spread to many other countries with overseas Chinese, and it is quite popular in countries like Malaysia and Singapore. In many Chinese communities of Europe and America, Chinese people use lion dances or dragon dances to celebrate every Spring Festival and other important events.

Read more on Chinese New Year Lion Dances.

Eating Tangyuan (Yuanxiao)

TangyuanEating Tangyuan is a very important custom of the Lantern Festival.

Eating tangyuan is an important custom of the Lantern Festival. Tangyuan (汤圆 tāngyuán /tung-ywen/ ‘soup round’) are also called yuanxiao when eaten for the Lantern Festival, after the festival.

These ball-shaped dumplings made of glutinous rice flour, with different fillings are stuffed inside, usually sweet, such as white sugar, brown sugar, sesame seeds, peanuts, walnuts, rose petals, bean paste, and jujube paste, or any combination of two or three ingredients. Yuanxiao can be boiled, fried, or steamed, and are customarily served in fermented rice soup, called tianjiu (甜酒 tián jiǔ /tyen-jyoh/ ‘sweet liquor’).

As tangyuan is pronounced similarly to tuanyuan (团圆 /twan-ywen/ ‘group round’), which means the whole family gathering together happily, Chinese people believe that the round shape of the balls and their bowls symbolize wholeness and togetherness. Therefore, eating tangyuan on the Lantern Festival is a way for Chinese people to express their best wishes for their family and their future lives.

It is believed that the custom of eating tangyuan originated during the Song Dynasty, and became popular during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) periods.

See more on Chinese Desserts.

Where Is Best to See Lanterns in China?

Lantern FestivalA snake-shape lantern in Lantern Festival.

During the Lantern Festival many lantern fairs are held in China, offering tourists the chances to experience Lantern Festival celebrations in public places. Here we recommend four top places for you to appreciate spectacular and colorful lanterns and performances.

  • Qinhuai International Lantern Festival (the biggest in China!) is from January  28 to February 14, 2017, at Confucius Temple, Qinhuai Scenic Zone, Nanjing.
  • Beijing Yanqing Lantern Festival Flower Exhibition is from the middle of January to the end of February, 2017, in Yanqing County, Beijing.
  • Xiamen Lantern Festival is estimated from January 30 to February 14, 2017, at Yuanboyuan Garden, Xiamen City.
  • Shanghai Datuan Peach Garden Lantern Festival is from February to March, 2017, at Datuan Peach Garden, 888 Caichuan, Datuan Town, Pudong New District, Shanghai (adults: 40 yuan, students and children under 1.3m: 20 yuan, over 60s: 32 yuan).

from http://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/lantern-festival.htm

Forget what you think you know about the best cities in the world – here are 10 that you’ll want to keep your eyes on

These ten cities are set for great things over the coming years, and each has something unique to offer. Bogotá is an upcoming international tech hub, while Panama City is a playground for the rich and famous. Vienna and Porto are cultural hotspots, and Cincinnati is a sensational place to bring up a family. Read on for more on these on-the-up locations, and a glimpse of some hot properties on the market.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna’s stunning architecture, such as its parliament building, town hall tower and statue of goddess Pallas Athene, enhances the city’s excellent quality of life. Photograph: Getty Images. Banner image: Downtown Cincinnati and the Roebling Suspension Bridge.
Vienna’s stunning architecture, such as its parliament building, town hall tower and statue of goddess Pallas Athene, enhances the city’s excellent quality of life. Photograph: Getty Images..

Sophisticated, affordable, clean, safe, aesthetically exquisite, and socially democratic, it’s little wonder Vienna regularly tops quality of life polls; the Mercer Quality of Life Survey recently named the Austrian capital number one in the world for the seventh year in a row. Geographically central, overflowing with work opportunities and excellent transport links, it has become a key European business hub. Equally, Austria now boasts one of the highest figures for GDP per head globally, according to the World Bank. A large student population ensures superb recreational activities and vibrant nightlife; Vienna’s bar and multicultural restaurant scene is on the up, while the city’s elegant café culture continues to flourish.“A beautiful city steeped in history, Vienna draws in vast numbers of tourists every year and benefits hugely from this financially,” says Julie Leonhardt LaTorre, Senior Vice President, Head of Operations, EMERIA, at Christie’s International Real Estate. “The government pours money back into the city’s infrastructure, meaning Vienna runs exceptionally smoothly, and residents have a very high quality of life.”

Panama City, Panama

High-rise condominium buildings line Balboa Avenue in Panama City, one of the most exclusive streets in the country. Photograph: Getty Images
High-rise condominium buildings line Balboa Avenue in Panama City, one of the most exclusive streets in the country. Photograph: Getty Images

Boasting a great combination of city, beach, and rainforest in a gloriously tropical climate, Panama’s economy is booming, partly due to the recent expansion of the Panama Canal, according to Bloomberg. Its capital is also rapidly becoming a playground for the super-rich. The new Soho Panama mall brought Chanel, Versace, Burberry, and Ladurée to the city, while the Ritz-Carlton hotel opens later this year. By 2024 its impressive transport, healthcare, and tax systems are expected to attract a further 7,000 super-rich residents. Meanwhile, a new Panamanian cuisine is beginning to emerge at hotspots like Manolo Caracol and Riesen.For savvy investors looking to acquire a luxury residence in this bourgening regional economic hub, Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate Panama Premier Estates is marketing this stunning waterfront apartment, which sits proudly above Panama City. Fitted with three bedrooms and several expansive living areas, this contemporary home is ideal for those wishing to take advantage of everything this exciting city has to offer.

Auckland, New Zealand

Beautiful Waiheke Island, with its pristine beaches and world-class vineyards, is just 40 minutes from Auckland City by ferry.
Beautiful Waiheke Island, with its pristine beaches and world-class vineyards, is just 40 minutes from Auckland City by ferry.

The largest Polynesian city in the world, Auckland is a melting pot of international cultures. It also has one of the most business-friendly markets: the city accounts for 35% of New Zealand’s GDP and is growing at 2.9% annually, attracting new investment and entrepreneurs from around the globe.Auckland ranked as the world’s “hottest” market for prestige property this year in Christie’s International Real Estate’s 2016 Luxury Defined report. Strong local, expat, and overseas buyer demand fueled an incredible 63% annual increase in million-dollar-plus home sales.

“Living and working in Auckland means you get the best of both worlds – a bustling, modern city set in a stunning natural environment,” says Kim Harris of Auckland-based Bayleys Realty Group, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. “The city has a stable business environment, a growing economy, a diverse and skilled talent pool, a worldwide reputation for innovation, and an enviable lifestyle.”

Its most popular areas include Waiheke Island with its vibrant arts scene; Grey Lynn, famed for its chic feel and international food; Viaduct Harbour, full of superyachts and elegant dining, and Mission Bay, which offers a relaxed beach atmosphere.

Lisbon, Portugal

The Alfama district in Lisbon is made up of narrow streets, tiny squares, churches, and whitewashed houses. Photograph: Getty Images
The Alfama district in Lisbon is made up of narrow streets, tiny squares, churches, and whitewashed houses. Photograph: Getty Images

The reigning European Entrepreneurial Region of the Year, Lisbon has worked hard to support domestic business and market itself as an accommodating place for entrepreneurs since the Eurozone crisis. Startup Lisboa has helped found hundreds of businesses, with around 30% of new entrepreneurs coming from abroad. People here are warm, friendly, and laid-back but also energetic and ambitious, and more and more high-tech, tourism, and creative start-ups are appearing. The city runs on a “work hard, play hard” ethic, with its golden beaches and 250 days of sun per year offering plenty of ways to unwind. Culturally, Lisbon has a thriving arts scene, booming nightlife, and a range of fantastic restaurants.“A wonderfully good value coastal city with a relaxed vibe, beautiful beaches, a tremendous culinary scene, and terrific weather, more and more people are understanding how attractive Lisbon is,” says Julie Leonhardt LaTorre, Senior Vice President, Head of Operations, EMERIA, at Christie’s International Real Estate.

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium, which once made a top-150 list of American architecture, sits on the waterfront next to The Banks entertainment district.
Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium, which once made a top-150 list of American architecture, sits on the waterfront next to The Banks entertainment district.

Forbes recently named the Cincinnati-Middletown area the top up-and-coming city for college leavers, given the huge number of openings for graduates and a vibrant job market. The city is also an emerging food and drink capital: approximately 500,000 people attend Taste of Cincinnati annually, making it one of the largest street festivals in the United States. Key neighborhoods include foodie central Over-the-Rhine; European-style Mount Adams, full of young professionals and artisans; exclusive Indian Hill; well-educated Hyde Park; and family-oriented suburb, West Chester.“The city borders northern Kentucky’s lush Bluegrass region, where the conditions for breeding and racing horses are ideal. Several horse farms have recently been purchased by international buyers,” says Kathleen Coumou, Christie’s International Real Estate’s Executive Director. “These clients can take advantage of the city life, fine dining, cultural amenities, museums, ballet, symphony, and major league sports.”

Honolulu, Hawaii

Set against the backdrop of Diamond Head State Monument, Waikiki in Honolulu was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Photograph: Getty Images
Set against the backdrop of Diamond Head State Monument, Waikiki in Honolulu was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Photograph: Getty Images

The Hawaiian capital of Honolulu boasts great shopping centers, restaurants, and miles of beaches, leading to it being ranked one of The 50 best places to live in America by Business Insider. This modern Pacific city – which runs on a diet of tourism, entertainment, recreation, and exquisite scenery – also has superb air quality and low instances of cancer and heart disease.“In addition to wonderful weather all year round and beautiful natural surroundings, Honolulu is an energizing, multicultural city,” says Les Enderton, executive director of Oahu Visitors Bureau. Honolulu’s art scene has also taken off in recent times.

Kahala Avenue, the most desirable street in Honolulu, is home to a wealth of luxurious homes including this modern, five-bedroom, single-level home designed by Geoffrey Lewis that features high cedar ceilings, and an open-floor plan allowing dynamic indoor–outdoor living. Currently marketed by Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate Choi International, the outdoor pool includes water features and tiki candles, and steps opposite the property lead directly to the beach.

Calgary, Canada

The Peace Bridge, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, connects the northern Bow River pathway and downtown Calgary. Photograph: Getty Images
The Peace Bridge, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, connects the northern Bow River pathway and downtown Calgary. Photograph: Getty Images

The cool, cosmopolitan Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta, regularly ranks high on global living standard lists, and for good reason: low taxes, clean air, low crime rates, and an abundance of nature – the Canadian Rockies are an hour-and-a-half away by car – making life here easy to love. New businesses spring up daily, and, compared to Toronto and Vancouver, house prices here are low: the average price of a property in Calgary in the year to August 2016 was $457,000, significantly less than many other Canadian cities.The city is not only an auspicious destination for young professionals, but also for Canada’s leading real estate market. With a secluded garden backing onto the Heritage Pointe Golf Course, this luxurious, three-bedroom residence is being marketed by Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate The Alberta Collection. Expansive windows flood the open-plan, 3,830 sq ft property with natural light, and warm wooden furnishings and stone fireplaces lend the home a sumptuously rustic feel.

Bogotá, Colombia

Bogotá, the second highest capital city in the world, is an intriguing mix of skyscrapers and incredible scenery. Photograph: Getty Images
Bogotá, the second highest capital city in the world, is an intriguing mix of skyscrapers and incredible scenery. Photograph: Getty Images

Named by Forbes magazine as “the next capital of cool,” Colombia’s capital is an alluring mix of business and pleasure. Boasting a beautiful historic center, a thriving luxury shopping and dining scene, and an excellent cycling network, Bogotá is simultaneously becoming South America’s newest tech hub – Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have all opened offices, while local start-ups are booming. Huge improvements to security and stability have made Bogotá more attractive to both international investors and overseas home buyers, and and has boosted quality of life immeasurably.“The attitude of people in Bogotá is very driven, entrepreneurial, family-oriented, and outdoorsy. In terms of neighborhoods, Zona G is known as the Gourmet Zone, where the high-end and up-and-coming restaurants are located. Meanwhile, Zona T (which has a T-shaped area at its center) is most recognized for exciting bars and the best nightlife,” says Rick Moeser, Christie’s International Real Estate’s Executive Director for the Southeast Region, Caribbean, and Latin America.

Porto, Portugal

The historic center of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, includes the picturesque Ribeira district on the Douro River. Photograph: Getty Images
The historic center of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, includes the picturesque Ribeira district on the Douro River. Photograph: Getty Images

Recently named “Europe’s most compelling new food destination” by The Wall Street Journal, Porto’s restaurant scene is catching up with its outstanding wines, and the city is quickly shedding its title of “Lisbon’s little sister.” Portuguese chefs such as Nuno Mendes in London and George Mendes (no relation) in New York, have put the country’s cuisine firmly on the global food map. People are now flocking to sample both Porto’s cellars and dining halls, where the focus is on excellent local produce and “urbane rusticity.”Laid-back and low-key, Porto ripples with cobbled streets, Baroque churches, Art Deco architecture, food markets, jazz bars, exhibitions, and music festivals such as Primavera Sound. For those looking to embrace the region’s charms as a permanent resident or second-home owner, this traditional Portuguese quinta (“country estate”) in the Maia region just north of Porto may entice. Marketed by Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate Luximo’s, it has 10 bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a swimming pool, tennis court, and winemaking facilities attached to its own vineyard.

Valencia, Spain

Santos Juanes church and the Central Market beyond are some of Valencia’s most popular attractions. Photograph: Jorge Bellver
Santos Juanes church and the Central Market beyond are some of Valencia’s most popular attractions. Photograph: Jorge Bellver

Hit hard by the 2008 property crisis, Spain’s historic city of Valencia is now overflowing with real estate bargains, luring young Spaniards from other cities as well as international young professionals keen to take advantage of the coastal city’s low cost of living, warm climate, and attractive culture. Its rich and storied history lends itself to an extraordinary mix of cultures and styles, most identifiably in the city’s architecture, which ranges from old fishermen’s cottages in the Cabañal, to ultramodern flats overlooking the City of Arts and Sciences center, and beautiful façades in Carmen old town.Valencia is considered the most creative city in Spain. The way of life here is ideal for families due to the quantity and quality of schools – including international schools – and the many leisure opportunities,” says Francisco Ballester of Rimontgó, Christie’s International Real Estate’s affiliate in Valencia, Spain.

The city ranked as the world’s top “comeback” property market in the 2016 Christie’s International Real Estate Luxury Defined report, and posted an incredible 89% annual increase in luxury home sales. Thanks to a weak euro, property prices below the 2007 peak, and a surge in overseas visitors, Valencia’s luxury housing market is likely to continue on its upward trajectory.  

http://luxurydefined.christiesrealestate.com/blog/luxury-lifestyle/10-cities-to-watch-in-2017

I think that the best way to savour the flavors of Cuba is, like I did last summer, to visit Cuba with Cuban friends & family! But if you can’t travel to Cuba, this article I came across tells you where to get the delicious tastes of Cuba locally. ¡Disfruta tu comida! Annalisa

You don’t have to be Cuban to enjoy what their cuisine has to offer. Whether you opt for the traditional Cuban sandwich, the popular mojo pork, the necessary black beans and rice, ropa vieja and other tasty staples such as the decadent pastelitos, you can’t go wrong.

By Michelle da Silva Richmond  http://www.10best.com/destinations/florida/st.-petersburg/restaurants/cuban/

Havana Harry’s takes choices to a new level with fresh ingredients and a host of tempting choices, while old favorites such as The Floridian have been winning awards – and tempting palates – with a host of sandwiches and sides since they opened in 1993. Another favorite is Tangelo’s Grille where you can pick up an array of tasty brunch options along with Cuban staples.

A not-to-be-missed hole-in-the-wall favorite is Barracuda where you’ll find an array of selections including sweet cakes and pastries. Downtown St Pete is where you’ll find the ever – popular Bodega, which has been dishing up favorites to locals and visitors alike since 2013.

Then, of course, Columbia restaurants, in several locations are always a top choice.

Caribbean Café
Located in a small strip on Central Ave. the Caribbean Café offers tasty Cuban fare, while providing a pleasant break from the outside world. The soothing décor is the perfect backdrop for the specialties served there. As you might expect, the Cuban sandwich with the typical fixings is a popular choice, as is the Cuban pork and cheese sandwich, but you’ll also find an ample selection of lighter salads, soup, crab cakes and more. Dessert offerings include flan – plain and coconut – vanilla custard with caramel sauce and tasty cookies. Ask Jimmy, the owner for menu suggestions as well as their history.

The Floridian
The awards lining the walls are testament to their tasty cuisine, but the real proof comes when you sink your teeth into their award-winning Cuban sandwich. Loaded with ham, spiced pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, dill pickle, mustard and a tasty mayo mix on pressed Cuban bread, it’s a great choice. The Floridian has been serving palate-pleasing cuisine to locals since 1993, offering a varied array of favorites that includes black beans and yellow rice, Cuban toast, spiced pork sandwiches and more. You’ll also find tasty guava and cheese pastries for dessert. For special occasions, you can’t go wrong with their party trays and a selection of Cuban finger sandwiches.

Tangelo’s Grille
Located in one of the area’s most charming areas, Tangelo’s has dished up a wide selection of Cuban fare since it first opened in downtown St Petersburg in 1987. It’s also one of the few places in the area where you can get brunch on weekends. Leading the list of favorites are the porky Cuban and TG Cuban sandwiches. The chicken mojo is another winner as are the TG coconut curry rice bowls. For dinner, roasted Cuban style pork is a crowd pleaser. Desserts offer key lime, peanut butter and Mounds coconut cream pies. For brunch, tacos, sandwiches and nachos lead the list along with the island custard French toast, which features cream cheese and guava. You can also get American classics such as eggs and waffles along with an assortment of coffees, mimosas and sangrias. (7278941695)

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Havana Harry’s Market 2
This newest addition to Havana Harry’s just opened in July 2016 a few miles from the original and is already drawing rave reviews. The underlying theme here is “family,” and “fresh, healthy food.” This family-owned restaurant spares no detail when it comes to delivering tasty Cuban cuisine with all the trimmings. A perennial favorite is the Cuban sandwich with smoked ham, mojo pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, pickles, mayo and mustard. For lighter fare, try the 1904 Cuban tossed salad with lettuce, tomatoes, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, Spanish olives, asiago pepper, lemon and house dressing. Soups are also a hit including garbanzo or chicken and kale – all made from scratch. For special occasions, clients suggest ordering the whole salmon with raspberry chipotle dressing.

Tia’s Authentic Latin Food
This laid-back family-owned restaurant has been around for awhile and is a favorite with locals, as well as savvy tourists who crave authentic Latin American cuisine. The Cuban Reuben gets rave reviews with the addition of sauerkraut, instead of pickles to the mix. Empanadas also lead the list of top sellers. For dinner the slow roasted pernil (pork) roasted in garlic, mojo and home-made dressings is a sure winner. Daily specials and award-winning Cuban wine and beer add to the mix. For breakfast, there’s a selection of eggs, burritos, Cuban coffee and toast. Tia herself is usually on hand to greet customers.

Barracuda Deli Café
You might not expect a restaurant with such a name to be home to delicious Cuban and Mexican cuisine, but that’s just one of the pleasant surprises you’ll find at Barracuda. Tucked into the proverbial hole-in-the-wall on St Pete Beach, you’ll find an ample selection of pressed Cuban sandwiches, tacos, wraps and salads. Pork is marinated overnight and slowly cooked in a mojo sauce. The Best Cuban is a favorite as are the spicy pinto and black beans. On the lighter side you’ll find fresh salads and wraps. Side dishes include guacamole, chips and salsa and a freshly made soup of the day.

Columbia Restaurant – Sand Key
A Florida tradition – in various locations – since Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez Sr opened his first restaurant in 1905 in Tampa’s Ybor City, Columbia restaurants are still owned and operated by the family’s fourth and fifth generations. Daiquiris, mojitos, margaritas and sangrias pave the way to a varied dining experience which includes Cuban mainstays such as: black bean soup, gazpacho, Cuban sandwiches, mojo chicken and more. Chicken croquettes, stuffed piquillo peppers and pork roast a la Cubana are additional hits. Desserts including flan, mango mousse cake, churros, key lime pie and more are sure to satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth. (7275968400)

Bodega
It may not look like much, but this hole-in-the-wall walk-up eatery tucked into downtown St Petersburg’s Edge District is a “must” for anyone in search of fresh – and delicious – Cuban cuisine. Choose from a surprising selection of sandwiches, salads, sides and main dishes such as their legendary roasted pork (lechón) and coconut-marinated roasted chicken breast. The Miami-style Cuban sandwich features pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mayo on pressed Cuban bread. The popular pollo (chicken) sandwich features a coconut-marinated grilled breast with avocado, mango and jicama, adding a surprising crunch to the experience. Coffee selections include typical Cuban choices.

Habana Café

Visitors and locals alike rave about the old country Cuban cuisine you can treat yourself to at the Habana Café. Tucked into charming Gulfport, it’s a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Whether you select appetizers such as the tasty lechón asado, the drunken shrimp or go for mainstays such as the palomilla steak sandwich with grilled onions or the arroz con pollo – tender chicken cooked with Valencia rice in beer and wine, seasoned with fresh garlic, cumin, oregano, bell peppers and chopped onions – you can’t go wrong.The atmosphere is sheer Havana and the Latin music is a plus. (727-321-8855)

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Pipo’s Café
This family-owned St. Petersburg landmark has been consistently dishing up tasty Cuban fare since 1979, garnering top marks as one of the best in the area. Signature sandwiches such as palomilla steak – a tasty combination of grilled and breaded steak topped with parsley and grilled onions – or entrées such as mojo pollo – marinated chicken breast with onions, peppers and cilantro – are favorites. Desserts include the typical flan and arroz con leche. Breakfasts aren’t too shabby either with choices ranging from Cuban toast and guava pastries to a selection of tortillas (omelets) all served with fresh Cuban bread. (727-394-7476)

By Michelle da Silva Richmond  http://www.10best.com/destinations/florida/st.-petersburg/restaurants/cuban/

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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