Travel Experts Release Their Picks For Top Sites In Porto, Portugal

In the past four years, Portugal’s northern city Porto has claimed the top spot on numerous surveys of the best European vacation destinations. Thanks to the increased media buzz, millions of tourists from around the world have made Porto their go-to city for R&R.

While the influx of new tourists means more money for the city’s travel infrastructure, it also means the streets of this city are getting a tad crowded. Luckily, local travel experts have just released their ultimate guides to getting the most out of Portugal’s second largest city.

For people who want to go the “touristy” route, the first place to do is visit the Baroque Torre dos Clérigos to enjoy a fabulous panoramic view of Porto. Once you’re done here, walk across the impressive Ponte de Dom Luís I, one of the top rated attractions in the city.

As for touristy eats, travel experts recommend visiting the popular Majestic Café at R. Santa Catarina, 112. Here you can order one of Porto’s special egg pastries known as pastel de natas.

Travelers who want to travel off-the-beaten-path can still find many restaurants, hotels, and destinations that haven’t been mobbed with international tourists yet. Below, we’ll take a look at a few hidden gems local experts recommend for discerning visitors to Porto.

Probably the best-kept secret around Porto is the Cantinho das Aromáticas, which is only a 10-minute drive from the center of the city. Located along the picturesque Rio Douro, this organic farm has well over 150 different herbs and flowers on display. Whether you just feel like strolling through this farm’s gardens or volunteering to plant a few flowers yourself, you’re sure to have an exceptional time at this lesser known treasure.

How Troy McQuagge’s HOPE Program Has Helped The Community

Troy McQuagge has been president and CEO of USHEALTH Group since 2010, and has not only turned the company around financially, but has made the company a beacon of hope for the community. Beginning in 2010, McQuagge’s first year in running the company, he started the HOPE program. HOPE, short for Helping Other People Everyday, is the community service division of USHEALTH Group. McQuagge’s vision for this division was to give back to the Fort Worth community, and while he still wants to do more, he’s made great strides already in improving his company’s community.

The work McQuagge has done through HOPE is nothing short of outstanding and has helped many people in his community. His program has provided shelter and relief to the victims of natural disasters, as well as to the homeless members of his community. In addition, he has provided assistance to patients suffering from life threatening diseases.

While this philanthropy was good for his community, it was good for USHEALTH Group as well. Proving that an altruistic approach can be more profitable than a completely practical one, the stock price of USHEALTH Group has risen over 1200% since Troy McQuagge Son took over in 2010.

Fortunately, McQuagge’s philanthropy and stellar leadership has not gone unnoticed. In 2016, he was awarded the CEO of The Year Award at the CEO World Awards in the insurance category. At the same award show he was awarded Most Innovative CEO in the insurance category as well. These awards are evidence that the phenomenal work he’s doing in the insurance industry is unparalleled and makes him a trailblazer in his field.

Despite already achieving significant success with the HOPE program and turning his company around, Troy McQuagge isn’t done yet. He hopes to continue expanding the HOPE program and helping his community prosper. Read:

Troy McQuagge’s Mission of Hope

Troy McQuagge was born and raised in Panama City, Florida. He obtained his Bachelors degree at the University of Central Florida in 1983, securing a job with Allstate Insurance Company not long, thereafter. After a little over ten years of a successful working relationship with the company, he went on to join the student department of United Insurance Companies (UICI). In just two years, he was named the president of the United Insurance Company’s Agency, UGA. Troy well exceeded all of his bosses expectations by setting several single-year sales records.

Troy continued his ventures with UICI, which was eventually purchased by a private company, until he joined the USHEALTH Group, Inc., and was elected as the company’s Executive Vice President and Chieft Marketing Officer. In just a year later, he was promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer of the company. In the years that Troy McQuagge has worked for USHEALTH, the company has grown ten times larger in all aspects of the operation.

One of Troy’s most prized accomplishments would be an initiative he started in 2010 within USHEALTH called HOPE, which is a clever acronym for Helping Other People Everyday. HOPE is an organization that lives by being centered around helping everyday people that may be in need. One of their very first projects was partnering with Phoenix of New Orleans (PNOLA) organization to help as an aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Together, they donated supplies, resources, and volunteered hundreds of man hours to help rebuild homes and the lives of the hardest hit communities in the city. They ensured that residents of the lower-mid city areas were provided with safe and sound housing.

HOPE has also teamed up with The Crisis Nursery, which is a non-profit organization that shelters children in the Phoenix/Scottsdale metropolitan area, to provide thousands of dollars in shoes, clothing, formula, and supplies to children in need. The leaders behind the HOPE initiative has made it their purpose to give back to those cites that host their annual Leaders Meetings. Read more about Troy McQuagge US Health at Slideshare

HOPE has gone on to make many other contributions to all sorts of organizations. For instance, in 2012, when the Leadership meeting returned back to Phoenix, hope presented a check for more than $25,000 to HOPEKids Arizona. After they found out that HOPEKids had opened up a chapter near it’s Texas headquarters a year later, they donated another $45,000, and then some. In 2015, USHA made one of the largest donations, $100,000, in less than 20 minutes to the Semper FI and America’s Fund, which is geared towards providing immediate financial aid towards wounded 9/11 veterans to ensure that they have the resources that they need to transition back into everyday life.

Troy McQuagge USHEALTH did more than just initiate the HOPE mission, but it’s something that they have lived by everyday. They have proven that they are more than dedicated to make the way of life better for everyday people.

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World Travel Tips for Saving Money

If you travel a lot, then there are some things you should do to make your experience a better one and save money.

First of all, when it comes to booking flights, realize that a round trip will not always be cheaper. Sometimes, it is worth looking into two one-way tickets. In addition, although you might always book economy class tickets, consider looking into business class tickets and economy plus tickets (if the airline offers it). Depending on the time of the year, they may not be as expensive as you think and you will be able to experience a better flight.

You should also choose your timing wisely. If you really need to get somewhere and you want to save money, you may want to travel on days when business is slow for airlines. People travel a lot before Christmas, but on Christmas itself, you may be able to get cheaper flights.

Another way to save money is by signing up for frequent flyer programs and mile rewards credit card programs. This is true if you fly a lot, and even if your miles are not as many as others, you might still be able to get better customer support because of your participation.

When choosing an airline, choose an airline that has great customer service and actually arrives on time. If the airline has too many delays, you may end up missing your meeting or get-together.

HappyOrNot Releases First Report On The “World’s Happiest Airports”

If you’re a frequent flyer, you’ve probably seen a few HappyOrNot satisfaction stations with cute smiley face buttons around various airports. Developed by the Finnish engineers Heikki Väänänen and Ville Levaniemi, these stations have four buttons on them that are designed to gauge customers’ satisfaction at a wide variety of areas.

All HappyOrNot stands have four buttons on them ranging from perfectly content green to a furious deep red. There are also two lighter shades of red and green to indicate a less intense reaction. All people have to do is press the button corresponding to how they feel and the data is sent into HappyOrNot’s databank.

Just a few weeks ago, Heikki Väänänen and Ville Levaniemi released their first HappyOrNot global report. All of the airports on this list had to have at least 120,000 button-presses in two different sections of the airport between 2016 and 2017.

According to the data, the UK’s Exeter Airport is the happiest in the world. This tiny airport scored an 88.66 percent satisfaction rating, which is well above the average score of 76.52 percent.

The number two spot was a tie between Cork Airport in Ireland and the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome. Both of these airports scored 88.45 percent.

Rounding out the top five was Dallas Fort Worth International in Texas and Newcastle International Airport in the UK. These airports scored 87.35 percent and 87.05 percent, respectively.

Analysts noted that most of the airports on their top ten list were smaller, local, and lacked the amenities of major hubs. The only two exceptions were Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport and Dallas Fort Worth. Study authors believe travelers like the increased convenience and general lack of stress these tinier airports provide.

Portugal Wins Top Honors At 2017 World Travel Awards

Portugal was the big winner at this year’s World Travel Awards ceremony. Travel experts and average tourists agreed that Portugal deserves the 2017 title of “World’s Leading Destination.”

In addition to winning “World’s Leading Destination,” Portugal’s capital city Lisbon won World Travel Awards’ “Leading City Break Destination.” Portugal’s Parques de Sintra – Monte da Lua won the award for “World’s Leading Conservation Company” and Portugal’s Pine Cliffs Resort won the title of “World’s Leading Luxury Leisure Resort.”

Just a few decades ago, Portugal struggled to attract international tourists. Nowadays, however, Portugal is flooded with tourists interested in the country’s natural wonders and cultural treasures. Many travelers feel Portugal is a safer and cheaper travel alternative to other Western European nations.

Although Portugal stood out this year, there were other surprising wins at the World Travel Awards ceremony. Interestingly, Bolivia was awarded the “Leading Cultural Destination.” Reviewers say they respect the Bolivian people’s commitment to putting together festivals and special events on a monthly basis.

Singapore once again led the way in the airlines department. The “World’s Leading Airline” went to Singapore Airlines and Singapore’s Changi Airport was voted “World’s Leading Airport.” However, AirAsia won this year’s prize for “Leading Low-Cost Airline.”

This year’s “Best Beach Destination” went to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. As for the “Best Culinary Destination,” Peru took home the top prize.

A few other winners at this year’s festival include Wynn Las Vegas for the “World’s Leading Casino Resort,” the Armani Hotel Dubai for the “World’s Leading Hotel,” and Machu Picchu for “World’s Leading Tourist Attraction.”

Anyone can vote for their favorite travel destinations on the World Travel Awards website throughout the year. Travel experts’ ballots count double ordinary tourists’ ballots.

The 24th annual World Travel Awards took place on December 10th in Vietnam’s JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Hotel. To see a full list of winners, anyone can visit World Travel Awards’ website.

Things World Travelers Should Take With Them

Do you travel a lot? There are some things you should always take with you around the world.

For example, if you are someone who often misplaces things, then you should use a tool that lets you track your items. There are many products that let you use Bluetooth devices to keep track of your personal items such as your wallet or cellphone. This way, you will not have to worry about leaving your wallet behind in your old hotel.

A laptop briefcase is another thing that is useful to take around if you use a laptop on your vacations. This is especially suitable for business travelers.

If you travel around the world, you may want to consider getting travel insurance. This can help you out if you suddenly run into a tough situation and you need medical help, for example.

You may also want to take electrolyte tablets. This will help you from becoming dehydrated. Remember that you can not take drinks with you on flights. If you are dehydrated, electrolytes can energize you.

Another idea, especially if you fly a lot, is a little divider for your armrest. This way, you will not have to fight over the armrest between you and another passenger. You can also take a little pillow with you.

Of course, do not forget the simple things, like a toothbrush and a comb.

The Best Vacation Destinations For Star Wars Fans

With the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, travel experts expect Star Wars-themed tourism to grow exponentially. There are dozens of locations Star Wars fans can (and do) choose to visit every year. Anyone putting together their own intergalactic bucket list should take a look at the locales listed below.

First, fans who wants to see Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine must visit the Tunisian desert Djerba. Here you’ll get to tour Skywalker’s home and the infamous Mos Eisley cantina. You can also take a short trip to the nearby cities of Tozeur and Matmata to see more Star Wars filming locations and stay in the Hotel Sidi Driss.

For a soothing Star Wars voyage, travel experts recommend booking a trip to Villa del Balbianello, which is alongside Italy’s Lake Como. All of the scenes that took place on the planet Naboo in Star Wars: Episode III were filmed right here. This is an exceptional vacation idea for couples looking for a Star Wars-themed romantic getaway.

Probably the easiest Star Wars filming location for Americans to visit is the Redwoods State Park in California. This site was used to film all the scenes on the forest planet Endor in Star Wars: Episode VI. While you’re in California, you should also check out Death Valley National Park. A few Tatooine scenes were filmed in Death Valley.

Finally, if you don’t mind the cold, take a trip to the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier in Norway to experience the planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. Locals are used to Star Wars fans visiting this region and a few hotels host special “Visit Hoth” events. Note, you can only take a tour of the glacier between July and September.

A Culturally Diverse Israeli Cycling Team Travels the World Bringing a Message of Peace and Coexistance

The Israeli Cycling Academy was founded in December 2014 and includes members with similar social values including members of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Their mission is to become ambassadors for peace. They plan to serve as role models for a younger generation that people from different countries, with different beliefs, can work together toward a common goal.

The 2018 team includes champions like Israel’s Roy Goldstein, Spain’s Ruben Plaza, Italy’s Kristian Sbaragli, and Turkish rider Ahmet Orkin. Having a Turkish and an Israeli rider on the same team sends a message of coexistence and peace.

In 2017 the Israeli Cycling Academy competed across three continents, including Australia, South America, and Europe. This diverse team includes members with strong ability but who wouldn’t be able to really show off their skills in their home countries.

The Giro D’Italia is a race second only to the Tour de France in the competitive biking world. This team will compete in a traditional race that will leave the continent of Europe for the first time and pass through Israel.

The Israeli Cycling Academy has members from 22 countries if you count support staff, trainers, and technicians. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism and corporate sponsors including De Rosa Road-racing bikes of Italy sponsor the team.

“The vision and main goal of the team is to instill a love of cycling among young Israelis from all backgrounds,“ Roni Baron of the Peres Center and co-founder of the team said in November. The team for 2018 includes riders from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Turkey, and the United States.

20 Michelin Stars Enhance Bangkok’s Status As A Culinary Capital

If you’re still looking for excuses to finally book a trip to Bangkok, the city’s first Michelin Guide was released at the start of December. In total, Michelin handed out 20 stars to 17 Bangkok-based restaurants.

Only three of these 17 restaurants received two stars each. These restaurants include the Indian-themed Gaggan, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok’s Le Normandie, and Lebua Hotel’s Mezzaluna.

But perhaps the most famous Michelin star winner in Bangkok was the street-food vendor Jay Fai. Located at 327 Samran Rat Intersection, Phra Nakhon, Jay Fai serves exceptional crab omelets and crab curries to hungry locals every day of the year. Fai was awarded one Michelin star.

The 13 remaining restaurants received one star each. These restaurants include the following names: Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, Ginza Sushi Ichi, Bo.Lan, J’aime by Jean-Michel Lorain, Nahm, Saneh Jaan, Suhring, Savelberg, Paste, Chim by Siam Winsdom, Elements, L’atelier de Joel Robuchon, and Upstairs at Mikkeller.

Many Thais were surprised only one of the city’s famed street-food vendors made the cut for a Michelin star. In particular, locals were disappointed that Tipsamai Pad Thai near Golden Mount didn’t earn a spot in Michelin’s 2018 Guide.

All of these Michelin stars greatly enhance Bangkok’s status as one of Asia’s premier cities for high-class dining. Many culinary experts now consider Bangkok on par with cities like Tokyo, Macau, and Singapore.

Michelin officials released their 2018 Bangkok Guide at an event in the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. After the awards were handed out, Siam Kempinski staff hosted a gala dinner with dishes from other Michelin-starred chefs. Tickets to this special event cost $614 per person.