Category Archives: International

Travel Feature: Tokyo, Japan

As we say goodbye to the 2016 Summer Olympics and legendary athletes like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, it’s time to look to the future, specifically the next Olympic Games. Tokyo, Japan was chosen to host the 2020 Games (and accepted the torch from Rio in epic fashion), and city planning has already been underway for a few years. Before the start of the 32nd Olympiad, the city plans to build a new Olympic Stadium, called the Kasumigaoka National Stadium, on the site of the 1964 Olympic Stadium, which will be one of the most advanced stadiums in the world. Once it – and the rest of the Olympic updates – are complete, the city will surely be even more of a travel destination than it already is. With that in mind, here are some tips for visiting Tokyo within the next few years:

Photo Credit: "Tokyo" by Photo © 2007 (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Photo Credit: “Tokyo” by Photo © 2007 (CC BY-ND 2.0)

A Brief Overview

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is the country’s most populous city, while the Greater Tokyo region is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with about 37.8 million people, according to World Atlas. A strong economy (the city is home to 52 Fortune Global 500 companies) and generally pleasant climate (with seasons similar to the US) make Tokyo a great place to live year-round for Japanese natives or expats alike. It’s also a favorite vacation spot, having been ranked first in the “best overall experience” category of TripAdvisor’s World City Survey in 2014, thanks in part to its “helpful locals,” “best public transport,” and “cleanest streets.” According to CNN, in 2015, 19.7 million tourists visited the country, so you’ll most likely be able to find a helping hand whenever you need one.

Safety Tips

When planning your travels, keep in mind that typhoon season typically lasts from May to October, so you may want to adjust your schedule accordingly. Also, because of its location near three tectonic plate borders and its position on the “Ring of Fire,”  Japan can experience large earthquakes, such as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, which measured at a magnitude of 9.0 and caused a massive tsunami. While there’s no way for the average resident or traveler to predict occurrences such as this, it is always a good idea to establish some safety nets in the case of a disaster.

Know Before You Go

If you’re visiting Tokyo from the U.S., there will be some notable differences (both behaviorally and culturally) to which you should pay attention. For example, you will need to carry cash and coins (in yen), since credit cards are not as widely accepted as in the U.S. Also, it is a lot less common to walk around while eating or drinking (which helps keep the city clean), so make time to fit regular sit-down meals into your schedule. For more helpful tips on proper etiquette (such as gratuities, do’s/don’ts of talking on your cell phone, and how to get free wi-fi) click here and here.


Photo Credit: “Akihabara District” by IQRemix © 2015 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

What To Pack

Socks – and lots of them! Bare feet are considered rude in Japan, so make sure to bring socks with you wherever you go (even if you’re wearing sandals, you should have a pair of socks to put on when you’re inevitably asked to remove your shoes). Also, because it tends to rain a fair amount, it might be a good idea to bring a raincoat or a poncho for those wet days. If you forget, you can always pick up a widely available and ingenious clear umbrella. Otherwise, the temperatures and weather are similar to that of the Mid-Atlantic states here in the U.S., so your clothing of choice really depends on the time of year that you visit.


Photo Credit: “Shinkansen” by Toshiyuki IMAI © 2012 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Getting To and Around the City

There are a couple different options for getting to Tokyo; it is served by two airports – Narita Airport (mostly international flights) and Haneda Airport (mostly domestic) – as well as by several Shinkansen (high-speed train) lines. Once you make it to the island, you’re in luck. As mentioned previously, Tokyo has one of the best public transportation systems among major metropolises, made up of a dense network of train, subway and bus lines. You can get a prepaid/rechargeable Suica or Pasmo cards, which allows you access to all trains and buses without having to mess around with spare change for fare each time.

Things to See, Eat, and Do

While in Tokyo, you should try to make it to every prefecture, each with its own distinct characteristics and landmarks. Head to the Asakusa neighborhood to see Senso-ji, the highly recognizable Buddhist temple. In the Ueno neighborhood, make sure to check out the oldest zoo in Japan, the Tokyo National Museum, and the cherry blossoms in the spring. Missing the hustle and bustle of U.S. cities like New York? Then get thee to Shibuya, which is home to the world’s busiest crosswalk. Take a short train ride to check out the Tokyo Tower, the city’s 2nd tallest structure, which was modeled after Paris’ Eiffel Tower (and actually comes in a few meters taller than it). If you’re in an adventurous mood, you can hike up the 600 steps to the observation desk…or you can just take the elevator. Feeling hungry after all that exploring? You can’t, of course, leave Tokyo without trying the sushi. For the best places to get the freshest fish and more of Japan’s must-have delectable delicacies, head on over to this post on i am a food blog.

Have you ever been to Tokyo? What are your best travel tips? Please share in the comments!

Featured Image Photo Credit: “Blue Hour over Tokyo” by Balint Földesi © 2013 (CC BY 2.0)

The Most Stunning Venues from Past Summer Olympics

The Games of the XXXI Olympiad (aka the 2016 Summer Olympics) are set to begin in less than two weeks on August 5th. Although this year’s host city, Rio de Janeiro, has been plagued by controversy from the get-go, there are still plenty of eager sports fanatics that couldn’t be more excited to visit Brazil at this special time for the country. Rio will actually hold the distinction of being the first South American city to host the games.There is no denying the beauty of Rio, from its rich history, to the numerous beaches, and, of course, the people! But while Rio will no doubt have some impressive structures built for the Games (if its existing landmarks are any indication), it certainly has some large shoes to fill. Host cities are known to aim high and think big when selecting or building these mammoth monuments. Over the years, some designs have definitely stuck out more than others. From the architecturally impressive to the just plain beautiful, here are our picks for the top 20 venues from past Olympic games:

1. Panathenaic Stadium (Athens, Greece; 1896 & 2004)

By Badseed (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons 13 April 2009 Kallimarmaron stadium

Photo Credit: “The Panathinaiko Stadium (Kallimarmaron) stadium” by Badseed © 2009 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

2. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Los Angeles, CA; 1932 & 1984)

Olympic Torch Tower of the Los Angeles Coliseum By unknown, U.S. Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 28 July 1984

Photo Credit: “Olympic Torch Tower of the Los Angeles Coliseum” by unknown, U.S. Air Force © 1984 (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons

3. Olympiastadion (Berlin, Germany; 1936)

The Olympiastadion in 1936 Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R82532 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R82532 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (], via Wikimedia Commons 1936

Photo Credit: “Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R82532” by Hoffmann © 1936 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

4. Melbourne Cricket Ground (Melbourne, Australia; 1956)


Photo Credit: “AFL Grand Final 2010 on the Melbourne Cricket Ground” by Alexander Sheko © 2010 (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

5. Nippon Budokan (Tokyo, Japan; 1964)

Nippon Budokan Hall Main entrance Wiiii - Own work Nippon Budokan, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo Japan, designed by Mamoru Yamada in 1964. © 2010 By Wiiii (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: “Nippon Budokan 2010” by Wiiii © 2010 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

6. Yoyogi National Gymnasium (Tokyo, Japan; 1964)


Photo Credit: “Yoyogi National First Gymnasium” by Rs1421 © 2010 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

7. Estadio Olímpico Universitario (Mexico City, Mexico; 1968)


Photo Credit: “Estadio Olímpico Universitario” by Ebidej © 2011 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

8. Palacio de los Deportes (Mexico City, Mexico; 1968)


Photo Credit: “Palacio de los Deportes” © 2006 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

9. National Auditorium (Mexico City, Mexico; 1968)


Photo Credit: “Ciudad de Mexico – 1194 – Auditorio Nacional” by Pierre-Selim Huard © 2015 (CC BY 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons


Photo Credit: “AuditorioNacionalPorDentro” by hmerinomx © 2010 (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

10. Olympic Stadium (Montréal, Canada; 1976) 


Photo Credit: “Biodome de Montreal” by storem © 2007 (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

11. Estadio Olímpico Lluís Companys (Barcelona, Spain; 1992)


Photo Credit: “Estadi Companys” by Canaan © 2014 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

12. Palau Sant Jordi (Barcelona, Spain; 1992)


Photo Credit: “Barcelona Palau San Jordi 001” by German Ramos © 2000 (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons

13. Pavello Olimpic de Badalona (Barcelona, Spain; 1992) 


Photo Credit: “Olimpic Badalona” by Ottobdn © 2007 (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

14. Stadium Australia (Sydney, Australia; 2000)


Photo Credit: “Australia Stadium” by Adam.J.W.C. © 2009 (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Wikimedia Commons

15. Sydney Super Dome (Sydney, Australia; 2000)


Photo Credit: “Qudos Bank Arena – April 2016” by Philip Terry Graham © 2016 (CC0 1.0) via Wikimedia Commons

16. Athens Olympic Velodrome (Athens, Greece; 2004)


Photo Credit: “Olympic Stadium, Athens 25” by Spyrosdrakopoulos © 2009 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

17. Olympic Stadium (Athens, Greece; 2004)


Photo Credit: “Olympic Stadium, Athens 19” by Spyrosdrakopoulos © 2009 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

18. Peace and Friendship Stadium (Athens, Greece; 2004)


Photo Credit: “Peace and Friendship Stadium 2014” by M(e)ister Eiskalt © 2014 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

19. The Bird’s Nest (Beijing, China; 2008) 


Photo Credit: “Beijing national stadium” by Peter23 © 2011 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

20. The Water Cube (Beijing, China; 2008)


Photo Credit: “国家游泳中心夜景” by Charlie fong © 2009 (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

What is your favorite venue from the past Summer Olympics? Will you be watching this year’s Rio Games? Let us know in the comments!

Travel Feature: United Kingdom

With all the recent talk of #Brexit, we thought it would be timely to highlight the United Kingdom (aka Britain) as our latest travel feature. We hope this guide will be especially helpful for you if you’re planning a trip to the European island this summer.

Weather. The United Kingdom is comprised of four nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Each country has its own distinct customs and cultures, but there is one factor that is common between all: the weather. Many might picture England as being soggy and dreary with residents decked out in their Wellies year-round. However, consider this: without the rain, the rolling hills of Scotland and Northern Ireland would not be quite as verdant as they are. Keep in mind, though, while there’s plenty of rain year round, summer days can reach up to 95°F (while winters can dip to around the 10°F mark), although daily averages stay steady between the 40s-60s. So when packing for a trip, make sure to bring a variety of outfits that you can tailor to the weather as necessary.

Photo Credit: "Underground" by Hernán Piñera © 2013 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo Credit: “Underground” by Hernán Piñera © 2013 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Getting around. If you’re planning on driving while across the pond, please remember that they drive on the other side of the road and drivers sit on the other side of the car. Pay attention to different road rules like speed limits, traffic lights, and roundabouts. (Trust us, you don’t want to end up like this guy). Possibly the easiest way to travel in and between countries is via mass transportation such as the train, so it would be a great idea to invest in a rail pass. You can also travel by the Underground Tube (in London), airplane, coach bus, double decker bus, bike, taxi, or even by ferry.

Photo Credit: "221b Sherlock Holmes Museum" by Douglas Neiner © 2012 (CC BY 2.0)

Photo Credit: “221b Sherlock Holmes Museum” by Douglas Neiner © 2012 (CC BY 2.0)

Photo Credit: "The Fruity Folly" by Neil Williamson © 2016 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo Credit: “The Fruity Folly” by Neil Williamson © 2016 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Places to visit. There are, of course, many iconic landmarks throughout the British countries, such as Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, and Loch Ness (just to name a few). You can be sure those attractions will always be full of tourists, so if you’re not crazy about dodging the crowds this vacation season, there are some lesser known (but still popular) spots that will still give you the authentic British experience. In London, try checking out some of these landmarks, including the Sherlock Holmes Museum or Holland Park. Outside of England, make sure to check out The Pineapple in Scotland or the Smallest House in Great Britain (located in North Wales).

Photo Credit: "Prince Albert's Road, Regent's Park" by Steve Cadman © 2006 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo Credit: “Prince Albert’s Road, Regent’s Park” by Steve Cadman © 2006 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Real Estate. Real Estate plays a significant part in the UK’s economy. London, in particular, is known for its soaring real estate prices (semidetached homes average £602,084), and the city is home to the most ultra high net worth individuals in the world. The market is rife with investors who purchase and subsequently lease their properties for extra income. Britain’s purchase process and online real estate landscape is similar to that of the United States, with multiple portals to conduct home searches. On average, homes cost about £290,000, have 3 bedrooms, and are semidetached properties. Since the UK is made up of four unique countries, you will see a wide range of housing offerings, from small flats in London, to large English estates, to country cottages and farmhouses in Wales, to converted warehouses in Scotland – it all depends on your budget and where you’re looking.

Things to Know Before you Travel. Many things have been called into question since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, such as whether or not British citizens will need to have a visa to travel to other EU countries. While that still remains to be seen, just know that if you are a US citizen, you will need a passport to enter the UK (but not a Visa if you’re staying under 90 days). Also, since sightseeing on foot is a common practice for many tourists, keep in mind that pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way (contrary to here at home), so always be mindful when crossing roads. For more interesting facts you’ll definitely want to know before your visit or your big move, click here.

Have you ever been to the UK? Do you have any tips and tricks for making the most of a British excursion? Opinions on Brexit? Please share in the comments!

Featured Image Photo Credit: “Glasgow Cathedral” by Michel Curi © 2014 (CC BY 2.0)


Travel Feature: New Zealand

New Zealand consists of two islands, North Island and South Island, and is surrounded by ocean. It is one of the most picturesque and serene places. Due to the fact that it is so remote, it was the last county to be found and settled by humans. It is located about 1,500 km from Australia and about 1,000 km from Pacific Islands. Since the population of New Zealand is around 4.5 million people, it is very sparsely settled.
Getting around. There are so many places to see in New Zealand, and the best way to get around would be to rent a car. If you are not comfortable driving yourself, you can either have someone to drive you around or take a bus. If you plan to travel from island to island, there are domestic flights available as well as ferries. Domestic flights are cheaper than taking train or driving. There are also taxi services and they are known to be reliable and trustworthy, but are more expensive.
Places to visit. There are so many things to do and so many adventures to experience, form surfing and glacier hiking to helicopter rides. It is also known for its mountains and glaciers, so some of the must see places are Southern Alps of the South Island and Fiordland National Park, those are the best places where you can see mountains rising above water.


Flickr Creative Commons: Edwin Lee

One of the most beautiful and one of the New Zealand’s famous destinations is Milford Sound. This place is breathtaking! There are so many mountain peaks and waterfalls. You can take boat cruises to enjoy the views and also enjoy kayaking and diving.


Flickr Creative Commons: einalem

There are also several glaciers and you can head to Westland National Park to see some of the biggest ones.


Flickr Creative Commons: Department of Conservation

Also New Zealand has active volcanoes, geysers, and hot springs. The best place to see those is Rotorua with many parks surrounding it. Another great place to visit is Tongariro National Park that has three active volcanoes. You can also go to Whakatane and take a tour to a volcanic island called White island where you can enjoy the views of green crater lake and pohutukawa trees.


Flickr Creative Commons: Phillip Capper

Real Estate. Being that New Zealand has such a relaxed way of life, beautiful landscapes and mountains, great health and education system, it was always appealing for many to buy either a second property or move there permanently. For about 100,000 British pounds (approximately $141,400), you can buy a large 3 bedroom house. For the cities like Auckland and Wellington, the prices will jump to 200,000 British pounds (approximately $282,200).


Flickr Creative Commons: Tom Jankowski (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The best way to find properties for sale is online. The process of buying is fairly easy and quick – it take about three to four weeks to close the deal. Although, it is important to do your due diligence and make sure you know tax, insurance cost, etc.
Things to know before traveling. For US citizens no visa is required to enter the country, just your passport. New Zealand is 19-21 hours ahead of Pacific time and that also depends on the time of year. Make sure to research their times of year since it is very different and can be confusing. Also, keep in mind that it is very remote and you can travel for hours before you see any gas station or store, so it is important to plan ahead. Another thing to be aware of is that the weather can change multiple times during the day, it can go from hot to freezing cold. Also, the have sandflies that might be much worse than mosquitoes, make sure to have repellents or clothes with you.

New Zealand is one of the world’s most beautiful tourist destinations and if you choose to travel there, it can be the trip of a lifetime!

Flickr Creative Commons: Tom Hall (CC BY 2.0)
All photos used under this license.

Travel Feature: Paris, France

France is the most visited country in the world. France is all about architecture, history, culture exquisite cuisine and fashion. It goes without saying that one of the most popular cities to visit is Paris. People are very attracted to it’s cozy cafe terraces, village-square markets and bistros with their chalk boards with daily specials.

Getting to and around. The best way to get around in Paris is to walk and use public transportation. Since the traffic in the city is pretty heavy, driving would not be the best option to get around. Taking the metro is the most efficient way to get around Paris. The Paris metro is very wide spread and comes often during rush hours, so you don’t have to wait. Make sure to keep your ticket with you, you might be asked to show it to ticket inspectors; also, all metro tickets are valid not only for the metro, but also for trams and buses. Taxis are also available, but they can get pricey, especially in the evening.
Places to visit. Most popular places to visit are the Eifel TowerLouvre, the Pantheon, Palace of Versailles, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Catacombs of Paris. Of course there are other great places and gardens to visit, and also there are many hidden gems.


Flickr Creative Commons: Celso Flores


Flickr Creative Commons: Dennis Jarvis

Real Estate Paris has the largest number of English-speaking expats in France. The cost of living in Paris is high but you get a lot for what you pay. Properties in Paris are sold by the square meter. The cost varies. While property prices in most of France have fallen over the past few years. Property prices are falling due to the tax increases and cuts property subsidies making it a great time to buy .
Things to be aware of.  Since France runs on 220 volts, you will need voltage converters when you go to Paris, so make sure to do some research and get the right one for your electronics. Restrooms in bars and cafe’s are usually reserved for customers and something to get used to is that oftentimes, bathrooms are unisex. Most French people take a whole month of vacation in the summer months and it is usually in August. Also, French people prefer dressier clothes; jeans are acceptable everywhere except some restaurants, so make sure to check if there are any dress codes beforehand.

Before you decide to travel to Paris, make sure to research and read travel guides before you go, that will make your trip less stressful and so much more enjoyable!


Flickr Creative Commons: Moyan Brenn (CC BY 2.0)
All photos used under this license.

Travel Feature: Majorca, Spain

Majorca is the largest island in the Balearics in Mediterranean. It is known as a popular vacation destination with its beautiful coastlines and great entertainment options. Majorca has a great history and, thus, there are many historical places to explore. One of the most popular and the largest city is the capital city Palma. It is known for its great restaurant, shops, and, of course, its great history. After many battles and invasions, Palma became a commercial center in the Mediterranean. Its history is reflected in the architecture; the Gothic La Seu cathedral is the most popular attraction and it is breathtaking. There is also a 13th century Almudaina palace famous for its beautiful gardens. In addition, there is a variety of museums to explore, where you can learn the history of Majorca and, also, beautiful churches to admire.


Flickr Creative Commons: Anna&Michal (CC BY 2.0)

Getting to and around Majorca. Buses are the main way of getting around, the metro line is also available and runs through the center to the university. Many prefer biking, though there aren’t many bicycle lanes. There are plenty of taxis as well, though you will need to call to order one, which is fairly easy to do.

Places to visit. Bellver Castle has the best views of the Palma; it has a very unusual circular structure and was built in 14th century. It had many uses, from being the King’s residence to becoming a prison. Nowadays, it is a City History Museum and a chapel.


Flickr Creative Commons: Cristian Bortes (CC BY 2.0)

Pueblo Espanol is a museum designed like a small village; this is a great way to learn about Spanish architecture and visit shops and local restaurants.


Flickr Creative Commons: David Blaikie (CC BY 2.0)

Paseo Maritimo is a great place to experience nightlife. It is the area along the port, where most of the bars and pubs are located; in addition, it provides a great view of the cathedral all lit up at night.

Real Estate. Spain has been very popular for those who are looking for a vacation property. Despite its economic situation, Majorca is still a desirable place to own a home. There is a variety of homes to choose from, from farm houses and villas, to new apartment building and townhouses.

Buying in Majorca. If you decide to relocate or buy a rental property in Majorca, there are important things to consider before purchasing. It might be a good idea to rent an apartment for some time before committing to buy, that will give you time to explore different areas of the island and give you a better idea of what will be the best choice for you. Once you’ve decided on the area, make sure to get a foreign identity number (NIE) and the process takes 2 to 6 weeks. Next, you would want to find out your mortgage options. Contact the Spanish authorities to make sure you have all the needed documents and certifications. The best way to ensure you are protected and everything is taken care of is to seek legal advice or hire and attorney who will guide you through the process.

Things to be aware of. You need to have your passport with you at all times by law; you may be asked to present it even when paying with your credit or debit card. Also, you should have a copy of your European health insurance card if you have one. Lunch is usually at 2pm and dinner at 9pm or 10pm. Also, it is unusual to share tables even at fast food places. Tips are not very established, but might be expected in a more upscale setting. You don’t have to leave a tip, but if you do, it will be greatly appreciated. IN a more formal setting people are greeted with a handshake, but be prepared to be kissed on a cheek if it is a more casual.

Majorca is not only a great place for tourists to enjoy beautiful beaches and Mediterranean cuisine, but is a very popular place to buy vacation homes.


Flickr Creative Commons: Cristian Bortes
All photos used under this license.

Should I Buy A Property Abroad


Flickr Creative Commons: Karen Roe

If you want to get more international experiences by picking up and moving out of the country, or if you just want to purchase a retirement property to rent out that is out of the country, we have some useful tips for you. Ultimately, by purchasing elsewhere, you are diversifying where your money is going to., but it requires an ongoing management and administration.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of U.S. buyers searching for homes abroad has risen about 30%, Canada and Europe are still popular international home buys. In addition, the US dollar his risen 23% to the Euro  and 12% to the Canadian currency over the year. So if you are thinking of purchasing an international home Europe and Canada are two great places to think about.


Flickr Creative Commons: Matthias Ripp

When buying overseas, there are a couple things to keep in mind. In contrast, to the US mortgage, in some countries like the Caribbean, you may need to put a larger down payment ranging from 30% to 40%, and you may need to pay your loan back within 15 to 25 years, instead of the US’s 30 year. Not to mention, if you have credit cards, lenders there presume you have carried a balance of 5% of your spending limits, even though you may pay it off any balances every month. In this case, you may have to provide three years bank statements. Although, in many countries, you might need to pay cash only, since financing structure might not be as sophisticated as in the U.S.

When buying property abroad, make sure to research the market and make sure you know your legal rights. Also, hire a professional real estate agent and a legal representative to help you with the process; make sure you have all the needed documents with you and that they are all translated. Remember, buying property overseas is no small task.


All photos used under this license.

Thanksgiving around the World

Thanksgiving is known to be celebrated in the US and Canada. But, it is also celebrated in other countries such as Liberia, Japan, Netherlands, and the Norfolk Islands.

Since Liberia was founded by freed American slaves, it is the country that traditionally celebrates Thanksgiving and it is celebrated on the first Thursday of November. As a tradition people go to churches and concerts. Then they get together for a dinner, and traditionally they have roasted chicken and mashed cassava.

Thanksgiving is also celebrated in the Netherlands. Before pilgrims settled in Plymouth Rock, they came to Leiden, the Netherlands and lived there for 11 years. One of their traditions is to attend a service in Pieterskerk gothic church. They also have family Thanksgiving dinners where  traditional turkey and mashed potatoes are served.

Thanksgiving in Japan is not celebrated the same as in the US; it used to be a fall harvest festival. Now it is called Labor Day Thanksgiving, when people celebrated workers and thank them for hard work, and it is celebrated around the same time as in the US.

Norfolk Islands used to be a British colony in 19th century; it was a frequent port for many American ships; they brought many american traditions and recipes that fit well with English harvest festival celebrated at the island at that time. Thus, Thanksgiving celebrations have taken root. It is celebrated on the last Wednesday in November. Their traditional Thanksgiving meal is roasted pork, chicken, and baked bananas.

All photos used under this license.

The World’s Most Expensive Property Markets

Each year there are more people who want and can afford to buy luxury properties. Thus, with the rising demand, the property prices are rising as well. Let’s take a look at some of the most expensive real estate markets in the world.

Number #5 is Moscow, Russia. The average price per square foot is $4,250, and the average property size is 4600 sq.ft. Ostozhenka street is considered the most expensive.

Flickr Creative Commons: Tatters

Number #4 is Paris, France. The price per square foot is $4,400 and the property size is 10,800 sq.ft.


Flickr Creative Commons: Jan

The 3rd place holds London, U.K., where the average property size is 7,900 sq.ft., and square foot costs $5,300.


Flickr Creative Commons: David Holt

Next on the list is Tokyo, Japan where the average price per square foot is $7,600 and the average property size is 16,000.


Flickr Creative Commons: DozoDomo

And the #1 goes to Hong Kong, China. The average price per square foot is $11,000! And the average property size is 5,200 sq.ft. Since 2008, prices doubled due to low mortgage and interest rates.


Flickr Creative Commons: Roger W

Travel Feature: Perth, Australia

Perth is called the most isolated city on Earth. It is the only city in Western half of the Australia. It is located a long way of everywhere. It is closer to the capital of Indonesia than to Australian’s own capital Canberra.

Perth is known for its warm hot summers and very mild winters. In fact, Perth is considered the world’s most sunniest city, temperature rises to 86F (30C), but humidity is low. Because of the Indian ocean there is a regular sea breeze which helps to keep air fresh.
Here are some of the top attractions.

The Swan Bell Tower is one of the main attractions. It overlooks the Swan River and the city skyline. It is six stories high and has twelve bells of St.Martin-in-the-Fields that are traced back to 14th century.


Flickr Creative Commons: Alex Dawson

Kings park is the largest inner park, it overlooks the Swan River and it’s a great place to enjoy the city view. It’s a beautiful place with pathways, where you can go on a walking tour and learn about aboriginal people and Australian history.

Flickr Creative Commons: Monica D.

Cottesloe beach is known for its crystal clear water, cafe’s and restaurants. It is one of the best places to watch sunset over the Indian ocean. It is a popular place for surfing, snorkeling, or jogging along the beach.


There are many other places to explore, such as Fermantle, a small town full of cafes, bars, seafood restaurants, Rottnest island, where you can take tours to explore the island and encounter a variety of wildlife.

While there are so many great places to visit and enjoy, there are some things to keep in mind when traveling to Australia.

First and foremost, citizens of the US and Canada need a visa to go to Australia. Only citizens of New Zealand do not need one. It is quite an easy process and costs around $20, and it doesn’t take long.

Another thing to remember is that Australian seasons are opposite of what we are used to. The summer months are December, January and February. Although, weather depends on the part of Australia you are going to, so do some research prior.

Also, make sure to read what  is prohibited to bring into the country. Besides the usual restrictions like food, plants, etc., there are some restrictions on medication, so it’s better to have a letter form a doctor.

Relaxed outdoor lifestyle and sunny weather makes Perth a great vacation destination!