Chinese New Year: The Chinese Zodiac

Chinese New Year: The Chinese Zodiac

This month is Chinese New Year!

There’s a rich mythology surrounding the Chinese zodiak. To learn more, click here.

2021 is the Year of the Ox which is the second animal chronologically in the Chinese Zodiac. Positive characteristics of the Ox are its dependability, determination and honesty. Negative characteristics are stubbornness and difficulty in communication.

During the month of February, we’re exploring Asia. Discover China, as well as Japan, India and beyond. Check out the exclusive deals here.

Australia Day 2021

Australia Day 2021

This month Australia has commemorated Australia Day!

On January 26, 1788, the first fleet of convicts arrived in Australia from England . The commemoration has become increasingly controversial . The Aboriginal population of Australia regard it as Invasion Day.

Check out our extensive content on Australia on our destinations page here, our DVDs and downloads on Convict and Colonial Australia here and some fabulous Instagram images here.

Written by Ian Cross.

How 2021’s Presidential Inauguration Will be Different

How 2021’s Presidential Inauguration Will be Different

On Wednesday 20th January 2021, a new chapter will begin in American history when President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

While inauguration ceremonies are traditional, this year’s formal procedure is not going to be quite the same. Here are 4 ways that the Presidential Inauguration 2021 will be different.

Via Unsplash / Arron Burden

Covid-19

Prior to Covid-19, people could go to concerts, clubs and out for dinner and have drinks with family and friends. Amid an ongoing pandemic that’s affected every country in the world, all these things are on hold and life as we know it hasn’t been the same for months to keep us safe.

Biden’s Inauguration ceremony will be different due to the pandemic; there won’t be crowds of people packed on to the Mall, watching him sworn in. There will be a socially distanced area for a few selected people. The receptions and dinners have been cancelled and there won’t be a parade.

This year, watching the Inauguration will mainly be online and/or on TV.

Further security

Earlier this month, there was a mob of looters that stormed the Capitol Building just as Biden’s election victory was being certified. It shocked world leaders and the world.

In response, this inauguration will see an increased and the largest security presence in history to ensure the smooth transition of power.

Trump will not be attending

It is traditional for the outgoing president to attend the inauguration of the new leader. Current President Donald Trump has said he will not attend which breaks tradition. He will only be the fourth president to skip their successor’s ceremony, the last one being Andrew Johnson skipping Ulysses S. Grant inauguration in 1869.

Trump’s decision was welcomed by Biden.

First woman to be sworn in

On a positive and progressive note, Kamala Harris will make history on the January 20th as the first female, woman of colour Vice-President to be sworn in.

Harris will be sworn in before Biden. Biden will be sworn in on the Capitol’s West Front at noon.

As part of the American 2021 inauguration, have a look at our amazing American programmes, on special this month, including our Historic Walk of Washington DC and our special programme, the American Empire. Learn more about American history, with our study guides here.

Written by Kaz Bosali

3 Soups to Soothe Your Soul in the COVID-Zone

3 Soups to Soothe Your Soul in the COVID-Zone

If there is a silver lining to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s an increased awareness on our health and motivation to keep us as fit and strong as possible.

Nutrition is crucial to that; we all know what food can do for you and what it can do to you. We live in a world where we can cook the cuisines of other countries and get a step by step recipe with the click of a button, and we are spoilt for choice!

Soups are a wonderful way to add a rainbow of nourishing fruit and veg into your diet without it feeling like you have to! Delicious and wholesome, the following are 3 soups to soothe your soul during the COVID-Zone.

Chicken rice soup with ginger

Ginger is one of nature’s natural medicines; it holds antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, providing a perfect protection against the COVID-19 virus which targets the respiratory system as well as the common cold and flu.  

Aromatic and full of natural goodness, ginger is wonderful to have in your diet. Keeping your sinuses clear, have a read of Pilot’s chicken rice soup with ginger recipe here.

Sinigang with milkfish and prawns

Sinigang is a chicken and egg thing, with many debating whether it is a soup or a stew. Originating from the Philippines, its uniqueness is in the balance of getting the savoury and the sourness right.

You can explore many flavours, from meats such as beef or seafood, a wonderful way to get your source of protein or omega-3. Seafood in particular has been proven to boost your immune system and helps protects against infections – very fitting for these times! Read our savoury goa and manila recipe here.

Ajoblanco (White garlic soup with grapes)

Via Unsplash/ Team Voyas

Garlic has been proven to have multiple health benefits ranging from your cognitive to physical performance.

Garlic is a natural remedy to preventing colds and boosting the immune system. The powerful smell can easily be overshadowed by its health benefits and something for you to enjoy.

Read our amazing Southern Spain dish, ajoblanco recipe here.

Leading a healthy lifestyle and cooking nutritious soups can be fun, lovely and delightful. At Covid-19 times as well, we have made it a point to put our health in our own hands and look after ourselves as best we can. Nutrition is a key part of that and soups are a brilliant way to add nourishing dishes to our diets.

More information

For more recipes and cultural foods, read our 10 Great Global Recipes.

By Kaz Bosali

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Cardiff named UK’s most bike friendly city

Following the cycling booms that occurred during lockdowns right the way across Europe, Cardiff in Wales has been named the UK’s most bike friendly city by route-finding app Komoot!

Participants were asked to rate a range of factors including cycling infrastructure, such as cycle lanes and signage, local cycling facilities, countryside accessibility and their sense of personal safety when it comes to cycling in the city.

The Food of Quarantine

The BBC took a look at the kind of foods being delivered to the rooms of those quarantining around the world. Spoiler: It largely resembles a cross between plane food, hospital food and a classic British school dinner… Yum?

Let us know on Twitter if you experienced this kind of quarantine food and what you thought of it!

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics


Main image: Cardiff Ajax and Arbis heading for top 10s, Jun, Flickr Creative Commons

Borderlines: Stop the Spread!

Borderlines: Stop the Spread!

Following the emergence of an allegedly more contagious strain of COVID-19, multiple nations have put the shutters down with the UK.

After a hard year of restrictions of varying degrees, in places all around the globe, it is time to revisit the ever changing history of the world’s borders and barriers!

This episode of the Globe Guides explores the theme of Borderlines!

From Historic walled cities such as Fez and Jerusalem, to divided capitals such as Berlin and Nicosia, this show uncovers the history behind these division and the reason why many of them remain to this day.

Megan McCormick visits the Great Wall of China while Ian Wright takes a trip to the DMZ in Korea. Justine Shapiro and Megan both learn about the history and future of the Berlin wall in Germany, while Zay Harding see one of the world’s most recently constructed walls, the West Bank barrier, and learns about the effect that its construction has caused.

Listen to our podcast here!

In London…

London has found itself locked down over the Christmas period, with trips to leave the capital to now be prohibited.

In the rest of the UK…

The UK has found itself in a spot of bother with its European neighbours this week after scientists claim to have discovered a strain of much more highly transmissible COVID-19.


Main image: Guardians – Downing Street, Phil Dolby, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone

China asks cabin crew to wear nappies

In a bizarre bid to reduce the risk of virus transmission, the Chinese aviation authorities have asked the cabin crew on certain Chinese charter flights to wear nappies!

The rule, as set out by China’s latest 49-page set of guidelines, applies to charter flights heading to and from destinations with infection rates of 500 per million.

Other advice put forward includes for cabin crew to wear full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, goggles and shoe covers.

The crew of flights on regular schedules don’t have to wear nappies, though multiple forms of protective gear are being employed by a variety of airlines, depending on their destinations.

Read: Phobic Traveller: The Next Chapter for Air Travel

Vaccines hit the ground running!

Healthcare providers in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States among others have ramped up efforts to vaccinate vulnerable people against the Coronavirus since a number of vaccines, each from different pharmaceutical companies and research teams, have been approved for use.

Meanwhile, the so-called COVAX initiative has set out to help provide poorer nations with a share of the global supply.

Run, Forrest! Run!

More Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Europe tightens COVID restrictions ahead of Christmas. Germany will return to a national lockdown until January 10th, but with the restrictions relaxed slightly from 24 to 26 December, allowing a limited amount of festive household mixing.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: B-18007 China Airlines with special Boeing livery Boeing 777-309(ER) coming in from Taipei (TPE) @ Frankfurt (FRA) / 01.06.2018, Oliver Holzbauer, Flickr Creative Commons

A spotlight on Nicaragua

A spotlight on Nicaragua

The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua has been the scene of dynamic events in recent decades, making headlines around the world for political upheaval and conflict.

As unfortunate events in Nicaragua hit the headlines once again, we’ve pooled together a number of our own resources to help brush up on this nation’s fascinating history.

Hurricane Season

2020 has seen the most active Atlantic Hurricane Season on record.

The season officially started on June 1 and will officially end on November 30, though tropical cyclones can form at any time.

Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast has been hit two major hurricanes this month, making 2020 the only year with two severe storms in the month of November.

Sky News: Hurricane Iota makes landfall in Nicaragua with 155mph winds

Locations

Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua and home to over a quarter of the nation’s population. Despite being the nation’s main transport, economic and entertainment hub, the city is not a major tourist destination thanks to years worth of destruction and chaos caused by natural disasters, socioeconomic problems and political unrest and revolution.

More touristic destinations include Granada, The Corn Islands and Matagalpa, along with the many incredible lakes and volcanoes that the country has to offer.

Read: Nicaragua: Locations

A Brief History

Pre-Columbian History

The peoples of the area now known as Nicaragua were largely hunter gatherer and fishing communities, and civilasation was related by culture to mesoamerican civilisations such as the Maya and the Toltec with further influence from the Andean cultures geographically surrounding them.

European Discovery

Perhaps unbelievably, the colonisation of the Americas occurred almost by accident, with the majority of voyages motivated by the desire to seek an alternative route to Asia and its lucrative natural resources.

The first European discovery of what is now Nicaragua was stumbled upon by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage in 1502 where he explored the Atlantic coast, not encountering any indigenous tribes.

It was not until 20 years later when Spanish explorer and conquistador Gil González Dávila arrived that a Nahua tribe was encountered.

Despite discourse and hostility, the Conquistadors began to set up permanent settlements for the Spanish with two principle cities: Granada and Leon – two cities which are widely visited for their colonial history to this day.

Read: Great Explorers: The Americas

The Spanish Empire

Many of the tribes people were displaced and sent to work as slaves in Peru and Panama as the Spanish Empire expanded. Others were killed by the spread of diseases that had both arrived with and been exacerbated by the poor conditions created by the Spanish.

Study Guide: Epidemics Throughout the Ages

Further to this, the Spanish conquerors quickly took indigenous wives and partners resulting in a multi-ethnic mix in just a few short generations; the mix which still makes up most of the population in the west of modern day Nicaragua.

Watch: Empire Builders: The Spanish Empire

Nicaraguan Independence

Once the Spanish Kingdom of Guatemala was dissolved in 1821, Nicaragua became a part of the First Mexican Empire, a monarchy which was overthrown just two short years later. Nicaragua subsequently joined the federal Republic of South America for several years before eventually becoming an independent republic in 1838.

Study Guide: Latin American Independence Movements

Travel Writers: Climbing Concepcion by Shannon Cram

Shannon and her partner Adrian embark on the epic ascent of Concepcion, the larger of the two volcanoes which make up Isla de Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua. Read more…

Fair Trade: Working on a Nicaraguan Coffee Farm

In the early nineties, Nicaragua embraced a new economic model of export-led growth. It increased its production of coffee and deepened its dependence on it, just as other developing countries did the same. The result was a glut of coffee on the market and an almost 50% drop in its world price since 1998. Read more…

Watch: The Story of… Coffee

Watch: The Story of Coffee

Main image: Maisons Coloniales (Granada, Nicaragua), Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Flickr Creative Commons

Remembrance, Veterans and Armistice Day 2020

Remembrance, Veterans and Armistice Day 2020
November 11, 2020

Remembrance Day, as it is known in the Commonwealth, and Veterans Day, as it is known in the Americas, is celebrated every November 11.

Remembrance Day has its roots in the Armistice signed at the end of WWI, becoming immortalized as the day the Great War ended. However, the Armistice – agreement to ceasefire on both sides – which was signed on 11 Novermber 1918, did not formally become the end of the war until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919. The ceasefire did however last for the full duration between the armistice and the peace treaty being signed.

Study Guide: What Caused World War I

Following the outbreak of WWII, the Commonwealth nations decided to change the name from Armistice Day to Remembrance Day to honour all the fallen and not just those of WWI.

During WWII and in the many wars that would follow, including the Vietnam war, the Gulf war, Afghanistan and Iraq, millions more would perish as servicemen from all around the world fought for their countries.

Hence, Remembrance and Veterans Day celebrate the bravery of these service personnel, both fallen and returned heroes, and gives thanks and recognition for the service that they have given.

Large celebrations and commemorations often take place, including ‘Remembrance Sunday’ across the Commonwealth, the Sunday closest to the 11th of November, where crowds gather to mark their respect with a 2 minute display of silence, and Veterans festivals in the US such as the celebrations we visited in San Diego.

2020 has marked other important war anniversaries, most notably the end of WWII in Europe and the Pacific, and the liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp 75 years ago, and the beginning of the reunification of Vietnam 45 years ago following the end of the Vietnam war.

Watch FREE: Grass Roots – Veterans Day in San Diego

Grass Roots – Veterans Day in San Diego

Main image: World War I Cemetery in The Somme Valley, Pilot Productions.

It’s all eyes on America

It's all eyes on America

It’s been all eyes on the US this week for election-mania!

In the moments that we’ve not been following this year’s monumental race, we’ve been brushing up on our history and knowledge, and all the reasons we love the land of the free.

That’s why we’ve made some of our most popular America shows half price for you to enjoy this month, including the American Empire show from our bestselling series Empire Builders!

Shop Now: Half Price November

Empire Builders – The American Empire

Trailer: Empire Builders – The American Empire

From the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall, through to tech solutions of Silicon Valley, America has shaped the world we live in – all the while shaping its own identity through the iconic buildings and structures that chart the nation’s history.

Through bustling ports and strategic forts, cultural quirks and cathedrals of commerce, this episode of Empire Builders tells the the incredible story of the United States through 12 key historic sites.

Our story starts in the humble surrounds of a meeting hall in Philadelphia, with the ‘Thirteen Colonies’ declaring independence from the United Kingdom. And nearby , in Washington D.C., stands the Washington Monument, a tribute to iconic father of the nation and city founder. It was completed almost a century after it was originally commissioned, the huge obelisk a testament to character of man it celebrates.

Shop Now: Half Price November

No geographical entity was more important to the spread of America westwards than the Mississippi River. President Jefferson sought to ensure passage through the purchase of the historic Port of New Orleans at the river’s mouth. He could never have dreamed the outcome; with the eventual ‘Louisiana Purchase’ being described as the greatest land deal in history, almost doubling the size of the United States over night.

Andrew Jackson’s bold and controversial capture of the perfectly preserved Spanish Fort Barrancas at Pensacola culminated in the transfer of Spanish Florida to the United States. Perhaps even more significantly, it resulted in the Spaniards ceding claims over ‘New Spain’, emboldening American progress to the west and propelling Jackson toward the Presidency.

In the story of America’s conquest of west, no chapter burns more brightly in the American conscious than the Battle of the Alamo, with Davy Crockett’s legendary last stand confirming the small Spanish mission’s place in history. It led ultimately to Texas joining the United States and, after victory in the Spanish American War in 1848, the size of the country almost doubling.

With the continent settled, it was soon to be linked by the fantastically ambitious Transcontinental Railroad. The grand project required a grand terminus, with the Vanderbilt family commissioning a fittingly advanced and opulent departure point: ‘Grand Central Terminus’ became the gateway to the nation.

With the nation mobilised, it industrialised at an unprecedented rate. Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead Steel Mill was a game changer, dwarfing anything that industry had witnessed. It remained the largest steel producing plant on the planet for the best part of a century.

Fast becoming the most powerful nation on earth, the United States now expanded its strategic and military horizons beyond its borders, taking over the Kingdom of Hawaii followed by the Philippines, Puerto Rico and parts of Cuba following the Spanish American War of 1898. Then the huge Panama Canal project made transit of ships between the American continents possible for the first time.

Economic success meant boom time in the city; and nowhere was this more evident than New York City. Tycoons set about building great monuments to their success, the greatest of all them all was the Empire State Building.

The Hollywood Sign hailed success of different kind on the west coast – the eyes of the world now fell on America as it exported movies around the globe. But the symbol that would go on to define this new industry actually started life as a real estate advertisement hoarding.

After success in WWII, the Cold War raged, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union the United States became the world’s only superpower. Meanwhile, America had  looked to the next frontier: space exploration. The colossal Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas would become the Johnson Space Center – Mission Control for the Apollo and Space Shuttle expeditions.

Crowning America’s technological dominance is Silicon Valley. Apple’s gargantuan new HQ was based on an idea of the late Steve Jobs, and raises the bar for contemporary design standards everywhere. Constructed costs were eye-wateringly expensive, but it is affectionately nicknamed the Spaceship.

Main image: Jefferson Monument, Washington DC, Pilot Productions