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Russian Superstitions

Russians are very superstitious people. They will deny this, but it is true. These superstitions affect my life on a daily basis. Most of the time they are harmless and I go along with them to humor my wife. Sometimes I tease her about them.

New superstitions pop up all the time, as new situations arise in our life. I keep telling her that I need a rulebook for them. Perhaps someday I will codify them in a book.

Russians are raised with these superstitions so they have no need to consult a manual.

Here are some of them. It is by no means an exhaustive list:

1) You can’t whistle in the house or car, as they believe that you are whistling away your money.

At a dinner party at our house, a friend of mine started whistling. My wife silenced him immediately. She explained to him, “You can whistle in your own house, but you can’t whistle in mine. In my house, it’s my money you are whistling away.”

When she first came to America, she would see people standing at intersections holding signs. She asked me what they were doing. I told her they were asking for money. She asked me why. I told her that they had done entirely too much whistling in their house for their own good.

2) If you step on your spouse’s shoe by accident, you have to let the other person step on your shoe, or you will have an argument.

I never tested this superstition. It seemed easier to go along with the remedy than pay the price for violating it.

3) If you leave your house, you cannot go back inside for something you have forgotten, or your trip will result in ‘nothing good,’ as my wife says.

4) If you must go back in to get the forgotten item, you can try to mitigate the bad effects of returning by looking into the mirror at your own reflection for a moment before you leave again.

5) Never demonstrate another’s surgery or wound on your own body with your hand or other means as you are likely to visit that upon yourself.

In the few times I have done this, my wife has tried to remedy this by wiping away the spot where I made the imaginary incision with her hand, blowing on her hand to blow it away to the wind, and covering it with the sign of the cross.

6) Never give a Russian woman an even number of flowers. Even numbers are for the dead. Always give odd numbers. When you order a dozen, or two dozen roses, for her, ask them to throw in an extra one for good luck.

7) Never give yellow flowers to a Russian woman. It signifies infidelity and may mean that your relationship will not last.

8) Never give a watch as a gift to a Russian woman. Time is running out on your relationship.

9) Never give knives or handkerchiefs as gifts. I don’t know the reason for this one.

10) Never celebrate a birthday early. You are pushing your luck.

11) Don’t show your newborn baby to strangers until after forty days. They are waiting for their soul to arrive and they may take on another’s soul or energy during that time.

12) It’s best to cut your hair or nails during a full moon.

13) It’s considered bad luck to shave or cut your hair when a family member is in danger or bad health.

14) Whenever someone praises you or offers a positive comment, you knock on wood or imaginarily spit three times over your left shoulder so that you are not jinxed by the comment.

15) Do not shake hands or kiss over the threshold of a door. It forms a bridge that allows the devil or evil spirits from the outside to enter the house this way. When I have done this by mistake, my wife usually pushes me back outside or pulls me inside before greeting me with a kiss at the front door.

16) Before anyone takes a long trip, the whole family sits together silently for a few minutes before the traveler leaves.

17) The truly superstitious have been known to eat ‘lucky’ bus tickets, when the sum of the left three numbers equals the sum of the three numbers on the right.

18) Recently, while preparing to give my infant daughter a bath, the little tyke peed on me while I was taking her clothes off. My wife laughed and said that it was good news. It meant that I would live to dance at my daughter’s wedding!

This list is not exhaustive by any means. Superstitions vary by country and locale. There is a popular Russian television show that travels around the country exploring the unique superstitions of each particular town or village.

Many of the superstitions came from folk tales or fairy stories, Russian Orthodox tradition, or had peasant or agricultural roots. Most Russians are only one or two generations from the farm or village.

At any rate, be aware of the superstitions and try to show some respect for them whether or not you believe in them. Your Russian friends will appreciate it.

Finding an Affordable Disneyworld

What’s that? You wish there was a way Disneyworld could actually be reasonable? Believe it or not, it is more affordable then you may think! Here are some ways to save lots of cash while at Disneyworld:

 Travel  during the off season. I realize that with having kids in school this can become pretty hard to do (though you can justify taking them out by pitching the trip to Disney as an educational trip).  Traveling  during the “off” season can save you so much money. You also need to remember that the “off” season isn’t that much of an “off” season. Florida is still pretty warm during the winter!

Make sure you are clever and careful with your food costs. You can eat breakfast in the hotel, and then pack lunches and take them into the park with you. Disney allows you to bring your own backpacks, you don’t even have to sneak it in! We saved so much money doing this. Wouldn’t you rather spend your money on souviners? Once you eat your meals, that money is gone, souviners are forever!

Make absolutely sure to find every available discount and coupon. You can always count on there being discounts somewhere, you just have to look for them. The internet is a great help with this. We were fortunate enough to buy our park tickets at a nice discount at a local grocery store right in Orlando.

Try not to purchase souviners throughout your trip, do it all at the end. Walt Disneyworld is one magical place, and it can be hard not to buy everything you see. You don’t want to end up coming home wishing you had a bit more left in your wallet. Waiting until your last day at the park to buy your souviners helps you make a much better decision of what you want, since you have had time to see everything.

I hope that my tips help you enjoy a very affordable Disneyworld!

Astral Projection Spy – The Amazing Truth Revealed

One of the most interesting components of the research done into the out of body experience phenomena was the U.S military study into using astral projection as a spying technique on foreign countries and other miscellaneous enemies. As far fetched as it sounds, the CIA conducted an experiment in remote viewing, or “seeing at a distance” that employed a series of highly regarded psychic spies, as well as ordinary military intelligence as a way to peek both at the possibilities of using ESP in warfare, as well as of course, seeing what the other guys were REALLY doing over “there”…

After about a decade or so, the “official” lab was closed, and it’s results were released to congressional oversight and review. The operation was called “Star-gate” and any simple search engine query will offer eons of reading on the incredible results turned in by some of the highly trained psychic spies employed to peek behind enemy lines…while they’re bodies were many thousands of miles away!

The most famous of these paranormal guinea pigs is Indigo Swann, whose accuracy in remote viewing is unexplainable by any currently known scientific standard or process. His ability to see, via powers we do not yet understand, people, places and things in geographical locales many miles, and even countries away, is simply jaw dropping. Several other participants of project Star-gate have gone on to very celebrated careers as authors and speakers on Astral Projection, psychic ability and one or two actively teach the skill to others in workshops around the world. A bestselling book also emanated from the same group, “Psychic Spies”, which highlights the experiences of one of the remote viewers during these experiments – his claim of developing psychic powers after being shot in the head during the Vietnam war was bolstered considerably after showing off these skills for an incredulous military audience.

Overall, like much in this venue, it’s simply amazing, phenomenal and exciting stuff that would make any hardcore “X-files” devotee green with envy..:-)

Tips For Making Traveling With Children Easier

Some of the best memories in life are the vacations we take as children. They are looked back on later in life as a “golden” time when family let go of responsibilities and cares and just enjoyed each other in a special place. The value of creating those memories with our children that they will reflect on as they grow older is priceless. In the fast-paced and highly technological world that we live in, unplugging and connecting face to face for a while is essential to build deep relationships. However, traveling with children can also be a daunting task.

Smoothly planning and managing this sometimes chaotic ordeal can drive some people to forgo vacations completely. There are some tips and tricks that wise and inventive parents use to make traveling with children more enjoyable. The first consideration is in the initial vacation planning. Choosing a destination that is child-friendly is a very good idea. One of the worst dampers on a fun vacation is to have hotel, cruise, or tourist destination staff and fellow travelers frowning at you and your children all the time. Family friendly resorts, destinations, and modes of travel go a long way toward making sure that people are ready for the ordinary activity level and noise level of children. In addition, these places usually have something for everyone to enjoy, rather than just adult-focused activities.

In traveling with children, setting the expectation for the child’s behavior before the trip begins is also important. Letting them know the boundaries and guidelines as soon as you enter a new place can meet your expectations more easily. One of the most difficult places to corral your children is in an airplane. The small space, normally uncomfortable conditions, and proximity of other passengers make this a potential nightmare start or end to the vacation.

For very young children, planning the flight during nap time can help immensely. When the plane is taking off and landing, babies should suck on a bottle or pacifier to ease the pressure on the ears. For the same reason, having a drink, snack, or candy on hand for older children can prevent discomfort. A favorite stuffed animal or blanket often put children at ease in this very strange environment. Traveling with extras of just about everything, including change of clothes, diapers, wipes, food, and a few toys (perhaps wrapped in bright paper), can make traveling with children easier too. The memories you build are worth all the time and effort.

The Pros and Cons of Group Holidays

When I was 17 my friends from college and I went on a group holiday to Ibiza. It was a week of excessive drinking, falling out and broken ankles. Upon our return out of 12 of us only 4 were still talking to each other. Until recently that experience was my only one of group holidays and I was always very dubious. Family group holidays are a slightly different kettle of fish and have the potential to be even more troublesome.

So what are the pros and cons of a group adventure? The cons are fairly obvious:

  • It is harder to make decisions meaning simple things like eating become a massive argument.
  • Travelling with people you know and in some case don’t know can put a strain on your personal space. It’s difficult to find ‘alone’ time on holiday.
  • It can prohibit freedom. Trying to get a large group somewhere or to do something is tiresome and sometimes you do just want to go wandering down an interesting laneway.

The pros:

  • Shared experiences. Have you ever been on holiday with your boyfriend/girlfriend and then tried to explain your amazing trip to your friends? Well often they lose interest after the 90th photo. Travelling with them means lifelong memories that will bond your forever.
  • There’s someone else to rely on. If you get into trouble you’re surrounded by your close friends and/or family who will help you out whether that’s sitting in a Greek hospital while your broken foot is mended or lending you some cash.
  • Safety. As with the above groups are often safer than travelling alone, Thieves and pickpockets are less likely to target you if you’re with a group of men and women.
  • It can work out cheaper. Booking in bulk and usually for groups of 10 more can result in a nice discount and you don’t need to worry about single supplements.
  • Travelling in groups allows you to do things you might not get to do otherwise. Say, for example, your husband loves trekking and you don’t, you can travel with friends somewhere else to say, lie on the beach or visit India. You don’t miss out and neither does he.

Are there any destinations which lend themselves to the group experience? Yes lots. Ever wanted to climb Kilimanjaro? Well the majority of people who trek are in either a group of friends or social club, or they’re singles who are out together in a group through a travel company. Trekking is a solo pursuit to some extent but you still need other company trekking alongside just in case. If you decide to climb Kilimanjaro you will need a guide to show you the way. There are lots of holiday companies that offer Kili trips and they will either let you book as a group of friends or as a single. You will then end up in a group of other single trekkers who you can rely on for the duration of your trip and I’ll bet become lifelong friends with.

Away from trekking, long trips to developing countries or activity holidays also lend themselves to group holidays. A week in Andorra rafting, cycling and walking is a week best shared with your partner, friends or family. If you are a single passenger then try an adventure company as they will no doubt run a solos trip meaning you can make friends there. The ongoing/round-the-word/gap year trip can be daunting alone as much as we might think we want to do it. Places like India, Thailand or Peru are hot destinations for groups of friends, school groups and solo travellers alike. The ‘foreigness’ of these places means most of us feel happier with a group of travellers than alone.

With all of the above in mind and my recent climb to Kilimanjaro I have to come to the conclusion that while we’d all love to go it alone, going together is actually more fun and safer. A shared moment is a living moment and not one you might doubt later.

Laptop Bags: Travel in Style

Welcome to the Electronic Age. Not only are we more plugged into electronic devices, such as laptops and music players, but we are increasingly dependent on those computers for our livelihoods. Anyone who depends on their laptop; whether for business, volunteer work, record keeping or just pleasure; knows that it’s important to have a safe way to transport the computer. There are many styles of laptop bags available to help you take yours wherever you need to go, without risking damage to the unit.

Messenger style bags are a casual carrying bag that features a shoulder strap. The shoulder strap makes it easy to carry, and the style is convenient for navigating airport security. However, it cannot carry a great deal of weight without causing strain to the neck or back, and it might be considered too casual for some business applications.

Leather briefcases offer a sophisticated business look. The sleek style and classic appeal of leather make this a fine choice for the boardroom. It will not be as sturdy as the more functional messenger bag, requiring the owner to take some care with the bag to prevent scratches and discoloration. However, there are sprays and rubs that can be purchased to keep the bag looking fresh and clean.

Women who take their laptops on the go will be thrilled to find that there is a purse-style laptop bag. This bag looks like a purse, but features all the amenities needed to keep a laptop safe. They are stylishly designed, available in a range of colors, and completely feminine.

Wheeled laptop bags are the ideal solution for people who will carry their laptops by hand for any great distance. For example, someone who flies frequently would really enjoy the convenience offered by these bags. Not only will they keep your laptop completely safe and your bag pain-free, but they often feature extra pockets and storage areas for books, music, and a range of other items.

The backpack is another good option for your laptop. Take care, though, not to use just any backpack to transport your expensive computer. To be suitable for a laptop, the backpack must have additional padding, and straps inside that will hold the computer firmly in one place. Additionally, choose a backpack that features adjustable straps to minimize back strain.

When you are choosing a laptop bag, there is more to consider than just the style. While style is important, of greater importance is finding a bag that will keep your laptop safe. The bag you choose should be quality construction, with padding for your computer, and straps to prevent it from sliding around. Consider the accessories you carry and check to be sure the bag will have space for them. Finally, take the time to measure your laptop. You want the laptop to fit comfortably inside. You do not want a great deal of excess room as the laptop will slide around and could become damaged.

6 Reasons Why You Should Learn How To Surf in Sydney

When people think of surfing, learning to surf, and the beach culture, Sydney isn’t usually one of the places that first comes to mind! In reality, though, Sydney has easy access to a wide range of beaches. Conditions at some are gentle, and you can graduate to beaches with bigger waves, by doing nothing more than taking a different bus. If you’re backpacking in Sydney in summer, it is actually the perfect opportunity to learn to surf – here’s why!

Because 7 Mile Beach is Australia’s best ‘learn to surf’ beach:

Surfing is an unpredictable sport. You have no control of the conditions of the ocean, so the best thing to do is choose a beach that is very consistent in its conditions. 7 Mile Beach consistently delivers conditions easy for beginners to learn to surf in – not too small, not to big… just right! Seven Mile Beach also has plenty of native wildlife, and a great fossil display if you aren’t too tired.

Because Sydney beaches are more heavily patrolled than most others:

Sydney is the most populated area of Australia, and as such the beaches around the city are some of the most heavily patrolled. If you’re learning to surf for the first time, you’ll probably be swimming a lot further out (in heavier conditions) than you are used to. Don’t turn a surfing experiment into a tragedy!

Sydney has a great variety of teachers and packages.:

Another benefit of being one of the most heavily populated areas of Australia is that there is plenty of competition among the large range of local surfing schools. This means that lesson prices are lower in Sydney than almost anywhere else in the country. You can get a 140day camp for $1,650, or a day lesson for around $100.

It’s cheap!:

Not only is Sydney the cheapest place to learn to surf in Australia, the competition for the surfing student dollar means that it is one of the more cost-effective day long activities in the city. Compared to climbing the Harbour Bridge, seeing a show at the Opera House, or even grabbing a gourmet meal, learning to surf is awesome value!

Sydney is a hub:

Planning to learn to surf somewhere, anywhere, in Australia? It may as well be Sydney, because there are tons of great  backpackers  hostels in Sydney, awesome pubs, parties galore, iconic tourist activities, and great beaches. Sydney is central, in terms of both  travel  and activities. If you’re going to learn to surf at some stage on your Aussie trip, make it in Sydney!

Easy access to more secluded spots:

Once you get a bit more confident, you’ll no doubt want to start checking out some alternative beaches. Sydney is located close to much more rural surf spots, like Port Macquarie and Tathra. Catch a bus up or down the coast a few hundred kilometres, and you’ll pass dozens of great, patrolled surf spots.

Sydney has a lot to recommend it to  backpackers  – there are plenty of cheap, cheerful and great quality  backpacker  hostels in Sydney, world-class food, an inclusive atmosphere and great nightlife. And you can certainly add surfing to the list!

Advantages of Bus Travel

Bus is the most popular transport nowadays. Many people choose bus as the best transport for them because of the many advantages they find in it. Others never get on a bus, thinking only of the disadvantages, which are truly a lot. Here I will tell you the reasons why it is better to choose travelling by bus rather than travelling with your car for example.

The good standpoints for travelling by bus

Many people choose bus transport because it is cheap. This is the main reason why when you get on a bus you will see mainly students and old people. The tickets for long destinations are much cheaper than the flight tickets. You can also by a card for every month and travel at reduced fare. This is also a good advantage to choose bus transport, because it saves you money that you can spend on your next vacation.

Another good advantage of bus transport when going on short travels is that bad weather won’t be a problem for the bus driver. If you are planning to go to the nearest village with your bicycle and it starts raining or snowing, you will get wet for sure. If you choose the bus, you can save yourself this uncomfortable situation and it also can save you money because it won’t get you sick. Also if you choose to take a flight and the weather surprises you and a storm comes out, you may be waiting for hours because of delayed flights.

However, this won’t happen if you choose bus travel. In modern buses, you will have an air conditioner, toilet, the bus-hostess will offer you drinks and snacks to make your trip more enjoyable, and there are also at least two TV sets in new travel buses. So you can enjoy your trip watching a movie and having a snack without worrying when will be the next stop for the toilet. Also if you are travelling on a bus for more hours or even days, you can always make new friends there. So, the new social contacts are the other advantage of the bus. And if you have to choose between a plane or bus, remember that you will see much more if you are travelling with a bus. The bus also stops at many places during the travel and in that time, you can have a coffee or a cigarette if you are a smoker. In the plane this could not be done.

Another good advantage of buses is that they reduce the traffic jams in the rush hour in big cities. Imagine that everyone uses cars. The traffic jams will be a lot bigger than they are now. In some countries like India, a bus can gather more than 150 passengers. Imagine that all these people were using their cars instead of bus transport the cities will be crowded.

The Great Gama Workout – These 2 Magical Exercises Made the Great Gama Undefeated

The Great Gama never lost a match and he competed in about 5000 wrestling matches. To this day he is considered by many as the “GREATEST” wrestler in the history.

What’s even more amazing is the Great Gama workout.

Before I break it down for you let me give you a quick idea of his physical prowess.

The Great Gama strength was noticed at an early age. By the time he was only 10 years old he had already competed in a national (India) strength and fitness competition. At this young age he was already capable of performing 500 bethaks and 500 dands. (a type of push up exercise for upper body strength)

He would also wrestle every day, even though he did not compete until he was 15.

What are these exercises you might ask?

Well a bethak is similar to a full squat. You do a bethak from a standing position… your feet in 45 degree angles. While squatting down you roll onto the ball of your feet lifting your heels off the floor. This is not an easy movement but is a great leg builder/conditioner. You should do about 60 or 80 bethaks.

In the Great Gama’s day well-known champions would do between two and three thousand bethaks a day.

Wrestlers would often perform as many as 1000 bethaks. At the very least a wrestler would do between five and eight hundred per day. (This is a great workout and it requires no equipment just your own bodyweight.)

As he got older, the Great Gama’s workout would increase to wrestling 40 wrestlers, 5000 bethaks and 3000 dands. All this was done on a daily basis.

It’s easy to see why the Great Gama was seen as being unbeatable this is a very exhausting workout. These incredible training exercises were the foundations of all the great Indian wrestlers and as the writer, Percy Longhurst wrote… “The Indian system of training has results beyond the development of great strength; it creates most remarkable powers of endurance while at the same time increasing agility.”

Finally in 1909 the Great Gama won the championship wrestling title of India in 1909.

He then traveled throughout Europe with a circus of Indian wrestlers, taking on all comers. As a result the Great Gama went on to defeat some of the most best know wrestlers of that time.

He laid down challenges to many of the greats and was willing to give up his title if defeated. Some of these great champions were the Japanese Judo champion Taro Miyake, Georges Hackenschmidt of Russia and Frank Gotch of the United States.

All of them declined the Great Gama challenge. Are you ready to tackle the Great Gama Workout?

San Francisco – Top 5 Places To Visit

San Francisco is the perfect cosmopolitan holiday destination with a great variety for the shopping and sightseeing enthusiast. The city is part of the San Francisco bay area and was propelled into popularity by the gold rush of 1849. The mild climate, rolling hills and absorbing sights give the city its unique panorama. The local nightlife is spiced by its ethnic diversity and has something to offer to everyone, as does San Francisco’s range of accommodation. The city boasts a collection of luxury hotels, but also caters for the budget traveler with cheap San Francisco accommodation. Make sure to treasure every moment in this, one of the greatest cities in the world.

Fisherman’s Wharf

The wharf is a major tourist attraction with its collection of stores, restaurants and entertainment. The Ghirardelli Square and Pier 39 are some of the more popular shops and for your visit you can stay in the cradle of luxury with the Sheraton or in cheap San Francisco accommodation such as the local Fisherman’s Warf Hostel. The Maritime National Historical Park and Museum is close by and a fleet of historic ships such as the USS Pampanito or SS Jeremiah can be seen berthed near the Hyde Street Pier.

Alcatraz

More commonly known as “the rock”, the infamous prison is accessible by Ferries from Pier 33. The historical prison facility was decommissioned in 1963 and converted into a tourist attraction in 1972.. Both Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly spent some time in this unconventional San Francisco accommodation. The tour offers a view of inmates’ lives and additional information on prison operations.

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden gate bridge is one of the largest suspension bridges in the world and a symbol for the city. This major landmark connects the main city with Marin County, a journey that would otherwise take several hours. If you decide to pay it a visit, it is worthwhile to take a small detour to the Golden Gate National park, of which Alcatraz is a part.

Beaches

The city offers its share of world class beaches for sun-starved tourists. Some of the main destinations are Ocean beach, Baker beach and East Beach, each popular among the locals and offering a spectacular view of the Pacific. The moderately warm waters around Sea Cliff beach make it one of the few swimming beaches along the cold waters around San Francisco.

Cable Car Ride

Once the primary mode of transport for the city, Cable cars are now a fun way to visit the city’s many sights. A Muni Passport permits you access to the Cable Cars and also offers the possibility of unlimited use all municipal transportation within a week.

With a large variety of San Francisco accommodation available, whether you prefer to stay in the best of hotels or backpacking is more your thing, San Francisco has great places to stay while you visit all the attractions this popular city has to offer.