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  • 10 Best Virtual Experiences To Cure Your Wanderlust

    We all miss traveling, don't we? As we are still battling a pandemic worldwide, travel restriction has been prolonged (but it’s looking to be quite promising). And with stringent measures like social distancing and quarantine, one could only dream about traveling and seeing the world again. With advanced technology, the world has been brought closer to us. The existence of virtual travel experiences can cure part of our wanderlust. Not going to sugarcoat my words, seeing the actual thing is way better of course. As we are waiting for the world to heal and the situation to get better, here are the 10 best virtual experiences you need to check out to cure your wanderlust!   1. Marvel the Seven Wonders of the World Image Source: Photo by Fahrul Azmi on Unsplash I have always dreamed about exploring the Seven Wonders of the World, but let's be real. Spreading across different continents, I am sure there will be a lot of planning to do and the time to be allocated to explore every one of them. While we're in this phase, how about checking out this article from the New York Times? Listing down the Seven Wonders of the World, you can sit back and enjoy the 360 videos of the monuments. This includes The Taj Mahal and The Great Wall of China. With each video, you can also read brief information, adding up to your experience. 2. Ride around Japan on a Rickshaw! Image Source: Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash The VisitJapan Youtube channel has plenty of travel videos that are worth watching to cure your wanderlust. Some of these 360 videos have been around even before the pandemic breakout. If you haven't check out any of these videos, then this is the time for you to do so.The Let's go Rickshaw series brings you around cities of Japan on a rickshaw! Even though the cities are limited, it is pretty much informative and exciting. Ride around Asakusa and witness the Sensoji Temple or watch the relaxing countryside of Oita at the comfort of your house. You can also enjoy the 360 videos of the Japanese culture, making you want to fly right away to Japan after the restrictions have been lifted. 3. Explore the Yosemite National Park Image Source: Photo by Aniket Deole on Unsplash Yosemite National Park is located in California's Sierra Nevada. It is known for its majestic waterfalls and its granite rock formation. Tourists have been flocking to Yosemite all year round regardless of the seasons. Even though we cannot hike the Yosemite for some time, let this website shows you the remarkable view that you shouldn't miss.The Virtual Yosemite website allows you to explore the national park without boundaries. Pan around the popular spots and read up on the brief descriptions to learn more. Relax by listening to the water gushing down Nevada Falls or be awed by the nature surrounding Glacier Point. 4. Enjoy the Aeriel View of the Zhangjiajie National Park Image Source: Photo by Matt Zhang on Unsplash Located in the Hunan Province of China, Zhangjiajie National Park was recognized as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The notable thing about this park is the pillar-like rock formation, making them look like they appear right out of a fantasy book. And it must be due to this that it became an inspiration for the movie Avatar.This Youtube 360 video will bring you through the Zhangjiajie National Park through a birds-eye view. Expect to see the Tianmen Mountain Temple and a glimpse of the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge. You can also spot the Bailong Elevator, known to be the world's highest outdoor elevator. With an informative voiceover, the panoramic mountainous view will definitely take your breath away. 5. Explore the Active Volcanoes at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Image Source: Photo by Jack Ebnet on Unsplash The Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is surrounded by two active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Currently, only a certain area of the park is open to the public, and some stringent measures are imposed due to the pandemic.When else will we get the opportunity to explore an active volcano? Not only will you be able to listen to the sound of the erupting volcanoes but also witness the volcanic landscape, including the lava tube. This video includes an informative guide that will make your experience more lively and exciting. 6. Learn on the constellations at Bryce Canyon Image Source: Photo by Peter Thomas on Unsplash Located in the Southwest area of Utah, Bryce Canyon is notable for its hoodoos landscape. Its iconic spot is the Bryce Amphitheater, showcasing the irregularly eroded hoodoos.Known to have the darkest night sky in Northern America, it is no doubt that Bryce Canyon is the best place to go stargazing. This video tour lets you witness the amazing night sky glittering with sparkling stars and learn on the visible constellations. 7. Watch the Live Cams of Various Animals in Monterey Bay Aquarium Image Source: Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash Monterey Bay Aquarium might still be closed for the public due to the pandemic, but this doesn't mean that we won't be able to witness the sea creatures. Monterey Bay Aquarium is located in California and is known to be the first to exhibit the kelp forest.Currently, the Monterey Bay Aquarium provides live cams that you can watch in the comfort of your home. You can choose from various animals like the kelp forest, penguins and even sharks. Unfortunately, there is a timing for the live cams but during off-hours, you can still watch the pre-recorded videos of the animals. 8. More Live Cams from Georgia Aquarium Image Source: Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash Georgia Aquarium is located in Atlanta, United States. It homed various sea specimens like Beluga Whale and Manta Rays, to name a few.Similar to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, you can watch live cams of the sea creatures. They too have timing for the live cams. As such, you can only watch the pre-recorded videos during off-hours. Check out the Beluga Whales and the Southern Sea Otters webcams. It will definitely melt your heart from its cuteness. You can also read up on the animal facts and learn about their habitat and characteristics. 9. Ride the Rides at Walt Disney World Image Source: Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash Deprived of taking thrilling rides and visiting an amusement park? Then look no further than the virtual Disney World on Youtube. Even if you have visited this amusement park before or it is still in your bucket list, it is worth checking them out!Walt Disney is a theme park located in Florida, United States. With various activities and attractions found in this park, you will never get bored walking around (virtually). Its Youtube channel lets you experience the rides like Slinky Dog Dash of Toy Story Land and Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain to name a few. As Walt Disney World is near the city of Orlando, your virtual experiences do not only encompass the theme park. You should check out the Virtual Orlando Tour blog and check out attractions like Legoland and Madame Tussauds Orlando. 10. Fill Up Your Time with National Geographics 360 videos Image Source: Photo by Hiroko Yoshii on Unsplash We are all not foreign with National Geographics, known to bring us the documentaries and magazines surrounding topics about science, geography and even the world culture and history.There's no difference in the 360 videos that they produced, still informative and educative. But it will definitely bring about a new excitement while you scroll down the list of videos. Learn about the Coral reef and the effort to preserve them or get up close with the tiger sharks. When else will you get the opportunity to swim with them? If museums are more up your ally, check out our past blog "10 Best Virtual Museum Tours In 2020", where we list museums around the world offering you a chance to visit them without being physically there. There you have it, the 10 best virtual experiences to cure your wanderlust. The time we can start to travel again is still bleak but these videos might cheer us up a little. I have to say that some of the videos are therapeutic, a getaway from the hectic life. Give it a try, and for sure you will enjoy it as much as I did....

  • It's Time To Welcome 2019! Here Are 17 Destinations For Your New Year Celebrations!

    If you haven’t already gotten into planning mode, now is the perfect time. As December dawns, you must be wondering where to spend the New Year’s Eve. We have curated a list of 17 destinations that comprises of the most popular, attractive and liveliest of places around the world for you to welcome 2019! 10 Muslim-friendly destinations to visit in 2019 The U.S.A. When you hear about a New Year celebration in the USA, the first thing that pops up in your mind must be the iconic Miley Cyrus song. Eventhough America is known for their wild parties, we’re giving you a list of places that won’t make you feel terrible the next morning. Here are the best places to go on New Year's Eve in the USA. 1) San Francisco Surprised to see this on the list? Besides the regular fireworks displays, San Francisco is made up of very multi-cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It would be an eye-opening experience when you to wander around the different neighbourhoods and have the option to celebrate New Year's whichever way you like. 2) Chicago Most of their top hotels have special New Year’s Eve packages. You can also opt for a dinner cruise on Lake Michigan. Even though it might be very expensive, it is one of the best ways to watch the firework displays. 3) Orlando If you’re travelling with your family, what better place to spend New Year’s Eve than at the wonderful Disneyland Florida?! They have some of the best New Year’s Eve celebrations with Disney characters that starts at 8pm. You know your kids will love you for giving them the celebration of their lifetime! It is ranges from parades, performances and pageants galore! 4) New York City Well, You knew this would be on the list, didn’t you? Well, how could it not?! Possibly the most vibrant place in the world during New Year's Eve! This is where you can witness the iconic ball drop at the New York Times Square together with thousands of others. Need we say more? Europe Tour Here are the best places to spend New Year’s in Europe! 5) Barcelona, Spain Besides the usual revelry, you can ring in the New Year in a more traditional way – Spanish style, that is. In Plaça d’Espanya, the celebrations are centred around the Magic Fountain that looks incredible on a normal day, let alone when it is dressed up for a special event. Be prepared for a spectacular light show with music and special effects. 6) Rome, Italy First, pinch yourself because the beauty of Italy will make you feel like you're in a fairytale dream. You will find yourself staring at historical monuments that were built thousands of years ago. Second, have a feel of its rich history by having a ‘cenone’, which is a big dinner that you can have at a restaurant or at a friend’s house. That’s how the Italian tradition of ringing in the New Year begins. Then, head to the biggest celebration in town at the Piazza del Popolo. Take your own fireworks if you can get your hands on some and have a blast– it’s all in the experience! Of course, the city does put on its own professional display as well. 7) Venice, Italy What you can’t find in Rome are the plentiful Gondolas floating on the rivers that make Venice what it is. Imagine spending a peaceful night on a gondola by yourself or with a loved one, hidden in the fog, waiting for the light from the fireworks to cut through it. You can also join the huge crowd in Piazza San Marco as you count down the seconds until 2019 arrives. 8) Prague, Czech Republic Prague is a very popular city, to say the least. Imagine starting your New Year in such a magical place. Such a picturesque old town deserves some celebration. There is no specific place where everyone would gather so take a walk around and decide which part you want to revel in. Charles Bridge offers the best vantage point for the firework display set against castles and the river. 9) Paris, France Looking for a more romantic destination to spend your New Year’s Eve? Nothing beats Paris! With the Eiffel Tower as your backdrop, your photos will look as though it was straight out of a movie. If you desire for something even more romantic than watching the fireworks by the Eiffel Tower, you can bring your partner to a luxurious dinner at one of the few high-class muslim-friendly restaurants in town as you welcome the new year. Off the Beaten Path If big celebrations and crowded cities are not what you are looking for, fly off to the less travelled destinations and have a more unconventional New Year’s Eve. These are the more relaxing destinations for New Year's: 10) Iceland You can alway end the year without any fireworks if you want. An alternative would be heading north in Iceland to watch the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis. What's a better light display than a stunning natural one? 11) The Caribbean If just the thought of cold weather makes you shudder, and you can’t quite make up your mind on where you want to go, why not take a cruise to The Caribbean? If money is not a problem, you can go island-hopping and experience different food and cultures. At the end of the night, or should I say the year, you can just chill in the sand while enjoying the breeze. 12) Tasmania Known for their incredible rustic beauty, Tasmania is the perfect place to hike around if you’re an adventure junkie and want to start your New Year fit. If you need a hit of adrenalin as well, you can go white water rafting on the Franklin River. Best Places to Travel in 2019 Want to ring in the New Year right? According to experts, these are some of the top destinations to visit in 2019, so why not get a head start on them? 13) Dubai A whole category in itself, Dubai is iconic in its firework displays. It's New Year’s Eve show has constantly been one the most spectacular ones in the world for a few years now. Crowds gather from many hours ahead to watch the Burj Khalifa light show and fireworks, but if you don’t want to get caught in the stampede, the beach is the best option. Have dinner at any one of the malls or restaurants nearby before heading to the beach, or pack up a little picnic to keep yourselves full. The weather in December can be a bit chilly by the seaside – even though you’re close to the desert – so bundle up a bit. The firework display that is visible from the beach may not be the Burj Khalifa display, but Atlantis and The Palm put up some breath-taking shows as well. 14) Copenhagen, Denmark Copenhagen has always been a tourist spot but the city is constantly developing. 2019 is definitely a great year to travel to this state now that more attractions are available. In addition to the perfect balance between their old and new architecture, the growing food industry gives you a solid reason to visit Copenhagen. 15) Shenzhen, China Picture: The Independent Everyone knows how popular China is as a tourist destination. Shenzhen is said to be the Silicon Valley of this famous country, with its immense new technology. Besides its technological rise, it has also developed its arts scene in line with the likes of London. You might be happy to know that it has a wide range of new cafes and spots to hang out as well. 16) Mexico City, Mexico A country steeped in their history and culture makes for a beautiful city architecturally. Mexico City won the award for The World Design Capital in 2018 – a nod to the way centuries-old buildings worked so well with modern structures. 17) Zadar, Croatia On the coast of Croatia lies a city that has taken its horrific past and used it to turn into the strong cosmopolitan city it is today. The ancient Roman ruins and buildings are reminders of what was, while its biggest attraction – the waterfront promenade – is a representation of what can be. As the locals gather at the promenade, be drawn into the culture of this small city. If you didn’t have any exciting plans for the New Year’s Eve, we hope this list inspired you to get moving now. If you take us up on any of our suggestions, or even if you decide to do something completely different, do tell us about your travel adventures via our HalalTrip App!  HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYONE! Get inspirations for your 2019 vacations...

  • Macy's Releases Modest Fashion Line for the Muslimah

      Come February 15th 2018, major U.S. retailer; Macy’s will be launching a "modest" fashion line focusing on outfitting the modern Muslimah. Picture Credit - via GIPHY The popular department store, along with Islamic boutique Verona Fashion, is all set to release the Verona Collection featuring a variety of conservative, yet fashion-forward, ready-to-wear pieces of clothing, from dresses, tops, jumpsuits, pants and cardigans, to colourful hijabs, abayas and a selection of other loose garments, targeted at not just Muslim women, but for anyone looking to dress modestly, but be fashionable at the same time. Photo credit - The line was founded by Lisa Vogl, a fashion photographer and revert to Islam.  Vogl is a graduate of Macy's development program for minority & women-owned businesses.  the program was started in 2011 to diversify the company's merchandise suppliers, and Vogl's Verona Collection has been gaining recognition globally, ever since. Photo credit - “Macy’s has been an amazing partner, helping us strengthen the foundation of our business through The Workshop at Macy’s, and now introducing our brand to their consumers through this collaboration” said founder of Verona Collection, Lisa Vogl, in a press release on Thursday. “Verona Collection is more than a clothing brand. It’s a platform for a community of women to express their personal identity and embrace fashion that makes them feel confident on the inside and [the] outside,” said Vogl. Unable to find clothing that was conservative, comfortable and affordable for herself, Vogl was inspired to start her own company where she could sell clothing items that would allow women of all religions to be able to express themselves through the types of clothing they wore. It was an instant success, with customers from around the globe buying her products. This fuelled her into opening a brick and mortar store, which was one of the first of its kind in a mall in Orlando, Florida. Photo credit - This step towards inclusion comes in the wake of a handful of other popular brands such as Nike, DKNY and American Eagle, aiming to tap into the growing Islamic clothing market by selling a collection of conservative options for the modern Muslim woman. The lucrative consumer market has also been attracting well known international retailers like Uniqlo and H&M. Italian luxury fashion house, Dolce & Gabbana also received worldwide attention for launching a collection of hijabs and abayas aimed at Muslim consumers in the Middle East. And, U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad’s easy to wear, fashion-forward clothing brand ‘LOUELLA’ may be targeted at the fashionable Muslimah, but it is definitely not exclusively for Muslim women. Photo credit - The modest Verona Collection will be available from February 15 2018 onwards, at a price range of $13 to $85, and will be for the time being sold only online on Macy's. via GIPHY Contacts: Julie Strider646-429-5213; Silvia Osante646-429-5241;

  • What Florida's Orlando International Airport can Offer Muslim Travellers

    Florida’s Orlando International Airport is the second-busiest airport in Florida – second to Miami International Airport. While the airport serves as a hub for Silver Airways; which is a United States based airline, it also receives airlines from international destinations such as the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, and many more. The airport therefore has to offer a wide selection of facilities and services – not only because it is one of the busiest airports in the area, but also due to the fact that it sees passengers from all over the world. While some would think the services and facilities offered at an airport are not that important – we only spend a couple of hours at most in an airport, right? – others would disagree. Passengers on long layovers or even those on short ones tend to look for basic facilities such as restrooms, food outlets, free Wi-Fi, etc. While Muslim travelers will require all of the above mentioned facilities, they may also be in need of a place to offer their prayers, and dining establishments to suit their specific dietary requirements. The Orlando International Airport is known for integrating art into its design. The airport has a permanent art collection; created by local and international artists, which can be seen throughout the airport. The works of art not only add to the airport’s interior by making it more dynamic, they have also been known to spark an interest in passengers. For passengers looking to get a bite to eat while at the airport, both; terminals A and B, offer a selection of mouth-watering options. Food items found at the airport range from pretzels, ice cream, and donuts to burgers, pizza and sandwiches. Travelers will also be able to find eateries serving steaming cups of coffee and tea, in both terminals. The Orlando International Airport is home to well know establishments such as Chili’s, Cinnabon, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Panda Express and Auntie Anne’s. Although there are no Halal certified restaurants at Orlando International Airport, Muslim passengers at the airport will definitely be able to find numerous eateries serving vegetarian and seafood items. They should however ensure the items they order do not contain any non-Halal ingredients, as these ingredients are sure to be widely used. Travelers who have some time to kill at the airport should explore the numerous shops and boutiques. Stores selling books, luggage, clothing items, gifts for kids and adults, perfumes, jewelry, electronics, eyewear, watches and more, can be found at the airport. Also found here is a spa, ideal for those looking to get rid of the stress that comes with traveling. An interfaith prayer room at Orlando International Airport is also available for Muslim passengers. The prayer room - which is also referred to as the Orlando airport interfaith chapel - is shared by passengers of all faiths, and is equipped with prayer rugs for Muslims along with other Muslim-friendly facilities. *Please note that at the time this article was written, a "Reflection Room" - a room meant for Muslims to offer their prayers, was being built. ...

  • Visiting Croatia

    Croatia, located in Southeast Europe is a land of urban culture and impressive history. With a vast array of historical sites, pristine national parks, captivating castles and breathtaking coastline, the country has so much to offer its visitors. It is home to numerous museums and galleries, many of which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. What makes Croatia special is the fact that the country is made up of four cultural circles, the west, east, central Europe and the southern Mediterranean intertwine and compliment one other to form a uniquely interesting country. The coastal areas and the continental parts of the country are vastly different and both areas need to be visited in order get a good feel of the country. Croatia is a country with many cities to visit and explore; each worth visiting as most towns have a historical center and is home to some amazing architecture. Zagreb is the capital and the largest city, and is by far the most fascinating city in the country. Its beautiful architecture and array of museums and art galleries would impress any discerning traveler. Built on the foundation of two medieval burgs, Zagreb has always been the cultural metropolis of the country. Historic monuments can be seen throughout the city. Although it is a modern city it still has a laid back feel to it. Places of interest include the Museum of Art and Craft, the Art Pavilion, Mimara Museum to name a few from the many museums and galleries in the city. Traveler could also visit the city’s many parks and gardens and travel north of Zagreb to Zagorje and visit the Veliki Tabor and Trakošćan castles. Dubrovnik is a city of monuments and museums under UNESCO patronage. It is home to the Stradun, the 1940 metre long wall with bulwarks, the gothic renaissance palace of Sponza, Orlandos Pillar and the Rectors Palace; all of which show the importance of Dubrovnik in Croatia’s cultural heritage. The city is famous for its coastal architecture however; it is not the only city worth visiting as Croatia has many cities, each with its own magical and unique charm. Other destinations worth visiting include; Split, Zadar, Istria and Slavonia just to name a few. Travelers could also take a cruise along the Croatian coastline and kickback and enjoy a relaxing holiday or try out some activities such as kayaking, skiing, swimming and cycling. Visitors could also explore the country’s ecology and nature as it is home to 8 national parks and many nature parks. There is plenty to explore and many activities to partake in, around the country depending on personal interest. Tourists could also visit the many open-air markets where local handcrafts and fresh produce are sold. Other items tourist could purchase are beautiful glass jewelry and handcraft items sold in Zagreb. Muslim travelers visiting the city need not worry about finding Muslim-friendly facilities, as Croatia is home to a sizeable Muslim population and Islam is an officially recognized religion in the country. Islam was introduced by the Ottoman Empire; however the current Muslim population consists of many ethnic communities. Croatia’s capital Zagreb has one of the largest mosques in Europe and a new mosque was opened recently in Rijek. Other mosques spread across the country are Islamic Center in Gunja, Islamic Center in Split, Islamic Center in Dubrovnik, Islamic Center in Umag and Islamic Center in Slavonski Brod. Muslim travelers looking for halal food will be able to find a number of restaurants they could dine at. Croatia has a halal certifying body known as The Center for Halal Quality Certification. Funtana Restaurant in Baška, Tiara Restaurant in Zagreb, Kaptol Restaurant, Vidikovac, Turist in Varazdin, and Pod Lampom are all halal certified restaurants in Croatia. However, Muslim tourists must be aware that some restaurants also serve non-halal items and most serve alcohol or allow guests to bring their own. Therefore, it is always best to check with the owner of the restaurant regarding how the food is prepared, before dining. The best way to see the country is to rent a car and visit as many cities as possible, or for those trying to keep their spending down; public transport is a good option. Croatia truly does have something for everyone. It is a great destination for a holiday with the family, as well as a great one for those traveling alone....

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