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9 Must-See Places in Ireland

2017-08-27

Today’s article is brought to you by Ian Leaf.

Ireland, it’s the land of emerald dreams and mystic tales of Leprechauns, Celtic musicians, and medieval warriors. If you have an Irish heritage, a pilgrimage to the Isles is a lifetime dream. If you are a lover of travel, Ireland is full of interesting historic spots, events, and unique places to satisfy your need to discover the most brilliant scenes on earth. It’s not important how you get to Ireland. What’s important are the places you visit. Here are just a few of the most intriguing, enlightening, and endearing locations within Ireland no traveler should forget to visit.
coastal cliffs in Ireland

The Ring of Kerry

This is one of Ireland’s most scenic peninsular routes. Hikers, bikers, and sightseers can take a circular route beginning and ending in either Killarney, or Kenmare. Along the scenic trail, blue-green Atlantic waters jut next to amazingly high cliffs. Along this route, everything from traditional golf tournaments to deep-sea fishing is available. There are even ancient Celtic monasteries to visit between taking pictures of some of the most unusual landscapes in the Isles.

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

The growth and influence of the Shannon region in Ireland dates to the 15th century. It was the home of upper class Irish families who had a knack for throwing parties and providing entertainment. Later, this region was a fortress for war-torn patriots who still enjoyed the lavishness of upper-class Irish living. Bunratty Castle is an example of a fully restored residence that was host to some of Ireland’s most important nobles.
a house in the countryside in Ireland

Shop Street, Galway

Galway is a modern artist’s hub. It is home to several ancient residences that influenced the creation of one of the country’s most vibrant markets. Shop Street is the place for purchasing artisan Irish trinkets, gifts, and rounds of locally produced ales. The heart of Ireland resides in places like Galway, and Shop Street is where that heart beats the loudest. Several days are needed to fully enjoy this Irish cultural hub.

The Rock of Cashel

This isn’t only a natural wonder. It’s an oceanic rock outcropping the site of Ireland’s most precious heritage site. The medieval castle that sits on the rock still houses a monastic choral group. This location is, in every way, authentically Irish, but exhibits attributes that are reminiscent of Roman influence. Though ancient, it has survived every conflict in Irish history, and remains a testament to the country’s resolve.

The Cliffs of Moher

Though Dover is white, Moher is rugged and raw. This County Clair attraction is rife with unending beauty and mystique. These cliffs are a natural anomaly, with sea cliffs and outcroppings standing solitary at more than 600 feet tall. Many of the cliffs are accessible by hiking trail, but they are all visible in morning light that is extraordinarily brilliant.
a castle in Ireland

Dalkey and Killiney in Dublin

This monument area is only reachable by light rail. It is a short ride from Dublin, and is an historic heritage center for all Irish folk. This peninsular location was important in various political and military campaigns in Irish history. The main naval marker still stands, and is set against amazing oceanic backgrounds and rolling natural features. This is a traveling photographer’s Irish dream location.

The Aran Islands

The three Aran Islands have been the focus of film producers and historians. At one time, the Aran Islands were home to a thriving Celtic culture. The fort of Dun Aonghasa now remains a tribute to these ancient tribes. The modern residents near this area maintain an old-world attitude, and love their islands with an undying passion. These islands are where travelers can experience what true old Irish living was like.
remnants of a castle in Ireland

Mullaghmore Beach

This recreational area emerged from a long Irish fishing, manufacturing, and shipping culture. It is part of the village of Sligo, and is open to all inquisitive travelers. This is the ultimate place in Ireland for deep sea swims, authentic seafood cuisine, fishing charters, and long walks along quiet shores. The entire town is tied in some way with the sea, and is an interesting contrast with interior Irish communities.

Ashford Castle

This medieval relic has been fully restored, and is now an internationally renowned hotel. Though there are many similar locations in Ireland, Ashford has a unique charm and extravagance. This famous 5-star hotel in Mayo County is a testament to Irish high-class couture. It is also the starting point for visitors who prefer to view manicured country settings and historic venues in style.

Final Thoughts

The length and breadth of Ireland is small. There is no reason that travelers cannot partake in the most beautiful sites offered by this country. Everything green needs to be seen. There are however, places that are more beautiful that the rest. Everything about Ireland is extraordinary, and it only takes an adventurous spirit to see them all.
a row of houses by a pond in Ireland

China is the largest book market in the world: together with USA, more than half of all titles published

2017-08-20

China has rapidly become the largest market for books in the world. Of all the 1.6 million new book titles published in 2015, 28% of them were published in China. The second largest market, the U.S., published 20% of new titles launched to the global markets in 2015.

The vast population of China, more than one billion, explains part of the success of books in the country, but it is not the whole story. India’s population is roughly at the same level as China’s population, but India is nowhere near China when the number of published books are considered.

China has very quickly developed from a primarily farming society into an industrial society that is rapidly turning into a new technology powerhouse. That requires masses of well educated engineers, managers, and marketers. Books are a great way to learn, and of course, be entertained.

Book statistics have been published by the International Publishers Association (IPA). The numbers come from publishers, and don’t include self-published titles.

Below a graph by Quartz that shows the number of new book titles published in each in 2015:

book titles published by country. Source IPA, graph Quartz
The relative importance of books, or how the society values books, in each society can be studied by dividing the number of citizens by the number of new titles. Now, the story is completely different. European countries rise on top. Top 10 of published titles per million inhabitants is all European countries, followed by the U.S.

UK, France, and Spain export plenty of books to other countries where English, French or Spanish is spoken, but why are Scandinavian countries so high in the top 10? Every Scandinavian country has its own language, making each market small. Book industry is a subsidized business in these countries. Authors may get allowances, translators may receive grants, and value added taxes for books are lower than for other products.

books published per million inhabitants by country, source IPA.

Free book shares tips to travelers planning a trip to Scandinavia

2017-08-15

If you haven’t visited any of the five Scandinavian countries before, but you believe now is the time go, a bit of research will help you decide where and when to travel. It is a large area, and the further north you go in North Europe, less people there are. If you go as far as Lapland, there are more reindeer than people.
Reindeer at Aakenus fell in Yllas-Pallas national park Finland, Lapland, north Europe.
Traveling in Scandinavia is an ebook that we have made available for free. You can download the book right away simply by choosing an EPUB or Kindle version of the ebook.

The book includes information on destinations in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Cultural insight on people, customs and etiquette are featured as well, because, well, you are supposed to behave in the sauna as the Scandinavians behave.

We have chosen chapters from our travel guides and cultural guide for Traveling in Scandinavia, and even selected chapters from a cookbook, and a history book. All and all, the book gives an overview on Scandinavia from many angles.

It is easier understand the silence of Finns, drinking songs of Swedes and electric car enthusiasm of oil-rich Norwegians after reading chapters from the book.

Some travelers like summer and sun, others snow and fun. Summer and winter are the best times to visit Finland, Norway or Sweden. Unless, you are a Scandinavia expert and know that the peak season for hiking in Lapland is autumn. It is because the color of green in the fells and mountains fades, allowing other colors momentarily shine.

Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia

Here is how to drive a car through books

2017-07-30

Driving through a village is something that most drivers have done. Some drivers have driven over mountains, or perhaps even under a mountain through a tunnel, but how do you drive through books is something else.

Looks like that someone has solved this burning problem and given human kind new hope. Travel gear and tips blog Travel User Guide has posted a video on Vimeo where they drive through a village. Yes, a village.

If you look at the video, in the beginning there is a roadsign that says Libros. It is Spanish, and means books. So, it was as simple as that. Mission accomplished.

Here is the video:

Driving through the village of Libros (Books) in Spain from Travel User Guide on Vimeo.

I must say that it is an awfully quiet village. Maybe the villagers are all reading books behind those windows that are closed, preventing the sun from heating up the houses?

Books that describe the histories and the cultures of countries

2017-07-24

In many countries, a book or a set of books, like a trilogy, become so important for the nation that it is regarded as a work that defines the nation. Often, a folklore or a compilation of sagas written into a book form can become such a book. Works from the 20th century or even more recent books can also be important for a nation, although it takes time to tell if a book becomes a classic and culturally important work.

Global English Editing has collected iconic books sets from 150 countries across the world that describe the culture and history of the nations. It must have been a lot of work to identify the masterpieces for each country, so once you have viewed the infographic, take a look at individual book descriptions as well.

For many countries, choosing a classic has been a perfect choice, but in some cases, choosing a recent best-seller to represent a country may raise eyebrows in the literature circles of the country.

For instance, Leo Tolstoi’s War and Peace, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are choices most people will agree with. But how about Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as the iconic book for Sweden?

In any case, it is wonderful to see such a large selection of good reading from around the world. Read all of these books and become a person who understands much more about the world. The Most Iconic Books Set infographic by courtesy of: Global English Editing.

iconic books set infographic by  Global English Editing

Tips for traveling in Scandinavia in a free guidebook

2017-07-22

The land of the Midnight Sun, long and cold winters, welfare states, high living standard, languages that no one outside Scandinavia can understand, plenty of space and few people. Sure, it is a definition of Scandinavia, but for travelers, the Northernmost region of Europe is much more.

If you want to find out how much more, read Traveling in Scandinavia. It is an ebook that you can download for free.
Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia
The guidebook is a selection of travel information, tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries. A little bit of information on food and history is included in the book as well.

From the book description:

Here is a taste of Scandinavia for you to explore at the comfort of your reading nook – perhaps before heading out to the North yourself. As the selection of writings show, there are plenty of destinations to see and things to do: city life, mountain biking, fishing in pristine rivers, camping, island hopping, road touring, Arctic adventures, or hiking in the wilderness. If something is missing, Finns will invent it (e.g. wife carrying competition), Swedes will sell it to the world (e.g. entire country available on Airbnb), and Norwegians will win the cross-country skiing world championship (again).

Free download.

Which book to read before visiting a new country that has different culture than yours?

2017-07-07

Planning a visit to a country where you haven’t been before often starts with research. Many travelers purchase a guidebook, some tourists search the Internet for tips. Usually, people are looking for reliable information to help plan the trip. Fictional books may also help because they can give insight on the culture and customs of a country.

Ambassadors of 22 countries have given their recommendations which books can give cultural tips for visitors. Based on the books ambassadors have chosen and their descriptions, the most peculiar titles are from Bhutan, Finland, Germany and New Zealand.

Here are the ambassadors’ recommended books to read before the first visit to these 22 countries.

    Austria: The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. Vienna in 1937.

    Azerbaijan: Ali and Nino, by Kurban Said. Love story set in Baku in 1918 to 1920.
    book cover: portrait of bhutan
    Belgium: War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans. A period in Belgium’s history.

    Bhutan: Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. A personal memoir combined with folklore, and even a portrait of the Himalayan kingdom.

    Canada: With Faith and Goodwill: 150 years of Canada-U.S. Friendship, edited by Arthur Milnes. Collection of speeches, photographs and essays.

    Chile: La Casa de Los Espíritus by Isabel Allende. Family mingled with political issues of the 1970s.
    book cover: moomin, mymble, my
    Colombia: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. A classic.

    Denmark: Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg. Fictional mystery set in Copenhagen.

    Estonia: The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirahk. Alternative history.

    Finland: The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Jansson. A classic.

    Germany: Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf. 14-year-old boys on a road trip.

    Greece: Freedom and Death by Nikos Kazantzakis. Cretans against the Ottoman Empire in 1889.
    book cover: tschick, germany
    Iceland: Independent People by Halldor Laxness. Sheep farmer’s struggle for independence.

    India: Freedom at Midnight (1975) by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. Indian independence process.

    Ireland: TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. History and recent events intertwined.

    Jamaica: Selected Poems by Louise Bennet. Insights into the Jamaican culture.

    Malta: In the Name of the Father (And of the Son) by Immanuel Mifsud. World War II from personal perspective.
    book cover: whale rider, new zealand
    New Zealand: The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. A story of communication with whales.

    Norway: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo. Nordic Noir crime story.

    Slovenia: I Saw Her That Night by Drago Jančar. Historical theme set in Ljubljana.

    Sweden: Nordic Ways edited by Debra Cagan. Essays that describe life in the North Europe.

    United Kingdom: Atonement by Ian McEwan. Britain’s history in the 20th century.

The book titles via CN Traveler.

Some notable, popular travel destination countries that have distinct cultures are missing from the book list, for instance, France and the US. I can understand why France’s ambassador probably didn’t suggest a book for the list. Independent of which title it would have been, a national scandal would have emerged from the choice. Perhaps the US ambassador was pondering between Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad and Donald Trump biography A Life Worth Living, but couldn’t decide?

Making books out of podcasts

2017-07-03

Podcasts are audio talk shows typically saved MP3 format on the Internet. You download a podcast on your phone, tablet or PC and listen to it, and that’s about it. Seung Tae Oh saw much more potential in podcasts than simple listening to the audio program. Oh designed a book, or box set, for a few popular podcasts.

Seung Tae Oh, podcast book
For instance, Serial is a podcast that discusses a murder case that took place in Baltimore in 1999. A season consists of 12 episodes, and has to be listened to from the first to the last sequentially.

One book, or box set, for the Serial podcast includes one season. The book comes with a speaker, images that complement the listening experience, and sheets of paper with RFID tags.

When you want to listen to an episode, you pick up the sheet for the particular episode and insert it into the sleeve. The RFID automatically triggers the playing of the podcast episode in question.

It is a design project, but could be a product. Vinyl music albums have gradually returned to music shops and people still have large collections of paper books and movie DVDs. Having a physical object on a bookshelf is important for some people, and then, of course, there are collectors who may collect practically anything. Old books are one of the most common collectors’ items. Why not start collecting podcasts?

Seung Tae Oh, box set podcast

Via TNW.

Get your free copy of Scandinavia travel guidebook

2017-06-22

What is the one thing you know about Scandinavia? Long winters, midnight sun in summer, design, education system, welfare, Abba, HIM, or A-ha? Well, the best way to find out more is to travel in Nordic countries and see how the region is yourself. A good starting point is the book we have put together from travel guidebooks and cultural guides that talk about Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Traveling in Scandinavia is an ebook that you download for free here.
Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia
The book is a selection of travel tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries. A little bit of information on food and history is included as well.

Here is a taste of Scandinavia for you to explore at the comfort of your reading nook – perhaps before heading out to the North yourself. As the selection of writings show, there are plenty of destinations to see and things to do: city life, mountain biking, fishing in pristine rivers, camping, island hopping, road touring, Arctic adventures, or hiking in the wilderness. If something is missing, Finns will invent it (e.g. wife carrying competition), Swedes will sell it to the world (e.g. entire country available on Airbnb), and Norwegians will win the cross-country skiing world championship (again).

Thanks to EU, also Amazon has to compete on fair terms in the European ebook markets

2017-05-06

European Commission has made a decision on complaints about Amazon’s business practices in the EU markets. The decision published on 4th May 2017 confirms that the new terms Amazon had offered to the EU have been accepted. The new terms between Amazon and book publishers who operate in the EU market can not have the most favored nation clause anymore, which means that the publishers don’t have to guarantee Amazon the lowest ebook price.

amazon kindle voyage and paperwhite
European Commission agreed the following commitments offered by Amazon confirmed to EU’s competitive regulation:

[Amazon will] “Not to enforce (i) relevant clauses requiring publishers to offer Amazon similar non-price and price terms and conditions as those offered to Amazon’s competitors or (ii) any such clauses requiring publishers to inform Amazon about such terms and conditions. The commitments cover in particular provisions related to alternative/new business models, release date and catalogue of e-books, features of e-books, promotions, agency price, agency commission and wholesale price.
To allow publishers to terminate e-book contracts that contain a clause linking discount possibilities for e-books to the retail price of a given e-book on a competing platform (so-called Discount Pool Provision). Publishers are allowed to terminate the contracts upon 120 days’ advance written notice.
Not to include, in any new e-book agreement with publishers, any of the clauses mentioned above, including Discount Pool Provisions.”

The case is all about money and control. Amazon has used (and is still using in other markets) its dominant position in the market to enforce the best price and terms for ebooks it sells to consumers. EU has now ended the practice in Europe.

We can confirm that Amazon monitored the lowest price -clause. We have received a note from Amazon that told us to lower the price of an ebook at Amazon, because it was priced lower at another bookstore. There was not much choice, but to lower the product price for Amazon.

We shouldn’t forget that thanks to Amazon, the world has a dynamic ebook market today. Ten years ago, Amazon introduced the first Kindle ereader (a history of Kindle gives you an overview of all models – just look at the first one, oh dear). A pretty good selection of ebooks was available at 9.99 right from the start. It was a beginning for something new that is still developing strongly.

European Commission’s note on the Amazon decision. The investigation process started in June 2015.

Top 5 beaches of Algarve, Portugal with a photo gallery

2017-05-02

There are so many long, tiny, shallow, deep, rocky, fine-grained, and you-name-it kind of beaches in Algarve, South Portugal that I am not going argue that I would be able to pick the best one. I have selected nice, popular beaches that are different, and suit to different tastes and needs. The key point is that if you can, go ahead and discover beaches that may be a few kilometers away from the closest one to the place you are staying – you will be surprised about the variety and beauty that Algarve features along its shores. The following top 5 praias (beaches) are listed in alphabetical order.

Praia do Carvoeiro

Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal. Fishing village beach

The main beach of the fishing village Carvoeiro is a small, idyllic nook between tall rocks that rise vertically from the sea. The old village is located right next to the beach, also sheltered between rocky hills from the whims of the sea. The setup creates an idyllic and pretty place – just like many people imagine a classic fishing village and its beach. A few fishing boats on the beach are still in active use, allowing tourists to get a glimpse of traditional work and life in the village.

A walk or meal in the village, or a hike along paths on the rocks above the coastline complements a day on the beach. A boat tour to nearby caves is an adventure that you can book and set off from the beach. As the original village has become a (relatively small) tourist destination, small hotels and houses have been constructed around the community. Shops, cafés and restaurants have occupied the street-level apartments in the village center. Parking is problematic down in the village, but carparks have been built up on the hills.

Praia da Falesia

Sunrise at Falesia beach, Olhos d'Aqua. Algarve, POrtugal

The beach of Praia da Falesia is so long and varying that you can visit it daily for a week and still discover new places along the shore. The beach is about 5 kilometers / 3 miles long. From the outskirts of the village Olhos d’Aqua, it stretches east to the port of Vilamoura. Near Olhos d’Aqua, rocky hills rise behind the beach. Gradually towards Vilamoura, the hills get lower. Depending on the tide, peaceful coves are connected or disconnected from the rest of the beach near Olhos d’Aqua.

There are many entry points to the beach, but the most spectacular one is in Olhos d’Aqua. A 500 meter / 550 yard -long tiny road along a gorge carved into rocky hills starts from the street Rua Nossa Senhora Fatima at a point where the street makes a 90-degree turn. Some local people drive along the tiny gorge road down to the sea, but I would not recommend it. Walk or ride a mountainbike to check the condition of the unpaved road first. There is a small carpark down on the beach and two restaurants that attract visitors to this end of the beach.

Praia da Rocha

Portimaro, Praia da Rocha beach, Algarve, Portugal.

Praia da Rocha is probably the most famous beach of Algarve. If you have seen a brochure of Algarve with an image of a beach, it just could be Praia da Rocha. The beach is an impressive sight when you view it from the rocky hills above the coastline. Soft, sandy beaches stretch for about 3 kilometers / 2 miles under magnificent rock formations that rise from the beach and from the sea.

Praia da Rocha is located in the outskirts of Portimao, which is one of the major towns of Algarve. The beach starts from the mouth of Rio Arade and stretches to the west. Portimao town center is about 2 km/1.2 miles up river from the shore. Praia da Rocha beach area has developed into a major tourist destination with high-rise hotels and apartment blocks. Plenty of visitors also means plenty of services on the beach: restaurants, boat tours, jet ski rentals, and anything else you might want to have or do by the sea.

Sagres

Surfers in Sagres, Algarve, Portugal.

The long west coast of Portugal faces the Atlantic Ocean, featuring many beaches that are particularly popular among surfers. When heading south along the west coast, the community of Sagres is the point where the European continent ends, and the sea surrounds the land from the west and south. Sagres is one the highlights and most memorable sights in the whole Algarve, and worth a visit even if you don’t give a damn about surfing. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating sport to watch, at least, from the safety of solid ground.

The beaches in Sagres are: Praia da Mareta (below the Sagres village center), Praia do Tonel (the most spectacular), Praia do Beliche (sheltered place where families like to bathe), Praia do Martinhal (near the resort of the same name). Most surfers wait for the waves on Praia do Tonel that faces the Atlantic Ocean.

Praia dos Salgados

Salgados, Armacao de Pera, Algarve, Portugal. River meets the sea

The dunes of Praia dos Salgados and Praia Grande form a long stretch of soft, continuously moving fine-grained beach. The gorgeous beach is not the only thing that attracts visitors to Salgados. The delta of Alcantarilha River is a sizeable wetland area where thousands of birds live or rest during their migration. Boardwalks and viewing towers have been built for visitors to observe the busy life of birds of all sizes in the delta. A golf course borders the delta and the beach for those who want to try their driver and putter on Algarve’s famous courses.

Praia dos Salgados stretches from the mouth of Alcantarilha River to the community of Gale in the east. The same beach continues to the west side of Alcantarilha River, but near the town of Armacao de Pera, it is called Praia Grande. There are several entry points to the beach, but if you want to explore local wildlife as well, head to the large carpark in Salgados that is on the east side of the river mouth. The beach and the marshland are accessible right next to the carpark.


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Dual-screen Hisense A2 smartphone is also an ereader

2017-04-10

Common smartphone screen sizes are between 5 and 6 inches, and the most common ereader screen size is six inches. Reading a book on a bright and colorful smartphone display is pretty convenient these days. The downside is that the color screen drains the battery and it is still difficult to read in sunlight. So, why not build a smartphone with two screens: a color screen for apps and a black-and-white screen for ebooks.

Hisense A2 smartphone ereader. Photo: maistecnologia.com

Hisense A2. Photo: maistecnologia.com


The Hisense A2 is the latest product that has implemented just that. The smartphone comes with a 5.5-inch color display and a 5.2 E ink display. One side of the phone is used as an ordinary smartphone and the other side an ereader. Two devices in one product.

01net had an opportunity to get their hands on a Hisense A2 prototype. Their first impression was positive, so it seems that we finally could have a proper dual-screen smartphone for ebooks by the end of 2017. The price is expected to be around 400 euros.

Similar products have been available in some markets earlier. Yotaphone has returned to the business, introducing the Yotaphone 2. Its availability, however, is unclear at the moment. Also Onyx, which has successfully introduced a number of ereaders recently, had a dual-screen smartphone earlier, but it didn’t live long.

The Hisense A2 is already available in China, running on Android software.


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