Sunday, June 26, 2016

Discover Monroe-West Monroe, Louisiana

Follow the Beards

When Duck Dynasty first aired on A&E, viewers immediately fell in love with the Robertson family, who showcase their redneck antics and a life centered on “Faith, Family, & Ducks” each week on Wednesday nights.

Now, fans from around the world travel to Monroe-West Monroe looking to get a taste of the life of the Bearded Ones. With the help of the Official Duck Commander Hometown Tour, visitors can do just that as they follow in the footsteps of the stars of one of the most popular reality shows in history.

The self-guided tour allows visitors to live out some of the most popular scenes and episodes such as Debbie’s Snowballs and Haskell’s Donuts. The Duck Commander Hometown Tour is available in two formats, a mobile website and a printed map. You can visit the website at to access photos, location details, and a map. To receive a copy of the printed map, contact the Monroe-West Monroe Convention & Visitors Bureau at

Aviation History Comes Alive

Located in Monroe, Louisiana, the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum of Louisiana is housed in one of the last remaining buildings from the WWII Selman Field Army-Air Force Navigation School. The school, which opened in 1942, was the largest in the US. It offered the United State's only complete navigation course during WWII. The school graduated over 15,000 navigators, over 1,500 of whom lost their lives in combat.

The museum is home to exhibits telling the story of Gen. Claire Lee Chennault and his Flying Tigers. This squadron is known for preventing the Japanese from taking over China in World War II. Delta Airlines, having gotten its start in Monroe, is also a featured exhibit. The museum expanded in 2007 and now has 10,000 square feet of exhibit area. Each wing of the armed services is featured with dedications to many local heroes.

Bibles, Coca-Cola and Majestic Gardens

The Biedenharn Museum and Gardens is one of Monroe-West Monroe’s most eclectic attractions. In one place, visitors can experience the story of an Opera Singer, her love for Bibles, music and gardens, along with the beginning of an American icon, Coca-Cola.

Joseph Biedenharn was the 1st bottler of Coca-Cola. His family home, located alongside the Ouachita River, is now home to a museum featuring the life and collections of his beloved daughter Emy-Lou, a European Opera Singer. The home is surrounded by majestic gardens filled with beautiful fountains and plays host to musical performances as well as children’s activities. From early spring to winter, there is always something in bloom. Even during winter months, the conservatory will feature poinsettia trees and flowering plants.

The Bible Museum recently reopened its doors in May 2010. The museum showcases rare and unique Bibles, including the Biedenharn's Guttenberg Leaf, and Russian icons from the Daniel Bibb collection. Emy-Lou began collecting Bibles after receiving a facsimile of the Wycliffe Bible from her father.

Your trip isn’t complete until you stop at the Coca-Cola Museum. Visitors can visit with a soda jerk at the soda fountain and view a demonstration of how Coke was originally bottled. There is also a vintage Model T Coca-Cola delivery truck, neon signs and tons of Coca-Cola memorabilia. And no trip to the Coca-Cola Museum is complete without a 5¢ glass bottle Coke from one of the vintage Coke machines .

Nature at its most natural

Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge offers visitors a chance to experience raw, untouched nature. Walking trails, a pier over the bayou and a birding blind bring you right into the natural habitats of North Louisiana wildlife such as alligators, turtles, coyotes, deer, herons, egrets and more. The Conservation Learning Center features an Aquarium Room with live exhibits of native fish, reptiles and amphibians .On-site canoe rental is available for those who want that up-close experience. The refuge is located just to the north of Monroe on Hwy. 165.

Landry Vineyards, located in the hills of West Monroe

Landry Vineyards is a family owned and operated winery located in the hills of West Monroe, Louisiana. The Landrys produce wines ranging from Dry to Semi-Sweet. Visitors can sample these wines with cheese and bread, while enjoying the picturesque views from the new tasting room. Don’t miss their concert series with live music on the beautiful grounds.

Merry “Christmas on the River”

Christmas on the River is a new Christmas celebration in the historic downtowns of Monroe and West Monroe that includes beautiful Christmas lighting displays, entertainment, extended shopping hours, and much more! The event kicks off for the public with a lighting ceremony the weekend after Thanksgiving. A festival weekend follows the first weekend in December that includes all-day entertainment, food, the Cottonland Christmas parade, and fireworks, to name a few! The celebration continues until Christmas with one weekend dedicated to an “old fashioned Christmas” and continued entertainment and festivities.

More to Discover!

Kids will have a ball at the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum. It’s so much fun they’ll never know it’s a museum! This is a super place where adults and kids can learn and grow together. Permanent exhibits include the Firehouse (a replica of a Firehouse with a pole), Health Hall (be a paramedic, listen to your heart), Toddlertown (cool, whimsical area for those under 4), Kids’ Café (be a server, cashier, chef), Bubbleworks (a giant bubble!) and The Big Mouth (walk in and explore)! Great traveling exhibits from across the U.S. are featured throughout the year, too. Party packages are available, and a gift shop is on the premises. It’s where learning is fun!

The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo is home to over 450 animals, many in naturalistic habitats, plants of all kinds, rides and more. A special Louisiana Purchase exhibit features animals indigenous to the Louisiana Purchase area like the black bear, elk, and mountain lion. It’s a must see for all families.

The Masur Museum of Art is truly a wonderful museum, set in a 1920s Tudor-style structure (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) with charming open spaces, hardwood floors and inviting year-round displays of a wide spectrum of art. The Masur Museum features a permanent collection of paintings, prints and sculpture, as well as six to eight exhibitions annually of art from museums and artists nationwide. An annual national juried exhibition is also held. Art lectures, gallery talks, special presentations, art classes and workshops are conducted year-round.

The Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Museum is a fascinating collection of African American art, culture and history! Changing art exhibits feature local and regional African American artists. An interesting array of artifacts from Northeast Louisiana includes kitchenware and furniture from old slave cabins, early cotton farming tools, even sacks used for picking cotton. Also on display are life-like models of famous African American leaders like statesman and reformer Frederick Douglass, educator Mary Bethune and first African American millionaire and businesswoman Madam C.J. Walker, as well as an archival section featuring local African American leaders, their history and contributions.

Monday, June 20, 2016

15 Great Ways to Experience Hawai'i

The story of Hawai'i is comprised of the stories and histories of multiple cultures. From the indigenous Hawaiian culture, which was the first to mālama ka 'āina (“care for the land), to the Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Filipino, Okinawan and Puerto Rican citizens who began arriving in the mid-19th century to work on Hawai'i's sugar and pineapple plantations. Hawai'i celebrates the diversity of its population year round at festivals, events, museums and exhibits, via activities and tours, and in the daily pursuits of its residents. Next time you're in the Islands, here's how you can, too.

Attend the Prince Lot Hula Festival
Two relaxed summer days of hula kahiko (ancient style hula) and hula 'auana (modern style hula) from local and off-island hālau hula (hula schools), that is also a celebration of Hawaiian culture.

Spend a day at one of Hawai'i's many culture-specific festivals
The Maui Matsuri, Korean Festival, Filipino Fiesta, Hawaiian Scottish Festival and Highland Games, and similar fests offer immersive experiences with the people, food, history and arts of Hawai'i's myriad cultures.

Participate in a summer evening bon dance
All are invited to attend, join the dance and sample tasty local Japanese comfort food at these annual celebrations honoring the spirits of family members who have passed away, hosted on summer weekend evenings at Buddhist temples statewide.
Enter “Hawaii bon dance schedule 2016” into your web browser for listings of dances.

Get lost in Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum
A few hours in this 126-year-old O'ahu museum's massive collection of Polynesian scientific and cultural artifacts offers an exhaustive glimpse into Hawaiian history.

Learn Portuguese stone-oven baking at Kona Coffee Living History Farm
Roll dough for Portuguese sweet bread then help bake it, old-school style, in a traditional wood-fired stone forno at this Kona district coffee estate first homesteaded in 1900.
Visit our National Park Service historical parks, sites and trails
Hawaiian history and culture is shared in the actual locations that shaped both at Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau and Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Parks, Pu'ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, and Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on Hawai'i Island; Haleakalā National Park on Maui; and Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Moloka'i.

Experience Chinese New Year in Honolulu's Chinatown District
The biggest Chinese New Year celebration in Hawai'i takes over this downtown district each January or February with parades, street fests, great food, lion dances and firecrackers.
Visit www.nightinchinatown and

See the Pacific Rim come to Hawai'i at the Honolulu Festival and Pan-Pacific Festival
Two big annual O'ahu events welcoming to our Islands the arts, cuisine and cultures of Pacific Rim neighbors, while celebrating Hawai'i's host culture and ethnic mix.
Visit and
Step back in time on a docent tour of Hawai'i's Plantation Village
A story-filled walk through the period-authentic multiethnic residences and structures of this replica early-20th-century sugar plantation village on O'ahu is the stuff of time travel.

Celebrate King Kamehameha the Great
The Hawaiian Islands' first king and founder of the Kingdom of Hawai'i is celebrated each June with statewide events, including a now century-old O'ahu floral parade.
Get some Hawaiian cultural knowledge at the Kaua'i Mokihana Festival
The mission of this weeklong fest is simple: offering all attendees myriad opportunities to learn about Hawaiian language and culture through hula, music and inspired talks.
Discover Lāna'i's non-pineapple history at Lāna'i Culture & Heritage Center
You'll learn about the fruit's early 20th century domination of Lāna'i community and labor, AND the isle's lesser known ranching, geological and Hawaiian cultural histories.
Purchase a ticket to a Hawai'i food festival
There are few better ways to sample in one location how the Islands' diversity of cultures collectively shaped the definition of Hawai'i cuisine than culinary fests like the Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival, Mealani's Taste of the Hawaiian Range and many more.
Visit the Monarchy-era structures of Downtown Honolulu
'Iolani Palace, Kawaiaha'o Church, Hawai'i Mission Houses and Ali'iōlani Hale (home of the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center) were constructed when Hawaiian royalty governed island life. Today, each is a window into its era and Hawai'i's history.
See,, and
Road trip to the ranching town of Waimea
The paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town is home to a heritage center and working ranches ready to share Hawai'i Island's fascinating and longtime place in U.S. ranching history.
For information on the Hawaiian Islands, please visit

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ethiopian Airlines celebrates 70 years

Young and Strong Ethiopian Airlines at 70!

Starting today, April 8, 2016, Ethiopian is delighted to celebrate its 70 years of dedicated and highly successful air transport services to, from and within the continent of Africa.

With its strong mission of bringing Africa together and closer to the world, Ethiopian has expanded much needed air connectivity within Africa and with the rest of the world in the last 70 years. Leading the way in the past, present and the future; Ethiopian has been an aviation technology leader in Africa and has introduced many new aircraft and systems to the continent.

The result of such a long journey of dedicated service has now culminated in connecting 51 cities in Africa with the major trading centres of the world in five continents and 41 cities around the world.

Every single day, we are operating 240 flights with an efficiently designed network of connectivity through our main hub in Addis Ababa with 76 aircraft in service. Along with our Star Alliance partners, we cover the entire world.

The fast, profitable and sustainable growth we have registered in the last 10 years has made us the largest, most profitable and fastest growing airline on our continent. We operate Africa's largest cargo service, largest and most advanced Aviation Academy and best MRO services.

Group Chief Executive Officer, Tewolde Gebremariam, said "Seventy years is a long time, but Ethiopian is still young, strong, forward looking and ready to contribute its own share of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena in line with the African Union agenda 2063.

"The billions of dollars we invested in our modern fleet, aviation infrastructure, human resource development and operating systems are a testimony that shows Ethiopian is positioned in a solid foundation to scale up the growth in its Vision 2025. With the next generation advanced fleet of B-787 Dreamliners, Airbus A-350 and the B-737 MAX, we are very excited to continue to lead the 21st century aviation development in the continent of Africa.

"Ethiopian airlines employees, the management and the board of Directors have been demonstrating unique levels of dedication and commitment to their airline and this is the main success factor in the last 70 years, we take this opportunity to recognize and thank all of our employees; present and past for their extraordinary hard work and success.

We have been competing and winning every business of our customers in the hyper competitive global airline industry in the last 70 years, and we are prepared to do so now more than ever in the past. We thank our more than 7 million annual passengers for their strong vote of confidence in choosing to fly with us and for their loyalty and support.

Aviation is a cluster of value chain businesses and we would not have achieved such a remarkable success; had it not been for the strong support of our stakeholders; we thank the various airport authorities, civil aviation authorities, travel agencies, tour operators, cargo forwarders in our main hub Addis Ababa and our global destinations, suppliers and partner airlines, the Ethiopian Government and other governments."

About Ethiopian

Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian) is the fastest growing Airline in Africa. In its seven decades of operations, Ethiopian has become one of the continent's leading carriers, unrivalled in efficiency and operational success.

Ethiopian commands the lion's share of the pan-African passenger and cargo network operating the youngest and most modern fleet to 92 international destinations across five continents. Ethiopian fleet includes ultra-modern and environmentally friendly aircraft such as the Boeing 787, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777-200LR, Boeing 777-200 Freighter, Bombardier Q-400 double cabin with an average fleet age of five years. In fact, Ethiopian is the first airline in Africa to own and operate these aircraft.

Ethiopian is currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan called Vision 2025 that will see it become the leading aviation group in Africa with seven business centres: Ethiopian Domestic and Regional Airline; Ethiopian International Passenger Airline; Ethiopian Cargo; Ethiopian MRO; Ethiopian Aviation Academy; Ethiopian In-flight Catering Services; and Ethiopian Ground Service. Ethiopian is a multi-award winning airline registering an average growth of 25% in the past seven years.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Art Deco glamour revived at Sydney’s newest 5 star hotel; Primus Hotel Sydney

The opening of Primus Hotel Sydney heralds the stunning reemergence of one of Australia’s most exquisite examples of Art Deco architecture and interior design. For two years, handpicked master craftsmen from Australia and overseas meticulously restored the former Sydney Water Board Head Office’s elaborate and intricate finishes to their original glory.

Overseen by leading global design studio, Woods Bagot, and leading heritage architecture firm, GBA Heritage, the hotel has refurbished and reinstated a design philosophy that traces the progression of Art Deco design in the late 1930s from the geometric influences of the pre-Depression era towards a more Functionalist style.

From the bas relief panels above the Pitt Street entrance depicting the water industry and its progression of technology to the original water bubblers dotted throughout the ground level, nods to the building’s history in water can be found across all levels. Original features such as the metal framed windows, intricate bronze work, glazed terracotta tiles and restored terrazzo corridor flooring across all 6 levels have been approached with respect and restraint, the result being elegant spaces showcasing heritage values.

The original foyer. (State Library of NSW)
On entering, guests are met with a commanding lobby space complete with eight towering red scagliola columns. The eight metre high columns, hidden for years behind superficial fit outs, have been faithfully restored to their former majesty by world-leading Italian master craftsmen flown out especially to refurbish the scagliola. Months of painstaking work were required to colour match the new scagliola with the old due to the now-banned mercury originally used to create the unique pigment. Surrounded by the columns is a central sky-well, which had previously been covered in tar now soaks the lobby in natural light. This functionalist design work is offset with restored cream travertine marble flooring, and a central grand seating area with plush salmon pink and navy velvet sofas and brown leather armchairs. A Noce Travertine marble feature staircase is present with bronze & brass balustrade complemented by a black and white geometric art deco styled wallpaper by Kvadrat.

The grandeur of the lobby gives way to a reception area that continues the iconic Art Deco design inspiration and sense of arrival. Stylish finishings bring a contemporary twist to the old-glamour feel to the expansive space including a brass reception bench top with a stylish oval low handling optical light.

Like the grandest European and American hotels, Primus Hotel Sydney reserves some of the most refined areas for relaxation and entertaining, including the Lobby bar, which is the perfect spot for business meetings and cocktail catch ups. Custom-made, dark stained oak timber cupboards set a stately tone while the bar’s patinated brass shelving by Sydney-based master joiners, Bindi Furniture, is a reminder of the building’s ageless character. Olive green and brown leather upholstered bar banquettes provide a sumptuous way to relax in the space.

Primus Hotel Sydney delivers a collection of high-end dining and experience offerings, including ‘The Wilmot’, a 120-seated restaurant celebrating a modern expression of European and Australian classics with an Asian twist. The Wilmot restaurant’s dark stained timber flooring provides a warm, masculine feel to mimic that of the office space once located in the same area behind closed doors; away from the public face of the Sydney Water Board. Details in the room include a lustrous marble island bench, semi private banquettes as well as flecked glass tables. An open kitchen offers diners an approachable fine dining experience, surrounded by geometric patinated brass adding a contemporary twist to old-world glamour.

Guests who are staying for business will appreciate the short commute around town and the corporate offerings including a complimentary business centre, a mezzanine level with three boardrooms and versatile meeting rooms with natural light that can be converted into a variety of configurations, hosting up to 250 guests. Sophisticated, masculine tones are used on the level, with timber panelling, stained timber oak doors and Verde Alpe marble bench tops.

Each of the 172 rooms and suites across the six levels is generously proportioned featuring a superior level of inclusions. Each of the natural light-filled rooms is exquisitely furnished with royal navy and cream tones, dark timber oak joinery, velvet upholstered bedheads, polished brass trimmings, and handmade gloss wall tiles in the ensuite. Signature comforts include complimentary wifi, 24 hour in-room dining, a Nespresso coffee machine, flat screen televisions and amenities by organic Australian skin care brand, Appelles.

The Presidential and Vice Presidential Suites have a unique design direction epitomising old world charm with statuario venato marble wall slabs, bronze mirror glass doors and custom made geometric aesthetic wallpapers. Each offers combined living and dining room features, butler room, powder room and ensuite bathroom complete with bath and walk-in shower.

Exclusive to hotel guests, the New York style rooftop complete with 20 metre lap pool, lounge seating and bar, provides an inner-city oasis away from the bustle of the streets below.

From the moment you arrive in the rooftop lift lobby, whitewashed rustic driftwood wall panels hint at the Sydney beachside lifestyle while the timber decking, balustrade, planters and cladding speak to the uniquely Australian landscape. However, the building’s Art Deco roots aren’t forgotten with drinks being served over a statuario venato marble bar backed by patinated brass shelving while the mosaic of blue toned tiles, seating and sunbeds make a nod to the water reference of the building.

High tea at Primus Hotel Sydney
From the ground floor to the rooftop, Primus Hotel Sydney’s transformation of this Art Deco masterpiece is a true gift to the people of the city. Building on the rare architectural and interior design features of the original building, this is a balanced restoration of the highest calibre destined to redefine the notion of a contemporary design hotel.

To celebrate its launch, Primus Hotel Sydney is offering an opening rate from $290 until 30 June 2016. Offer subject to availability.

Primus Hotel Sydney
339 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000

For more information visit or phone (02) 8027 8000.

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