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All About the Masjid Kristal or Crystal Mosque at Terengganu in Malaysia

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From the absorbing and aweinspiring magnificence of the San Agustin Church at Intramuros in Manila, let us take a peek into the Islamic cultural heritage of Malaysia with the Crystal Mosque at Terengganu in Malaysia, which is no short of architectural beauty and grandeur.

The ‘Masjid Kristal’ or Crystal Mosque in Bahasa Malaysia was open to performing prayers in 2008. Its construction began in 2006 and was officially inaugurated in 2008. Kuala Terengganu is no less than an intriguing place to be with several attractions including the popular Islamic Heritage Park that was opened around the same time. Located near the Islamic Heritage Park is the Crystal Mosque that follows a distinct flavour of Muslim art and architecture. The importance of the mosque, which has four traditionallydesigned minarets, to the city is placed higher than to the religion of Islam itself.

Kuala Terengganu, like many towns and cities in Malaysia, was a charming and quaint fishing village. But the ‘eureka’ moment is when oil was discovered nearby, and a model town was built around it. The Crystal Mosque, glittery, splashy and modern with a dash of tradition, now, embodies the spiritual and traditional values of the region.

Architectural Specifications
Though you can find some actual crystal embedded within the structure of the mosque, the clear material that sticks out is glass. If you want to experience the full effect of its crystalline exteriors, it is recommended to visit the magical place in the moonlight, when it’s illuminated and almost seems surreal as a dream!

In addition, the Masjid Kristal, which can put up nearly 1500 people at one time, though more can be accommodated outside it during Ramdhan and Bakrid, is designed using steel structure in combination with the crystal and glass works.

How to get there?
You can reach Kuala Terengganu either by car or bus, but the easiest and fastest way out there is to take a flight through Kuala Lumpur, either on Malaysia Airlines or AirAsia. The Crystal Mosque, as you can view from anywhere even from a long distance, is easily reached by taxi, depending upon where you’re put up with, how inclement the weather is and how much time is left to travel.

The recommended time to visit the mosque and, in fact, the best time to tour around Malaysia or any Islamic country, you can think of, is during the blessed month of  Ramadhan, the perfect time to turbocharge yourself spiritually or treat yourself to the exotic local foods and drinks after breaking the fast. Do refer to an Islamic calendar to find out when Ramadhan falls and do your planning accordingly.

Why is Konya One Of the Most Culturally Rich Centres of Turkey? – Part 2

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The city of Konya boasts of mesmerising architectural beauty and cultural sophistication. Let’s now travel towards Sille, which is located 8km north of the city of Konya.  It houses the famous Byzantine Aya Eleni church and many rock chapels with breathtaking frescoes. We all grew up reading the witty tales of the legendary oriental ironist Nasreddin Hodja; but how of many of us know that he hails from Akşehir, located to the northwest of Konya? And interestingly, there is a mausoleum of the 13th-century humorist here. Other monuments that demand attention include the Altınkale Mescidi and the Ulu Mosque of the 13th century. Another mausoleum, the Sahip Ata Mausoleum has been transformed into a museum.

Enroute to Beyşehir, give yourself a break at Eflatun Pınar at the side of the lake to witness the outoftheordinary Hittite monumental fountain. There are many Seljuk buildings dotted around the gorgeous Beysehir located on the shores of Lake Beysehir, the third largest lake in Turkey. The lake’s south-western region is a national park, and one of the main wetlands of the country. You can see several prominent monuments across Lake Beysehir: the Kubad-Abad Summer Palace and the Eşrefoğlu Mosque. There is another palace belonging to the medieval era on Kızkalesi Island just on the opposite side of the Kubad-Abad Palace. Visitors get to relax and have some fun on the Hacı Akif Island. Çatalhöyük, some 45km south of the city, drew the earliest settlers to it from the Neolithic era, revealing details of the dawn of the early settlement of humans with fine and distinct examples of the oldest landscape paintings and domestic architecture forms, besides sacred artefacts of the cult of mothergoddess.

Next, let us take a trip to Karapınar, which is separated by 94 km southeast of Konya, having a number of crater lakes. The popular Mike Crater Lake, or simply “Make” near Karapınar, is a lake inside a volcano’s crater. There is another lake, Aci crater lake (Acigölü), about 3kms northwest side of Mike, which has a few exotic birds. Ereğl, one of Konya’s biggest counties, is flanked by yellow cherry trees.

If you have some time still left, visit the Ereğli Archaeological Museum displaying several Byzantine, Seljuk and Hittite monarch artefacts. The Ivriz Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre at İvriz, features a small altar and two huge rock reliefs depicting a king and plentiful crops, all dating to the NeoHittite era. There is also a monastery that dates back to the Middle Byzantine Period, natural springs and two caves.

Why is Konya One Of The Culturally Rich Centres of Turkey? – Part 1

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This week we will see Turkey’s oldest and culturally rich cities Konya, known in the Roman times as Iconium. The city of Konya served as the capital city of the Seljuk Turks between the 12th and 13th centuries and emerged as the cultural destination of the country.

The period between the 12th and 13th centuries saw tremendous political, religious and political growth thanks to the Islamic mystic Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, the founder of a Sufi order known popularly as the ‘Whirling Dervishes’ in the West or ‘Mevlevi’ Order in the East. One of the most outstanding architectural buildings is the remarkably greenmausoleum that of Rumi. Also part of the mausoleum is an area that was once the dervish seminary which now is a museum containing manuscripts of Mawlana’s work and several artefacts of the teachings of the Mevlevi order.

There is an annual ceremony or ‘Urs’ held here, during the month of December, to commemorate Maulana Rumi and the Mevlevi order where mystics of the order, clad in a white robe, whirl around the hall in a trancelike state or ‘Sema’ to the traditional tune of the Sufi musicians, symbolizing their infinite love for the creator. The Sema is now a huge spectacle in Konya, attracting thousands of tourists every year.

The Alaeddin Mosque (also spelt as ‘Alaettin’) is the biggest and oldest mosque in Konya, built by the great Seljuk ruler Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat in 1221, atop the Alaettin hills. You will find the remnants of the Seljuk Imperial Palace on one side of the Alaeddin Mosque. There is also a museum, the Karatay Madrasah, which exhibits the strikingly bold Seljuk ceramics. The İnce Minareli Madrasah, constructed in 1264, found on the other end of the mosque, is visited for its eyedazzling ornate Seljuk portal. Take a few steps on around the mosque to find the Sahip Ata Complex and the Sırçalı Madrasah. If archaeology fascinates you, then Konya’s Archaeological Museum is a must see. At the Koyunoğlu Museum, you can find an assortment of collection from old kilim rugs to natural history. Inside the museum complex, the İzzettin Koyunoğlu house that has been restored represents the stylish and opulent way of life of the Konya family of the bygone era.

There is more to come on the medieval city of Konya in the concluding part of the blog.

30 Best Travel Podcasts every time you travel – Part 2

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Did you find the first series of the blog on Best Travel Podcasts exciting? We hope you would have tried at least one of the 10 Podcasts listed on the blog.  Let’s explore another 10 podcasts in this blog that would titillate your senses and make you crave for more.

20. Tips For Travellers

This popular audio travel podcast started by Gary Bembridge, a seasoned traveller for 25 years, in 2005 and throws light on travel destinations around the globe, sprinkled with tips and advice based on his visits.

 

 

19.The Travellers

Whether you’re heading out to explore new frontiers or struggling to find your place in the world, this podcast, started by Nathaniel Boyle, is a weekly show on the ins and outs of travel.

 

 

18.Amateur Traveller

Looking to decide where to travel next? The podcast lists interview with a traveller who has travelled to the place recently or destination expert.

 

 

 

 

17. Travel with Rick Steves

If you are an American looking to experience affordable, fun and culturally broadening trips anywhere in Europe, then this podcast for you.

 

 

 

16. Travel Tales

 

Started by Comedian and TV host Mike Siegel, the podcast brings you some of the best and worst travel experiences in the form of a different guest sharing travel tales from lands far away.

 

 

 

 

15.Indie Travel Podcast

A fortnightly audio show that offers travel tips for independent travellers plus a global community of indie travellers all contributing amazing stories to the podcast.

 

 

 

 

14.Travels in Music

Travels in Music that dabbles with travel musicians telling stories on music from around the world; the podcast does its bit to turn the planet into a beautifully musical one.

 

 

 

 

13.This Week In Travel Podcast

A Semi-Weekly Podcast joined by traveloggers Gary Arndt, Jen Leo and Chris Christensen

 

 

 

12. Budget-Minded Traveller

Started in 2014, this podcast was the finalist for “Best Travel Podcast” in 2015 and “People’s Choice Podcast Awards 2016”. The podcast provides practical tips and hacks that make international travel accessible to every traveller.

 

 

 

11. Travel Writers Radio

An up and coming media outlet with global reach, imparting a unique local flavour. You need to become a member of the website to contribute reviews, news, culinary interview, travel experiences and tips for travellers.

 

 

 

The above podcasts are unique in one way or the other. They are almost guaranteed to make one an agile and intelligent traveller. We will follow the list up with the concluding post of the blog series.

 

30 Best Travel Podcasts every time you travel – Part 1

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This year, podcasts turned out to be sharper, wittier and funnier, and even more niche-based.  The social media team of Emperor Travels brings you 30 Best Travel Podcasts for the frequent traveller. Though we haven’t ranked the podcast, every podcast is unique in itself. We believe this 3-part blog series will titillate your senses when you are on the move.

30. Alone: A Love Story

A Love Story’ is scripted and narrated by Michelle Parise, a CBC producer since two decades. The podcast comes as a solace for people trying to cope with loneliness, despair, heartbreak, lust to eventually finding the courage to face the adversities of life.

 

 

29. The Bill Simmons Podcast

Started by Bill Simmons, the podcast features unbroken, long-form interview of celebrities and athletes that scarcely find place in the mainstream media.

 

 

 

 

28.Every Little Thing

Every Little Thing is a podcast created by Gimlet Media, an award-winning narrative podcasting company that helps people understand each other well.

 

 

 

 

27. This Is Actually Happening

A bi-weekly podcast that helps one discover the inner chaotic experience of the human mind and find out what actually happens when things change.

 

 

 

26.IVFML


Here is an interesting podcast that takes a frank and humorous route to discussing parenthood and the hilarity and humiliations of miscarriage, infertility and IVF, as comedy writer Simon Ganz and health reporter Anna Almendrala share their experiences.

 

 

25.DTR


This podcast is a collection of shows from profile pictures, dating someone out of your network, to opening lines. Every episode accounts for a hilariously weird aspect of dating in an Internet fad world.

 

 

24.Dirty John

A unique podcast comprising a network of storytellers that brings you wholesome entertainment and knowledge.

 

 

 

 

23. Pod Save America


A no-nonsense podcast on politics, hosted by Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor, that breaks down the week’s news and helps people dope out what matters and how to fix things.

 

 

 

22. Science Vs

The podcast is a musing on trends, fads and the blinkered mob to ascertain what the fact is and what isn’t and what’s somewhere lurking in between.

 

 

 

 

21.Maed in India

India’s first indie music podcast. Get the hottest and latest music from India and abroad, plus exclusive interviews and acoustic sessions of some of the best independent musicians in the country.

 

 

 

 

We won’t stop with this. We have more podcast collection for you. But that’s for another day. Until then, why don’t you take some time to download and listen to the podcasts on your next trip?

All about the Tipu Sultan palace in Bengaluru

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There is a slice of history embedded in the IT capital and electronic city of South India, Bengaluru, which will go down in history as the glorious era of Karnataka history: the Mysore Rule led by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. The Tipu Sultan Palace in Bengaluru is housed near the bustling City Market at the junction of Krishna Rajendra and Albert Victor Road. The palace lies in the precincts of the fort.

The Tipu Sultan palace in Bengaluru was the summer retreat of the great Mysuru Ruler, who fondly termed it the “Rash-e-Jannat”, or “Envy of Haven” or “Abode of Happiness”. One can get to see this engraved on a window screen.  Splendid gardens all along the path, leading to the palace, along with sparkling fountains and lovely flower beds, will welcome you.

The place speaks volume about Tipu’s valiant attempt to protect Karnataka from British imperialism. That is why the Tipu Sultan palace should be tagged along the places to visit in Bengaluru. The place was opened to public view in 2005.

In 1537, Kempe Gowda, founder of Bengaluru, raised the fort. The extension was later carried out by Tipu Sultan. It is said that Hyder Ali put several British army officers including David Braid behind bars. The construction of the palace, which was started by Hyder Ali in 1781, was completed by Tipu in 1791. The place later came to be known as “Tipu’s Palace”.

The entire palace, styled on the Indo-Islamic art and architecture, is constructed of teak wood, stone, mortar and plaster. It is raised on a stone plinth. A striking feature is the intricately carved pillars that support the mammoth wooden beams throughout the palace.  A congregation of wooden pillars, which rests on the stone base, support the entire structure. The pillars are converged with brackets and cusped arches adorned with stunning carving accentuated in multi-colours. Every pillar’s base has the carvings designed as if they come out of flowers.  The ceilings and the walls boasts of madder-red surfaces decorated with floral motifs for an elegant look. Four staircases from the ground floor lead you to the first floor. There is a large hall on the first floor having four rooms, one at each corner. Known as the Zenana quarters, only the ladies of royal households had access to it. You can see two projecting balconies, one located on the east, another on the west side. It is believed that Durbars were held by the Sultan in the hall to run the administration matters of the state with the state officials in the balcony area, watching the proceedings.

The British later used the palace as their secretariat following the death of Tipu Sultan. The palace-turned museum showcases some of the artefacts of the ruler including the portraits of places and places of the bygone era, done by modern-day artists, and represents the grand lifestyle of the royals. The Sultan’s crown and his clothes are exhibited in silver and gold pedestals.  Among other prized possessions, silver vessels offered to Hyder Ali by a general are also on display.

There is a splendid and a well-preserved temple of Lord Ganesha, dating back to the1790s, close to the Tipu Sultan Palace in the fort enclosure, which stands as an embodiment of Tipu’s secular values and inclusiveness. The fort area also houses an art gallery that displays several paintings, pictures, fine carvings and photos of the Mysuru Sultanate era. The Tipu Sultan Palace, currently managed by the Archaeological Survey of India, not only draws tourists the year round but also remains a haven for archaeologists and historians. Carrying eatables or camera inside the palace is prohibited.

 

All about the Ajmer Sharif Dargah at Ajmer in Rajasthan

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ajmer sharif dargahIt is believed that a person who places utmost faith at the holy Ajmer Sharif get his or her vows fulfilled. The most famous and the most visited Sufi Shrine in the country, Ajmer Sharif is the resting place of the famous pious Persian Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. The Islamic Sufi saint, also known as “Sultan-e-Hind”, is popular for his secular preaching and Sufi teachings.  Legend has it that Moinuddin Chisti was Prophet of Islam Muhammad’s direct descendant and was asked by him—Muhammad came in his dream—to go to India and spread the Islamic message of peace, love and tolerance. The Sufi saint reached Ajmer in 1192 AD via Lahore (in modern day Pakistan) and breathed his last breath in 1236 AD.

The shrine was constructed by Humayun, the Mughal Emperor. Entering the dargah may require walking through a series of massive silver doors with intricately designed beautiful carvings.  The courtyard welcomes you with the tomb of Moinuddin Chishti, which is carved out of polished marble. With gold plating on top, the tomb is well sealed by a silver railing and marble screen.

You can find many mosques once you’re inside the shrine complex, built by the famous Mughal emperors Akbar and Shah Jahan, who used to pay respect to the Sufi Saint at least once every year.

The shrine, undoubtedly, is an architectural and structural marvel, and is the perfect Sufi retreat to connect with your inner self. The place is open to people of all religions and faiths and one doesn’t have to be religious to enter the shrine. You can be at complete peace with the oneness of God at the Ajmer Sharif dargah— this is something you can’t really buy elsewhere.  The annual Urs Sharif at the dargah is world-famous that draws crowds in large numbers.

There are a quite a lot of shops outside the dargah selling silver jewellery, bangles, jodhpuri jutis and embroidered dupatta, which is a must-visit for any shopaholic traveller. The Dargah is open from 6:00AM to 9:00PM and remains closed from 3:00PM – 4:00PM. There isn’t any entrance fee to visit the place as it is a Sufi shrine.  Winter is the most recommended time to visit Ajmer. While you are at the Dargah, you shouldn’t miss out on the heavenly and traditional Sufi Qawali music performed by local artists, particularly during the months of November – March. You can also plan to visit the place during the holy month of Ramadhan.

10 Apps to keep you safe while travelling – Part 1

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Though no app in the world can give you 100% security, there are a few travel safety apps that offer you a whole lot of benefits. What’s better than keeping your kith and kin informed of your location and alerting them if you get to face any problem during the course of your trip. There are a host of other useful apps that notifies traveller of inclement weather, security, disease or any other unforeseen circumstances on your trip. Just ensure you have an affordable and reliable mobile connection throughout the trip. Here are some of the best travel safety apps online for your kind reference:

ticketing

1.StaySafe

StaySafe is the perfect GPS tracker app for both personal as well as lone worker’s security and protection. The iPhone and Android version-app comes secured with a GPS tracker that automatically texts or emails your contacts (marked as emergency) if you do not check-in safely when you are a lone traveller. The app is most useful when your exact GPS location is made known to your contacts for them to locate you quickly.

2.Official State Department App

The free to download US State Department App, available for both iPhone as well as Android users, is the official State Department app when you are travelling in the US. The app is highly useful in that the travellers gain access to updated travel warnings, travel alerts, country info, US embassy locations, maps and several other essential features. 

3.CDC Apps

The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) gives you a range of apps featuring as a perfect companion to CDC’s trusted website. (www.cdc.gov). There is a wealth of information you can access such as popular journals, health articles, social media information and timely health updates.

4.CDC TravWell App

This app helps you plans safely during international travel. Get access to vaccine recommendations that are destination-specific., a comprehensive checklist of the essentials of travel planning, vaccination recommendations that are destination-specific and tailored healthy travel packing list. You can also maintain a record of your immunization and medications, store travel document, set alerts and reminders on vaccine shots and keep a note of what to take as medicines while you are on the go.

5.TravelSafe Pro

This app provides you with country or regional specific critical information and ensures safety and security in a particular region. Built with up to 12 languages (at the time of writing), TravelSafe Pro features emergency numbers of all the countries, in addition to vital embassy info of your country for the touring destination or location.

Designed with a location-sensitive emergency service databases, the App rightly connects you to the assistance service you’re looking for, and more importantly when you need the most. Whether you’re planning a road trip with your friends or out on the roads for some milk, to Mexico for the vacation or just out boozing late, this app does a remarkably good job in providing you access to fire, police and ambulance services, your partner, your parents or your best buddy — just a single tap away all from one single interface. The app is a bag of mixed user reviews in the past; therefore do check the most recent reviews to know how it can actually prove useful to you.

 

 

 

How do you choose the right travel backpack for your next trip?

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Travelling around the world can be one of the finest experiences for most people, be it leisure, business or a combination of business and leisure lately known as ‘bleasure’.  For most people it is all about passion and the thrill that comes out of their travel experience. Whatever, no bit of travel can be an ‘experience’ without planning it out well, and the even the best of the travel requires the right travel backpack, if not a lavishly expensive one.  Here’s a quick few tips of things you should be aware in order to pick the right travel backpack:

tour operators in coimbatore

Type:

There are tens of thousands of backpack models and types available in the marketplace to choose from.  Whether you choose a traditional backpack or a travel backpack with wheels for mobility is up to you and your specific travel needs.

Size:

A travel backpack with a capacity of 40-80L will just do the thing if you’re plotting a 3-7 days personal or business trip.

Water-Resistant/Waterproof:

Check if your travel backpack comes with a water-resistant or waterproof material to save your valuable contents from the effects of water, snow, or rain.

Multiple Compartments:

Going for a backpack with multiple compartments helps to keep your contents organized, secure and prevent overflowing during travel.

Front-loading Compartment:

Those who do a lot of travel may well tell you that having a front-loading compartment in your backpack can help you access your contents quickly and easily, especially when you are on the move.

Straps:

Check for backpacks that are provided with chest straps, padded shoulder straps and waist strips for higher level of comfort and greater convenience.

Laptop & Tablet compartment:

Any business traveller or tech-savvy traveller would tell you how important it’s to have a compartment with sufficient padding and foam support for laptop, notebook, tablet PC, chunky smartphones and other electronic devices.

Weight:

Empty backpack that weighs 2-4 pounds is good enough to carry reasonably huge contents. If the weight is too heavy, the backpack can actually pull you backwards, and this isn’t good news.

Raw Materials:

There is a good choice of materials for backpack to choose from depending upon your budget. But Polyester and Nylon are found to be lightweight and highly water-resistant.

Price:

The price of any backpack may depend upon what your choice of brand is, functionality and quality it delivers. Therefore, the price range of an average quality backpack may fall between $50 and $100; if you are looking for premium quality backpacks, you may have to shell out anything between $100 and $300.

You may add a few points to the ones listed above. However, if you consider these factors, then you can get a reasonably priced travel backpack with satisfactory quality. Remember that quality always has a price tag attached and premium quality backpacks may burn your pockets.

How will choose you the best honeymoon package?

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The wedding season is on and you are about to taste its flavour soon. What next? Honeymoon? There can be no denying that. A lot has been already discussed on the choice of honeymoon destinations, but how one chooses the right honeymoon package obviously drives other things in place. There are a lot of options on cards and honeymooners, no doubt, latch on the first available package they find, either online or offline. Remember honeymoon is something that must be remembered for the right reasons.  Some of the initial questions that need to be answered in the planning phase: what type of travel do you prefer? What destinations suit you genre? What is your budget? What hotel or resort falls within your considerations and budget? If you can answer these questions, you are well on your way to your dream honeymoon.

Honymoon packagesWhat do you want out of your honeymoon?

From Europe to Hawaii, the Caribbean Islands to Las Vegas, there are a whole lot of honeymoon destinations to pick from. You need to decide first on the type of travel, what you want out of your honeymoon trip, then the rest of the things will fall in place. It must be noted that every destination will offer its unique feature: history, mysticism romance, adventure, thrill and other travel genres; sometimes a combination of one or two travel genres will turn out to be really cool.

In general, go for something that will offer varied travel experiences for your honeymoon vacation.

Destinations that’ll match your interest

Now that you have some idea on the type of honeymoon you are looking for, let us be more specific on the selecting the specific destination that will match your interest.  While there are some European vacations that offer the ability to travel multiple countries in a single trip, most travel packages are single-country or single-location based.  If you’ve decided to honeymoon on an island, research a bit on the local attractions around, traditional culture, language, foods and information on the beaches and the type of activities the place offers such as fishing, diving, sailing, or chilling on a lounge chair around the pool, enjoying the sun, etc.   There may be a few more questions, but let’s narrow down our focus to the basics.

How much is your travel spend?

Like most things in life, travel is decided on the basis of budget. How much are you willing to spend on your honeymoon trip? How many days have you planned to cover in your trip? This, more often than not, isn’t a difficult one as there are several resorts, hotels, tour operators, travel websites and app platforms all competing for some business space. All you need to do is refine your search a bit, either online or offline, and match your needs with the budget. Look for discounts and offers and check if the available packages cover meals, transportation, and entertainment at the hotel or resort. Some extra bucks will probably allow you to spend outside the all-inclusive travel package that you’ve selected.

Finding the right resort

If you have managed to answer the first three questions, then finding the best resort, hotel or accommodation is only a cinch. As we discussed earlier, it’s always considered a great idea to participate in social media interactions, travel forums, travel blogs, and other social networking sites to say what others have to say about a particular resort or hotel. Find out how from the experience of previous honeymooners on particular destinations; this will go a long way in helping you make the right decision and spice up your honeymoon trip.