My Favorite Cities in the United Kingdom

After I finished college I was lucky enough to hit the road with my buddy Lloyd Claycomb and go to see the best of what Europe had on offer for just over 3 months. Much of my time in Europe was spent in the United Kingdom and whilst that was not the original plan, I kinda fell in love with the place.

A lot of people that I meet have never been to the UK and whenever they go they always ask me which are the best cities to visit. This is often a question that I am stumped with because I enjoyed so many of them. With that being said, I thought I should probably put together a list for you guys in terms of which ones were my favorites so here they are with reasons why I liked them so much.

London

I’ll start with the heavyweight, London is crazy, it is everything you expect it to be and more and you will want to go back as soon as you have left. Hundreds of cultures smashed together with the backdrop of the very best of Great Britain is what you will find here and there is an incredible amount of variation to be found throughout the city. Whatever you’re looking for be it art, excitement, danger or beauty, you will find it here in London.

Newcastle

A massively underrated city in the north east of England, Newcastle is inhabited by the friendliest people that I have ever met. The city feels really compact and in the heart you will find the glorious river complete with impressive bridges which cross it. The city has a really penchant for a good time and many Brits will travel to Newcastle for its infamous night life. Here you will find a market-town on steroids as well as a whole range of things to do and attractions to see.

Edinburgh

Definitely a contender for the most beautiful city which I have ever visited, Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and city that is bathed in countryside charm. The city is perfectly juxtaposed with the two main streets which run parallel to each other in the center of the city. Prince’s Street is the modern side of the city where you will find swanky restaurants, classy bars and plenty of locations for shopaholics to get their kicks. In contrast, the Royal Mile is the street which leads up to the ancient castle which overlooks the city and here you will find traditional Scotland in all of its charm. Tartan shops, whisky sellers and home cooked Scottish food is the order of the day here and it is the best place to get a feel of the Scottish charm. Throughout the city there are parks and green spaces and there is even a hill right in the city center just to remind you that whilst Edinburgh is a capital city, it has its roots in the green countryside of Scotland.

A Simpler and Better Way to Get Around in London

London’s complex geography and public transport network can be overwhelmingly confusing if you’re unfamiliar with them, and sometimes even if you are.

As a city with more than 1000 years of history (actually the first settlement in the area is believed to be over 6000 years old), London doesn’t have the tidy grid-like network of streets common to most other major cities around the world. The streets of London were designed for much simpler times, when traffic was light and powered mostly by hay and oats.

The transformation of London into a thoroughly modern metropolis has been nothing less than stunning. Compared to Paris, Rome, or even Stockholm, London has a much more modern appearance. No doubt the Great Fire of 1666 contributed to the city’s evolution. Bombings during World War One also knocked out many older buildings and factories. Then the Blitz arrived, forcing the city once and for all to rejuvenate.

And yet the metropolitan train network has hardly changed a bit since its inception, despite being in fact th oldest urban railway system in the world. There’s a sense of charm in London’s antiquity, and a sense of pride in its modernity, but none of this is very helpful to you in getting from A to B.

Minicabs and taxis should really only be used as a last resort. They are not locally known as “chuck wagons” without a good reason. Self-driving can also be a hassle. First there is the maze of inner-city streets to be navigated; you need to make sense of the complex system of motorways, arterial roads, and bypasses; and it’s probably best not to even think of the ordeal of finding a place to park (not to mention paying for it).

London’s public transport network is actually quite reasonable, despite being ancient. Yet by using it, you are taking a huge gamble in terms of reliability.  This could not have been more adequately exemplified than during the recent cab strike in South London, which overwhelmed the rail system, leaving thousands of early morning passengers destined for Gatwick Airport chomping at the bit with anxiety and frustration as the series of rolling delays threatened their travel plans.

So when you really need to be sure of getting to where you need to go, when you need to arrive calm and unflustered, and when you need to make the most efficient use of your travel time, making use of a London chauffeur service is definitely the way to go.

Hiring a bona fide chauffeur service guarantees you will have access to a reliable luxury car, a professional driver, and a state-of-the-art navigation system with traffic advisory service.  All of which ensures a safe and comfortable journey.

As a result, all the stress of driving, navigating, refueling and parking is being handled for you by someone else. Meaning you get to use your transit time for something productive like sneaking in an extra 20 minutes of sleep, catching up on your emails, finishing that overdue report, or simply relaxing with a drink and enjoying the scenery. This is why luxury chauffeur-driven travel is not just a smarter way, it’s really the only way if you care about the quality of the life you are living.

5 of the Most Breathtaking Beaches in Paros

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Paros is a gorgeous island set in the Aegean Sea. Paros is just one of the islands of the Cyclades region. It serves as the transportation center for the region and thus it sees quite a bit of boat traffic throughout the year.

Paros is also home to the gorgeous 4th-century Byzantine church, Panagia Ekagtontapiliani. However, Paros is best known for its beaches and quaint villages. The island is about 75 square miles and is approximately 13 miles long, giving visitors plenty of coastline and beach access.

When it comes to Paros, the beaches are numerous and it is difficult to choose exactly what beaches to hit on your visit to this incredible island. We’ve narrowed down the list to 5 beaches you simply must visit in Paros.

The best way to visit Paros is to book your very own villa. When booking a luxury Paros villa, you will find an option to fit every budget and accommodations for both small and large parties. Private villas offer you the option of staying onsite at the villa for peace and seclusion or venture out to the local beaches if desired.

Here are our best picks for top beaches in Paros:

Chryssi Akti

The beach at Chryssi Akti has incredible golden sand which speaks to the beach’s name, which translates to Golden Coast or Golden Beach. This beach is close to Chania city and can easily be accessed via a short walk from the city limits. Chryssi Akti is a great choice for travellers with children. Not only is there a playground close to the beach, but there are several parks in the area. Windsurfing activities are available and, in fact, Chryssi Akti was home to the windsurfing championships in the past.

Santa Maria

Santa Maria draws the young and adventurous. Plenty of water sport activities are available and a number of beach bars and restaurants can be found nearby. It also has a picturesque view of the nearby Naxos Island.

July and August can be quite crowded with tourists. Located close to Naoussa, the beach can be accessed via local roads by bus or by boat.

Monastiri (Agios Ioannis)

Monastiri can be found in western Naoussa. It is located near the Monastery of Agios Ioannis and the beach is referred to by either name. You can actually see the monastery from the beach.

If you visit between June and September, you will be treated to the events of the local festival that takes place during the summer. The festival offers outdoor concerts and cinema showings as well as a number of beach parties and other fun social events. The area is also known as a popular yacht mooring spot for a little taste of the rich and famous life.

Kolimbithres

Kolimbithres is hands down the most popular beach on Paros. Even if you wish to avoid the crowds, you cannot visit Paros without a trip to Kolimbithres. The beach is revered for its geological granite rock formations that cover the beach area. If you are fortunate enough, you can even score a private bay for as part of your own personal paradise. Kolimbithres offers a wide array of water activities including windsurfing which is a popular feature at most of the beaches in Paros (as mentioned earlier).

Ambelas

Ambelas is the opposite of Kolimbithres. It is primarily a fishing village located off the beaten path and is not considered an organized beach. The beach is small and you can watch the fishing boats traveling in and out of port. This is a favorite of the locals and offers the best fish cuisine on the entire island.

There you have it! Your must-see beaches of Paros. After you’ve taken a vist, be sure to let us know which was your favorite!

10 Effective Tips for Data Breach Prevention

Do you really need to take steps for data breach prevention in your company? Absolutely!

In today’s times, data breaches are a very real threat that all companies, large and small, are dealing with. You’ll hear reports of how corporate giants like Epsilon, Target, TripAdvisor, and Home Depot, among others, have had security breaches. In fact, the Juniper Networks and RAND Corporation have released results of studies which estimate that by the year 2019, losses from information leaks and cybercrime are likely to cross $2 trillion.

As a business owner, know that your company is not immune to such threats and you must take effective steps for data breach prevention.

1. Monitor the Movement of Data Between the Various Departments

When your customers and business partners share personal information and other details with you, different employees are likely to use them to provide efficient services. Implement procedures so that this data is carefully stored and used. Make sure all employees understand the importance of security measures and coordinate activities carefully. An effective data breach prevention strategy would be to restrict access to only those personnel that absolutely need to use the information.

2. Assign Electronics to Employees for Company Use

Buy laptops, tablets, and cellphones and provide them to your employees for company use. You can have your IT team install the necessary software, firewalls, and other security applications and tools so that hackers cannot access the information on these devices. Instruct your employees to only use secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) access for working. You can also restrict the downloading of apps and prevent browsing that may lead to accidental leaks through phishing attacks. The biggest advantage of providing electronics is that employees must surrender them when they leave the company helping you safeguard the information stored in the devices they had been using.

To economize on the cost of devices, check out the refurbished and used laptop prices on various online stores like Amazon, ReUseTek, and Target, to name a few and make your choice.

3. Secure Each Device with the Appropriate Tools

An effective data breach prevention strategy is to protect each device that you provide employees by way of different security tools. Sign up with malware monitoring services that send you alerts as soon as your company systems are attacked with malicious code. Accordingly, you can instantly take the necessary preventive measures to protect your company’s database. Make sure each device has multiple layers of security applications such as anti-virus programs, encrypting software, login boxes, limited attempts for signing in, contact forms, security questions, and others. Direct your employees to change passwords regularly.

4. Install Computer Screen Recognition Software

Have your IT team install computer screen recognition software on all the assigned devices. This security tool ensures that the screen remains legible only as long as the registered user is looking at it. In case, she looks away from the screen, it will blur instantly. This data breach prevention tool makes it impossible for shoulder surfers to collect information. You can safely allow your employees to work from remote locations once they have this software installed.

5. Work with a Dedicated Server Only

When you work with servers catering to a larger number of websites, you risk hacking and data breaches. That’s because you can only ensure the security of your website. Other users browsing websites with insufficient security measures can endanger your website leaving it vulnerable to cyber crime attackers.

6. Have Your IT Systems Checked Regularly

Invite professional IT auditors that come in from time to time to audit your digital systems. They will undertake a thorough inspection of your website and security provisions and identify  sensitive areas. With their recommendations, you can implement the necessary data breach prevention measures.

7. Save Personal Information Only As Long As Needed

Set up mandatory data protection protocols according to which employees must erase all information as soon as it is no longer needed. These details can include social security numbers, credit card numbers, CVV2 codes, expiry dates, insurance numbers, and any other information that hackers can find useful. One of the best deterrents for cyber criminals is simply non-availability of data.

8. Keep Your Customers Informed

Inform your clients about the personal details you’ll need for providing services so they can make a well-thought out decision about whether or not to place orders with your company. Also, let them know about the data breach prevention measures that you have in place and how you’ll keep all details secure. Your customers and business partners will want to know about the failsafe procedures you have in place in case there are any cybercrime incidents.

Once customers understand that you have their interests in mind, they will be open to working with you when you request them to create complicated passwords and submit security responses at regular intervals when browsing through your website.

9. Use Effective Data Destruction Protocols

At regular time intervals, you may need to upgrade the digital equipment you have in your office. Before disposing of any laptops, desktops, cellphones, and other devices, make sure you have the hard drives shredded so that the information on them cannot be deciphered even by the most dedicated of cyber criminals. Sign up with certified professional services that perform secure data destruction on site or off site. They’ll provide you with the mandatory Certificate of Destruction so you can keep your business indemnified.

10. Shred All Hard Copies of Documents

Use the proper cross-cutting and shredding equipment to dispose of all paper documents saved in the company offices. Any documents containing sensitive information can fall into the hands of hackers and compromise security. Prevent this from happening by hiring the services of professional paper shredding companies in case you typically generate large volumes of sensitive paperwork.

Protect Your Business with Effective Data Breach Prevention Measures

The TRUSTe sponsored Harris Interactive poll reports that 90% of American customers choose not to place orders with companies that they did not trust with their personal information. You not only stand to lose business, but you also risk losses in case data breaches in your company’s IT systems cause loss of personal information. Prevent such possibilities by using the proper data breach prevention measures.

Top British travel destinations

Britain is famous for its rolling countryside, dramatic cliffs and coastline, and a culture and history spanning many thousands of years. In fact, one of its most engaging aspects is the variety available; regardless of what you’d like to do during your vacation in Britain, there’s a town, city, or quaint hamlet that will satisfy your every whim and sense of curiosity. This beautiful collection of islands, which includes Jersey, Guernsey, the Scilly Isles, the Isle of Wight, and the Isle of Man, are rife with adventure and historical discoveries – and that’s before we’ve explored the scattered Scottish islets at the country’s northernmost point.

Here are just five of the top British destinations we think you should travel to at least once in your lifetime…

London

If you’re visiting Britain, you must stay over in England’s capital. London is a vibrant, colorful metropolis that has as many bars, clubs, and restaurants as it does theatres, museums, galleries, and royal palaces. Indeed, its history is a long and varied one, dating back to the Roman era; you’ll be invited to delve into a treasure trove of stories every time you head down London’s bustling streets. The city has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for cultural experiences, tourist trails, or shopping, and while it boasts every kind of accommodation you can imagine we highly recommend booking a London vacation apartment in Camden Town. With its quirky stores, picturesque canals, and links to England’s music history, Camden is a fantastic place to start your London adventure – and what better way to see it all than from a self-catering apartment?

Edinburgh

While we’re on the subject of capital cities, Scotland’s principal city, Edinburgh, is always worth a mention – and a visit. Perhaps best known for its medieval castle, which presides over everything that happens below, Edinburgh is a city of rich culture and art. Here you will discover remarkable architecture, galleries and museums, theatres, and gorgeous gardens, as well as spectacular churches, a cathedral, and a zoo that houses Britain’s only pandas. The city has an array of hotels, many of which are within beautiful, historic buildings. One of the best things about Edinburgh, though, is its proximity to Scotland’s wild landscape. The Lothians, which lie just outside of the city, offer impressive scenery.

Keswick

If you’re anxious to see some of the rolling countryside, great lakes, and rugged mountains that Britain is so famous for, we’d suggest a trip into the Lake District. Very few places in Britain will charm you quite as much as this National Park, which is located in England’s northwest. Havens for outdoorsy types, towns such as Keswick are the perfect bases from which to explore the surrounding area. Rent a picture-perfect cottage and prepare to enjoy the landscape; from Derwentwater, the Cat Bell fells, and Walla Crag fell, to Bassenthwaite Lake and Thirlmere, the countryside surrounding Keswick begs to be walked, cycled, hiked, and explored on horseback.

Dublin

While the Republic of Ireland hasn’t been a member of the United Kingdom since its partition from Northern Ireland in 1922, it is still a part of the British Isles. If you’re looking to get into the party spirit, immerse yourself in a literary trail, or whisk yourself away into some incredible landscapes, then Ireland is the location you’re looking for. Dublin, the country’s capital, is at the heart of the ‘craic’. Occupied by bars and restaurants, as well as museums, galleries, and libraries, Dublin is a city renowned for its hospitality, and its many opportunities for a good time; well, it is the home of Guinness stout, after all. Experience a traditional night out, Irish style, before wending your way into the Emerald Isles spectacular fields, trees, and mountains. Dublin offers some great accommodations, including self-catering apartments, hotels, and bed and breakfasts.

Brighton

It would be a travesty to visit Britain and not head to a traditional seaside resort; a vacation in Britain is incomplete until you’ve sampled fish and chips, spent all your money at a gaudy arcade, and taken a stroll along a pebbly beach, after all. While Britain is home to some truly spectacular seaside resorts, it’s Brighton that tourists return to time and time again. Alongside its iconic pier, which has entertained revelers since 1899, Brighton boasts eccentric independent boutiques, a thriving nightlife, theatre, music, and comedy experiences, and a long stretch of sand and shingle beach. Be sure to book a room in any of the town’s boutique bed and breakfasts for a truly authentic seaside experience.

Of course, this article is merely a rough guide; there are an abundance of destinations that you could choose within the British Isles. Take a deep breath and dive straight into the beautiful British Isles; you never know quite what you’ll uncover next…

Your Guide To The ‘Up Helly Aa Fire Festival’ in Lerwick, Scotland

As part of our guides, looking at some of the finest, craziest, weirdest and most outlandish festivals in the World, today we are going to take a look at the Up Helly Aa festival which takes place in northern Scotland and the Shetland Islands each year. This spectacular festival of fire  occurs on the last Tuesday of January and sees visitors from all over the World head to the chilly northern Scottish lands for a festival like no other. Let’s take a look at the history of the festival and a guide to what you should expect to see if you visit Up Helly Aa.

The History

The festival takes place in around 12 locations but the oldest is the Lernwick celebration, the festival was borne out of the annual Yuletide tradition of tar-barreling. This was a festivity that saw 12 barrels filled with tar being lit on fire and then dragged through the town by sledges and carried by men as they caused mischief throughout the town as people cheered, following the show, everyone would retire the public houses to continue the festivities.

Tar-barreling was outlawed in 1880 and the festival of Up Helly Aa was the festival that replaced it. At first it was just a small torch procession but in 1882, the town of Lernwick significantly increased its procession size for the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh, from that year up to the present day, the festival has been a huge event of fire and festivities.

What You Will See

If you want to visit the festival the here is what you can expect to see.

– Morning

In the morning you will see the first Jarls, these are men dressed in Viking style dress who will arrive in floats in the shape of ships. The Jarl squads will go for breakfast in the Islesburgh Community Centre before heading on to the Galley Shed and then The British Legion.

The squad will march with their galley floats from the British Legion with pipe and brass bands in tow before arriving in the market cross where the Proclamation of Up Helly Aa is situated. The squads then head up to the ferry terminal where you will get a chance to take some photos of the impressive costumes and their galleys.

Toast are drunk around 1030 as the bands continue playing and then the squads break off into various rooms and halls.

Day Time

Throughout the day you can enjoy the exhibitions that have been displayed, short movies playing, and the chance to meet some of the Jarls. Grab some food and get ready for the evening festivities.

Evening

At 7pm the Jarl quads are given their torches and begin the march, led by the Guizer Jarl squad, the Guizer Jarl is the chief around here. At 730pm, a rocket is fired across the sky of the town to begin the march. The squads then march through the town singing and chanting in an impressive fiery sight.

The group then culminates in the North King George V playing field, they circle the field before congregating in the centre where there is a huge galley ship. You will hear a bugle call and then witness over 1000 torches being thrown into the galley to set it on fire and then  a firework display will begin.

As the evening progresses you will see shows and skits taking place all over the town, drinking games, street food and dancing are all on offer for visitors in a night of raucous fun that will go well into the early hours.

As expected, the following day is a public holiday so that everyone can recover from this incredible festival.

Your Guide To The ‘Cheese Rolling Festival,’ England 

Did you know that there was a festival in the UK where they chase a big ball of cheese down a hill? Well believe it or not this actually exists and if you want to see something different this year then why not head down to Gloucester in England to watch some brave souls seeking to be victorious as they look to catch the rolling cheese in one of the weirdest festivals in the World. Let’s take a look at how the Cooper Hill Cheese Festival came to being at what it comprises of.

The Beginnings

There are 2 arguments for how the event originated, the first is that it was a battle between farmers that took place each year on Whit Monday to see how would have grazing rights of the common for the summer. The second notion is that it was related to the Pagan tradition of rolling wood down the hill to celebrate the end of the winter, they also used to scatter biscuits and fruit from the top of the hill as part of the ceremony and some think that the cheese was the symbolism of this.

The Format

The format of the modern day cheese rolling festival is that a 9lb round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled from the top of the hill and the competitors head off after it. Crowds line the sides of the hill and cheer the competitors on. The winner is not the person who catches the cheese as many think, but the first person to cross the finish line at the bottom, the victor will win the round of cheese. The cheese has the ability to reach speeds of up to 70km per hour so catching it is near impossible. There are two pubs close to the hill where competitors and visitors gather before the event to load up on a little courage before they face the tiresome climbing of the hill and then the treacherous race back down.

The Dangers

This is actually an incredibly dangerous festival as the hill is extremely steep, whilst it can be humorous for onlookers to watch human bodies tumble down the hill in search of cheese, many sustain injuries that can be serious. Each year the St John’s Ambulance service will head to the event to treat injuries that are sustained from tumbling down the steep and uneven hill.

How to See it?

If you are up for competing in this zany event or if you wish to watch it then you need to head to Brockworth in Gloucestershire on the Spring Bank Holiday Monday. The event still runs each year despite much backlash from councils who suggest that the dangers are not worth keeping up the tradition. Despite the backlash there has actually been a ‘Save the Cheese’ campaign which has been very successful. An entry fee was introduced in 2011 but quickly scrapped after many complaints from locals. This is a tradition that doesn’t look as though it is going anywhere soon so get yourself to Chase Hill this year and watch one of the weirdest festivals in the World.

Your Guide To ‘La Tomatina’ in Buñol, Spain

If you want to a go to one of the World’s messiest festivals then why not visit Spain this year and go to a festival where you can spend the day throwing rotten tomatoes at people. Wait, what, Tomatoes? That’s right people, a festival exists in the World where you essentially spend your day, launching piles and and piles of tomatoes at each other in the street before being hosed down by the local fire service. Ladies and Gentlemen, we bring you, La Tomatina, and here is your guide to this crazy Spanish festival.

The Origins of the Festival

The festival takes place in Buñol, Valencia and has done since around 1944, its origins are unclear but the general thought is that it began when the townspeople became frustrated at the city councillors and rioted by throwing tomatoes at them to display their discontent. The years that followed saw the beginnings of the festival until it was banned in the lat 50s as a result of having no religious significance. After a swell of public support, the festival was reinstated in 1970 where it became an official festival and had rules imposed. the key year for the festival was 1975 where the introduction of tomato throwing became a key part of the festival and that has continued up until the modern day.

The Festival

The amount of participants that join the festival each year has risen to around 40,000 as of 2016. The festival is held on the last Wednesday of August during the week-long festivities of Buñol and the tomatoes arrive in trucks from local growers.

The Fight

The tomato fight lasts for around one hour, the beginning of the fight is signified in a strange way but one that is much in line with the festival. At 9am there is a large, greasy pole with a ham tied to the end of it, people scramble to reach the ham and once someone has grabbed it, the fight begins. The rucks will tip around 130 tonnes of ripe tomatoes on to the waiting crowd and madness ensues. The hour-long fight culminates in the sound of a cannon where everyone is left covered in squelchy tomatoes and red from the juice. After the fight, everyone scrambles to find the nearest person with a hose to be cleaned down.

The Rules

Yes, there are rules to this madcap festival and they are as follows:

– You must squish the tomatoes before throwing them in order to avoid injuring people.

– You must not throw anything other than tomatoes during the fight.

– Participants must make way for trucks and lorries coming through.

– After the second cannon is sounded, no tomatoes are allowed to be thrown.

How to Get Involved

As mentioned before, the festival takes place on the last Wednesday or August and in the town of Buñol, Valencia. Participation for the event costs 10 Euros and if you want to be one of those on top of the truck then you will have to pay a whopping 750 Euros.

What better way to spend a Spanish summer day than launching tomatoes at strangers!