Costa Ricans: Most Happy People

Costa Rica has captured another pleasurable title. This time, as home for the world’s happiest people. According to the New Economic Foundation,  the organization measured several  aspects of what it called a “Happy Planet Charter.”

In addition to Costa Rica, the rankings included, in order, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guatemala, Vietnam, and Colombia. According to an article on its website, www.amcostarica.com, the results seem to be correlated highly with the size of the country, although Brazil is rated highly, too.

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Sluggish International Economy Forces Travel Destinations to Slash Prices

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What a great time to travel overseas. Facing as much as 50% capacity, and further dwindling tourist income, cruise lines, hotels and air carriers worldwide are offering bargain basement prices that are becoming ever-so attractive to even the most budget-minded travelers.
The economic instability has meant a wild ride for the cruise industry that has resulted in some jaw-dropping prices for consumers.

“The pricing wasn’t as low as post-9/11, but it was pretty close,” says Tom Baker of CruiseCenter in Houston.

Here are the trends to watch.

Low fares

When the economy took a turn, cruise lines started lowering fares to lure travelers back, say the experts. “You can cruise for the cheapest prices I’ve ever seen in my life in many cases,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of the popular cruise Web site Cruise Critic.com.

Even better: Brown says in many cases travelers can cruise on newer, more luxurious ships for almost the same fares that used to apply only on older ships. For example, she said she’s seen seven-day Caribbean cruises as low as $249 – but the same cruise on a new ship for just $299.

And how about hotels? Brace yourself. Major hotel chains are offering some of the best deals in years as they try to convince more travelers to visit them. Five-star luxury is on sale for a whole lot less.

At some of the nation’s nicest hotels, it’s the summer of the discount.

“So, now customers can afford to stay in a four-star property or five-star property where they may not have been able to afford that before,” Noreen Henry with travelocity said.

Hotel owners are trying to lure travelers back as they said the economy starts to recover. You’ll find some of the biggest discounts, in big cities, where hotel prices were sky high last summer. According to travelocity, prices this year are often 30-50 percent less than a year ago.

If you need a vacation, summer is on sale at hotels all across the country. Major hotel chains are offering some of the best deals in years as they try to convince more travelers to visit them.

Five-star luxury is on sale for a whole lot less. At some of the nation’s nicest hotels, it’s the summer of the discount.

And, while airlines wing it on reduced airfares , several are offering special deals on international travel. Some with packages unrivaled in many, many years. Continental Airlines, which provides service from Austin, Texas, to San Jose, Costa Rica,  has reduced their airfare to $479 from the previously-listed airfare of $620 round trip in late 2008. However, one possible reason, in addition to the global economic, could be that this is the rainy season in Costa Rica, which usually drives lower airfares and hotel rates.

So, if you’re contemplating an international trip this summer, check out the rates and take advantage of some super buys in hotels, cruises, and airline fares.

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U.S. Soccer: Waking a Sleeping Giant

soccer

For more years than I can count, soccer has been the sports mainstay of   countries everywhere. Well, almost, everywhere. In the U.S., soccer has had a slow, but growing, acceptance while being rivaled from teams throughout the globe. What has brought about this growing popularity of soccer and its U.S. players? American Major League Soccer still a young league by football standards, but its popularity is on the rise. The number of spectators at U.S. soccer games is growing and can reach up to 25,000 per match.Foreign soccer talent has also helped to energize the sport. But do better players necessarily draw in larger crowds? For Americans, soccer is a predominantly European sport.

Franklin Foer is a soccer enthusiast who has written a book about the spread of soccer fandom around the world. He thinks Major League Soccer will eventually increase the popularity of the sport in the United States.

“The longer that our domestic league stays together, the more money that advertisers put into the game, into promoting the game, the more its popularity increases,” Foer said. “I think it’s a game that people are more comfortable with. It used to be something foreign. And, it’s regarded as something pretty American.”

In the U.S., football, basketball and baseball undoubtedly reign supreme amongst sports fans – but it’s impossible to miss the enthusiasm for and growth of soccer in the country.

That’s the opinion of Dr. Danny Jordaan, Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa.

Speaking at the South African Consulate General’s Offices in New York, Dr Jordaan told the president of the US Soccer Federation, Sunil Gulati, US soccer fans have bought 93,300 tickets to date for the World Cup, while the US team will arrive in South Africa for the FIFA Confederations Cup.

“Purists the world over of course call the beautiful game ‘football’, but with American football so entrenched, in the United States it’s ‘soccer’ that’s making waves in this sports-mad country,” Jordaan said.

“A startling sign of the popularity of the game and the country’s appetite for a sport which has by far the biggest global appeal, is the fact US soccer fans have already purchased over 93,300 tickets for matches at next June’s World Cup in South Africa.

If the U.S. World Cup team does well, soccer may develop even more of a following in the United States.

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Have Your Dreams Been Kidnapped?

Has the sagging global economy dampened your dream of living in a foreign country ? It’s apparently on the mind of many potential expats . But say, for example, you have a spot in mind. Which one is best for you? Without a doubt the decision is tough one, with many international choices available to you, as well as various lifestyles. And what are the factors that would determine your decision to relocate to a new country?  Share your thoughts with our Yourville.com members.

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Where Have All the Old Homemade Recipes Gone ?

At a time when frozen foods seem to prevail at the market, where have the old homemade recipes gone?  Some people have taken them to their new country and shared them with friends and relatives who have handed them down throughout the years.  Perhaps, you’d like to share a few of your long-forgotten family recipes with the rest of our Yourville members.

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Favorite International Alcoholic Drinks

“The Frenchman loves his native wine;
The German loves his beer;
The Englishman loves his ‘alf and ‘alf,
Because it brings good cheer.
The Irishman loves his ” whiskey straight,”
Because it gives him dizziness.
The American has no choice at all,
So he drinks the whole d—–business.”

[Circa 1903, “Hello Bill” Toasts]

People in countries throughout the globe have their own favorite libations. And some might surprise you. Here are a few toasts just to whet your appetite as we raise a glass to hospitality and good times.

Universal – Cheers!
Chinese – Gan Bei
Japanese – Kanpai
Thai – Che Loong
Armenian – Ge Natz
Serbian – Ji Ve Li
Spanish – Salud
German – Prost
Italian – Salute!
Hebrew – L’Chaim
French – A tes amours
Greek – ya’sou!

And here’s just a sample of the alcoholic beverage offerings of various nations.

In Peru, It’s “Chicha”
Take, for example, Peru, where their favorite alcoholic beverage is Chicha – said to be made solely of corn and water. The kernels are first germinated or sprouted, then boiled in water for three hours; this mixture is poured through a large basket lined with straw and set on a pair of wooden slats over a deep ceramic jar. The liquid ferments for 24 hours before it is boiled again with some of the strained corn mast, filtered and fermented an additional 24 hours. Villagers will often bury the jars in the earth, for the longer the brew stands, the stronger it gets.

Beer still Canada’s most popular alcoholic drink, but wine catching up
Canadians purchased $18.8-billion worth of alcoholic beverages in 2007-2008, up 4.3% from the previous year, Statistics Canada reported yesterday. The federal agency attributed the increase to three factors: increased sales of imports, only a slight increase in the price of liquor and a growing adult population. Beer remained the top choice for Canadians, accounting for 46% of alcohol sales, but its popularity is waning, StatsCan said. In 1993, 53% of alcohol sales were from beer. Wine accounted for 29% of sales in 2008, up from 18%, while spirits made up 25% of sales, dropping from 29%. Sales of red wine have more than doubled since 2000, statistics show. “Sales of red wine, which includes both red and rose wines, accounted for 62% of the total volume of red and white wine sold,” the StatsCan survey found.

In Costa Rica, Take Your Pick
Costa Rica has no national drink, but very popular in the cultural tradition is guaro, the campesino’s nearly-tasteless yet potent alcoholic drink of choice. But one libation continues to grace the palates of thirsty Ticos: ImperialBeer. You can find it everywhere.

A Survey of Europe and the U.S Reveals:
In Europe, Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com) in a 2005 survey, reported that alcoholic drink represents almost 6% of total household expenditure in the UK, and a spend of around GBP 750 (EUR 1,080) per head of population over the age of 15. Consumption of alcoholic beverages in the UK exceeded 8 billion litres in 2004. Beer accounts for more than 70% of alcoholic drinks consumption, with wine taking almost 16%, and spirits marginally more than cider, at almost 7%.”

“Out of the five European nations covered in our “Drinking Habits in Europe” report, the British retain the highest propensity to drink alcohol – the 88% of adults in Britain who had drunk alcohol in the previous year was matched most closely by the French. Some 70% of Germans appear to drink alcohol on a regular basis compared to a mere 54% of Spanish adults.”

The United States produces the most beer but Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg, and England have a higher per capita consumption

Which Country Drinks the Most?
The Economist released a study on which countries drink the most, and guess which came in first? Luxembourg, the tiny, landlocked country nestled between France, Belgium and Germany. But why Luxembourg? “One explanation is that the duty on alcohol is relatively cheap in the tiny nation, encouraging booze tourism from its more heavily taxed neighbours.” There’s no explanation for Ireland being second, however. I guess they just drink a lot.
1. Luxembourg
2. Ireland
3. Hungary
4. Moldova
5. Czech Republic

To see the rest of the list, visit The Economist.

But, what’s the world’s most popular alcoholic dining beverage? Not surprising, it’s red wine.

But let’s not stop there. What’s your country’s favorite libation?

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Poll Reveals Best Expat Locations

A poll conducted by HSBC, one of the largest global banking and financial services organizations, reveals the best expat locations in the world. Among them, and ranked accordingly:

By Expat Accommodation:
1. Singapore
2. United States
3. Belgium

By Expat’s Ability to Earn & Save
1. India
2. Hong Kong
3. Singapore

By Expat Longevity

1. Netherlands
2. Germany
3. United States

By Expat Luxury:
1. UAE
2. Singapore
3. India

The UK and France were rated very low at 14th and 13th respectively. The Netherlands was rated the top on longevity. Surprisingly, India was rated very high on luxury and savings, while Hong Kong was rated the highest in earnings.

The best overall locations? Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States are the three countries to emerge as best expat locations overall in the survey. The UK and France were among the lowest rated destinations, scoring poorly on their levels of luxury and accommodation.

For more information, visit HSBC at http://www.offshore.hsbc.com

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“ExPat,” “TransPat” or “TransNational”? You help decide.

We’re noticing conflicting opinions as to the use of the word “expat” when referring to those who have transferred to a new country. Some like the word. Some don’t. So, we’ve come up with some alternate words that might possibly seem more appropriate, like “Transpat,” or “Transnational,” and a few others. Which do you like? Or, maybe, you might have some suggestions of your own. Let us know.

[polldaddy poll=”1615040″]

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Ever Wondered About the World’s Happiest Places?

In a world that seems to grow increasingly complicated by the day, a new report recently released by the Organizations for Economic Co-Operation and Development, a Paris-based group of 30 countries with democratic governments that provides economic and social statistics and data, reveals that happiness levels are highest in northern European countries.

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Among those countries rated at the top of the list, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands rank first, second and third, respectively. Outside Europe, New Zealand and Canada landed at numbers 8 and 6, respectively. According to the report, the United States did not crack the top 10, while Switzerland placed seventh and Belgium placed tenth.

Why did the northern European countries come out looking so good? Overall economic health played a powerful role.

To see a complete survey of all 10 of the world’s happiest places, visit: forbes

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Wanted- Master BBQ’er

I saw this ad on Craigslist today and it made me chuckle. Mostly because I’m surrounded by BBQ here in Central Texas. But, manily becasue I love Texas BBQ so much that I think if it was done correctly, BBQ could work in Costa Rica. You never no until you try.

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