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You Can Meditate With a Monk and Experience Thailand’s Festival of Lights From Home This Weekend

Loy Krathong Festival Thailand

You’re probably stressed and suffering from extreme wanderlust, and Thailand wants to help. 

This Saturday, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is hosting a virtual event it hopes will help audiences find their inner peace in this uncertain world. The event includes a virtual meditation and mindfulness session with Canadian-born Buddhist Monk Ven. Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu followed by livestreams from Loy Krathong, the country’s annual Festival of Light. 

Bhikkhu was ordained in 2001 and has nearly two decades of experience teaching intensive meditation around the world. He is the author of two books, "How To Meditate: A Beginner’s Guide To Peace" and "Lessons in Practical Buddhism."

“It’s said that Buddha’s teachings through monk chats are the reason why Thai people always smile, even through difficult times,” Thai tourism official Charinya Kiatlapnachai said in a statement. 

Thailand closed its borders in March as countries around the world were doing the same in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. Thailand has reported fewer than 4,000 coronavirus cases and 59 deaths during the pandemic. Thailand saw its first international visitors in seven months in early October but remains off-limits for many tourists. 

“Until the Land of Smiles welcomes back travelers once again, we will share the powerful spirit of the destination with travelers digitally,” Kiatlapnachai said. 

As part of Saturday’s event, the Thai tourism ministry plans to stream Loy Krathong celebrations from Wat Mahathat and Ayutthaya. To celebrate Loy Krathong, people across the country typically release lotus-shaped baskets decorated with candles and flowers onto rivers and other waterways. Saturday’s programming includes fireworks as well as performances by Thai artists and musicians. 

The experience is being hosted on Zoom Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET, but you’ll want to make sure to register online. 

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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This Map Will Show Where You Can and Can't Travel Due to Coronavirus (Video)

Editor's note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.

There’s now an easy way to peruse your vacation options as the world begins recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an authoritative trade association for airlines around the world, has created an interactive Travel Regulations Map powered by Timatic solutions that allow both airlines and travelers to quickly see current COVID-19 travel restrictions for each country around the world.

On the map, countries are color-coded based on their current travel restrictions (which will be continually updated by IATA) and are sorted into four categories: totally restrictive, partially restrictive, not restricted or under review.

When users click on a country, they’ll find information about current border policy, including if quarantine periods are necessary, exemptions, and any documentation or testing that could be required upon arrival. The Travel Regulations Map sources its information from airlines and government agencies and is likely to have accurate border information before your travel agent or advisor.

suitcase with face mask

While the map is a handy tool, travelers shouldn’t use it as a final or single resource. IATA reminds users that while they strive for the utmost accuracy, regulations around COVID-19 are constantly evolving — and each country is making their own ever-changing rules. Be sure to visit official government websites for the most accurate and up-to-date information before booking travel.

All over the world, various levels of restrictions and requirements are in place when it comes to traveling in the time of COVID-19. Many countries and states require travelers to quarantine upon arrival or take a COVID-19 test ahead of departure and show proof of negative results.

Although the State Department has returned to its usual advisory system of deeming countries' safety level on a 1-4, scale instead of its "Do Not Travel" advisory for all international trips, a certain number of countries are currently accepting U.S. travelers.

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Maldives Private Island Resort Creates a Gorgeous Coral Tribute to COVID-19 Pandemic Heroes

aerial view of coral in Baros, Maldives

An idyllic private island resort in the Maldives has created a one-of-a-kind tribute to essential pandemic workers. 

While it was closed for the past several months, Baros Maldives, which sits on its own island and features 75 overwater and beachside villas, was busy harvesting fragments of living coral that had broken off from nearby reefs. Their mission: to use the coral to write “Thank You Heroes” in the resort’s lagoon. 

aerial view of Baros, Maldives

Baros has been working to regenerate the natural coral surrounding it for more than a decade. The property has saved enough coral over the years to regenerate hundreds of reefs, creating new habitats for fish and other invertebrates. Guests can sponsor reefs for $150 per person and work with the resort’s marine biologists to collect bits of coral to add to regenerating reefs, a resort spokesperson said. 

While it can take years for coral to form a message like the one Baros created during the pandemic, the words “Thank You Heroes” is already visible from above. 

Because the coral will continue to grow indefinitely, the resort’s management sees the project as a permanent way to acknowledge the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who have been guiding the world through the coronavirus pandemic. The project is one way to remember the visible compassion, unity, and kindness people have showed one another during the pandemic, resort manager Ibrahim Shijah said.  

The resort, which reopened on Oct. 1, is also offering healthcare workers who book stays at the resort perks like complimentary Champagne, massages, and dinners on the beach through Dec. 22, 2021. 

Baros is about 25 minutes from the Maldives International Airport by speedboat. It has three restaurants and something it calls the Piano Deck, which is perhaps the most socially distanced restaurant table on Earth. 

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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This New 260-mile French Cycling Route Will Take You From Paris to Normandy

Two people ride bikes along the Seine in Saint Denis

There’s now one more way to explore northern France: a 260-mile cycling route that starts at the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris and winds through more 130 towns along the Seine River and deep into Normandy.

The La Seine à Vélo route passes by Claude Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny, the Museum of Impressionism, and Château de Malmaison, the former home of Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Josephine. The chateau was the French government's headquarters from 1800 to 1802 and was Napoleon's last residence in France.

La Seine à Vélo cycle route map from Paris to Normandy

The route, which has been in the works since 2015, takes cyclists through urban, rural, and industrial landscapes in an area that has long served as an inspiration to some of the world’s greatest artists, including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Victor Hugo.

The product of a collaboration among the 15 French territories, the route is just one of a number of new cycling paths that have been recently introduced as people increasingly look to socially distanced outdoor activities to fill their time.

In Italy, for example, a new 87-mile bike route circles the country’s largest lake, Lake Garda. In the U.S., a new 1,287-mile bike trail connects Yellowstone National Park with Minneapolis. Additional bike trails also have opened in California.

People enjoying drinks outdoors after cycling

Organizers plan to release a guide to the full La Seine à Vélo route early next year. In the meantime, they’ve released guides to portions of the route on their website. The site includes photos of what to expect on the trail as well as distance and time estimates and information on lodging and dining options.

Don’t have a bike? Don’t worry. There are several spots to rent bikes along the route.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Disney Cruise Line Opens Bookings for 2022 With Itineraries in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and More

Cruise liner Disney Magic at Key West, Florida

Disney Cruise Line’s early 2022 bookings open this week on Oct. 22 for all guests, with itineraries through the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico, and more from ports around the United States, including the cruise line’s newest home port, New Orleans. Here’s what this beloved cruise line — voted the best cruise line for families by Travel + Leisure readers in the 2020 World’s Best Awards — has in store for 2022. 

Enjoy ocean views and beautiful beaches on four-, five-, six-, or seven-night cruises around the Caribbean. Itineraries depart from Galveston, New Orleans, Miami, and Port Canaveral and visit destinations like Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and more. Meanwhile, three-, four-, five-, and six-night cruises through the Bahamas leave from Port Canaveral, Miami, Galveston, and New Orleans and visit popular destinations like Key West and Nassau. Of course, Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, is a highlight for many of these itineraries through the Bahamas and Caribbean — guests can take advantage of family-friendly activities in a tropical setting that offers a dose of quintessential Disney magic. 

West Coasters can set sail for Baja aboard the Disney Wonder on two-, four-, and five-night cruises from San Diego, visiting towns like Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico. Also departing from San Diego, a five-night Pacific Coast cruise will take guests to San Francisco and Victoria, Canada, before ending in Vancouver. 

A 14-night journey from New Orleans to San Diego will stop in Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Colombia before passing through the Panama Canal and spending a few days at sea and visiting popular Mexican beach towns such as Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. 

Finally, Disney is bringing back their popular cruises to Hawaii in 2022, with two 10-night options traveling between Honolulu and Vancouver, each spending five days in the islands.

Elizabeth Rhodes is an associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her adventures on Instagram on @elizabetheverywhere

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Basic Greek Words, Phrases, and Slang to Learn Before You Go to Greece

Chios Island Medieval Village Olympi Greece taverna restaurant

So you’re dreaming of a trip to Greece. On the to-do list: Dust off your camera to capture the awe-inspiring ruins and dazzling cliffside sunsets, find the perfect island-hopping outfits for stylish Instagram snaps in front of white-washed houses draped with bougainvillea, and prepare yourself to come back a few pounds heavier from all the feta and haloumi doused in olive oil that will surely be eaten at many a quaint taverna.

Lower on the list of priorities may be picking up a few basic Greek phrases to converse with locals while you’re there. Even though Greece is a popular tourist destination, few people consider trying to learn Greek as part of their travels.

The culprit is likely the Greek alphabet. If you’re unfamiliar, think of the angular shapes used by college fraternities and sororities everywhere. Unlike the Latin alphabet of romance languages, Greek letters are indecipherable for English speakers, making the language more difficult to learn than Romance languages such as Spanish, Italian, and French.

But don’t let that stop you from trying to pick up some Greek, especially before you leave for your trip. Michaela Kron of the popular language learning mobile app Duolingo, told Travel + Leisure of a survey they did of their users: “One interesting finding… was that many make the mistake of not learning a language ahead of an international trip, but in hindsight wish they had done it. We actually found that many of our users pick up Duolingo after a trip, likely because they are inspired by their travels to pick up a new language.”

While you’ll find that almost everyone speaks a basic level of English in the most popular tourist destinations, Greeks are a very friendly and social people, and they will love if you can trade a bit of banter with them in their own language — even if they poke fun at you for trying. When they treat you to a free slice of halva cake or a shot of ouzo at the end of your meal, you’ll know you scored points for trying.

So get ahead of the curve and try to learn some common phrases (and even a little Greek slang) before you go. We assure you that attempting (and even butchering) the most basic of phrases with locals will make the trip more memorable — and perhaps even lead to a lasting friendship.

Below, you’ll find phrases written first in Greek and the phonetic pronunciation following in parentheses, with emphasis placed on the syllables in capital letters. Use Google Translate to play an audio of how these phrases are pronounced.

Basic Greek Words and Phrases

Hello: Γειά σου (YAH-soo)

The less formal way to say “Hi” would just be “Γεια” (Yah). If addressing a group, say “YAH-sas”.

Nice to meet you: Χάρηκα πολύ (HA-ree-ka po-LEE)

How are you?: Tι κανείς (tee-KAH-nis)?

Good morning: Καλημέρα (kah-lee-MER-ah)

You would say this greeting up until noon, and then for the rest of the day you can use “Γεια” (yah) as the standard greeting.

Good afternoon/evening: Καλησπέρα (kah-lee-SPER-ah)

Beginning around late afternoon/dusk and into the evening, you can use this greeting.

Goodnight: Καληνύχτα (kah-lee-NEEKH-tah)

Say this when going to bed.

Thank you: Ευχαριστώ (eff-kha-ri-STOE)

Remember that a good tourist is a polite tourist.

Please/You’re welcome: Παρακαλώ (para-kah-LOE)

In Greek, the word for “please” and “you’re welcome” is the same, making it all the more easy to learn. It’s polite to say “para-kah-LOE” after asking for directions or the price of something. It can even be used to mean “I beg your pardon?” or “Huh?” when you’ve misunderstood or want someone to repeat something.

My name is… : Με λένε (may LEH-neh)…

What is your name?: πως σε λένε? (pos-oh LEH-neh)

Goodbye: Γειά σου (YAH-soo)

The more informal way of saying bye would just be “Yah.” Recall that this is the same as saying hello (similar to “ciao” in Italian or “aloha” in Hawaiian). If addressing a group, say “YAH-sas.”

See/Talk to you later: Τα λέμε (tah-LEH-meh)

You may hear people ending their conversations with this phrase as well.

Yes: Ναί (neh); No: όχι (OH-hee)

Be careful not to confuse yes and no — it's easy to mistakenly associate "neh" with "no" in English, and "oh-hee" with "okay" when in fact it's just the opposite! An easy mnemonic is to remember that they're actually the inverse of what you would initially think.

Excuse me/Sorry: Συγνώμη (See-GHNO-mee)

Say this to get someone's attention, ask to pass by someone, or apologize if you've bumped into someone.

Common Greek Phrases Travelers Should Know

Where is the bathroom?: Πού είναι η τουαλέτα (Poh-EE-nay ee tua-LEH-tah)?

Helpful hint: "Poh-EE-nay" means "Where is?" so you can ask for help with locating something by saying this while pointing to a specific location in your guidebook or on a map.

Do you speak English?: Μιλάτε αγγλικά (Mee-LAH-teh ag-li-KAH)?

Cheers!: Στην υγειά μας! (STIN-eh YAH-mas)

This literally means "To our health!" If addressing a group of people not including yourself, say "STIN-eh YAH-sas," which means "To your health!"

Bottoms up!: Ασπρο πάτο (AHS-pro PAH-toh)

Meaning literally "white bottom," if you use this with a new Greek acquaintance, you'll be sure to impress.

How much is it?: Πόσο κάνει αυτό (POH-soh KAH-nee af-TOH)?

You can get by with asking "POH-soh KAH-nee" (How much?). Adding the "af-TOH" just means "How much is it?"

I don’t understand: Δεν καταλαβαίνω (Then Kah-tah-lah-VEH-noh)

Help! Βοήθεια (voh-EE-thee-yah)

I love Greece: Αγαπώ την Ελλάδα (Ah-gah-POH teen Eh-LAH-tha)

Oops!: Ωπα (OH-pa)

If there's one Greek word you may have heard before, it's likely "opa." Originally meaning "oops" or "whoops," it's now also used frequently as an exclamation of enthusiasm or joy in celebrations or to show appreciation for music, dancing, food, and drinks. For example, when you've thoroughly impressed your waiter with your new Greek skills, and he offers you a round of ouzo shots on the house, you can say, "Opa!" in appreciation.

Greek Slang and Phrases

What's up/How's it going?: Τι λέει (tee-LEI)

What are you up to?: Που είσαι (pou-eeSAY)

So good/so cool: και γαμώ (kay-gaMOU)

Although this is technically a curse word, you'll hear everyone using it colloquially to address friends. But only use it on someone you know!: μαλάκα (maLAka)

See you later: τα λέμε (ta LEH-meh)

Dude/man: ρε φίλε (reh-FEEleh)

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NASA and Nokia Are Building a 4G Cellular Network on the Moon

the moon

Astronauts might be able to tag their social media photos from the moon in real time soon. Last week, NASA announced that it granted a $14.1 million contract to Nokia Bell Labs to build a lunar 4G-LTE network.

The technology will establish “critical communication capabilities” for data transmission of all kinds, like lunar rover remote control functions, real-time navigation, high-definition video streaming, and command control functions, the Finnish tech company Nokia said in a release today. “Reliable, resilient, and high-capacity communications networks will be key to supporting sustainable human presence on the lunar surface,” Marcus Weldon, Nokia’s chief technology officer and Nokia Bell Labs president, said in the statement.

Currently, the communication system on the moon is based on radio standards, CNN Business explains. While the 4G-LTE network will have to be built out differently to meet lunar conditions — like extreme temperatures, radiation, and space vacuum — it will likely be stronger than on Earth because of the lack of trees, buildings, and other signals getting in its way, the news outlet explains. Like on our planet, the network will eventually be able to convert into 5G.

The project is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which includes the goal of sending the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024. The government space agency awarded 14 companies a total of $370 million as part of its Tipping Point competition to develop technologies in the areas of lunar surface innovation, cryogenic fluid management, and closed-loop descent and landing capability.

The Nokia initiative was specifically awarded to its American division, Nokia of America Corporation of Sunnyvale, California, which will work with spaceflight engineering company Intuitive Machines, based in Houston.

Other lunar projects include SSL Robotics of Pasadena, California, developing a lighter and more cost-efficient robotic arm for lunar surface work; pH Matter of Columbus, Ohio, testing future infrastructure by harvesting water on the moon; and Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh working on a fast-speed wireless charging system for lunar technology.

Back in 2018, Vodafone and Nokia partnered up, aiming to bring 4G to the moon in 2019 for the 50th anniversary of the first lunar walk, but Nokia is now hailing this current project as the “first-ever cellular network on the moon.”

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