World's First Virtual Coffee Festival Coming This Weekend

COVID-19-prompted stay-at-home orders and community lockdowns are robbing caffeine junkies everywhere of the daily pleasure of visiting their favorite coffeehouses and cafés. Of all the everyday rituals interrupted by the coronavirus, being denied your daily trip to Starbucks, etc. might be among the hardest to bear.

Living in the new normal, those who now find themselves forced to brew their own cuppa might develop a new appreciation for the processes that go into preparing that liquid pick-me-up that we all take for granted.

Equally disappointed at present are the epicures who would normally be gearing up for events like the London Coffee Festival, celebrating the finest gourmet beans and blends, coffee paraphernalia, brewing methods and educational presentations from world-class baristas. But, like most social gatherings, these have all been canceled or postponed in an effort to curb transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Instead, the coffee-enthusiast community can now sign up to participate in the world’s first Virtual Coffee Festival, as Time Out discovered. So, budding aficionados and java connoisseurs alike can still share their love of coffee culture, gain unique insight into the industry and learn leading methods from world-class experts, while maintaining social distancing.

Five inspirational industry professionals will cover coffee-centric topics and provide interactive workshops that viewers can participate in from home. Author Ronny Billemon will provide ways to use water for brewing outstanding coffee; Joe McTaggart will teach top-notch bean-grinding skills; expert roaster Talor Browne will explain how to source the best coffee; Swedish Barista Champion Matt Winton will share on how to become a pro at home coffee-brewing and Dutch Barista Champion Wendelien van Bunnik will demonstrate Aeropress brewing.

The Virtual Coffee Festival will be broadcast live from Amsterdam via YouTube and Facebook channels to a global audience on Sunday, March 29, 2020, from 7:00 – 11:30 a.m. EST. While it’s technically a free online event, participants are asked to make a small donation, with all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders to support the healthcare workers who’re on the front lines fighting against the coronavirus.

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One of the world's top scuba diving destinations will wait for you – A Luxury Travel Blog

In the light of the COVID-19 outbreak all over the world, the whole globe is in lockdown and almost all the international flights have been cancelled! Yet, we still have the opportunity to read, know and discover new things and places, which we hope to visit one day.

Marsa Alam, Egypt’s Red Sea features over 400 species of coral and reefs, in addition to hundreds of magnificent fish species, sea animals, anemones, urchins, and more. Here we are going to highlight the ultimate beauty of Marsa Alam’s diving spots.

Marsa Alam is perfectly located on the western shore of the Red Sea, Egypt. Recently, it is chosen as one of the best diving spots in the world, from which you can completely explore the southern Red Sea’s wonders. In addition to that, Marsa Alam offers several world-class resorts that line the coastlines charming beaches, and what makes it more interesting, it is only about 4 hours’ drive away from Hurghada.

Marsa Allam makes a perfect diving spot for those who are looking for new challenging dives and unique wildlife experiences. Its sites offer a real opportunity to dive with unique species of sea turtles, cute dolphins, dugongs, and manta rays.

Actually, the diving season in Marsa Alam is year-round, yet the perfect time to dive in Marsa Alam is from May through August. We recommend visiting Marsa Alam in autumn when it is quieter and the water temperature is still balmy. You should expect water visibility up to 100 feet (30 m), but make sure to ask an expert about the perfect local dive sites and sea conditions before diving unguided. Pack a 3 mm or 5 mm wetsuit; depending on your cold tolerance, and always carry a dive knife, torch, and DSMB.

Best diving spots in Marsa Alam

Abu Dabab Beach

Diving depth: Up to 25 meters

Location: 30 km north of Marsa Alam.

Water visibility:  5-20 meters; better in the deeper areas

Suitable for: All diving levels.

Abu Dabab is considered one of the most popular beaches in Marsa Alam; it features many turtles and dugongs. It is also a dive site suitable to all skill levels, although it doesn’t contain any coral reefs and not infrequent poor visibility. Professional divers count it as the best place to get close to sea turtles and the dugong.

Fortunately, the bay has recently been closed to boats making both snorkeling and scuba diving easier and more relaxing. You can divide among a group of the imperiled shark species – one of the world’s rarest sharks.  It has bizarre but beautiful looks as if a stingray had been crossed with a real shark. Nothing to worry about, it’s not aggressive at all.  However never touch them as a flip of its tail could dislodge your mask.

Elphinstone Reef (Sha’ab Abu Hamra)

Diving depth: From 20 up to 70 meters (60 – 200ft)

Location: 50km northeast of Marsa Alam, and 10km from the shore.

Water visibility:  20-30 meters

Suitable for: Experienced divers only

Amazing reef line lies in the open ocean, a little over seven miles (12 km) from the Marsa Abu Dabbab coastline. It takes around 20 minutes to get there via Zodiac from Marsa Alam. It is considered as one of the top reef plateaux in The Red Sea; it’s about 300 meters long, 30 meters wide, and 40 meters deep. Yet, at its edges, there are near-vertical cliff walls.  The west drop off is a little less vertical than the east and sandier with some overhangs and small caves.

Elphinstone makes a perfect option if you are looking for shark encounters, particularly the large and usually solitary oceanic whitetip.  Many divers report up to four sitings on a single dive!  Please be cautious of these magnificent animals and never feed them. You can see sharks year round, but they are most numerous from October to December.

The reef there attracts an enormous variety of sea life including jacks, tuna, blue lunar fusiliers, black snapper, and lone giant barracuda. So, it’s better to watch the reef from a distance.

Sataya Reef

It is still not yet as well-known as other diving spots in Marsa Alam; few of the tour operators currently visit it. Yet, this gave it an additional privilege that makes of it a special reef to visit. You probably stand a better chance of swimming close to dolphins as contrary to what you might believe, these friendly but easily stressed animals. So, try to avoid areas where there are too many people and boats.

Samadai Reef (Dolphin House)

Diving depth: from 10 up to 15 meters (32 – 49 ft)

Location: approx. 20km SE of Marsa Alam

Suitable For: All diving levels

It is one of the most popular reefs in Marsa Alam; you can consider it one of the world’s most important dolphin habitats. It’s home for a large family of around sixty spinner dolphins. They are nocturnal animals and return every morning to the shallow waters of the reef to rest. It’s better not to feed or play with the dolphins as it is not natural for them and may cause distress.

Samadai Reef is crescent-shaped with a small lagoon of sand and sea-grass within, which is rich in marine life including the usually elusive sea horses.  You can also explore some underwater caves and at least twelve coral towers!  Remember, you should only explore the caves with an experienced guide.

Hamada Wreck (Abu Gosoon Shipwreck)

Diving depth: from 0m up to 18m

Location: 68km SSE of Marsa Alam

Water visibility: 15 to 30m

Suitable for: all diving levels

The Hamada sank off a secluded shoreline south of Wadi El Gamal National Park in 1993. The wreck is unique as it’s suitable for snorkelers, as well as experienced and novice divers.

It is home to young corals, while the wreck itself is home to a number of species, including hump head wrasse, lionfish, butterflyfish, and moray eels. It is fringed with some of the most beautifully colorful coral reefs in the world due to its sandy white beaches. It’s an enchanting site for diving that is perfect for experience the delicate harmony and balance between man and nature.

Sherif Khalil is Owner of Dunes & Beyond. Dunes & Beyond offers luxury tours, Nile cruises and desert safaris in Egypt.

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