Best places to travel in July for your summer vacation
Planning your summer vacation? Here's where to travel in July.
Summer vacation is in full swing and the best places to travel in July include festivals celebrating everything from flying kites to reggae to scuba diving. Oh, and dozens of Ernest Hemingway look-alikes running through in Key West.
Movie buffs looking for an excuse to visit the Caribbean should plan to attend the annual CayFilm Cayman International Film Festival. The four-day event, held at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, was started to promote the Cayman Islands as a filming location. The schedule includes daily film screenings, Q&A sessions with filmmakers and panel discussions. The festival will also host a 48-Hour Film Project competition challenging local filmmakers to make a short film in just two days. The winning film will be announced at the festival's award ceremony and will compete against other films at Filmapalooza 2018 for the grand prize and the opportunity to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018.
Fish boat on the beach of Jamaica| Shutterstock
One the island where reggae was invented, it only makes sense there would be an annual festival to celebrate it. Every July in Montego Bay, the Reggae Sumfest honors the homegrown music style with a weeklong festival. Headliners have included Jamaican artists like Damian “Junior Gong" Marley and Stephen Marley, Toots & the Maytals and The Mighty Diamonds, along with international artists like Sean Paul, Rihanna, Usher and 50 Cent. Can't make it in person? Watch the live stream, crank up the volume and have your own irie dance party.
Bali Kite Festival on Padang Galak Beach| Shutterstock
It's windy season in Bali and the Balinese celebrate in style — with elaborate kites. See hundreds in the air at the annual Bali Kite Festival, held on Padang Galak Beach. These aren't your average kites from Mary Poppins: think 30-feet creations of dragons, octopuses, sharks, and even a gladiator in a horse-drawn carriage. Local villages spend months designing and building the kites, and the event is highly competitive. In Bali, kite-flying is believed to be a way to speak to the gods, and the festival started as a way to thank them for plentiful harvests and fertility.
Boats on Soufriere Bay, Dominica| Shutterstock
Hosted by the Dominica Watersports Association, Dive Fest is one of the longest-running scuba diving festivals in the Caribbean. Discounts are offered for reef diving and free in-pool training sessions, so all levels of divers can participate. The event is family-oriented, with kid-friendly activities like whale watching and a snorkel treasure hunt at Champagne Reef. Don't miss the Kubuli Canoe Race, where a team of four competes in traditional fishing boats.
Fijian dancers perform the Meke Wesi (the spear dance)| Shutterstock
If you've been to Fiji, you've probably heard a heartfelt “Bula!" greeting from a local. Similar to the Hawaiian aloha, bula can mean hello, goodbye, welcome and love. It also means life, which is why the annual Bula Festival celebrates Fijian culture. The weeklong event is held in both Koroivolu Park and Prince Charles Park in Nadi. Indulge in traditional Fijian food and enjoy parades, live music, a Pacific dance contest, a Bollywood-themed night commemorating the island's Indo-Fijian population and the crowning of Miss Bula.
Windsurfer in Aruba| Shutterstock
Extreme wind sports are popular in Aruba, thanks to the island's ever-present trade winds. At the Hi-Winds Tournament, amateur windsurfers and kite boarders from around the world get the chance to show off their top tricks. Competitors face off in slalom races, freestyle competitions and long-distance races. Catch all the action from Hadicurari Beach.
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum| Shutterstock
Ernest Hemingway left his mark on Key West, and the island throws him a birthday every year. Hemingway Days is a weeklong festival to honor the author, with readings, book signings and a short story competition directed by Hemingway's granddaughter and author, Lorian Hemingway. One of the main events is a Hemingway look-alike contest, and the white-bearded “Papa" doppelgangers also take part in a mock running with the bulls, a nod to The Sun Also Rises. The Key West Marlin Tournament is also part of the festivities in memory of Hemingway's love for the sport.
Boat on Cooks Bay, Tahiti| Shutterstock
What does the movie Footloose have in common with Tahiti? In the early 1800s, dancing was forbidden in the country — Christian missionaries viewed Tahitians' cultural dancing as vulgar. In the late 1800s, the locals gained back their right to dance when France incorporated the territory. This history, and the love for the artistic form of expression, is celebrated at Heiva I Tahiti, an annual festival held in Papeete. During the event, traditional Tahitian culture takes center stage with dance performances, sporting competitions (outrigger canoe races, a javelin-throwing contest), and an a cappella singing competition.
Magens Bay, St. Thomas| Shutterstock
Bastille Day in the U.S. Virgin Islands? St. Thomas is home to a large community of French descendants who came to the island from St. Barths. The island celebrates the holiday with a number of celebrations, including the popular Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament. Between 50 and 100 boats compete from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. for a chance to win up to $13,000 in prizes. Afterward, everyone heads to the beachside party and awards ceremony at Hull Bay Hideaway with performances by local bands.
Aibonito, Puerto Rico| Shutterstock
Each year, the mountain town of Aibonito (about a 1½-hour drive from San Juan) hosts the largest plant show on the island. Known locally as the Festival de las Flores, the Aibonito Flower Festival pays homage to all things flora with rows of vendors selling plants and flowers: Anthophiles can browse orchids, heliconias, hibiscus, fruit trees and vegetable plants, to name a few. Grab an empanada from a food stall and listen to live music provided by local musicians.
Right now, around the world, brave members of America's armed forces are on duty, defending our freedom and upholding our values.
When not laser-focused on the mission at hand, they're looking forward to the day when their service to our nation is fulfilled and they can reunite with their families.
They are also imagining how they can use their hard-earned skills to build an exciting, rewarding and important career when they return home.
I want them to look no further than United Airlines.
That's why we are focused on recruiting, developing and championing veterans across our company, demonstrating to our returning women and men in uniform that United is the best possible place for them to put their training, knowledge, discipline and character to the noblest use.
They've developed their knowledge and skills in some of the worst of times. We hope they will use those skills to keep United performing at our best, all of the time.
That's why we are accelerating our efforts to onboard the best and the brightest, and substantially increasing our overall recruitment numbers each year.
We recently launched a new sponsorship program to support onboarding veterans into United and a new care package program to support deployed employees. It's one more reason why United continues to rank high - and rise higher - as a top workplace for veterans. In fact, we jumped 21 spots this year on Indeed.com's list of the top U.S workplaces for veterans. This is a testament to our increased recruiting efforts, as well as our efforts to create a culture where veterans feel valued and supported.
We use the special reach and resources of our global operations to partner with outstanding organizations. This is our way of stepping up and going the extra mile for all those who've stepped forward to answer our nation's call.
We do this year-round, and the month of November is no exception; however, it is exceptional, especially as we mark Veterans Day.
As we pay tribute to all Americans who have served in uniform and carried our flag into battle throughout our history, let's also keep our thoughts with the women and men who are serving around the world, now. They belong to a generation of post-9/11 veterans who've taken part in the longest sustained period of conflict in our history.
Never has so much been asked by so many of so few.... for so long. These heroes represent every color and creed. They are drawn from across the country and many immigrated to our shores.
They then freely choose to serve in the most distant and dangerous regions of the world, to protect democracy in its moments of maximum danger.
Wherever they serve - however they serve - whether they put on a uniform each day, or serve in ways which may never be fully known, these Americans wake up each morning willing to offer the "last full measure of devotion" on our behalf.
Every time they do so, they provide a stunning rebuke to the kinds of voices around the world who doubt freedom and democracy's ability to defend itself.
Unfortunately, we know there are those who seem to not understand – or say they do not - what it is that inspires a free people to step forward, willing to lay down their lives so that their country and fellow citizens might live.
But, we – who are both the wards and stewards of the democracy which has been preserved and handed down to us by veterans throughout our history – do understand.
We know that inciting fear and hatred of others is a source of weakness, not strength. And such divisive rhetoric can never inspire solidarity or sacrifice like love for others and love of country can.
It is this quality of devotion that we most honor in our veterans - those who have served, do serve and will serve.
On behalf of a grateful family of 96,000, thank you for your service.
Each year around Veterans Day, Indeed, one of the world's largest job search engines, rates companies based on actual employee reviews to identify which ones offer the best opportunities and benefits for current and former U.S. military members. Our dramatic improvement in the rankings this year reflects a stronger commitment than ever before to actively recruiting, developing and nurturing veteran talent.
"We've spent a lot of time over the past 12 months looking for ways to better connect with our employees who served and attract new employees from the military ranks," said Global Catering Operations and Logistics Managing Director Ryan Melby, a U.S. Army veteran and the president of our United for Veterans business resource group.
"Our group is launching a mentorship program, for instance, where we'll assign existing employee-veterans to work with new hires who come to us from the armed forces. Having a friend and an ally like that, someone who can help you translate the skills you picked up in the military to what we do as a civilian company, is invaluable. That initiative is still in its infancy, but I'm really optimistic about what it can do for United and for our veteran population here."
Impressively, we were the only one of our industry peers to move up on the list, further evidence that we're on a good track as a company.
The question of where David Ferrari was had haunted retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Vincent Salceto for the better part of 66 years.
Rarely did a week go by that Salceto didn't think about his old friend. Often, he relived their last moments together in a recurring nightmare. In it, it's once again 1953 and Salceto and Ferrari are patrolling a valley in what is now North Korea. Suddenly, explosions shatter the silence and flares light up the night sky.
Crouching under a barrage of bullets, Salceto, the squad's leader, drags two of his men to safety, then he sees Ferrari lying face down on the ground. He runs out to help him, but he's too late. And that's when he always wakes up.
Italian Americans from opposite coasts – Salceto from Philadelphia, Ferrari from San Francisco – the two became close, almost like brothers, after being assigned to the same unit during the Korean War. When Ferrari died, it hit Salceto hard.
"After that, I never let anyone get close to me like I did with Dave," he says. "I couldn't; I didn't want to go through that again."
When the war ended, Salceto wanted to tell Ferrari's family how brave their son and brother had been in battle. Most of all, he wanted to salute his friend at his gravesite and give him a proper farewell.
For decades, though, Salceto had no luck finding his final resting place or locating any of his relatives. Then, in June of this year, he uncovered a clue that led him to the Italian Cemetary in Colma, California, where Ferrari is buried.
Within days, Salceto, who lives in Franklinville, New Jersey, was packed and sitting aboard United Flight 731 from Philadelphia to San Francisco with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Donna Decker, on his way to Colma. For such a meaningful trip, he even wore his Army dress uniform.
That's how San Francisco-based flight attendant Noreen Baldwin spotted him as he walked down the jet bridge to get on the plane.
"I saw him and said to the other crew members, 'Oh my goodness, look at this guy,'" she says. "I knew there had to be a story."
The two struck up a conversation and Salceto told Baldwin why he was traveling. She got emotional listening to him talk and made a point of fussing over him, making sure he and his family had everything they needed.
About halfway through the flight, Baldwin had an idea. She and her fellow crew members would write messages of encouragement to Salceto and invite his fellow passengers to do the same.
"We did it discreetly," says Baldwin. "I asked the customers if they saw the man in uniform, which most had, and asked them if they wanted to write a few words for him on a cocktail napkin. A lot of people did; families did it together, parents got their kids to write something. After the first few rows, I was so choked up that I could barely talk."
When Baldwin surprised Salceto with dozens of hand-written notes, he, too, was speechless. He laid the stack on his lap and read each one. At the same time, the pilots made an announcement about the veteran over the loud speaker, after which the customers on board burst into applause.
"It seems contrived, and I hate using the word organic, but that's what it was; it just happened," Baldwin says. "Mr. Salceto was so loveable and humble, and what he was doing was so incredible, it felt like the right thing to do. And you could tell he was touched."
On June 27, Salceto finally stood before Ferrari's grave and said that long-awaited goodbye. As a trumpeter played "Taps," he unpinned a medal from his jacket and laid it reverently on the headstone.
"I had gotten a Bronze Star for my actions [the night Ferrari died] with a 'V' for valor, and that was the medal I put on Dave's grave," says Salceto, pausing to fight back tears. "I thought he was more deserving of it than I was."
For the first time in years, Salceto felt at peace. His mission was accomplished.