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Best Places To Spend The Winter Holidays

We cannot deny it but winter has finally come a bit early this year.  The holiday season is a peak season for travel too. My family and I booked our tickets 6 months ago and back then, seats were already getting full for Manila-bound flights. We will be spending the Christmas and New Year holidays back home. How about you? Have you planned any holidays this winter time? If not, here are some places you may consider and you can always count on lastminute.com for those spur of the moment bookings for hotel and flights.

Here are some great places to visit during the winter holidays.

ANY OF THE DISNEYLAND RESORTS AND THEME PARKS

Photo credit: ndia-tvc.org

Yes, Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth! At least for me and my family it is. Where else can you spend the holidays beaming with glee and excitement? Only in any of the Disneyland parks around the world. They always have annual Christmas and Winter holiday themes, parades and activities during the Yuletide season. So, soak in the holiday feeling in the magical kingdom of Disney.

VIENNA AND SALZBURG, AUSTRIA

Photo credit: phototravels.net

Visit the outdoor Christkindlmarkts at night and enjoy the various Christmas crafts they sell which double as great gifts for family and friends and Christmas tree ornaments.

Enjoy the Vienna Choir Boys who render beautiful Christmas songs for the public every Sunday at night. Aside from the beautiful music, you can eat tasty finger foods and drink Vienna’s famous spiced mulled wine or gluhwein.

ITALY AND THE VATICAN

Photo credit: electronics.tradetang.com

Being a Roman Catholic, it has always been my dream to attend the Christmas Eve Mass, officiated by the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. This is still in my dream list and one day, we will fulfill this dream.

You can enjoy your cold Christmas time in lovely Rome as well and experience the Italian celebration of the holidays.  The famous Baroque square in Rome named Piazza Navona is converted into a Christmas market where you will find various kinds of toys, Italian sweets, Nativity scenes and other Christmas ornaments.

You can go further North of Italy if you want to enjoy skiing like places in Bormio and Cervinia.

TROMSO, NORWAY

Photo credit: fjordtravel.no

If you like to visit a place where the possibility of seeing the northern lights is a high probability, then head on to Tromso, Norway.  There will be limited hotels but you can check yourself in at Clarion Hotel Bryggen near the Harbor.

NEW YORK, USA

Photo credit: pictsel.com

A visit to the Big Apple on Christmas season also tops the charts of most travelers. You can visit the big Tree in the Rockefeller Center and also enjoy the ice-skating rink in the same vicinity. Enjoy shopping at nearby big department stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue for last minute shopping and you may even score further discounts offered for the holiday season.

AUSTRALIA

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When the other side of the world is experiencing cold, winter season, Down Under Australia is welcoming summer. So, if you want to get away from the drab, cold weather and soak in the cool breeze of Australian summer, then get on that flight and head on to Australia.

Spend Christmas in the beach along the famous Bondi Beach in Sydney and enjoy the frolic under the sun.

NUREMBERG, GERMANY 

Photo credit: lonelyplanet.com

The Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt is a well-known open Christmas market. The famous Christmas market welcomes millions of visitors yearly with a giant carved wooden Ferris wheel. The stalls sell all handmade nativity ornaments and other Christmas decorations. Not only that, even adults will enjoy this place as they can eat plenty of sticky buns and finger foods while the young ones can spend the day at the Toy Museum.

THE PHILIPPINES

Photo credit: blog.otel.com

There’s no place like home and even more enticing during the holiday season. Metropolitan Manila’s famous thoroughfares are well-lit with Christmas lights and decors. Most big malls house gigantic Christmas trees adorned with pretty decorations. Christmas revelers will not miss the Misa de Gallo and a bite of the tasty bibingka and puto-bumbong right after the early morning mass. Children go caroling and ask for aguinaldo from their neighbors, family members and godparents.

No matter where your dream takes you, enjoy the spirit of the holiday season and remember, the reason for the season is Him. Happy Holidays!

 

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The Electrical Parade (Dream Lights) in Tokyo Disneyland

My family loves Disneyland a lot. We’ve been to 3 Disneyland parks already: Hongkong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and last December 2013, in Tokyo Disneyland. In all those occasions, we’ve seen the parades but the one in Tokyo Disneyland was more special and spectacular for us because it was Christmas season.  The parade was sparkly, colorful, electrifying and bright!

The parade in Tokyo Disneyland we have seen was called Electrical Parade: Dream Lights. It started around 7:30 p.m. (if my memory serves me right!). It’s a nighttime event given the theme of the parade – full of colorful light display which were very nice to be see during night time, against the dark background of the whole Disney park. We found a very comfortably place to watch the parade half an hour before the it started. There were park attendants all over to inform the people to remain in their place and to instill order during the whole show. The park lights around the whole of Disney where switched off except for the restaurants and shops and the castle. Then suddenly, the music began playing and we saw the float coming out from one side of the park. One by one, the beautiful floats came out, decked with lights and some dancers and famous Disney characters were also on the floats. The shapes of objects were highlighted because of the colorful lights. There were dancers on the street with colorful and brightly lit costumes.

If you will count the lights all over the parade and the floats and even on the dancers, it must be a million!

These are some photos I captured from the parade. It was really beautiful. It’s like a rain of lights, and sparkles. We all had a wonderful time in Tokyo Disneyland. We hope to be back this Christmas!

More floats…
and more!!!
and the last one…

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Disneyland Resort in Shanghai

Well, what do you know? I was just casually browsing through DisneyPark.com’s site and was going through the different Disney parks we have visited in the past and the ones we have yet to visit. I’m so surprised to see Shanghai in the other park’s location in the list.

I have heard of  the  rumors sometime back but  really  never  paid  much attention until  I saw the  branch of Disneyland Resort Shanghai was  added in  the website. If you  want to read more about it,  just follow this URL to be directed to the Disneyland Resort Shanghai page in English: http://en.shanghaidisneyresort.com.cn/en/about/

The image is from disneypark.com.

I was just telling my daughter that there’s another site added in the Disneyland parks we have to visit. I thought we were down to California and Orlando, Florida to complete the “bucket list” of visiting all the Disney resorts around the world.

This can only mean one thing – time to save some major moolah!

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10 Best Places In The USA To Travel With Children

Amusement parks in the USA are probably the best places to visit with children, the parks which come in a myriad of shapes, sizes and designs offer comfortable and convenient avenues for maximum fun. While intending to visit the amusement or theme parks it is important to carry the following items prior to entry to the park:


-Comfortable shoes such as water sandals
-Sunscreen
-Band aids
-Sunglasses
-Hat
-A small pack with water, money and a camera

Places that will provide most fun with the children while touring the United States include the following:

1. Disneyland:

Located in Florida, Disneyland remains one of the most famous theme parks in the United States. The park features a number of sky trains, roller coaster rides and carnivals among many other fun activities. There’s no other place in the United States – the world, even — that celebrates childhood quite like Orlando. The feeling that children get when they catch the light off Epcot Center’s spaceship Earth; or when they witness the soaring heights of Shamus flips (during the water show at SeaWorld). The notion that only young ones can get pleasure from this city’s charms is simply that- a notion. In reality, Orlando contains a very little of this and a little of that to charm to any or all ages, and there is more to try and do here than visit theme parks. The subtropical climate is great for golfing and the downtown city landscape is simply too attractive not to explore.



2. SeaWorld

SeaWorld is a water theme park located in the State of Florida, the park allows the family more specifically the children to engage in a wide array of recreational activities such as touring the aquarium that is home to many kinds of marine wildlife.


3. Statue of Liberty

Located in The City of New York, the world famous and monumental Statue of Liberty will offer the kids a chance to get panoramic views of New York as well as the surrounding environs. The monumental statue also provides good photography sessions for kids where kids will take back beautiful memories of the visit.

4. Lowry Park

The Lowry Park zoo is situated in Tampa bay, the destination is famed for its wide collection of animals that comprise of local as well as exotic species. The children will enjoying a scenic tour of the region while observing different animals as well as providing natural habitats where the kids can relax and have a snack or meal.

5. Central Park


Central park is considered the best park in New York where kids can have fun riding bikes through the park, engaging in other sports while the parents sit back and enjoy the serene and comfortable ambience. Biking at Central Park, New York is the best things to spend an afternoon. Also, this is a great way for tourists to get to know about Central Park. This activity is perfect for tourists who spend few days in New York and want to taste the feeling of being there. There are also many other activities available for both locals and foreigners.


6. Bush Gardens Theme park



For visitors looking to have a natural theme park that comprises of well-kept and pristine gardens, Bush Gardens Theme Park will be most appropriate. Located in Tampa, Florida, the theme park will provide a comfortable environment while still offering maximum fun. This park is located in Virginia and is about 380 acres of family friendly experiences, Tourists can experience extraordinary fun with more than 50 rides. It is well known for its roller coasters. One of the Top five world-class roller coasters is at this park, Griffon, is the world’s tallest and first floorless dive coaster. The extreme seats extend away from the track, making a more panoramic view for their riders and adding to the excitement.

7. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey bay Aquarium is located in the Californian coast and is home to a rich diversity of marine wildlife’s which will excite and educate the kids during their trip to the United States.
Your vacation is incomplete if you skip the trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It contains over 550 different types of animals and plants, it is sure to delight all ages in your family. You may find it is better to take a tour of all the exhibits, leisurely at their own pace. The water is kept at 10 degrees Celsius. A majority of the water that is used here comes directly from the Monterey Bay, this helps to feed many animals in the exhibits, since it contains plankton.


8. Space Coast



A traveler to Florida will also find the ‘Space coast’ a fun experience especially for kids who get excited by space and the galaxy. “Space Coast” is also home to the famous Kennedy Space Centre which has always been revered by kids for spacecraft’s and outer space.

9. Glacier National Park: 



Glacier National Park is located in the rocky mountains of Montana and spans over 1 million acres of forests, meadows and lakes. Children will be able to view over 70 mammal species which include the gray wolf and grizzly bears as well as over 270 species of birds which include harlequin ducks and golden eagles.


10. Everglades

Everglades is a children center situated in Florida where kids get a chance to learn more about eco-systems and conservation. The center provides the knowledge using a fun ways which will engage the kids at the same time.

Travelers from countries falling under the visa waiver program are exempt from applying for an entry Visa to the US. All that is required for the potential traveler is to make an online requisition for an ESTA authorization at least 72 hours prior to the day of travel.

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We Love Disneyland Paris!

They say, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. My family will agree with me in saying that because we have been to Disneyland twice –  one in Hong Kong and the other one was in Paris last August 2006.

We had more fun in Paris than in Hong Kong because the latter recently opened last 2005 when we went. Disneyland Paris is bigger and has more attractions than in Hong Kong.

Disneyland Paris consists of 2 parks:  Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. Let me break them down for you in terms of attractions and some famous rides found in each Park’s sections.

Disneyland Park
Main Street 

Lovey-dovies! photo 45bfre2.jpg
Lovey dovies in front of Disney Paris
  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Horse-drawn streetcars
  • Discovery Arcade

Fantasyland

  • Alice’s Labyrinth
Well, the sign said it all! photo fd83re2.jpg
Nope, we didn’t get lost!
  • Casey Jr. – le Petit Train du Cirque
  • Dumbo
  • It’s A Small World
  • Le Carrousel de Lancelot
  • Mad Hatter’s Tea Cup
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Another royalties photo 8d6cre2.jpg
    The royalties!
  • Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
Ganda naman talaga ng anak namin!!! photo 20f3scd.jpg
Our Princess enjoying her time at the park
  • Fantasy Festival Stage

Frontierland

  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Critter Coral
  • Legends of the Wild West
  • Before we entered the Phantom Manor photo ebc9scd.jpg
    Our favorite ride, ever! This is the crypt before entering the Phantom Manor.
  • Phantom Manor
  • Pocahontas Indian Village
  • Inside the steam boat photo 3d98scd.jpg
    River boat ride around Thunder Mesa
  • Thunder Mesa River boat Landing

  • Rustler Shooting Gallery
  • The Chaparral Theater
    • Adventureland

    • Adventure Isle
    • Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship
    • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril
    • Ron getting ready for the thrilling Indiana Jones Ride. Hindi pwede si Arice so we had to wait outside... photo d339scd.jpg
      Hubby, going alone for the Temple of Peril ride.
      • Enchanted Passage to Aladdin
      • Pirates Beach
      • Pirates of the Caribbean
        • stolen shot from the ride! At least I look good this time!!! photo f53fre2.jpg
          Pirates of the Caribbean ride

            Discoveryland

          • Alpha and Beta Arcade
          • Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast
          • Captain EO
          • Autopia
          • Nautilus Mysteries
          • Space Mountain: Mission 2
          • Space Mission 2! No way I am riding that!!! We took this pic at 8:15 p.m. Maliwanag pa din dun! photo b947scd.jpg
            Nope, didn’t ride this one because I got duped the first time when we rode it in Hong Kong thinking it was some  space train ride inside. Boy, I was in for a thrilling surprise!
              • Star Tours
              • Videopolis
              • Orbitron
              • Near Orbitron - we didn't ride this one....pang kids lng eh!!! photo 66care2.jpg
                Near Orbitron

                Walt Disney Studios Park

              • Disney Studio 1
              • Animagique
              • Art of Disney Animation
              • Cars Race Rally
              • Flying Carpets over Agrabah
              • Crush’s Coaster
              • RC Racer
              • Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin
              • Tower of Terror
              • Toy Story Playland
              • Armageddon Special Effects
              • Action Stunt Show
              • Toy Soldiers Parachute Jump
              • Rock n’ Roller Coaster
              • Studio Tram tour
              • Playhouse Disney Live on Stage
              • Stitch Live
                • The whole resort is big and has many attractions for both kiddies and adults to enjoy. We didn’t have  time to explore the Walt Disney Studios Park as we had to head to Paris’ city proper for the remaining part of our vacation.

                  There are plenty of shops and restaurants to choose from in the park. Aside from that, there’s a meet and greet session with the Disney characters you love. We managed to scour several pictures with them as we were in the park the whole day until 11:00 p.m. after the fireworks show. The fireworks show was late because it didn’t get dark until around 10:00 p.m.! It was still like dusk around 9:00 p.m. since it was not yet totally autumn that time so the sun set quite late.

                  Buzz Lightyear, calling Star Command!!! photo df2dre2.jpg
                  Buzz, my man!

                Hey Dale...or Chip????? photo e4b5re2.jpg
                Still can’t figure out if it’s Chip or Dale ?!?
                Again, singit lng kami dito.... photo 18ecscd.jpg
                Sneaking! hahaha…
                  The fireworks was spectacular! I could watch it over and over without feeling tired. It was staged in Sleeping Beauty’s castle with lights and music to go with it. We chose a perfect spot near the Main Street’s grassy areas where we could sit and just enjoy the breath-taking show. I have never seen such beautifully coordinated lights, music and fireworks show in my life and the one we saw there was probably the most beautiful fireworks I have ever seen. I have placed a short clip of the firework’s finale here. It’s a teaser to encourage you to save up for that once in a lifetime dream vacation to Paris!
                  Amazing.... photo 96d2scd.jpg
                  Lovely castle at night, getting ready for the big fireworks show.
                  Around 15 minutes ata yung fireworks kasi sabay sa tugtog which ilang set din yun.... photo e35cscd.jpg
                  Marvelous fireworks show. I think it ran for 3-5 minutes until the whole song was over.
                     
                  tiles of people who celebrated special events there photo f25cre2.jpg
                  Celebrants’ tiles in front of the park
                     I forgot how much I paid for in the park since it was almost 7 years ago. The price listed in their site now shows GBP 52.00 for adults and GBP 47.00 for kids from 3 to 11. The rates are for 1-day pass only for 1 Park. The rates include VAT as well. I’m not sure if they increased over the years. If ever, it may not be that much so roughly, I must have paid around those rates in 2006.

                    I highly recommend this place to families out there and even to couples.  I have seen tiles with names of married couples who celebrated their wedding or anniversary in the park set on the front area near the ticket booth. So I am sure that Disneyland is great for all ages. If you wish to visit both parks then 1 days for each park must be allocated because there are so many rides inside and shows to watch that you need 1 whole day for each park.

                    As soon as we arrived Charles De Gaulle Airport, we went to Terminal 2 to catch the VEA Shuttle. It was not hard to miss because it was red and had Disneyland logo all over the bus. It had several stops on the main Disney hotels in the park but it also passed through official Disney resort “other” hotels in the list. Our hotel was Kyriad just few meters away from the Disney Park. The bus shuttle’s rate was around Euro 11 for each of us. This may have increased by now.

                    Going to the Paris’ city proper was also convenient. We just had to take the free hotel shuttle to the main gare or train station. The train station just in front of the Disney Village is the last stop so if you’re coming from the city, you’ll never miss the place.

                    So, what are you waiting for? Plan your magical experience now and visit Disneyland Paris! They have an extended 20th Anniversary until September 2013 and lots of fun and surprises await revelers!

                    (All photos and video are personal property of www.riatravelbug.com and copyright to me, the owner. Please do not copy or use without written permission. Thanks.)

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                  Hong Kong Trip 2005

                  My daughter was 7 when we visited Disneyland in Hong Kong. If my memory serves me right, Disneyland opened few weeks earlier. It was our 7th birthday gift to her albeit very late. We wanted her to experience the happiest place on earth – Disneyland. Also, it was our first time to set foot in the place where I never knew I would visit one day. Although I aimed to visit Disneyland in Anaheim when I was just a kid, I am just as happy to be able to see Disneyland, the Asian version of course.
                  We flew in via Cathay Pacific using our ZED fare tickets. That means our tickets were not priority and we would be able to get seats if the flight was wide open. We thought November shouldn’t be a problem and thank goodness we were given seats right away.
                  The flight was around 7 hours long but by then, we were all used to the long-haul flights. Also, my daugther loves traveling so we never had issues of her throwing tantrums during long-haul flights. And this would be one of her many long-haul flights later on.
                  We arrived in Hong Kong in the afternoon, around 3 p.m maybe. The immigration line was not too long so we just breezed through it. We collected our bags from the carousel and bought airport express train tickets to take us from the airport to the Kowloon side where we booked our hotel. The train express had only 2 stops then. I am not sure now since I haven’t visited Hong Kong yet after 2005. The first stop was in Hong Kong side and the last one was in Kowloon. Back then, I didn’t know that we could take a free shuttle ride from the train station to our hotel. So, we took a cab and was surprised to know that the hotel was just 2 blocks away which the taxi driver missed to inform us. The train ride was barely half an hour ride and the taxi drive was mere 5 minutes from the train station.
                  I booked our hotel in Mongkok/Yau Ma Tei area because it was cheaper than to stay nearer the Disneyland area. Besides, we want to visit nearby places on our own so we could save money. The Dorset Seaview in Mongkok is only a 3-star property. Here’s a tip, you don’t need a lavish hotel accommodation when you intend to go around town on tours. Save your money and just stay in a reasonably-priced hotel like a 3-star property.
                  The hotel was small for the 3 of us. I won’t recommend it to families who are traveling more than 3 in a group. The place was clean though and have basic amenities which I think would be enough. It was very near the night market in Temple Street. A 7-11 was also nearby and other fastfood chains and small groceries. Behind the hotel were local eateries too.
                  Day 1 was the whole afternoon and evening after we arrived. We went to see the light show in the harbor. Then we went back to Tsim Tsa Tsui to check on the boutiques and bought some nice souvenirs from the nearby small shops.
                  Day 2 in Hong Kong was spent in Disneyland for the whole day. We missed the fireworks because my daughter was already tired so we left before the Disney train shuttling back to Sunny Bay got crowded. We had a nice dinner in one of the American restaurant along Tsim Tsa Tsui and headed back to our hotel for a good night cap.
                  Day 3 was our last day there. The night before we left, we went to the Peak and Galleria. Madame Tussaud was not yet opened when we visited and there were some renovations going on in the Peak. We strolled around and went home.

                  Here are some snaps of out trip to Hong Kong. Enjoy your viewing!

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