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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

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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

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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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Beautiful Ski Resorts in Northern Italy

Italy is a beautiful country with great alps and Dolomites along the northern area. It is also famous for its rich art, culture and historic architectural sites. Aside from that, Italy is also home to many beautiful ski resorts.

Below are few of the beautiful ski resorts you will find in northern Italy according to region. Marvel on their beauty and check out the many activities you can do there for yourself, with your family and friends too and make the best of your winter getaway!

Aosta Valley region

Aosta Valley in the northwestern part of Italy is the only region in Italy without any provinces. However it is also a very mountainous area that is why it is popular skiing destination in Italy come winter time.
Champoluc, Monte Rosa
Gran Paradiso

Piedmont region

The Piemonte (or Piedmont) region boasts plenty of northern Italy’s famous ski resorts. It was home to the Torino 2006 Winter Olympics.

Via  Lattea
Ski Cervinia

Trentino region

Trentino is famous for its mountain ranges, Dolomites and the alps.

Folgaria-Fiorentini
Cavalese

Lombardy region

Lombardy is one of the northern regions of Italy and the capital is Milan, famous for a large number of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its border is the Swiss alps.

Livigno 

Veneto region

It is the 8th largest region in Italy and is located in the northeastern part of the country and it’s northernmost part also borders Austria.

Cortina d’Ampezzo
 
 
 

South Tyrol region

This region is located in the northernmost part of Italy.  It has a very snowy winter that can come as early as October until late of April. So, people who loves to ski or do winter activities can enjoy it longer than the rest of Italy.
Merano
 
 
 
Pusteria
 
 
(Photos not mine.)
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4 Great Reasons To Choose Europe As Your Next Holiday Destination

 

If you have grown tired of the same type of vacation year after year, it is time to consider something different. As a continent, Europe has a great deal to offer. With each country having its own distinct culture and personality, there is literally no shortage of exciting adventures to take part in. From the Baltic nations to the Mediterranean, and from Eastern to Western Europe, your next holiday can shape up to a most memorable one. European excursions are plentiful, and they are a great way to unwind from the daily stress of life and experience something new. As you begin the planning process, consider the following four great reasons to choose Europe as your next holiday destination.

 

Every Country is Unique

Visiting Europe allows you the opportunity to visit several countries all in the same vacation. With each nation having its own distinct culture and history, you will be amazed at the possibilities. Consider the United Kingdom as an example. You will have the opportunity to travel to several different countries in a seamless manner and partake in a variety of national activities in each. Few other regions of the world make this type of experience possible. Your holiday will be enriching, educational, and fun. The only limit is your imagination and your willingness to embrace new cultures, ways of thinking, and experiences. Just remember to leave plenty of space on you camera, as you will almost certainly need it.

 

Exceptional Value

Another appealing aspect of traveling to Europe is the exceptional value that you will receive. Because you can accomplish so much is such a limited timeframe, you can do much more than would ordinarily be possible on a normal holiday. This means that you can go fishing in one country, horseback riding in another, and partake in a pub crawl in a major capital city. The possibilities exist for every member of your traveling party to take part in exactly the type of activities that they enjoy the most, while still having plenty of time left over for a bit of rest and relaxation. You will find a range of accommodation types throughout Europe as well. If you are young and adventurous, you might opt for hostels as you hop from place to place. There are also family oriented bed and breakfast inns, quaint guesthouses, and five star resorts. Whatever your comfort level and budget might be, you find more than an option or two throughout Europe.

 

Extensive Transportation Network

If you think that your only option for transport in Europe is to fly from one place to the other, you will once again be pleased with this next bit of news. It is incredibly easy to get around virtually the entire continent. There is an extensive network of roads, trains, busses, and ferries to get travelers and residents alike where they need to go. Once again, fares are incredibly affordable. You can even take a river cruise throughout the region, stopping in major cities along the way. Going from one city to another is easy with the extensive train network. The list of benefits in this regard can go on and on.

 

No Shortage of Activities

Another notable advantage of traveling to Europe is the wide range of activities that you can take part in. While some people might enjoy a beach holiday, others might enjoy a relaxing week in a countryside village. You can actually do both in Europe within the same trip. The only real limitation will be the amount of time that you have spend on the continent, so take time and plan your activities accordingly.

While these are four great reasons to go to Europe, there are many more that could be mentioned. The fact is that this one continent has just about everything that one could expect to get out of a holiday. Take your time and work with a travel planner to ensure that everything comes off just right. Let them know what you want and then allow them to go out and find just the right excursion for you. Then, sit back and pack your bags as the adventure awaits.

 

 

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The 2nd Edition of Baku Shopping Festival: A Bargain Hunters’ dream come true!

** This is a press release of the OurAzerbaijan.com**

 

The month long affair will have awesome activities great deals, discounts, offers, and prizes throughout many of the city’s shopping spots.

It’s all delight, joy and smiles as Azerbaijan gets ready to welcome a splendid festival full of fireworks, plethora of deals to purchase and discounts to bag!

 

If you have been to Baku, you acknowledge that it’s a city with a thrill. Apart from the stunning nature, and the mind-boggling mixture of modernity and old age beauty, the discounts, the bargains and the offers just heightens the charm of Baku to a whole new level.

This is Baku’s second first shopping Festival. Shoppers and families will enjoy a jam-packed set of events, at this Edition that’s set to kick off on October 15th. The month long affair will have awesome activities great deals, discounts, offers, and prizes throughout many of the city’s shopping spots.

 

 

The Azerbaijan Convention Bureau under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the promoters of the Baku shopping Festival 2017 revealed their plans to make the world take notice by including fashion shows, unique product launches, live entertainment, street parties, concerts, and ruffle draws.

Rashid AL Noori, the Chairman of the Representative Office of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan in GCC, said “The 2nd edition of the Baku Shopping Festival is one of the most important on Azerbaijan’s annual events calendar that will significantly enhance Azerbaijan’s stand as a favorite year-round tourism destination offering unique shopping experiences. Baku Shopping Festival is part of our endeavors to leverage large-scale events to reach a bigger goal – that of making Azerbaijan a regional leader in the tourism industry. Baku Shopping Festival 2017 will be strong, in terms of interesting offers for shopping, chances of securing major prizes, and sensational entertainment experiences.  We are expecting lots of shoppers and families to visit Azerbaijan for the Baku Shopping Festival, a festival set to exceed expectations. Working with our partners and collaborators, the Representative Office team has brought in place discounted offers to facilitate whole families and individuals travel to Azerbaijan for this extravaganza, with regular favorites and plenty of new events for everyone to enjoy.”

 

 

It is worth to point out, the Festival includes a VAT refund program for foreigners and local citizens, for purchases at the official Festival merchant stores. Major hypermarkets and shopping plazas and malls, including premium outlets, traditional gift stores, leading hotels and restaurants will take part in the festival, providing exceptional value offers and discounts.

“The Baku Shopping Festival is already an international brand and will shortly shift into a household affair. We welcome all those who want enjoy an excellent autumn holiday while taking advantage of great value in Baku to visit Azerbaijan.” Concluded AL Noori

 

About Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is one of the most beautiful countries located at the joint of Europe and Asia. The country sometimes referred to as the land of magic colors has proven to be a successful host of many international and regional events and competitions, including 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2015, Chess World Cup 2015 and Inaugural European Games in Baku. In 2016, this beautiful country hosted F1 European Grand Prix, World Chess Olympiad, UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals and UEFA European Football Championship. With the  4th Islamic Solidarity Games, Baku Grand Prix and the 2nd Baku Shopping Festival coming up; Azerbaijan is coming up first as the hottest destination to visit. A truly a unique country that welcomes all.

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Don’t Make These Typical Mistakes When Travelling in Spain

Travelling through Spain is wonderful. Warm weather, friendly people, stunning beaches and a relaxed lifestyle. Spain truly is somewhere you can go when you need a break from the daily hustle and bustle. But, as with any other foreign country, you need to be prepared for what could happen on your trip. Many people make mistakes when planning a trip to Spain. Don’t let it happen to you.

 

Pixabay

 

Driving Through Spain

Looking at Spain on a map and actually being there are two very different things. Driving through Spain looks as simple as simple can be on a map, but you may find it stressful if you decide to take the challenge on. Firstly, Spain is a much larger place than most people realize, and secondly, Spanish drivers aren’t exactly known for their courtesy. If you’re planning to drive on your vacation, you could be putting yourself through unnecessary hassle. There are much easier ways of getting around.

 

A Secluded Hotel

The thought of being away from city life and taking time to relax is tempting, but being too far away from town and city centers could be a mistake. The point of travelling is to experience the culture of a new country and you won’t get that experience if you’re forced to stay in your hotel. You may find that you waste a lot of time going to local shops, restaurants etc. and travelling back to your hotel. Being within walking distance of main attractions will allow you to experience authentic Spain and be near local amenities for emergencies.

Pixabay

 

Sticking to Your Own Habits

When in Spain, do as the Spaniards do. While you’re travelling through Spain, you may notice that the locals have different eating habits. The timings of their meals are often different to other countries, but it’s important to go with the flow. Many people make the mistake of eating lunch at their normal times and then venturing out of their hotels to find that local shops or attractions are closed. Spaniards usually take long breaks to avoid the midday heat and eat lunch afterwards. So, it’s worth waiting to eat your meals the same time as them and join in with the locals and learn Spanish so you aren’t caught out.

 

Pack Heavy

Most people visit Spain during the Summer months, but if you’re planning a trip when the weather is colder, don’t be tempted to pack heavy. Spain is full of long walks and stairs and steep hills. Each time you leave your hotel, you may have to be prepared for a work-out. Similarly, you don’t want to be dragging a heavy suitcase through cobbled streets and alleys that are difficult to navigate.

 

Open Jaw Ticket

When travelling through Spain, many people make the mistake of flying to and from the same city. Having an open jaw ticket will ensure you can fly into Barcelona but leave from Madrid, saving you time and hassle.

 

Travelling through Spain is certainly an experience, but don’t make the common mistakes of others.

 

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What To See Around The Pest Side of Budapest

 

It’s been several months since I visited Budapest in Hungary but the beauty of that place still lingers in my mind like it was just yesterday.  I have expected most of Europe to be similar in terms of architecture and design but somehow, I have been taken by Budapest’s beauty.

I have seen various old towns and cities of other European countries. Their beauty varies from one another. Budapest in Hungary is like a gem tucked in the Central part of Europe. Budapest has been cited as one of the beautiful cities in the world and a top travel destination by a famous travel magazine.

Budapest is the combination of 2 cities, the Buda and Pest side. These 2 are separated by several bridges and one of that is the famous Chain Bridge.

If you are visiting Budapest anytime soon, take note of these places when you are in the Pest side.

 

Andrassy Avenue

The Andrassy Avenue is touted as the Champs Elysees of Budapest. Museums, theaters and opera house line up along this grand Avenue. You can also visit the House of Terror which shows the horrors of what Hungary had experienced during the 20th century.

 

Danube Promenade / Danube Bank

The Danube river bank serves as the promenade of many locals and tourists alike. Here, you can find the Memorial of the Shoes. These shoes are bronze replicas of the Jews who were executed by the Arrow Crosses. They were made to remove their shoes by the bank before they were shot, and their bodies fell and drifted along the River Danube. It is a very poignant memorial to honor those who have perished during the ugly face of World War II.

 

Vaci Utca

This is a famous shopping area in Budapest. It is lined with shops and eateries with beautiful, ornate facade. You can stroll here and enjoy the atmosphere or just sit back in one of the coffee shops and people watch.

 

Hungarian National Parliament

©Ria C/riatravelbug.com

Nestled in front of the Danube River, the Hungarian National Parliament is a prominent Neo-Gothic architectural structure in the Pest side of Budapest. It is easy to see this place from various trams plying through the area. Tourists can easily walk to the building from the Chain Bridge and traverse the lovely cobble stone street of Pest.

 

St. Stephen’s Basilica

©Ria C/riatravelbug.com

I was very lucky to have stayed near the Istvan Basilica (St. Stephen’s Basilica) during my vacation in Budapest, Hungary last year. The view from my room was the dome of this beautiful Basilica. Regular mass is still being held in the Basilica. You can also tour the inside of the Basilica for free but take note of the timing as it is not open throughout the day. You can also climb up in the bell tower for a fee for a breath-taking view of Budapest.

The basilica is the largest in the city and can hold around 8,000 plus people. It also houses the relic of St. Stephen’s right hand which is also open for the public to view.

© Ria C/riatravelbug.com

 

Széchenyi Baths

This is a huge bath complex in the whole of Europe.  It is relatively cheap to enjoy a good bath in this huge complex that is open until night time.

 

Great Market Hall

This place is located at the end of Szabadsag Bridge. It is also known as the Central Market Hall. It has 3 levels. The market sells a wide variety of goods from the famous paprika spice of Hungary, to the many tasty sausages and salamis, local produce, and other dry goods such as Hungarian embroidery and fabrics, and other arts and crafts. You can also grab some ready to eat food here or sample their local cuisine in the food stalls inside the market.

 

The Chain Bridge

© Ria C/riatravelbug.com

The famous beautiful bridge that spans between the Buda and Pest sides of Budapest across the Danube River is called The Chain Bridge. I managed to cross the bridge on foot to reach the Buda side and the view is spectacular! I highly recommend this to visitors in Budapest. There is a pathway on each side of the bridge for pedestrians and bicycle access as well. And once you reach the middle part, take a good look of the beautiful scene in front of you. You get to see Buda and Pest!

© Ria C/riatravelbug.com

 

The Great Synagogue

This Synagogue is the largest built in the entire of Europe around 1854-1859 in a Moorish style architecture. Next to it is the Jewish Museum which features their tradition, culture, costumes, and history.

 

Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle is located inside the city park near the Széchenyi Baths. It was built during 1896 for the Millennial Exhibition in Hungary, and it also houses the Museum of Agriculture.

 

Let me share this brief video I have taken from the Buda Hill and it shows the marvelous vista of Pest.

Panoramic view of Pest from the Buda Hill

 

There are more to see in the Pest side of Budapest that I haven’t included here. If you have been to Budapest, you can share more places of interest by leaving a comment in this post.

I hope you will consider these places of interest when you plan your vacation to Budapest.

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Why You’ll Fall in Love with a Santorini Villa

Posted in Europe, travel, travel tips
on August 4, 2017

 

Santorini is a beautiful, breath-taking and magical destination, particularly in the off season when it’s not extremely crowded. While the island offers some of the best views, the local villas just add to the charm.

Santorini features magnificent waterfalls, surfing spots and beaches along with the Hundred Islands – the province’s crown jewel. If you are looking to spend a memorable vacation basking in the sun and enjoying scenic sunsets, then Pangasinan is a hidden gem that needs to be explored.

The sandy beaches, glistening blue waters, decadent cuisine and extravagant villas will make your vacation to Santorini truly memorable. If you’ve booked a villa in Santorini, or are interested in residing in one whilst on vacation, here are a few things that you’ll fall in love with.

  1. The Alluring Architecture

Vacation villas in Santorini have exceptionally beautiful interiors and exteriors which makes them ideal for vacations. The villas are equipped with different facilities such as an indoor pool, a kitchen and garden area to ensure that you and whoever you’re staying with have a relaxing stay.

 

All villas in Santorini have their own distinct and alluring Greek charm. Hence, if you are looking for a traditional villa that reflects the ancient Greek culture or a modern villa with a contemporary architecture, you are sure to find exactly what you want. If you don’t want to make an impulsive booking and would prefer to compare the various villas on offer first, I would recommend doing some research for the top companies. For example, I found Blue Villas to be one of the top Santorini villa providers who have a range of different villas across the island.

  1. Your Very Own Pool

Most villas in Santorini feature an outdoor or indoor pool. Unlike hotels where vacationers have to struggle to get a spot in crowded pools, villas offer privacy, comfort and a luxurious lifestyle.

Many Santorini villas also offer an infinity pool. Depending on the type of property you select, certain villas may have access to a public infinity pool, while a few will have private ones. Moreover, such pools are also deep enough to dive in, giving you the ultimate adrenaline rush.

  1. The Breath-taking View

The views in Santorini are magical. Certain villas are located on top of the cliff and therefore offer a view of the entire city, while others are located close to the beach ensuring easy access. From the balconies, you can view the beach, watch boats passing by and interact with the locals and other tourists – all without ever having to leave your room.

  1. Conveniently Located

Santorini features numerous waterfalls and beaches, making it ideal for tourists and vacationers. Most villas are located conveniently near the beach; therefore, vacationers don’t have to worry about the commute or the distance to the beach. Furthermore, many historic landmarks are also in proximity which further adds to the charm and convenience of private villas.

  1. Spacious

If you are on a family vacation to Santorini, booking a hotel may not be a smart decision. Most villas are spacious and can accommodate more than two people depending on the size. This means that you get to spend more time with your loved ones and your group doesn’t have to split up. Furthermore, your privacy is guaranteed as you won’t be bothered by noisy children (unless they’re your own) or other occupants which is always the case when staying in hotels/public resorts.

Also, if you are traveling with a group and are planning to book a villa, you won’t have to worry about separate accommodation expenses. Rather all guests can pitch in and pay, making your trip extremely economical.

  1. Great Cuisine

Many Santorini villas are conveniently located near the beaches. Most beaches have several bars and small restaurants along the front that offer delectable local cuisine. If you are a foodie, you wouldn’t want to miss the decadent and mouth-watering dishes that Santorini serves. Moreover, if you are on a diet or would like to prepare your meals yourself, then you can always choose to cook for yourself in the private kitchen in your villa.

If you don’t feel like cooking on your vacation, you could also hire a professional chef for your stay. The possibilities are endless, which makes the villas in Santorini perfect for your holiday.

Everyone wants to have a peaceful and relaxing vacation – the villas in Santorini offer exactly this. The appealing views, luxurious lifestyle and numerous amenities will make you fall in love with the island. Moreover, the hospitality of the locals along with the decadent cuisine will make your trip truly memorable.

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