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winter

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

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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

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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

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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 

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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

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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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Winter Trip Suggestions for 2016 for Middle Easterners

It may be too soon to think of winter. With the sweltering heat here in the Middle East, it can’t be helped but dream of vacationing to a far away land where there is snow and coldness. Well, the snow can be optional but the coldness is not.

The temperature here in the Middle East can be unrelenting and the best way to get your mind of it is either to go on a trip and stay out of the extreme summer heat or plan your upcoming winter travel so there is something to look forward to. Besides, planning early can provide savings as online travel providers and accommodations offer savings and deals for early bookers. So, take advantage of that.
Here are some best winter destinations that I think will be perfect for the budget savvy travellers. These countries have affordable accommodations and lots of winter activities to offer to their guests too. Check them out:
Southern California
Winter is not as harsh as the other counterpart states in the East in this sunny state of California. Los Angeles and San Diego will be best bet to visit this winter for people in the Middle East. Comparing the winter of the Middle East to that of Southern California, it can still be bearable.
Some major hotel chains and tour operators offer great savings for tourism during fall to winter as tourism is not at its peak during these time. 
Lebanon
There are numerous affordable ski resorts in Lebanon and you don’t have to go far.  The ski resorts in Lebanon are moderately priced compared to their counterparts in Europe and in the US. So, if your adrenalin is pumping and you need a high, take an adventure to Lebanon’s numerous ski resorts and traverse their snow-covered slopes. You have to know how to ski though for safety!

Germany

If you have extra to spare for your winter travel budget, then head on to Germany and visit many of their Christmas Markets in many cities all over the country. Visiting any of the Christmas markets around Germany is in one of my bucket list. I have yet to visit one though. So, if you plan to head on to a nice cold, wintry spiel for your travel experience, then Germany will be a good place to start with.

The Christmas markets open around November up to the first week of January.  Many famous cities in Germany is converted into a small winter wonderland that seem to come out straight from the fairy tale book. Enjoy the holiday spirit, local treats and the warm spirit around.

Budapest, Hungary

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Want to soak in the local festivities around Budapest during winter time? How about ice skates around the ice rink in the town centre? Maybe fill up your gastronomic experience with tasty treats while visiting the markets.

Hotels and tours are a bit affordable in this beautiful, neoclassical country compared to the other countries in Europe. They still use their local currency which if the Hungarian Forint. They accept Euro and other currencies too which you can exchange upon arrival.

Lisbon, Portugal

Another great destination to visit in Europe during winter is Lisbon. It is cheaper in this place compared to its flashier counterparts.

The temperature during winter, compared to the other European countries, does not go very low. On average, it is around 8ºC (low) and a high of 15ºC.

Well, these are some of the winter destinations that may bid well for Middle Easterners who are not very fancy of the harsh, wintry snow. These destinations have moderate to cold winters and that depends on your preference if you feel like braving the snow and escaping the still hot winter months of the Middle East.

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Freezing New York in February 2014

Posted in cold, cold weather, family trip, family vacation, NYC, personal, snow, USA, weather, winter
on February 13, 2014

I love the cold season but not the freezing one where the temperature dips to negative. We were in New York from Feb. 7 to 10 for a short winter break. I checked the temperature and knew it was below 0 for all the days that we would be there. I didn’t know how cold a -4 to -8 Celsius is until we were there.

We’ve been to NYC countless of times already but mostly during spring and autumn. This winter was the first time we visited the freezing and cold NYC. I could feel the bitter cold piercing through my down jacket even with my thermal sweater as an additional layer of clothing. I wore my thermal leggings as well underneath my jeans and yet, I could have sworn, at one point, I couldn’t feel my buttom already.

One thing I liked though, my daughter and I enjoyed watching the falling snow. It was a first time for us because it wasn’t snowing when we visited Niagara. It was just flurries but this time, it was snow and I could touch it for a fleeting second. Too bad, we couldn’t make snow angels because it’s not possible. But, seeing all these wonders of nature is a dream come true.

Freezing New York is the least of my favorite time to visit it. I still prefer going around on low 5 – 10 Celsius because that kind of cold will be bearable for us. So, are we visiting NYC again during winter time? Maybe but I will bring thicker jacket next time!

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Shinjuku Terrace City Illuminations in Tokyo

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The Shinjuku Terrace City Illumination is an annual event held in Shinjuku, Tokyo during winter time. We were very fortunate to see what the fuss was about. And I must say, it is worthy of the fuss.

The Illuminations in the whole stretch of Shinjuku Terrace City is really beautiful. The tiny lights in gold and silver coiled around the trees, dangling on lines on top of you and covering terraces make a good bright vista against a clear Tokyo winter sky.

It can be seen immediately as you exit the Shinjuku Station on the South Exit in all lines. The Illuminations is on from Nov. 13, 2013 to Feb. 16, 2014 from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Enjoy the Illuminations as we captured in digital snaps.

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On Our Way Back To Dubai

This blog has been very, very quiet lately because I am still on leave. My family and I will be flying back to Dubai a day early as we need to be back to work on time on Monday, Sunday for my hubby.

So, I hope to be able to post regularly thereafter as I sort all our pictures taken here in Tokyo and write some articles about the adventures here, interesting finds and the wonderful place we visited.

Tuh-tah for now! I’ll chat with all of you later.

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What To Pack For Your Winter Getaway

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The onset of winter is one of my favorite time to travel. The weather is not yet unforgiving and there is still a remnant of the last season’s foliage that can be viewed and enjoyed. However, not all places have the same kind of pre-winter. And if you are considering a winter getaway, you have to make sure that you’ve done your research, you’ve checked the local weather in that place and other weather forecast to ensure you pack the right stuff.

Important things to pack for your winter getaway are listed below to help you bring the essential ones and not leave you bitter and cold.

Boots with warm lining
This can be a snow boots or an all terrain boots with rubber sole for anti-slip and warm lining to prevent cool draft biting your skin.

Thermal shirts and sweaters
Some places may be ultra cold so be prepared to wear thermal clothing that you can layer because most establishments and public places will have the heater on and you may need to shed of some layers of clothing for that.

A long scarf or shawl
These are good bet for warming your neck and face area. It’s a nice addition to insulate you from the cold.

Ear muffs
This can be optional in some places because it may not be as cold as what you imagine. However, there is no harm in packing your ear muffs just in case it gets too cold.

Hat, beanie, umbrella
Yes, anything to cover you head and protect it from the cold. The umbrella will be very useful for some days with rain.

Parka/wind-breaker/Insulated jacket
You can bring any of the above winter garment as long as it will keep you warm and dry.

Medications for cough and cold
Winter is the season of coughs and colds and just be prepared and pack your meds if in case you acquire the sniffles.

Thermal leggings
Carry some lightweight thermal leggings you can wear underneath your jeans or pants for extra warmth and protection from the cold weather.

So, don’t be caught unaware. Keep your winter essentials ready for your getaway!

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Tokyo, Here We Come!

Posted in family vacation, fun activities, Japan, Japanese visa, personal, Tokyo, trip, winter
on November 19, 2013

I am shrieking with delight here!!! We finally got our Japanese visas today. It’s only single entry for 15 days but who cares! We are full-swing ahead with the family vacation and a Christmas treat for our daughter who has been bugging me for a trip to Japan.

Here you go baby! A week-long family time in Tokyo in a very nice, cold weather… I love!
東京、我々は来ている! (Okay, I got that from the internet Translation! It means, “Tokyo, we are coming!”)
Moshi-moshi Tokyo!
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