Travels

Where we were, we are and would be.

Travel hotspots in Northern Italy

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Legends, Are They Born or Made?

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venetian las vegas

Postcard #12 – Venetian Las Vegas

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Vancouver Surprise

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Shopping

Smart Shopping:  Can You Get Better Bargains Abroad?

By on August 14, 2014

 

Shopping_Kärtnerstraße
Kärtnerstrasse, Vienna

People today are all too concerned about getting the best bargains.  Even certified shopaholics have developed their own “techniques” to stretch their budget and go home with more shopping bags on their arms.  A recent trend observed by an online shopping voucher website MyVoucherCodes.co.uk is the practice of shopping abroad.  About 60% of tourists from the UK buy more than just souvenirs from the places they visit.  Interestingly, a lot of them actually make shopping a major part of their vacations.  About 26% of those who shop abroad put the best shopping bargains as part of their criteria for choosing their vacation destinations.

A huge part of this trend is due to economics.  It simply is more cost effective to shop abroad with all the bargains in different parts of the world.  Furthermore, the favorable exchange rates for the British currency allow these tourists to buy more items abroad.  The United States tops the list of the most popular destinations for bargain shopping, followed closely by Turkey and Dubai.  Among the usual purchases in these destinations include consumer electronics and gadgets like Apple products, tablets, ebook readers, and gaming consoles.  Jewellery and apparel are also popular purchases in bargains abroad.  Dubai is a particularly an attractive shopping vacation destination as it is known for its duty free stores.  Tourists usually make their purchases from shopping malls and market stalls.

Planning shopping vacations starts with looking for places where they can get the best bargains on the items they wish to shop for.  Some of the respondents in the MyVoucherCodes.co.uk‘s poll also revealed that packing light is part of their preparation for their vacations.  Anticipating the amount of items they intend to purchase, they usually make sure that their suitcases are not filled enough to start with so they can conveniently pack their shopping loot for their travel back home.  A good tip from frequent shopping vacation travelers is to remove the labels before packing the items to avoid duties and charges when they reenter their home country.   It is also recommended to take electronics and gadgets out of their packaging and to use them before flying back home.

While it has been proven that shopping abroad can indeed give you better bargains than online stores, you can still turn to these online stores for other discounts.  To save more on your shopping vacation, you can get deals and discounts on your travel fare and accommodations from these websites.  Any traveler would also know how important it is to check travel and entry regulations when it comes to the type and amount of goods that can be brought into UK.  With this kind of preparation, any tourist who travels outside UK for shopping deals will come home more than satisfied with all the bargain purchases.

At Hollywood & Highland, LA

 

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Travel Tips

When Travellers Need Smartphone Chargers the Most

By on June 30, 2014

 

smartphone, chargers, travellers
waiting…

 

Some portable electronics for travel are really nifty, and others are a necessity. Numerous experienced travellers know that a smartphone charger might be a lifesaver, even in an area where there is no reception. The ongoing debate about whether or not people are too connected to their smartphones, but that has little to do with travel. One of the worst things that can happen to a traveler is to have a smartphone die right before he or she can scan the electronic boarding pass.

Everything is gone. There is no hope of recovering a flight number that has been changed about seven times in the past few hours. There is only a long line at the help desk and a silent prayer that traveler information was not entered incorrectly into the system. Travelers can wait and think about what they’ve done. Did they really miss a vacation to play silly games? Was the latest remix of that pop song really that important? The entire scenario is pretty dismal.

There are a few times when almost no amount of planning can replace a reliable smartphone charger.

  • Travelling on Small Airlines Abroad

Flying can be pretty reliable until travelers venture off the grid. A small Lithuanian airline and a lost flight number could be a recipe for disaster. About two flights leave each week, and the language barrier might not help anyone involved. A smartphone can be a lifesaver, even if all hope of catching the flight that left last Monday is lost. Nifty translation apps can help explain the situation and get the entire thing sorted out. Airline employees typically want travelers gone as much as travelers want to leave. It can be a fairly symbiotic relationship when everything goes well.

  • Keeping a Positive Attitude

Travelers can resist the urge to let flight delays turn them into less than polite people. Charge the smartphone, hunker down, and pretend like it all isn’t happening. Listen to some podcasts, play a mind-numbing game, do whatever it takes not to lose it. Pretty much all flyers leave eventually. It’s mostly a matter of time before they figure out exactly when and how. Several hours of talk radio can do wonders for travelers stuck in a blizzard. Also, it’s important not to count on open outlets during trying times in an airport. Fellow passengers might not have such an optimistic outlook.

  • A Transatlantic Flight Next to a Loud Talker

Some passengers seem to have a knack for talking at high volumes for hours on end. Grab a portable smartphone charger and listen to something more melodic, like heavy metal. It can be hot. It can be cold. The plane can be at a standstill. Have the right portable electronics for travel to help with almost any situation. Travelers can listen to practically anything for hours on end except for the obnoxious person with the snippy voice in the middle seat.

Have a Safe and Happy Trip

Travelers might not need to text others incessantly, especially when there is no reception. However, the right attitude can change a nightmarish experience into a pleasant one. Smartphone chargers are one of the most useful portable electronics for travel.

 

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America

New York City in a Limousine

By on June 24, 2014

 

Private transportation services can be hired for special occasions. For example, high school graduations or proms can be enjoyed when students ride in modern limousines. Other types of parties can also be more fun if a private limo is used to get to a club or other venue. There are even party buses that are equipped with a variety of amenities to offer the ultimate experience on the go. Additionally, private transportation is commonly used for tourism in major cities.

New York panorama

Traditional limousines are essentially stretched out town cars. There are also stretched out sport utility vehicles that offer private rides. Limo companies often have minivans that can provide transportation for large groups such as a dozen people or more. Such vehicles are perfect for making group trips to popular tourist destinations in a big city. Minivans are equipped with large windows to allow passengers unobstructed views of all the sights in a busy urban setting. Extra wide seats offer plenty of comfort in minivans that are designed for tourist trips rather than public transportation use. A service like Luxury Limo NYC and other car hire is an example of private transportation in a major city.

Limousines and minivans may be equipped with luxurious amenities that are not found inside passenger vehicles. For example, mini bars are often paired with small coolers to store drinks and snacks. Retractable trays can be used for eating or doing other tasks while riding in a limousine. State of the art entertainment systems include surround sound speakers that might be synced to a flat screen HDTV. A WiFi portal also allows limousine passengers to connect to the internet from mobile devices without having to waste precious data through a cell phone company’s service. Mood lighting in limousines can be set up to different colors and intensities. Some party themed limousines might even have disco balls and special visual effects inspired by night clubs.

An insulated interior in a limousine or minivan allows passengers to have a great time without causing much disturbance to other people and vehicles outside. Some large party buses might even have dance floors that allow passengers to get up and groove to the music. Leather upholstery on all of the seats surely add a touch of luxury to any limousine or mini bus. The seats are designed to prevent staining from any spilled drinks, something that often happens on party buses.

the famous square

 

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Greece

The Senses of Kefalonia

By on April 28, 2014

 

Kefalonia
image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesclay

Kefalonia is the largest island of the Ionian Sea in Greece, set in between Corfu and Zakynthos. It is an island blessed with wondrous beaches, crystalline emerald waters, picturesque villages, diverse natural beauty, historical marvels, prestigious wineries and mouthwatering local cuisine. If you are thinking about visiting the island prepare for a true sensual awakening.

Braunis Horio Villas

Proudly standing on a cliff overlooking the azure sea, Braunis Horio Villas offer the ultimate blend of island authenticity and contemporary refinement. Each villa with its own distinctive Mediterranean personality will capture your heart in its heartwarming embrace allowing you to enter at once the pacifying pace of island life. Unwind under the cerulean sky, immerse in the crystal clear waters of your private pool in Kefalonia and bask in the sun while gazing at the panorama. Treat yourself to the pleasures of luxury and set off to explore this gorgeous island of the Ionian Sea.

Feel

Immerse in the authentic beauty of Assos beach, swim at one of the most famous beaches in the world and lose yourself in the exotic beauty of Mirtos, embrace the cosmopolitan spirit of Makrys Gialos and of its youngest sibling Platys Gialos, enjoy a day with your family at the red beach of Xi and partake into a series of watersports adventures at the beach of Skala.

Listen

Let the sun lure you into the morning tranquility with an ice-coffee at Costa Costa in Lassi, Rumours in Argostoli, Seven at Lourda and Veto at Skala as you listen to the whispering summer breeze. The Classic Café, Polo, Bass Café and Rock Café in Argostoli offer the perfect place to chill to the sounds of contemporary music after a day of sightseeing. As the night begins to deepen the Bass Club of Argostoli, the Kastro Club of Fiscardo, the Zebra bar of Skala and Zanza bar of Poros will get you into the groove until the early morning hours.

kefalonia
Photogenic sceneries

Smell

Relish local delicacies at Sto Psito, enjoy a barbeque meal at the Portside restaurant or the special Lobster dish at Captains restaurant in Argostoli, experience a sensual evening at Sirocco Restaurant in Scala Kefalonia and delight with mouthwatering Greek recipes at the seaside taverns of the scenic village of Fiscardo and home cooked meals at Platanos, Nefeli and Assos Taverna in Assos village.

See

Visit the patron saint of the island at the monastery of Agios Gerasimos, explore the intriguing geological formation of Drogarati Cave and swim to the idyllic setting of Melissani Cave, hike up to Mount Aenos to marvel the unique black firs of Kefalonia, let the day unfold at the waterfront village of Lixouri and feel the rhythm of the night in the central square of Argostoli.

Taste

While on the island make sure to try he local Aliada dip, the famous Kreatopita (pie with meat and rice), the Bourbourelia soup, the Bouryetto dish, the Tsigari dish, the local Robola wine and the sweet Mandoles.

From side to side the island of Kefalonia is like a valley of pleasures for each sense to absorb.

Get ready to walk the valley and discover one by one the senses of Kefalonia.

pool_kefalonia
cozy at night

 

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Travel Tips

What People Look for in a Resort

By on April 27, 2014
Koh Samui Mimosa Resort
photo via https://www.flickr.com/photos/kohsamui/

Understanding what people look for in a resort can give you some insight into what they want to get out of any vacation. Someone like Steve Wynn has seen how this works time and time again, but it is really information that anyone can use when working in this industry. A travel agent can use it to help people find the right resorts and a developer can use it when building new ones. Either way, seeing what people want the most can tell you a lot about those people and what the modern vacation has become.

Beautiful Accommodation
First and foremost, people want rooms that go above and beyond their expectations. For many people, going to a resort is like living for a week in the way that they wish they lived every day. While their bathroom at home may just have a standard acrylic tub, they want a glassed-in shower at the resort, with the entire bathroom finished in tiles. They want a waterfall shower head and a jacuzzi-style tub. These luxurious items are not things that they are accustomed to or that they would ever pay for at home, but they definitely value them on a vacation.

Entertainment Options
People who come to a resort usually do not want to leave to find their own sources of entertainment. They are interested in having it offered right there at the resort, in the common spaces. They like to go see singers and bands perform, they enjoy watching comedians and they want to have casinos on the ground floor. They like to have bars and restaurants connected to those places so that their every desire can be provided for. The most popular resorts in many areas are the one that are all-inclusive, where they just have to pay to get in and then all of the entertainment is free.

Food and Drink
Speaking of all-inclusive options, people also want to get food and drink for free when staying at a resort. They could be interested in going to a buffet that is open whenever they want it, allowing them to set their own schedules. This gives them some flexibility and allows them to do whatever they want with their time. They may also want to eat at restaurants at set times. Either way, they love to have the food and drinks for free, as part of the cost of coming to the resort, because it makes it easier for them to budget out the money for the trip.

Stores for the Necessities
It is also a good idea for any resort to have stores where the people can get anything that they may have forgotten. This could include little things like a toothbrush or a bottle of mouthwash. It could also include batteries, sunscreen, sunglasses chap stick and things of this nature. Guests like that they do not have to venture into town for the necessities, but that they can instead pick them up quickly, close to their rooms.

Never Worrying about Anything
What all of this shows you is that the main thing that people want on a vacation is freedom to relax. They do not want to worry about anything. If the resort makes it easy for them to live without planning or working, they will love it.

KAP at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort
image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/tahitipix/

 

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Travel Insurance

Knowing the Highlights of an Insurance Policy

By on April 7, 2014

 

chain bridge
Chain bridge, Budapest

When people buy insurance policies, they may have a vague idea of what their policies entail. They know that they are charged a certain amount in premiums each month in return for services that can help them in case of an emergency or disaster. However, some people fail to appreciate the finer details of their policies from Insure America. When they know these highlights better, they can be more proactive and assertive in protecting themselves and their families by utilizing their insurance more effectively.

The most basic detail that people sometimes forget is the locations in which their policies are effective. With this company, clients can use their insurance anywhere in the world, regardless of how far away from home they are. Further, they can choose the deductible that works with their budget or lien requirements. The deductible limits start at $500, which is standard for most cars that have liens on them. Some people also think that if they make a claim, their policy limit will be reduced. However, this company states that claims have no such effect on the limits of clients’ policies.

at Buda castle grounds
at Buda castle grounds

Along with deductible and claim terms, people may appreciate that they can be covered in case they are injured in a wreck or other vehicle-related circumstance. Their policies cover bodily injury, which could mean that injuries sustained in a wreck may be paid for, as well as injuries that occur in non-accident events, such as slamming a person’s hand in the door. Rather than using medical insurance, victims may make a claim to have their bodily injuries covered through their policy at this company.

People who drive company cars or frequently rent cars to drive for business trips or vacation may wonder if they too are covered in case of an accident or other unforeseeable event. If they have a policy with this company, they are protected in the event of professional liability, as well as non-hired auto coverage. They can use their insurance to address property damages to their property or that of someone else. Clients likewise can sell back their travel insurance if they do not utilize these services.

These highlights are common with clients who get policies with this insurer. Knowing these details can help them prepare better in case of an accident or another emergency. Many clients fail to appreciate that they may have financial protection in these vehicle related circumstances.

buda castle
stairs to the castle

 

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America

Paradise that is Jackson Hole

By on March 27, 2014

 

weather perfect

One of the Wyoming’s most highly visited mountain ranges, the Tetons rest across its western borders with the state of Idaho and is south of the Yellowstone National Park. The eastern part of the Tetons are called the Grand Teton National Park, though tourists visit across the mountain range throughout the year.

Many tourists enjoy the mountaineering recreation that comes with traveling through the Grand Teton National Park and the Tetons in general. Because the Tetons are relatively easier to access by road than other mountain ranges across the Rocky Mountains, tourists tend to migrate and travel through the Tetons any time of year. The winter activities in the Tetons are especially enjoyable, with a large snowboarding and skiing culture associated with the Tetons.

charming winter night

One of the unique aspects about the Tetons is their formation of large valleys across Wyoming and Jackson Hole is one of the most prominent valleys in it. Jackson Hole’s name is derived from the fact that early settlers traveled from the north into the valley, which appeared as a very steep descent. This earned the valley the name “hole” because the settlers felt like they were falling into a hole. Despite this name and perspective, Jackson Hole remains one of the main cultural and economic center of the Tetons.

The largest city in Jackson Hole is called Jackson. There, tourists can find all major commercial activities for this part of Tetons, including major Jackson Hole Wyoming hotels and transportation through the Jackson Hole Airport. In Jackson, tourists can eat at major restaurants in the region, see movies and plays, and see major art exhibits. Its location in the Tetons allows Jackson to have an average high in the mid-50s degree Fahrenheit while the average low is in the low-20s Fahrenheit.

jackson hole autumn
attractive in autumn

As previously stated, Jackson is the one of the main economic hubs in the Tetons and a major hospitality and recreational center for all tourists in the region. When one is traveling through the Tetons, they may end up lodging and eating in Jackson. The Jackson Hole region also hosts regional festivals that attract hundreds of tourists from across the state and region. Some of those events include the Hot Air Balloon Festival and the Targhee Bluegrass Festival.

If there is any region in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains region to stay during any time of the year, the Tetons is the place to be. With the Jackson Hole region and the city of Jackson as one of the hubs of activities, tourists can travel anywhere from the Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone National Park.

winter wonderland

 

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Carribean

The Changing Face of Aruba

By on March 6, 2014
Aruba Boats
boats on Aruban shore

There’s no doubt that one of the great things about Aruba is the fact that many things about the island never change. The great beauty of the island remains largely unspoiled – its beaches and wildlife are the envy of the world – whilst the islanders retain their own distinctive culture in spite of the potent forces of globalisation.

Still, not all change is bad, and in many ways, Aruba has moved with the times over recent decades, which has ensured a high quality of life and sustained economic stability for the people. Much of this change has been driven by how the Arubans now make our money…

Bringing in the tourists

As any old Aruban can tell you, until just a few decades ago, tourism contributed precious little to the island’s economy. The gold mines and the aloe export industry are still big business here, but the primary focus has shifted to the tourism industry, and many would argue that this is a better deal for Aruba – with all the economic benefits of the old industries but without the dangerous work and depletion of the island’s natural resources. Many Arubans who would once have found themselves working in the mines are now entertainers, hotel staff or beach sports instructors. It’s an easier life, whilst the nation’s increased visibility to the rest of the globe through tourism encourages more interest – and therefore more investment – in Aruba.

Centrum Oranjestad

How has this changed Aruba?

The arrival of mass tourism in Aruba has inevitably changed the island, particularly in terms of our local businesses. The tourists have brought with them their own ideas and ideals from around the world, which has left Aruba with a new wealth of luxury destinations including hotels, spas, gyms and casinos.

Casinos in particular have spread like wildfire across the island, from the glamorous Excelsior Casino to The Casino at The Radisson. With its great natural beauty and detachment from their own homeland’s, Aruba must seem like a great place to practice on the poker table for casino-loving tourists – assuming they’re not playing through a mobile casino gaming provider like Coral on the beach!

So how is Aruba staying Aruban?

For one thing, Aruban law protects the individual character of Aruba by ensuring that immigrant workers can only stay and work on the island for a maximum of three years. In larger counties with big populations, more immigration is desirable, but there are so few of Arubans in the world that the islanders need to keep the island mainly to themselves if they are to carry on existing at all!

palm beach aruba
Palm beach

 

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Africa

2014 in South Africa: New Attractions For Tourists

By on December 16, 2013

A trip to South Africa is one filled with diversity and beauty that is hard to match anywhere in the world. The country is about the same size as France and Spain combined, or around double the size of the state of Texas, so this should give you an idea of how the landscapes can change so dramatically from province to province! If you’re thinking about visiting South Africa in the New Year, here are some of the best new attractions for tourists in 2014.

sun city johannesburg
Sun City Resort

Sun City Resort

Recently opened, the Sun City Resort is located about two hours drive away from the city of Johannesburg. This enormous complex, known around the country as the Kingdom of Pleasure, contains two world class golf courses, two casinos, an atmospheric South African cultural village and over 7000 crocodiles in their own sanctuary.

The resort also owns the rights to the most popular game reserve in South Africa, the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, which is only a short walk away from the entrance to the resort. If you are going to book a flight to South Africa, make sure you to go onto this website to find yourself some of the best deals around.

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve

The Hluhluwe-Umforlozi Game Reserve has only just reopened its doors under a new formal conservation effort. The biggest draw of the reserve is that it is one of the few places left that you can see the big five: lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinoceros! The wildlife for you to see in the park is very hard to beat, with plenty of different ways to get around the park.

For example, you could opt to take the amazing viewing experience of a guided boat tour along the Hluhluwe dam, guided walks through the park while you take in the massive expanses of native plants and animals in their natural habitat, or for those who wish to go it alone, self guided drives.

morning at Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Park

Winelands

While not technically a new attraction, the winelands near to Cape Town offer you a chance to sample some of the newest wines made by some of the world famous vineyards that call South Africa Home. The success of the wines made here is due to the fertile fields that grow healthy yields every year, as well as the fine climate they live in. Even if you are not much of a wine drinker, just taking time to drive around this area is a wonderful experience, enjoying the landscape as you explore.

Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is the biggest game reserve on the continent and one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Africa. Kruger boasts of having more species of mammals than any other park which also includes the big five, with other species such as cheetahs and giraffes for you to admire. The other fantastic thing about Kruger National Park is that there is accommodation for you to rent so that you can stay on the grounds, including simple tented camps to luxury lodges.

Crocodile Bridge
Crocodile Bridge (Kruger park gate)

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Cruises

Holiday Clubs

By on December 14, 2013

 

Many of the places where you buy goods or services have clubs that you can join if you would like. For example, if you like to go on cruises, you can join the Royal Holiday Club that the cruise line offers. Even your local grocery store or bookstore probably has a club that you could become a member of if you so desire. Are these things worth joining? They are obviously centered around commerce and the idea that you spend your money at these venues, but is joining the club about more than just getting more money from you, the consumer?

IMG_6036
cruising somewhere near Vancouver

Even a quick look shows that it usually is. The club does exist to draw in money, and some of them even have membership fees, but you do get what you pay for. There are distinct advantages that you can get if you are a member that other people will not be able to get.

Extra Savings and Discounts

For one thing, you might get access to extra savings that most consumers are not privileged with. This could just be an extra ten percent off of the items that you buy, across the board, even when they are on sale. This is how many bookstores set up their clubs. You have to pay to join, but the savings will easily outweigh the cost of the membership if you buy enough books from them. On the whole, if you were going to buy those books anyway, you can save quite a bit. This works for things other than books as well, such as cruises.

A Newsletter

Another advantage of joining the club is that you might get a newsletter to make sure that you are always in the loop. Is the company going to be changing their management? Are they going to offer new things that they have never offered before? Are they expanding their business and lowering their prices? As a loyal customer, these are all things that you want to know, and the newsletter can put that information right in your mailbox – or, for most modern shoppers, right in your email inbox.

First Chances to Buy New Products

The club may also give you the first chance to buy something that is brand new. Say you join a cruise club, for example, and they are going to offer a brand new cruise this year to a destination that they have never gone to in the past. It is sure to be a hot seller since it is new, and you might miss out if you wait for it to go out to the public and it sells out. However, club members may be offered the chance to buy a ticket a week before the public, ensuring that you get a spot if you want one.

Adding It All Up

When it is all added together, the club can be great if you are interested in the company, especially if it is free. You may be given a chance to buy products before other people, at lower prices than they could ever get. Since you are interested in the company anyway, why not have all of these extra incentives when you are buying the things that they have to offer? They make the whole experience very fun and rewarding.

IMG_6046
nearing the harbor

 

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