Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hidden Gems for Brazil holidays

When you think about Brazil holidays, there are some classic images that pop into your head. Perhaps it’s the famous view over Rio and the Guanabara Bay from the statue of Christ the Redeemer; perhaps the grand sweep of the Iguazu Falls; or perhaps you dream of the long lazy curves of the Amazon... What’s almost certain, unless you’ve already started researching a holiday in Brazil, is that you won’t be thinking of the epic terrain of the Chapada Diamantina, the colourful vistas of the Pantanal, or the deserted sand dunes of Lençois Maranhenses.

Outside of Brazil, most people haven’t even heard of these areas, despite the fact that they offer some of the most fascinating and unique experiences you could wish for. There’s no denying the appeal of Rio or the awesome scenery offered by Iguazu Falls, but when you’re planning your Brazil holidays it’s worth taking the time to at least think about some of those areas of Brazil that are just a little off the beaten track...

The enormous Pantanal wetlands

Wildlife in The Pantanal

We’ll start with one of the undisputed hidden gems that Brazil has to offer – the enormous Pantanal wetlands. Covering a huge area roughly the size of France, the Pantanal forms part of Brazil’s border with Paraguay and Bolivia, and constitutes the largest area of wetlands on earth. A maze of small streams and larger rivers cut through areas of savannah-type grasslands, reed marshes and semi-tropical forest, all of which are home to different types of wildlife. In fact, it’s a little-known fact that the Pantanal is actually more diverse than the Amazon rainforest! The range of wildlife available here is, quite simply, breathtaking, and the fact that the scenery is largely open means that it’s also much easier to see the wildlife – on Brazil holidays in the Amazon (great though it is) you do tend to spend a lot of your time peering through dense foliage and trying to get your camera settings right – in the Pantanal, you can just relax and enjoy the experience!

Trekking in The Chapada Diamantina

Moving on the North-East of Brazil, the Chapada Diamantina is an example of the range of landscapes that Brazil has to offer. Where the Pantanal is low, flat and watery, the Chapada Diamantina is high, dry and rolling. Named for the diamond mines which formerly provided most of the work in this remote part of Brazil, today it is a trekking paradise, with many of the former miners now working as guides for the tourists who want to get away from the crowds and see something of the Real Brazil on their holidays in Brazil. There are a range of different treks available, from short day treks out from the pretty colonial town of Lençois, to full-on multi-day expeditions camping out on the mountains. Whichever you choose, the epic nature of the landscape is sure to impress you – a vast range of rolling hills which seems to go on forever, largely covered in scrub forest but cut through with babbling mountain streams, waterfalls and natural swimming-pools: perfect for cooling off at the end of a good day’s trekking!

"...and natural swimming-pools"

Sao Luis and Lençois Maranhenses

Staying in the North-East, but offering something wildly different again, is the northern state of Maranhão. Easily accommodated together with Brazil holidays visiting the Chapada Diamantina, the small colonial town of Sao Luis is a favourite with anyone who has visited it – small, cobbled streets lined with galleries and cafes, and home to some of the oldest Afro-Brazilian traditions, it’s a slice of living history and great fun to boot. Even better, is that a few miles away you have what must be one of the most bizarre landscapes on earth...

"one of the most bizarre landscapes on earth..."
The Lençois Maranhenses National Park covers over a thousand square kilometres and at first sight, looks like an honest-to-goodness Lawrence of Arabia-style desert, with sweeping sand dunes as far as the eye can see. Once you look more closely, however, you realize that this desert landscape is dotted with thousands of small lagoons in ranges of iridescent blues and greens.  In fact the area is not technically a desert at all – there is a regular rainy season at the start of the year which fills the valleys between the dunes with fresh water. These then evaporate slowly over the course of the year, until they are replenished again by the new rainy season. What’s even more bizarre is that many of these lagoons actually contain fish! It’s generally believed that passing seabirds deposit eggs every year, although being born into an ever-shrinking home can’t be a great deal of fun for the poor fish concerned!

Any of these destinations would be a worthy addition to any holiday in Brazil, and you’ll also have the pleasure of having them largely to yourself – so make sure you enjoy them while you can, and before everyone else catches on!

Dan Clarke works for Real Brazil Holidays, and spends most of his time counting down the days until he can get back to Sao Luis and enjoy some kite-surfing in Lençois Maranhenses...

What you shouldn't miss in Madrid at Christmas

The Christmas market in Madrid opened last week in Plaza Mayor. So, what are you waiting for? Go there to buy your Christmas decorations, food and sweets. You can already smell the Christmas spirit surrounding this historic square which once was the stage for public executions and has turned into a meeting place that gets full of good vibes at this time of the year.

Apart from this awesome Christmas market, you should buy funny items in the jokes and costumes market in Plaza Santa Cruz, a few steps from Plaza Mayor. There you will find funny stuff for New Year's Eve and the Día de los Inocentes on 28th December (Spanish equivalent to April's Fool).

Buy your Christmas presents in the thousands of shops in the center of Madrid or in El Corte Inglés department store. But first, take some time to watch the amazing and beautiful Christmas shows and decorations. Outstanding is the Cortylandia Christmas show which you can see on the facade of El Corte Inglés in Preciados street. If you have children, they are going to love it! Friendly, colorful robots dance at the rhythm of the catchy Cortylandia song.

After your Christmas shopping, you might be hungry. Why don't you have some churros with chocolate? Have a cup of hot chocolate and dip your churros into it! These typical strip fried doughs are delicious and the hot chocolate will help you stand the cold temperatures in December.

Would you like to go ice skating? Take your children to the artificial ice rink in Plaza Callao, very close to the Cortylandia show. This ice rink is only for kids and you will find a beautiful, decorated Christmas tree next to it. If you go to Plaza La Luna, you can go ice skating as well.

But the best of Christmas holidays in Madrid is that they are very long (at least for children), since they don't finish until the 6th January! That's great, don't you think?

Although Santa Claus also visits the city, Madrid children wait more impatiently for the Three Wise Men arriving on 5th January. These three magicians, in Spanish culture, go on a parade around the city, smile at children, greet them and throw them sweets. Their pages and lorries full of presents go with them. At the tail end of the parade, a lorry full of coal is the most feared and least loved by children. Tradition says that naughty kids will not get presents, but a piece of coal!

"If you don't go to sleep soon, the
Three Wise Men won't leave you any gifts!"

Once the Three Wise Men parade is finished, go quickly to your Madrid apartment to have dinner and go to bed early. If you don't go to sleep soon, the Three Wise Men won't leave you any gifts! And, don't forget to leave them a glass of water and some biscuits for them and their camels. They still have a very long night ahead!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Historic City of York

I have always wanted to walk on the pavements of where the amazing kings and queens have walked on, where princes and princesses have held hands together, and where history of monarchy has unfolded little by little that I can almost have the glimpse of what it is like to live like royalty. Okay I maybe I sounded a little dramatic on my introduction, but there’s no doubt that one city has captured my enthusiasm for medieval facts, I give you the City of York.

This city has a lot of stories to tell coming from the mighty walls of their castles and palaces as well as their dungeons and other tourist attractions.

If you love long walks and great conversations, then the Medieval City Walls will be the perfect location for you to exchange amazing stories with your friends. These walls represent courage, loyalty to the country and monarchy. About 2.5 million people walk on these walls every single year so don’t miss your chance to be part of the statistics if you will ever visit York.

Now if you love going to scare houses in theme parks or want to show off how brave you are to a girl that you are trying to make a good impression on; then it’s a must that you visit Yorks famous dungeon.  This is one of York’s ultimate tourist attractions first because of the thrill and suspense that you could experience on your visit and next are the stories and the history on each and every area inside of it.

Trust me, they can be really creepy but the despite me having quite a nerve wracking experience, I can guarantee that you’ll leave this place fascinated of the events that happened centuries ago and that you’ll realize their significance on how they have molded the culture of this town. Prepare your courage as you visit it at 12 Clifford Street in York.

Your next step has to be the Jorvik Viking Center. Witness how the people lived back in the medieval ages. See all those 1000 year old houses and other materials that were used during those times and watch history unravel itself right before your modern eyes as the guides explain you the details of the culture and customs of the Vikings and the locals back in the old days. The astounding pieces of information that you’ll learn from all those things are indeed priceless.

York Minster
After the Viking center, take a trip to the York Minster and be amazed on the architectural structure of this massive cathedral. Europe has been blessed to be a place where amazing churches were built and York is one of those cities in this continent that has proved it. The interior of this church will blow you away because it has the word art written all over it. Here you’ll also find the Archbishop of York.

Now I know that roaming around York can be really tiring especially if you started at the City Walls. You’ll be hungry and you’ll need a nice snack after it so it’s time to check out their famous Betty’s Tea Room. Founded back in 1919, get to experience the finest tea and pastries probably in the world with this café’s awesome menus! Their vintage motif will complete an ambiance just right for you to feel classy and elegant as you sip their tea. They have packaged their materials in a way that is really capturing so they’re also perfect as gifts!

Speaking of gifts, you can also shop in this place with their specialty stores located in a place that will remind you of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley! Just make sure you bring a lot of money because the price tag on their items can be a little bit expensive.

If you think that it’s all Viking and medieval stuff in York, then let me tell you that their modern nightlife is actually really good! The people here know how to absolutely have fun in this millennium! Drinks and food are overflowing once the clock strikes 7 in their local pubs! York is indeed a must-see!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Florida's Top Five Holiday Resorts

The pulling power of Florida for tourists is undeniable. For Brits in particular, it is the sort of big, blockbusting holiday that they look forward to all year – or for those who are less lucky – a lifetime. The great thing about securing a Florida timeshare is that the big trip needn’t be a one-off – you can keep coming back every year. Here is a rundown of five of the best resorts in the Sunshine State.

Marriott’s Legends Edge
As the name suggests, this resort truly is the stuff of legend. Situated in Bay Point just across the water from Panama City, Marriott’s Legends Edge resort is the ultimate American adventure for those who love water sports, marina life and Northwest Florida’s famously white and sandy beaches. Decked out in true Marriott style with elegant touches all around the resort to compliment the lavish and spacious suites, Legends Edge brings real sophistication to the Florida timeshare scene. With scenic golf courses, marine life and glamorous coastlines all within easy reach, Bay point really is the ideal location.

Vistana's Beach Club
Offering an island-style getaway without the extra hassle of ferries or connecting flights, Vistana’s Beach Club sits proudly on Hutchinson’s Island, a thin stretch of land that hangs off Florida’s famous East coast. With stunning balcony views back across the bay towards Jensen Beach and the mainland on one side and miles of quiet, unspoilt golden shoreline on the other, the Beach Club’s location is bordering on heavenly. Just 45 minutes north of Palm Beach, there is something wonderfully serene and uncomplicated about this incredible resort.

Marriott Harbour Lake
A holiday haven for young families, Marriott’s Harbour Lake is perfectly located for those that want to explore the treasure trove that is Orlando, Florida. Just a couple of miles away from the vast and bountiful world of Walt Disney, Harbour Lake also offers plenty of on-site entertainment to save you having to visit Mickey Mouse and co every day of your stay! With a brilliantly executed pirate theme throughout, the resort is totally child friendly, with water playgrounds, mini golf and kids clubs to keep them busy, while the adults enjoy all the trademark Marriott finer touches.

South Seas Island Resort
"Lounging on the undisturbed beaches"
A truly breathtaking resort that offers a unique getaway for either a wholesome family break or a romantic couple’s retreat, the location of the South Seas Island Resort is truly something to behold. Only attached to the mainland and the beautiful Florida region of Cape Coral by the two mile-long Sanibel Causeway Boulevard, this secluded and exotic resort village is the perfect vacation sanctuary for both adventure and relaxation. From lounging on the undisturbed beaches to swinging your golf club, tennis racquet or fishing rod, there is a great variety for timeshare visitors.

Orange Lake
Featuring four challenging golf courses, Orange Lake Resort is bound to appeal to those who want a break from all the theme parks and burger bars on their visit to Orlando. The resort itself provides great family fun with a huge range of pools, slides and lazy rivers to keep the kids splashing around all day. All the big attractions are just a few miles away however, making Orange Lake the best of both worlds. Known for its great value and wholesome approach to the timeshare concept, the resort is a remarkably well kept secret and an incredible size, meaning there is always plenty to see.

Timeshare is still thriving in the American market and is little wonder given the sheer scale and quality of resorts in Florida and further afield. British holidaymakers can make the most of timeshare exchange networks to ensure that their weeks and maintenance fees aren’t wasted, meaning it remains a good time to sell timeshare or utilise the rental market.

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Years in Barcelona and What to Expect

Experience the traditional Spanish party atmosphere with a New Year’s break to Barcelona this year! Whilst many of the city’s tourist attractions are closed during the day, the night is when the city will come alive each New Year’s eve. Here’s a bit on what to expect from New Years in Barcelona:

Midnight Grapes
Start your New Year’s Eve celebration by trying the odd Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes on the 12 chimes of midnight. If you succeed, it’s custom to make a wish! This tradition dates to as far back as 1895 and originated in Madrid, with links to the Puerta del Sol tower clock.

Lively Street Parties
Most of the locals start their evening celebrating with family and friends and a hearty Spanish feast, it’s after midnight that they’ll head out onto the streets to celebrate with neighbours and visitors to the city. Vibrant celebrations take place in Las Ramblas and Plaza Catalunya and young Barcelona residents usually head to the beach.

New Year’s Night Clubbing
New Year's Night Clubbing Spot
New Year’s festivities continue well in to the early hours of the morning, in fact clubs don’t usually open until 2am on New Year’s Eve. Favourite clubs with tourists and locals include: Razzmatazz, Jamboree, Catwalk, Sala Apolo and Shoko.

Arena Dance Parties
There are numerous indoor arenas which hold New Year dance parties for those who want to keep active during the celebrations, these usually sell out months before however, so do your research and book in advance to join in the fun.

Glamour Dress-Up
The people of Barcelona aren’t as obsessed with style as the Spaniards in Madrid, however New Year’s Eve may just be the one time of year when they really glam up! Whether you’re heading for a quiet evening dinner or hitting the town, it’s the perfect excuse to dress up and let your hair down.

Tapas with Friends
The restaurants on New Year’s Eve can be very busy, but if you are able to book a table then enjoying a traditional Spanish meal is highly recommended. Don’t forget to wash your dinner down with a glass of Sangria… or two!

Head to the Bars
Another place to go on a Barcelona New Year’s eve is the Gothic or Raval areas of Barcelona where you’ll find many bars in which to enjoy a drink and get to know the Barcelona people. Sometimes you’ll find you need to pay a large fee to get in, but check, there may be a free bar inside!

The ‘San Silvestre’ 10k Run
Looking for an unusual way to spend New Year’s Eve? In the day why not challenge yourself to the San Silvestre run, or at least watch it unfold. At around 5.30pm over 8,000 runners take part on this energetic tour of the city. If you get sponsored you could make money for charity too!

R. Hunt is a travel content writer for the easyJet holidays website and writes about city breaks to Barcelona and ideas for New Years breaks

Photo credit to Jim Reilly from Quebec

Five of the Best Surf Beaches in the World

Best Surf Beaches in the World
Surfers are always in pursuit of the ‘perfect wave’ and we’ve picked out some of the best spots in the world to start that search. Surfing may be one of the hardest sports in the world to master but it has also never been easier to learn with surf schools and surfing experience days popping up at beaches around the world, which are sure to have you standing up and riding the waves within hours. It is not hard to see the attraction of the sport; the combination of excitement and beautiful beach surroundings makes for a perfect day. The most popular spots are often blessed with bustling nightlife and a relaxed atmosphere so even if you aren’t taking to the water yourself you can still admire some of the best in the world riding the waves while you kick back and enjoy the stunning scenery.

Here are five of the best beaches in the world perfect for beginners and experts alike:

Bondi Beach, Australia
One of the world’s most famous beaches in what is commonly considered the world’s best country for surfing. There is no shortage of hotspots to ride the waves up and down Australia’s vast coastlines and while Bondi may not be the most challenging, it produces consistent waves and an inviting swell perfect for beginners and experienced surfers alike. Even if you don’t want to venture into the water yourself you can easily while away the hours chilling out on the beautiful beach or in seaview cafes admiring the hordes of expert surfers tackling the waves and showing off their skills.

Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Home to the famous Mexican Pipeline which attracts surfers from across the globe keen to challenge themselves on its waves of up to 12m high. The powerful water is not to be taken lightly, although calmer spots for beginners or swimmers do exist along the stretch of golden beach.
"Powerful water is not be taken lightly"

Waikiki, Hawaii
Traditionally considered the birthplace of surfing, it is awash with tourists but once you’re in the water you will quickly forget everything else and simply revel in the fine waves that made it such as hotspot in the first place.

Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
Perfect breaks combined with the warm waters of the Indian Ocean have made Jeffrey’s Bay - or J-Bay as it's commonly known - a true surfing mecca. Blessed with the laid-back atmosphere so commonly associated with surfing, the beautiful beaches are perfect for kicking back with a beer and a BBQ after a day of riding the waves. Just be sure to listen out for the shark warnings as Great Whites are known to inhabit the waters.

Kuta Beach, Bali
The idyllic beaches of Bali with their white sands, palm trees and crystal clear waters have made it a true tropical paradise holiday destination. But adrenalin junkies flock there for the  fantastic swells and huge waves as much as the laid-back lifestyle of the Indonesian island, with surfing conditions to suit all abilities.

This article has been created by Activity Superstore, the UK's leading Gift Experience Days supplier.

Disney Theme Parks: Taking The Fun Global

It all started with an idea. In the late 1940s visionary animator Walt Disney began to seek a way to transform his wildly successful television program, Disneyland, from something existing only in the minds and hearts of viewers and on the television screens to an actual place where people could visit. Walt Disney wanted to create a destination where children and adults could enjoy themselves at the same time in the same place. That idea took physical form with the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 1955. It was the first of the current roster of more than 14 Disney theme parks.

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse 
Disneyland was a groundbreaking concept. It is a place where cartoon characters come to life, walk around and interact with the people who have grown up watching them on television and in the movies. Add innovative rides, fun activities and entertainment for the entire family and you have the theme park Walt Disney envisioned over 60 years ago. But Walt Disney was a true visionary and a tireless worker. Almost as soon as Disneyland was completed he began making a plan and looking for land to make the Disney theme park bigger and better.

Although he did not live long enough to see it open, Walt Disney bought the land and created the plan for what would become Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It opened in 1971 and grew to become the world's most visited theme parks. This Disney park is also the largest single employer in the United States. The park includes the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom. It has served as a model for innovation and growth with an army of 'imagineers' constantly creating new rides and other attractions which encourage people who have visited the park to want to return.

In the 1980s Disney took their theme park contest overseas. Tokyo Disneyland was opened in 1983. It was built by the Disney Imagineers and features the Magic Kingdom. Tokyo Disneyland has Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Westernland and Adventureland, four longtime Disney concepts, along with the World Bazaar, Critter Country and Mickey's Toontown. Tokyo Disneyland is the third most visited theme park on the planet. In 2010 over 14 million people passed through its gates. Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo Disneyland's sister park, was opened on September 4, 2001. It was the most expensive theme park ever built costing over $4 billion.

Disneyland Paris was the second Disney theme park to be built outside the United States. Located in the suburbs of Paris, France, Disneyland Paris opened in 1992. After a few setbacks, Disneyland Paris is now the most visited theme park in Europe. In March 2002 the park added Walt Disney Studios Park, a concept similar to Disney-MGM Studios. The complex contains 7 Disney themed hotels. Three of them surround Lake Disney. The parks had a combined 15 million visitors in 2010.

The Disney brand continues to grow and provide unparalleled fun and excitement for millions of people around the world.

Click here for great deals and offers on disney orlando and cheap family holidays.

Image credit goes to Michael Sult of St. Petersburg, FL

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Best Photo Opportunities in Barcelona

There are very few better ways to remember a holiday with then photos. And if you are lucky enough to be coming to the Catalan capital of Barcelona then you are sure to want to have some photograpic souvenirs for your trip. Barcelona is one of the most photogenic cities in the world and is a perfect oppurtunity to try out your photographic skills.

Parc Güell

Parc Güell
Antoni Gaudí has had a huge impact on Barcelona and most of the most iconic places in the city have influences from the Catalan artist. Parc Güell was built between the years of 1900-1914, the orginal intention was to built 6 luxury houses on the land with beautiful surrounding gardens in the English garden style away from the smoke and dirt of the city below as it is placed on a hill above the city. However, only two of the houses were built, Count Eusebi Güell moved into one of the houses and the other was unsold until Gaudi himself moved him and his family into the house and lived there from 1906 to 1926. The Parc itself is outstandingly beautiful and offers numerous photo oppurtunites as the architecture is magnificent. The sculptures are beautiful constructed and painted but the best photo oppurtunities in Parc Güell are the tremedous views of the city. As the Parc is situated on a hill, you are offered an amazing view of the city seeing out to sea in the distance, the mountain of Montjuïc to your right and dominating the skyline in front is one of the most iconic builidngs in Barcelona and another of Gaudi´s masterpieces, the Sagrada Familia. Park Güell is a excellant place to spend the day and get some great photos.


One of the mountains that dominate the backdrop to Barcelona is Montjuïc. A trip to the top of the mountain is a worthwhile experience as it is here that the Olympics were held in 1992 and you can see the beautiful surrounding areas of fountains and large open space created for the games. The stadium itself is also open to visitors and is free to enter so is a nice photo opportunity. Continue heading to the peak of the mountain and you will reach the Castell de Montjuïc, a large fortress built in the 18th century and still preserved today offering some great photo opportunities. Climb to the highest level of the Castell and you are rewarded with incredible views of the city below with the backdrop of the Tibidabo mountain. Look in the other direction and you are situated almost right above the harbor, and on a clear day, you will find a incredible view out to sea.


Tibidabo is the name of the highest mountain overlooking Barcelona directly facing the sea. Its peak is 512 metres and on the top of the mountain, there is a amusement park still featuring many of the original rides from over 100 years ago, the Torre de Collserola, a telecommunications tower and the magnificent church, Temple de Sagrat Cor. All of these places are fantastic photo opportunities espcially the Sagrat Cor. The mountain can be reached by bus or car but the best way is by the funicular, which runs up the mountain. The fenicular built in 1901 was the first in Spain. The real treat of Tibidabo for the photographer is again the spectacular view that is offered. As Tibidabo is located to the back of the city, it means that you are offered a 360º panoramic view of the city below making it the perfect photograph in Barcelona.

La Pedrera

La Pedrera
Returning to the magic of Gaudi, and you should head to the impressive La Pedrera. Situated on the photogenic street of Passieg De Gracia, La Pedrera stands out as a piece of art as much as a building. The building itself is very photogenic from the outside. The building was designed for a wealthy Catalan couple, Roser Segimon and Pere Milia by Gaudi from 1906-1910. It is on the roof of the building though that the photo opportunities increase as the unusual sculptures of the building mean that everywhere you look or turn, there is another photo opportunity. The rooftop also offers a unique view too of the Sagrada Familia, another of Gaudi´s building making La Pedrera a great visit.

The Beach

Barcelona's brilliant beach
One of the great things about Barcelona compared to many of the other great European cities is that Barcelona boasts a brilliant beach too. The Beaches within Barcelona also offer some incredible photo opportunities with the golden sand reflecting against the blue backdrop of the sea. Beautiful people on the beach are also perfect for a photo opportunity.

Font Màgica

Visit the Font Màgica 
One of the best things to do in Barcelona is to visit the Font Màgica. The Magic Fountain is the main feature of the collection of waterfalls and ponds on Avinguda Maria Cristina, which stretches from the Palau Nacional to Plaça Espanya in Montjuïc. It is one of the best fountain displays to behold and is the perfect phot oppurtunity. This is a spectacular fountain which is very popular because of its water arrangements, sound and lighting. 2,600 litres of water are pumped through this great fountain per second in three concentric pools which have a water recirculation system so the chance to grab a great photo is available.

As Barcelona is surrounded by mountains on three sides and the sea on the other, so there are numerous fantastic photo oppurtunities in the city to see one of the world´s most vibrant and diverse cities. The strong influence from the Modernista era is seen on many of the streets of Barcelona and just walking down any of the streets in Gracia particularly can provide you with some incredible photo oppurtunities.

Barcelona is a great place to visit for a extended break or just a weekend break and one of the best ways to enjoy the city is by renting a apartment. Article written by traveller and blogger for, providers of Barcelona apartments for rent

Unique Ways To Spend Your Honeymoon

So the big day has finally arrived and your novelty themed wedding went without a hitch. There you both were dressed as Ewoks or Moomins or completely naked, the J Giels cover band you booked were great and only four people were poisoned by the vegan buffet. It’s time to start your life together. But you don’t want to jet off to just any old place – you need a honeymoon with a twist. A crazy twist. Here are a few ideas for wacky honeymoons you’ll be talking about for years.

Get Away From It All - Turtle Island, Fiji 
If it’s good enough for Britney Spears, it’s good enough for you. We know you’ve lived your life by this creed – that’s why you go ‘commando’ every time you exit a vehicle. And your honeymoon shouldn’t be any different. Turtle Island is one of the most exclusive and remote romantic destinations on earth. With accommodation for only 14 couples, you don’t have to worry about your special holiday resembling a sub-plot from the sit-com Benidorm. You stay in your own eco-friendly cabin on this island paradise and have a ‘Bure Mama’ on hand to cater to your every whim. And they filmed the Blue Lagoon there! What more could you want?

Go  A Spiritual Journey - Monastery Stay, Worldwide 
Nothing says married life like being surrounded by a bunch of celibate monks. Monasteries and convents have always offered shelter and sanctuary to travellers in need as that famous documentary Nuns on the Run has shown us. Monasteries the world over now have now opened their doors to the intrepid vacationer and provide restful, reflective rooms for rent. From the Far East, through the whole USA and all over Europe, you’ll find a top Monk House. What better place to venture with your new significant other and take time in the calming atmosphere to sit and contemplate the horrible, horrible mistake you might have just made.

"Nothing says married life like being surrounded by a bunch of celibate monks."
Get Weird - Roswell UFO Festival, New Mexico 
How many times have you told that special someone in your life that they’re ‘out of this world’? Ten? Twelve? Well, if you’re the sort of person who likes to stretch metaphors to preposterous lengths then why take a trip to the alien-est place on Earth or elsewhere? Roswell, New Mexico! Reported site of an infamous UFO crash landing and air base where supposed alien autopsies were conducted. Nothing says romance like that! As well as the annual summer festival, there’s a Roswell UFO Museum and other local attractions such as the Bottomless Lakes. Which is where you may end up if you spring a surprise like this on your new bride.

Chill Out - Igloo Stay Finland 
Who needs tropical paradises, acres of sandy beaches and warm crystal waters as far as the eye can see? Heat is over-rated, icy tundra is now the way to go. If you want a completely unique start to your new married life, don’t just stay in igloo hamlet or igloo suburb – but an actual igloo village! In Kakslauttanen Finland, right above the arctic circle. You and your new partner can stay in your own glass-domed igloo and admire the star strewn sky or even the Northern Lights if you’re lucky. Or, for an even chillier alternative, stay in a cabin completely built from snow, with ultra-cosy down sleeping bags thrown in.

Hobo Festival - Britt Iowa 
With the way the economy is going, we’re all probably going to end up as hoboes – those beloved, filthy gentlemen and women of the road. So, if you don’t want to get your new life partner’s hopes up, why not take them to the annual gathering of the hoboes in Britt, Iowa. Hoboes from around the globe hop on freight trains and head to Britt to eat Mulligan Stew and stand around fires swapping stories of life on the road. You can even join in the hobo parade through Main Street and buy a bindle full of tramp-style souvenirs. And if your special someone is still talking to you after all that, then you’ve got yourself a keeper.

About the Author: Dale Shaw is a freelance travel writer, currently working for who specialise in thrilling activities and experience days. Find out more here!

A Magic Christmas in Tuscany

The Holiday season is approaching, and a large part of the world prepares to celebrate Christmas. Did you ever think about spending your Holidays in Tuscany?

During Christmas time this famous region in Italy becomes even more romantic than usual, making it the perfect destination for a quick runaway from your daily routine. Here are some suggestions for your relax, enjoyment and discovery of new places to return to or keep among your most treasured memories.

Wellbeing centers in Tuscany
The region literally thrives with spas, thermal baths, wellness resorts, hot springs and hotels with saunas and fitness areas. You just have to decide in what part of Tuscany you want to stay: the hot springs of Calidario near Livorno, or those of Saturnia, near Grosseto, or why not the Fonteverde spas in the province of Siena, in an unmatched landscape of rare beauty. Then if you prefer to have the benefits of relaxation without the therapeutic properties of natural springs, you may want to stay in Montepulciano, at the newly opened Etruria Resort. Here an ancient villa was restructured to accommodate you in wonderful hotel rooms, and the Etruscan cellars transformed into saunas and hot baths with massages and other beauty treatments. There are many more choices for your relax and beauty: Montecatini and Chianciano Terme, Bagni di Lucca and the Hotel Terme di Petriolo, totally immersed in nature.

Culinary and wine tours of Tuscany
On the rack, Tuscany wine tour
If you already feel well relaxed and in good shape, you can opt in for a wine and food tour of Tuscany. The Christmas season is a special time to be in a wine farm; the newly harvested grapes are being transformed into novel wine, available only for a short period of time, while last year's production is fully ready for tasting. You could go for an arranged tour, or you could delight in crafting one perfect for your needs. The first option removes all worries and burdens. All in all, not everyone loves to deal with bureaucracy and planning. On the other side though, you will have to abide to stiff timing and pick up rendezvous, fixed itineraries and destinations. First-timers will probably be better off with this option. However, if you love to organize your day, or are a seasoned traveler of Tuscany, you should decide on the cellars and restaurants to visit, gather all the info on your most favorite wines and producers, contact them personally to arrange everything, then rent a car to get the freedom and independence to move around at will. You may even go a step further and rent an RV. To make things easier, Tuscany was divided into "Wine Roads". These are common interstate roads that lay on a specific wine producing county. You may start with the "Strada del Chianti Classico", or "Strada del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano", among the most famous ones.

Mountain ski trip to Tuscany
What better than a Christmas Holidays ski trip? The splendid mountains of the region offer a lot of fun for couples and families alike. You may rent a Tuscan cottage immersed in the snow-covered forest, yet nearby a village. A log cabin with fireplace and sauna: does it get more relaxing and romantic than this? The best mountains of the region are definitely the Abetone and Cimone, set next to one another at the border between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. Here you will find the longest slopes and the most beautiful landscapes of the region; however, mount Amiata and the Lunigiana and Garfagnana mountains also offer their share of splendid natural landscapes and fun. Beginning skiers, especially with young kids, will find their safe haven with them.

These are just a few suggestions for your Christmas holiday in Tuscany. But why choose just one? You could stay in a Tuscan villa on the Amiata mountain, then drive to the nearby coast to discover the fantastic Morellino di Scansano wine, and stop at Saturnia Thermal Baths on the way back. The region offers so much in a relatively small area that you can really take advantage of it all even within a short period of time.

Matt is a frequent traveler of Italy and set up his business there to rent villas Tuscany coast and help you find your perfect wedding villa Tuscany.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

10 Popular Arizona Destinations

After negotiating with a multitude of RV dealers, you find yourself happily purchasing a Heartland RV, ready to hit the road. Arizona RV dealers are more than happy to help you find your way to some amazing areas in the state. Although Arizona might initially seem like an unforgiving place, completely covered in desert and an overbearing sun, it is actually filled with some amazing landscapes, rife with a variety of flora and fauna.

RV Camping this way!
Here are ten popular tourist destinations in Arizona.

1. Grand Canyon National Park
This is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, not just Arizona. Grand Canyon is a massive geological wonder cut into the land and measures 277 river miles in length, 18 miles at its widest point, and over a mile deep. Featuring camping, hiking, photo opportunities, and breathtaking scenery, the Grand Canyon has something for everyone.

2. Lake Mead
Named after Elwood Mead, the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1924 to 1936, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States. The lake is formed by water impounded by the Hoover Dam and holds about 28.5 million acre feet (35.2 cubic kilometers) of water.

3. Petrified Forest National Park
Containing one of the largest concentrations of petrified forests, this national park is well-known for its fossils of both flora and fauna. Home to the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park is perfect for sightseeing, photography, hiking, and backpacking.

4. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
This park is the only place in the United States where the Organ Pipe Cactus grows wild, though the park also has a large number of other cacti and desert flora specimens. The park acts as a wonderful preservation of the American Southwest’s natural treasures.

5. Coronado National Memorial
This memorial commemorates the first organized expedition into the Southwest by Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. The memorial is located on the international border, just south of Sierra Vista, Arizona. The Coronado National Memorial features numerous hiking and spelunking opportunities for amateurs and experts alike.

6. Saguaro National Park
This national park is named for the wealth of Giant Saguaro cactus in the area. The cactus, a symbol of the American West, can only be found in a small portion of the United States. Saguaro National Park preserves some of the most impressive saguaro forests in the world.

7. Phoenix: Valley of the Sun
The state capital, Phoenix is the state’s largest city and the sixth most populated city in the United States. The city is filled with some wonderful sights for all ages.

8. Tucson: The Old Pueblo
Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona next to Phoenix and is well-known as a home for the manufacture of optics and optoelectronics systems. With such a huge metropolitan area, Tucson is sure to attract tourists of all kinds.

9. Sunset Crater
Born in a series of volcanic eruptions between 1040 and 1100, Sunset Crater is now home to some dramatic geologic features, beautiful trees and wildflowers, and thriving wildlife.

10. Navajo National Monument
Navajo National Monument perfectly preserves three intact cliff dwellings of the Puebloan people, some of the first inhabitants of the land. The monument features a museum, self-guided trails, campgrounds, and a picnic area.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

3 Alternative Ski Locations For Every Budget

It’s that exciting time of year when Christmas is nearing and the snow season is just around the corner. If you're like me, you are snowboard obsessed and you are probably already starting to plan your ski trip for this year.

It is good to explore and see new things, so rather than going to the same resort every year, why not try somewhere new? To encourage you to get started, I have listed 3 different resorts for 3 different budgets; Check them out!

Bansko, Bulgaria – Great Value, Great Culture
Bansko is the biggest ski resort in Bulgaria, a burgeoning new location in the international snowsports arena. Bulgaria is a typical eastern European country with a rich culture. The ski resorts are small by other country’s standards, but they are cheap compared to larger resorts and still offer plenty of variety for a couple of weeks skiing.

The best thing about visiting Bansko in my opinion is the fact that it is not yet overly touristy, you can still walk into the old town and there are plenty of traditional Bulgarian taverns selling a fantastic array of food.
Since the prices are so much cheaper than in central Europe you can also get some fantastic hotel deals – many of which have spas with hot tubs and even outside heated pools to enjoy. All in all Bulgaria can provide a highly luxurious holiday at down to earth prices.

Ski break

Courcheval, France – High Peaks, Lofty Prices
Courcheval is generally regarded as being the most expensive an exclusive resort in Europe. In the most expensive areas property prices are as high as 37,000 Euros per square metre. The resort is also the highest resort in France at 1850 metres above sea level.

Courcheval is certainly a luxury location, with prices being so high most hotels are done to a high specification and cater for affluent skiers. The resort boasts some of the best quality pistes in the world and the sheer size of the resort can be quite overwhelming.

Gulmarg, India – A True Skiing Adventure
Yes you read right! It really is possible to go on a skiing vacation in India, in the Himalayas. Needless to say, being the highest range of mountains in the world, the Himalayas have a lot to offer, including some of the best snow in the world, massive areas of skiable areas including pistes and powder skiing.

The village of Gulmarg is widely believed to be the best resort in the Himlayas and the resort itself sits at an amazing 2,700m above sea level, which is almost as high as the highest peaks are in Europe. Unfortunately, the Himalayas still relatively under-developed as a ski destination, and are perhaps not an option for everyone, but if you have the funds and a strong sense of adventure they offer perhaps the best ski experience of any resort in the world right now.

This guest post was brough to you curtesy of Birmingham Airport Parking .com

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Insider Scoop: Boulder, CO

The Local Knowledge of Boulder and the Surrounding Area

The Insider Scoop: Boulder, CO

Living in Colorado means a lot of sun, a smaller amount of wind, and super dry skin. All are easy to live with when you live in Boulder. Mockingly called “The People’s Republic of Boulder” by some, this place is known for its Democratic views and politics in a very Republican state.

From emphasis on local produce to co-op power, the people around Boulder love freedom, and nature. This place allows you to go for a walk in the morning, get some vegan food in the afternoon, and takes a swim at night, all without leaving city limits. Here are some local tips for those who want to get the best and most exclusive of Boulder.

Canyon St. Farmers Market:

During the spring, summer, and part of fall, every Saturday morning is when I get my veggies for the week. There are numerous farms, coop gardens, and private growers in the area, and every Saturday morning they truck their wares down to the middle of Boulder on Canyon Street right by the river, and sell.

You can get a little of everything: I usually plan on getting eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, onion, peppers, nuts, and fudge when I go. The amount of options is staggering, and some of the best white-truffle mustard I’ve ever had was purchased there. The best part about it is that everything is completely fresh and local.

Before you get going, make sure to stop into the Tea Café right in the middle of the fair. This blue-chip mosaic building serves breakfast and lunch alongside the most impressive collection of teas I’ve ever seen. Everything is available for trying, and as reasonable prices, you can shop like you’re in Boulder and drink like you are in China.

Chautauqua Park:

I just moved to Boulder about 9 months ago, and I tell everyone back home the same thing when they asked why I chose Colorado.

“If you don’t like the outdoors, don’t move here.”

Boulder is a pretty expensive place to live, but it allows those of us that hike and mountain bike a wide range of trails to choose from. These vary greatly in difficulty and use.

The place to start your journey is Chautauqua. This part of the advice is not so much insider information. It is easily the most popular starting point for trails, and with plenty of parking to boot. The best part for visitors if they start at Chautauqua, they can ask the locals which trails would be best for them and their families. I personally suggest, however, that you ask for some of the more local trails for the best thrills.

Snow Plow Carving Out Hiking Trail
Specialty Hikes & Rides
View Hike - Bear Peak Trail:

This is a heavily wooded hike that leads to an amazing view of boulder at about 10,000 feet. On a difficulty scale of 1-10 this hike would be a 7. Now, before the locals groan, I’m taking into account that most visitors have never been at 5,000 feet, and then tried to ascend another 5,000 within a couple of days. For experienced hikers at sea level, this will just make you sweat a ton and be short of breath, for non-experienced hikers at sea level, I’d avoid this right away, many people come to these altitudes and overexert themselves.

Relaxed Hike - Stone Thrones on Skunk Trail:

This is a hike I like to do after an early dinner to catch the sunset. This hike can’t actually be started from Chautauqua, but from the skunk trailhead just one mile away. If you take the skunk trail and always bear right, you will end up on one of the smaller hills near Bear Peak. On what looks like an old rockslide, some locals have made three seats out of the stone that are pretty damn comfortable. This is the best place to have a drink while watching the sunset.

Mountain Bike Trail – Betasso Loop:

This is a short loop, but many people riding the trail add a lot of terrain. If you happen to live here, you’ll notice the loop change pretty drastically every month or so during the summer. There is a good view of Boulder Reservoir at the end of the loop, and a good steep technical section at the beginning.

White Water Rafting in Colorado:

This is truly one of the most fun things you can do to conquer Mother Nature, and do it as big as you want. Riding a raft down a river in Colorado is an experience no one forgets.

Consider for a second the lay of the land. Each year millions of cubic feet of snow are dumped all over the rocky mountains. The tree line; which is the line that marks the point where trees no longer grow, is about 11,000 feet in Colorado. Many of our peaks have 3000 feet or more of open space to collect an awe-inspiring amount of snow.

Take all of that snow, and melt it all around March, and funnel it into just a few well-formed rivers, and you have the most amazing white water rafting anywhere. We have class 1-5 rapids, with class 5 signifying that even if you negotiate a rapid perfectly, you will still hit something. Adrenaline seekers will have no problem at all filling their need for danger.

The bus terminal in Boulder, CO can take you to any one of these mountain towns that have some of the best outfitters in the business, for about $15.

Pete Wise is a content developer and white-hat SEO Jedi. This article was written for Wilderness Aware Rafting, who specialize in Colorado White Water Rafting Follow Pete on twitter:  @MySEOHeadache