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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Asia on the Web


Mekong River
Simply put and obvious enough, the Internet equals travel content overload.

Although this is a great thing, sometimes too much is exactly that: too much. It can be quite difficult to find the right site for specific subjects.

James Ruggia, Contributor for Agent at Home, narrowed it down to some interesting user-friendly websites that uncover and explore everything Asia on the World Wide Web.

SeeYouInAsia.com – Simple and straightforward, this site brings valuable information on the usual “what to do and see” all together under one roof. It features videos encompassing Asian travel, an easy-to-use interactive map and special deals from travel companies with a link directly to their website; booking is not available on the website.

SoutheastAsia.org - “Feel the warmth” on SoutheastAsia.org. This site encourages visitors, especially international ones with an eye for adventure and special interest, to plan and book around the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). One will find articles and information on special event catered to niche themes. As a matter of fact, themes run rampant throughout the site; everything from ecotourism and cultural sightseeing to cruising. It’s also great to know that it provides excellent coverage for small to medium-sized suppliers.

MekongResponsibleTourism.org – An e-guide with everything revolving the countries along the Mekong River. This handy guide allows users to find accommodations, restaurants, shops and tour operators in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China’s Guangxi and Yunnan Provinces. A Google map is embedded in each country’s page that pin-points leisure activities including tours, nature sites, cultural venues and places to eat, stay and shop.

MekongDiscoveryTrail.com – The site casts a light on life in Northeast Cambodia, and in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces. It contains maps and useful news of the trails, and offers a myriad of choices for leisure activities like forest trekking, dolphin viewing, and house boating.

Visitkorea.or.kr - The neat thing about the site is that folks aren’t limited to booking ordinary hotels – they can actually look into staying in Hanok Traditional Houses or Buddhist Korean Temples! Flights and Rails can be also be booked via KORAIL, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines.

Tourismthailand.org/us - The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) homepage contains “What’s New,” a scrolling box highlighting the latest news; another column that displays current and upcoming festivals and events; and a “Travel Deals” section, which shows the newest specials on travel packages.

Honeymooning-in-thailand.com - Also from the TAT, this niche site focuses on the love aspect of tourism: post marriage vacations. Packages for spa treatments, romantic accommodations and gourmet dinners are available.

DiscoverHongKong.com/USA - Interactively speaking, this site delivers the “Mobile App Series”, iPhone and Android travel applications to provide visitors with the latest tourist information. From finding nearby points of interest using the phone’s camera and GPS with the “DiscoverHongKong—AR” application to providing foodies with the perfect wine to match their Chinese meal with “DiscoverHongKong—Food and Wine Pairing,” these convenient apps

http://share.23perspective.com/amazing_thailand_app/iphone.php (“Amazing Thailand” Application) – It’s all about Thai with this innovative app. Powered by the TAT, it offers information on destination guides, events, shopping and more. Once visitors arrive in Thailand, this app will guide them to virtually any place they want to go to via its GPS.


Click here to read the article: http://www.agentathome.com/Article.aspx?n=3019&start=2

Venture into this thriving part of the world on one of our River Cruises!
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Friday, December 9, 2011

Turkey's Aegean: Paradise with a Splash of History

It's a refuge by turquoise waters, white-sandy beaches and village-inspired resorts. It's a haven for history buffs; home to numerous cultural and historical sites, including one of the Seven Wonders of the World - the Temple of Artemis.

It's the coast of Aegean.

Monique Burns, Contributor for JAX Magazine, gives us an inside look into the idyllic coastline, and its rich, abundant offerings.

Click here to read the article: http://editorialarchives.jaxfaxmagazine.com/edit11/1111/view.html

Explore the beauty of Turkey on one of our River Cruises!
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Aloha, Sun: December in Maui

It’s almost winter, and you know what that means: Frolicking in the crystal-clear waters of Maui!

Wait, What?

If you’re like me, winter is really all about celebrating the holidays with the family, calorie-laden food and below 50 degree weather.

However, given the plentiful activities available during the yuletide season in the island, it might not be such a bad idea to trade snow in for sand.

From family-friendly activities like photo sessions with Santa Claus to elegant, adult-only retreats, Maui has something for everyone to enjoy. Below is a glimpse of what you’ll find to do this holiday SEA-son in Maui.

Courtesy of Maui Ocean Center

 Twelve Days of FISH-mas - Dec. 14 -25

“Scuba” Claus and his Elf will make a special appearance at Maui Ocean Center.  The pair will make daily visits to the aquarium’s 750,000-gallon Open Ocean exhibit and host dive link presentations.  Wearing a special dive mask, he will be easily be able to communicate with the audience. Moreover, December will be filled with kid-friendly events, holiday entertainment, craft vendors, and special presentations, including a naturalist presentation that focus on Hawaii’s marine creatures named for their holiday-like appearances, including the Angelfish, Christmas Wrasse, Snowflake Eel, Candy Cane Shrimp, and more.

You’re guaranteed to have a holly, jolly FISH-mas.


Holiday Lighting of the Banyan Tree - Dec. 3 & 4

Witness thousands of sparkling lights at Lahaina's Banyan tree-lighting ceremony. Choirs will sing holiday carols, and the World Culture Exchange Hula will perform on stage. Children will love playing in real snow at the “snow zone,” and decorating cookies at a cookie workshop hosted by Kris Kringle himself. In addition, a Hawaiian snowman will be on the premises to take photos with the whole family.  Finally, a holiday arts and crafts fair will take place throughout the weekend accompanied by good ‘ol Hawaiian music.

Grand Wailea’s 2nd Annual Holiday Event – Dec. 17

This year, the ritzy Grand Wailea hotel will host a holiday soiree in their Haleakala Ballroom on December 17, 2011. It will be a glamorous night filled with hors d’oeuvres, booty-shaking DJ music and Vegas-style casino games. Between sipping cocktails and placing bets at the roulette and craps tables, you can register to win giveaways from the hotel including goodies from Spa Grande (their renowned resort spa), dining for two and a trip to Sin City - the real one.

Christmas Concert: A Symphony of Carols – Dec. 10

The spirit of Christmas comes alive during A Symphony of Carols. The evening brings The Maui Concert Chorus and the University of Hawaii Maui College Chorus together to perform seasonal classics with a special solo performance by Robert E. Wills.

Here Comes Santa Claus - Dec. 24

Santa Claus arrives in Hawaiian style to Maluaka Beach, across the Makena Hotel! Make your way to the waters around 10 AM to witness him appear in a… well, I don’t know. It’s actually a surprise. Just think of it this way: he arrived in a canoe last year. Guaranteed it’s going to be one heck of an entrance. Once he arrives, families will be afforded the opportunity to snap some photos with him.

A vacation in Maui will allow adults and children alike to capture both sides of summer and winter.



Catch all the splashing, holiday fun in Hawaii aboard a boutique cruise!
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

European Christmas Markets: All Things Festive

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is upon us!

A blaze of festive lights and Yuletide decorations will soon adorn homes and buildings across the globe.

This year, step into an enchanting Christmas atmosphere at one of Europe’s many beautiful Christmas markets. Villages and towns across the country transform into an illuminated winter wonderland, boasting brightly decorated wooden chalets offering traditional and handmade gifts and festive holiday treats, like mulled wine and sweet gingerbread.

Whether you’re searching for custom crafts or unique, local treasures, a Christmas market has something for everyone to enjoy.

Cologne Christmas Markets: Nov. 21 - Dec. 23 - Cologne, Germany

Yearning for the ultimate way to get you in the Christmas mood?

Head to Cologne for the holidays and experience a captivating market wonderland like no other… seven to be exact.







The city hosts seven colorful markets across town, attracting almost two million visitors each year. The Christmas market across the Gothic Cathedral of Kölner Dom is one of the most impressive ones, featuring the largest tree in the Rhineland.

Aromas of roasted chestnuts and candied fruit will fill your senses as you walk through 160 beautifully-decorated pavilions offering seasonal goods and handmade German gifts, such as sheepskin slippers, Nativity sets and a pipe-smoking wooden doll called a “Räuchermännchen.”

Make sure to savor local delights like the “Christstollen” yeast cakes, or the hot spiced mulled wine, Glühwein, which is served in festively-decorated mugs. As you eat your seasonal goodies, you will be entertained by street performers and the sweet sounds of merry brass bands.

Cologne’s markets will undoubtedly leave you feeling extra festive.

Basel Christmas Market: Nov. 24 - Dec. 23 - Basel, Switzerland
Revel in Christmas joy at Switzerland’s largest Christmas Market in the city of Basel. The city is hailed as the country’s most beautiful and largest Christmas city, with the longest illuminated Christmas street in Europe.

 Taking place in the Barfüsserplatz square, the market features traders and artisans from all over Switzerland to showcase their cultural wares and crafts in 160 stalls. Goods on sale range from mirror prisms, minerals and fossils to pottery and folk art from the Erzgebirge in Germany.

Plan on taking a stroll over to the famed shop of Johann Wanner Christmas House, allegedly the holiday shopping store of the Queen of England and the White House.

In addition, a Ferris wheel and ice-skating rink make this market very family-friendly.
With all this, it’s no wonder Basel continues to be one of the most popular Christmas markets in Europe.


Brussels Christmas Market: Nov. 25 - Jan. 1 - Brussels, Belgium
Deemed as “Europe’s most original Christmas market,” the “Winter Wonderland” market is a great choice for foodies. Located in the heart of Brussels by the Grand Place, it features a vast array of culinary delights in approx. 240 chalets, offering indulgences from steamed oysters, moules and snails to forest mushrooms on toast. Those with a sweet tooth will especially enjoy the fine Belgian chocolates, speculoos (cookies) and Santa-shaped gingerbread.

The market also offers a wide selection of handcrafted articles, including ornaments, jewelry, and winter clothing. It's also a paradise for children, featuring a big wheel, merry-go-rounds, and a 200 ft long skating rink.


'Tis the season to visit a Christmas Market.
------------------------------
Interested in experiencing the seasonal cheer at this year's Christmas Markets? Check out our selection of European Christmas Market cruises, which includes trips to the aformentioned cities of Basel and Cologne.


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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oktoberfest 2011: O’zapft is! Part 1

Pandemonium reigned over Munich for the last two weeks. Hordes of people wandered the cramped streets of the capital of Bavaria in hopes of finding a seat on a wooden bench under 1 of 14 tents. What kind of madness is this? Answer: The kind of madness you would be lucky to be part of.

Yes, it’s Oktoberfest.

Sixteen days filled with würstl, dirndls dresses, oompah music and more “Maß” (one-liter mugs) than you can count. 

Every year during  mid-September, the fairgrounds of Theresienwiese morph into colorful beer tents, carnival rides, and vending booths. Locals and visitors alike gather once a year in what is known as the largest beer festival in the world.



Opening Weekend
Before the clashing of glasses can begin, the official Tapping of the Keg takes place. Starting at noon under the Schottenhamel tent, the mayor of Munich taps open the first barrel with the traditional cry, “O`zapft is!” (It’s tapped!), and hands over the first beer to the Bavarian prime minister. Immediately after, beer halls tap their kegs and the “prost” (cheers) among revelers begins! 

Although numerous parades run throughout “die Wiesn,” as the locals say, the Costume and Riflemen’s Parade held on Sunday is a definite must-see. The 3-mile spectacle boasts horse-drawn carriages, marching bands, riflemen in historical uniforms, and farmyard animals including oxen, cows and goats.


Beer Enthusiasts Unite!
No need to sugar coat the obvious: Oktoberfest is virtually all about the bier. Last year, fest-goers drank a record-breaking 7.1 million liters of the frothy liquid. Quite thirsty they were, you might say. All the beer served at the event comes from 6 breweries in Munich: Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten. Interestingly enough, Oktoberfest beers are not brewed in the fall like the name suggests. They are actually traditionally brewed in March or Märzen. This style spends the summer slowly fermenting in cool conditions to be ready to be served fresh in the fall. Amber in color, Märzen beer is full-bodied, rich and malty in flavor. Just remember to pace yourself; the lager is rather strong with roughly 5-6% alcohol content. You wouldn’t want to become a Bierleichen (drunk person) and pass out early.

Food Galore
To complement the copious amounts of brew, try the myriad of hearty Bavarian delicacies served at every corner. Spit-roasted chickens, bratwurst, pork knuckles, and ox tails are just some of the many dishes sold at the festival. Eat like the locals and indulge in the popular Weißwürste (weisswurt), a white sausage typically 10-12 centimeters long and 2 centimeters thick. Did I mention this is eaten as a snack? Or simply opt for a giant Brezen (pretzel). Health nuts, you’ve been warned.

Ready to experience the debauchery and endless entertainment during next year's Oktoberfest? Check out The Romantic Danube!


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Friday, August 5, 2011

America's "Secret" Wine Regions

Become modern-day explorers, discovering America's extraordinary and "secret" wine regions in the spectacular setting of the Columbia River Gorge. American Safari Cruises introduces exclusive wine and culinary yacht cruise adventures. Sample award-winning wine and cruise through history, witnessing the natural beauty and taste of the Pacific Northwest. Celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary, birthday or just enjoy your passion for highly-rated fine wines amidst one of the USA's most scenic backgrounds. Relax in the comfort of a luxury yacht without the worries of driving.



Located on approximately the same latitude as some of the great French wine regions, the area of the Pacific Northwest's Columbia River valley has become well known and popular with wine enthusiasts from around the world. In the south central part of Washington State, the Columbia River Gorge region benefits from the area's moist marine breezes and cool, temperate nights. Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris are classic wines for this area. To the east, the Walla Walla region benefits from a long growing season. This area's wineries are known for their Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Further inland, the exceptional and compact Red Mountain region and adjacent Yakima Valley region receive dry, hot summers and crisp winters, producing a range of varietals that include Chardonnay, Riesling and Merlot.

Rivers of the West, Wine & Culinary Cruise Highlights:
  • L'Ecole No 41 Winery
  • Northstar Winery
  • Terra Blanca Winery and Estate Vineyard
  • Basel Cellars Estate Winery
  • Hedges Family Estate Winery
  • Maryhill Winery & Maryhill Museum
  • Clear Creek Distillery
  • Full Sail Brewing Company
  • Complimentary massage, yoga classes, hot tub
  • Hand-crafted meals tastefully prepared by an Executive Chef

Dare to explore the America's "Secret" Wine Regions with this amazing cruise: click here.
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Are Rivers Male or Female?

Susan Farlow, Special Contributor for the Dallas Morning News and freelance writer in Maine, shares an interesting and fun piece exploring the history of the genders of rivers.

"Let’s say you’re embarking on a river cruise. Would you know whether the river was masculine or feminine? Would you even know that rivers have genders?"

Click here to read the full article: http://www.dallasnews.com/travel/cruise/20110527-are-rivers-male-and-female.ece


Explore the endless possibilities when navigating the River Cruises!
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Exploring Berlin Like a Local

On my second trip to Berlin, I wanted anything but the typical tourist experience. I had hoped, without spending hours researching, to explore Germany’s capital city like an insider. 

As we walked to the first restaurant of the evening, we saw many points of interest along the way, including the gothic towers of the Oberbaum Bridge, the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery and a trendy electro club, Watergate, which offers views of the river.

Our first stop, the riverside Riogrande restaurant, was located near a concentration of the city’s “beach” bars. These themed bars have gained popularity in the past few years, with their sand-topped floors, palm trees, surf decor, tropical drinks and chill out music. Rounding out the meal at the Riogrande restaurant, with a glass of dessert wine and a few sips of espresso, we prepared for our final course at restaurant/nightclub, Sage.

Sage was the quintessential Berlin experience, edgy, unassuming and unique. Located in a former silk mill, Sage is somewhat hidden and would be virtually undetectable to those who aren’t looking for it. Once inside, I was impressed by the dining room’s monochrome tables, chairs and place settings as well as the brick-exposed walls accentuated with traces of graffiti.

Dessert consisted of a frozen blood orange marshmallow and a tart made with South American tonka beans, which tasted similar to vanilla. Blood orange segments and a sweet citrus sauce helped pair the two desserts.

After our night of visiting popular spots around the city, my companion and I started to feel like we knew a thing or two about Berlin. With a little more German practice and a bit more exploring, perhaps we could even pass for locals.

Wanting to visit Germany? Click here for more travel information on Germany.

By Skye Mayring, Berlinagenten, April 15, 2011
www.travelagewest.com
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

William and Kate’s Guide to London

Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding in 1981 was as much of a landmark event as the Moon Landing, everyone remembers where they were when the shy young girl married the stiff heir to the British throne (and whether or not they thought the union would last).
 
This year, it’s their elder son’s turn down the aisle, as the most eligible royal bachelor in the world—Prince William, marries his long-term girlfriend, “Waity” Kate Middleton, at Westminster Abbey on April 29. British tourism chiefs expect it will lure 600,000–1,000,000 extra visitors to London. And the whole city, it seems, is offering a slew of promotions and gimmicks riffing off the royal pair.
 
On the wedding day itself, the Ritz Hotel—where grandma Elizabeth II celebrated her 80th birthday—is hosting a champagne brunch for royal-watchers ($244 per person), while chic One Aldwych hotel offers a Kate & Will champagne cocktail, mini wedding cakes upon arrival to every guest checking in on wedding weekend, and even Union Jack flags to wave as the procession passes nearby. (One artist even recently staged a show with a Tussauds-style wax statue of William where would-be Kates could be photographed, arm in arm, complete with a replica ring.)
 
But the real way to celebrate the wedding of the century is by following directly in William and Kate’s footsteps. With our handy cheat sheet, it’s easy to hit the royal lovebirds’ favorite haunts around their hometown of London—from Automat, a boho Mayfair diner known for its comfort dishes like burgers and mac-and-truffled-cheese, to the Archipelago, where literally anyone could find themselves sitting alongside the princess-to-be. Will and Kate aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the royal treatment. Here are some of Will and Kate’s favorite spots in London:
 
  • Tom’s Kitchen - Although Prince Charles took his sons to Christmas parties at the Ritz London Will and Kate like casual restaurants such as Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea.

  • Whisky Mist - Another upper-crust hangout is Whisky Mist at the Hilton Park Lane where in 2008 Paris Hilton reportedly made an unsuccessful advance toward William.

  • Ship - Sunday nights you might find Will drinking a house-ale or Prince Harry dancing on a table at the Ship a gastropub on the Thames.

  • Automat - Deliberately downscale amid the tony spots of Mayfair, this bistro-diner will be eerily familiar to New Yorkers, since its design and menu make it a near-clone of Keith McNally’s boho hangout, Schiller’s Liquor Bar. Keep an eye on the wooden booths that line one wall of the slender space, where Kate and William are regularly spotted enjoying comfort food.

  • Archipelago - They’ve also tried more offbeat places, including Archipelago which specializes in exotic fare such as kangaroo (Will’s favorite) and chocolate-covered scorpions.

  • Dans le Noir - Choose from the menu in the dimly lit bar, then walk to a table in the pitch-black dining room, led by one of the servers here—all of whom are blind or partially sighted. No wonder Kate and William came here for a romantic dinner à deux—this is one of the few places in the world they could eat undisturbed. Boujis- Nowhere is more synonymous with good-lifing for Will and Kate than Boujis, the South Ken club/lounge whose signature cocktail is a Crack Baby (raspberry liqueur, champagne, vodka). In honor of the wedding, the club has created Faboujis Crown eggs—essentially a pitcher of cocktails for 10 served in a glittering egg topped with a crown.
 
You may not be able to be in London for the Royal Wedding, but next time you are there you can travel like royalty by visiting some of William and Kate's favorite spots. If you would like more information on how you can spend your next holiday like royalty on the royal River Thames click here.
 
Travel and Leisure April 2011 by Mark Ellwood, Yvonne Yorke
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Ghent: Europe's Well-Kept Secrect

Less pretentious than Antwerp, less museum oriented than Bruges, Ghent is a town which cultivates its contrasts, from its gabled houses to its Design Museum. It’s a well-kept secret for a weekend change of scenery in an authentic and easily accessible location.

Walking through the streets of Ghent, you have the feeling you’re living in a Flemish master’s painting, accompanied by a carillon of 52 bells... And when the snow falls heavily, Bruegel the Elder also comes to mingle at the party, transforming the cobblestoned streets into a medieval scene. It seems that travellers don’t often stop here in the home town of Charles Quint. Instead they head hurriedly to Bruges. However, this city of Ghent, brimming with history and monuments, has never fallen behind its sister. Here are a few places to visit next time you’re in the city of Ghent:

Museums:
 
The STAM

Recently opened in the autumn of 2010, the Stadsmuseum Gent is, as its name suggests, the new museum dedicated to the history of the city of Ghent. Its modern building has now been added to the famous site of the Bijloke Museum, a remarkable complex of 14th to 17th century brick buildings which are the legacy of an ancient Cistercian abbey founded in 13th century by Joan of Constantinople. The white, immaculate pathways of the modern annex designed by the architect Koen Van Nieuwenhuyse, lead towards the original red brick buildings.

The Design Museum

When you go to the cafeteria in the STAM (the City Museum), you might find yourself sitting on a “03 chair” with the stamp of the designer Maarten Van Severen, who has also equipped the Café Beaubourg in Paris’ Centre Pompidou. Ghent’s Design Museum has an exhibition dedicated to this chair which has become an international “Design Classic.” Van Severen was a local designer who died prematurely in 2005. With the aid of sketches, prototypes, photographs and films, the exhibition traces the slow creative process that led from the chair No. 1 in 1986 to the latest version in 1998 that was mass produced by Vitra, the famous Swiss company. The quality of the chair with its solidity, sobriety and comfort has contributed to its great commercial success.

Restaurants:

Allegro Moderato

At the Korenlei, it’s impossible not to stop in front of the beautiful 18th century mansion, which used to house the guild of boatmen. Inside are two long dining rooms, with wooden panelled walls and parquet floors: the first is illuminated by two large windows enjoying views over the Quai aux Herbes whilst the second one, lit by candles alone, resembles a sweet shop and has a Rococo decor which is a tad overloaded. Fortunately, at the table, you will experience one of Ghent’s finest cuisines, a classic French seasonal gastronomy (with its winter vegetables, mushrooms and game) and a few transalpine excursions. We highly recommend the Turbot with wild mushrooms and mashed potatoes, or the Pan fried Goose liver paté with quince and celeriac chips.

C-Jean

Opposite the right flank of St. Nicolas’ church, a discreet facade hides a small soberly decorated dining room which scarcely seats twenty. On the wall hangs a huge photograph, a depiction of a very copious Last Supper which is an omen for the taste buds to have a joyful occasion here. C-Jean (an abbreviation of the previous shop sign - Chez Jean) is an association of Filip Van Thuyne in the kitchen and Jason Blanckaert in the dining room. Both are from the prestigious hotel school Ter Duinen in Koksijde, on the Belgian coast. In 2008 the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star. To watch a video of this Michelin-starred restaurant click here.

Anyone looking for cuisine and culture should consider travelling to Ghent. For travel suggestions click here.
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Friday, April 1, 2011

A First Time Visitors Guide to Greece

Greece is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with its Mediterranean climate, mild temperatures, and limited rainfall; it is one of the most popular travel destinations as well. Greece is known for its amazing site seeing, excursions, culture, cuisine, and so much more. The trip of a lifetime awaits you in Greece. So, check out our First Time Visitors Guide to Greece:
 
The first thing you must do when planning your trip to Greece is plan a ferry trip to any of the beautiful islands, and make sure your camera is ready, because the beauty of Greece will take your breath away. Once on land, you will definitely want to explore Greece on foot, make sure you wear comfortable clothing and have your camera in hand as you walk through the shops and markets along the streets.
 
A great way to spend your afternoon is by partaking in a wonderful Greek pastime. Relax at any of the cafes on the streets by ordering a cup of coffee, reading the paper, and watching as the world go by. For something a bit more adventurous try one of the many excursions offered in Greece like, Bavarian horseback riding in Cephalonia or visiting the volcano in Santorini. Also you will want to visit the magnificent museums & archeological sites like the Acropolis of Athens and Ancient Olympia. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen because you will defiantly want to visit the beach while you’re in Greece; why not try one of the most famous beaches, Myrtos Beach in Cephalonia.
 

There are many excursions and tours you can take in Greece, but there are also many great places to eat. Greek food can easily satisfy anyone. Here are few restaurants suggestions for your trip to Greece:

  • Varoulko (Athens) - In its new Athens location, with a menu that adds tasty meat dishes to its signature seafood, Varoulko continues to win plaudits. Everything here is so good that many Athenians believe chef/owner Lefteris Lazarou serves not only the finest seafood in Athens, but some of the best food in all of Greece.

  • Selene (Santorini, Cyclades) - The best restaurant on an island with lots of good places to eat, Selene is one of the finest restaurants in all Greece. The reason: Owner George Haziyannakis constantly experiments with local produce to turn out innovative versions of traditional dishes. Inside, the dining room is elegant, while the terrace has a wonderful view over the caldera.

It is no wonder why Greece is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. No matter what you are looking for Greece has something for you. Next time you are planning a trip, pack your sunglasses and camera and head to Greece! For more information on trips to Greece click here.
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Friday, March 18, 2011

GrandTravel - An Intriguing Twist on Multi-Generational Travel

Much has been said about the boom in multi-generational travel in recent years, but increasingly, grandparents are spending their leisure time, and their dollars, with the grandkids and leaving the parents at home. This intriguing twist on the trend, known in the industry as grandtravel, is becoming an important segment of the leisure travel market “simply because our population continues to age,” said Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of YPartnership, an Orlando, Fla.-based marketing research firm that tracks travel trends.

“Fully three out of 10 active leisure travelers are now grandparents, and one third of those took at least one vacation with their grandchildren during the past 12 months,” Yesawich said, adding, “…the number-one leisure activity of interest to adults over 55 years of age in this country is travel.”

But why leave out Mom and Dad? “The parents are busy paying off mortgages and cars, and they often don’t have the extra time or money,” said Helena Koenig, a Bethesda, Md.-based travel consultant and widely recognized pioneer in the concept of grandtravel. “It’s the grandparents who have the discretionary income and, for the most part, they are the ones paying.”

Just because the grandparents can afford a vacation with the kids doesn’t mean they aren’t interest in value. One time-honored way to save money, while traveling as a family, is to opt for condominium or all-suite accommodations. Guests usually get more bang for their buck in terms of square footage, and a kitchen helps defray the cost of meals.

“Families can put the money they save toward a fun activity, such as snorkeling or surfing, or even their next Hawaiian vacation,” said Teri Orton, vice president of condominium resort marketing for Outrigger Condominium Collection.

Even the most devoted grandparents may be a little rusty when it comes to hands-on parenting of teens and younger children. With that in mind, cruise lines consistently win kudos for keeping young passengers entertained and adults fully engaged with onboard activities and shore excursions.

Regardless of the nature of the rip, grandtravel is special because it is frequently born of the grandparents’ desire to share destinations that have personal significance for them. “They may pick Paris because it was where they honeymooned, or Ireland because that is where their family originated,” Koenig said. “Whatever the case, you can give grandchildren silverware, bank accounts, or pictures of relatives, but nothing matters as much as the time you give them when you take them somewhere special to you.”

For more information on family trips and ideas check out our monthly newsletter.

Contact: Austin-Lehman Adventures – http://www.austinlehman.com/, Azul Fives Hotel – www. karismahotels.com, Crystal Cruises – http://www.crystalcruises.com/, Offbeat Safaris – http://www.offbeatsafaris.com/, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts – http://www.outriggercondos.com/

by: Felicity Long, Family Getaways
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Friday, March 4, 2011

China - Best Selling Destination in Asia

Well, the world’s biggest nation must be doing things very right. For the fifth straight year, China is the Best Selling Destination in Asia in Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Awards. It now woos visitors with a full schedule of nonstop flights from a half-dozen U.S. gateways to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, and on the ground, hotels are bursting out all over.

Responding to both domestic and international demands, U.S. chains continue to rush into the China market, transforming urban areas and fueling the exploding travel market. Granted, for many years there have been trophy hotels – Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai, and Park Hyatt in Beijing. However, others continue the development of glitzy five-start properties on prime locations in gateway cities. More recently arrived are U.S. –based international chains such as aloft, Courtyard by Marriott, and Four Points by Sheraton, all attracting investors in second- and third-cities such as Tianjin in northeastern China and Hangzhou near the Yangtze River Delta. China hands point out that it is worth searching out some of those traditional gems among local accommodations, such as Han’s Royal Garden Hotels, occupying a series of five courtyards that have been painstakingly resorted into a luxury hotel in one of Beijing’s most charming neighborhoods.
The average stay for visitors from the U.S. is about 10-12 days. And for the American market, the big four attractions are Beijing and its cornucopia of imperial sights; Xian’s terracotta warriors; cosmopolitan Shanghai and its surrounding water towns, and the Yangtze River cruises whose highlights are the Three Gorges Dam, the small gorges of Daning River, and life along the mainstream itself. Xinhong Zhang, director of the China National Tourist Office in New York, recommends that, “Americans who love Yantze River cruising should consider leaving a couple of days at each end to explore Chongqing – your place for the Giant Panda Encounter, as well as a trip to the Buddhist grottoes at Dazu - and Wuhan – with an excursion to monasteries on the most sacred of Taoist mountains, Wudang.  
Looking ahead to repeat visitor interests, Zhang points out that the Yangtze River, the world’s third longest, feeds a region enjoying some of China’s most beautiful scenery and cultural treasures, particularly in the provinces of northern Sichuan, whose base for exploring is Chengdu, and northern Hunan, with Changsha as a base. Repeat travelers will also want to fly to Guilin in the southwest, transferring via a Li River cruise to the rural retreat of Yangshuo. Excursions from here by boat and bike feature stunning scenery to traditional villages and markets. Obviously in a country as large – geographically, historically, and culturally – as China, there can be a lifetime full of repeat journeys.
Travelers wanting to visit this Best Selling Destination should defiantly consider travelling by cruise on the Yangtze River.
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Friday, February 18, 2011

ITALY - Best Selling Destination in Europe

Recommend Magazine, one of the leading travel trade publications of North America, recently issued their 14th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards, in which Italy was, for the 6th year, awarded as the Best Selling Destination in Europe.
“We are honored to have received this recognition once again,” says Ricardo Strano, North American director of the Italian Government Tourist Board. “While I, of course, believe Italy to be the most charming and interesting destination in the world, it is nice to be the most-loved by American travel partners. And among our American visitors it is rewarding to know that Italy also enjoys a 40 percent repeat visitor market. While Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, and Amalfi are the familiar icons of Italy, the second- and fifth-time visitors look to expand their horizons with new sights and experiences.
For 2011, Strano is committed to marketing Italy with the accent on wining and dining, combined with food and wine touring that introduces special cuisines and signature vineyards of familiar and lesser-known regions. He reminds vacation planners that, “Near every great museum is a great restaurant; Italy invented the ‘Slow Food’ movement that focuses on locally grown, sustainably farmed products; discovering regional cuisines is a delightful and delicious way to understand that, as in fashion and lifestyle, high-quality and simplicity are the hallmark of the special flavors of Italy.”
There are abundant options for food and wine touring in Italy, including deluxe tours spiced with great restaurants, cooking classes for a half day or week, hiking and biking tours with routes to outdoor markets, specialty bakeries, olive mills, vineyards and wine cellars. Many experts, for example, consider the region of Emilia-Romagna to be a legendary gourmet center with such tasty towns as Bologna, Parma, and Modena. Ristoranti, osterie and pizzeria are the dine-around menu when exploring Venice and vicinity, while Piedmont’s wine-making traditions produce the world-renowned Barolo and Barbaresco wines.
In 2006, all eyes were on Torino (Turin) as host city during the Winter Olympic Games, and again in 2011, this capital of northern Piedmonte region will be front and center when Italy celebrates the 150th anniversary of Italian Reunification. Celebrations and special events will take place nationwide, but Torino is the pace the reunification movement was born. Today Torino is a dynamic center for industry (home to Fiat for one) and art – world-class is its Egyptian Museum & Galleria Sabauda, housing the fabulous collections of the House of Savoy. Take time out from touring for a cup of bicerin, Torino’s signature blend of coffee and chocolate.
Travelers wanting to visit this Best Selling Destination should consider travelling the charming waterways between Venice and Mantua aboard the 20-passenger Boutique Hotel Barge La Bella Vita.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Holland Tulip Time Cruises


A spring trip to Amsterdam and Holland is not complete without a cruise through the Dutch countryside to see the tulip fields in bloom.

In addition to  visits to such famous sites as Haarlem, Delft, Rotterdam, Gouda, Amsterdam and the windmills of Zaanse Schans, boutique canal and river cruises include two of the most popular destinations in Holland. Not to be missed are:

Aalsmeer, close to Amsterdam, is the home of the world’s biggest flower auction. The auctions are held early in the morning but they are still very popular. Many tourists put their wish of sleeping in aside for a visit here. And it is not just for tourists, local cultivators and 1.500 foreign growers send their products to the auctions. The flowers are sold to buyers all over the world, more than 75% of the flowers and plants sold at the auction are exported.

Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden (32 hectares) is located between the two towns of Hillegom and Lisse, south of Haarlem. The park attracts 800.000 people during the open hours of eight weeks each year and it's one of the most photographed sights in the world. For the season of 2011, 7 million bulbs have been planted making the flower season something very special to look forward to.

To find a listing of cruises, view our newsletter - Tulip Time Cruises Newsletter
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Friday, January 7, 2011

Queen's Day 2011 in Amsterdam

HM Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Prince of Lippe-BiesterfeldImagine an annual celebration so anticipated that one million visitors are willing to travel from all across Europe and join the 750,000 locals for the world's largest street party. For more than fifty years, the annual Queen's Day (Dutch: Koninginnedag) celebration has been enjoyed throughout the Netherlands on April 30th, but none rival Amsterdam's.

Queen Juliana, the queen for whom the party-turned-carnival recognizes, was actually born January 31st, however weather during the season has never been suitable for such a grand outdoor festival, complete with music, food, and endless crowds of people.

More than a time to commemorate the Queen's birthday, participants dressed in Orange (as the Queen hails from the House of Orange) find themselves shoulder to shoulder trading valuables and other silly gifts, socializing, and freely drinking "event beer," which is available with a deposit fee and served in recognizable plastic containers.

Public transport is not available for most of the day and the streets become so crowded that even the city canals offer no relief - thousands of people escape to boats. Despite the overcrowding, the atmosphere is relaxed and joyful. Queen's Day is actually preceded by Queen's Night (Dutch: Koninginnenacht). Beginning the night before around 7 p.m. party goers will find festivities at local clubs and pubs. Young people are known to roam the city while others prepare for tomorrow's market.

Free Market (Vrijmarkt) - Dutch are known to love trading, even according to popular Netherlands website. The Queen's Day Free Market allows anyone and everyone to trade various types of items from home for items ranging from broken toys to excellent savings on electronics, musical instruments, and almost anything else you can imagine.

The Vrijmarkt is mostly a social occasion where if any prices are displayed, they are symbolic and "fun." Known as a great family activity, children are allowed to actively participate in the trading, selling, and buying. Queen's Day is a time of extensive partying, even boat travelers can be seen dancing on boats in the waterways, as rock music blares across the city from pubs, the streets, parks, and every other location.

Traveler's wanting to be in Amsterdam for this occasion cannot wait until the last minute. It is highly recommended that travel arrangements and accommodations are made months in advance of the April 30th Queen's Day Celebration. A good alternative to staying in a hotel is a boutique canal hotel barge!
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