Exciting Destinations for Family Holidays

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BARCELONA
Barcelona is a popular party destination, but there is a lot for the family to enjoy: from the fantastic beaches lined up with fine family friendly resorts to the wander of Gaudi’s fairytale architecture.

The best place to start your trip is strolling along the mile long colorful Las Ramblas where you will enjoy mingling with the locals as well as other tourists. Enjoy watching fortune tellers, dancers, music and the fine statues as you wander through the magical streets. You may let the young ones experience the magic of fortune telling. There are also numerous restaurants lined up along this street where your family can enjoy a good meal as you explore the bustling surrounding.

There are some exciting parks to relax after a long day exploring the Las Ramblas; the Teatre Grec gardens are not only lush but also inspiring and tranquil.

If you don’t fancy exploring on foot then why not get a ticket for one of Barcelona’s hop on hop off buses? This is a great way to see all the main sites in the city and find out some of the history and background behind it. It’s also a great way to save the children’s tired legs!

If you have not introduced your family to sea food then here you can have a great start. It is immoral to leave Barcelona without sucking on an oyster, and there are numerous restaurants where you can enjoy sea food delicacies.

Don’t forget to treat your kids to some of the finest chocolates in the world!

INDIA
India is fascinating and a spectacular destination for all ages: there is always something for everyone.  Whatever your age, it is guaranteed that you will marvel at the enchanting landscapes, alluring wildlife, rich culture and magnificent architectural grandeur.

Take your family on a wildlife trip and watch your kids get thrilled by the spectacular wildlife as you sink deeper and deeper into the Indian jungles. The Royal Tiger is just one of the rare jungle attractions that can be found in the Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park.

Kerala is another exciting destination for families; it is also known as ‘gods own country’ and all you need is get there to know why. This fairytale land is blessed with extravagant attractions, dramatic hill stations and the popular backwaters for a tranquil family holiday. Let the family enjoy navigating these glorious waters in a fabulous boat house. Experience the Indian culture up close and candid as you watch closely as the natives continue with their daily activities. There are numerous resorts to stay at in the area, such as the Poovar Island Resort which is a great place to keep the kids entertained when you’re not exploring.

PORTUGAL
Portugal is ideal for that long awaited family holiday: the fine weather, enchanting towns, rich marine heritage, charming fishing villages and the friendly people make it a perfect holiday paradise.

The Algarve is a popular touristic destination: it offers picturesque coastlines, pristine sandy beaches, magnificent resorts and world class golf courses. It has something for everyone and offers an opportunity for family fun.

Madeira Island is an all year round holiday destination with spectacular gardens, rugged coastline, volcanic caves, gorgeous beaches and enchanting cultural experiences. Some of Portugal’s splendid flowers are showcased in the lush gardens. For a tranquil and intimate experience, you can savor a family picnic surrounded by this natural beauty. For a beach experience you can head to the Praia da Jamaica and build some sand castles with the kids on the beautiful sandy beach. Take a walk through Funchal, the islands capital and have some cultural fun, take family photographs in the picturesque squares and enjoy roaming in the charming streets.

 

Stroll Through History on a Walking Tour of Vieux-Montréal

Montreal is one of North America’s oldest cities, with architecture going all the way back to the 1600s. It’s also the second-largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris. Vieux-Montréal, the oldest part of the city, remains much the same as it did in the city’s earliest days. A walking tour of Old Montreal will show you some of the city’s charming European culture and quaint cobblestone streets. If you’re visiting Montreal, you could check here to find the best deals on hotels near this neighborhood.

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Begin Your Tour at Pointe-à-Callière

Pointe-à-Callière, the Montreal Museum of Archeology and History, is located on the very site where Montreal was founded almost 400 years ago. The Pointe-à-Callière is named after Louis Hector de Callière, the third governor of Montreal who built his house on this spot in 1688. The Pointe-à-Callière is the largest archeological museum in Canada. Decades of excavations have revealed more than a millennium of human habitation here.

Continuing Your Tour

Your next stop will be the Centre d’Histoire de Montreal, the Montreal Historical Center. Here you’ll learn everything you need to know about Montreal’s history. The structure was built as a fire station in 1904 and was reopened as a museum in 1983 after being decommissioned in 1972.

Next, you’ll visit the DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art where you can take interactive tours, participate in creative workshops or enjoy one of the museum’s regular events. The museum is open to anyone who wants to learn about contemporary art, with free interactive tours available.

The nearby Centaur Theatre showcases some of the best English-language theater in Quebec. See award-winning shows put on by some of the world’s best actors of the stage and screen. After the show, walk down Rue Saint-François-Xavier and take a right on Rue Saint-Jacques to visit the Bank of Montreal Museum. This museum honoring Canada’s first bank, which opened in 1817, contains old banknotes and 19th-century banking documents, mechanical moneyboxes and other banking objects of historical significance.

Montreal Science Centre and the Old Port

You’ll have to cross Rue de la Commune to get to the Montreal Science Centre on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, but it’s worth it for the museum’s exciting and interactive exhibits. You can learn about the technology we use to protect the environment and practice more sustainable living, monitor maritime cargo shipping, make hockey sticks stronger and keep bridges standing.

When you leave the Science Centre, check out the Old Port of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River, which offers a range of activities for everyone in the family all year long. Enjoy a walk on the riverfront or rent a paddle boat. In the winter, the Old Port is home to the city’s largest natural outdoor ice-skating rink.

Marché Bonsecours

If you’re interested in ceramics, the Bonsecours Ceramic Centre on Rue Saint Gabriel showcases pieces by emerging artists as well as internationally recognized names. Students come from all over Quebec to train at the Ceramic Centre, but you can see stunning examples of the best in ceramics art as well.

Perhaps the bigger nearby draw is the Marché Bonsecours, or Bonsecours Market. The building itself is more than 100 years old, and is the city’s oldest and biggest public market. The two-story, domed neoclassical structure once held banquets, exhibits and festivals, and was where grocers and other merchants sold their wares. Now, it’s home to some of the city’s finest upscale boutiques.

Ending Your Tour

Perhaps one of the more picturesque parts of your tour of Vieux-Montréal, the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel is also home to the Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum at Rue Saint Paul. The chapel was built in 1771 on the ruins of a previous chapel that burned down in 1754.

Marguerite Bourgeoys was the remarkable woman and teacher who inspired the Montrealers to build this first chapel in 1675. She traveled to France in 1672 to bring the wooden statue of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours back, which stands in the reliquary in the left side-altar.

Near the end of your tour, visit Chateau Ramezay, the first structure classified as a historic monument in Quebec. The castle, built by Montreal governor Claude de Ramezay in 1705, opened as a museum in 1895. It encompasses more than 500 years of local history. Its collections include almost 30,000 artifacts including paintings, printed materials and furniture.

Finish your tour with the Sir George-Etienne Cartier National Historic Site, Montreal’s only Victorian home museum. See what life was like for members of the bourgeoisie in the 19th century, and learn about this important Canadian historical figure.

Old Montreal is one of the most exciting parts of this historic city. You can retrace your footsteps through the district at night to see the historic streets and architecture at their loveliest!

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel photo credit: Marcio Cabral de Moura / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

About the Author: Louise Vinciguerra is a native of Brooklyn. She loves gardening and traveling almost as much as she loves content.

Lovely Lanzarote

If you’re considering a holiday to Lanzarote but are concerned it’s all water parks and sun bathing, well think again. Lanzarote is an island rich in history and natural beauty with an awe inspiring volcanic landscape.

Historians have dated habitation on the island back to 1000 BC and since then the island has been through numerous governmental disputes until the treaty of Alcacovas granted authority of the Canary Islands, including Lanzarote, to Spain in 1479.

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In 1982 the Canaries became an autonomous region of Spain and this is celebrated throughout the archipelagos on 30th May each year with a national holiday known as ‘Dia de Canarias’.

The Canary Islands, though part of Spain are actually located near to the northwest African Coast, close to Morocco. Lanzarote is one of the largest of the archipelagos which is perhaps the reason why, along with Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, it is one of the most popular places for holidaymakers.

The name Lanzarote is said to derive from the name of the Genoese navigator Lancelotto Malocello who arrived at the island in 1336.

While there’s an interesting history of the island to explore it is perhaps the unique lunar-esque landscape that really deserves some attention.

Volcanic Landscapes

Volcanic eruptions are responsible for shaping the unique geography of the island today and have created the out-of-this-world environments tourists flock to explore. With rugged rock formations and solidified lava streams, it’s like something straight out of a sci-fi film set in outer space.

The famous volcanic eruptions of 1730-1736 are largely responsible for this when they devastated the communities that had developed around the island.

Culture

Beyond the political history and natural beauty, Lanzarote also boasts an impressive cultural climate.

Arguably the most famous artist Lanzarote has produced is César Manrique and his work is proudly celebrated throughout the island with paintings, sculptures and architecture.

Manrique was hugely influential in the development of tourism in Lanzarote, which really started to take off here in the 1960s. With the average temperatures generally staying above 17?C all year round it’s easy to understand why it’s still such a popular choice for holidaymakers.

UK Government Seeking Expat Votes To Combat Low Election Turnouts

Sensing that a closely fought general election is on the horizon, the government has taken an innovative measure to combat historically low voter turnouts: by launching a major drive to attract votes from British expats.

The Electoral Commission is planning an online campaign targeted at British nationals using email accounts abroad which were initially set up at home. A large number of British expatriates live abroad, with the latest estimates putting the number at around 5 million. A fifth of these live in Spain alone. The government’s plan is a potentially very clever one, as a good number of financially well off, 60 year old-plus expats may arguably lean towards the right of the political spectrum and vote Conservative if given the choice. This new initiative is designed to promote that choice.

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Many British nationals living abroad take out private expatriate health insurance and the move towards a more privatised healthcare system could be a constituent of the government’s 2015 election manifesto.

In many cases these individuals are signed up with banks and expat health insurance providers based in the UK, meaning that many of life’s key considerations are still administered from their country of origin. It is hoped that voting will become another of those considerations.

Whilst the number of expats registering to vote remotely was relatively small at the last general election in 2010, with 40,000 registration forms being downloaded, these kinds of numbers could potentially make all the difference in so-called ‘swing’ constituencies. Labour’s victory in Ealing Central and Acton in West London was decided by a mere 1,060 votes. The Lib Dems’ margin in York Outer was just 203 votes, so it’s easy to see how the government’s expat voter push could swing these kinds of seats.

Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is pushing the Electoral Commission to aim to sign up an additional 100,000 voters this time around. The number could even be substantially higher, given that expats will be able to register online prior to the 2015 general election.

Louis Kaszczak of expat health insurance providers Aetna International has said that there is an appetite amongst expatriates to keep in touch with the UK’s political goings on, however many are unaware that they are still eligible to vote.

Only time will tell how successful the EC’s forthcoming initiative will be in regards to changing this viewpoint.

Backpacking In Style – Tips For Finding The Best Hotel Deals

There’s no denying that backpacking offers the ideal low-cost getaway. For many, the idea of just packing a rucksack with the essentials and leaving the everyday routine miles behind really epitomises the concept of freedom. As such, backpacking is great for gap year travelling and for extended holidays.

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You don’t have to be a student on a low-budget expedition to enjoy the freedom of a backpacking adventure, though. Nowadays, a backpacking holiday can be enjoyed in good hotels with a touch of style – even glamour, and here are a few top tips for finding these deals.

Glam-Packing

Before you set off on your backpacking travels, look for promotional discounts in the area you are heading to. You can often find these online or with coupons from tourist information literature. It’s not uncommon to find promotions offering anything from discounted hotel rates to reduced transfer fees.

Sleep in Style

By booking your accommodation and flights separately, you can often make your trip more cost effective and afford to stay in higher rated hotels. Many four and five star hotels will offer you cheaper deals if you book early or if you are willing to stay outside of the normal high season. Again, compare these online well before you leave. Never be afraid to ring up hotels individually and negotiate a discount.

 

If you do choose to upgrade your accommodation from a backpacking hostel, make the most of it and use all of the facilities during your stay. After all, not many backpacking hostels will have a pool that you can use or a laundry service that is available to visitors.

Great Budget Destinations

Some places around the globe offer really good places to stay but at a fraction of the cost you would expect. Thailand is a good example, with plenty of four and five star accommodation that backpackers can check into without worrying about breaking the budget.

Egypt has seen a fall in accommodation prices in recent years, too. Another place well worth checking out is Tunisia – a long-time favourite destination for French backpackers.

Making the most of the freedom of travelling doesn’t have to be about bumming it across the globe. With a bit of careful research beforehand, it’s possible to backpack in style and sleep in comfort.

Singapore: Tour The City Like a Local This Year

Traveling is always an exciting time, and one of the best places to visit this year is Singapore. Singapore has so many different things to offer in regards to tourists, and there is definitely something here for everyone. Of course, there are those common places that most tourists visit and can get through in a day. Most of that being the couture shopping that Singapore is known for, but thankfully there’s a great selection of alternative attractions to see too! Whether you enjoy cultural sights, shopping, or just some fun and relaxation, you will be sure to find it in wonderful Singapore.

Artwork at the Ritz-Carlton

It is a little crazy to be visiting a hotel, instead of an actual museum, or is it? The artwork at the Ritz-Carlton is one of the greatest collections there is to see of modern and contemporary art, and it is virtually unknown to tourists!

Chinatown Heritage Center

When visiting Singapore, of course there are museums and other places to look into the past of this city, but everyone should make it to the Chinatown Heritage Center. Here, visitors can admire the different 19th and early 20th century scenes that are available to see, and it also introduces you to the culture of the city too! You can even shop there and collect little souvenirs.

Geylang

Located in the former red-light district of Singapore, Geylang has a lot of history to offer. Walking the streets, you will be introduced to the wonderful architecture, as well as experience some of the modern elements of the city too. One of the best things to do ere is try the local food.

The Camden Medical Center

If shopping and couture is your forte, you’ve come to the right place. Being big in fashion and appearance, Singapore has a nice little cosmetic secret. Stop in the Camden Medical Center for some of the latest skin treatments, from expert medial advancements to traditional and herbal medicines.

Haji Lane

Tucked away in the heart of the Muslim quarter, Haji Lane has tons of little secret shops to offer the savvy shopper. Of course, you will find a vast variety of couture shops in popular places, but here, it is really a shopper’s dream come true!

Funan Digitalife Mall

If electronics are what excites you, try the Funan Digitalife Mall. Take advantage of the most hi-tech devices for about 10-20% cheaper than you would at other shops!

The White Rabbit

This restaurant gives you a little history, a lot of beauty, and some really great Euro comfort food. Once a historical church, this building was renovated to be a beautiful restaurant, keeping much of the church’s aesthetic design.

Zouk

The nightlife in Singapore can be compared to that of New York, and a wonderful place to see it is by visiting Zouk. This amazing nightclub will fill your night with loud music, flashing strobes, and tons of dancing. No matter where you party in Singapore however, you’re bound to have an amazing time!

If you thinking of how to get to Singapore or how to get around here are some handy tips. When in Singapore you have several options for getting around including MRT, bus and taxi.

 

What type of holiday is right for you?

Investing in a holiday is often one of those things that the majority of us don’t get to do that often. With work, personal taste, time constraints and financial details it is imperative to find a holiday that satisfies everything that we want in a holiday, so we can get maximum enjoyment from the experience. Here are some factors to think about when considering what type of holiday is right for you.

Cruise ship deck

Time Available

If you are under time constraints then you probably won’t be booking a 3 month safari, or an open ended ticket to see the world. Working out how much time you have and choosing a holiday that fits into your schedule is the best way to ensure that you are getting maximum enjoyment for what you are paying for. Some holiday ideas that might fit that bill are cruises, bus tours and other short term holiday ideas.

Affordability

If money is not flowing as abundantly as you would like it to then you will need to choose a holiday that fits in with your budget. Conversely if you have a large amount of money at your disposal then why not splash out and do something big! Working out what you want, and what you can afford and then shopping around for the best deal is a great way to ensure that you are getting the best holiday you can for your money. There are some great Cruiseabout specials available that will give you a great holiday without breaking the bank.

What Interests You?

If you don’t like walking, then you probably won’t be interested in going on a trek of the Himalayas, and if you aren’t a fan of the snow then you wouldn’t think of going on a snow trip. Working out what interests you will give you a few clues about what sort of holiday might be the best one for you.

Travel Companion Vs Solo Adventure

Some of us love spending time by ourselves, while others need to be around other people. If you are a person who is happy to head off on your own on an adventure then you will probably be fine with whatever holiday you choose. For some of us we would prefer to have a companion to travel with so we might be happy to do anything as long as we are doing it with friends, or family.

What did you love/hate about your last holiday?

If you take the time to think about your last holiday and what you loved/hated about it you will be able to get a good idea about what things you might want to experience in your next holiday. Planning a holiday is one of the most exciting parts of the trip so relax, and take the time to work out what you really want in a holiday, so that you will be sure to have an awesome time whatever you do!

By Natalie Brown

Chamonix: A Brief Insight Into This Popular Ski Resort

Chamonix is a destination that is famous all over the world and it attracts visitors from every corner of the globe. The natural beauty surrounding Chamonix is described by many as “breath-taking.”   This amazing resort is ideal to take a holiday in both the Winter and Summer months and the following is a brief insight into this popular ski resort.

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Location

Chamonix is situated  1,035 above sea level in the north-westerly area of the French Alps. It is just 15km away from both the Swiss and Italian borders. When taking the journey from Geneva airport to Chamonix, you will be travelling north west of the Alps and will be in very close proximity to the Swiss border. Chamonixfirst.com offer a reliable transfer option between Geneva airport and Chamonix. As it located in a glacial valley, Chanomix provides visitors with stunning scenery all throughout the year and it is suitable to holiday here during both the Winter and the Summer months. Nestled between two magnificent and impressive mountain ranges, the town itself boasts some of the most amazing Alpine scenery that the world has to offer.

Where to Stay

There are many smaller villages situated on the outskirts of Chamonix that are still referred to as Chamonix. You should do some research into the area in general and let your desires and interests depict which area you will visit.  There are both pros and cons to every area but the pros always outweigh the cons. If you decide to stay in a chalet in the center of town or one in the surrounding villages, you will not miss out and will still gain access to the best lifts that the country has to offer. However, it has to be noted that if you’re after exciting nightlife, central Chamonix is the place to be.

Things to Do

Chamonix offers activities ranging from world-class skiing to top class cookery classes. Whether it’s a relaxing getaway or an adventurous filled holiday you’re looking for, Chamonix will not disappoint on any level. It is obviously famous for its exhilarating Winter sports that include skiing, snowboarding and both hiking and biking activities. In recent years, it has become more popular for those who are looking for a slightly more chilled out holiday and offer those visitors cookery courses that will give you an insight into some of the most tasty and tantalizing foods that French cuisine has on offer.  The food served in Chamonix restaurants is of a very high standard and must maintain that level of excellence in order to endure the competition.

5 Ways to Spend a Holiday on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

If you’re looking for a vacation with a little bit of something for everybody, try heading down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Whether you’re into days out on the golf course, nights out at the casino or just relaxing on the beach with great food, you’ll have a holiday to remember here. Here are 5 ideas to start you out:

Visit the Museums

You might be surprised to learn that the Mississippi Gulf Coast has alot more than just great outdoor activities. Museum lovers have the chance to learn all about the history of the area along with marine life, science and a great interactive museum for kids. Check out the Infinity Science Center to immerse in everything science and space, or take the kids to the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center where they can play and learn.

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Explore the Great Outdoors

Not only does the Mississippi Gulf Coast enjoy incredible beaches, but it’s also home to some of the most diverse habitats and eco-systems in the country. Don’t miss a chance to explore the outdoors here on a hike through a national park or nature conservatory. You can head out to an alligator farm to learn about this local species, or head off the beaten path to a national park to experience wildlife in its more natural habitat. Another great way to explore nature is by renting a canoe or kayak and winding your way down one of the many rivers that snake through the landscape.

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Place a Wager

If you’d like to balance some of those relaxed days on the beach with an evening of exciting nightlife and glamorous casinos, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is your spot. There are 12 great casinos to choose from, with all your favorite games and first-class dining options to choose from. If you’d like to make the casinos the center of your trip as a casino vacation, pick one of the casino resorts so you don’t have to travel far to rest after a night on the town.

Hit the Shops

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is the perfect place to browse high-end stores, cute boutiques and factory outlets. Whether you’re looking for a great gift to bring home or just looking to splurge a bit on yourself, you’ll find everything you’re looking for here. And if you’re into antiques, you’re in luck; antiquing is a bit of a sport here so you’ll find amazing hand-crafted antiques to bring home.

Immerse in Art

There are some great art galleries and studios on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Check them out when you need a break from all the time spent outdoors. There are plenty of talented local artists showcasing their work in cute little galleries along the coast. Check out Arts on the Avenue, Gemini Gallery, and Gallery 220 which features works of two dozen local artists. You might find something special to bring home to remember your trip.

 

 

Take a Self Catering St. Ives Holiday

One of the best places to take a holiday in the UK is without a doubt in St. Ives. This beautiful landscape near the Western most edge of the UK offers a wide variety of activities for all walks of life. It has a beautiful coastline that is good for enjoying a beautiful relaxing walk or for the more daring that want to try out the new adventure sport of coasteering. There is so much to do in this friendly town, all the way through to Autumn making it a great option if your looking for cheap holidays in October so the only thing left to do is decide where you want to stay. If you are looking for a self catering St. Ives holiday then there is really only one choice that you have.

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Every destination in the world offers hotels or motels. While these can be a great accommodation, they always tend to get a bit crowded and make people stir crazy. This can be especially true for stays of a week or longer. The same goes for hostels. While these are great for solo travelers or a group of younger kids they are not ideal for a family or a couple trying to get some quiet comfortable quarters. What you can find here, for this holiday, is St. Ives apartments that will be all yours for as long as you need.

The best part of self catering your holiday is that you have complete freedom and autonomy from others. You have your own space and can make it feel like home. The biggest draws of hotels is that you have a staff at you disposal to help with anything you need from dinner recommendations to reservations. At St. Ives they offer a concierge service that can take care of all that for you too. They will even go as far as to stock the refrigerator for you upon arrival so there is no delay in enjoying your vacation.

The views from all of the apartment choices are something to be marveled. There is no feeling like waking up, walking out to your balcony, and seeing one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The way the waves crash into the cliffs is surreal and is a sight that will never get old. You can choose all different types of accommodation that may suit a couple better than a family so make sure you do some research before booking. You can even get a room that comes equipped with a telescope so you can gaze at the stars, up close, on a clear night.

These apartments are luxurious, hassle free, and can be a good fit for any type of group looking for any type of holiday. Don’t wait, scoop up one of these luxury apartments before its too late!