Spain

 

Lanzarote Holidays

Lanzarote is the fourth largest of the seven islands that make up Spain’s Canary Islands. Tenerife is the largest island. Lanzarote is the easternmost island, located 79kms off the coast of Africa. It’s of volcanic origin and the central part of the island resembles a magnificent lunar landscape. The island gets very little rain and has a mostly arid feel. The north,however, is a little greener than the rest of the island. The south has some of the best sandy beaches. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on February 15th, 2010

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Best Holiday Travel Destinations For Easter Breaks

The long Easter weekend is a great time to take off for a short break. The weather too starts getting warmer in America and Europe, opening up loads of holiday destinations to choose from.
Below is our pick of holiday travel ideas for your Easter break. The destinations have been chosen for the quirky customs and unique traditions that are followed in the various cities. New York is also great place to visit for Easter weekend breaks and you can read all about its famous Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival.

Jamaica Easter Carnival

The Jamaica Easter Carnival kicked off in 1990 and has gained in popularity over the years. More than 100,000 revelers flock to Kingston for the Carnival which begins with Beach Jouvert on Easter Sunday. Jouvert means daybreak and the parade begins in the early hours of the morning when it’s still dark outside. The Carnival ends with the colourful Road March which is a costumed street parade where top local and regional bands play calypso and reggae to the crowd’s delight. Soca parties are also the rage throughout the island. The carnival is quite a spectacle and it’s a fun way to spend your Easter break.

Kingston is the capital of Jamaica and most people tend to avoid it because of the adverse publicity it has received about crime. Just be a little careful and you should be fine. There are plenty of nice nightclubs and restaurants around Kingston which make it a lively town.

But it’s not only Kingston that celebrates Easter in true Caribbean style in Jamaica. There’s some parade or the other happening somewhere on the island during the Easter Carnival week. Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril also have some wonderful entertainment and parades.
Another Easter tradition in Jamaica is eating bun and cheese. The buns are spiced with cinnamon and are sprinkled with lots of raisins. They are generally eaten with processed cheese and you will see supermarket shelves packed with buns and cheese around Easter.

Trekking, snorkeling and diving are some of the activities you can do in Jamaica. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the stunning beaches in Port Antonio, Montego Bay and Negril.

Weather in Kingston in March and April: Temperatures range from 24°C to 28°C. There’s an occasional light shower during the day.

Semana Santa, Seville, Spain

The Holy Week, or Semana Santa, preceding Easter Sunday sees processions by the brotherhoods of the church making their way from their churches to the Cathedral. The penitents wear robes and hoods and walk alongside two to three elaborate wooden floats. The first float usually depicts the scene of the Passion with Christ and the second, a grieving Mary. Some of the floats have exquisite sixteenth century statues decorated with gilt and silver and are often accompanied by bands playing flamenco style hymns.

At midnight on Thursday, the biggest processions leave their churches and wind their way through the night to arrive at the Cathedral on the morning of Good Friday. This is definitely the highpoint of the week. Up to 60,000 monks participate in the processions during Holy Week.
Although the parades have a religious and solemn flavour, you will see bars and restaurants packed with local families till late into the night. Grandparents and grandchildren too stay up late.

Apart from the Easter processions, take time to walk through the narrow alleys of Seville’s old town and eat at a local tapas bar. You will see some of the best bullfighting and flamenco performances here. Seville is easily one of Spain’s must-visit places, both historic and stylish at the same time.

Weather in Seville in March and April: Temperatures range from 9°C to 24°C.

Read more about how to spend your Holiday Nights In Madrid.

São Brás de Alportel, Algarve, Portugal

This is a small town in the eastern Algarve and is more commonly known simply as São Brás. It is ringed by hills and looks down at the coast from an escarpment. The old town has a church and the Episcopal Palace. On Easter Sunday, the town comes alive and draws visitors for its unique Easter ceremony.

The streets are paved with fresh wild flowers arranged in interesting patterns and a Torch Procession, or Festa das Tochas, proceeds through the streets. Men carrying torches made of flowers walk or run through the streets. Their leader cries, “Christ is risen” and the others respond with cries of “Hallelujah”. Similar ceremonies used to take place in other Algarve towns in the 18th and 19th century but now the tradition is alive only in São Brás.

After the procession you can walk along the flower strewn streets or make your way to other towns of the Algarve. At the crossroads in the main town square, you can head north to Lisbon, south to Faro, east to Tavira and west to Loule.

The Algarve coast is truly picturesque with sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and towns with whitewashed houses. Most of the resorts are not exactly pretty but the wonderful setting draws huge crowds in summer. During Easter you can enjoy the Algarve without the teeming tourists, although the water can be a bit cold.

Weather in the Algarve in March and April: Temperatures range from 17°C to 20°C.

Also read about the Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival in New York.

Posted by on November 30th, 2009

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Great Christmas Cruises for the holiday season

A great way to spend your Christmas is aboard a cruise liner. Some people book a cruise along with their extended family and celebrate Christmas together like every year but aboard a liner. Most cruise ships have loads of Christmas activities planned for kids, including a Santa who distributes gifts. Some ships also conduct a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Festive decorations and special menus are also the norm. What’s more, your cruise gives you the opportunity to observe how Christmas is celebrated in different cities and towns around the world.

Booking a Christmas Cruise

Always book with a reputable cruise company and if possible do so through a known cruise agent. Your agent can get you better bargains and, should the price of the cruise fall after you have booked your holiday, the agent can help you recover the difference either through upgrades, onboard credit or even a refund. Sometimes the quoted cruise price doesn’t include surcharges, port fees and staff gratuities which means that the actual fare turns out to be considerably higher. So it’s important that you read the fine print when booking a cruise. For instance, find out exactly what ‘free airfare’ means. Very often airport taxes, service fees and some hidden charges add up to more than the actual cost of your ticket! It may be advisable to simply book your own air ticket.

Cruise Routes

The Bahamas, Caribbean, Greek islands, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are all covered by cruise liners. Here are three recommended routes that offer superb experiences and great weather for a wonderful travel holiday over Christmas.

Nile Cruise, Egypt

Route: Luxor – Esna – Edfu – Kom Ombo – Aswan

Often called the ‘Gift of the Nile’, Egypt’s 5,000-year old civilization comes alive as you sail the Upper Nile. A favourite route is the week-long cruise from Luxor to Aswan (or the other way round). Your cruise company can organize accommodation in Cairo and transfers to either Luxor or Aswan.
You can sail the Nile aboard a luxury liner with full onboard amenities and a large number of people or you can opt to sail on the traditionally designed Dahabieh which is much smaller. What the Dahabieh lacks in terms of swimming pools and restaurants, it makes up with personalized service and interesting ethnic décor. Another plus is that its small size means it can sail through narrow channels and take you to places like Djebel Silsileh that a larger liner cannot access. If you are a large group of around 15 to 20 people you also have the option of booking the entire boat and have a great family Christmas vacation.
December Temperatures along the Upper Nile: 8 to 23˚C

Luxor: In Luxor you can visit the Temples of Karnak and Luxor as well as the Luxor Museum. On the West Bank is the Necropolis of Thebes and the incredible Valley of the Kings where new discoveries were made as late as 2006 and 2008. The Valley of the Queens, the Colossi of Memnon and the Funerary Temple of Hatsheput along with a host of other sites are all found in Luxor.

Esna: It has the well-preserved and intricately carved Temple of Khnum.

Edfu: The majestic Temple of Hourus is located here.

Kom Ombo: Its temple of the same name honours Sobek, the crocodile-headed god. It is a magnificently preserved temple and one of the highlights of the cruise.

Aswan: The venue of the famous Aswan dam. The nearby Elephantine island has a museum and the Abu ruins. The Aswan Botanical Garden is also worth a visit.

Spain, Morocco, Portugal

Route: Savona – Barcelona – Casablanca – Arrecife – Santa Cruz de Tenerife – Funchal – Malaga

This cruise makes for an interesting voyage as it combines the unique vibe of Spain, the African culture of Morocco and the sunny beaches of the Canary Islands and Madeira.
Each cruise operator will have their own itinerary but a possible route can include Savona, Barcelona and Malaga in Spain, Casablanca in Morocco, Arrecife and Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands and Funchal in Portugal. The duration of the cruise will be about 8 to 10 days.

Savona: An interesting port city with a medieval town centre. The Cattedrale di Nostra Signora Assunta and the Fortezza del Priamàr have baroque architecture. There’s also the Civico Museo Storico Archeologico and one or two museums dedicated to sculpture.
Average December Temperature: 19.5˚C

Barcelona: Its a feast for the senses. Its compact size makes it easy to explore. From Gaudi’s architectural marvels to Picasso’s art, and from Gothic buildings to a bevy of fine museums, Barcelona is an inspiring city that’s full of treasures. It is also famous for its tapas bars and dance clubs. Food, art, architecture, history, dance… Barcelona has it all.
Average December Temperature: 11.4˚C

Casablanca: Morocco’s economic capital and its largest city, Casablanca has a modern skyline and yet you can see a strong French colonial influence in its wide boulevards and crumbling art deco architecture. For many, Casablanca seems too westernized and it isn’t representative of the Morocco that you glimpse in Fez and Marrakech. Casa, as it is popularly called, has the grand Hassan II mosque which was completed in 1993 at great cost. The mosque has the world’s tallest minaret that soars to 210m. The mosque can accommodate 25,000 people in its main hall.
Average December Temperature: 13˚C

Arrecife: A pleasant port city with a few castles and the Charco de San Gines – a picturesque lagoon that is as yet untouched by rampant commercialization. You will find some fashionable boutiques and decent restaurants in the city and of course a nice sandy beach.
Average December Temperature: 19˚C

Santa Cruz de Tenerife: It is less touristy than you would expect and is charming in a laidback way. Its most famous landmark is the Auditorio de Tenerife, an opera house with a mammoth wave structure that vaguely reminds you of the Sydney Opera House.
Average December Temperature: 18˚C

Funchal: It is the capital of Portugal’s Madeira island. Towering cliffs look down at the sea. You won’t find a sandy beach here but the island has some hip hotels and spas.
Average December Temperature: 16.5˚C

Malaga: This is a great place to end your cruise. Its historic centre has cobbled streets, gardens and wide boulevards. Visit the 11th century Alcazaba fortress and the Casa Natale de Picasso, the famous painter’s birthplace. Trendy bars and hotels give the city a vibrant nightlife.
Average December Temperature: 13˚C

Western Caribbean

Route: Miami – Grand Cayman – Isla Roatan – Belize-Cozumel – Miami

This cruise sails from Miami, Florida, and takes you through gorgeous Caribbean countries with wonderfully sunny beaches where you can soak up the sun and have a relaxed holiday over 7 to 8 days.

Miami: Your holiday begins and end here so take time off to discover this vibrant city with a distinct Latin spirit. Miami knows how to party so you will find loads of trendy nightclubs. Its many restaurants serve every kind of cuisine for every size of pocket. Many movies and TV series have portrayed the Art Deco buildings on South Beach. This is a happening area so do take the time to have at least a coffee at one of its cafes.
Average December Temperature: 20˚C

Grand Cayman: Its the largest of the three Cayman Islands which make up the British Overseas Territory. Apart from being a tax haven for wealthy businessmen, Grand Cayman is famous for its Seven Mile Beach with soft, white sand. Every kind of water sport activity is available here.
Average December Temperature: 20˚C

Isla Roatan: Just 50 kms long and about 4 kms wide, Roatan is the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands. Here the beaches are pristine, the food is great and the hills are covered with dense forests. The island has a reef around it, making it a big draw for snorkelers and divers.
Average December Temperature: 26˚C

Belize: Flora, fauna, abundant marine life, Mayan ruins, rainforests and gorgeous sandy beaches make Belize a tropical paradise. So whether your interests run from kayaking and bird watching, to deep sea diving and historical sites, you will find there’s plenty to do and see in Belize. Altun Ha and Lamanai are the top Mayan sites.
Average December Temperature: 23˚C

Cozumel: It is Mexico’s largest island. Its Palancar Reef has attracted divers for the last several decades. Cozumel is a popular destination with a colourful and lively marketplace so if you are looking to buy souvenirs before you sail into Florida, this is the place to search for them.
Average December Temperature: 24˚C

For more December travel ideas, read Christmas Breaks at Ski Resorts, Christmas Breaks on the Beach and New Year’s Eve Destinations. Honeymoon Cruise Destinations also suggests some great cruise ideas.

Also read Royal Caribbean Cruise for more ideas about cruies around the world.


Posted by on October 24th, 2009

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