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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts from January, 2009

Devilish behaviour in the Canary Islands

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One of the strangest but most interesting festivals in the world is the Teguise Carnival on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.

This event, taking place on March 14th and 15th this year, sees locals dress up in devil costumes to chase people with truncheons made from goat skin.

The tradition dates back to the 15th century, when the island’s inhabitants’ culture got mixed up with traces of Castillian beliefs along with the views of the arriving Moors and their African slaves.

People dressed up as "diablete" are attempting to appear as a male goat, a sign of fertility.

Dressing up as a diablete began in the 17th century when it formed part of the Corpus Christi celebrations on the island, but the local church authorities ruled that the behaviour was questionable, meaning it could only be done during carnivals.

However, the Teguise Festival is not just about devils running about – although they are the biggest attraction – there is also plenty of music and other displays on show too.

Why not book the Deep Sea Fishing – Corralejo tour before you travel?
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Catch some culture at the Vienna Festival

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The city that was the inspiration for some of the greatest and most memorable music in history also has – perhaps unsurprisingly – one of the top annual festivals.

At the Vienna Festival, which runs through May and June, venues across the city are used for a dazzling array of performances.

With 32 productions and 165 performances booked there will be something for everyone, and a truly international flavour is assured with performers hailing from New Zealand to Denmark and South Korea to France.

The festival is an all-encompassing affair, kicking off with a giant free concert in Rathausplatz square, ensuring that even those not lucky enough to get tickets to any shows can still enjoy some fine music.

Highlights include Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy, an opera by Philippe Boesmans based on the play by Witold Gombrowicz, which is to receive its world premiere in Paris this Saturday and will feature at the festival on May 13th.

Why not book tickets to visit Bratislava by bus/boat before you travel?
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See the Real Madrid against Liverpool

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Madrid is known as one of the world’s football capitals and it is home to arguably the planet’s biggest football team – Real Madrid, who will be playing Liverpool on February 25th.

This huge Champions League match between two legends of the European game is set to attract worldwide interest and even those without any knowledge of football can still enjoy themselves.

Taking place at Real’s Bernabeu Stadium, the match is an opportunity to see the Madrid locals at their most passionate – and loudest.

Thrills and spills are generally assured when Liverpool play in this competition, meaning there should be some edge-of-the-seat action for fans of both teams, as well as neutrals.

Real and Liverpool have been crowned European champions 14 times between them, with nine and five titles respectively, meaning Liverpool will look on this as a chance to close the gap in the legends stakes.

The match kicks off at 19:45 GMT.

Why not book tickets to visit Avila & Segovia – Full Day in advance?
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See what’s next in art at ARCO in Madrid

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The best emerging talent in the art world from Spain and beyond will be on show at the Madrid International Contemporary Art Fair, or ARCO as it is known to those in the industry.

Running from February 11th to 16th, this huge event draws art lovers from across the globe to the Parque Ferial Juan Carlos 1.

For the second year in a row a subsection of the fair, labelled ARCO40, will focus on emerging markets, with 55 galleries featuring works by no more than three artists made during the last three years.

Spanish galleries will make up 19 of these emerging offerings, including ADN Galeria from Barcelona, which features the work of Concha Perez, and Eugenio Merino.

Germany will also be heavily represented at ARCO40, with five galleries from the capital Berlin, including Alexandra Saheb.

Reflecting a truly international affair, other galleries will come from as far afield as Ireland, Mexico and China.

Ticket prices for the exhibition vary between €32 (£30) to €66, with concessions from €21 (£20) to €50.

Why not book the Escorial & Valle De Los Caidos (AM) tour in advance?
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Gran Canaria gears up for Las Palmas Carnival

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Residents and visitors alike on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria are getting ready for the annual Las Palmas Carnival.

This event, which runs from February 3rd to 28th, is free to attend and celebrates the build-up to Lent.

Fancy dress is the order of the day across the whole timeframe of the carnival, with a number of beauty pageants taking place and the odd drag queen in attendance.

The Las Palmas Carnival is also a great opportunity to sample some of the differences between the islands and mainland Spain.

Running their pre-Lent celebrations just a little longer than their neighbours, the Canary Islanders eventually end with a day of mourning for the sardine on February 28th.

The sardine is symbolic of the carnival – hence the mourning when the party is over – and to mark this event, a giant sardine is taken through the street in funeral fashion before being buried on the beach.

Why not book the Deep Sea Fishing tour before you travel?
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Support Andy Murray in Madrid

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Tennis fans and anyone who just likes to see a Brit win something should make sure they are in Spain for the Madrid Masters this May.

Andy Murray won the event last year and will be defending his title and, given his run of form so far this year, he could be in attendance as a Grand Slam champion.

The Scot is currently playing in the Australian Open and will be one of the favourites when Wimbledon comes round.

Madrid is part of the ATP Masters Series, which is the most important level of tournament in tennis stars’ calendars, aside from the big four.

Because of its significance, this will also be a chance to see the other big names in the tennis world, from Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the men’s game to the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova in the women’s.

The tournament runs from May 8th to 17th in the Madrid Arena.

Why not book tickets for Toledo – AM/PM in advance?
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Celebrate Easter next to a Viennese palace

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Anyone looking for a trip away during the Easter holidays should consider the Schonbrunn Palace Easter Market in Vienna.

Running from March 28th to April 12th, this is an excellent opportunity to sample Austrian culture in the most opulent of surroundings.

The grounds of the baroque Schonbrunn Palace are the setting for this celebration, which features more Easter decorations than can be imagined.

Every type of Easter egg is in attendance, as well as flower arrangements and palm leaves.

Visitors will be able to sample local foods from Vienna, the provinces and nearby countries, and there will be plenty of trinkets full of cultural nuances to buy as souvenirs, such as straw animals, glassware and ceramics.

The Schonbrunn Palace Easter Market is open daily from 10:00 until 18:30 and on certain days there will be jazz performances, while workshops will be available for children to make Easter decorations of their own.

Why not book tickets to visit Budapest in advance?
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Skate away at the Vienna Ice Dream

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A beautiful, romantic city is never more so than when it is covered in snow and visitors to Vienna can take advantage of all these three things at the Vienna Ice Dream, set in the heart of the city.

Running from January 23rd to March 8th, this event sees the Rathausplatz, or City Hall Square, transformed into an ice rink.

Vienna Ice Dream roughly coincides with the city’s ballroom dancing season so people who have been unable to get a ticket to one of the big events can more than make do here, as they pirouette under the city’s wonderful architecture.

For beginners the afternoon is the best time to go along, as in the evening the really skilled skaters come out – but even people who aren’t experts can still enjoy the show from the sidelines.

All types of music are provided, from rock to salsa, and of course ballroom dancing on ice is also attempted.

Why not book the Danube Valley tour in advance?
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And the Oscar for brightest new Reality-TV star goes to RANJAN SINGH, CEO, isango!

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Crowd goes wild…!

isango!’s very own CEO, Ranjan Singh has been enlisted to star in a BBC World News reality TV Show, ‘Fit to Fly’!!!  The premise is to follow busy, successful professionals and look at their lifestyles and eating habits, with a view to advising them on how to live healthier lives (and lose weight!).  Ranjan and a fellow travel business-owner have been selected as the guinea pigs.  There’s a big target ahead of him – which will not only be available to view on BBC World News and by internet download but by staying tuned to isango!’s very own blog, where Ranjan will be uploading his frustrations, achievements and general musings about his experience.

The filming has commenced and the first show gone out.  But don’t despair!  Just in case you don’t have access to BBC World, there’s a taster and links below where you can view all the footage throughout the series and you can even join the Facebook group.

Check back soon for updated links and comments and thoughts from the man himself.

See short snippet here on youtube
[youtube]http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=jGsX4OQlh4s[/youtube]

And here, the first episode that aired last week around the world (including footage of Ranjan enjoying one of our very own tours – the Paris Segway Tour experience):

http://www.bbcworldnews.com/Pages/ProgrammeFeature.aspx?id=53&FeatureID=502

Join the Facebook group!
http://www.facebook.com/pages/fasttrack/51250663178

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Obama Roots in Kogelo (Kenya) – Obama history tours

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Just as billions of other people, the isango! team has paused work to follow Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration. Parades are still on as we write, and partying will go on all night. We all have heard a lot about President Obama’s background and his global footsteps, from Hawaii to Indonesia, Kenya and Chicago.

We happened to discuss about Obama’s roots with one of our suppliers in Kenya, and we discovered the local village of Kogelo is becoming a key travel destination. Not just now, but since Obama’s 2004 election to Senator of Illinois there seem to be a steady flow of visits to Obama’s family house. The Kogelo village is rumoured to be building a small airport to welcome tourists. Given Kenya is becoming a popular golf destination (in addition to the classic safaris and beach resorts), it’s likely that the village will thrive with more and more visitors. continue reading

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