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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

Get Dirty at Vienna motocross show

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Many people may associate Vienna with powdered wigs and harpsichords but the city also knows how to put on a show for those who prefer changing an engine to tinkling on the ivories.

In February, Masters of Dirt comes to the city, sure to wow fans and newcomers alike.

This motocross event features unbelievable, death-defying stunts performed by a handful of motorcycle and BMX riders.

Stars such as Justin Hoyer – who performs backflips on snowmobiles – and Jon Guetter – who does the same on a quad bike – will all be performing their signature moves in the Vienna Stadthalle on February 21st at 19:00 and 22nd at 14:00.

Masters of Dirt is the perfect event for fans of anything on two wheels as well as anyone who thinks that motorbikes were made for flying.

Tickets for the show cost between €28 (£26) and €54 (£50), with children under 12 getting in at half price and children under three for free.

Why not book the Salzburg – Sound of Music tour before you travel?
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Classical music comes to the Canaries

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Holidaymakers who want to escape somewhere warm but with a heavy splash of high-brow culture should consider the Canary Islands this winter.

The Canary Islands Music Festival, running until February 16th, brings together some of the finest classical music in the world.

Each concert takes place in both the Tenerife Auditorium in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Los Palmas’ Auditorio Alfredo Kraus on Gran Canaria.

Some of the highlights include Christoph Eschenbach and the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Schubert symphonies on January 29th and 31st, while Michael Gielen along with the Baden Baden and Freiburg SWR Orchestra will tackle Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4 on January 28th and 31st.

Other big names which will be performing include Santa Cecilia Orchestra from Rome and Martha Argerich playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto Number 1.

The Canary Islands Music Festival began in 1985, the 300th anniversary of Bach, Handel and Scarlatti’s birth.

Over the past 25 years it has grown in popularity and is now looked forward to by both performers and spectators.

Why not book the Survival Tour in advance?
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“Where the hell is Matt” is not a hoax

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Er…? OK, for everyone’s background, Matt Harding is a guy who admits being much better at travelling rather than coding video games. He’s been traveling around the world for a few years and, everytime, shooting short videos of himself dancing in front of landmark attractions such as the Eiffel Tower or the Lion of Singapore, from Rome to Delhi, San Francisco or Sydney and hundreds of other cities.

The videos are fun and inspiring for anyone who likes travel and cultures. They can easily be found on YouTube or Google. The latest version from 2008 is an “innovation” as Matt has been inviting locals to dance with him. continue reading

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Get in vogue at the Madrid International Fashion Fair

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This February, fashion fanatics will be found at the Madrid International Fashion Fair (SIMM).

Taking place at the Feria de Madrid, this biannual event takes in all that’s great about the art of clothes, as Spain’s biggest fashion exhibition showcases everything from underwear to city chic.

In terms of numbers, there will be 500 exhibitors and in excess of 1,000 collections, from Spain and abroad.

The models will be strutting their stuff in the Feria de Madrid from February 12th to 14th with tickets costing €30 (£27), but there will be a certain Gallic air to the proceedings.

At each fair a country is invited as a guest and this year France has received the honour, following in the footsteps of Portugal from February 2008 and Brazil last July.

Didier Parakian, president of the French Women’s Pret a Porter Federation and a veteran of SIMM, said it was a "great honour" to be chosen to contribute to the Guest Country programme, especially given the importance of the Spanish market to the French fashion industry.

Why not book the Madrid Vision tour in advance?
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A dose of dancing at the Vienna Medical Doctors’ Ball

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Any visit to the city where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart produced some of his finest work and spent most of his life must take in some music and opulence, and Vienna’s Medical Doctors’ Ball (Wiener Arzteball) is perhaps the best chance to do this.

On January 31st at 21:30 the 59th ball is hosted at the Vienna Hofburg and it will give the chance for lovers of the Blue Danube Waltz to dance to the piece in the city through which the river flows.

The Medical Doctors’ Ball is well-known even in a city famous for its balls and the location of the Vienna Hofburg offers a feast for the eyes, as well as the ears and the feet.

Tickets for those wishing to attend cost €85 (£77), with student tickets available for €30 (£27).

However, potential attendees should be warned that this is a high-class ball – there is a strict dress code, meaning men should dig out their tuxedo or military uniform, while women will have the chance to wear a floor-length evening dress.

Why not book the City Tour & Schonbrunn in advance?
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Florence goes MotoGP crazy as the championship rolls into town

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The whole of Florence (along with the rest of the country) will be rapt on May 31st as round five of the MotoGP world championship takes place at Mugello, just outside the city.

The Grand Premio d’Italia will see the planet’s top motorbike racers compete for crucial world championship points in this hotly-contested event.

Of course, all home fans will have their eyes firmly trained on current MotoGP world champion, the legendary Valentino Rossi, who brought his tally of wins to five when he was crowned in 2008.

However, competition is stiff and the 29-year-old rider will be looking to maintain his dominance of the world stage and avoid a repeat of his overall performances in 2006 and 2007, which saw him finish 2nd and 3rd respectively in the final standings.

Motorsport fans on Florence tours looking to add something exciting to their sightseeing should join the tens of thousands of delirious locals at the Muegllo circuit for this incredible and exhilarating spectacle.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18977841-ADNFCR

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Paris gets the boeuf at the Fat Cow Parade

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One of the more silly, but undeniably entertaining, things to do in Paris while sightseeing is to take in the annual Fat Cow Parade.

This year’s event will be held on February 22nd and will be just as colourful and fun as ever.

The parade sees thousands of Parisians dress up in a selection of weird and wonderful bovine costumes and make their way through the city streets, from the start at Porte de Bagnolet and ending up at the town hall.

History often plays a key part in this sort of bonkers tradition and the ‘Promenade du Boeuf Gras’ is no different as the marching of the cows date back over 500 years of local history.

It seems, however, that over time people have forgotten about the actual reason behind the celebrations and concentrated on the business of enjoying it regardless… and frankly, who can blame them when it involves hoards of people dressed as cows?ADNFCR-1652-ID-18977834-ADNFCR

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Man pits himself against the waves at the Venice Vogalonga

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As might be expected of a city which is built on the sea and relies upon its myriad waterways for everything from transport to tourism, one of the highlights of the Venetian calendar is the annual Vogalonga rowing race.

This year’s race, on May 31st, will see several thousand eager hopefuls compete in the 35th staging of the contest.

The prestigious competition started in 1974 and sees plucky boat-folk start from the straight between St Mark’s Basin and the Giudecca Canal, before a canon shot marks the beginning of the race.

Who completes the course first is irrelevant: this is a race where it really is the taking part (safely) that counts and fun is had by everyone, whether they finish at the front or come in dead last.

Tourists on Venice tours would be well advised to include the Vogalonga in their sightseeing plans as year after year it is a day filled with excitement and entertainment for all involved.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18977807-ADNFCR

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Venice renews its vows with the Feast of the Sensa

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To describe Venice as being ‘married to the sea’ seems most apt given that is not just disconnected from the mainland but in fact relies on the sea for so much, including its transport network and its very physical stability.

On Ascension Day, marking the day Christ rose to heaven four days after his resurrection, locals and visitors on Venice tours gather to witness the remarkable Feast of the Sensa.

The event sees the mayor, or ‘Doge’, ride out into the water and perform a symbolic gesture of union between the city and the sea from which it emerges.

A gold ring is thrown into the sea in the mouth of San Nicolo port, before he returns to dry land to join in the celebrations with the rest of his citizens.

Nowadays, the event is more of a tourist attraction that anything else but is still held in high regard by many.

The mayoral boat is flanked by hundreds of ornately and elaborately-decorated craft of all shapes and sizes, which accompany the official on this important mission.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18977640-ADNFCR

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Bizarre ceremony sees Florence honour Easter tradition

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On Easter Sunday every year a unique ceremony takes place that channels the religious fervour of medieval Europe: Scoppio del Carro.

In the centre of the city, the Piazza del Duomo is swarmed by locals and visitors on Florence tours, all flocking to see a giant carro, or cart, stuffed with fireworks and set alight.

The Christian lore behind is that it honours the holy fire kept burning in the city at Easter time for hundreds of years since the Crusades, which was first lit by two shards of stone from the holy sepulchre of Christ, transported around the city on a cart.

Over time the ceremony grew in stature and the cart itself become more and more ornate. Now, it is a beautifully-crafted and decorated wooden structure, laden with pyrotechnics just waiting to go off, much to the delight of the gathered crowds.

For anyone looking for things to do in Florence on Easter Sunday and keen for a break from the conventional sightseeing, this is absolute must.

Why not book to visit Chianti before you travel?ADNFCR-1652-ID-18975424-ADNFCR

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