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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!

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Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations this summer

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Miles of beaches of white powdery sands; acres of green meadowland; serene lakes; pale blue skies; orange sunsets; azure and warm waters and forest clad mountains stretching into the misty distance.  These are just some of the locations that honeymooners look for when making that ‘once in a life time’ choice.

There are a wide range of options from a shack on a beach with views of the sunset to a log cabin on a mountainside.  So much so it can be quite a tough (if thoroughly enjoyable) task deciding on that ideal romantic getaway.

We hope our list will make your task just that bit easier.

1) The Seychelles

A group of some 115 islands the Seychelles is a paradise of dazzling white beaches, clear blue waters.  There is tons of privacy with most of the accommodation being separate villas. Located off the east coast of southern Africa it is a balmy and truly exotic haven with guaranteed spectacular panoramic views.

Seychelles Tours

2) Bali

Bali is called “the island of a thousand puras (temples).”  However, it is the incredible beauty and mystical, magical environment of this tropical isle that envelopes you.  Balmy breezes, swaying palm trees, gentle and cheerful people and the fabulous Indian Ocean as a backdrop are enough to make you want to stay forever.  Superb seafood and spas round off the near spiritual experience that Bali offers.

3) Hawaii

One of the most beautiful honeymoon destinations ever, any one of the Hawaiian Islands is a great place to drop out of the world and enjoy your honeymoon.  The pristine and quiet beaches, rugged volcanic mountains draped with thick colourful vegetation serve as a marvellous setting for unforgettable memories.  The warm, welcoming natives and their rich and colourful culture and tasty Mai tais are added ingredients that make for an intoxicating romantic getaway.

Hawaii Tours

4) Ireland

The Emerald Isle is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  Its countryside serves as inspiration for poetry, music and art.  The colour green takes on new and wondrous lustre here.  To that, add its ancient history characterised by castles, forts and picturesque, timeless villages.  Snug centuries old pubs that serve stimulating Irish whiskey and ale will warm your heart.  This beautiful island with its tales of fairies, elves, dragons, magic and mystery will live on in your memory long after you and your spouse have returned home.

5) Croatia

Croatia is an unheralded jewel.  It has a marvelous Mediterranean climate made even more glorious by the moderation of the Adriatic Sea.  It has also managed to preserve its wonderfully colorful historical and architectural heritage.  It is a terrific mix of the ancient, medieval and modern.

Plentiful and thickly forested mountains vie for attention with beaches, achingly beautiful lakes, sparkling streams, musical waterfalls and a thousand picturesque islands.  This treasure house has winding roads running through the picture-postcard countryside and ancient pretty villages that haven’t changed in generations.

6) Lake Como, Italy

It is with good reason that movie stars and other celebrities holiday here.  In a country that has innumerable gorgeous locations, the Lake Como province of Italy is a stand-out.   For centuries people have been holidaying here so that they can experience its fresh air, mountains and marvellous weather.  The “Y” shape of the lake is relatively flat at the southern end turning mountainous as you head north thus providing changing landscape and variety.

Lake Como, Italy Tours

The region has beauty and uniqueness all its own.  The little towns and villages in combination with elegant villas dot the region giving it its characteristic atmosphere.

7) Los Cabos, Mexico

You want serenity and plenty of distance between you and other holidaymakers to enjoy your honeymoon?  Then get yourself and your loved one down to Los Cabos in Mexico.  Poised on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, the area has vast acres of deserted beaches, shimmering blue waters and a fabulous coastline including the iconic “El Arco” rock formation.

The life here is laid back but the facilities, hotels, nightclubs, all-inclusive resorts, dining options and activities are plentiful and world class.

8) Paris, France

With doubt the most romantic city on the planet, Paris has been the destination for more honeymooners than any other.  It is packed with gorgeous gardens, iconic and historic monuments.  The River Seine does more than its share of adding to the romantic side of this great city.

The city has a plethora of lovely, cobble-stoned streets full of charming bars, cosy bistros and street-side cafés with outside tables.  Paris’ nightlife is legendary and the sheer numbers, variety and quality of entertainment choices can be happily overwhelming.  The best part is that Paris loves lovers and knows how best to treat them.

Paris Tours

9) St. Barts

The entire Caribbean is one great romantic pond yet St. Barts manages to stand out.  Officially a department of France, the island has incorporated all the glamour and chic of that country.  It is just eight square miles. Yet it manages to house two of the world’s best and fabulous white-sand beaches, which are un-crowded.  It also has an eclectic mix of designer shops, a bay populated by luxury yachts and celebrities.

The island’s spectacular scenery, warm breezes, swaying palm trees, clear blue skies sells itself and does not need any high-pitched advertising.  St. Barts is that authentic, too-good-to-be-true tropical island paradise.  Something every honeymooner dreams of.

10) New Zealand

The ‘land of the long white cloud’ is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  It seamlessly combines South Pacific Island and European alpine scenery.  It has stunning diverse landscapes and a moderate climate.  So spending your honeymoon here will give you every option you could want.  Stroll along pristine beaches or ski down snow clad slopes – all in one country and same period.

You can relax in privacy on the beaches of the Coromandel oast; or take in the fantastic coastline along Malborough Sound or cruise down Queen Charlotte Sound.  Or maybe you could have an activity packed honeymoon in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world.  Calm or hectic, New Zealand has it by the bucketful.

New Zealand Tours

 

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Florence: A Guide for First Time Visitors

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When you see Florence for the first time you cannot believe your eyes or luck.  It packs in so much fantastic beauty, art, vibrancy and culture that your eyes will water.  It is no wonder that Florence is ranked as one of the world’s most beautiful cities.  Here you will find architectural and artistic remnants from every historical era.  However, it is first and foremost a Renaissance city – a cradle of that fabulous and glorious period.

Florence Tours

Yet it is not a city stuck in the past or frozen in an architectural time warp.  It is a very lively, cosmopolitan place with both feet very firmly planted in the present and eyes on the coming years.  Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region.

If you are a first time visitor it would be well to keep several important facts in mind to make your Florence sightseeing hassle free. Here are some tips on Florence.

From a weather perspective, the best time to take a Florence vacation is from spring to early summer and end of summer to end of autumn.  In summer, Florence could roast you with temperatures around the 40oC mark.  The winter can be really cold with the mercury dipping below zero and very rainy too.

If you are arriving by air then it is most likely that you will land at the Galileo Galilei airport in Pisa.  This is because the smaller Peretola airport in Florence cannot handle most international long haul and bigger aircraft.

The train or bus ride into Florence from Pisa takes just over an hour.  It is advisable to take the train as there are often traffic jams and if you have a flight to catch you could possibly be late and miss it.

Florence is a very popular destination.  It can get extremely crowded between the months of March and September when tourists and school trips fill the place.  As a result accommodation can be very expensive and often hard to find.  It also means that you could spend hours in queues to enter a monument, church or museum.

As a first time Florence tourist arranging accommodation in can be a bit like navigating a maze.  The various types of hospitality options are Hotels, Historic Residences, Pensions, Rooms for Rent, Hostels and Bed & Breakfast establishments.  Figuring out what you get at each is not easy so check and confirm at the time of booking.  Many Bed & Breakfast places don’t serve breakfast.

A Florentine peculiarity is the address numbering!  It is dual system involving red, black and blue, which quite independent of each other.  Red street numbers are for businesses, commercial establishments and shops.  Blue or black numbers (on a white plate) are for hotels and houses.  So don’t be surprised if you find a red 27 right next to a blue 8.

One essential and crucial fact to keep in mind is that museums and public monuments are closed on Mondays!  Also visiting hours are different for each so you need to check before going.

During the peak tourist season (March to September) large crowds throng the various museums and other hot spots.  It is possible to book tickets in advance to avoid the long queues (especially in the summer time).  Unfortunately, there is no single ticket you could use for all museums.

However, there is the Firenze Card (firenzecard.it), which is a pretty good one.  It gives you 72 hours of public transport and queue-skipping admission to all the city’s main museums and historical attractions, including the Uffizi and Accademia galleries.  It is quite expensive, though.

Besides its many architectural and historical marvels Florence is also wonderful in another way.  It is a very compact and fairly small city.  Most of the monuments, museums, churches and shopping areas are all within walking distance of one another.

Here is a list of some of the most famous and not-to-be-missed things you should see on your maiden visit to Florence.

The Basilica Santa Maria Novella near the main railway station; San Lorenzo; the various Medici Chapels; the open air museum of Piazza of the Signoria which is also the location of the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery with its numerous priceless treasures.

Uffizi, Florence

The Galleria dell’Accademia, which houses Michelangelo’s statue of David, is a must.  The Duomo (Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore) from where you can get incredible views of Florence is another.  The Santa Croce church is another not to be missed site because it contains the remains of Michelangelo, Enrico Germic, Galileo and also a memorial of Dante Alighieri.

Most of Florence’s churches charge an entrance free, except the Duomo.

Art and history aside, Florence is a great place to shop for leather bags, unusual and innovatively designed jewellery and other fashion accessories.  Check out the flea market of San Lorenzo, delle Pulci and the Mercato Nuovo.

Eating or dining costs in Florence swing to the extremes – from the cheap to the very expensive.  The reasonably priced restaurants are around the railway station while the up-market ones are located around Santa Croce.

Before you leave lovely Florence walk under the Mercato Nuovo, rub the nose of the Il Porcellino and drop a coin into his mouth.  These acts will bring you good fortune.

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Travelers’ Guide to Avoid Being Pickpocketed in Rome

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You are as likely to be pick pocketed in Paris, Bangkok and Istanbul as in Barcelona. Rome however enjoys a rather well-known and unwelcome reputation for this particular type of larceny.  So when visiting the city and its remarkable treasures you need to be just that little bit more alert.

tours in rome

We have put together a few tips to help ensure your trip to the eternal city is not forever ruined by a lifted wallet.

Try to blend in: Of course you will never achieve a 100% blending but try and be as inconspicuous as possible.  Pickpockets are great at identifying their mark and especially tourists.  A good way to attract pickpockets’ attention is to flaunt your bling and expensive camera.  Don’t!  The idea is not to be their target.

Be attuned to your surroundings: This is probably the best and most helpful thing to keep in mind.  It applies at all times – whether you are in a crowded area or quiet/deserted one.  Don’t get so lost, in that perfect photo shot or conversation or an item you are examining in the street stall, that you forget all else.

Crowded places and popular public places are happy hunting grounds for pickpockets – solo acts or gangs.  Crowds at railway and bus stations and markets provide great opportunities for pickpockets and purse-snatchers. In Rome some of the more high-risk areas where you should stay alert are the Termini (train stations), Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum.

Keep your wits about you.

Don’t make a pickpocket’s work easy: The most vulnerable spaces are your back pockets.  Don’t put your wallet or anything valuable in them.  Keep your attractive possessions out of sight or better still keep them in your hotel.

Wear a money belt strapped under your shirt.  Don’t put all your cash in it though.  Figure out how much cash you would need during the course of the day and spread it around your person and not all in one pocket.  This is so you avoid exposing yourself in public every time you pay for something.  This may be just a tad inconvenient but better that than cashless in Rome.

Don’t use a fanny pack.  Nothing screams ‘tourist’ louder.  It puts you squarely in the crosshairs of pickpockets’ sights.  Don’t leave your purse, bag or backpack dangling off the back of your chair or on the ground near your feet.

If you must carry a purse or bag then make sure that it has a zip and not an open topped one.  Even then carry it at the front of your body with your arm around it.

Don’t place your camera, mobile phone or purse on a café table or shop counters.  It is easy for thieves to grab your valuables and take off.

The pickpockets’ bag of tricks: Pickpockets are a very talented lot and don’t need your help or carelessness to ply their trade.

Pickpockets have a wide range of scenarios designed to separate you from your valuables.  Many of their plays involve several cast members seemingly unrelated to each other.  Here are some frequently used tricks to be alert to.

If you’re in a crowd and you suddenly get a shove – watch out!   It is at that precise moment when you are unbalanced and distracted that your wallet will be taken.

Other favourite situations for pickpockets are in crowded buses or metro compartments.  When there is obviously no room, they will push their way in and work their talents as they squeeze past you.  Or they will board the metro just before the doors close, snatch your bag, purse or wallet and exit as the doors are closing. A variation is surprising you by shoving your first.

Then there is the scam played out on streets, in markets or around popular tourist sites.  It will involve a child or two and a group.  The modus operandi has the kids pester and distract you while other members of the gang lift your wallet or valuables.

When you witness a disturbance or commotion avoid it.  It is quite often a cover used or created by pickpocket gangs to distract lookers-on while members of the team ply their trade.

When all’s said and done, a little pre-planning, awareness, steering clear of badly-lit, deserted areas and a spoonful of prudence should see you safely through your travels.

Travel carefully – travel happily!

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A Traveller’s Guide to Staying Safe

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One of the ingredients to the joy of travelling is leaving familiar, comfortable surroundings to head off to parts new, unknown (well sort of) and different.  That desire to experience something other than the routine; to dip into the sounds, smells and sights of other places are some other items in that rich fruity cake of travelling.

Along with your passport, ticket and toiletry you should pack healthy portions of caution, alertness and prudence.  Not to sound alarmist but the very lure of the unfamiliar, the novel and the uncertainty of what awaits may also contain elements of risk and unpleasant encounters that can spoil your whole adventure.  There is no better target, for the unscrupulous, than an unwary traveller.

safe travel tips

We catalogue several safety tips to ensure your roving is a pleasure.  Some may seem self-evident and obvious and for those very reasons need reminding.

  • Take out travel and medical insurance.
  • Take the recommended shots and vaccinations for the places you are visiting.
  • Give a copy of your itinerary to family or good friends before you leave home.  Update them on your activities and location regularly.
  • Make and carry photocopies of your passport, ID and other documents.
  • Blend in as much as possible.  Don’t mark yourself as a tourist.  Refrain from loud, colourful clothing.
  • Pretend you know where you are going or doing.  Don’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk looking lost or consulting a map.  Instead step into a shop or café and gather your thoughts and bearings – and consult that map.
  • Put away your camera, in a small bag, as much as possible.  No other item marks a tourist like a neck-dangling camera.
  • Don’t attempt to hitch a ride or use un-official cabs and taxis. Use the public transport even if it is a little irregular and rundown.
  • Use credit cards and travellers cheques; avoid cash as much as possible.  Carry them in a cash belt or hang it in a little bag under your shirt or upper garments. Better still spread your money around your person.
  • Do not carry your wallet in the back of your jeans/trousers.
  • There is no need to broadcast your travel plans, where you are staying or next destination.
  • Avoid obviously run-down and badly lit areas of the city.
  • Don’t wear/display or carry expensive jewellery. Travel in a foreign country is no time to ‘shine.’
  • Beware of scams.  Conmen posing as police officers, tour guides and overly helpful/knowledgeable locals who know the ‘best’ deals are just some common tricks of their trade.
  • Don’t accept drinks or food from strangers.
  • Watch out for people who seem to be too interested in what you are doing and turn up where you are – too often.
  • Don’t leave your bags and other belongings unattended in public spaces.  This is probably the commonest loss cause.
  • Last (on this list at least) but the most important item on your safety checklist is don’t be heroic.  If you should, unfortunately, be the victim of a holdup or mugging don’t resist.  It is much, much better to lose your wallet and a few small possessions than sustain an injury in a strange city in a foreign land.

Travel safe!

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New Year’s Eve Fireworks in London (2014)

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“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…,” wrote Samuel Johnson.  Mayor Boris Johnson (no relative) is determined that no man or woman tires of London – at least, not during the New Year’s Eve Fireworks, and other festivities to welcome 2015.

london tour

The New Year’s Eve fireworks display was first staged on the South Bank in 2003 and it most certainly set the Thames alight.  A mere 100,000 folks witnessed the show.  Ever since then the fireworks in London have grown bigger and better.  So has its popularity.  Every year has seen more and more people from Britain and across the world turn up to witness the dazzling pyrotechnic display over the skies of London.

Over 12,500 fireworks shooting off 50,000 projectiles fired from 5,500 cues.  There will also be 2,000 lighting cues.  To keep the extravaganza one of the best in the world 30 tonnes of equipment on the three fireworks barges will be situated on the river in front of the London Eye.

On New Year’s Eve 2014 about half a million revellers turned up in central London to enjoy the fireworks.  However the stupendous popularity of this year end spectacle and the humungous number of spectators has meant that changes had to be made.

This year, in order to manage the numbers and for safety reasons, the best fireworks viewing areas will be cordoned off.  Only 100,000 visitors will be allowed in and around the show area.  Access to these areas will only be for ticket holders.  Priced at £10 each, the ticket money will go towards safety measures for the night.

While it may seem kind of restrictive, there are a couple of advantages to this plan.  First of all ticket holders will get the best fireworks viewing seats.  The other advantage – and this is a biggie – is you don’t have to get to the Thames embankment at 3pm or 4pm on a cold, damp London afternoon to set up camp somewhere along the Thames just to find a good viewing spot.  You save yourself 8 or 9 hours of misery.

The designated and ticketed viewing areas are between Westminster Bridge and Embankment Station.  The second is between Embankment and Temple Stations and the third allows ticket-holders access to the rear of the London Eye and on Westminster Bridge.  While those are prime locations there are many other non-ticketed locations where you can watch the London night sky light up in a blaze of colour.

london eye  tour

You need to keep in mind that Oxford Street, Elephant and Castle, Vauxhall Bridge and Southwark Bridge will be closed.  The closures will begin from 2pm with most of the closures in place by 8pm.  Public transport services will be free from 11:45pm to 4:30am on New Year’s Day!

The fireworks will kick off when Big Ben strikes midnight.  Although the fun does not stop when the last rocket of NYE 2014 blazes across the night sky; the last whizz-banger goes off and you have joined hands to belt out Auld Lang Syne.  That is when the partying begins in right real earnest.  And there are loads of events, parties and places to work off your own personal fireworks.

When London celebrates she does it in style.  New Year’s Eve party ideas and events range from masquerade balls, vintage theme parties and boat parties to classy dinner parties.

london tours

Felice Navidad and a Happy New Year!

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Christmas Festivities Galore in Dubai

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Dubai’s original attraction was its fantastic shopping. It still holds good even today.  That well earned reputation was built around its many jaw-dropping and dazzling malls.  While the city has developed other wondrous commercial facilities and economic avenues it is still the malls where the action is.  So it is no wonder that the Christmas hotspots are concentrated in and around them.

The Dubai Christmas Fest 2014 held over three days at the Media City Amphitheater saw a record number of visitors, whether they were full time residents or those on holiday in Dubai.  Many people turned up to enjoy the fake snow with visitors gathering around and taking pictures of each other and the Christmas trees covered in dazzling ornaments and decorations.

Nearly every mall or public space was given over to machines spewing out snow every hour.  There were snow fight zones that had the children absolutely thrilled.  The malls outdid each other in creating dazzling and profuse displays with enormous glittering, hanging ornaments.  Some displays were populated by dancing and polar bears.  Giant lit up Christmas trees helped create the jollity and festive cheer.

Skating rinks were also well populated.  There was a variety Christmas events in Dubai and entertainment performances to keep people engaged.  Christmas carols played all the time over sound systems that kept the Christmas tone well and truly joyful.  Through all this the many Santa Claus’ and their elves were kept busy by children lining up to meet him.

Traditional food dishes, cakes and sweets are a major part of the yuletide experience.  In that regard all the food courts, restaurants and hotels in Dubai continue to serve up mouth-watering meals and buffets.  Stuffed golden roast turkey with cranberry sauce and all the trimmings, barbeque meats, mince pies, cold cuts, special goose, German pudding dinner and traditional desserts are all the hottest items at the moment.

While it may not be a Christmas activity but the Dubai Camel Racing season takes place around this time.  It is one of the region’s oldest traditions and has to be witnessed to be believed.

Dubai makes a special effort during the festive season.  This makes the expats feel at home and locals get a taste of the festive atmosphere of Christmas in Dubai.

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Things You Shouldn’t Wear on a Plane

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Make no mistake!  The commercial passenger airliner has compressed the world to roughly the size of a football.  For you, dear traveller, that is wonderful.  On the other hand, you are, in the words of the poet, ‘cabined, cribbed, confined…’ for several hours, in a long, narrow tube flying miles above the earth. You are restricted to a seat among a row of many.  A couple of hundred other people share that same confining experience.

To make that cramped experience as bearable as possible there are many things you could do – and several you should not do.  In this piece we will stick with clothing items and other related apparel.  Knowing what not to wear is as crucial as boarding your flight.

Don’t wear tight restrictive clothes.

They can hamper blood flow increasing the possibility of deep vein thrombosis.  Avoid those skinny jeans or other binding garments because you are already trapped in a seat where you can just about move your arms, elbows and legs.  Heaven forbid you get a middle seat!

Wear something fairly loose-fitting, giving you room to move your limbs and breathe easy.

Don’t go overboard in the other direction either.

Don’t treat the airport or the plane as your bedroom and turn up in pyjamas or looking like you just crawled out of bed.  Please don’t show up in flip-flops or bathroom slippers.  Wear clothes that are relaxed and don’t put off people including the airline and airport staff.  It’s a fact that well-dressed people get better treatment and service.

You can dress comfortably and casually and still be presentable.

Don’t wear high heeled shoes, knee-high or hiking boots.

Heels on long haul or mid-range can cause your feet to ache, swell up or cause deep vein thrombosis problems and any number of other aches and pains.  High heels are prone to get caught in the aisle carpeting.  They can unbalance you when you happen to be walking down the aisle and the aircraft encounters turbulence.  The same can be said of fancy boots that go all the way up to the knee as well as those bulky, laced-up trekking/mountaineering boots.  They hamper your mobility and don’t quite allow you to wiggle your toes and stretch out your legs in the compact space between your seat and the one in front.

Comfortable shoes or closed-toe slip-ons are absolutely wonderful when flying.

Don’t wear tight, provocative or revealing clothes.

You may have a fantastically toned body and great figure but revealing too much skin can be problematic for other travellers – and you!  Too much cleavage, too high a hemline, super short skirts or tight T-shirts can be inappropriate and uncomfortable to others especially if your assets are constantly on display.  They are also quite impractical. Aircraft air conditioning can be chilly and make your trip uncomfortable.   There is also the risk of attracting unwanted attention and unwelcome advances from co-passengers.

Your clothes should not raise eyebrows or disrupt your flight experience.  Don’t sour the great and much anticipated holiday you may be starting on or returning from.

Don’t overly accessorize.

Oversized earrings with bolts and screws, armful bracelets with dingly-dangly charms, bangles, beads and numerous necklace loops will only get in your way in the tight environs of an airplane.  They are very likely to get caught in all sorts of places.  Don’t wear boots and jackets with metal studs, zips and buttons.  They are liable to snag on various surfaces.  Clunky, funky jewellery and metal additions to your clothing will set off alarms and cause hold ups for you at every security check.  You will be forced to divest them at each check.

The next time you travel dress comfortably, yet classily.  Your journey will be that much more enjoyable.

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Celebrating Christmas in Singapore!

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At its heart Christmas is a time of joy, hope and togetherness. Its appeal cuts across all boundaries and cultures. It is also a good time festive season. And Singaporeans just love to celebrate! The Christmas holidays in Singapore are blessed with plenty of good cheer. So when you travel for Christmas head down Singapore way.

Singapore Tours

Christmas in Singapore brings out the fairy lights, bells and decorations creating some of the most spectacular displays in the world. Entire blocks of buildings are lit up and precincts vie with one another to grab people’s attention. From restaurants to public gardens everyone gets in on the act and contributes to the general yuletide spirit.

Renowned for its shopping, Singapore’s world famous thoroughfare, Orchard Road, dons its brightest dress. Beginning in the middle of November, Orchard Road transforms into a magical land at night. Shops and stores have promotional and discount offers that are just as fantastic as their decorations.

Singapore Tours

Millions of lights are draped on trees, buildings and hotels between Tanglin Mall and Plaza Singapura. Well-known and familiar buildings are unrecognizable as they compete for the Best Dressed Building Award. The decorations are simply out of this world and range from gigantic bows, fairyland castles to mechanized reindeer and Nutcracker soldiers.

It’s not all lights though. Singapore’s warm and humid weather gets an arctic blast. Since Christmas 1996, Tanglin Mall, turns wintery with falling ‘snow.’ You can wade through it, ball it and fling it at your friends. Special Santa appearances are exciting the kids and grownups alike.

Ngee Ann City puts up a giant Christmas tree. Hugely entertaining acts such as the Flaming Lips band whose shows include fireworks, a sky full of confetti and frolicking dancers; all-night beach parties driven by international DJs fill up Singapore’s Christmas season evenings and nights. Street performances and numerous Christmas events in Singapore give the city an exciting carnival atmosphere.

Universal Studios Singapore has pitched in with their yuletide themed Christmas Wonderland @ Gardens by the Bay. A wonderful display of light sculptures from Europe and a charming Christmas market is part of the theme. It will feature Italian luminary sculptures where this magical light-up experience is thrilling visitors. The wintry wonderland feel is intensified with ‘snowfall’ every hour.

The New York Public Library is putting on spectacular light shows. They are also screening multimedia video shows using the building’s façade. Every year theatre company, W!ld Rice takes a Christmas pantomime and gives it a local twist. This year it is the turn of “Aladdin” who is also given the Chinese treatment.

Several foreign embassies, communities and organisations dress up trees along the entire length of the Botanic Gardens. Called “Trees of the World” there are some 300 of them.

Nothing is closer to the Singaporean heart than a good feast and Christmas brings out the best in that department. Restaurants all over the island turn festive serving up popular old-fashioned Christmas dishes. Traditional Yorkshire pork racks, apple sauce and stuffed turkeys battle with an endless assortment of glazed hams and scrumptious Christmas cakes. Every hotel is offering all-you-can-eat buffets too.

Singapore Christmas

The Singapore festive season will end with an almighty bang and a light show. The annual Marina Bay Singapore Countdown to 2015 will get a huge boost as the city state kicks of its golden jubilee celebrations. There will be tonnes of fireworks; a music concert and a 400 drum Drum Gaia backed up by 25,000 ‘wishing spheres’ bobbing on the water.

So if you can, spend Christmas in Singapore.

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Lapland: A Winter Wonderland

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There is a magical land where winter stays for more than 200 days.  It is a place with miles and miles of perfectly piled drifts of virgin snow and icicles hang off the trees like sparkling decorations.  A place where the dark skies are lit by nature’s, very own silent, shimmering light display.  When one sees the Northern Lights, according to legend, the viewer will live happily ever after.

The place Santa Claus calls home, reindeer, sleighs, sleigh bells and all things that remind one of Christmas.  A land that lies north of the Arctic Circle.

Lapland!

Lapland is where winter is a joyful experience – a white, snowy wonderland.  Winter in Lapland is the longest season with a whole lot of great things to do. For instance you could…

Take a Reindeer Sleigh ride:  The reindeer is an integral part of Lapland and its people.  It provided them with nearly everything they needed including travel.  A reindeer sleigh ride is a popular and great experience.  You cannot leave the place without riding a sleigh.

Reindeer Sled Ride

Go Cross-Country Skiing: Cross-Country Skiing is one of those exhilarating joys that combine heart-pumping action while speeding across the snow and experiencing the magical countryside.  You don’t have to be an expert.  It is easy to pick up the basics of skiing.  There is no substitute for the thrill of swooshing your way through forest trails and snow covered landscape.

Cross Country Ski LapLand

Take a Husky sled ride:  Another wonderful way to travel through the Lapland countryside is to be pulled by a team of husky dogs.  This mode of travel is best suited for the Arctic conditions.  You could either control the team or sit back comfortably and admire the passing scenery as the wonderful furry canines do what they thoroughly enjoy.  You could either take a short trip or a Husky safari where you spend the nights at cabins deep in the wilderness.

Husky Safari Ride

Try Snowmobiling Across the Lapland Wilderness:  This activity is a modern, high tech thrill.  It is an exciting adventure as you speed across the frozen Arctic landscape; through snowy forest trails and up hilltops with breath-taking views of valleys and forests.  You could even drive the mobile yourself!

Snowmobile Lapland

Visit Santa Claus On a Family Safari:  This is the ultimate magical, fantastical “fairy tale come to life” experience. There is no one is who cannot be affected by meeting the jolly, red-cheeked Father Christmas at Santa’s Village.  You will also meet the gentle reindeer who pull his sleigh and ride them too.  Astound your friends by sending them a postcard from Santa’s personal post office.

Sanatas Office

All in all whatever you do when visiting Lapland, it is one large, unique and genuine experience.

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Hong Kong Haunted Walking Tour 

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Haunted Wlking Tour HOng Kong

Mention the name Hong Kong and the images that immediately spring to mind are of a myriad bright flashing coloured neon lights; crowded avenues and futuristic, gleaming skyscrapers.  It is a busy, bustling city always on the move. Yet…

Behind the façade of getting ahead, making money and going about its hectic business day there is a dark and supernatural side to Hong Kong.  There are places where tradition, culture and history blend with mystery and legends that are often inexplicable. These tales still resonate through the alleyways and byways of Wan Chai.

So join us in a unique evening tour of Hong Kong.  It is a definite departure from all the other experiences that the city offers.

The tour is led by a resident of over 20 years who knows all the stories and where all the spooky buildings and locations are.  She will show you the darker side of the Wan Chai district.  She tells of the stories, superstitions, injustice, mystery, unnatural deaths, torture and numerous evil spirits that lurk behind the heritage buildings and the glitzy lights of this shopping district.

Your guide will take you to a haunted mansion that used to be a brothel; streets built on top of a cemetery; a hidden bomb shelter.  You will be shown places where daily rituals are carried out to worship the alternative gods and a haunted school’s abandoned facility.

The tour only accommodates a maximum of 15 people so the guide can give you personal attention and answer your questions.  Please wear comfortable walking shoes.

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