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Top 5 Things To-Do in Finland

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     Hiding in the Northern part of Europe is the beautiful, Nordic country of Finland. Bordered by Sweden to the west, Norway to the North and Russia to the east, Finland has always lied beneath the shadows of its neighboring European countries. Known for it’s snowy climate, excellent education and peaceful economy, Finland is an ideal destination for relaxation and perfection. The following list is a countdown to the Top 5 things to do in Finland!

5. Husky Dog-Sled Safari
     If Cool Runnings is your favorite movie, then the Husky Dog-Sled Safari is for you! The tour begins with a heart warming meeting with you’re friendly husky team. Once acclimated with your crew, begin your journey through the majestic forests and magnificent mountains of Rovaniemi, Finland.

4. Find the North Pole
     Get as close to Santa as possible with a Reindeer Farm Visit and Sleigh Ride in Lapland. Santa might be hard to find at this time of the year, but his trust reindeer are there to lead the way. With a complimentary hot juice or coffee, this sleigh ride is a perfect activity for family and friends.

3. Rauna Wildlife Park
     If reindeer are not exotic enough for you, make sure you check out the Rauna Wildlife Park. Located in Rovaniemi, and is the northernmost zoo in the world, the park is filled with exotic and unique animals that you will not be able to find in the London Zoo!

2. Helsinki
     Opposite of Rovaniemi is the southern city of Helsinki. Filled with breathtaking artwork and the largest maritime fortress in the world, this city is filled with adventure and magic. The Helsinki card grants you access to all major sights and over 50 museums. This card is the best way to immerse yourself in the Finnish culture. 

1. Hunt for the Northern Lights
     You do not want to miss out on the chance to see the greatest light show on earth! Allow the moon to light up your path to the most radiant sky illumination in the world! The Northern Lights is a Finland staple and should not be missed! 

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Easter Around the World

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            This Sunday countries all around the world will be celebrating the Christian holiday of Easter. From an Easter egg roll with the President of the United States to decorating tress and bushes in Germany, Easter is wide spread holiday in both landscape and culture. Some traditions are joyous and others are sacrificial, however all celebrations are known to bring a variety of cultures and nationalities together.
 
United States of America
            Started in 1814 by First Lady Dolley Madison, the White House Easter Egg Roll is an annual event held on the White House Lawn for children and their parents. The roll happens on Easter Monday and is a race, where children push an egg through grass with long-handled spoon. This long time tradition has evolved over the years, and has hosted celebrities such as J.K. Rowling and Justin Beiber. In 2009, President Barack Obama and his family held their first Egg Roll and made headlines by being the first President to formally invite gay and lesbian families to attend the traditional event.
 
Cyprus
            Along with celebrating the traditional painting of Easter Eggs, the remote country of Cyprus has a customary tradition for people to light great fires in schools or church yards on Easter Sunday. This tradition is known as the Holy Fire and was first mentioned by the pilgrim Bernard the Monk in 870 AD. The Holy Fire is celebrated in many Orthodox countries, but is best known in Cyprus for it’s fierce competition between the neighborhoods over who has the supreme fire. Fighting for scraps and wood to create the biggest fire is a traditional ritual in Cyprus.
 
Germany
            Ostereierbaum, or Easter egg tree, is the German tradition of decorating trees and bushes with Easter Eggs. The origin of the tradition has been lost over time but the importance of the egg, as an ancient symbol of life, holds great importance to the German culture. Eggs are hung on branches of outdoor trees and bushes throughout the country, and also other German-influenced countries like the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and even the Pennsylvania Dutch region of the United States. The Germans also decorate the streets with Easter eggs including public wells or fountains on Good Friday. This tradition is called Ousterbrunnen, meaning Easter Well or Easter Fountain.
 
Colombia
            Instead of indulging in eggs and chocolate for Easter, Colombians like to eat iguana, turtle and the world’s largest rodent for their traditional Easter dinner. However eggs are incorporated into the cuisine with plates like turtle egg omelets, iguana soup, cayman stew, fried yucca and capybara, which is the world’s biggest rodent. Colombians travel for hours to spend the holiday with family and to prepare special meals, bringing exotic animals from faraway provinces to their relatives in big cities.
 
Great Britain
            In the United Kingdom “pace-egging” is a popular Easter ritual, which involves the rolling of decorated eggs down grassy green hills. The tradition is celebrated all throughout the United Kingdom, and was started with eggs originally wrapped in onionskins then boiled to give them a mottled gold appearance. An old Lancashire legend that says the broken eggshells should be carefully crushed afterwards or they will be stolen and used as boats by witches was turned into a customary tradition that is still practiced today.  You can join in on pace-egging at Holcombe Hill in Lancashire, Avenham Park in Preston, Bunkers Hill in Derby and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. 

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Las Fallas – Festival in Valencia

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            In March Valencia is home to one of Spain’s largest celebrations called the Falles, which is a traditional celebration commemorating Saint Joseph. The celebration lasts for 5 days and 5 nights, and is a perfect reason for a vacation. From March 15th-19th the streets and small neighborhoods of Valencia will be filled with people of all ages throwing fireworks and noisemakers into the streets to celebrate the culture and history of Valencia. Known to Spaniards as Las Fallas, there are 6 main events that make up the popular festival that cannot be missed! La Despertà and La Mascletà are events that occur in Valencia’s neighborhoods and are large displays of fireworks, firecrackers and musical celebration. La Despertà happens at 8:00 am but if you are not a morning person La Mascletà is the larger celebration at 2:00 pm.

La Plantà is an event that happens on the first day of Las Fallas and marks the start of the festival. Neighborhood leaders, also known as the Casal Faller, produce a structure known as a Falla, which is eventually burnt down at the end of the festival. A good way to see the Falla's and the neighborhoods is through a walking tour around the city. A walking tour will also show you where the fourth event of Las Fallas is, the L’Ofrena Floral, which is the floral offering given to Saint Mary by the Casal Fallas. This event occurs on March 17th and 18th and is a larger event than described because by the end of March 18th Saint Mary is beautifully covered in flowers and floral arrangements. 

If the firework displays at 8:00 am and 2:00 pm are not enough for you, Els Castells and La Nit del Foc, the night of fire, are nighttime fireworks displays at the old riverbed in Valencia. They occur on the first four nights of Las Falles and each display gets progressively grander. If your looking for something to do in between the multiple fireworks displays, bike and tapas tours are an excellent way to learn about the culture and history of Valencia.

All of these events and information will get you ready and excited for the final event of Falles, which is held around midnight on March 19th, La Cremà. The Falles that were constructed by each neighborhood are burnt in a huge bonfire to symbolize the end of winter and beginning of spring. This tradition started in the Middle Ages when artisans disposed of their winter wood by burning them to celebrate the spring equinox. This ritual evolved over the years into Las Fallas, which is now one of Spain’s largest celebrations. So hurry up & book your trip, celebrate the coming of spring with the people and community of Valencia. 

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Top 5 Reasons To Visit Belgium

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            Best known for it’s authentic beer, rich chocolate, and delightful waffles, Belgium’s food reputation over powers its historic character and diverse atmosphere. A destination filled with history, food, sightseeing, and relaxation, Belgium is one of Europe’s most unseen countries. If you are still contemplating on whether or not Belgium is for you, here are 5 reasons as to why Belgium is a must see European country.

1.     Notorious for it’s chocolates, waffles, and fries, Belgium has food that is easy to find in any other country but more authentic when found in Belgium. From unique fry toppings to flawless chocolate shops, the cultural food of Belgium is one of a kind.

2.     You might have tasted Belgian beer before in a country of your own, but nothing compares to an actual Belgian beer in Belgium! From strong beers that will knock you off your bar stool to over 400 different types of Beer at the Delirium bar, make sure you pace yourself when experiencing this part of the Belgian culture.

3.     Hidden in the shadows of Brussels, are the marvelous cities of Bruges and Ghent. Just a short train ride away from the countries capital, these two cities will astonish you with their medieval architecture and serene demeanor.

4.     Compared to Bruges and Ghent, Brussels is a modern city that not only is the capital of Belgium, but the European Union as well. However do not let its modernism fool you, Brussels has some medieval secrets of its own.

5.     Giving Berlin a bit of competition, Brussels’ nightlife has been emerging over the years. With many bars and restaurants open until 6 in the morning, you can find anything from tequila bars to seafood restaurants to put up camp for the night.

So before you plan your next trip to an overpopulated city or a remote island, think about the distinctive beers you can try in Brussels, the delectable chocolates in Bruges, the great waffles in Ghent, and the medieval secrets residing beneath your feet and book Belgium!

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Venice Rides of Love

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(Valentine’s Day Special)
Love in the air
Paris may be the branded weekend get-away for Valentine’s Day, but lying among the Venetian Lagoon is one of Europe’s most romantic cities. This Valentine’s Day, break out from the norm and take your sweetheart to the passionate Italian city of Venice. Located in Northeast Italy, Venice is made up of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. Best known for its historic Gondola Rides, Venice is the place to be this Valentine’s Day. However not every Gondola Ride is the same, from ones that serve dinner to ones that sing, here’s a list of Gondola rides that will enhance your love this Valentine’s Day.
Venice Gondola Ride
1. Gondola Serenade: This gondola ride is not just a pretty view of the Grand Canal and backstreets of Venice. While riding through the ‘the finest street in the world’ allow your Gondolier to serenade you and your darling with a romantic, Italian love song.

2. Discover Love: If you and your loved one are more of the adventurous type, then the Discover Venice & Gondola Ride is for you! A combination of Gondola ride and walking tour, experience the romance as well as the history Venice has to offer.

3. Dinner And A Show: Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Take your Valentine on a romantic Gondola ride, with a three-course meal and of course no Gondola ride is complete without a gondolier serenade.

4. Ultimate Ride: A private intimate ride, a three-course a’la carte meal, and a romantic serenade, what more could your Valentine want? This Gondola ride is a sincere and loving way to tell your Valentine how much you love them.

This Valentine’s Day, there is no better way to show your Valentine how much they mean to you than with a Venice Gondola Ride.
 

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Exploring Philadelphia

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Philadelphia

Whether you are in the mood for food, culture, sports or history, the City of Brotherly Love has it all. Better known as Philadelphia, the large American city, which lies beneath the shadows of New York and Boston, is filled with fascinating events and activities.

 
1. If you are looking to experience the food in Philadelphia, then look no further than the Philadelphia South Street Walking Tour. Located in South Philly, the tour takes you through one of the cities unique and diverse neighborhoods. Starting at a Jewish deli and ending at a popular "cheese steak" shop, the tour includes food markets, street art, historic buildings and more. 
 
2. Need some romance in the City of Brotherly Love? Then take your sweetheart on the romantic Spirit of Philadelphia. A 3-hour cruise that offers a live show, buffet dinner, and a spectacular view of the Philadelphia skyline. With the option of lunch or dinner, spend the rest of your day visiting the Penn’s Landing area. 
 
3. Interested in sports? Philadelphia is one of the most unique sporting cities in America. With wild fans that are passionate about ice hockey, football, basketball and baseball, take the opportunity to go to a game. Make sure you arrive early enough for the parking lot tailgate! Food like hot dogs, sausages and hamburgers are very popular, and inside the event Chickie's & Pete's is a favoured Philadelphia restaurant. 
 
4. Looking for a little bit of education while on your trip, or do you just love history? Either way Philadelphia is one of America’s most historic cities and there is no better way to see it than through the Colonial City Walking Tour. From the Betsy Ross house to Independence Hall, the tour takes you back in time to where the city of Philadelphia began. 
 
5. Lastly, if history, food, or sports is not for you, give the King of Prussia Mall a try. Philadelphia is home to one of America’s largest shopping malls, located just outside the city, the King of Prussia Mall has over 400 stores to delight your shopping interest. Made up of a Court side and a Plaza side, the mall is easy to navigate and has a little bit of something for everyone. 

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