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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 in ‘Family, Kids & Senior Travelers’

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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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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I Heart New York Tours

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The Big Apple, The Concrete Jungle, The City that Never Sleeps, call it what you want, New York has garnered an unrivalled reputation for good reason.  With so much to do and so many places to see, it can be overwhelming trying to decide. Here is a list of some of the top things to do whilst in NYC:

  1. New York Helicopter Tour

New York was built from the ground up, so it makes the most sense to see it from the sky! You’ll feel like a VIP as you soar around the New York skyline. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of iconic New York landmarks including Central Park, the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty. 

 

  1. Statue of Liberty Cruise

Take a cruise out to see the lovely “Lady Liberty” and the nearby Ellis Island on a Statue of Liberty Cruise.  You’ll also get spectacular views of the New York skyline including the Brooklyn Bridge and Chrysler Building.  

  1. Central Park Walking Tour

Escape the hustle-and-bustle of New York, without ever having to leave the city, on a peaceful Central Park Walking Tour. On this intimate tour you’ll learn about the park’s history whilst exploring major landmarks and other less common, local hotspots.

  1. Fifth Avenue Shopping Tour

Fifth Avenue is the epitome of luxury and wealth as it is one of the most expensive streets in the world. On this shopping tour, you’ll be treated to the expert services of an NYC-based stylist who will show you how to master New York style, regardless of whether your budget is more high street chic than luxury designer boutique. 

  1. Empire State Building Observatory Express Pass

Skip the queue and ascend 86 floors to the top of the Empire State Building. From the Observatory you’ll see all five boroughs that make up New York. On a clear day you’ll be able to see as far as Connecticut and New Jersey!

If a Helicopter Ride around New York sounds like your dream travel experience, then vote for it in the isango! travel experience poll. You’ll be entered for the chance to win a new iPad and other weekly giveaways. Bonus: you’ll get 10% off at isango! just for entering.

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See the Sights in Sydney

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When you think “Sydney” chances are the first thing that comes to your mind is the Sydney Opera House. A Sydney Opera House tour is obviously a must-do activity but there are plenty of other things to do in Sydney. From a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb to Wine Appreciation Course, here are our picks for the best things to do:

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  1. Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
    This is one of the most popular things to do in Sydney for good reason. Climb to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge for unrivalled views of the city. You can choose the time of day you want to climb from dawn, day, twilight and night.
  2. Surfing Lessons
    Hang ten! What place could be better than Bondi Beach to learn to surf? Bondi Beach is renowned for having the best waves in Australia. This lesson is perfect for those looking to catch their first wave.
  3. Sydney Opera House Tour
    You know what it looks like from the outside, but this tour will show you what it looks like on the inside! You’ll learn about the history of the Sydney Opera House then visit its major concert halls, where a staggering 2,500 performances are staged annually.
  4. Sydney Harbour Cruise
    Dine under the stars on an evening Sydney Harbour Cruise. The perfect romantic night out, you’ll see the twinkling lights of Sydney Harbour while enjoying a sumptuous three-course meal.
  5. Hunter Valley Tour and Wine Appreciation Course
    Enjoy a tranquil day sampling some of the finest wines in Australia. On this comprehensive tour, you will learn about the winemaking process from vine to bottle, all while sampling some fine wines and tasting platters.

 

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Come to Cape Town

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Cape Town is arguably Africa’s most popular tourist destination, for good reason. Cape Town provides the best of both worlds, by combining the convenience of city living coupled with magnificent views of nature. Here are some activities that you must put on your Cape Town itinerary:
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1. Shark Cage Dive
Come face-to-face with one of the world’s most notorious predators, the Great White Shark, on a Shark Cage Diving Tour. If you prefer to keep some distance between you and the sharks, enjoy the experience via boat. You’ll see a variety of sea life from penguins to seals.

2. Whale-Watching
If you don’t like sharks, why not try a more-friendly Whale Watching Tour? The tour will take you to the seaside town of Hermanus, a world-famous whale watching destination. There’s no need to bring your binoculars, as the whales come to within twenty metres of the shore!
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3. Cape Peninsula Tour
Explore the natural beauty of Cape Town and its surrounding area, on this comprehensive tour. See rare and endangered flora at Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and the adorable penguin colonies at Boulders Beach.

4. Cape Town Township Tour
Get to know Cape Town through the eyes of a local on this informative cultural tour. You will visit a range of areas from the oldest township of Langa to the colourful streets of Bo Kaap. Try some local delicacies, learn about the impact of apartheid and see the work of traditional craftsmen.

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Cape Town Winelands Tour
What could be better than sampling delicious wines surrounded by spectacular scenery? You will visit some of the best wine estates in Cape Town and partake in expert-led tasting sessions. Plus there are many opportunities to explore the towns and estates.

And if you fancy a Shark Dive in Cape Town, vote for it in the isango! Travel experience poll and you’ll be entered to win a brand new iPad and other amazing weekly giveaways.

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Explore Amsterdam

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Amsterdam is a city of dichotomies. Where else will you find coffee shops selling marijuana situated next to ancient churches? The city’s varied culture means there is an attraction guaranteed to pique the interests of every traveller. From the enlightening to the leisurely, here are the top things to do in Amsterdam:

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1. Canal Cruise

Amsterdam is connected by a series of canals, so one of the fastest (and most scenic!) ways to orientate yourself with the city is to go on a canal cruise. Relax aboard a guided tour and discover hidden treasures including houseboats and the splendid architecture of the many bridges. You’ll see there is a reason why Amsterdam is called “The Venice of the North.

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2. Red Light District tour

There is no other place comparable to Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. A tour of the district allows you to see past the often overwhelming spectacle of half-dressed girls and cannabis-shops aplenty and understand the history of the district. Informative, educational and amusing, a Red Light District tour will give you insight on a key aspect of Amsterdam’s culture.

3. Anne Frank’s House

Whether you have read Anne’s diary or not, when you walk in the same spots the Frank family spent years hiding from the Nazis, you just begin to comprehend their situation. Visiting Anne Frank’s House is a very emotional and eye-opening experience but one that you absolutely must do. At Otto Frank’s request, the house was left unfurnished after the Nazis raided it and the windows remain blacked out, offering you a glimpse of how they lived.

4. Bike Tour

Amsterdam’s preferred mode of transportation always amuses car-reliant travellers. (Have you seen a multi-storey bike parking lot before?) With the narrow streets and everything in close proximity, bikes are the quickest method of travel. Experience the city through the eyes of a local and go on a bike tour. Nervous about pedalling around a foreign city? Don’t worry as there are special bike lanes and lights and you’re more likely to come across fellow cyclists than cars. And of course, don’t forget to wear your helmet!

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5. Keukenhof

If you fancy a quick day trip out of the heart of the city, visit the picturesque Keukenhof gardens. There is a reason it is one of the most popular gardens in the world with its immaculate flower displays that literally go on for miles. (It is the largest flower bulb park in the world after all!) Every year a staggering seven million flower bulbs are planted in accordance to a specific theme. Time is of the essence as the garden is only open from about March to May because of the flowering season.

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Experiencing St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

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Experiencing St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, giving you a great chance to get away for the weekend and experience an authentic St. Patrick’s Day, and other fantastic adventures that only Ireland has to offer.

1.) Cut Loose the Irish Way

The St. Patrick’s Day Festival:

The St. Patrick’s Day Fesitval is a great way to experience authentic Irish culture on such a special holiday. The festival takes place in Dublin and is known to last for around four days (this year it begins Friday March 16 and ends Monday March 19).

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Some of the world’s best street performers and musicians can be found on Dublin’s streets during these four days. Also be on the look out for some great free concerts, with local and international bands, along with great theatre performances and even a Russian spectacular show.

The Guinness Brewery & Storehouse:

Another great way to celebrate Ireland and its fantastic pub culture is to partake in the Guinness Brewery & Storehouse experience, home to Ireland’s most beloved beer- the Guinness Draught. The brewery, located in Dublin since 1759, is a key contributor to Guinness’s 2 billion dollar a year revenue. The tour includes several floors to experience the history behind Guinness, with even a glass pint-shaped atrium tribute to the Guinness “black stuff”. Tours of the brewery usually finish up at the Gravity Bar, a bar with a 360 degree panoramic view of Dublin situated atop the famed storehouse.

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2.) Get Your Irish Knowledge On!

Although you may know the origin and story of St. Patrick’s Day, other cultural and historical tales from Ireland are important and interesting ways to enhance your trip. There are many castles, monuments and sites to be seen that hold signifigant value to the Irish people, but the Tomb of Newgrange is certainly one of the coolest.

The Tomb of Newgrange:

The Tomb of Newgrange is one of the oldest historical sites in the world, dating back before Stonehenge and even the pyramids of Giza. Although called a tomb, there’s still no official account for what the site was used for, although many believe it was connected with burial rituals and the Winter Solstice. What IS known about the historical structure is that it dates all the way back to the Neolithic period and is considered Ireland’s greatest national monument.

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The tomb resembles a giant mound with alternate layers of stones and grass to make up the outter structure of the building. The tomb has three small rooms, which all connect to the one main room. Rock slabs line the walls of the tomb, along with a slab centered in the middle of the room, which the bones of the deceased are believed to be laid. The Neolithic abstract art of carved swirls and shapes only add to the mysterious beauty of the tomb.

3.) Find the Beauty of Ireland

Part of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is by embracing the Irish culture and the beauty of Ireland. No better place can this be achieved than Ireland’s coast, which offers several mesmerizing landmarks and sites that will surely enhance and enrich your trip. Beautiful hills, valleys and look out points scatter the 120 mile long route known as the Causeway Coastal. Although the route has many stops, the most famous of them defintely belongs to the Giant Causeway.

The Giant Causeway:

Located in Northern Ireland in Antrim County The Giant Causeway is the biggest tourist attraction in all of Ireland. The Giant Causeway is primarily known for its basalt stepping stones and 40,000 chimney stack columns which slowly descend into the sea, giving it the title of the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. The Causeway was created some 50 million years ago, when the Antrim coast was subjected to intense volcanic activity.

Many legends surround the Causeway, with the most popular focusing on the Irish warrior Finn McCool, who outwit and frightened his enemy Benandonner, who fled from McCool and destroyed the Causeway in his flight. The Giant Causeway can be seen as a jump off point for a truly exciting road trip all along Ireland’s coast, with many more memorable stops on the way.

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The Glens of Antrim

The nine Glens of Atrim is more inland than the Giant Causeway, but is defintely worth the ride. The nine Glens of Atrim is named after the nine lords from the 13th century and is a prime example of beautiful green rolling hills and lush flowers that call Ireland home.

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Soaking up winter sun in the Canary Islands

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Chilly foggy weather, shorter days, looming dark evenings – just plain cold and depressing! Could we all do with a bit of sunshine this winter to get us through until spring; and what better place for a family holiday than the Canary Islands to do just that! It is close to the UK, meaning low-cost travel; and for guaranteed heat where rain is rare during winter and where temperatures range between 20 and 30 degrees, it is a no-brainer. The Canaries can also provide you with that sought-after summer tan in January.

Costa Teguise, Canary Islands

Costa Teguise

With a whole lot of beaches to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect location from the choice of beaches the Canary Islands have to offer. Miles of golden sands are the greatest attraction of Fuerteventura, while the beaches at Costa Teguise in Lanzarote are man-made and are a firm favourite for the windsurfing community. If naturist/nudist type of beaches is your thing, Tenerife’s Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Granadilla beaches are for you. However, if you are like me looking for less-visited and quiet islands, the islands of La Palma or La Gomera are ones to check out for!

Of course, some of the islands have more than just beaches. You can’t miss the Teide National Park in Tenerife, the highest peak in Spain. Or, you can take the family to the Camel Safari and Oasis Animal Park near Costa Calma in Fuerteventura. There are just simply loads of other things you can do on the Canary Islands; beaches, nature, wildlife, nightlife, restaurants, culture, activities and many more – you have it all here. My only regret is I didn’t have enough time!

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Win A Family Ticket to The Dungeon!

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This October, half-term in the UK will end with the Halloween weekend (Halloween being the 31st of Oct which falls on a Monday this year, we’re expecting most celebrations to happen the weekend before.)

jack-at-the-london-dungeonTop of the scary things to do in London must be the London Dungeon. The attraction shows you 1000 years of the capital’s most gory history and presents you with three thrilling rides, one of which opened this year: the Vengeance 5D laser ride! Educational and fun, the Dungeon will entertain the whole family.

Celebrate Halloween in London at the London Dungeon with the amazing show of Stingy Jack

Jack was a clever but lazy and gambling man. When it was time for Jack to die, the Devil tried to collect his soul but Jack managed to trick him twice. The third time the Devil didn’t even bother to show up and Jack was sent to Heaven.

At the pearly gates, St Peter refused to let Jack in because he had never done a selfless act in his life.  So Jack knocked on the gates of Hell but the Devil was still annoyed with him and so refused to let him in. The Devil threw a coal in a hollow pumpkin (or turnip, depending on which version you read.) for Jack to use as a lantern and send him on his way.

Thus Jack (O’Lantern) roams the dark on Halloween as he has nowhere to go.

So all Halloween period (15-31st Oct 2011) be aware while you make your way around the Dungeon as Jack can pop up anytime…

We have been given a family ticket* that admit two adults and two children to the attraction – all you have to do is answer this question:

Q: Halloween is officially celebrated on which date?

Send us the answer in an email to competition@isango.com with HALLOWEEN in the subject line. Competition closes 9pm Sunday 23rd of October – Winner will be chosen at random.

* tickets will be send out by supplier – ticket valid until the 31st of Mar 2012 for the Dungeon in all six locations.
Picture credit: www.the-dungeons.co.uk

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