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Posts in ‘Things to do in North America’

Romantic Winter Getaways (Part 1)

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In this first of a two part series, we feature romantic experiences around the world, handpicked by us for you and your loved one to experience in the cold cold months. We’ve covered all geographies and topographies so you have a diverse set of experiences to choose from. We’ve hit the Arctic Lapland, glamour capital Miami, canals of Venice, sunny Mexico, Scottish Highlands and artistic Budapest. 

1) SEEING THE NORTHERN LIGHTS AND REINDEER SLEIGH SAFARI, FINLAND

Northern Lights in FinlandCreate memories of a lifetime as you and your partner witness nature’s finest lightshow in Finnish Lapland.  Aurora Borealis or the northern lights paints the night sky in greens, violets and blues in the darkest winter months. Be part of this mystical phenomenon by chasing the lights between December and April, when all you have for company is the frosted forest, a blanket of snow, stories of the Arctic from your guide and Finnish style hot berry juice by the campfire.  For more fun in the Arctic wilderness, be sure to visit the reindeer farm and dash through the snow on a reindeer sleigh safari

2) PRIVATE GONDOLA RIDE FOR TWO, VENICE, ITALY

Venice by eveningA private gondola ride for two in Venice is the perfect occasion to pop the question. Wait till early evening when the crowds are gone and the light is right. On this gondola ride you glide through your own private Venice far from the hubbub of modern tourism. Glide through hidden canals, cross landmark bridges amongst Venetian gothic architecture and reflect on once upon a time grandeur. Prebook your gondola ride without having to haggle for the price at the destination.


3) LOBSTER DINNER CRUISE CANCUN,  MEXICO

If your perfect romantic getaway involves being surrounded by clear turquoise blue waters and walking on white sandy beaches then head to Cancun - Mexico’s premiere coastal destination. Opt for a sunset cruise on board the Spanish Galleon Colombus where you and your partner can enjoy gorgeous views of the Caribbean sea while you dine on delicious seafood and unlimited fine wine as the relaxing music of saxophone fills the air.  

4) MIAMI BEACH WEDDING, FLORIDA, USA

Tropical beach weddingIf you both love the outdoors, why not exchange your wedding vows in an outdoor wedding ceremony with soft sand under your feet, gushing ocean waves and cool sea breeze for company? The warm glow of the setting sun will give you lush photo opportunities to capture your special day. 

 

5) LOCH NESS, GLENCOE AND THE HIGHLANDS DAY TOUR FROM EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

Scotland castlePerfect getaway for couples who relish myths, folktales and legends – Scotland is abundant with such stories. Experience the rugged beauty of the Highlands as you walk through ancient ruins of magnificent palaces and fortresses strewn along the coast. Soak yourself in the misty beauty of Glencoe, voted as Scotland’s most romantic glen in a poll. Centuries of Scottish history shall come alive as you pass from one charming town to another, crossing many a lochs in the stunning Scottish landscapes.

6) THE CHAMPAGNE REGION: TASTINGS AT MOET & CHANDON AND HOUSE OF MUMM, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE

Champagne in the vineyardWe know that Paris never gets old, however a short day trip from Paris to the  Champagne-Ardenne region encapsulates a quintessential French experience unlike no other. Start your day exploring the quaint streets of Reims, known throughout the world for its sparkling wine, Champagne and follow it up with a guided tour of Reims UNESCO World Heritage Cathedral. Journey through Rheims Mountain Regional Park in the Epernay region where you can get a tour of the Moët & Chandon wine cellars. Get a real sense of the history and how the champagne is produced, along with tasting sessions and plenty of opportunity to stock up on your favourite champagne! 

 

7) NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATIONS IN BUDAPEST

What can be more romantic than welcoming the New Year on a boat on the Danube? Partake in the bonhomie created by live Hungarian gypsy music, and traditional folk dances. Watch the illuminated landmarks of the city from the comfort of your boat, while you tuck into some delicious Hungarian food. A boat trip on the river ensures a memorable New Year's Eve party in the Hungarian capital.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this feature…

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Halloween – A New Orleans Speciality

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As the days grow shorter, the nights longer and the season of mist rolls in, it is time for the ghosts, ghouls and other scary creatures to begin their annual visits through the streets of the living.  It is the time of superstitions; keeping vigil for passing spirits and performing rituals that ward off the ‘ha’ants.’  In other words it is Halloween!

Shortened from “All Hallows’ Eve,” Halloween is one of the western world’s oldest festivals.  Derived from an ancient pagan Celtic festival it was surreptitiously incorporated into the Christian Calendar.  It marks a series of special religious ceremonies to prepare the people for a feast to honour the saints – Hallowmas.

Halloween made its way to North America after the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-49 drove more than two million Irish to the New World.  They brought with them Halloween and the fun and games that go along with it.  Children would play "knock-a-dolly," a prank in which they would knock on the doors of their neighbours, but run away before the door is opened.  A traditional delicacy barmbrack, a type of fruitcake, would be made and eaten.

halloween post2 (400 x 267)

In the US some of the traditions underwent changes and “knock-a-dolly” morphed into “trick-or-treating” for candy.  During the 1930s the practice of dressing up as witches, scarecrows, mummies and vampires was the norm. In the 1950s decorating front yards and houses with lights and carved pumpkin lanterns became common. Get-togethers with family and friends turned into raucous parties.

Commercialisation has played a large part in many of these changes.  There is a whole industry devoted to making costumes and creating Halloween themes for children’s parties.  Halloween is now a roughly 7 billion dollar industry making it the second largest festival in the US of A.  Local department stores and businesses host parties with games for the whole family and throw in treats for kids as part of their effort to boost sales.

While Halloween is a big event all across the US (second only to Christmas when it comes to holidays), it seems to me that the city of New Orleans has imbued it with a spirit of its own.  Perhaps it has something to do with the well-earned reputation for being the most haunted city in the country.

Whatever the reasons, Halloween in New Orleans is now the second biggest party of the year after Mardi Gras. The city has turned Halloween into a weekend long festival of street parades and costume extravaganzas.  If you are in New Orleans for Halloween don’t be surprised if you bump into ghastly creatures like vampires, witches or comic superheroes of all ages, sizes and genders wandering around the streets – day and night.

There are plenty of voodoo and costume shops around so you can pick up the accessories that you need to get into your creepiest mood.  To really get into the spirit of Halloween in New Orleans you might want to start by taking one of several organised haunted tours.

These ghostly walking tours take you to spooky cemeteries and haunted houses in the Garden District and places where ghosts have been sighted and other supernatural activity reported.  They take you through the French Quarter, which boasts of being the most haunted part of the city.  In the heart of the Quarter on Royal Street is the La Laurie House, reputeduly the most haunted house in the area. This is where the monstrous Madame LaLaurie tortured and killed her slaves before fleeing to Paris. 

halloween post (400 x 267)

New Orleans even has an Official Halloween Parade in the French Quarter, which is renowned for wild times, innovative themes and fantastic floats and costumes. This year promises to be even more visually stunning and unrestrained making New Orleans THE destination for Halloween shenanigans.

Halloween night in 2013 falls on October 31, a Thursday, so all the action will take place the preceding weekend.

See all tours in New Orleans.

 

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Autumn Activities

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The days are getting shorter and the temperature a little colder: autumn has truly begun. Still there is enough natural splendour and activities to be found during this season,  so here are few events from around the globe.

Germany Oktoberfest

In Munich the infamous Oktoberfest is currently in full swing. Last year it celebrated its 200th year anniversary and the beer festival is still going strong. Stroll along the Theresienwiese, visit the different beer tents and try local delicacies like the Weisswurst (veal sausage), Knödel (dumplings), enjoy a Mohrenkopf ( a chocolate covered cream cake) as desert. There are also rides to keep children of all ages entertained.

brotzeit_munich_4728_4Tips:

  • Go early, as you cannot reserve a place in a beer tent and you won’t be allowed in a tent when it’s considered full.
  • Your pram and buggy might be refused on peaktimes and young children will have to leave after 8pm even when accompanied by their parents.
  • Be prepared to dig deep: entry might be free
    but a liter beer will cost you around the €9.

The Oktoberfest will last until the 3rd of October and will beer serving hours are 10am-10:30pm on weekdays and 9am-10:30pm on the weekends.  If you can’t make it to the Oktoberfest now throughout the year you can still visit the Beer museum and go on a beer and food excursion in Munich.

stlouisby-markgstohlUSA Halloween

Halloween gains popularity in the UK but a very special place to celebrate Halloween is New Orleans, the most haunted city in America.  In the run-up to Halloween you can visit haunted houses in the French quarter and learn more about the dark art of Voodoo.
Celebrations are held on Frenchmen street where everyone takes to the street in costume and you can enjoy the annual Halloween parade where Halloween royalty takes to the floats.  The very brave book a cemetery tour in New Orleans. You will roam the St Louis Cemetery, learn about the evolution of voodoo and even visit the tomb of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.  Come along if you dare!

gatineau-by-dionetianCanada Thanksgiving

Another very North American festival but Canada celebrates Thanksgiving earlier than the US: this year it will be on the 10th of Oct. Originating from the Harvest Festival in Europe and the first Thanksgiving celebration in North America actually took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher arrived from England to Newfoundland in 1578.

Canada famed for its spaciousness and nature is still very popular among the modern day explorers.
The Gatineau Park is a woodland and Lakeland district close to the capital city Ottawa. Every autumn the Canadian capital organizes Fall Rhapsody, an event that runs through the Gatineau Park and covers over 90km of trails. There are also activities planned to keep the children entertained, so it is perfect for the whole family. You can also take a tour in Gatineau Park with a guide who will expertly lead you to the most awe-inspiring places like the Mackenzie King Estate, the gorgeous country home of the 10th Prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Whatever you do: keep exploring this autumn!

Photocredits: Flickr St Louis cemetery- Mark Gstohl/ Gatineau Park- Dionetian

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JetBlue All You Can Jet pass special offers

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JetBlue All You Can Jet

JetBlue All You Can Jet

JetBlue is rolling out again their super duper All You Can Jet deal for 2010. In a nutshell: you buy a pass once, and then you can fly as much as you want for one month.

Yes. Unlimited flights, for one month.

JetBlue serves more than 60 destinations including major US cities (NYC, Chicago, Boston, LA, Miami, Orlando, Vegas….) and the Caribbeans, Mexico and Central American capitals.

So there is plenty of choice for seeing friends and family, taking a late vacation, city-hopping or even better – just fly somewhere, randomly!

This year we are proud to be part of JetBlue AYCJ travel partners and we will be offering exclusive special offers to AYCJ pass holders.

Considering you can fly around for free for one month, this is the unmissable time to experience unique activities – wherever they are, and at preferential rates.

How does it work? Pass holders will receive a welcome e-mail containing a link and special passcode to access the special offers page.

Even better: AYCJ special offers can be cumulated with our classic multiSave discount if you book any other product on isango! at the same time.

Useful links:

All You Can Jet passpage on JetBlue

- All You Can Jet page on Facebook

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Special Easter Offers at Isango.de

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isango!‘s German site isango.de has published two press releases about its special Easter offers. German isango! distributes discount codes, which enable the customers to get 10% off the original price. They simply mention the code in their booking and receive the discount automatically. The offers are an Easter present from the German isango! team.
One Easter bargain is the Alhambra in Granada, which is Spain’s most popular attraction and very popular among the German customers. The discount code CSCRUUJ can be used to book Alhambra tickets (Alhambra Eintrittskarten) for 10% less. The ticket gives visitors access to the Alhambra and includes a 2 ½ hours long guided tour of the Alhambra palace and its beautiful garden.
Alternatively isango.de offers cheap New York helicopter tours (New York Helicopter Touren). Any of the three helicopter tours can be purchased for 10% less with the code CSPBHP7. The flights are the perfect way to discover the Big Apple and guarantee tourists an unforgettable experience in New York.

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A to Z of Places to See (Cities N-S)!

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Orlando Fireworks - d4rr3ll

Orlando Fireworks - d4rr3ll

N is for Nice, France: Ideally situated between vineyards, hills, and the hotspots of the French Riviera, Nice is, well, quite nice. With shopping, museums, Roman ruins, warm beaches, and plenty of nightlife, the city is a tourist’s paradise, without all of the crowds.

O is for Orlando, Florida: The ultimate family destination, Orlando is easy to navigate, and full of child-friendly destinations. Take the kids to Sea World or Universal Studios. Spend a day at the beach, and swim with the dolphins, or dine with a NASA astronaut. And, for kids of all ages, Walt Disney World is located just south of the city!

P is for Pamplona, Spain: In need of a little adrenaline boost? Come to Pamplona for the San Fermín festival. Running each summer from July 6-14, this festival hosts the “running of the bulls”. Though you can catch a bullfight almost anywhere in Spain, only in Pamplona do you actually get the chance to hop the fence and run along with them. Think you can handle it? continue reading

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A to Z of Places to See (Cities G-M)!

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Red Square, Moscow - yeowatzup

Red Square, Moscow - yeowatzup

G is for Galway, Ireland: If you’re looking for great tourism, go to Dublin, but for a real look at Irish culture, try the smaller, more Northern town of Galway. The city has been nicknamed “Croí Cultúrtha na hÉireann”, Ireland’s Cultural Heart, and is known best for throwing the Galway Arts Festival and Macnas Parade every July.

H is for Helsinki, Finland: Located on the shores of the Baltic Sea and is the Finish capital, and transportation hub of the country. Helsinki is an ideal place for walkers, bikers, and even paddlers, plus once you’ve spent a day out in the sun, you can relax in a traditional Baltic sauna.

I is for Istanbul, Turkey: As the second largest metropolitan area in Europe, there is no shortage of things to do in Istanbul. From belly dancing to St. Sophia’s Church, the Blue Mosque to the Topkapi Palace, there are plenty of reasons why Istanbul has been named as one of the EU’s “Capital of Culture” for 2010. continue reading

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Walking Cities Part 5: New Orleans

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If you’ve missed the introduction to this series, click here. For part 2, click here. For part 3, click here. For part 4, click here.

Jackson Square, the French Quarter - paparutzi

Jackson Square, the French Quarter - paparutzi

New Orleans may not be one of the typical “Top 5” tourist destinations, but its status as one of the states’ most underrated vacation spots makes it all the more interesting to visit. Don’t expect to find the star maps, tourist crowds, and “authentic” souvenir shops of other popular destinations, this city has a cool, cozy vibe all its own (which, to be honest, can sometimes be a bit hard to find in the states!).

Famous for its music scene, Mardi Gras celebration (February 7th-24th), fantastic nighttime scene, and great flea markets and antique shopping, New Orleans is a vibrant city with loads to explore. Due to a difficult history, and most recently, of course, to the plague of catastrophic hurricanes, New Orleans is also a city that is constantly changing. Repairing, reworking, and rebuilding has become the a part of the fiber of the city, and the city’s ability to recover is a thing to behold (or, even, get involved with). continue reading

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Open Road USA

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A road trip across America always sounds so idyllic; nothing but the open road, endless diners and Jack Kerouac in the back seat. Unfortunately, unless the world’s biggest ball of string is your cup of tea (yes it does exist in Branson Missouri) there isn’t much to do on that eternal roadway. The city stops along the way are the highlights, so plan with care.

continue reading

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New York explores modern photography

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People with an interest in contemporary photography should be sure to fit a visit to the Museum of the City of New York into their New York tours this summer.

From June 10th to August 16th, the cultural institution will present the exhibition Dutch Seen, which has been guest-curated by Kathy Ryan, photo editor of the New York Times Magazine.

The showcase features a variety of contemporary images captured by Dutch artists currently working in New York City.

Many of the photographs were specially commissioned to mark the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration of New York and look at themes including diversity, tolerance and humanism.

Through portraits, landscapes, still lives, conceptual pieces and other works, the exhibition will delve into the aesthetic traditions of Dutch art from the era of the old masters to contemporary figures.

People taking New York tours this year will also be able to visit the Museum of the City of New York to see Mannahatta/Manhattan, a display that will explore the natural history of the Big Apple.

New York – From the dizzy heights of the Empire State Building to the serene Central Park, New York has it all!ADNFCR-1652-ID-19114785-ADNFCR

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