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Stay Healthy on Vacation

Author: pakce  |  Category: Vacation Ideas Stay Healthy

Keep up your exercise routine on vacation.It’s so easy to fall into unhealthy habits when you travel. Heavy restaurant meals, little scheduled exercise, strange sleeping arrangements and late nights exploring new towns can lead to feeling rundown.

Keep up your exercise routine on vacation

To keep your immune system in tip-top shape (and to keep from returning home five pounds heavier!), it’s important to maintain your at-home healthy habits even when you’re on the road. Consider these six tips to do just that:


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1. Wash your hands a lot! One of the most important ways to reduce infectious disease transmission is to wash your hands carefully and frequently with soap and water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hand washing–or using hand-sanitizer gel with alcohol–will help stop common cold germs in their tracks, too.

2. Stay hydrated. Although the World Health Organization says that low humidity on airplanes does not cause internal dehydration, it’s still healthier to ask your friendly flight attendant for a cup of ice water instead of caffeine-filled sodas or alcohol. Make sure you have plenty of bottled water in your hotel room and drink it throughout your trip.

3. Pack healthy snacks. In your carry on, bring some apples, dried fruit, protein bars, peanut butter crackers or small tins of nuts, so you won’t feel the need to make a purchase at one of those ubiquitous mega-cinnamon roll stands in the airport.

4. Make smart choices at restaurants. If you eat healthy meals at home, there?s no reason why you can?t at restaurants, as well. Skip the bread basket, order lean meats and veggies, and if you must have dessert, propose ordering one for the whole table to share.

5. Work out at your hotel or cruise-ship fitness center. If you have a choice among hotels, find one with cardio equipment, strength-training equipment or a decent-sized pool for lap swimming. Nearly every cruise ship these days has a fitness center or track on an outdoor deck. You’ve got no excuse! But you could also consider bringing along an exercise band for strength training; doing simple push-ups, squats and lunges in your room; scouring the television listings for a cable yoga class; or taking a jog around your hotel neighborhood. Heck, even a walk on the beach is good for you!

6. Get good shut-eye. This is easier said than done, especially if you want to see and do everything on vacation! But do your best to hit the sack early so you can have loads of energy for your days full of sightseeing.


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Bring the Whole Family on an Escorted Tour

Author: pakce  |  Category: Vacation Ideas Family Tours

What Is a Family Tour?

Family tours are designed by travel companies who understand that children (and adults!) need a mix of included activities and down time for rest and relaxation while they’re on vacation. So day-by-day itineraries are crafted with all ages in mind.

On an escorted tour, all of your sightseeing arrangements are made in advance, so there’s no chance that shows will be sold out or you’ll miss anything important. You don’t need to worry about picking up maps, figuring out directions or determining which attraction to visit first. Escorted travel operators are experts in arranging sightseeing excursions, so they know the best times of day to visit the most popular attractions to avoid the crowds. Plus, you probably won’t have to stand in line anywhere; usually tour groups can skip to the front of the line, saving you precious vacation time.

Also remember that large escorted travel companies enjoy great buying power (they book hotel rooms, transportation and sightseeing in bulk), so traveling with a group will cost much less than if you tried to make all of the arrangements yourself. This is an important consideration as costs for a family of four can add up!

Family tours are available in worldwide destinations. Travelers of all ages can relax in the Hawaiian Islands, learn about American history in Washington, D.C., spot toucans in the Costa Rican jungle or tour ancient castles in Europe.

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What You Can Expect on a Family Tour

While the details of each escorted-tour itinerary vary among tour operators and destinations, typically on a tour designed for families, you will enjoy the following:

Centrally located hotel accommodations that are in the middle of all the action, often with kid-friendly amenities, such as swimming pools or game rooms.

Airport transfers with bagging handling, so you don’t have to worry about figuring out how to get from the airport to your first hotel.

Included or optional activities that appeal to all age ranges, from snorkeling in Hawaii and game-viewing in Africa to horseback riding in Arizona and gelato tasting in Italy. (Some itineraries include “kids only” activities, as well.)

A leisurely pace to provide time for family bonding and learning. (Few early morning wake-up calls ensure non-cranky travelers.)

A friendly tour director who will smooth the way for you, sharing expert commentary throughout your vacation.

The opportunity to meet like-minded families who share similar interests (on most family tour itineraries, only adults with children are allowed on the trip).

Buffet meals or menus with kid-friendly options for picky palates.

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Free time for your family to enjoy explorations on your own.

As always, check the day-by-day itinerary and “What’s Included” information to confirm exactly what comes with the price of your vacation. ^Top

Age Minimums for Family Tours

The escorted travel companies that offer specific family trips have different minimum ages required for travel. While on tour, there may be some age restrictions for included or optional activities, such as horseback riding, river rafting or snorkeling; ask an AffordableTours.com travel consultant for details.

Globus Family Vacations – Minimum age is 8 years old.
Trafalgar Family First Class – Minimum age is 5.
Tauck Bridges – Minimum age is 3; recommended age is 8.
Abercrombie & Kent Family Holidays – Minimum age 5 or 6 depending on destination.
Adventures by Disney - Minimum age is 4; suggested ages vary depending on destination. ^Top

The Benefits of Traveling with Children

Indeed, traveling with children on lengthy plane flights, through multiple time zones and then bunking in strange beds, can, frankly, have its touchy moments. But the benefits of taking your children on a trip far outweigh any “what if” concerns.

Here are just a few reasons to plan your escorted family vacation this year:

Kids love spending time with you. At home it’s too easy to get distracted by housework or office obligations. On vacation, you have fabulous quality time with your whole family, with opportunities to carve out some one-on-one time with each child if you like.

Children are learning, and they don’t know it! Seeing important historic buildings in Europe or getting acquainted with the environment in Central America doesn’t seem like “education” when it’s in the form of exciting day trips and adventures. They’ll be introduced to different cultures and foods, broadening their horizons along the way and learning so much more than if they simply read about locales in school textbooks.

You’re making amazing memories. Years and even decades after family vacations, your children will still be able to tell funny stories about the time that Dad tried surfing in Hawaii, even Grandma climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the entire family spotted elephants on safari. Travel often inspires lifelong memories.

Introduce the concept of traveling to your children now, and they will grow up understanding that there is a huge world outside of their hometown. They’ll have firsthand experiences that they can take with them to college and beyond, and then pass down their love of travel to their own children and grandchildren!

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Comparing Tour Packages

Author: pakce  |  Category: Vacation Ideas Comparing Tour Packages

Independent Vacations Tour famous sights at your own pace.Independent vacations are ideal for folks who would like an experienced travel company to take care of their hotel accommodations, airport transfers, transportation between cities and city orientation tours. Independent travelers who like to plan how to spend their vacation days at their own pace would love the convenience of a hassle-free independent vacation.

Tour famous sights at your own pace

With an independent vacation, you benefit from having a local host in each city of your itinerary available to answer questions and suggest the best places for sightseeing and dining. Again, typically one half-day of guided sightseeing in each city is included, but you’ll have plenty of time to explore on your own. Some meals may be included on independent vacations, particularly overseas, where breakfast at your hotel is included every morning of your stay (be sure to read “What’s Included” with each itinerary to confirm).

Also on an independent vacation, your transportation between cities is by plane, train or boat. Typically you’ll spend two or three nights in each location, and only a few locations are visited. (This is different from a fast-paced, “panoramic” escorted tour – see above.)

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If your independent vacation only features one city, where you lodge for the duration of your trip, this is commonly called an “independent city stay.” Again, you’ll have a local host on hand to answer any questions or smooth over any problems that arise while you’re on vacation.

Finally, with an independent vacation, you travel solely with those in your immediate party, giving you the flexibility and privacy to enjoy your vacation just how you see fit.

Tour & Cruise

Have fun combining a tour and a cruise.With a “tour & cruise” or “cruise & tour” or “cruise-tour” (so many monikers!), you enjoy the best of both worlds. Typically, with a tour & cruise, you overnight in a few cities on land, and travel between cities by motorcoach, so you can sit back and let someone else do the driving, while you admire the scenery from large windows. Plus, you also get to relax on an ocean cruise of several nights or more. (Tours with a one-day or overnight cruise are simply considered escorted tours.)

Have fun combining a tour and a cruise

Tour & cruise vacation packages are a great way to combine two decidedly different styles of travel. Cruising has its own perks, namely cruise ships packed with a multitude of onboard activities—casinos, kids’ clubs, climbing walls, swimming pools—as well as different dining options, from plentiful buffets to 24-hour pizzerias to formal, romantic dining rooms! You will still have the opportunity to set foot on land via optional shore excursions, that will introduce you to the culture and sights at various ports of call.

Tour & cruise destinations are varied. You can find them in Greece, the Northeast U.S., Peru, Alaska, Hawaii, Western Canada, China and many other locations throughout the world.

As you research vacation options, be sure to review each itinerary carefully to ensure you are fully aware of what’s included in your vacation package. As always, knowledgeable AffordableTours.com consultants can help answer all of your questions about particular trips.

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Save Money on Vacation

Author: pakce  |  Category: Vacation Ideas Stay Healthy

Eat at neighborhood cafes like the locals do.If you’re feeling a pinch in your pocketbook, and would like to stretch your vacation dollars during your next trip, consider these five hints:

Eat at neighborhood cafes like the locals do.

 

Remember toiletries and first-aid items

It’s a hassle, and it’s expensive, to pick up sunscreen, make-up and other toiletries once you’re on vacation. And you especially don’t want to have to hit the hotel gift shop last-minute if you’ve forgotten something; that’s where prices are most inflated. So make a check-list of all your personal items, medicines, band-aids and ointments that you don’t want to forget to pack before you leave home.

Eat like a local

If you’re not on an escorted tour or staying at an all-inclusive resort (where meals are included in the price of your vacation) try to eat like the locals do. In Europe, pack a picnic lunch of a baguette, cheese and ham. In the Caribbean, eat fresh fruit from roadside markets. Find neighborhood restaurants or pack lunches made from items picked up from local grocery stores, and you’ll save a bundle of money that you can then spend at a more upscale restaurant once or twice during your vacation.

Keep snacks, drinks and mini-meals in your room

If you have a small refrigerator in your hotel room, store milk and juice there for cereal breakfasts. Same goes for sandwich fixings for lunch, beer for happy hour, and fruit for late-night snacks. If you have an in-room coffee maker, you should be able to heat water warm enough to mix up instant oatmeal in the morning.

Don’t use the phone in your hotel room

Buy a local phone card or purchase an international calling card before you leave home.

Bargain for souvenirs

In places like Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean don’t be afraid to bargain if you’re shopping at an open-air market. Bargaining for items it typically expected. Just don’t come down too low if you’ve found an item you really want to bring home!

Best Vacation Packing Tips

Author: pakce  |  Category: Vacation Ideas Best Vacation Packing Tips

How you pack your bags can make the difference between a carefree vacation and an exercise in frustration. Whether you’re traveling for a week or a month, taking the time to pack well will have you singing your own praises once you’re out on the road. Here are a few tips to remember the next time you’re ready to head out.

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Prepare your gear.

Make sure your luggage is going to make the journey. Clean out any remnants of past trips—receipts, beach sand, old candy wrappers. Oil zippers and wheels to keep them moving smoothly. Mend any tears in backpacks or bags, and bring a small sewing kit for on-the-go repairs. If your suitcase is soft-sided, consider shoring it up with a piece of cardboard tucked beneath your clothes. ^Top

Divvy up your stuff.

For most trips, two pieces of luggage will do the job: a wheeled suitcase and a small backpack or personal bag. The wheeled bag lets the ground bear the brunt of the load, and the small bag helps you keep important items close. In the suitcase, pack things that you can afford to lose and that can be replaced with relative ease. In the small bag, carry the essentials you would need if your luggage was lost or damaged—clean underwear and a shirt, a toothbrush, contacts or glasses, and your medications. Include some comfort items as well: sunglasses, lip balm, a book, and a snack.

As for the really important things—money, credit cards, and personal identification—disperse these throughout your belongings. Store your passport and driver’s license in separate places (preferably with one of them on your person), and put copies of your passport in both bags. If you have more than one credit card, stash them separately.

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Pack less than you think you need.

Remember that whatever you bring with you will be yours to manage—hauling it through airports, and, if you are on an escorted tour with many overnights, unpacking and repacking every few nights (one nice benefit of river cruises or ocean cruises is that you only unpack once). So, try to reduce. Weed out anything that you are not absolutely certain you will wear regularly. Be ruthless and make the hard decisions before you leave—it’s far better than having to toss something out mid-trip. ^Top

Take double duty duds.

If you’re going to be traveling from city to country, or through a variety of climates, you’re not going to be able to bring a whole different wardrobe for each locale. So, choose items that can do double duty, like pants that can go from sightseeing at the Louvre to dinner at a chic cafe along the Seine. The short sleeve shirt you wore while traversing the boiling streets of Rome will add a layer of protection against the rainy chill of Holland when worn under a long-sleeve shirt. Also, bring clothes in fabrics that are suited to traveling—sturdy, washable fabrics that can stand being crunched into a suitcase, and preferably those that will air-dry quickly if you have to wash them out in your hotel sink. ^Top

Get clever about the way you make it fit.

Experiment with rolling and folding your clothes to find how they fit best. Bulkier items like sweaters often fit better when laid out flat at the top of the suitcase. Take advantage of hidden spaces, like the insides of shoes, to tuck in rolled underwear and socks. Heavy items like shoes should: a) be packed on the bottom of your suitcase and b) be kept to a minimum, three to four pairs max—sneakers for sightseeing or working out, casual sandals for easy walking, dress shoes for hitting the town should suffice. ^Top

Consolidate your toiletries.

Think of your morning routine, and then miniaturize it. Take just what you use every day, and leave the rest. Pour lotion/shampoo/conditioner into travel-size bottles. Don’t take the whole box, bag, or bottle of something when you only need a week’s worth. ^Top

Leave room for souvenirs.

Whether your budget is big or small, you’re bound to pick up at least trinkets here and there. If you’re not much of a collector, don’t worry about it too much; but if you’re planning on buying out the entire stock of an indigenous peoples’ craft market, you might want to make some space. Anything really large should probably be shipped home rather than lugged around, but smaller items should be able to find a place in your bag.

Escorted Tours

Author: pakce  |  Category: Vacation Ideas Escorted Tours

Escorted Tours Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with group travel.First, it’s important to note that traveling on an escorted tour is more affordable than traveling on your own. Escorted tour operators book hotel rooms in bulk, passing the savings on to you. Same goes for everything else you enjoy on an escorted tour. Typically that includes guided sightseeing, meals and local transportation, such as motorcoach, train or ferry travel from one city to another. It costs much less than if you arranged the same services yourself. Plus, you know your total cost up front. There are no hidden fees.

Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with group travel

On an escorted tour, a knowledgeable tour director will lead your escorted tour group along every step of your vacation. He or she will be well versed in the local language and culture, which is especially important if you are traveling in a foreign country. You’ll learn about the history, geography and current events of each region you visit.

On an escorted tour, much of the sightseeing is included. That means you don’t have to pay for each museum visit or activity separately – it’s all included in the price of your tour. While your days may be filled with included sightseeing, or transferring via motorcoach from one overnight locale to another, you will also have some free time to spend however you’d like. Perhaps you’d like to take some optional excursions (for additional fees), relax at your hotel, sit at a sidewalk café and write postcards, or explore the area on your own.

You travel with like-minded passengers on an escorted tour. Compare notes on sightseeing, share travel tips and get to know one another over included meals. Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with traveling in a group.

Remember that not all escorted tours are created equal. You may stay in one city for several nights while taking day trips through the local countryside, or your leisurely itinerary may cover a few different cities in one area of the world. Then there are fast-paced, “panoramic” tours that give you a great overview of many countries in Europe, several states in the U.S. or many regions of Australia.

Escorted tours are available on every continent in the world, from budget to luxury, leisurely to fast-paced. And they range anywhere from 6 to 34 days! Indeed, if you peruse the different offering of escorted tours (see links below), you’ll surely find an escorted-tour vacation that will suit your vacation time frame and budget.

Casablanca, Morocco

Author: pakce  |  Category: Destination Casablanca Morocco

Hassan II Mosque

If you Google “Casablanca,” the first entries will be almost certainly be about the film of that name made in 1942, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. We did pass “Rick’s Bar” on the way out of the docks. We stopped for a photo-call, but didn’t go in. It was closed … and the white-painted art-decoish exterior looked nothing like the one in the film, anyway.

We were bound for one of Casablanca’s landmarks, the Hassan II Mosque. It’s the largest mosque in Africa, and indeed the world outside Saudi Arabia. It’s also one only two mosques in Morocco where non-Muslims are allowed inside … “but, we must be out by midday: this is Friday, our Holy Day.”

It was funded by public subscription from all over the world, and completed in 1993. They built it on land reclaimed from the sea … part of it is built over the sea itself, for there’s a verse in the Qur’an which says ” … the throne of God was built on water.”

The mosque, with its tall tower, was visible from our ship as it docked; indeed, it’s visible from most parts of the city. But, it needs to be seen from close-up, and from inside, to admire the artwork and the architecture. My top tip here is: wear socks! You’re asked to remove your shoes on entry, and that marble floor is beautiful — but cold!

Shopping in Casablanca

Habous Quarter

Our next visit was to a co-operative, where we could buy souvenirs, mainly high-quality Moroccan crafts. These, I personally swear by. One of my favorite garments is the leather jacket I bought in Morocco some years ago. It’s all good stuff; you can even see some of it being made. And, a big plus since many people in the western world are uncomfortable with haggling, everything is a fixed, marked price. They’ll accept euros, too, which meant we didn’t have to change any money.

Outside, though, the “other Morocco” showed itself, as a street vendor tried to sell some “genuine” Rolex watches.

We made a quick photo-stop at the Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic church, a reminder of the former French occupation of Morocco on the way to the Royal Palace. The King only stays here when he’s in Casablanca, we were told. His main residence is in the capital, Rabat. We were quite welcome to take photographs … but cautioned not to photograph the many police and Army personnel around the place.

Next, a walk through the picturesque Habous Quarter, where all the shops and markets are. But, there was to be no shopping here. Not that we’d get cheated, or offered poor quality goods, it’s just that, in Morocco, as in most places in North Africa, shopping is a rather leisurely business, not to be rushed, and the bargaining can be quite prolonged.

We concluded our tour of the Habous Quarter with a peek inside the Prefecture office … the equivalent of County Hall … which looked like most people’s idea of the interior of a mosque.

Mohammed V Square

Our final stop was in Mohammed V Square. This is the main square of the city, a pleasant, tree-lined green spot, dominated by a huge building, and surrounded by another legacy of French occupation; the art-deco architecture of the buildings.

Probably our biggest surprise was that, although we’d arrived in the middle of December, most of us were in shirt-sleeves, and remarked on how warm it was. Samir, our guide, disagreed. This is cold, he said. I’m wearing my winter djellaba (robe). But, he did admit that it was warm enough not to wear his gandoura (overcoat) over it.

South American Selection with Amazon Extension

Author: pakce  |  Category: Destination South American

 

On my first trip to South America I went on a Monograms independent vacation offered by Globus. I found the countries of Brazil and Argentina so beautiful, that I will definitely return?soon, I hope!

Brazil has so many amazing natural wonders: the world?s second largest river, more than 5,000 miles of coastline and the largest tropical rainforest on earth. My first stop was Manaus, in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Canoeing on the Amazon River was the perfect way to explore the jungle, as I could discover the places and animals (including plenty of caymans) that can only be seen from the water.

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Rio de Janeiro and Sugarloaf Mountain.On my first trip to South America I went on a Monograms independent vacation offered by Globus. I found the countries of Brazil and Argentina so beautiful, that I will definitely return?soon, I hope!

Brazil has so many amazing natural wonders: the world?s second largest river, more than 5,000 miles of coastline and the largest tropical rainforest on earth. My first stop was Manaus, in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Canoeing on the Amazon River was the perfect way to explore the jungle, as I could discover the places and animals (including plenty of caymans) that can only be seen from the water.

Rio de Janeiro is famous for its Carnival, Copacabana Beach, the Statue of Christ, Sugarloaf Mountain and, of course, samba. But beyond these popular landmarks (and the upbeat music), you will also find many historic neighborhoods, beautiful architecture and interesting museums.

From Rio, I flew into Iguassu Falls, which consist of 275 cataracts spread over three miles and boast drops of 266 feet. My accommodations on the Brazilian side of the falls were less than 700 feet from the cascades, so I could enjoy some quiet time in the early morning or evening, when fewer tourists were around.

In Argentina, I spent my time in the capital, Buenos Aires. There is a big influence of French architecture throughout the city. Steak, wine and shopping lovers: welcome to heaven.

I walked many of the city?s popular neighborhoods. My favorites were Recoleta with its beautiful cemetery where Eva ?Evita? Peron is buried; Palermo (especially Palermo?s Soho) with its many parks and gardens; and San Thelmo, which is one of the oldest neighborhoods and full of tango clubs. Another must-see district is Boca, Buenos Aires? ?Little Italy,? which is full of colorful houses made of wood and corrugated tin.


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My trip was almost over, but I could not leave Buenos Aires without seeing a tango show?which was fabulous. It was a wonderful end to this unforgettable trip.

Greek Islands

Author: pakce  |  Category: Destination Greek Islands

From ancient archaeological sites to the plethora of beaches, active volcanoes to white adobe architecture hugging seaside cliffs, the islands of Greece beckon visitors with so much to see and do. A relaxing cruise of the mystical, enchanting Greek Islands is one way to sample the islands’ different personalities and offerings. Here’s a peek at just three popular ports of call on cruises of the Aegean Sea: ^Top

Sublime Santorini

Santorini is composed of a cluster of islands that were formed by a massive volcanic eruption more than 3,600 years ago. Prior to the eruption, it was one large island; now it is a crescent-shaped caledera. Santorini is also the name of the largest island of the group, also known as Thira, Thera or Fira, the island’s capital city – confused yet?


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Don’t worry – semantics don’t really matter when your ship docks at Santorini, often considered the most beautiful island in Greece, and you have the day to explore the area. The towns of Thera, Oia and Thirasis – dotted with those famous cube-shaped, white-washed houses – are perched at the top of steep cliffs. To reach Thera, visitors either travel by donkey or cable car up the incline; or if you’re feeling extra ambitious, walk up the 600 steps.

Once you reach the main town, consider snapping your own photos of the often-photographed Agiou Mina, the 18th-century church with its blue dome and white bell tower. Another highlight is the interesting archaeological museum that houses prehistoric artifacts. Wine produced in Santorini is excellent, and you can sample offerings throughout the towns or by visiting a winery.

Still other ways to get up close and personal with Santorini: stroll through the winding maze of cobblestone walkways in the charming village of Oia; take in the scene at bustling Red Sand Beach, so named for the iron-rich cliffs that rise from the shore; travel by boat to the active volcano of Nea Kameni and nearby mineral-rich hot springs.

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Marvelous Mykonos

 

 

With its famous windmills, dozens of beaches and picture-perfect setting against the crystal-clear Aegean Sea, Mykonos is the most popular destination in the Cyclades island chain. Here, you’ll want to see the pretty white windmills, a symbol of the island, and keep your eyes peeled for the local celebrity – a pelican. Typically at the waterfront, Petros the Pelican is probably the most well-known inhabitant of the island.

If you explore the main part of town, also called Mykonos Town, Chora or Hora, be prepared for a maze of ancient streets that were originally constructed to confuse attacking pirates. (Local shop and restaurants owners are accustomed to throngs of tourists; they’ll be happy to direct you if you get lost.)

For a taste of history, book a shore excursion to the nearby island of Delos, one of the most important historical, mythological and archaeological sites in all of Greece. Excavations here reveal that it was inhabited as early as the 3rd millennium B.C! Archaeological treasures here include the Temple of Apollo and the Terrace of the Lions, the 6th century B.C. Minoan Fountain, and the now-dry Sacred Lake, from which ancient inhabitants once drew their fresh water.

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Sunny Rhodes

 

The largest island in the Dodecanese chain boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year, so it’s no wonder visitors flock here to enjoy its ideal climate while relaxing on the beaches, strolling through the medieval town and learn about the ancient past with a visit to the Acropolis.

Rhodes “old town” is still encircled by its medieval wall. Inside, historic alleyways and pedestrian-friendly streets beckon with souvenir shops, goldsmiths and cafes. Here, the Knights of the Order of St. John founded a hospital that dates back to 1489, and it now houses the Archaeological Museum, with many pieces of ancient pottery and sculpture. Because of Rhodes relative proximity of Turkey, there is some evident Turkish influence on the island, namely in the form of the municipal baths, found in a 7th-century Byzantine building in the old town.

About 35 miles from Rhodes town is Lindos, a charming village set on a hill. For phenomenal views of the surrounding coast, make the climb to the Acropolis archaeological zone. Here, view the remains (and some reconstructed portions) of ancient temples, public buildings and a stadium


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Wherever you dock in Greece, be sure to seek out some of the savory cuisine. Naturally, seafood dishes reign supreme, but then you’ll also fine local delicacies such as pseftokeftedes, or meatless meatballs, in Santorini or papoutsaki, stuffed eggplant, in Rhodes. At nearly any of the islands’ many tavernas or sidewalk restaurants, there is the ubiquitous “Greek salad,” made with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese and olives, as well as tzatiki, a cucumber-yogurt dip served with bread. The national liquor is ouzo, a licorice-flavored drink, and wine is drunk with most meals here. Wine is relatively inexpensive, so have fun sampling some of the locally produced varieties!

Tip in Spain

Author: pakce  |  Category: Destination Barcelona Spain
We didn’t stay long in Barcelona. We arrived at 1 pm, and were due to sail at 6 p.m., so we weren’t allowed much time ashore. Nevertheless, eight tours were on offer and, since we hadn’t been to Barcelona before, we chose the “Tour of Barcelona.”

Since Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain, there was a lot of ground to cover and, as we crossed the city to climb the Montjuic Hill, I did wonder if the only remembrance I would have of the place was video taken through the bus window. But, eventually, we arrived at the Parque Güell. This is situated on a hillside, giving a fine view of the city, and was intended, originally, as an English-style “Garden City”; the idea of Count Eusebi Güell.


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The Count’s dream never came to fruition, as he failed to attract the exclusive clientele he wanted, and his proposed town was to be completely cut off from Barcelona. So, he had very few takers. However, there were one or two houses, designed by one of Barcelona’s favorite sons, the architect Antoni Gaudi. One of these houses was one in which he actually lived, and is now home to the Gaudi Museum.

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Gaudi & the Sagrada Familia church

It’s said that “Nature abhors a straight line” and so did Gaudi. Barcelona’s builders, carpenters and glaziers must have hated him! There are several other examples of Gaudi’s work in Barcelona, and some of these were pointed out to us on the way here.

Gaudi was also partly responsible for the city’s main landmark, the unfinished Sagrada Familia church. Construction began in 1882, but funding for it was only to come from public subscription. This dried up during the Great Depression, followed by the Spanish Civil War and the years of the Franco regime.

But, construction does continue, most money being raised from admittance charges to the inside. We didn’t go inside; our guide said there’s nothing to see. Nevertheless, one day perhaps enough money will be raised to complete the work, and, for the first time, maybe the Sagrada Familia will be seen without the surrounding cranes.

Nevertheless, it’s still a focal point for tours of the city, and our guide warned it was, therefore, a hotspot for pickpockets, and advised to leave everything we didn’t immediately need on the coach. Her advice was good; we arrived to find a tableau of a tourist, a tour guide … and a policeman. Yes, she’d had her purse lifted!

Cathedral for Saint Eulalia
Gorgeous coastline in southern Spain
That, I’m afraid, is the downside to Barcelona. I’d been pre-warned, and was only carrying some change, a 10-euro note in each trouser pocket and my passport and the card I needed to get back on to the ship in a zipped “security pocket.” My cameras, I always carry in an anonymous-looking bag, which never leaves my sight.

Our last call was at the Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Eulalia, the city’s patron saint, who was martyred at the age of only thirteen. There is a custom that thirteen geese, one for each year of her age, are kept in the cloister in her honor. However, since our visit was in December, there were only eleven, because there’s also a custom that the Bishop traditionally has two at Christmas dinner!


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Gorgeous coastline in southern SpainStretching for nearly 100 miles along the Mediterranean coast from Nerja to Gibraltar is Costa del Sol, Spain — the Sun Coast. The beautiful beaches, rustic mountain countryside, and 325 days of sunshine annually attract visitors all year round. People come to escape the winter and enjoy the variety of amenities that gorgeous Spain coastline has to offer.English is widely spoken throughout Costa del Sol, and you could easily find yourself sitting in a British-style pub watching the BBC while enjoying tapas. Choose from several seaside towns — including Malaga, the fifth largest city in Spain, or Marbella, one of Spain’s most cosmopolitan coastal towns.

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Golfing and getting around Costa del Sol

The Alhaurin Golf Resort

The Alhaurin Golf ResortCosta del Sol is a golfer’s paradise with nearly 70 golf courses, including a nine-hole par three course as well as a 60-hole world-class, tournament course. Most of the golf courses are 18 holes, and with the area’s mild winters, they’re open all year round!

Getting around Costa del Sol is easy due to a well-developed transit system. Buses take you from one town to the other for just a few Euros. The light rail system runs from Malaga to Fuengrola. Rent a car and drive the coastal road, or head into the mountains and follow the route of the Pueblos Blancos (white villages).

Day trips from Costa del Sol

Whitewashed buildings in Nerja, Spain

Whitewashed buildings in Nerja, SpainDay trips are easily arranged to some of the major sights in southern Spain. Visit Ronda and see one of the country’s oldest bullrings. Take a day trip to Seville to tour the famous Cathedral that is allegedly the final resting place of Christopher Columbus. Spend the afternoon in Granada at the Moorish Castle Alhambra. Take the bus to the sleepy little village of Mijas. Go underground at the caves of Nerja.
Many visitors to Costa del Sol spend at least a day at Gibraltar, where you can visit St. Michael’s Cave and the great Siege Tunnels. Take the cable car up the top of the rock where you will enjoy a spectacular view of the coast. On a clear day from Gibraltar you can see Africa. And if you’d actually like to set foot in the exotic African city of Tangier, take a high-speed ferry across to another continent.

Shopping and dining in Costa del Sol

Dine al fresco along Spain’s sunny coast

At the weekly outdoor markets up and down the Sun Coast, you’ll find a variety of crafts, clothing, artwork, and leather goods — practically anything you want, including the kitchen sink! The shopping in Marbella rivals that of the French Rivera. Here you will find large shopping malls with designer stores.


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International cuisine is available all along the coast — in seaside restaurants, chic bistros and family-friendly fast-food spots. In Torremolinos, enjoy Spanish food in a restaurant run by a former bull fighter. British-style pubs with a Spanish flavor dot the coast. Three-course meals are offered at nearly every fine dining establishment. And of course the seafood fresh from the

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