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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

An epic day trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay

An epic day trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay.

Benefits Of Skiing As Holiday Exercise

Descending on a ski slop

If you are planning a holiday, you have probably browsed through a lot of destinations and checked different activities online or on travel brochures. But have you ever thought of having a skiing holiday? Getting exercise and being fit in this busy world is often a challenge especially if you are in the corporate world where you are tied to a desk or has a career that takes a lot of demands on your time. The only real free time that you have for your own is when you take a vacation. This is then an ideal time for you to get fit as well. Of course skiing is not going to make you lose that 20 extra pounds in a week or two but it is certainly a way to hit two birds in one stone; enjoy yourself in a different surroundings and get the exercise you need.

Effective Exercise

Skiing can help you to shed up to 5 pounds in a span of 7 days; this is if you spend 6 hours of everyday going up and down that slope and burning 3000 calories. You get to tone your muscles, boost your immune system and have a cheerful sense well being in the process.

Here are some of the things you can look forward to if you decide to use ski for your exercise. 

Skiing needs balance

The effort of keeping yourself steady on the piste which is intent on making you slip is a demonstration of dexterity. Your stomach muscles are working overtime to keep your body upright and in turn are making you toned without having to go through thousands of sit ups.

First Rate Cardio

Cardio exercises are absolutely necessary for keeping healthy. Elevated heart rate is good for circulation of the blood which is responsible for distributing the oxygen and nutrients throughout the body as well as eliminating waste. Skiing allows the heart to pump more oxygen through the blood, expanding muscles and thus burning calories. Continuous skiing for 30 minutes is comparable to the same time spent doing cardio exercises. Add walking up the slope instead of taking the ski lift and you are on your way to a great workout.

Get Great Looking Legs

If you have ever despaired of having thighs that will not slim down, try skiing and you will be giving your thighs, hamstrings and buttocks a run while crouching your way through the slopes. It certainly beats having to do lunges for half an hour right? And it exercises both your upper and lower arms without doing a different set of exercise as you strive to control your speed and the direction you are going.

If you are not a beginner, look for the more challenging slopes because the steeper it is, the higher the number of calories you can burn. Plus the freezing temperature contributes a share in burning those calories.

So for your vacation this time around, forget about traipsing in the jungle or sunning on a beach. Take a skiing holiday and achieve a flawless technique on the piste while keeping your body fit.

Anthony Roberts, the writer, has been traveling around the world while working online. His articles on travel are must-reads. He loves to share his ideas about enjoying skiing holidays. His favorite adventure is visiting Japan. Find out more of his stories on skiing

Secrets Of Getting Amazing Florida Flight Deals

Secret Florida Flight deals

If you’re planning on going to Florida for a vacation, it only makes sense to try to get the cheapest flight possible so you’ll have extra cash for having fun in the sun. Luckily, there are a number of little-known tips and tricks for saving money on flights. Knowing how and when you should book your flight to Florida will mean your wallet will also get a little vacation.

Fly in February

After the end-of-year holidays, everyone is tired of traveling and spending money. Airlines know this. The best time for Florida - January, FebruaryTo encourage people to book flights during January and February, prices are dropped significantly during these months. This airline formula works out especially well for travelers planning to go to Florida as these months are notorious for being the most popular months to escape the snow and cold and head to the warmer south. Plan your Florida vacation in January or February to get a much-needed break from the chill, and for far less money than you’d expect to spend.

Buy and Fly on a Tuesday

Fly on tuesday, wednesday, saturday

If you’re flexible with exactly when you can leave and return, you’ll be able to find the best flight deals. Flying is significantly cheaper when you hit the skies on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Fridays and Sundays are both the busiest and most expensive days to fly. If you’re able to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, you’ll pay less money and get to deal with less hectic airports, which is a great way to start and end a vacation.

As for buying your tickets, airlines release their best deals on Tuesdays at 3pm. Many discounted flights can be found at this time, but you’ll have to buy fast. These cheaper tickets are usually pulled from sale on Thursday.

Sign up for Email Alerts

AirFareWatchDog’s fare alerts and email newsletter is an excellent resource for finding great airline prices and deals that leave from your home airport. It isn’t unheard of for flights to Florida that cost $100 or less to be advertised through this system. Signing up for these alerts will let you know when the cheapest prices on flights to Florida are available for you to snag while they last.

Shop Around

When it comes to finding flight deals online, there are a ton of websites offering price discounts and you should be exploring as many of them as possible. Fare Compare is a great resource for finding the best rates from a number of different websites. You can enter your travel requirements and preferences and Fare Compare will compare flights and return the lowest rates available. Never look at just one website or you’re missing out on finding a great deal that someone else may be offering.

Use Social Media

Follow a number of airlines on Twitter and Facebook and regularly check tweets and posts that the airlines are publishing. Great flight deals are typically offered through social media sites for very short periods of time and only to followers. You never know when you’ll find a fantastically low price on a flight to Florida just by checking your news feeds.

By being a smart flight shopper and utilizing the secrets of the airline industries you’ll be able to get a good flight for the lowest fare possible and have extra money to spend on more important and memorable aspects of your Florida vacation.

Sara Pegarella is a freelance writer located in Philadelphia, PA. She is a frequent contributor to Vacation Rental Pros.

Fully Experience The Rio De Janeiro Carnival – A Beginner’s Guide

Rio de Janeiro Carnival

You are about to venture into the world of the amazing Rio Carnival…great choice! It will most likely be an experience you will never forget. However, unforgettable experiences aren’t always a good thing, right? So, if you are a Carnival “beginner”, you will want to be armed with as much information on this major event as possible to get the most out of your trip.

I am going to share some basic information for people who have never been to the festival. But, I also recommend that you read up on it further to gather some of the massive amounts of information available. The more you know about it ahead of time, the better equipped you will be to take it all in and enjoy.

Out of the many Brazilian festivals and carnivals, the Rio Carnival is by far the most authentic and intoxicating. After all, Rio is notorious as the Carnival Capital of the World. Mark your calendar…February 28 – March 5, 2014…for a truly unforgettable event!

In the Beginning…

You will find multiple theories on how Carnival actually began, including tales of pagan celebrations in Rome from ancient times. However, Carnival Balls grew in popularity in Rio de Janeiro back in the 19th century, with the Municipal Theater and Copacabana Palace Hotel as the hosts. Afro Brazilian dance and culture became a strong influence with samba taking lead in the Samba Parades, starting in the 1930’s.

Rio boasts a wonderful blend of ethnicity like no other region in the world, which makes this festival an amazing experience. The diversity of culture is evident as you take in the uniqueness of Rio’s Carnival.

Where to Stay

While you can experience Carnival in other areas of Brazil, the heart of it can be found in Rio de Janeiro. It might be intimidating to think of where to stay, if you have never been to Carnival, or even Rio. However, the majority of hotels in Rio will offer deals and packages during the festival.

All inclusive packages are readily available for the 6 nights the festival runs, which will often include airfare, as well as food and beverage. The list of great hotels to choose from is long with popular options such as Nahuel Huapi, Minas Colonial, Mercure Grand Hotel Internacional Foz, and Zona Sul which is located seaside.

Samba Schools and the Sambadrome

Rio Carnival SambadromePhoto by Sergio Luiz: licensed under the Creative Commons

There is plenty to do during Carnival, with many attractions and activities going on for the duration. Without a doubt, the main event is the held at the Sambadrome, located in the heart of downtown Rio. This is where the Samba Parade takes place…and should not be missed! The parade includes many samba dancers who are competing for their schools.

Porta Bandeira Flag Bearer

It won’t take long to figure out the crowd favorite of the parade…the Porta Bandeira. While women make up the majority of the parade, the Porta Bandeira, otherwise known as the flag bearer, is the show stopper with an amazing and ornate costume with feathers and sequins galore! You will see incredible samba dance moves as she continues through the parade.

She is not alone though, as the Mestre Sala is there as her “protector”, in an equally amazing costume. One key point to note is that Porta Bandeira is not allowed to let the flag touch the ground, or she will lose points in the competition for her school.

You will also see impressive floats, with beautiful women and costumes dancing the contagious samba steps to get the crowds going.

The city’s normal day to day activities pretty much come to a halt as soon as everybody starts arriving.

Four Nights of Competition

Rio De Janeiro Carnival competition

The competition continues for 4 nights of the festival. It begins with the opening ceremony on Friday, with the Mayor of Rio crowning King Momo. The evening then continues with a parade of children and kick starts the mood and tone of the entire festival. And then each of the samba schools will have 80 minutes of parade time, which makes for a spectacular show.

For the next few days you will experience music, theater, dance, and arts like you never have before. On Sunday and Monday, the top 12 samba schools will compete for the championship.

2014 List of Attractions and Events

There are many events and attractions to see while you are experiencing Rio’s Carnival. It’s nearly a week of never-ending action and fun. Take a look at what you will be able to see or partake in:

  • Samba Parades
  • Carnival Balls
  • Magic Ball
  • Rio Scala Balls
  • Samba Land
  • Samba School Nights
  • Street Parties
  • Street Bands
  • Sambodromo Rehearsals
  • Street Rehearsals
  • Samba City
  • Merry Making in Lapa

In fact, there is so much to see and do in Rio that I couldn’t possibly get into significant detail for everything without writing a book. I suggest you take the information above and research it further to see what you don’t want to miss. One thing’s for sure, it’s a party you will never forget!

Hopefully I gave you enough information to pique your interest in gathering more information to tailor your very own Rio Carnival experience!

This article was contributed by Rick Mercado. As a successful online marketer and author, Rick Mercado finds himself on the Internet multiple times a day. He takes advantage of that by gathering information for upcoming series, such as his Brazilian series when visiting Celebrate Brazil. Rick enjoys working from home, but can also be found at the local coffee house on his laptop. When he is not working, he is often outdoors in his hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his wife. In his downtime Rick loves hiking, kayaking, and hopes to become a helicopter pilot someday.

Five Good Reasons to Travel to the Cultural Heart of Ireland

People on bench by the waterfront in Galway, Ireland

Ireland’s Cultural Heart, Galway, is really a city worth traveling to. This city isn’t just a great location for stag and hen parties as it truly has so much to offer its visitors. Here are five of the reasons why travelers should visit this city that happens to be the sixth most populous city in the Emerald Isle.

As a cultural Mecca, anyone that wishes to know exactly what Irish culture is all about should definitely visit Galway. This city is known as the home of a number of traditional or folk artists like Dolores Keane. What’s more, this city hosts a lot of festivals that are truly worth going to.

The city isn’t just a great place to see and hear traditional Irish music, dances, and language. Classical music lovers will also have a great time in this city during the summer season. Since 1994, Galway Cathedral Recitals are held from July to August featuring an international series of concerts.

Fresh Seafood

Oysters plate in Galway Restaurant

Another reason for travelers to go to Galway would be the fact that there is always fresh seafood to be had. Those that love clams, oysters, crabs, shrimps, and fish can easily have a feast in this town. More importantly, they can easily get those fresh from the markets in this city.

Having an awesome gastronomic experience is a treat for anyone that loves to eat. Anyone visiting Galway can get that.


Restaurant scene in Galway, Ireland Not a lot of people know that this city has a lot of good restaurants as well. That means, visitors in this city can get a good taste of all that fresh fish and seafood. Irish cuisine is quite distinctive too and this is one of the best Irish cities to get some of that.

Aside from Irish cuisine, there are also restaurants that feature international cuisine. Expect to see a number of Italian, Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean, and Spanish restaurants.


McSwiggans Bar & Restaurant Galway

Pubs in Galway are more than just places to grab a pint of Irish beer or eat an affordable meal. These are the best places to meet and greet locals and other tourists. What’s more, most pubs also turn into music venues when the evening comes. For those that wish to have an evening of live entertainment, make sure to check out who’s playing at certain pubs.

Aside from traditional Irish music, there are also pubs that feature rock, pop, jazz, and other musical genres. There are a lot of pubs in this city which is why it has become a popular stag and hen party location. A pub crawling experience is a must for those that enjoy the nightlife.

Festivals and Events

Street scene in Galway

This city is known as Ireland’s Cultural Heart partly because of its numerous festivals each year. One of the most notable festivals that shouldn’t be missed would be the Galway Arts Festival which takes place every July.

In addition to annual festivals, this city is also known for having 51 event venues. Some of those are even multiple event venues. That will include visual arts galleries and other concert venues.

Medieval Structures

There have been settlements in this city since the 11th century when the King of Connacht built Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe. That is also the reason why there are a good number of medieval structures that can still be seen today in this city.

Some places of interest worth checking out include Lynch’s Castle, the Church of Ireland St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, Spanish Arch, The Hall of the Red Earl, the remains of Claddagh and Menlo Castle. Those are just some of the spots worth seeing in the city.

Now, those are just five good reasons to visit Galway. Don’t just go to Galway. Stay for a while and make sure to experience everything that this Irish city has to offer.

This article was contributed by Sabrina Mable who is an author and recognized authority on planning hen parties. She currently works for and specializes in creating hen party packages for fun and memorable hen parties in Ireland. She has succumbed and joined the world of social media. Follow her on Twitter.

Last Minute Holiday Ideas

Last minute holidays

With summer here, and the recent spout of hot weather, many are inspired to take some time off work and book a last minute holiday to enjoy the heat. Deciding on destination can be the most difficult part of your late booking, but there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are some great last minute holiday ideas-

City Break in Amsterdam

Amsterdam at nightAmsterdam is a city that is well known for its energetic nightlife, relaxed attitudes and boozy antics, but beyond all this is a wealth of culture waiting to be visited. Netherlands’ capital city is home to an intricate canal system that can be enjoyed by either a boat trip or a stroll along its banks. Tourists can reflect on history by visiting the Anne Frank Museum and see the annex where the Frank family hid during the country’s occupation in World War Two.

The city houses a wealth of art that is historically and internationally renowned, with many of Van Gogh’s famous paintings available for viewing in the Van Gogh Museums, which includes other artifacts about the troubled artist’s life. Art lovers should also take a trip to the Rijksmuseum, which reopened in April 2013 after being renovated for the past ten years to see some of the Netherlands’ finest artworks.

Seaside Holiday in Cornwall

Cornwall, England by the sea The British weather has been extraordinarily hot recently, spurring many people to take a holiday and visit warmer parts of the British Isles. Head to the rugged south-west for a lovely beach holiday in Cornwall and spend your break visiting quaint seaside towns and attractions.

There are plenty of activities for those not interested in lounging around on the many sandy beaches Cornwall has to offer, with many tourists flocking to the artistic towns of St Ives and Newlyn to see how visiting and local artists have been inspired by the Cornish landscape. Head to the north part of the county to visit attractions like the historic smuggler’s den Jamaica Inn, and the modern bio-domes of the Eden Project.

Relax in a Tuscan Villa

Spicchio villa in TuscanyFor those that are searching for the ultimate, stress-free break, then renting a gorgeous Tuscan villa is a relaxing option for a last minute holiday. Perfect for both romantic getaways and family breaks, the Tuscan region of Italy is well known for its beautiful art, warm climate, delicious food, and wonderful landscapes.

Choose a self-catered rustic Tuscan villa with a pool, or a wonderful view and spend your tranquil retreat basking in the heat of the Italian sunshine, spending blissful evenings watching the sun set over the Tuscan countryside.

Hire a car to explore the region, visiting the breath-taking sites of the Tuscan cities of Florence and Sienna, to see infamous artworks like Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Of course, no visit to Italy is complete without a trip to one, or more, of the inspiring medieval and gothic cathedrals.

Hop on a Cruise

For those unable to decide on one destination, then a break on a cruise ship could be the perfect choice for your escape to the sun. Many Companies sail to multiple locations around the world, so it can be easier to find the right cruise holiday for you.

You could be soaking up the sun whilst visiting Caribbean islands, enjoying the sights of the Mediterranean, or being amazed at the Norwegian Fjords, all whilst experiencing the indulgence that a cruise ship delivers. Aboard a luxury ship, you will find plenty of activities to keep you occupied whilst you travel, with many having swimming pools, spas, and entertainment as standards.

Beth Stubbings works for To Tuscany, providers of wonderful Tuscan villa rentals. She thinks that there are plenty of great holiday destinations to choose from for that last minute booking.

6 Essential Home Security Tips When Going On Vacation

Essential Home Security Tips When Going On Vacation

Going away on vacation may be the time we all look forward to each year but for the security-conscious individual it can also be a time of concern. Leaving your home unattended for long periods of time can significantly increase the risk of a chance break-in that goes unnoticed or a more organized attempt based on lack of activity around your property.

Fortunately there are a range of common-sense steps that can be taken that will significantly reduce the chances of your home suffering criminal attacks in your absence.

Check Your Insurance

Before you leave for your vacation, ensure that your household insurance policy is in good standing. This should ideally protect not just your property itself but also contents insurance so that any items that might get stolen or damaged can be easily replaced on your return.

For extended vacations, it may be a requirement for you to inform your insurer of your absence so they are aware of the increased risks involved.

Tell Your Trusted Neighbors

Do you live in a neighborhood with a “community” feel where you know and trust many of your neighbors? If so, having a frank discussion with them about your absence can be a wise move.

By alerting your neighbors, should any activity be observed in or near your property in your absence, neighbors will be more likely to raise the alarm and help to keep your home safe and secure from criminals rather than just assuming it is you or your family moving about the property.

Third Party Security Checks

Another beneficial tip is to leave a key and contact telephone numbers with a friend or family member that you trust. Ask them to be the first point of contact for any emergencies and provide their details to your immediate neighbors.

Furthermore, asking that individual to visit your property for a quick inspection twice a day (morning and evening) – or even house-sit while you’re away – helps to not only encourage activity around your home but also to spot any issues that may arise quickly.

Timer Switches

A range of different timer devices are currently available and can help give the impression that your home is inhabited even while you’re away enjoying the sunshine.

For example it is possible these days to not only have lights that turn on and off randomly during the hours of darkness but to even make noises such as dog barks from time to time. All can serve to dissuade crime when a potential criminal is led to believe that your house in inhabited.

Mail Deliveries

One tell-tale sign that can out you at a disadvantage when away is a potential build-up of mail. Depending on the design of your home, this pile of letters may be visible from outside, suggesting that the occupants are away and so break-ins may be easier.

There are a number of options available to avoid this issue. Firstly consider asking your trusted friend to move your mail to a hidden part of your home on their regular checks.

Secondly, the postal services in some countries will actually “hold” your mail at the post office which you can then collect on your return.

Lastly, a simple tool that can work well is to create a simple “screen” that camouflages post as it is dropped through your door. In one example we saw recently, the occupant had red curtains fitted over the inside of their door.

By placing a piece of red cardboard up against the window inside the property, mail that was delivered fell behind this cardboard but in front of the curtain. From the outside of the property – looking through the frosted glass of the door – mail was completely hidden from view as the cardboard “screen” perfectly camouflaged in front of the curtain.

Home Alarm Systems

Finally, for greatest peace of mind, you may want to consider installing one of the many effective yet low-cost home security systems. These systems can not only arm your home with a powerful alarm system should anyone try to gain entry but more so many of them also come with a number of CCTV cameras.

In the case of a successful break-in, these cameras can be tremendously helpful to the police both for identifying the criminals and for proving the legitimacy of any insurance claim you may make.

The best systems will even let you access them remotely from your laptop or smart phone, so you can rest easy while away being able to keep a close eye on your home even when you’re hundreds of miles away.

Ben Smith is an expert in home security and recently started a new blog at Home Security Geeks.

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