Discover Crete’s Hidden Treasures

Many people take a holiday on the Greek island of Crete and enjoy the fantastic beaches, charming villages and endless sunshine. But Crete offers the visitor much more than this.

As if welcoming people, charming mountain villages, rocky bays, sandy beaches and one of Europe’s best climates were not enough reasons to visit Crete, it is also a historian’s and an archaeologist’s paradise. Its fascinating archaeological ruins and world-class museums are surely a bonus. And in the far northwest, east and south of the island, away from the tourist trail, you can expect to see some really excellent smaller Minoan sites that are hardly visited.

But before heading for the archaeological ruins, check out the stunning collection of the Iraklion Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, the capital of the island. Home to the world’s finest collection of Minoan art and culture in the world, the twenty rooms and galleries provide the perfect introduction to 5,000 years of island history from the Neolithic to the Graeco-Roman era.

The famous Minoan Palace of Knossos, just south of Iraklion, was one of Europe’s finest buildings during Bronze Age (2800-1100 BC) with around 1,400 rooms. Staircases with shallow alabaster steps lead to upper or lower floors and lovely frescoes, with scenes from everyday life, decorate the Palace walls. The King’s and the Queen’s apartments feature blue dolphins, while the throne room contains the oldest throne in Europe, the alabaster throne of King Minos.

If you are feeling more adventurous head for remote Central Crete’s prehistoric site of Gortys, once the largest city in Crete. Besides being the first city to accept Christianity, and with a history as far back as the Minoan period, Gortys was occupied by the Romans in 68 BC and destroyed by the Arabs 900 years later. This layer on layer of civilization brings history to life as you discover an ancient past that helps explain the present.

The great thing about Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, is that it’s big enough to get away to places that are not teeming with visitors all the time. As well as resorts and nightlife you can also enjoy simple pleasures such as sipping a coffee at a roadside café in a mountain village. But, whatever you do, be sure to soak up the island’s history through the archaeological remains of the past civilizations. And remember, entrance to all archaeological sites, museums, archaeological collections and monuments is free on Sundays and public holidays between 1 November and 31 March.

Tips For Family Holiday In Bali

Bali is a perfect place for those who are on holiday with children. Bring all your family to explore the island. You all will love the natural surroundings, and it is definitely easy to find a baby sitter or somebody to take care of your kids.

Kids club are available in major hotels. Many hotels offer family room with children discounts policy which is good optional for family term.

Bali villa is also a good alternative for accommodation, which is now becomes holiday trend in Bali. Mostly one villa consists of more than one bedroom that caters for family.

Range of attractions that are friendly for children can be also easily found in Bali.
Children’s attractions in Bali vary from surf, sand and beach activities; cultural activities such as dancing, temple visits, and traditional Balinese life style experiences; adventure activities such as rafting, cycling, horse ride, dolphin/turtle tour elephant rides; and theme parks such as Bali Bird Park, WaterBom Park, Bali Butterfly Park, etc.

Travelling with the family can be hassle- free and loaded with fun. There is no reason you shouldn’t bring the kids and the entire family with you. Here are a few tips you can use for an easy, stress – free travel.

Plan with the entire family
Get each family member’s opinion on which places to go. Kids love it when they get involved. Make a short list of the places they want to visit and get the majority’s preference. Plan simple yet fun activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Distribute tasks
Help each other especially when packing. Give each one a responsibility. You can have your kids check on the first- aid kit, your husband to bring all bulky equipments and you take charge preparing the food. This way, your load can be lessened and everyone would feel the importance of each one’s contribution.

Travel light
Since most of the space of your car would be for people, pack only the essential things you need. If possible you can hire strollers for the kids instead of carrying one. Transfer shampoos, mouthwash and the like in small plastic containers instead of bringing the entire thing. Remember that travelling light doesn’t mean travelling incomplete. Carry all important stuff you need to bring.

Secure your house
Since all of your family members are with you on the trip, you can opt to hire a house sitter. If not, have a neighbour look out for the house for you. Unplug all electrical appliances and be sure to secure all door and windows.

Be safe
Always carry with you a medicine kit for emergencies. This should include aspirins, laxative, insect repellant, bandages, ointments and alcohol. More importantly, bring enough prescription drugs if any of the family members is on medication. Bring enough to last for the entire duration of the trip.

Bring in the fun
Take pictures and videos to document your trip. Take turns in using the camera, this way everyone will get a memorable shot taken. You can take the pictures and put them in a nice travel journal when you get home. This way you can enjoy the fun memories as often as you want.

Remember that the entire objective of a family trip is to have fun. Follow the quick tips above and you can head your way to an enjoyable travel in Bali.

A Whirlwind Tour of Rome

Even if you spend one week in Rome, you won’t be able to see it all. For travelers on the go, though, here is a lightning fast tour of Rome.

Morning – Grab a cappuccino and a croissant from a café in the Prati district, which is right by Vatican City. After your quick breakfast, get in line at the Vatican Museum. It opens at 8:45AM, but you’ll want to be in line by 8:00 to avoid the throngs of tourists that will soon be arriving. Start out by proceeding to the outdoor courtyard to admire the ancient statues of Laocoon and Apollo Belvedere. The statue of Laocoon, which is nearly 2000 years old, was hailed as one of the most amazing statues of its time. Next proceed through the stunning rooms painted by Raphael and finish up by being blown away by the Sistine Chapel and terrified by Michelangelo’s Last Judgment.

Afternoon – After exiting the museum, head east and pass by Castel Saint Angelo. This giant fortification was often used by Popes during times of war and a lot of fortifications were made by stripping away and melting down parts of the Pantheon. Cross the Tiber and head South East through Piazza Navona. Grab a quick lunch at Baffeto’s, which serves the best pizza in town, and then head further east until you hit the Pantheon. Veer east until you hit Via Del Corso, one of the most famous shopping streets in Rome. Battle the crowds as you head north on the street and soak in all the ridiculously expensive Italian name brands.

Night – Hop on a bus to the Trastevere neighborhood, one of the most colorful areas of Rome. Wander around the windy streets until you find a restaurant that is to your liking. There are many restaurants in this area, and the food is generally cheaper and better than any of the other places you’ll find in Rome. After a delicious dinner, snack on some gelato and hike up the nearby Gianicolo Hill to enjoy a stunning night-time view of the Eternal City.

Tips to Plan Your Vacation

It’s again that time of the year when you want to spend quality time with your family. Planning for an exclusive holiday abroad? Surfing the Internet for best hotels leaves you more confused? Unable to decide which hotel to choose from as all hotels project a perfect image of themselves? Never been to the hotel destination? Looking for discount hotels which will offer you the best holiday packages without burning a hole in your pocket? Stop worrying as all your worries and problems can be solved very easily. Just keep some tips in mind and you are assured of getting your dream hotel.

Check Hotel Ratings and Customer Reviews

What comes to your mind naturally when the word vacation is mentioned? Of course! Hotel – a decent place where you can stay! Planning vacation with friends or family is always special which you want to cherish it for the rest of your life. What a better way then to make it lifetime memory by staying in a hotel which provides you the comforts and the feeling of home away from home. The task of finding the kind of hotel you are looking for can become quite daunting with every hotelier presenting the best image which may necessarily not be true. However, you can get some idea about a hotel by comparing the star ratings and the customer reviews that are posted in top 2-3 websites. While going through the customer reviews you can easily judge whether the reviews are from genuine customers or fabricated by hoteliers as the other features mentioned on the hotel detail page should substantiate its ratings and reviews.

Hotel Chains and Services

If you are not sure about hotel facilities provided and to avoid being taken for a ride, always go for hotels according to your needs and budget. If you want to stay in luxury hotels which offers world class services including concierge, shuttle services to the city, laundry services, airport transfers, Internet access etc, you can select the best luxury hotel nearest to public transport. For those who do not want to spend fortune on accommodation, you have the choice of budget or discount hotels with modest amenities and facilities. If you are going for a business trip, check out for hotels that provides meeting rooms, conference halls. But if you are on vacation or leisure trip, opt for hotels that offer outdoor activities, conduct tours, events, and located near tourist destinations.

Destination Guide

All best travel-based websites have good destination guide which includes travel, accommodation, food, shopping and attractions. Choose your hotel in such a way that the destination is centrally located, easily accessible to tube station, shopping complexes, and tourist attractions. While looking for hotels you can check out for nearby restaurants and its menu and specialties. However, if you are budget conscious go for hotels that suit your budget but at the same time offer best services.

Exclusive Rates and Discounts

Accommodation plays a vital role in travel. Choosing the right kind of hotel according to your budget will decide the future course of your trip. So, plan your travel beforehand to avail of exclusive rates and discounts offered by hotels. Find out hotels that offer seasonal discounts and take advantage to book your hotel at the lowest prices. If you want to travel during particular event, check out for hotels which give event-based discounts. Make your stay and travel memorable by capitalizing on the various irresistible rates and discounts offered by hotels.

However, to get the best travel deal you can always check out different websites that lists hotels and their rates. Compare the rates of the different websites and select the best one offering the lowest prices.

Your choice of hotel can either make or break your trip. Therefore, try to meticulously pursue the above tips and make your vacation unforgettable! The ball is in your hand!!

A Quick Guide To The South Of France

The South of France has the enviable combination of miles of coastline and fertile rural landscapes and has been the inspiration for artists, composers and writers as well as the new visitor.

Where is it?

The term “South of France” is usually used to describe the southern stretch of the country’s coastline that runs between Spain and Italy, and the rural inland areas that include Provence and the Lubéron. With its warm climate, fertile landscape and developed coastline, it is one of the most regularly-visited parts of Europe.

Where can I stay?

Unsurprisingly, for somewhere as popular as the South of France, there is no shortage of hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and camp sites. For a true taste of the area though, stay in one of our recommended boutique hotels. Small and intimate, they are a home from home and turn a basic holiday into a luxury retreat. All of these hotels offer well-designed and contemporary rooms and the service is discreet and impeccable. Good food usually goes hand-in-hand with the cool rooms and public areas – by choosing one of these hotels you’ll be treating yourself to a memorable stay in the South of France.

What can I see?

The South of France is too big an area to be fully explored in a single holiday, which is why many people return year after year. Some of France’s most expensive resorts lie on the south coast, including St. Tropez and Cannes, and where better to watch the yachts and fashions of the rich and famous? The area is famous for its coastline, sailing and water sports and for the cities that lie near it: Nice, Marseilles and Montpelier for example. Inland, Provence is well-known for its rolling landscapes, stretches of vineyards and swathes of wild flowers. With no shortage of historic buildings, local markets and museums to explore, the South of France has something for everyone.

How do I get around?

If you’re planning on exploring the South of France, you should hire a car. The French, like most European countries, drive on the right hand side of the road and the roads are largely well-maintained, although many are toll-controlled and you will have to pay at marked toll stations to use the main road network. If you are planning on staying mostly in one place and just visiting major cities or tourist areas, then opt for the train system, operated by SNCF.

A Tourist Guide To Sevilla

Coming to Seville is like seeing Spain on parade.

Tapas. Flamenco. Bullfighting. Art. Poetry. Pottery. Architecture. Style. History. Cervicitas!* It is all here – in splendour.

Seville , in the southern Spanish region called Andalusia , is what many people describe as “the most Spanish of all Spanish cities”. It was home to Carmen and Don Juan and boats grand plazas, sculptured gardens and flowerbox-filled balconies. Walking through Seville ’s impossibly narrow, cobblestone streets you can look up at any moment and gape at pink-turreted churches, ever-present, resplendent tiles, and hosts of other visual treats that are the legacy of both Moorish and Colonial architecture.

A city that closes down between the hours of 2 and 5 pm , it makes the perfect holiday destination. Why? Because in Seville , it is impossible to do anything for 3 hours everyday except relish in two of the living arts the Spanish have perfected: eating and enjoying life. If you stay long enough it will not be long until you hone the enjoying life art to the even finer art of taking an afternoon nap. (Ah, the siesta! A joy heinously ignored by the majority of the world).

WHERE TO STAY

‘ El centro ’, the historical centre of the city, is where the beer and tapas forever flow and where you will feel compelled to live half your life socialising in the street like all the immaculately dressed locals.

RESTAURANTS & BARS

Seville is tapas bar heaven. Here is a selection worth checking out:

Coloniales – famous for large, cheap tapas. Very popular spot, you might even meet someone!

La Alameda is the local word on the place to go for night life in this city. La Alameda is actually a small, tree-filled area which is full of bars and people. Any night of the week is a good night here. La Madrasa on Calle P Mencheta is the pick of places in this area for tapas.

FOOD MUST TRIES

You are in Spain , so repeat after me: 1) I am not afraid of oil, or anything (and everything) fried in it. 2) I will not get hungry for lunch before 2 or 3 pm , nor for dinner until 11pm . When you finally do get to eat, two fabulous factors are in your favour. One, the food is not expensive and two, the Spanish love food. Try the local, Sevillano specialties like mojama (dried tuna fish known as ham of the sea) and salmorejo (thick gazpacho). And, of course, the classic, Spanish Tortilla.

MUST SEES

* Real Alcázar. This enchanting building was a fortress from the Muslim-era and later changed hands to become the home of Christian royalty for many centuries. Today the gardens, tapestries and varied architecture remain some of Seville ’s most appealing treasures.

* Plaza de España. A truly spectacular plaza, equal with any in the country. It was the centrepiece of the 1929 Spanish-Americas Fair and is an arc of tiled glory and historic handwork. Across the tree-lined road from the plaza is the enchanting Parque de María.

* A Flamenco Show. Seville is one of the legendary homes of flamenco. You can opt for a tourist-geared spectacular or a more intimate café setting. Recommended spectacular: El Tablao Flamenco Los Gallos.Recommended café: La Casa del Carmen

* Cathedral and the Giralda. The cathedral is the largest Gothic building in the world and the pride of Seville . The emblem of Seville is the Giralda, the weathercock that sits atop the Cathedral. You can climb the Giralda, which is in the form of a woman representing Faith, for spectacular city views.

* Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza Museum (Seville’s Bullring). This is one of the oldest bullrings in Spain . Check out the museum and definitely see a bullfight if possible.

* Museo de Bellas Artes ( Museum of Fine Art ) is categorised as a major worldscale museum and considered to house some of the greatest paintings in all of Spain .

In Seville , the spirit of Spain engulfs you. When I visited I felt naked without a flamenco frock on and pair of castanets in my hand. In this city, Spain ’s famous flavours are things very difficult to resist. And why on earth would you want to?

ENJOY!

* Cervecita: a social little glass of beer taken either at lunch or at dinner, or, delightfully, at both.

A Night In San Francisco

When traveling to most cities of the world, finding discount accommodations when arriving to your destination is always a possibility. Not so in the diverse and complex city of San Francisco. From the hills of Daly City to the plains of Berkeley, the environments and people are so diverse that your vacation could with one dial of the phone be a paradise made in heaven or an inferno designed in, well you know, that other place.

Families making their hotel reservations at the smaller hotels that dot the periphery of San Francisco might be able to land a bargain, but find they may find themselves sharing accommodations with other crawling critters that would make even the toughest among us parents squirm.

I did this once. I came to San Francisco on a budget and thinking to wing my accommodations; I found a phonebook and booked a motel for $59 a night. Well, the minute I saw the hotel along a poorly lit side street I knew we were in trouble. This hotel was something I would expect to see in medieval Europe, not in actuality. But it was late and we succumbed to our basal instincts for sleep and it was ‘just one night.’ But the bed was so grimy we actually slept on the floor, and the occasional voices we heard in the alleys were so hair razing I don’t think sleep was an option for any of us – and we were in their ‘best room!’

The next day I called numerous hotels in San Francisco city proper. You know, where the Trolley Cars roam and the street performers perform. I found a number of places, ranging from the low 100’s and going up to the high 600’s. We got in our car to make our investigation and inspected one hotel after the other, some dark and dank and some bright and classic. We settled on the Grant Plaza Hotel at $180 a night. We had a rollaway brought for my two children and spent the rest of the day recuperating for our previous nightmare.

That evening, we ventured out to walk around the Streets of San Francisco and I must tell you it was scary. There were destitute people lurking at every doorway, down every alley, sleeping above the street vents for warmth. This was a haven for the homeless and I am not sure where the tourist fits in. It was both sad and a frightening, especially since coming from an isolated small town in Minnesota. I passed out quarters to those asking as if I were passing out flyers for a corner store.

We eventually found a Starbuck near Union Square and quickly ducked in. After a family meeting to discuss our situation, we decided to catch a trolley car and make a dash to the famous Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli’s Square. We scampered out of Starbucks and caught the next trolley. It was a wild ride straight up and straight down a city built on a mountain. We all screamed with joy. We spent an enchanting evening among all the tourist shops, street performers and family attractions that populate Fisherman’s Wharf. We bought a big pound of fudge at a fudge shop and drank coke and champagne until late in the evening.

Our lesson from all this, at least regarding San Francisco hotel reservations, make your hotel reservations in advance. Don’t waste time looking for a hotel room when you get there, the city is just too big. Since writing this, we went to San Diego. I booked all our accommodations off the Internet which featured discount hotel reservations with pictures and prices clearly explained. Welcome to the 21st century.

A Cat Island Bahamas Vacation

The Hermitage is a bit of an historical oddity, fascinating & strange. The hike up to see this religious site will take visitors through small villages along beautiful trails, full of island flora & fauna. it is located at the top of Mt. Alvernia, which is 206 feet above the sea & the highest point in the Bahamas. The Hermitage itself is made from the limestone of the cliffs, with each piece painstakingly extracted, shaped & set by hand by the Canadian mule-skinner turned Anglican turned Roman Catholic priest known as brother Jerome. The brother built the structure to scale, designed it to fit his diminutive form. Beloved by the island people, the priest passed away in 1956 after reaching the ripe age of 80.

One of the outer islands of the Bahamas, cat Island is a quiet holiday location for those who’re looking to relax. Among its varied pleasures & activities, a little exploration will turn up a historical oddity or five that add to the individual character of the place. beautiful beaches in natural settings welcome the nature lover & peace seeker alike.

For those interested in water sports, the cat Island Dive Center is the place to contact. They operate out of the Greenwood Beach Resort & have a variety of diving & snorkeling packages available, & there’s plenty of fine areas to explore, offering a wealth of marine life & fascinating geological formations. They also have water sport equipment to rent.

Other historical sites include an Arawak cave, found at Columbus point, & plantation ruins, left over from the islands efforts at joining the worlds cotton growers. Deveaux mansion was eight times the residence of Andrew Deveaux of the US Navy, who participated in the 1873 battles to get Nassau back from italy. Another widely known ruins is the remains of the Ambrister plantation, near Port Howe.

cat Island is the sixth largest island in the Bahamas, & boasts extraordinary beaches. there’s literally miles & miles of virtually undisturbed beaches, where swimming & relaxing can be done in near complete privacy.

Fine meals can be had at several locations on cat Island. Hawk’s Nest Resort & Marina serves a variety of dishes, but among the best are the fresh, grilled fish & the roasted rack of lamb. Fernandez Bay Village is the place to go for creative & delicious native dishes, served either in the dining room or a patio table by the beach. Greenwood Beach Resort’s Bahaman cuisine is complemented by their marvelous breads, which are baked every day.

cat Island is an excellent choice for vacationers who’re seeking a natural beach experience, & enjoy a peaceful & laid-back atmosphere. The island can be explored at a leisurely pace, which is a much better way to enjoy the local flora & fauna, as well as to enjoy the local culture. Because it is so much smaller in population than plenty of of the other islands, it is easier to get a real feel for the people & their way of life. cat Island is an interesting place that will make a lasting impression on its guests.

8 Tips for Packing and Traveling Lite

In this day & age of travelling cephalalgia, there’s a few packing tactics to employ. To cut out an extra thirty to forty minutes at the arriving airport, start with packing small luggage. Since carry-ons can not exceed a linear dimension of 45 inches, you can escape the fiasco of the baggage terminal by basically packing & travelling light. To learn how to pack all your needs into two suitcase, read more.

How-to Pack & Travel Lite

Make a list. Compose a pack list. Be sure to coordinate shirts & blouses with bottoms. To maximize your travelling wardrobe fashion savoir faire, stick with solids & versatile basics. Rule-out any clothes that do not match other items.

Use the following pithy packing tips to make your travel light:

Gear up. How to make an awe-inspiring impression out of a basic or mundane outfit? For the most glam appeal, accessorize with a vibrant tie (for him) or a florid scarf (for her). Multihued accessories can liven up just about any attire.

Roll ’em up please. The best way to fit all your clothes is by rolling pants & shirts. First fold each item in half. Then basically roll. To try to maintain any creases, start on the bulkiest end of the news story of clothing.

Employ shoe smarts. For men, any leather rubber-soled shoes can make the day & night transition, easy. For woman, a pair of flip-flops, strappy sandals & comfy wedges can serve all casual – chic dressing needs.

Minimize bulk. After you check for space, edit outfits – ruthlessly. Try to pack microfibers with wrinkle & stain free comfort. With most of your attire, stay in the same color scheme – in case you have to layer up for warmth.

Put under garments on the top. To reduce the embarrassment of under garments becoming the side show attraction of the open luggage scan, place all panties in a plastic bag free of any clippers, lighters or other questionable paraphernalia. For expedient security review, place the transparent bag on top of your other items so security can access the bag without ruining your efficient packing method.

Lose Extra Baggage. Leave the heavy travel guide at home. Duplicate important resources to keep your luggage free of extra pounds. Since most hotels & resorts provide irons & blow-dryers –leave yours at home for light travel.

Leave restricted items at home. If you want to make it through security extra speedy, avoid any firearms, weapons, box-cutters, scissors, razors, lighters & any other item that may be used in a terrorist situation.

A Guide To Virginia Beach Hotels

If you’re traveling to Virginia Beach, consider yourself lucky. People who’ve never been there have no idea what they’re missing, and you’re about to experience it. Long expanses of white sand stretch as far as you can see from dozens of beautiful, waterfront hotels. The breathtaking ocean views will make you lose track of time, and after sunset the nightlife will keep you entertained. However, your hotel very easily influences the beauty and fun of Virginia Beach.

Choosing the right hotel is one of the most important pieces of your Virginia Beach vacation. Take the time to investigate what attractions are your favorites and look for a hotel nearby. Being in close proximity to activities you want to enjoy will save you travel time and the confusion of trying to navigate in a new city. If you’re a nature lover, look for a hotel close to the local nature preserves or hotels that offer dolphin and whale watching expeditions as part of a vacation package. Next, ask the hotel about their typical patrons. Some hotels are the perfect place for kids. They’re close to the park and have facilities to keep your children entertained. On the other hand, some hotels specialize in quiet, secluded getaways with quaint reading rooms overlooking the water. Bringing in children may not be such a good idea. It’s important to know what your hotel is known for and what you will need.

No matter what you need, there is a hotel for you at Virginia Beach. Look for them online, or call around. Don’t settle for the first offer, because with the hundreds of local hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts, you’re bound to find one perfect for you.