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Top 10 Things You Need To Do In Malaga

Malaga in southern Spain is famous for its sunny weather and sandy beaches, but there’s more to Malaga than simply beach tourism.

Sitting on the Mediterranean coast in Andalusia, this multicultural city has everything: an incredible history, sumptuous cuisine, a thriving art scene, and deep cultural roots.

No matter what kind of traveler you are or what you look for in a holiday, you’ll find something that appeals to you in Malaga.

If you’re looking for some inspiration and suggestions, here are the top ten things you need to do in Malaga.

Malaga is famous for much more than the beach.

Explore Malaga’s History in Alcazaba

Alcazaba Fortress

Malaga is reportedly one of the oldest cities in Europe, with its history dating back to approximately 770 BC when it was founded by the Phoenicians.

Over the years, it was then inhabited by the Romans, Moors, and Christians, all of whom contributed to this city’s diverse, multifaceted history and monuments you can still see today.

Perhaps the best of these is Malaga’s Alcazaba fortress in the city centre. It backs onto a Roman Theatre and sits watch on a hill overlooking the sea.

Built in the 11th century by the Arabs inhabiting the city at the time, this beautiful fortress houses a series of stunning patios and gardens typical of Arab architecture. The building’s defensive nature combines with its palatial character in a visual wonder of marble columns, archways, fountains, and turrets.

You can notice the Moorish-Arabic influence in the architecture

A Roman Theatre dating back to the 1st century AD sits proudly next to this Arab building in a juxtaposition that perfectly reflects Malaga’s multicultural history and heritage.

Finally unearthed in 1951, it’s one of the last vestiges of Malaga’s Roman past and well worth a visit. Over half of its tiered seating remains today, along with its stage. Nowadays, it even occasionally hosts shows as it is so well preserved.

Dive into the City’s Art Scene & Visit Picasso Museum

Patio of the Buenavista Palace

Second only to Madrid in terms of the number of museums, Malaga has made quite the name for itself in the art world. In addition, Malaga is famous for being the birthplace of the widely celebrated painter and sculptor, Pablo Picasso.

The Picasso Museum in this Andalusian city is housed in the 16th-century Palacio de Buenavista, which in itself is a building worth a visit.

Picasso Museum

The work displayed in this museum spans 80 years of Picasso’s art, while its library and archives contain a vast number of titles on Picasso. The museum also has a bookshop selling various books related to Picasso and art in general, as well as a café in a quaint, leafy courtyard if you fancy a break from your day of tourism.

Or if you would like to learn even more about Picasso, you can also head to the Picasso Birthplace Museum (Museo Casa Natal). Take a tour through the rooms of the home where this great painter was born and learn about his family life and Malaga’s influence on his works.

Experience the Importance of Religion in Malaga

Christmas Lights in Malaga

Spanish people are passionate by nature, and their passion applies to religion too. Here in southern Spain, Catholicism is deep-rooted, playing an integral part in the city’s fabric.

The most iconic religious building in Malaga is undoubtedly its cathedral: the Catedral de la Encarnación.

Construction on this Renaissance-Baroque building commenced in the 16th century, on the site of what was previously the city’s great mosque. Today, it forms an unmistakeable part of Malaga’s skyline.

Affectionately referred to by locals as “La Manquita” (or “the one-armed lady”), it gained its nickname thanks to its unfinished south tower. Some historians believe funds to finish the tower were instead donated to America in its fight for independence against Great Britain; others believe the money went towards construction of a new road to Vélez, a town in the east.

A visit to this religious building will take your breath away, thanks to its finely made stained glass windows, its intricate vaulted ceilings, and its imperious columns.

And if you choose to visit Malaga at Easter, you’ll be able to enjoy all the religious fervour of Holy Week in Spain, and Andalusia in particular, when the scent of incense wafts through the streets.

Easter Holiday Celebration 

Religious brotherhoods and associations dressed in robes parade through the streets, carrying ornate religious sculptures and floats (tronas) on their shoulders. They’re usually accompanied by traditional bands that fill the streets with a cacophony of sound in this incredible religious celebration.

Try Local Cuisine

Charcoal smoked sardine espeto

When you visit Malaga, make sure you try the local food. The most famous dish in Malaga is the Sardine espeto (skewer).
You can order Malaga’s espeto speciality at any of the restaurants found along the beachfront.

The sardines are skewered with a stake and then cooked on an open fire in an old fishing boat kept on the sand beside the restaurant. The smoky aroma of these fires will tempt you inside as you walk along the beach promenade.

The Mediterranean diet is lauded worldwide, and Malaga’s location means it can offer up prime land and sea products in its dishes.

Seafood Paella

While in Malaga, you should also give the tapas culture a try. Tapas are small portions of food that are devised to be shared by diners.

So pick a restaurant or tavern, order a few different dishes, and indulge in Malaga’s wonderful cuisine.

Explore Malaga’s Old Town Like a Local

Malaga’s old town is the perfect place for a stroll at any time of day. Its narrow streets are brimming with typical cafés, bustling bars where you can have churros for breakfast, and charming independent shops among big-name brands.

Among its picturesque streets, you’ll find the city’s main market, Mercado de Atarazanas, which should be on your list of things to see and do in Malaga.

The original building sited here was an Arabian shipyard. There is one remnant of this history still standing: the market’s main entrance archway. It has since been incorporated into the rest of the market’s structure, which includes an amazing stained glass window at the rear.

Open in the mornings from Monday to Saturday, locals flock here to buy fresh bread, vegetables, meat, fish, and more at amazing prices.

In addition to shopping here for food, many locals take the time to sit in one of the market’s bars for a caña (small beer) and a bite to eat before going on their way.

Hit the Shops in Malaga

With Spain having contributed many of the world’s famous fashion houses, it’s only natural that there are many shopping options in Malaga.

In Malaga’s old town, Calle Marqués de Larios and its neighboring streets are some of the most popular places for shopping. You’ll find a varied selection of shops here to suit all budgets.

Venturing a little further outside of the old town, you’ll find El Corte Inglés. This Spanish department store is a shopping symbol in every city in the country.

Close by are the Larios and Vialia shopping centres, which also have several restaurants. The latter also has a cinema and it’s combined with Malaga’s main railway station, Malaga María Zambrano.

From here, you can hop on a suburban (cercanías) train to Plaza Mayor, a large shopping complex on the outskirts of the city. The journey won’t take longer than 15 minutes and is well worth it for shopping fans.

At this shopping complex you’ll find all kinds of brand names, especially as Plaza Mayor has recently been extended with the addition of the new McArthurGlen Designer Outlet that’s opened. Whether you shop at H&M, Zara, Adidas, or Ralph Lauren, you’ll find something to please you here.

Not only that, there are lots of restaurants to keep your taste buds happy too, and a cinema that often screens movies in the original English version.

Relax at some Arab Baths

Malaga is the perfect place for a spot of relaxation too. One way to explore its Arab heritage is with a visit to the Hammam Al Andalus in the city centre.

A visit to these Arab baths will allow you to enjoy a divine massage with oils, along with a range of herbal teas, a steam room, and various baths at different temperatures.

And that’s not to mention the stunning architecture of the place. Archways and vaulted ceilings leap over the baths and strategically placed candles throw warm, peaceful light along its corridors.

Try Something More Adventurous: El Caminito del Rey

When it comes to adding something more adventurous to your list of things to do in Malaga, you should consider checking out El Caminito del Rey – the King’s Pathway.

This is an 8 KM (5 miles), linear hiking route through mountains and gorges, and passing by reservoirs.

With its origins dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, this previously hazardous pathway has undergone several renovations to become one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions today. It was initially built so workers could reach the hydroelectric power plants at each end of the route, as well as to transport materials, among other tasks involved in these plants.

The pathway itself is built into the side of the mountain, hanging vertiginously 100 metres above the ground and only a metre wide.

Along the way, you can sneak a peek at the ground or river below through glass floors if you dare, and enjoy incredible views of the surrounding landscape, before finally crossing the hanging bridge at the end.

Go Hiking in Montes de Malaga Natural Park

Photo by Marcos Cortes Troman CC BY-SA 4.0

Further inland, five kilometres north of the city, you’ll find Malaga’s green lung, Montes de Malaga Natural Park. Covering almost 5,000 hectares, it features mountains (some of whose peaks stretch up to 1,000 metres above sea level), the basin of the Guadalmedina River, and rolling valleys.

During your holiday to Malaga, you should take the time to go for a hike here as this area is rich in flora and fauna, and it offers several signposted walking routes and cycling options.

There are also places of archaeological value within the park, including a rock painting, as well as a visitor center that also acts as a museum that explains wine culture, and how bread and oil are made.

Once you’ve finished your hike, make sure you finish with the area’s traditional dish, the Plato de los Montes. This calorific bomb is a hearty dish containing pork loin in lard, a fried egg, and several other fried foods, which usually include potatoes, blood sausage, chorizo, and peppers.

Discover the Surrounding Region with a Cultural Day Trip

Lastly, if you’re visiting Malaga over the last weekend in August, make sure you head to the neighboring town of Frigiliana to enjoy its Three Cultures Festival.

Located to the east of Malaga, Frigiliana is one of Andalusia’s famous White Villages. Its Three Cultures Festival celebrates the Christian, Muslim and Jewish populations that have inhabited this village over the years and helped to build its traditions. It does so in a spectacle filled with lively music, dancing, culinary delights, art, fireworks, and more.

Over the course of four days, the streets are packed with people there to enjoy street performers, workshops, and storytellers, in addition to the official concerts arranged for the event.

One of the most popular aspects of this festival is its ‘Ruta de la Tapa’ (Tapas Route). This tour will take you on a gastronomic adventure around the town to try different tapas in several local establishments.

Malaga’s Attractions are Varied

An old bridge

Ultimately, there are so many things to see and do in Malaga that you’ll be hard-pressed to find the time to manage them all in one trip. That way, you’ll have the perfect excuse to return to this Mediterranean city in the future.

Author Bio

Rhian MacGillivray is a content writer, translator, and blogger (www.malagamama.com). When she’s not busy helping companies to communicate their message with content and translations, she can be found at the beach by her home in sunny southern Spain.

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Safe Hostel Travel: 14 Tips for Teens

Hostel traveling is one of the best ways to explore the world as a young person. These communities that dot every major city on the globe are hot spots for like-minded voyagers looking to visit faraway cultures and people.

However, life on the road doesn’t come without dangers to personal safety. In this article, we’ll highlight a few simple steps to ensure a fun and secure stay at a hostel, particularly if you are a teen traveler.

Find the Right Location

Finding the right location is one of the greatest ways to ensure safety while visiting a new city. Visiting a new destination (often abroad) is fun, but the cost of travel gets substantially high the further away you travel from your home.

Staying in Hostels is one effective way to budget your expenses but hostels are all about who will share the place with you, how far it is from the city center, public transportation, and what’s the cost when compared against Airbnb or Hotels.

Therefore, booking a hostel should be done carefully so that one doesn’t end up staying far from the places they want to explore. If you plan to drink, look for locations close to the nightlife of your city. It’s better to have a short journey back to bed in the nighttime.

Do Advance Research

There are several websites specifically dedicated to this form of travel, and each site posts helpful information such as they type of hostel, the type of community found there, and what to expect from a stay.

Make sure to find one that fits your personality, as this will mitigate culture shock and oftentimes depression.

Also, do some research about:

  • common travel scams in particular destinations you are planning to visit
  • the nearest embassy of your country
  • note down phone numbers for hospitals, ambulance, and police
  • shady neighborhoods to skip

Drink Responsibly

First thing first, find out the legal drinking age in the country you are visiting. And, do not drink in if you are not of age. Drinking is just one tiny way to have good times but traveling offers so much more. Be mindful, present and curious. Let your senses be overwhelmed by the new experiences (so you don’t feel like you are missing on anything).

Another tip is to drink responsibly (if you must) and if you are traveling in a group, then go to a bar with your group. Do not accept drinks from strangers no matter how friendly they appear.

Pack Light & Carefully

Take care when packing for your trip. Remember that most hostels sleep six to ten people in a single room, so the space you live in will be shared with strangers.

Therefore, all your personal items will be in a common space that is potentially open to thievery. Remember, the quickest way for a trip to be ruined is to lose something important.

One great strategy to minimize the threat of robbery is to be a packing minimalist. When gathering the items, carefully revise and prune the list of items that you will bring.

Expensive clothing shouldn’t be brought if it isn’t necessary, along with high-priced electronics that won’t be of use on the trip. Bringing fewer items will decrease your chances of getting something stolen abroad.

Bring a Lock

Inevitably, some valuables will have to be brought on your trip. Passports, money, and cell phones are part of every travelers’ arsenal when living in hostels. In order to keep these items protected, it is imperative that a lock and key is brought on your journey.

Almost every location will offer lockers to store your gear either for free or for a small fee. Using a locker will allow for important documents and information to be kept in a safe place while exploring the city’s sights or bars. Don’t hesitate to bring one!

Private Rooms

In addition to standard mixed-gender dorms, some locations will offer private rooms for booking. Private rooms are great options for additional privacy if you do not want to share living space with strangers.

Additionally, they can add another level of protection to personal items while visiting cities across the globe.

Specialty Hostels

Another option for female globetrotters is all-female dorms and hostels. While these hostels and rooms come fewer and further between, they can provide additional safety and security for women traveling abroad.

Be sure to look for these options if one has concerns about privacy or living with men.

Final Thoughts

Some additional precautionary tips to keep in mind are:

  • Ask the hostel staff for security advice or anything you should know about
  • Don’t open the hostel door for strangers
  • Make a copy of your Passport and email it to yourself
  • Hide some backup money somewhere safe. This is just in case you lose your wallet/purse
  • Plan to check-in at your hostel before dark for the first time
  • Don’t leave your hostel alone late at night (no matter how safe you feel)
  • Trust your gut “feeling” but also use your brain (it is better to be safe than sorry)

I hope these easy to follow steps help when planning your next trip! The world is a gift, and everyone should have the opportunity to see every part fearlessly.

Go forth and experience something new!

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A Traveler’s Guide to Malaga, Spain

Overlooked for decades by tourists flocking to resorts on the Costa del Sol, Malaga has come of age and is now ready to rival Europe’s best when it comes to quality of life for its citizens.

Named the European Capital of Culture in 2016, Malaga has every right to be pleased with the way Mayor Francisco de la Torre has turned a once-gritty port into a 21st-century city.

Photo: Malaga Port / The Art of Travel Partners

Malaga Travel Guide

Today Malaga is brimming with a youthful vigor following a multimillion renovation of the city’s port (pictured above) that includes the giant glass cubed Pompidou Centre, the museums first venture outside of France.

The city that gave the world Picasso also has its own Soho art district and a branch of the St. Petersburg State Museum that includes a collection of Russian art that spans five centuries.

Photo: Christmas in Malaga / The Art of Travel Partners

Malaga is also proud of its multi-layered past that encompasses several civilizations dating back to the Phoenicians. Where else in the world could you find a boutique hotel squeezed between a Moorish fortress and a Roman amphitheater?

Packed with bars and restaurants that would rival Madrid, Malaga has a food culture that embraces humble tapas bars and Michelin star seeking restaurants serving the freshest of seafood.

Photo: Eating fish in Malaga / The Art of Travel Partners 

In fact, the natives eat so much fish that the local football team is known as the Boquerones (Spanish fried Anchovy).

Things To Do In Malaga

Málaga has become a well-known place for visiting art galleries, historical sites, and monuments in the South of Europe.

Start your tour of Malaga on the northern side of the Paseo del Parque where you can see Roman, Arab, and Renaissance culture side by side.

Alcazaba

Photo: Islamic Architecture / The Art of Travel Partners

Built above a Roman amphitheater is the Alcazaba Fortress from where the Moors ruled Malaga for over 700 years.

Photo: Alcazaba Fortress / The Art of Travel Partners

Roman Theater

Situated under the Alcazaba facing a small plaza are the beautiful remains of an old Roman theater. You can view them anytime from the overlook in the plaza, but if you want to get up close you can enter the attached building, where you’ll be shown a short film and view some artifacts before entering the theater itself, where you can walk past the old stage and sit on the stone steps. FREE.

Castillo de Gibralfaro

Further, up Gibralfaro hill you will come to the magnificent Castillo de Gibralfaro, a fortress that dates back to the 10th century with panoramic views of the city below.

Museo de Malaga

For a look into the civilizations that called Malaga home visit the impressive Museo de Malaga in the Palacio de la Aduana, a neoclassical building built in the style of an Italian Renaissance palace.

Here you will discover artifacts dating back thousands of years and a collection of paintings from Spain’s greatest artists.

Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum is located close to the Plaza de la Merced in the Old Town and features 233 pieces spanning 80 years of the artist’s life.

Photo: Picasso Museum / The Art of Travel Partners

Picasso’s Birthplace

Museo Casa Natal de Picasso, as it is called locally has loads of objects and some paintings that the most famous artist of the 20th century created during his childhood.

Museo Carmen Thyssen

If you are interested in learning more about the 19th-century Spanish art a visit to the Museo Carmen Thyssen is a must with the museum’s permanent collection containing 230 paintings.

Centre Pompidou Malaga

Photo: Centre Pompidou Malaga / The Art of Travel Partners

Modern art enthusiasts will love the cubist Centre Pompidou Malaga an offshoot of the popular Parisian museum showcasing contemporary works of art.

Malaga Cathedral

Located right in the heart of the city center and well worth visiting.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

Nearby Attractions

Malaga has exceptional road and motorway links, making it an excellent base for exploring the nearby villages and towns.

Wonderful drives inland reveal the hidden gems of this region, with small restaurants nestling in the hills where you can experience a truly authentic taste of Andalucia.

There are also several tourist holiday resorts within reach, such as:

  • Torremolinos
  • Marbella
  • Nerja

Photo: Nerja / The Art of Travel Partners

Rock Climb

There is lots of great rock climbing in and around Malaga.

Photo: El Caminito del Rey / The Art of Travel Partners

The amazing El Chorro gorge is 50 minutes drive to the North West and this also features the King’s little pathway (aka El Caminito del Rey), an amazing pathway suspended high above the gorge.

There is also Via Ferrata and rock climbing at El Torcal near Antequera.

Beaches

The nearest beach to the center is La Malagueta. Please note, La Malagueta is fine for a day’s sunbathing although quieter and prettier beaches can be found further east or west.

It can be a nice walk along the waterfront to reach these beaches, otherwise, you could get a bus from near the Bullring in the direction of El Palo.

Photo: Bullring / The Art of Travel Partners

Note: Malaga East tends to have smaller beaches while Malaga West have long stretches of beaches.

Best Time To Visit

With an average of 320 days of sunshine a year Malaga is the perfect place for a weekend getaway and with just about every low-cost airline serving the city you have no excuse not to visit.

With so much to see and do in this exciting city, Malaga is worth a visit at any time of the year.

Photo: Life in Malaga / The Art of Travel Partners

Getting Around

From the airport, you have several options for getting into the city. You can take the airport express bus to the city center or a train from the airport to Malaga-Centro Alameda Station. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or rent a car from one of the many car companies operating out of the airport.

Once in Malaga getting around is easy with most of the places you want to visit all within walking distance. Malaga also has an extensive cycle lane network with rental bike pickup and drop off locations throughout the city.

A great way to see the best of what the city has to offer including a ride out to the beach is to take the hop-on-hop-off bus. The bus stops at all the major attractions and allows you to ride as much as you want for a one-off fee.

Author Bio

Nicola Kennedy works with Malaga Airport Taxis, helping visitors to Spain get the most out of their holiday. She loves sharing her travel adventures and helping others appreciate the wonderful country of Spain.

16 Famous Explorers and Their Incredible Stories

When men invented ways to move from one place to another, may it be through wheels or sails, many brave souls ventured into the unknown to defy logic? Such explorers made a name in history, and surely lived a life of adventure.

Let’s hear their tales of discovery and exploration.

Famous Explorers

The Age of Discovery or the Age of Exploration primarily began from the beginning of the 15th century until the end of the 18th century.

It is an informal and loosely defined term for the period in European history in which extensive overseas exploration emerged as a powerful factor in European culture and was the beginning of globalization.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

It also marks the rise of the period of widespread adoption in Europe of colonialism and mercantilism as national policies. Many lands previously unknown to Europeans were discovered by them during this period, though most were already inhabited.

From the perspective of many native population or non-Europeans, the Age of Discovery marked the arrival of invaders from previously unknown continents.

Global Exploration

Photo: The Age of Discovery / The Art of Travel Partners

Global exploration started with the Portuguese discoveries of the Atlantic archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores, the coast of Africa, and the discovery of the sea route to India in 1498.

This was followed by the trans-Atlantic Voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Americas between 1492 and 1502 and the first circumnavigation of the globe in the early 16th century.

These discoveries led to numerous naval expeditions across the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, and land expeditions in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia that continued into the late 19th century, and ended with the exploration of the polar regions in the 20th century.

Let us relive the stories of 16 of the most famous explorers in the history of humankind.

Marco Polo

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners / Public Domain Archive

What sets Marco Polo apart from the rest of the explorers is his written account of his travels. Though when he published it, many believed it to be fiction, but now historians confirm many of his accounts as facts that Marco Polo mentioned in his book.

Polo was an Italian, his father and uncle were successful Jewel Merchants in Asia. When they came back to Italy, Marco Polo went with them to China. He describes his first look of hardships in Afghanistan and Gobi Desert.

Later when he made it to China, Kublai Khan sent him on voyages to Tibet, Burma, and India. After working for King Kublai Khan for 17 years coming back home after 23 years was a difficult transition. He was also imprisoned in Genoa for declaring war against the city.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners / Public Domain Archive

Inside the prison, he recorded his tales in “The Travels of Marco Polo.” This made him a celebrity later after he got out of prison. After being released from the prison, he lived 25 more years with his daughters and died in 1324.

Vasco Da Gama

A Portuguese by nationality and an explorer at heart, Vasco Da Gam learned to navigate the ships at an early age from his father, Estevao. When King Manuel discovered that Indian and Atlantic Oceans merged, he wanted to know the route that led to India.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners / Public Domain Archive

The King sent Vasco Da Gama on his way, the changes in weather forced half of his crew to fall to scurvy. That is the reason Da Gama made a rest at Mozambique, the first step of Portuguese colonialism planted here.

On his way, he stopped at Mombasa and Malindi and took a guide Ahmed Ibn Magid with him. In the May of 1498, Da Gama landed in Kochi.

After establishing spice trade in India, he went on his way back to Portugal. And Scurvy claimed the lives of his fellow crew member, as well as his brother Paulo. After struggling to keep his brother for a year in the Azores, he got back home as a hero.

His next voyage to India portrays his ruthlessness. He ordered the death of 380 Muslims aboard a ship back from Mecca. And his determination made him the dominant spice trader in Kochi. After twenty years of his second voyage to India, in 1524 he ventured to India once again.

But this time age took over mental strength and as soon as he reached Kochi, he became ill. A Catholic Church acted as his burial ground, but later his remains got back to Portugal.

Sir Walter Raleigh

He was not only a favorite of Queen Elizabeth but also a sworn enemy of the Spanish. The reason behind his hatred for Roman-Catholicism was the persecution of his family under Queen Mary I who was a Catholic.

He went to France to fight Wars of Religions, and he also studied law at Oxford. His Voyage includes his quest to find the North West Passage, but along the way, the Spanish army became the vessels of his wrath.

He became the Queen’s favorite after his return; it is even said that when he married some another woman, the Queen imprisoned him in a jealous fit.

That aside, apart from North West Passage Sir Walter Raleigh established a colony in Roanoke. His Last Voyage was to South America after which he died in Westminster (sentenced to death because of treason).

Roald Amundsen

Born to a family of shipowners and captains in Norway, Roald Amundsen was the first ever explorer to navigate the South Pole as well as the first to travel the North West Passage.

Photo: Public Domain Archive / The Art of Travel Partners

He was the leader of the Antarctic exploration. His first expedition led to his being locked up in sea ice west of Antarctic Peninsula. After surviving a harsh winter, he led his crew through the North West Passage.

Roald first wanted to explore the North Pole, but hearing he won’t be the first one to do so discouraged him. It took two attempts for him and his team to reach Polheim or the South Pole.

Abel Janszoon Tasman

Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company. He was the first known European explorer to reach the islands of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania after his name), New Zealand, and the Islands of Fiji.

Photo: Tasman’s voyage route to Tasmania and New Zeland / Public Domain Archive

Ironically, from the point of view of the Dutch East India Company, Tasman’s explorations were a disappointment: he had neither found a promising area for trade nor a useful new shipping route. Although received modestly, the company was upset to a degree that Tasman did not fully explore the lands he found and decided that a more “persistent explorer” should be chosen for any future expeditions.

For over a century, until the era of James Cook, Tasmania and New Zealand were not visited by Europeans – mainland Australia was visited, but usually only by accident.

James Cook

James Cook was the brave captain who led his ship to dangerous territories. Son of a farmhand in Yorkshire he gradually grew up and worked as an apprentice for a shipowner in Whitby.

Photo: Gisborne, New Zealand / The Art of Travel Partners

Due to his experience with ships and ports, he joined the British Nany, then ended up as the Ship’s Master. After the Seven Years War, he took on a scientific expedition to the uncharted areas of New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef.

He also took a tour of Antarctica in which he discovered Ester Island, Tonga, and he smashed the belief of fabled southern continent’s existence.

He did more than any sailor ever did to fill in the vast blank spaces in the world map. He died in a battle with the locals of Kealakekua Bay.

Sir Francis Drake

The relationship between Spain and England was not a warm one during the 16th century. When n Francis Drake became a successful slave trader as he sailed to Africa, but after that, he became a victim of Spanish forces in 1568.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

He and Hawkins deluded the Spanish Navy. Then, Queen Elizabeth, I issued a privateer’s commission to Drake saying he has right to plunder the properties belonging to King Phillip II.

For his next voyage, he went to Panama and raided the coast, then came the best point in British Naval history when Sir Drake became the first British to circumnavigate the earth.

Ferdinand Magellan

Magellan is often revered as the first man to circumnavigate the earth. That is so not true, his crew was. In his conquest to find a route to the Spice Islands from Spain without Portugal coming in the way, he lost his life.

But before that, he sailed to East Africa, Malacca (Malaysia), Indonesia. After his employment in Morocco had finished, he moved to Seville, Spain.

Under the orders of King Charles I, he sailed to Brazil, Patagonia, South America, Strait of Magellan, Philippines. He died while fighting in a mutiny in the Homonhom Island.

David Livingstone

In earlier days sailors were rowdy and cruel, they needed a rough exterior while traveling on the unknown waters. But David Livingstone was a saint among the devils.

He was a Scottish pastor who fell in love with Africa. He went to Africa in 1836 to work as a missionary. Even though he traveled to his country, he loathed slavery and adhered to his morals.

His madness for exploration led him to a hand to hand combat with a lion even. After retiring from his missionary job, he continued in Africa- but his source of motivation was to glean knowledge about the origin of the Nile River.

He was unsuccessful in his studies, but he made a dramatic exit from life when he died while on his knee- praying.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was an Italian-born to a weaver father, but that did not stop him from going on voyages to Mediterranean and Aegean seas. He was a disillusioned hero who thought he had arrived in South Asia when he had actually discovered America by error.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

Columbus made four remarkable voyages. The first one nearly took his life, when French privateers attacked his ship in Portugal’s Coast. But Columbus did not give up and swam to the shore.

Both the Portugues and the Italian Kings rejected his idea of exploring a safer route to Asia, after the war when the Spanish sponsored his expedition Columbus reached the Bahamas.

In his subsequent voyages he set foot in Venezuela and Cuba, but in his death, he still thought that it was some part of Asia.

Amerigo Vespucci

Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator, and cartographer. Born in the Republic of Florence, he became a naturalized citizen of the Crown of Castile in 1505.

Photo: Vespucci arrives in New World /Public Domain Archive

Vespucci first demonstrated in about 1502 that Brazil and the West Indies did not represent Asia’s eastern outskirts as initially conjectured from Columbus’ voyages, but instead constituted an entirely separate landmass hitherto unknown to people of the Old World.

Colloquially referred to as the New World, it came to be termed “the Americas”, a name derived from Americus, the Latin version of Vespucci’s first name.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

Hernando de Soto

Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who was involved in expeditions in Nicaragua and the Yucatan Peninsula and played an important role in Pizarro’s conquest of the Inca Empire in Peru.

But Soto is best known for leading the first Spanish and European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States (through Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and most likely Arkansas).

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

De Soto’s North American expedition was a vast undertaking. He is also the first European documented as having crossed the Mississippi River.

It ranged throughout the southeastern United States, both searching for gold, which had been reported by various Indian tribes and earlier coastal explorers, and for a passage to China or the Pacific coast.

Brave leadership, unwavering loyalty, and ruthless schemes for the extortion of native villages for their captured chiefs became de Soto’s hallmarks during the conquest of Central America.

De Soto died in 1542 on the banks of the Mississippi River; different sources disagree on the exact location, whether what is now Lake Village, Arkansas, or Ferriday, Louisiana.

Vasco Núñez de Balboa

Vasco Núñez de Balboa was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World.

He traveled to the New World in 1500 and, after some exploration, settled on the island of Hispaniola.

He founded the settlement of Santa María la Antigua del Darién in present-day Panama in 1510, which was the first permanent European settlement on the mainland of the Americas (a settlement by Alonso de Ojeda the previous year at San Sebastián de Urabá had already been abandoned).

John Cabot

John Cabot was an Italian navigator and explorer, born in the Kingdom of Naples. His 1497 discovery of the coast of North America under the commission of Henry VII of England was the first European exploration of coastal North America since the Norse visits to Vinland in the eleventh century.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

Like other explorers at those times, including Christopher Columbus, Cabot led an expedition on commission, in his case, England. Cabot planned to depart to the west from a northerly latitude where the longitudes are much closer together, and where, as a result, the voyage would be much shorter.

He still had an expectation of finding an alternative route to China.

Henry Hudson

Henry Hudson was an English sea explorer and navigator during the early 17th century, best known for his explorations of present-day Canada and parts of the northeastern United States.

In 1607 and 1608, Hudson made two attempts on behalf of English merchants to find a rumored Northeast Passage to Cathay (China) via a route above the Arctic Circle.

In 1609 he landed in North America and explored the region around the modern New York metropolitan area, looking for a Northwest Passage to Asia on behalf of the Dutch East India Company.

He sailed up the Hudson River, which was later named after him, and thereby laid the foundation for Dutch colonization of the region.

Hudson discovered the Hudson Strait and the immense Hudson Bay on his final expedition, while still searching for the Northwest Passage.[6] In 1611, after wintering on the shore of James Bay, Hudson wanted to press on to the west, but most of his crew mutinied. The mutineers cast Hudson, his son, and seven others adrift; the Hudsons and their companions were never seen again.

Lewis and Clark

The Lewis and Clark Expedition began near St. Louis, made its way westward, and passed through the Continental Divide of the Americas to reach the Pacific coast.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

From May 1804 to September 1806, it was the first American expedition to cross the western portion of the United States.

President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the expedition shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to explore and to map the newly acquired territory, to find a practical route across the western half of the continent, and to establish an American presence in this territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

The campaign’s secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the area’s plants, animal life, and geography, and to establish trade with local American Indian tribes. The expedition returned to St. Louis to report its findings to Jefferson, with maps, sketches, and journals in hand.

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15 Photos Showing How the World Celebrated Easter

Easter is recognized on the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring. Since 325 AD, Christians have celebrated Easter on a collective day. Some indulge in the easter eggs hunting and some just want to feel the experience the warm sun rays falling through the Holy Sepulchre.

Here are 15 unique and interesting easter tradition photos from around the world that capture the essence and spirit of Easter celebration.

This Photo dates back to 1930 taken in  Megara, Greece. The women are performing a traditional Easter Dance.

Here is a photo which was taken by Alessio Romenzi when the nuns were blowing out their candles after the Holy Fire ceremony, Jerusalem.

In Stinatz, Austria women dressed up in traditional dresses, while they shared Eggs with “Happy Easter”  written on them.

The procession along the Via Dolorosa is carried out in Jerusalem City, Israel, during the Good Friday.

This mascot is the Easter bunny who the curious children found when on an egg hunt in Connecticut, USA.

This is how the window looks from the roof of the church of the Holy Sepulchre. And all that haze is due to the smoke from the Holy Fire Ceremony in Jerusalem.

An altar created in Oaxaca, Mexico for Easter. And a woman who unknowingly became the subject of this photo.

During the Holy Week,  Procession of Verges takes place in Verges, Spain. The actors re-enact the life story of Christ. This photo is from the final act – The Dance of Death.

This delish scene is outside St Michael’s Church in Vorkuta, Russia. Eggs, candles, and cakes! I bet the parish is feeling the giving spirit of Easter.

The photo was taken by David Alan Harvey in 1978 during Holy week procession in Valladolid, Spain.

The Holy Fire is indeed blazing during the Holy Fire Ceremony in Jerusalem. Alessio Romenzi accentuates the passion of the festival.

A March in Chartres, France in 1969 when the students walked to the cathedral bearing crosses.

The light coming from the window of Holy Sepulchre (in Jerusalem) is considered Holy by many Christians. Some women reverently basking in the sun rays coming through the window.

These beautifully painted Easter Eggs are all the way from Lincoln, Nebraska. Ready to hide the eggs and play the fun game?

A procession held from Mount Olives to the Temple of Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, where pilgrims carry crosses to commemorate the journey of Christ to his Crucifixion.

All photo credits go to the gallery of National Geographic Travel.

Interested in pilgrimages? Check our Post 5 Pilgrimages That Could Change Your Life

You may like: Visiting the Birth Place of Buddha in Nepal

 

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5 Pilgrimages That Could Change Your Life

Five centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a new trend started to dominate people’s imagination. Pilgrimages in ancient history were about seeking repentance, healing, or self-transformation.

Be it Christian, Hajj, or visit to the Ganges. In our modern world, pilgrimages have a whole new meaning.

Adventurers of our time, in the twenty-first century, continuously try to explore new horizons. A pilgrimage is a journey inward. Be it a long hiking trail or climbing the tallest mountain or walking an ancient path…it is a journey that has a power to transform lives.

Here are five of my favorite modern pilgrimages which will change your heart and instill courage in your soul. From the holy cleansing of the soul to an adventure like none other. Let’s begin.

Inca Trail, Peru 

The old remnants in Machu Picchu hold significance in history as well as religion. Every year from July to September thousands of pilgrims walk on the Inca trail in Peru. If you want to test the waters but don’t want to take risks, then book with a travel guide company.

Only 200 tourist pilgrims can have the visiting pass to Machu Picchu. The trail is only 43 kilometers long; but due to the elevation, it will put you through pain (you might curse the gods). But finally, when you reach the ruins, you will feel like you are blessed to be here.

Camino De Santiago, Spain 

Santiago de Compostela is the cathedral that houses the body of Saint James in Northern Spain. There are many roads that lead to the cathedral. But the most preferred and UNESCO heritage site is Camino de Santiago.

The onset of pilgrimage is from St Jean Pied de Port. You can trek this 780 kilometers long trail through an entire month. Your legs will get stronger, and you can have an insight of Spanish culture.

Mount Kailash, Tibet

Tibetan culture welcomes any pilgrim who is ready to attain Nirvana. The lofty Mount Kailash is an intriguing chunk of landmass, with mystical powers. If you are successful in making 108 rounds of it, then you can achieve Nirvana (a Hindu religious belief).

Keeping that aside, let us pay attention to the 52 Kilometer long hike, that takes you around the mountain. Avoid winter months, particularly November-January, which is cold and uncomfortable, to say the least.

Canterbury, England

This one is called the Pilgrim’s Way to Canterbury. History and Canterbury are woven together. The Saint Thomas Beckett did not receive the honor when he was alive. He died on this trail from London to Canterbury.

Beckett performed miracles and attracted a lot of followers, which was the reason behind his death. (Silly kings of olden days.)

Now the trail from Winchester to Canterbury is not available for pedestrians. But there is another trail North Downs way, which will lead you to Canterbury. Walking through the 180 kilometers, you can have a glimpse of the beauty of rustic England.

Kumano Trail, Japan

In the Kii Mountains in Japan, there are three shrines which lead to Kumano. These ancient trails winds through the south of Osaka. It is the next UNESCO pilgrimage walk after the Camino de Santiago (in northern Spain).

Unlike other pilgrimages that tax your body and challenges your fitness, Kumano trail has classy hotels and hot springs on the way to relax your aching body. But please keep in mind though, this 6 weeks long pilgrimage can get monotonous at times.

To fight the boring vibes, you can visit the many shrines, nature, and nearby tea plantations.

So are you ready embark on a pilgrimage? If yes, which one are you planning for? Let me know in the comments.

 

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The Route of Santiago in The Alchemist

There are very few stories that echo throughout generations to come. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho is a tale of wanderlust, resilience, self-discovery, and finding true love. It is the journey of a young boy named Santiago who has the courage to follow his dreams.

While many of us wait for things to get right before we start traveling, this boy embarks on an epic adventure, beats all odds, and finds his treasure. Are you ready to follow your heart?

“People are capable, at any time in their lives of doing what they dream of.” ~ The Alchemist

The Route Of Santiago Alchemist

Santiago’s journey is not only a spiritual discovery of his potential but also a travel saga. He covers three countries in his wake. He crosses Spain, Morocco, and Egypt to get to his destination.

As it is indeed said, “It is not the destination that matters, but the journey.” Let us now give you a glance of the journey that Santiago takes in The Alchemist.

ANDALUSIA, SPAIN

This young boy gave up a sheltered life of family to become a humble shepherd, just because he wanted to see the world. In a cold night, he lies in an abandoned church, with is sheep. Besides him is a sycamore tree whose significant role reveals at the end.

He is now in a part of Andalusia, guiding his sheep through pastures and finding the water in the warm temperate region. It is in the dilapidated church that he has dreamed of his treasure. Now, he embarks on his journey.

TARIFA, SPAIN

Santiago comes to Tarifa to sell his sheep’s wool. He wants to test his fate. So, he goes to a gypsy fortune teller. She tells him about his dream of treasure near pyramids and asks him to follow it.

The gypsy strikes a deal with him, that if he finds his treasure, he should share it with her.

Another encounter is due to the Old King. Paulo Coelho draws the similarity from High Priest in the Bible to the Old King in the novel.

He has a breastplate which has glittering stones of Urim (good) and Thummim (bad). The king lends him the stones which will guide his path as omens.

TANGIER, MOROCCO

Sadly, the boy’s money gets stolen. He does not have the means to make his journey to the pyramids. So he stays back at the mountain, working for the glass merchant. He saves all the money from work, planning on buying sheep.

After betrayal from the world, he does not want to follow his dream. But when he has enough money to buy sheep, he sees the stones which the King gave him. He again sets forth on his journey from Morocco to Egypt.

THE OASIS

Nobody knows, which Oasis Santiago stays at during his journey. We do know however that the Oasis mentioned here is either in Morocco or in Egypt.

One of the important twist in the story takes place here. Here, Santiago meets the Alchemist who inducts him to the universal language. From here he sets forth with confidence and his next stop awaits another great move.

AL PAYOUM, EGYPT

Finally, when he reaches the land of Pyramids, he meets the love of his life. In this desert, Santiago finds a kindred soul who encourages him to follow his dreams. Despite his heart’s dilemma, he goes ahead on his journey promising to come back.

THE DESERT, EGYPT

On his way to The Pyramids Santiago does something legendary. When he and the Alchemist are in clutches of the kidnappers, the Alchemist promises that the boy can turn himself into the wind.

The universal language now culminates in the boy’s soul. He turns to the wind and communicates with all natural elements.

THE PYRAMIDS, EGYPT

His ultimate destination is the Pyramids. In his dreams, a big Pyramid was his treasure home.

He digs and digs but finds nothing in the sands. When he meets a man, who exchanges Gold for Santiago’s life, then Santiago realizes that his treasure was in the Old ruined church beside the Sycamore tree.

THE OLD RUINED CHURCH 

In the last scene, we see Santiago digging his treasure under the dark blue sky of night. He chides the wind for not telling him the secret. But it was the journey that should matter to all travelers like it did to Santiago.

Do not wait for a fat bank account or winning a lottery. Imagine like a child, and embark on your dream journey. An adventurous journey has transformation power.

Once you begin, everything will start coming together. As it says in the Alchemist, once you set your heart on a particular mission, the whole universe will conspire together to help you achieve what you seek.

Bon Voyage!

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10 Best Wine Tour Destinations in the World

Wine tourism is the latest trend among travel lovers. Wineries that offer wine tasting and Vineyard tours are on a growth all around the world. They are a must-visit place for people who love to travel and explore the world.

Best Wine Tour Destinations

The wine tour is a journey you make through the valleys of wine making. It is not just the mere bottle with a label on it. It has so many things related to it, that you can’t help, but admire. Wine tours give you an idea about the surrounding, where it is made and people, who make it.

The wine tour is an enchanting experience and should be on everyone’s travel list. Here is our list of top ten wine tourism destinations in the world.

Tuscany, Italy

Being the most renowned wine region in the world, Tuscany is a trending destination for wine tours. The highlight of this region is Florence, which is the beginning spot for all wine tours. The city is famous for its red wine, such as Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

However, there are a couple of other interesting ideas of wine tours in Italy. Wine tours are trekking through fields or valleys, right? And how would you find an idea of a cruise?

Italy Wine Tours

In Italy, you will have the freedom to lounge on the deck and do onboard tastings, as well as do occasional stalls at harbors and visit the vineyards. These cruises are more expensive, than the rest of the tours, but believe us, you will love the 7-night cruise from Rome to Cannes.

Another wine tasting destination, Amalfi coast is known for its archaeological remains. In the areas of Paestum, Pompeii, and Herculaneum, you will discover many historical sites. And alongside, there is Campania, where you will study the ancient method of winemaking. By ancient, we mean four thousand years of wine making.

You can book this tour during August and September. Have a taste of wine made of the rare grape collection, and you will never forget this trip!

See it: To view this blog post as an animation, take a look at Tango Tours.

Napa Valley, California

Credit for 90% of wine production in the US goes to California, which is a home to over 1200 wineries. It is the classic example of sprawling vineyards.  Wine lovers from all over the world come here for wine tasting. A five-day tour here is a luxury, which is worth the money you spend on it.

A tour around the Dry Creek, Sonoma Valley, and Napa Valley is a brilliant way to find out more about the wine-making. And don’t worry about the accommodation, as hotels are multiple here. The most famous Californian wines are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Merlot.

Loire Valley, France

The valley, situated along the Loire River, is famous for its white wines. The region is divided into three sections, by grapes and wine produced:

a)   Upper Loire is known for Sauvignon Blanc

b)   Middle Loire for Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc   

c)   Lower Loire is dominated by Melon De Bourgogne

You can take a 7-day tour around the area, visiting beautiful nearby chateaux and vineyards.

Chenonceau, Vouvray, Bourgeuil are gorgeous places, which produce indulgent wine. A wine guide will take you on an incredible tour of the historical vineyards.

Mendoza, Argentina

Mendoza produces two-thirds of the entire wine production of Argentina. And you will also find various wine tasting tours here. The area offers some really amazing views, as it lies in the foothills of Andes Mountain Range.

Duero River Valley, Spain & Portugal

Spain is the world’s third-largest wine producer. Duero River stretches from Spain to Portugal, with multiple vineyards along its way. Red and white wines of the exceptional quality are produced here. Moreover, wine cruises are also widely available.

Another famous wine region of Spain is Andalusia. It offers one of the longest wine tours, and if you enjoy Sherry, this trip might become your favorite. La Mancha is the starting point, and you will move around the area, tasting some of the best wines.

You will also enjoy delicious meals of Andalusia on the way. Tapas and Iberico ham are the signature dishes in its gastronomy.

Central Otago Wine Region, New Zealand

New Zealand is the southernmost wine producing region of the world. 70% of the plantations in Queenstown are dedicated to Point Noir. Other 30% host Chardonnay, Reisling, Pinot Gris, and a few more kinds of grapes. The region also offers wine tours for every taste and budget.

Constantia Valley, South Africa

Constantia Valley in South Africa is a vineyard with the glorious history of winemaking since 1685. The region is breathtaking, due to the vicinity of Table Mountain National Park. Numerous travel agencies offer wine tasting tours here, along with great opportunities for shopping, due to its proximity to the city.

Barossa Valley, Australia

Barossa Valley is one of the oldest wine regions in Australia, which dates back to the 19th century. This region is known for its Shiraz grapes, which is used for making Penfolds Grange, the most famous wine in Australia. It is also a major tourist destination.

Chilean Wine Country, Chile

Chile is famous for its wine. Fourteen different valleys of the region, including Valle del Elqui and Valle de Limari, offer plenty of wine tours, suitable for every taste and budget. And the most famous Chilean wines, known all over the world, are Santa Carolina and Errazuriz.

Willamette Valley, United States

Willamette Valley is a gorgeous region in Oregon, surrounded by mountain ranges, is home to almost 500 wineries. Its most famous wine is Pinot Noir. Several exquisite wine tasting tours are available.

To learn more about these world’s best wine tour destinations, have a look at the Gifographic (animated Infographic) shared by Tango Tours.

Game of Thrones Real Filming Locations You Can Visit

With the fantastic progression of season 8 (thus far) of Game of Thrones, we thought of creating this summary page to refresh your memories.

Below are some images of real-life filming locations of Game Of Thrones. Yes, these sites are real and very much as magical as you see on the screen.

Must see: Game Of Thrones World Map of Seven Kingdoms

The Dark Hedges – Kingsroad

The Dark Hedges is a popular Northern Irish tourist attraction. Two lines of stately beech trees planted by the Stuart family in 1775 to line the entrance to their Gracehill House mansion.

But this is better known to Game of Thrones fans as the Kingsroad, as seen when Arya and Gendry first meet.

Photo by The Art of Travel Partners

Bardenas Reales – Dothraki Sea

 

Who would have thought that The Spanish Badlands of clay, chalk, and sandstone would become the favorite of so many viewers!

This out of the world location is the Bardenas Reales near the Town of Tudela, Spain, where the Khaleesi meets another Dothraki Tribe in the sixth season. One of the stunning real-life locations of Game of Thrones.

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Seville – Arena of Meeren

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The most expensive scene shot in the entire series of The Game of Thrones as well as the history of Television is in Plaza de Toros, Osuna, Spain.

Photo by The Art of Travel Partners

It is the set for the first meeting of Tyrion and Daenerys. Aside from the vibrant shrines, you can enjoy the first GoT themed Restaurant in Osuna Cassa Curro.

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Essaouira & Marrakech – Astapor

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This city is 100 Km west of Marrakech (Morocco), and its Red Walls make it a believable Red City of Astapor, one of the breathtaking real-life locations of Game of Thrones.

It is here that Daenerys buys the army of world-famous unsullied soldiers, “Slay the masters, Slay every man who holds a whip, but harm no Child.”  These are the exact words of the Dragon Queen when she frees the slaves.

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Grjotagja – Jon & Ygritte’s Love Nest

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In North Eastern Ireland lies the Love cave of Jon Snow and Ygritte. The small volcanic cave has a spring where the temperature escalates till 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It is no doubt that Jon Snow and Ygritte were getting hot in this cave. *Winks*

If you wanna get as hot as them, then you can visit this sizzling real-life filming site of Game of Thrones.

If you wanna get as hot as them, then you can visit this sizzling real-life filming site of Game of Thrones.

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Vatnajokull – North of the Wall

Wonder what lies beyond the wall (except the White Walkers of course!) The largest glacier in Europe sweeps across this frozen landscape in Iceland. You can play dress up as a GoT fan and snap some “really cool” pictures here.

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Dubrovnik – King’s Landing

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King’s Landing is shot in the Old Town, Dubrovnik, Croatia. We all know that Cersei had that walk of shame a long time coming, but if you would like to know her path of Walk of Shame, then take the steps of Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.

It is where one of the most hated characters of GoT suffered humiliation. That is how close you get to find real-life Game of Thrones Locations.

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Minceta Tower – House of the Undying

Every Game of Thrones fan remembers how the tiny Drogon and his siblings fried the Undead who tried to lure and trap Daenerys and her dragons.

The House of the Undying is nothing other than the highest point of the Dubrovnik City Walls in this old Croatian City. Or to be precise, it is called the Minceta Tower.

No better Real Life Game of Thrones location than the place where the Mother of Dragons fried her enemies, is there?

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Lokrum – Qarth

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In the season 2, we see a lot of Daenerys in Qarth. The real-life locations of the Game of Thrones’ Qarth is Lokrum (also in Croatia).

It is a small island just a 10 Minutes boat ride from the coast of Dubrovnik. The fortress in which Daenerys stays is one of the highest on the Island which gives you a panoramic view of the Protected National Park.

Sibenik  – Braavos

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All Arya’s fans know well that her internship at the House of Black and White wasn’t a child’s game. But Braavos is such a city which brings to life the inner wildness of Arya’s character.

Even though most of the House of Black and White scenes were shot on a made-up stage, nevertheless, the real-life locations of The Game of Thrones’s Braavos is Sibenik, Croatia.

It is here, in the alleys and plazas of the old town of Sibenik that Arya does most of her wanderings.

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Castle Ward – Winterfell

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It is in Castle Ward that Robert Baratheon made his entry to Winterfell. The real-life location of Game of Thrones, Winterfell is Castle Ward in Ireland which is a sprawling land of 820 acres.

This gothic and classical architecture, the woodlands, and sunken gardens make you think that you are seriously in the North.

Image Credit

Also, the Doune Castle, a medieval stronghold near the village of Doune in central Scotland, was used as the set for Winterfell in the pilot (pictured below).

Photo by Otter CC BY-SA 3.0

Dragon Skull – Jurassic coast

A spectacular dragon skull the size of a double-decker bus appeared to have been washed up on Charmouth beach on Dorset’s Jurassic coast in England.

Photo by TaylorHerring CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Azure Window – Dothraki Wedding

The Azure Window at Ras-id-Dwerja, on Gozo (in Malta), was the site of the Dothraki wedding in season one of Game of Thrones.

Photo by Felix König CC 3.0

Any fan theories you have got on how the Game of Thrones might end? If so, let us know in the comments! You have one month to figure this out!

Airbnb Travel: Top Destinations for Solo Travelers

Nobody likes feeling vulnerable, especially Solo Travelers. It is one of the worst feelings in the world. But when you travel alone that is what happens. You have to come out of your comfort zone and start doing something you never did. It requires a lot of guts. But as you know – No Guts No Glory!

Many times when we travel alone, do we meet other solo travelers! It is always more fun to come across a fellow traveler who can understand you better and can correlate with you.

Top Solo Travel Destinations

Airbnb shared some of its data. And there is good news for solo travelers. The solo traveler bookings of Airbnb increased from 14% to 27% over the past year. And not just that it also let out the data on where these solo travelers love to go.

So, if you think that you do not see any solo traveler where you go, then book your tickets for these destinations next. You are going to meet lots of kindred souls on your trips here. We can guarantee that.

London

Having a taste of London alone sounds tempting. But what is the fun if you have an already planned itinerary? Nothing is more fun than being spontaneous. And London is a city where you can do whatever you want and enjoy it.

A survey by Visa Global Travel Intentions in 2015 mentioned that 24% of the overseas visitors were solo travelers. What more? Most of them were women. So girls, pack your bags because London is your next stop.

Paris

When we hear Paris, we imagine couples kissing under romantic architecture. That is what we dream Paris is all about. But Paris has a lot to offer to Solo travelers. As you drive along the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower you can’t help but be in awe of it.

And as French men are most charming in the World, solo female travelers can have their share of fun. (Just a thought ladies!) . That is just an added perk. And why not Paris? Airbnb stats say that it was the second most booked location by solo travelers.

Los Angeles

In the third place, we have Los Angeles which is not a surprise. Most of us have this weird obsession to see the Hollywood sign at least once in our lifetime. That is what drives people to LA. But it is just a part of it. The amount of talent that Los Angeles has makes it the “Creative Capital of the World.”

It is just, the electric atmosphere in LA that doesn’t let you feel like you are traveling alone.

Tokyo

Tokyo is a top choice for solo traveling especially if we are talking about female travelers. From separate hotel floors, to separate train cabins – Tokyo makes sure that women feel safe in their environment.

You will not see anyone giving you “What are you doing alone?” stare. Tokyoites keep to themselves. They won’t bother you. The full essence of Solo travel gets fulfilled in Tokyo (and Japan in general).

Barcelona

At first, you are going to hear stories, lots of it – about pickpockets and thieves. But do not let those tales put you off. Barcelona is a city of panoramic views, do not let a few tales scare you off.

Follow few precautions like a smart solo traveler, and you can stroll down Las Ramblas. And eat as much as tapas as you can and get drown in cava.

New York City

NYC is the city where aspiring artists and dreamers go. And if you are just here for a few days then you are not a solo traveler anymore. Nobody here is alone. Whether you stroll down the Highline or grab a brunch at the eatery, you will always be surrounded by people.

The best way to have fun while you are here is to join Meetup. It is free and lets you meet people who share your interests. Isn’t it a great way to spend time when traveling? Making new friends!

Toronto

Like Tokyo, Toronto is also a safe place to travel. It has fewer crime rates, and people here are too busy to stare at you. Walking around in Toronto is the best thing a solo traveler can do because every turn will take you to a mini Toronto with its own ethnicity.

Above all the young solo travelers can have the time of their life at the lively Toronto Club scene. Drinking age is only 19, which is a plus for the young travelers. But we say, stay smart to avoid trouble.

Madrid

The capital city of Spain is overshadowed by Barcelona most of the time. And even though it sees fewer travelers than Barcelona, Madrid is a beauty of its own. If you are doing a Europe tour, then you shouldn’t miss any of these cities.

The people here are friendly, and you will feel safe here. Be careful with your money belt (keep it hidden). And follow standard precautions like a solo traveler and you are good to go.

Berlin

The understated charm of Berlin comes into focus only when you care to visit it. And those solo travelers who love a quiet and comfortable trip will enjoy Berlin. It has the classiest collection of hotels to choose from.

People are helpful and welcome. And the public transit is easy to figure out as well as inexpensive. Just get a Berlin WelcomeCard, and you get a discount on tours and attractions as well as free public transit. Isn’t that a catch? You will find all pros in Berlin for solo travelers, no cons, I bet.

Seoul

Safety is a priority of solo travelers. And Seoul offers that in spades unless you decide to act stupidly. Solo travelers like Seoul because it is pedestrian friendly, has inexpensive public transport, delicious food, helpful tour guides and a laid back lifestyle.

Now, plan a trip and go somewhere new! Safe travel!

10 Most Exciting New Year Traditions around the World

Unlike other holidays, New Years is celebrated almost everywhere in the world; regardless of the nation’s religious beliefs or even their calendar. However, New Year traditions and celebrations differ from country to country.

New Year Traditions

Here are some of the unique New Year traditions from around the world.

Austria

Austria has one of the most glamorous ways of celebrating New Year.

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The operetta “Die Fledermaus” by Johan Straus is performed every New Year’s Day in Vienna. Plus, on New Year’s Eve, the capital of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire holds a traditional Imperial Ball. 

A New Years dinner in Austria traditionally contains edible pigs and peppermint ice cream. A suckling pig on the table symbolizes good luck.

Related: Top 9 Destinations to Spend New Year in the USA

Denmark

CopenhagenNYE BY Stig Nygaard CC BY 2.0

In Denmark, people save old dishes for the entire year. On New Year’s Eve, they throw them at friends’ doors. This symbolizes friendship and brotherhood. People believe that the larger pile of dishes one has in front of the door, the more friends he has.

Some Danish also leap over chairs at midnight.

China

The Chinese have their own calendar, consequently, they celebrate the New Year in February. These celebrations are always bright and loud. Firecrackers and noisemakers chase evil spirits away.

Fabulous dragons and lions dance in the streets. Plus, people give each other tangerines for good luck.

However, odd numbers are considered unlucky, so these tangerines are given in pairs. Also, the third day of the New Year is the day when mice marry off their daughters, so people try to go to bed early in order not to disturb them.

Red in China traditionally symbolizes happiness and good fortune. On New Year’s Day, people wear red and give children red envelopes with lucky money. Some people even paint their front doors red, before the celebration.

Spain

In Spain, people believe that eating 12 grapes at every toll of the clock will bring them good luck and happiness for the upcoming 12 months.

Japan

In Japan, the New Year is called Oshogatsu and is celebrated amongst family. The whole week before New Year’s Eve people clean their houses, settle debts, try to resolve all disagreements and forgive all offenses. After that, they are ready to welcome the New Year. Also, before midnight, the Japanese ring 108 bells. These rings symbolize the elimination of 108 troubles. And the day after New Year’s Eve is the First Writing Day when people write their dreams, hopes, and plans for the new year.

There are three traditional symbols for the Japanese New Year. A pine branch, or kadomatsu, represents longevity. A stalk of bamboo symbolizes prosperity. Lastly, a plum blossom denotes nobility.

Sri Lanka

Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka BY Amila Tennakoon CC BY 2.0

The New Year in Sri Lanka is called Aluth Avurudhu and it is celebrated in mid-April. Traditional rituals include a proper house cleaning, the lighting of the hearth, taking an herbal bath, preparing traditional dishes and strengthening family relations.

India

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In India, people celebrate New Year in mid-April too. However, these traditions vary greatly amongst the different regions. For example, in Odisha, the festival is held on April 13th or 14th, and involves worshiping the deities and offering them fruit-based drinks, called “pana”. In Kerala, people also worship the deities during New Year and make offerings, which have the name of Vishukanni.

In Tamil Nadu, locals light lamps to eradicate the darkness and they use auspicious tools, which symbolize prosperity. Furthermore, the people of the Bengal region believe that the way you spend the first day of the year marks the way you will spend the rest of it.

Germany

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In Germany, lead is believed to predict the future.

On the New Year, people pour molten lead into the cold water and observe what shape it takes. The shape of a heart predicts marriage in the near future. A round shape signifies good luck. An anchor shapes mean that you may need help soon. Whereas, a cross symbolizes someone’s sad demise.

Puerto Rico

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In Puerto Rico, people clean their houses properly before New Year. They also throw buckets of water out of their windows. They believe that this ritual will clean the odds of the last year and get the spirits out of their homes.

Philippines

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In the Philippines, people believe that all round things are lucky, attracting fortune and money. So, during the New Year, they consume grapes, wear polka dotted dresses and keep coins in their pockets. The Filipinos also throw coins during the New Years celebration to increase wealth and prosperity.

That’s the end of our top 10 list. So which New Year traditions attracted or intrigued you the most? Comment below.

 

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10 Summer Destination Ideas for a Christmas Vacation

If you are tired of spending Christmas the same way every year, bored with the view of snow and ice and eager for new experiences, try choosing a summer destination for your Christmas vacation this time.

Celebrating Christmas among sandy beaches, warm waters and palm trees, instead of snowstorms, ice sculptures, and traditional ornaments.

Isn’t it a wonderful idea? Here are our top ten summer destinations for your Christmas vacation:

Australia

During Christmas time, Australians enjoy sun baths, diving and drinking cocktails on the beach, as the holiday season falls during the summer in this part of the world.

What could be better than spending Christmas diving with colorful fish in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef? Cairns, for that matter, has become one of the most popular Christmas destinations in recent decades.

Barbecues on the beach, tours to the wine lands of the Yarra Valley and road trips along the Great Ocean Road are also popular Christmas activities in Australia. And you can build a sandman, instead of a snowman, if you want.

Fiji

If you really want to escape from it all and have a week or two just relaxing on a sandy beach with a refreshing cocktail in your hand, Fiji is the perfect choice for you!

A stunning archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, surrounded by crystal waters, coral reefs, and rich marine life, is probably the closest you can find to heaven on Earth. It is populated with the friendliest folk on the planet and offers numerous activities for travelers. No wonder, Fiji is one of the most popular summer destinations in the world!

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka usually experiences monsoon season from October until January. However, the southern part of the island is generally dry from October until April, which makes December a perfect month to visit.

The island offers much more than just the sun and the beach. You’ll also find a fascinating culture, ancient cities, rich history and prosperous wildlife. Visit the Nala National Park and watch leopards, colorful birds, monkeys, crocodiles, and elephants.

Or explore the jungle while sitting on the back of an elephant. Or watch the magnificent sunset on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

Your Christmas in Sri Lanka will be unforgettable!

Thailand

If your idea of a perfect Christmas includes white sandy beaches, unique culture, and delicious food, then Thailand is a perfect destination for you. The “land of smiles” offers its visitors a warm welcome and a warm climate, diverse wildlife, and cultural heritage, various entertainments and Buddhist temples to explore.

Thailand is really the best value for your money!

Indonesia

The Indonesian island of Bali is a wonderful travel destination all-year-round. There’s no way it will disappoint you during the Christmas vacation. Like Thailand, it offers great value for money and both day and night entertainment features.

During the day, Bali offers surfing, lying on the beach under the shadow of a palm tree or exploring the island. While during the night, you can enjoy the vivid club life with great music, dance, and low-priced drinks. Thousands of people go to Bali every year to celebrate Christmas and New Year in the tropical climate and pleasant, friendly atmosphere!

Mexico

Mexico offers numerous destinations for a warm sunny Christmas vacation. Swim in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, explore the Mayan sites in Cancun or enjoy the taste of Mexican delights in Puebla. 

This includes mole, a chocolate sauce with chili peppers, cinnamon, and fruit. In Puebla, you can also take part in the Christmas night procession, which represents the biblical story of Mary and Joseph looking for shelter. It starts downtown and walks throughout the neighborhoods of the city.

By the way, its proximity to the United States of America makes Mexico one of the most popular Christmas destinations among American citizens.

South Africa

South Africa is another fantastic place, which receives plenty of sunshine in December and January.

Enjoy a hot air balloon ride in the bright blue sky on an aerial safari as you look for elephants, giraffes, and zebras. Visit Ukutula Lion Park or a penguin colony on Boulder Beach, near Cape Town. Or spend Christmas day diving with Great White Sharks.

Christmas in South Africa will surely be an experience you’ll never forget!

Caribbean Islands

The Caribbean region is a perfect destination for visitors from the USA. Its geographical proximity, favorable climate, and the regular air connections make it one of the favorite places for Christmas vacation among travelers from the USA. Of course, island such as the Bahamas, for example, are dream destinations all-year-round.

But who could refuse to spend Christmas time among deserted sandy beaches, clear warm waters and out-of-this-world views?

Christmas celebrations in the Caribbean follow many American traditions nowadays. However, they are complemented with an abundance of traditional local festivals, carnivals, and other festivities. In the Cayman Islands, you can even meet their very own Caribbean Santa.

Holidays are also the great time to visit Barbados, with its endless blue sea, soft sand, and unique traditions. No matter, what island you choose for your Christmas vacation, the Caribbean will not disappoint you!

Spain

If you would prefer to spend your Christmas vacation in the Old World, but still want to bathe in the rays of a warm sun, then Spain should be your main choice. The Canary Islands are not as hot as Africa, but winters here are warm enough for a pleasant vacation.

Also, if you feel adventurous, you can explore the island’s soaring volcanoes or sail in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

United Arab Emirates

When you’re looking for Christmas vacation opportunities in a summer climate, you can’t leave Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, out, of course.

In this metropolitan city, you can ice skate, watch a fountain show or visit the famous Dubai Aquarium. The shopping enthusiasts will be excited to hit the huge Dubai Mall. This is the world’s largest shopping mall by area, which hosts over thousand different stores.

However, if Dubai is too much for you, and all you want is some peace and quietness, head towards the nearby island of Abu Dhabi, where you can relax and kayak in the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf.

 

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7 Things to Learn from Spaniards

Spaniards are to be admired. Spain has lots of traditions which can be passed on to the world. It’s a country full of love and time. Spaniards have culture inculcated in them which they can’t shun. The world can learn these seven things from Spaniards.

“LIFE” BEFORE “WORK”

In many cosmopolitan cities of the world, we can see everyone hurrying to reach their workplace. They become so engaged in work that they forget how it felt just to live. Spaniards give preference to living their lives rather than working too much for success. They give importance to amigos (friends) and family. According to them if you have money then you should spend it on enjoyment.

Spaniards are excellent at maintaining relationships. That is why even after a hectic schedule they rather than resting go to bars or restaurant to hang out with friends. Maybe that is the reason you see busy streets and crowded restaurants every time you visit Spain.

CONTROLLED DAY DRINKING

Spaniards can down a bottle of red wine in the peak of the day and are in their sense. We are amazed by how they manage it. But they have mastered the skill of day drinking. Mostly they sip a little during lunch break. That helps in taking the stress off their minds. Drinking is something they often do, but they don’t lose it. Spaniards are gentlemen drunk or not.they know drinking too much is disastrous.so they don’t cross the limit.

SIESTA

You can walk through the streets in the tranquility of the quiet afternoon.The rolled shutters will be down in windows of every street. Spaniards rest during this period. They need to find the energy to keep up with their long day. So this tradition is something that rests both the body and mind.

People around the world are rushing 24/7, but Spaniards have developed this healthy routine. Maybe we should borrow this habit of theirs. It sounds quite appealing, doesn’t it?

San Gimignano, Siesta (Toskana) by Roland Arhelger CC BY-SA 4.0

SPANIARDS STAND TOGETHER

No matter what problems the nation undergoes everyone stands together. They are one big family. They stick close. During the March 11 terror attack, everyone stayed together. In Fuenteovejuna all the people unitedly killed their oppressor.

Maybe it is the good times or bad times Spaniards will never abandon their nation. In Prestige oil spill disaster many people voluntarily rendered help. Spain is the country to look up to. You can’t help but admire them. All for one; one for all.

PUENTE (LONG WEEKEND)

Whenever you get few days off work you would want to be inside your apartment. Resting your tired eyes from work. But it is all different with the Spaniards. If they get a Thursday off, they extend it to a long weekend.

You can find many Spaniards hitting the road. Traveling around is something they prefer during weekends rather than resting around. We got inspired by them. We hope you also walk in their footsteps.

COOK HEALTHY EAT HEALTHY

People in Spain are not so health conscious, but their eating habits are healthy. They prefer olive oil over butter. It may be frying the bread, or simple drizzling olive oil is the king here. Use of butter is so overrated that we forget the healthier options. A tablespoon of olive oil helps to bring down cholesterol.

The Spanish are ahead of us in the health department. They even use potato in making a tortilla. Both egg and potato are kinds of staple food for Americans as well as British, but Spaniards have efficiently brought both of them together. They even prefer smashed tomato on bread rather than butter-pan con tomato. Knowingly or not the Spanish have healthy ways that too in spades.

ZEAL TO MOVE ON

Spaniards never cling to things that bring them down. But they are hell bent on burning it. Yes, literally. On June twenty-third people all throughout Spain celebrate St John’s night. It is the night they let go of bad memories. They burn down every single item that brings negativity to their lives.

They start anew by burning away evil in their lives. While many of us think we are moving on but we still have photos or items even written records of things we would have forgotten ages ago. Let us learn from Spaniards not to be afraid of letting go.

 

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Top 5 Festivals in Spain You Would Love to Attend

Festivals in Spain are so fun that it may make you book a straight flight to Spain, right now. Some of you may have seen the tomato fight scene in a popular Bollywood movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You Only Get One Life)” where all the actors enjoy this festival. Yes, it’s a real thing and people love it.

But what if I told you this is not the only fun festival in Spain. There are in fact a lot of festivals celebrated in Spain that are worth being a part of.

SEMANA SANTA

It is the week before Easter not including the Sunday. The Good Friday and Maundy Thursday come under this week. Semana Santa is, most popular in Malaga. Here Tronos or thrones are carried during processions. It weighs to around five thousand kilograms. Tronos have sculptures and pictures depicting the passion of Christ before his death.

People who partake in this processions wear Nazareno. It is a type of cloak wore in medieval days coupled with a conical hood. The hood hides the face of the wearer. Semana Santa is a festival during the good Friday so it’s full of penance. People wear chains and walk through the procession. In Sataero, a flamenco-based music is played in a sad tune to suit the atmosphere. You can witness the vibrant culture and devoted faith of Spain during Semana Santa.

SAN FERMIN

Festival of San Fermin originated around the thirteenth century. It used to be a low-key affair. But eventually it became commercialized, and people started visiting it internationally in the nineteenth century. Initially, December was the month for this fiesta, but it shifted to Seventh July because of the conducive weather. It starts at eight am when the Mayor announces that the race has officially begun; with the firing of a rocket.

Pamplona bull run festival has many attractions like the bullfights, dancing, processions, fireworks. The run includes several spots; starting with Corral to Plaza del Castillo. There are many places from which you can watch the run. You can come early and take a spot behind the fence or ask a local to lend their balcony to you. You can feel the adrenaline rush when you see people running with the bulls. But a fair warning, don’t try it when drunk.

LA TOMATINA

Nobody knows how this festival came to existence. Maybe it was because of a local food fight. But rumors are that during 1950s people of Bunol were dissatisfied with the administration and attacked them with tomatoes. From then on it is celebrated every August. Bunol is in Valencia province which is not a hard place to reach. But only twenty thousand people are allowed in this festival because of Bunol being a small town.

There are some rules you need to follow while playing in La Tomatina are you should smash the tomato before throwing it, you are not allowed to tear anybody’s clothes, you need not bring hard objects as it may hurt others. La Tomatina is one such festival of France, which you ought to participate in at least once in your lifetime. Because that one hour of abandon will bring you immense fun. So wear closed shoes and old dirty clothes before you join tomato fiesta at Bunol.

La Tomatina by flydime CC BY-SA 2.0

SEMANA GRANDE

Take a deep breath because the next thing you will go on is a rollercoaster ride of greatest festival in northern Spain. It is to respect of Virgin of Begoña. You will find all the people taking a week off during August to participate in colorful Semana Grande. Let us start with the free music concerts which take place in Bilbao. Quarry Amphitheater and Plaza Nueva are the best of places to go.

If you are not able to make it the streets will offer you entertaining music too. Next is the boulder lifting competition for men. You will be in awe of the strength of Spaniards. Spain is popular for its bull fighting then how can Bilbao lag behind. So in Plaza de Toros le vista you can watch the beasts going head to head. The charm of Semana Grande is the fireworks which line the sky of Bilbao. You can go up the Artxanda Hill for the stunning view of starry night sky. Be a part of one week of crazy partying in Bilbao. Celebrate one of the best festivals of Spain with fun.

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CARNIVAL OF FRANCE

And here is the mother of all festivals in Spain. The extravagant fiesta of all. The word carnival is said to come from carnal which means desires of the flesh. So carnival means farewell to flesh.It is celebrated before the period of Lent in February. It is also said to be originated from Saturnalia a Roman festival which included drinking and dancing.Carnival in Santa Cruz is one of the biggest in Europe.It includes numerous beauty pageants. The festival includes the crowning of a beauty queen.Beads, satin, and feathers are used to make costumes.

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If you are not allowed to enter one of these pageants, indulge yourself in Mogollones, which are open air parties of locals.Carnival in Cadiz is partial to music.You can find open air carts and plazas filled with local bands. You can hear humorous songs that will amuse you. Carnival in Sitges is a much-preferred option for gay visitors.

Many beauty pageants portray bold and flamboyant costumes.Rue de la Disbauxa is the best place to watch out for a themed parade. Anywhere you go in Spain during the carnival you will find the partying continue from dusk to dawn. You want to loosen up a little and enjoy yourself then book your tickets for Spain soon.We are sure you will have the best fun of your life in this outrageous festivals.

Many beauty pageants portray bold and flamboyant costumes. Rue de la Disbauxa is the best place to watch out for a themed parade. Anywhere you go in Spain during the carnival you will find the partying continue from dusk to dawn. You want to loosen up a little and enjoy yourself then book your tickets for Spain soon.We are sure you will have the best fun of your life in this outrageous festivals.

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