5 Reasons For A Ski Trip To Europe!

If you are a skier or snowboarder, there are at least 5 reasons for a ski trip to Europe. The glitz, glamour and après ski of the Alps are calling. And some of the great ski destinations of the world are calling – Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, and more.Olympiaregion SeefeldOlympiaregion Seefeld

A European Ski Vacation is as much about experiencing culture, history and alpine scenery as it is about skiing. The full European alpine experience is hard to beat – après ski thermal baths to soothe sore muscles; Italian cappuccino in Italy (after skiing in from Switzerland); drinking beer in Munich after a day of skiing on nearby mountains. A European ski vacation offers a unique experience on another continent with different cultures —and world class skiing!

Here’s 5 points to ponder if you are thinking it’s time for a ski trip to Europe:

  1. Why Europe?

Why not? If you haven’t been to Europe, you have to go (ski season or any season). Almost everything is different – language, cuisine, money, electrical outlets, time zone. And now add the ski specific differences in Europe – over 4,000 ski areas; huge terrain; great snow; incredible lift systems and super long top-to-bottom runs.

Skiing in St. Moritz, Switzerland

  1. When To Go?

Generally speaking, most mountains in Europe open at the end of November and close mid to late April, with a few exceptions.

January tends to hold the best deals for European ski resorts and is less busy than peak holiday times. Most resorts are quiet and more peaceful. Fewer skiers on the slopes means that there are of course shorter lift lines! Prices can be almost double at peak times such as Christmas and New Year, and during the school holidays of Christmas, Easter, and particularly February Reading Week.

If you are going on your skiing holiday during late March-April (with longer and sunnier days), you’ll greatly reduce the risk of poor skiing conditions by skiing at a resort with a higher altitude. Val Thorens, France; Zermatt, Switzerland; Livigno, Italy all fit the bill. As a glacier, Zugspitze is skiable from early autumn until late spring, the highest (2,100m) and most snow-sure mountain in Bavaria, and just 90km from Munich.

Skiing in Val D'Isere, France

  1. Where To Stay?

Choices for accommodation range from traditional Alpine chalets and guestrooms in charming historic hotels to fully equipped apartments. Deluxe and moderate accommodations are available at most ski resorts in Europe. Austria and Italy are known in particular for their great value. If you’re after luxury, there’s no shortage of first-class transportation, five-star boutique hotels and world-class experiences! A few top Europe luxury ski resorts include Courchevel, France; St. Moritz, Switzerland and Cortina, Italy.

Modern ski resorts, (purpose-built ski resorts) are of course perfect for skiers and boarders. Purpose-built ski resorts are situated at higher elevations and have consistent snow conditions. They offer ski in, ski out and true slope side lodging. Think Val D’isère, and Les Trois Vallées, France.

Historic Alpine villages provide both true alpine ambiance and the quintessential Europe experience with skiing. Walk cobblestone streets; eat traditional local cuisine and stay in centuries old chalets. The nearby slopes are typically a short shuttle, train or cable-car ride away. Think Zermatt, Switzerland; Chamonix, France; and St. Anton, Austria.

  1. What To Do? (When You Are Not Skiing)

Many European resorts offer spas, boutiques, bars, restaurants and other off-mountain activities. Resorts near major cities offer city shopping, dining and sightseeing—perfect for a day away from the slopes. For example, skiers in Seefeld, Austria can take a quick 20 minute train ride down the mountain to Innsbruck. Or do it in reverse- stay in the city and travel up to the slopes. Munich can be a perfect springboard to the nearby mountains of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Nearby Wallberg or Alpspitze are great options too. You can ride all day, and then enjoy Munich by night.

SkiEurope- munich2

  1. Ski Terrain, Passes and Guides

Europe is home to thousands of miles of groomed and off-piste terrain, and several resorts are interconnected by lifts and trails. A multi-resort ski pass like the Dolomiti Superski Pass offers 700 miles of Italian Alpine terrain spread over a dozen resorts. The world’s largest ski area, Les Trois Vallees in France, includes Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens and 5 more resorts. The Milky Way Ski Area straddles France and Italy and offers the opportunity to ski across actual country borders (and have a croissant in France or espresso in Italy).

A local ski guide is also worth your consideration. An experienced local can take you through little known ski terrain, keep you safe and will have the inside scoop on local lunch spots and après ski parties. A ski guide in Europe packs a ton of value and can go for as little as 250 euros per day.

And at the end of your European ski holiday, you can still have more Europe! Add on a trip extension to an iconic city like Paris, Berlin and Rome, rich in history and culture. Europe ski vacation anyone?

Is Your Credit Card Travel Insurance Coverage Enough?

Sponsored by TuGo
Content provided by TuGo

Is Your Credit Card Travel Insurance Coverage Enough?
Photo by Cameron Casey on Pexels.com

Still relying on credit card travel insurance? Not sure if it really fits the bill? Read on to determine if your coverage is enough…

1. Coverage clauses

• Do you have to pay for the whole trip with your credit card to be covered? Is
there a minimum amount?
• What’s the maximum number of days covered for one trip?
• What’s the maximum amount you’re covered for?
• Are you covered for high-risk activities, like scuba diving?
• Are you covered for other professional services like physio, chiro, etc. to relieve
an acute emergency?

2. Family coverage

• Is coverage only for you, the cardholder?
• Will your travel companions get the same coverage as you, or do they need to
buy additional insurance?
• Would coverage be available to return your travelling companion,
children/grandchildren or accompanying pet home, in a medical emergency?

3. Pre-existing medical conditions

• Does your age affect coverage?
• Are you covered for pre-existing medical conditions?

4. Trip cancellations or interruptions

• Does the plan offer trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance?
• Do you have to pay for the whole trip with your credit card to be covered? Is
there a minimum amount?
• What’s the maximum amount you’re covered for?

5. Emergency and claim assistance

• Are you covered for ambulance or emergency air transportation?
• Will you be penalized if you don’t call the claims company after the emergency or
before visiting the hospital?

So remember, while you may have travel coverage through your credit card, it might not cover you completely in a medical emergency situation. Make sure to contact your credit card provider to know what your policy really covers. If it’s not enough, check out how TuGo can help meet your travel insurance needs.

Is Your Credit Card Travel Insurance Coverage Enough?
Photo by Julius Silver on Pexels.com

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria

It’s tough to have a short list of my top 5 places to visit in Austria. For me, it’s the perfect destination. Austria is known for many things including its history, natural beauty, and Alpine terrain. It’s a perfect vacation destination for travelers in search of a new adventure in Europe. Winter sports enthusiasts regularly visit to ski and snowboard on the iconic Austrian Alps. But there is much more to Austria than snow. In fact, Austria has some of the most historic architecture in all of Europe, and a myriad of towns and cities with their own unique cultural feel. Here’s my short list:

Vienna

Vienna is widely considered to be a cultural haven for music, fine art, and architecture. Known for many diverse architectural styles throughout the city, travelers can expect to find many well-preserved examples of Romanesque, Baroque, Classicist, and Art Nouveau styled structures. Vienna is also celebrated for its rich performance-art tradition, hosting over 200 balls a year. It also hosts a variety of classical music concerts featuring many of the famous composers who once called Vienna home, including Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and others. Christmas in Vienna is a magical time with its many Christmas markets. No visit to Vienna is complete without a visit to one of their outstanding cafes. Austrian cakes, like the “Sacher Torte” are world famous. Why not try a cake and coffee at a famous landmark like the Demel.

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria - Vienna

Salzburg

Situated near Germany’s southern border with Austria, the city of Salzburg, like its capital counterpart, is famous for its long-standing musical traditions. Salzburg is the birthplace of Wolfgang Mozart and features the Mozart Museum, his former home. Beyond the numerous examples of historic architecture and artistic attractions, Salzburg is surrounded by a breathtaking Alps mountain range. A visit to Salzburg allows you to explore the experiential contrast of rich history and stunning natural beauty simultaneously. Take the funicular to Hohensalzburg Fortress for a breathtaking view of the city and surrounding countryside. It is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe, dating back to 1077.

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria - Salzburg

Salzkammergut

Salzkammergut – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is an Austrian resort area surrounded by serene blue lakes, verdant hills, and snow-peaked mountain ranges. For over a century, it has served as one of the countries prime tourist destinations. Salt production started the area (“salz”) and dates to the Bronze Age. A tour of the salt mine in Halstatt is well worthwhile. Outdoor recreational activities abound including mountaineering, horseback riding, swimming and cycling. The Salzkammergut region is also famous for the many luxury spas and hotel resorts inhabiting the area. If you are visting in the summer months, a slow boat ride on Lake Halstatt will be serene and provide gorgeous views of surrounding towns and mountains.

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria - Salzkammergut

Innsbruck

Famous for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976, the city of Innsbruck is widely considered to be one of the best winter sports destinations in the world. Visitors not so keen on skiing or snowboarding, or those visiting during the summer months, can find plenty to do in the historic city as well. Explore the Innsbruck Cathedral, the bell-making museum, or one of the city’s many local restaurants. Innsbruck is nestled in the heart of the Alps and is one of Austria’s most scenic cities. A 20-minute train ride takes you up the mountain to Seefeld, where you can then take a funicular and cable car to Rosshutte. On a clear day, you’ll see the mountain tops of 4 countries- Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

innsbruck-506820_640

Zell Am See

For travelers who are looking for the ultimate in natural scenery, and wilderness adventures, the town of Zell am See is a ‘must-visit’ destination in Austria. Surrounded by majestic alpine mountains, world-class ski slopes, and tranquil blue lakes, Zell am See hosts numerous outdoor recreation events throughout the year. During the winter, it hosts a number of ski and snowboard competitions. The driving here is also out-of-this-world, be sure to take the Grossglockner Alpine Road from here for some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the country.

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria - Zell Am See

I’m a fan of most European countries but Austria has my heart. If you haven’t been, you must get there. You’ll go back again and again, like I do.

Visiting Spain: Visit the Essentials First

visiting spain

It doesn’t matter what your travelling preferences are, we all love a fiesta, and what better place to have a fiesta than by visiting Spain itself? Located in one of the warmest parts of the European continent, Spain does not only offers long sunny days, but also a rich history and culture. This country can cater to anyone’s taste. Partying all night, visiting museums and researching Spanish history or eating their delicious cuisine until your heart pops out. The only thing that you should know is where you’re heading, and this is where we step in. Look at the list below, and try to find the best Spanish ciudad for your holiday, especially if it’s your first time:

Madrid: The heart of Spain and capital of flamenco

It doesn’t do to visit Spain and not see the capital of the country, does it? As any other European capital, Madrid has everything to offer – bars that are open until late at night, great shopping centers and some of the most amazing parks in Europe. One such is the El Parque del Buen Retiro, or simply shortened to El Retiro. It was once a royal ‘’hangout’’, and it staged many concerts and garden plays. Nowadays, it is a great tourist attraction (even though greenery might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Madrid), as people can rent one of the many rowboats and paddle in the huge man made lake in the center of the park. However, Spain is the only place in the world where you can see a live performance of flamenco dances, and Madrid is the best place to do this.

madrid

Barcelona: The diamond of Catalonia

You’ve no doubt heard of Barcelona. There are numerous tourists who hit the road to Spain and decide to visit this place only. And it doesn’t matter how many days you stay, Barcelona is a city which you can never fully explore. If you really want a European holiday of your lifetime, you should find one of the best Barcelona holiday packages that are offered, and see the home of the extremely impressive pieces of Gaudi’s architecture such as the legendary La Sagrada Familia. Moreover, taking a walk-through Las Ramblas and having a cup of coffee in one of its many cafés is definitely something that you should experience at least once in your lifetime.

barcelona

Seville: From bullrings to beautiful barrios

To all the animal rights activists out there – no, we don’t agree with this either, but we must agree that this is one of the symbols of Spain and an inevitable part of Spanish history. Even though bullfighting originated in Ronda, Seville is its spiritual home. So, is it a form of art or simply animal cruelty? Well, it would be best to visit one of Seville’s many bullrings and see for yourself. However, don’t you think for a second that Seville is only good for this. As the heart of Andalusia, this magical city has many other things to offer – such as the Barrio Santa Cruz, one of the most beautiful barrios of Spain, or Alcazar (perhaps better known as Dorne from HBO’s Game of Thrones).

seville

Granada: The place that’s the richest in Spanish history

First and foremost: you’re visiting Spain and you want to try tapas. Since Granada is one of the rare places in Spain where you get tapas for free alongside your drink, it should be on the must-visit list. Moreover, this is a place where you’ll see the most important historical monuments of this country. It is a paradise for every history buff. One of the best things you can see here is the Alhambra fortress – a fortress so huge that you will need a whole day to explore it to the smallest detail. If you want to imagine what it looks like, it’s said that you must imagine the world’s most beautiful gardens, add a fortress and multiply the whole image by ten. Alhambra overlooks the whole city of Granada, offering a most breathtaking view. And it’s also an excellent place to take amazing Instagram photographs! The ticket is around 13 euros, and it’s open from March to October, so make sure to plan your stay there accordingly.

granada

And these are only the essentials. Spain has so many other things to offer, such as 24/7 Ibiza parties, spring days in Valencia, visiting the tomb of Christopher Columbus, walking across the world’s scariest bridge, seeing the Museum of Funeral Carriages, or eating at the world’s oldest restaurant in Madrid. Spain should be your next destination. And maybe even the one after that, because you can go there as many times as you want, and you’ll still have more things on your bucket list.

The Adventure Trek of Kasol-Kheerganga

The Adventure Trek of Kasol-Kheerganga

Himachal Pradesh is a place full of adventures. There are a lot of adventures one can do whether they are treks, rafting, bungee jumping, sightseeing, cable car, etc.

One of these adventures is the Kasol – Kheerganga Trek. The trek is one of the most popular treks in India.

Kasol

Kasol is a small village nestled in the hills of  Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh. It is a popular spot among hippies, backpackers, trekkers and nature lovers. The nearby village is Malana (famous for Malana Cream) and is deep-rooted in the Hippie culture. Kasol is a hub for Psy parties and every year attracts many tourists from across the World. Kasol is calm and quiet and will give you vibes of OM Shanti!

Kheerganga

Kheerganga is another small village that lies at the end of the Parvati Valley. It offers numerous waterfalls, hot springs, snow-capped peaks, and all-around lush green forests. Parvati Kund or hot spring pool is very famous among the Hindus and Sikh people as they believe the water has sacred healing properties.

Kheerganga offers amazing views of the Parvati River and the snow-covered Lahaul Spiti Valley.

The Adventure Trek of Kasol-Kheerganga

The Amazing Kasol- Kheerganga Trek

The Parvati Valley provides stunning and captivating views of the Himalayas. The trek  starts from Kasol. This 13 km long trek ends in Kheerganga and provides ample opportunities to explore the natural bounties of the region. On this adventure trail, you will pass by Rudranag, a serpent-shaped waterfall. There are numerous captivating waterfalls which are the highlights of the Kheerganga Trek.

The trek is considered as the best trek for beginners. It is a short and easy trek. It will take you through dense forests of rheodordans, oaks, and pines. You will be passing by the village of Barshaini – a small hamlet and the confluence of the rivers Parvati and Tosh. You will be treated to snowclad mountains, breathtaking views, and scenic landscapes of mountains.

 

 

A few of the villages that you will come upon on your trek:

1. Malana

A small village near Kasol, famous for Malana cream ( a drug). The place is quiet and calm with people here following the Lord Shiva. You will also start the Chandrakeni Trek from here. Malana is a village more for backpackers and nature lovers and less for tourists.

2. Tosh

It is located at 2,400 meters in elevation on a hill near Kasol in Parvati Valley. The place is famous for waterfalls and surrounded by Apple Orchards. You will see wooden architecture all over the village and captivating views of Parvati Valley. Tosh village is located close to the base of Kheergange.

3. Pulga

A small Hamlet in the trail near Malana. It is a beautiful place to visit and experience the great views of lush greenery, snowclad view of the peaks and skies landscapes.

After reaching Kheerganga, it is time to take a dive into the hot waters of the Parvati Kund. Enjoy the hot springs and relax your sore muscles after the tiring trek. And enjoy ravishing views of the valley all around.

You will see many local restaurants and cafes in small villages. Restaurants serve German, Chinese and Israeli cuisines. You can also have tea, coffee and snacks at tiny tea stalls.

Camp near Riverside and get close to nature by seeing the beautiful sunrises and starry nights. Or opt for a homestay and get a chance to explore the life of locals and their culture.

The best time to visit Kasol – Kheerganga is totally depended on your own preference. In summer, the weather remains pleasant and calm. In winter, the weather stays chilly with snowfalls. Most of the trekkers opt for the winter. Kasol is famous for rave and Psy parties and attracts many Indians and foreigners. They come here to backpack and explore the Hippie culture. Getting to Kasol is an adventure in itself with different routes and forms of transportation.

Here are some basic tips for beginners who are planning to do this adventure.

  • Beginners are advised to take a trek leader along with the trek.
  • Keep a route map with you.
  • Always keep something to eat with you like chocolates, chikki, energy bars, etc.
  • Follow the instructions of your trek leader.
  • Carry minimum weight.
  • Take necessary medicines or a medical kit with you.
  • Keep yourself healthy and fit.
  • Inform your family in prior advance.

Kasol Kheerganga is just a weekend away. Plan your next trip in the mountains and feel peace all around. Beginners will love their first trekking adventure!

Live. Travel. Explore!

The Paris Series (Part 2) – Sainte-Chapelle

Among the many things that Paris is famous for, its collection of museums is second to none. There are over 50 museums and noteworthy monuments in and around Paris. There are of course many very well known ones including the Musee du Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Musee Picasso and monuments including the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Chathedral, Chateau de Versailles and more.

One of Paris’ greatest jewels, and often overlooked sites, is Sainte-Chapelle. As you walk down Boulevard du Palais, you’ll see a line of people that appear to be waiting to enter the Palais de Justice (a large building from 1868 that still functions as a court house). Behind the entrance and in the courtyard is what they are actually waiting for – the entrance to Sainte-Chapelle. (Unlike some other museum sites, your Paris Museum Pass does not get you queue-cutting access here).

393

Sainte-Chapelle is a royal medieval Gothic chapel dating back to the 1200s and Louis the IX of France. Although damaged during the French Revolution, Sainte-Chapelle contains one of the most extensive and beautiful collections of stained glass anywhere in the world. As you enter the chapel, you’ll see a sample of stained glass and a gift shop. Look for the stairs on either side of the room to ascend a very narrow staircase to the second floor and you’ll enter the main room. You will be awestruck. It is absolutely spectacular and breathtaking !

405

406

394

404

400

407

The Paris Series (Part 1) – Like A Local

There’s nothing better than going to a “new” destination, and experiencing it like a local. I had been to Paris before (through the airport and in the city when I was all of 7 years old) but neither time really counts. In spite of the considerable travelling that I have done, Paris was a new destination. While it’s great to see the tourist sights like everybody else (i.e. the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre,  Notre Dame Cathedral), it’s also great to really immerse yourself like a local. Find the food stands, small shops, cafes and squares where the locals go. While you can find some great guide books, maps and apps to help (Rick Steves immediately comes to mind),  why not actually have a local take you on a tour and show you the neighbourhood favorites?

So I linked up with a local food tour called the “New Parisian Palate” (formerly “Bobo Palate”) with Context Travel. Context is a network of specialists and scholars who act as private guides and lead small groups on walking tours through some of the world’s greatest cities. Tours include archaeology, art history, cuisine, history, urban planning, environmental science, and classics.

Our small group met outside of a bistro in upper Marais. We began our tour with a walk and talk through the iconic “Marche des Enfants Rouges” (the oldest covered market in Paris dating back to the 1600s).

Our walking tour continued for the next 2 1/2 hours and included various stops in the market, a bakery, butcher shop, prepared food and foie gras shop, a cheese shop, a wine and Armagnac shop and a chocolatier. All along the way, the small bites and samples never stopped.

418
420

450

435

431

445

444

437

448

The French are proud of their history, culture and country. And so they should be. Our guide explained how French food tastes were slowly changing, becoming more modern and incorporating flavors and food ideas from around the world. She pointed out new shops and even food trucks to support the “new Parisian Palate”. With most stops, our guide either purchased samples or gathered food in a bag for our end of tour “party” (wine, cheese, pate, baguette).

446  If you’re thinking of a walking tour, here’s 3 bits of advice:

  1. Take a Context Tour. They are immersive and well worthwhile and get you feeling like a local (and less like a tourist). The group is limited to 6 and led by a local expert.
  2. If you take a Context food tour, don’t eat a meal beforehand (nor will you be able to eat a meal after).
  3. Take your tour in the first few days of your trip if you can. You’ll get a better feel for the city, culture, local area and the places that you’ll want to return to later.

I want that local perspective wherever I go. I want to dive into the destination and its culture. And I want to get local.