Christmas in Vienna

A Christmas in Vienna is is one not to be missed. It’s worthy of “bucket list” inclusion and one you will remember for a very long time. There is something magical about the Christmas markets in Vienna. Soft sparkling lights, gently falling snow, the smell of freshly roasting chestnuts, and musicians wandering through the streets. It sounds and feels like a fairytale, but Christmas in Vienna is very real.

From mid-November until the end of December, Austria is the place to enjoy traditional Christmas markets. Festive lights, seasonal treats and snow-covered roofs make for a special experience that only Austria can provide. Austrians often refer to the Advent period as the country’s “fifth season”. Vienna always shines, but during the Advent season, it dazzles. Festivities take place in historic squares and pedestrian areas, making long walks from cafés to museums and shops even more enjoyable.

Christmas Markets in Vienna

In Vienna, the markets are an age-old tradition that help to put a smile on everyone’s face and provide an overwhelming Christmas spirit. The forerunners of the present-day markets date back to 1298 in the Middle Ages when the Duke of Austria granted Vienna’s citizens the privilege of holding a “Krippenmarkt” or December Market. The character and prevalence of these markets has naturally changed considerably over the centuries.

Vienna itself says that there are 20 official Christmas Markets. There are in fact many more smaller ones. As you walk through the central old city, you’ll come across small squares (or platz) where small markets and vendor booths are open and waiting for you.

The most well-known and largest market is at Rathausplatz and known as Vienna Christmas World. The market sits right in front of the Rathaus (Town Hall) with some 150 booths. The adjacent City Hall Park has an ice rink, ice paths through the park, and a children’s area with nativity path, reindeer train, ferris wheel and carousel. The unique arts and crafts blend perfectly with baked goods and sausage stands.

A short walk away is the Christmas Market on Maria-Theresien-Platz, between the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna and the Naturhistorisches Museum Vienna. Over 70 booths offer traditional Christmas handicrafts and original gifts throughout the season of Advent. There are regular visits by Gospel choirs and music groups to amplify the festive mood. The Christmas Village then transitions seamlessly into the New Year’s Eve Village.

Christmas in Vienna

The Imperial and Royal Christmas Market on Michaelerplatz, in front of the Imperial Palace features Austrian products, sweets, pewter figures, hand-made crafts and more in its white huts. The Christmas Market on Stephansplatz focuses more on tradition, with some 40 booths and huts beside St. Stephen’s Cathedral offering high-quality Austrian products. The Advent market at the Opera House has gingerbread, cheese, meats, punch and wine from regional producers in Austria.

The best time to head to the markets are weekdays and early evening when the lights come on and the day turns into evening. Weekend days are very busy.

Enjoy the Lights Above The Graben And Kärntner Strasse

The Christmas lights of Vienna shine with a magical beauty. Thousands of crystals and giant chandeliers make you feel like you are in a large imperial ballroom as you walk along the main pedestrian areas in the old city center. Start an early evening walk from the State Opera House building, down Kärntner Straße to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, then along the Graben and up Kohlmarkt to the Hofburg Palace. Walk through the Palace grounds and you’ll end up back at Ringstrasse (and just a few blocks from your starting point).

Christmas in Vienna - The Graben

Walk the Ringstrasse

The Ringstrasse is the grand boulevard that circles the historic Innere Stadt (Inner Town) where ancient fortifications once stood. Along the “Ring” you’ll see museums, parks, restaurants, five-star hotels, luxury stores and Christmas markets. Ringstrasse is decked out with lights and many Christmas displays to highlight Vienna’s impressive architecture. You can walk the “Ring”, get on a public bus or tram, or take a scheduled sightseeing tram with guide.

Weihnachtspunsch Or Glühwein?

Most street corners feature a mulled wine or punch stand where locals and visitors gather for a warm drink and conversation. The local Lions Club has a number of drink stands along with a slightly lower price and a Styrofoam cup. The markets serve their punch in collectable mugs with a unique design for each market. You’ll pay a deposit when you order your drink, so you can keep the mug (or just buy the mug separately). The slightly more popular steaming mug of warmth is Weihnachtspunsch (Christmas punch). It comes in dozens of flavours across the old city. The more traditional drink is a mug of hot Glühwein (mulled wine). You can’t go wrong with either and should try both. Either choice will take the chill away on a cold winter’s evening. Multiple drinks into the evening may have you singing songs from the “Sound of Music”.

Christmas in Vienna

Try Maronis (Roasted Chestnuts)

You’ll find at least one “Maroni Stand” at every market and at many major street corners in the winter months. They are selling roasted chestnuts from one steaming steel barrel and roasted potato snacks from another barrel. It’s a Christmas experience that goes back to the Middle Ages. You can almost imagine children blowing on a hot, freshly peeled chestnut to cool it down. Now you can follow in their footsteps.

Christmas in Vienna - Roasted Chestnuts

Eat Sausage or Leberkäse? (or both)

Sausage stands are year-round in Vienna, but they somehow seem more inviting in winter. Austrians love their meat and these roadside stands don’t disappoint for taste. If you need a little food energy and break from exploring, try a Käsekrainer or Bratwurst. The other must try Viennese snack is Leberkäse. It is a kind of rectangular sausage cut as a thick slice of meat on a fresh bread roll with mustard. It is an Austrian staple, cheap and delicious (trust me- I’ve eaten a lot of Leberkäse).

The Austrian capital is the perfect destination for a holiday hiatus. Vienna combines history, traditions and culture into the world’s most livable city.

Your Christmas spirit will come alive in this fairytale setting. Vienna is really the perfect destination for Christmas – this is Christmas in Vienna.

Tips for Exploring the Caribbean

Bora Island in the Caribbean

Visiting the Caribbean is something everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. These gorgeous islands are a true marvel of nature’s beauty, and you’ll have a hard time finding a place that is as beautiful as them. Now, while over 30 million people visit the Caribbean every year, only a small percentage of them actually experience it properly. Coming here without any forethought or preparation is only going to lead to you exploring the Caribbean as a tourist. Which, in our book, is no proper way to explore it. So, before you hop on a boat or plane, here are a few tips on how to explore the Caribbean properly.

Preparing for your trip

Most people believe that the best way to travel is the spur of the moment kind of thing. Suddenly you get an urge to explore the Caribbean and you simply jump on the next plane. But, while there is a certain pleasure in the spontaneity of this kind of travel, it is no way to properly explore the Caribbean. In order to truly experience these islands and have a general sense of awe while you visit them, you need to have some planning and preparations.

Do your research

Saying that you are going to visit the Caribbean is like saying that you are going to visit Europe. The area you are visiting is so spacious and rich in history and culture that it is impossible to explore it all in a single go. So, the best thing to do is to first research what the Caribbean is all about. Remember that the Caribbean consist of over 700 islands and 26 countries. Each of those countries has its own history and relationship with other countries, so don’t be surprised if there is a lot to read up on. But, to truly appreciate what the Caribbean has to offer, you do need to know a bit about its history.

A historical monument in the Caribbean

Only by exploring the Caribbean can you get the true appreciation of what the Caribbean is today.

Ideally, you should have input into the general history of the Caribbean and then focus on a single country. When it comes to exploring the Caribbean, this tends to be the best way as it allows you to get the full appreciation of the place you are visiting.

Plan your trip

With that in mind, the best way to explore the Caribbean is to situate yourself in a single country. Don’t try to visit everything, as you will not have the time nor the ability to appreciate what you are seeing. Most tourists go on cruises from island to island and only see glimpses of what each island has to offer. And, once you consider that there are 700 islands, you will easily understand that you cannot visit all of them. So, don’t. Focus on a single island or country and make your plan as exciting and interesting as possible. The more you explore the islands, the more you will realize how it ties into the whole of Caribbean. Therefore, by focusing on a single island, you will get a better idea of what the Caribbean is all about.

Accommodation and airfare

Most of you probably know this, but we are going to mention it none the less. The sooner you start planning your trip to the Caribbean, the cheaper it is going to be. This goes both for accommodation and your airfare, considering that the plane ride to the Caribbean can be a bit long. So, if you want to do yourself and your wallet a favor, start planning as soon as possible. You may get lucky and find a cheap last-minute deal. But those are often limited and require a fair bit of flexibility.

Exploring the Caribbean

So, once you’ve dealt will preparations and arrive at the Caribbean, how are you supposed to actually go about exploring it? Visiting museums and studying history is a must. But, there are other tips and guides you should adhere to in order to have the best possible time in the Caribbean.

Take your time

A lot of people fall in love with the Caribbean once they visit it and end up moving here. If this happens to you, remember that there is an easy way to choose the right movers and that you’ll need to find a good real estate agent in order to get a good home. But, even if you are staying here for a short while, remember to take your time. Enjoy the local food, explore the culture and appreciate the history.

A Caribbean seafood dish

Do not make the mistake of leaving the Caribbean without trying their local seafood.

Our advice is to get the best-selling books in the area and read them while you are here. The art of local people will help you bring the right mindset for exploring the Caribbean, which is why it is essential that you explore this aspect as well. Remember that it’s the people who make the place worth remembering. Speaking of which:

Meet the locals

People of the Caribbean tend to be quite friendly. By going to the local pub and buying a round of drinks, you are bound to meet some local people. And, as it turns out, they are your best way of finding out what the Caribbean is like. Books and documentaries can only give you a partial view of the Caribbean. But, to truly appreciate the lifestyle and culture, you need to meet the locals.

A historical monument in the Caribbean

The people of the Caribbean tend to be quite friendly and welcoming.

Only once you meet someone who lives here will you get the honest feel of what life here is like. Plus, you will get great tips on how to save money while visiting the Caribbean and not waste it on tourist items. This is especially important to remember if you plan on staying here for a while.

 

Is Your Credit Card Travel Insurance Coverage Enough?

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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

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!

How To Prepare For The Trip Of A Lifetime

trip of a lifetime

Image by Michael Gaida from Pixabay

When you’re planning the trip of a lifetime, there’s a lot to do before you go. You need to make sure you are prepared for your journey. Being prepared doesn’t even mean having your accommodation booked, you can do that as you go along, but there are some things you need to make sure you have sorted in advance.

Visas

Many  countries require visas for entry. While some can be acquired when you arrive in destination, others need to be sorted out before your trip. If you’re going somewhere where you need a visa, then it’s a good idea to sort it out before booking your flight or anything else. If your visa gets denied for some reason, you won’t have wasted money on non-refundable air travel or pre-paid hotels. 

Brush Up On Local Knowledge

When you have an idea of the countries you are going to visit, then it’s time to brush up on some local knowledge and customs. Find out if you need to have your knees and shoulders covered in certain cultural places. If you’re going to Japan then have a look on this website to see if you can learn a bit of the language. Make sure you know the laws of any country you are visiting and if there’s anything else you need to know about a particular place. Research how safe a country is and if there are any extra precautions you should take.

Book Your Flights

Once you have any visas sorted, then it’s time to book the flights or a round-the-world ticket. Prices will tend to increase the closer you get to your departure date. If you know which destinations you’re going to then use websites such as Skyscanner to compare flights. Once you have booked your flight, then you can look at your transfer options, from the airport to your accommodation.

Sort Some Accommodation

You don’t need to book the whole trip, but booking somewhere for the first couple of nights is a good idea. Check out Tripadvisor and Hostelworld as a start, and then you can ask people for recommendations as you travel around. 

Be Aware Of Any Vaccinations And Your Health

If you have any medical issues, you’ll want to speak to your doctor before you go anywhere. Go for a check-up and make sure that you are in good health before travelling. You also need to arrange for any required vaccinations. The NHS Fit for Travel website gives you all the information on what vaccinations are required for what country. Some vaccination courses can take as long as a month, so you need to get this sorted in advance.

Get Covered With Travel Insurance

Make sure you have proper travel insurance. If something goes wrong, you’ll be glad that you are insured – it could save you a lot of money. Add a sports coverage option for any activities you are planning. Make sure you read and understand the policy in full.

Have a safe and happy trip!

 

7 Eye-Catching and Underrated Things Worth Seeing While Backpacking in Mount Gambier

Discover some of the best tourist attractions in Mount Gambier you may not know about. Your stay will not be complete if you fail to check out these cool spots.

Rainbow Coast Sunset

Mount Gambier is, without a doubt, one of the coolest cities in Australia, and, of course, the second largest in the South.

If you’re planning to take your next camping or hiking journey to the mount, then there are some interesting places you definitely want to check out.

Without wasting too much time, let’s delve straight in and explore these most eye-catching and underrated things here, in Mount Gambier Australia.

Places to Visit in Mount Gambier

Umpherston Sinkhole

If relaxing close to Mother Nature sounds appealing to you, then the Umpherston Sinkhole is the right place. Located in the center of Mount Gambier, this beautiful paradise is home to diverse species of flowers and plants, as well as the rare possums.

While there are many similar “sinkholes” on Mount Gambier, Umpherston stands out as a beautiful delivery of sunken oasis.

Sadly, the possums in the sinkholes are not always in sight. They mostly come out in the dark when they want to eat. So, except you are determined enough to visit this part of the mount at dusk, you may never get to see the small furry creatures.

Australia Sunset Dusk

Blue Lake

Another impressive attraction in Mount Gambier, probably not explored as it should be, is the Blue Lake. This beautiful wonder of nature sits just right inside an ancient volcanic crater which gives an idea of its ancient history.

Although the lake is called “blue,” it is not always blue throughout the year. So, if you plan to visit it, go between November to March, when the color is cobalt blue and vibrant. After summer, it usually changes to steel grey.

There’s probably more to the Mount Gambier Blue Lake than what meets the eye. Meanwhile, it still remains one of the best tourist locations in Mount Gambier and the country.

Kangaroos Australia

Victoria Fossil Cave

Another wonderful place to check out while backpacking on Mount Gambier is the Victoria Fossil Cave. You will find it at the Naracoorte Caves National Park.

This Mount Gambier cave hosts some remains of ancient animals – the type that lived during the ice age.

Although you may not be excited by fossils, it is still worth checking out as you will learn a lot about the ancient animal species and the extracted skeletons. You can observe such things only in a place like Mount Gambier.

The Big Lobster

If it’s not your first-time visiting Mount Gambier, then you’ve probably come across the Big Lobster or “Larry” as he’s commonly known.

The red-colored giant sculpture is undeniably one of the “biggest things” not just in Mount Gambier but also on Australian soil at the moment.

Interestingly, Larry has been around since 1979, which makes “him” more than 36 years old. There are ongoing plans to rejuvenate the sculpture. So, you can donate and check “him” in better shape next time.

Much to visitor’s delight, an excellent hotel which is also named the Big Lobster is located in the same place as Larry. You can enjoy a good meal and relax while checking out this giant lobster in Mount Gambier.

Centenary Tower

For the most bird’s-eye view of Mount Gambier, its beautiful coast and landscape, the Centenary Tower is the choice spot.

The tower which got its name from European settlers is currently the most used viewpoint on Mount Gambier Australia. It was built in 1901 but not accessible to visitors and the surrounding communities on the mount before 1904.

From the top of this tower, visitors can see many features of Mount Gambier, including lakes such as the Blue Lake and the Valley Lake.

Engelbrecht Caves

Apart from sinkholes, caves are another common sight in Mount Gambier. Some of the most popular ones are the Engelbrecht Caves.

Although most of the caves usually feature many stalactites or stalagmites, the Engelbrecht Caves are mostly dry with a few lakes. So, if you’re up for a cave-dive, you will probably get a wonderful treat. But then, cave-diving is not for the faint-hearted; it has never been, especially when you consider the Mount Gambier weather here.

Apart from plunging into the closed-in passageways, another thing you can do at Mount Gambier Engelbrecht Caves is to explore its historical and geographical features.

Lake Bonney

Another eye-catching spot you should definitely check out while in Mount Gambier is Lake Bonney. Located in the Limestone Coast and surrounded by the Canunda National Park, this spectacular lake is one of the biggest sources of freshwater in Mount Gambier Australia. Its major highlights include magnificent limestone cliffs, impressive coastal dunes, beautiful land area, and many other natural features that you won’t find elsewhere in Mount Gambier.

It is common to find people surfing or snorkeling in the area. Don’t forget to take your camera because you will see a lot of things to tell about when you speak with your friends about this visit to the mount.

To Wrap It up

There you have it – seven great attractions if you don’t know what to do in Mount Gambier.

Are there any other beautiful places in Mount Gambier that deserve more attention than they’re currently getting? Please drop your comment below and let us know!

 

About the Author

Kevin Fein has been traveling for more than 14 years. His trips have mainly been to Australia and Europe. You could call him an adventurous, as most of his trips were usually targeted towards tourist locations and places with a lot of sightseeing spots.

Although he’s currently residing in Australia, Kevin chose to go wherever his imagination takes him.

 

 

 

Travel Product Review – Travel SIM

Travel SIM

Travel SIM – Yes or No?

You’re about to depart on a trip and you’re thinking about how you’ll stay in touch. Do you turn off roaming and data and jump on wireless when you can or do you use your phone abroad with data? I’ve done both but I prefer to be in touch, use my GPS apps and check email periodically. In my travels, having a cell phone is a must for driving directions (think roundabout) , destination information (the next town) and in case of emergency.

Travel SIM

Travel SIM – Your Best Option

My personal money saving tip for most travel destinations is to pass on your cell provider’s international travel plan and go for a SIM card instead. A SIM card saves on data and roaming charges and keeps you connected. TravelSIM is my first choice because its prepaid, works in most countries and there’s no cost for incoming calls and messages. You buy it online and it’s delivered within a couple of days. You also get great “bars” in destination (cell reception) because you’re using a local telecom provider. Make sense?

The small challenge here is installing the SIM card. You’ll need to remove your current SIM card and insert your TravelSIM card. It’s easy – use a pin to open the SIM card slot (a thumb tack or paper clip both work); take out your current SIM card; put in the new SIM card, and Voila! Your phone will need to be “unlocked” for the new card to work (if it’s locked, the new SIM card won’t work). Contact your service provider or a cell phone unlocking service.

If by chance you didn’t buy a SIM card in advance, you can still buy when you arrive in destination (at the airport, train station or bus station). Just look for a store that sells SIM cards. The cards will be cheap and in many cases an employee will insert the SIM card for you.

Travel SIM

Travel SIM – The Bottom Line

You can save a lot of money and get a lot more high-speed data by planning ahead and buying a Travel SIM card.  If you are traveling to multiple countries, you will probably need a separate SIM card for each country unless you buy a TravelSIM card that features multiple countries and zones. If you get a new SIM card for travel, you will be using a different phone number from your regular one. To simplify taking a smartphone abroad, use messaging apps like What’s App or iMessage to maintain your identity and end-to-end encryption. A SIM card for travel keeps you in touch and keeps you off unsecured public Wi-Fi.

Safe Travels!