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.

Tropical Inspo: Why You Have to Visit Fiji

There are almost endless reason why you have to visit Fiji. With its exotic ambiance and endless opportunities to relax, do sports, or simply socialize with some of the nicest people on the planet, Fiji is a must-see for every adventurer. From the very moment you are greeted with “Bula”, your trip will be filled with memorable sights, people, and events. If you’re looking for your next vacation destination, here are a couple of reasons why it should be Fiji.

You’d get to taste some delicious food

If you love trying out new types of food, then you will love Fiji. There are two main cuisines ‒ the indigenous Fijian and the Fijian Indian, (mainly focused on seafood, rice, chili, and spices). If you prefer to prepare your own food, there are produce markets in every main town filled with only the freshest and most delicious food. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend the Lovo Night at your hotel and see how they prepare food in an underground oven. Finally, don’t forget to try kava ‒ a traditional drink made from a natural herbal ground root. It might not taste that great, but it’s more about the tradition than the taste.

It offers a great working environment

If you consider yourself to be a busy digital nomad and you love working while traveling, then this is definitely one of the destinations you should visit. The calming nature, the friendly people, and the hammocks on gorgeous beaches create a perfectly peaceful atmosphere for work. When it’s time for a break, bask in the sun with a refreshing drink and let your mind and your body relax and recharge.

Whether you’re into diving and surfing, sunbathing or playing golf, there is something for everybody in Fiji. If you’re an adventurous type, you can try firewalking, or you can go on a journey up the stunning Sigatoka Valley. Visit villages and spend some time getting to know the Fijian culture and enjoying their customs (including lots of singing and dancing)!

It’s the best place to unwind

In case you’ve just finished high school and are looking for a way to celebrate and have some fun after all the studying, consider signing up for amazing Fiji schoolies. They are safe and include plenty of  interesting and educational activities. You’d be surrounded with lots of young people who want to have some fun, meet new friends, and enjoy some time away just like you.

It’s very romantic

We all know the struggle of finding the perfect romantic destination for the next vacation with our significant other. There is no way you can go wrong with Fiji! You’ll enjoy long walks on the gorgeous beaches, buy each other presents (like the lovely earrings and necklaces made of South Sea pearls), or spend a day together relaxing in one of the numerous tropical spas.

You’d be in the company of the happiest people in the world

Studies have shown that Fijians are amongst the happiest people on the planet. If you’ve been feeling a bit down lately or are simply searching for a new perspective in life, this is the place to be. Moreover, Fijians are known for their love of kids. Don’t hesitate to take your youngest family members with you and let them enjoy this experience as well. The happiness is guaranteed to rub off on you, and the only sadness you will feel is when its time to go home.

Apart from all the adventure, finger-licking food, fantastic nature, and amazing people, Fiji is a true paradise that simply has it all. If it’s not on your bucket list already, it should be. Visiting Fiji would is an experience guaranteed to cherish for the rest of your life.

Turkish Hammam Experience Is One Of A Kind

Turkish Hammam

You’ve likely heard of the Turkish hammam even if you have not traveled to Turkey. Hammam is a unique public bath and has been a part of Turkish social culture for hundreds of years. The concept was largely developed during the Ottoman Empire inspired by Roman baths. There are similar concepts in other cultures such as Finnish saunas, Russian baths or banyas but the Turkish hammam is unique in many ways. In Turkish hammams, the air is steamy. In hammams, you will be washed by washers called tellak who exfoliate, massage and wash you! Tellaks are usually of the same sex as the person being washed. While your tellak is preparing to wash you, you are given a hammam bowl to fill with hot water from marble sinks and pour it over your head to start your bathing experience. You can leave the rest to your tellak!

Turkish Hammam

The architecture of hammams is also very unique. A traditional hammam has three interconnected rooms. The first one is the hot room, then the warm room and finally the cold room. The hot room usually has a large dome with glass windows. There is usually a large heated marble table in the middle of the room and fountains in the corners. In this room, you get exposed to steam and get exfoliated. The warm room is for washing with soap and water after the exfoliation and finally the last room is to relax and perhaps sip a Turkish tea.

Going to a Turkish hammam is not only a unique bathing experience but it is also a social one. People of the same sex get together in Turkish hammams and share intimate stories. It is almost like a therapy session where the bathgoers open up to each other. An environment where people let their guards down and relax like nowhere else! Think about it, you are half naked with a group of strangers in a hot steamy environment wrapped in your Turkish towel also known as the peshtemal. Wouldn’t you let your guard down?

Turkish Hammam

This is a physical and a spiritual awakening. By the end of this experience, your body and your skin are rejuvenated and purified or, at least, that’s how you feel! The exfoliation and the massage are probably stronger than what you experience in North American spas and can sometimes be a bit painful but you can tell your tellak the intensity you prefer.

If you’re planning to visit Turkey anytime soon, you should definitely add the hammam experience on your list of things to do. Istanbul probably has the most gorgeous hammams you will find in Turkey but other cities such as Edirne, Bursa and Eskisehir also have renowned hammams to discover. Cagaloglu and Cemberlitas hammams in Istanbul, Saray hammam in Edirne, historic Eski Kaplica hammam in Bursa, Ferah hammam in Eskisehir are some of the most traditional ones but your hotel might even have a hammam within their facilities!

This blog post was provided by Shopping Blue. They share a passion for travel and  connect the Mediterranean with those who are passionate about this region and its products.

Where You Should Travel for a Really Good Cup of Coffee

Travel for Coffee

Nowadays, coffee has become a part of our modern lifestyle. Whether you drink it in the morning to help you freshen up or in the afternoon while socializing with your friends, you too probably have your favorite type of coffee. After all, with so many different types and ways to brew it, finding a good cup of coffee is not that difficult. However, if you’d like to taste the best coffee in the world, here’s where you should travel.

Coffee in Italy

If you love coffee, you should visit Italy, especially if you’re a fan of espresso. Italians don’t drink coffee in the same way as the rest of the world, so there are a few things you should know about ordering coffee in Italy. For example, if you love cappuccino, make sure to order it before 11 a.m. since some cafés refuse to serve it later due to the milk in it.

Travel for Coffee

Coffee in Colombia

Thanks to a variety of microclimates in Columbia, coffee is successfully produced all year round. If you want, you can witness the process of making it as well. The Columbian countryside is filled with winding roads, and some of the plantations are not so easy to reach. So, if you like adventures, you would surely enjoy Colombia.

Coffee in Jamaica

Jamaican’s Blue Mountain Coffee is one of the most sought-after coffees in the world, which is why it’s very expensive. It is known for having a mild flavor and not being bitter, and grows at around 2000 feet above the sea level. The soil on Blue Mountain is rich, and with lots of rain, makes the climate perfect for growing coffee.

Travel for Coffee

Coffee in Australia

If you’re looking for something a bit different, you should travel to the Land Down Under. Australians have many different methods of preparing coffee, and you can try most of them in the comfort of your own home. They also have some amazing specialized coffee pods if regular Nespresso pods can’t satisfy your needs.

Coffee in Costa Rica

Coffee became popular in Costa Rica during the late 1700s, and it’s been important for the country’s economy ever since. There is a movement in Costa Rica to grow organic coffee, so it’s safe to say that Costa Ricans prefer their coffee to be not just delicious but of high quality as well.

Travel for Coffee

Coffee in Cuba

Cubans are known for preparing strong coffee, so if you’re looking for a good kick, you’ve come to the right place. It is usually very sweet but extremely powerful. Cubans guarantee that once you get used to the taste, you won’t be able to get enough of it. Just make sure not to drink it as quickly as you would your usual coffee; you don’t want to underestimate its strength.

Coffee in Ethiopia

If you consider yourself a coffee lover, you should visit its birthplace. Ethiopia is one of the world’s top producers of coffee, and it’s an important part of its culture. Each regions’ coffee tastes a bit different but equally delicious. Here, you can also be a part of a special coffee ceremony that can last for hours and taste coffee like no other in the world.

Travel for Coffee

Coffee in Hawaii

When thinking of Hawaii, most people imagine hot sandy beaches and cold cocktails. However, Hawaii is also home to amazing coffee. Thanks to the volcanic soil, tropical climate, and dedication its inhabitants, the coffee here is of very high quality. There are even guided tours that show you how it is made. So, if you don’t know where to spend your next vacation, Hawaii should be on your list.

You can’t call yourself a true coffee lover if you’ve only tasted one type of coffee. After all, coffee is no longer just a drink; it has become an integral part of our culture. So, don’t stop at one cup – pack your bags, immerse yourself in different cultures, and experience some of the finest cups of coffee in the world.

How to Make the Most of Your Hotel During a Work Trip

Work trips are often packed with numerous strenuous activities that happen one after the other. Usually, when you are on a work trip, the only time you can relax and get some rest is when you are already in your hotel.

 JA Resorts

If you are staying at one of the best beachfront hotels during a work trip, you can ensure you can stay productive and, more importantly, enjoy a break from your busy schedule by following the tips below:

1.    Check in early and check out late

To have a longer stay at your hotel, arrive early and leave late. If you are still booking a room, find out if you can check in earlier than the designated time. You will have a higher chance of having this request granted if you are a member of the hotel’s loyalty program.

By arriving early, you can get some rest before you start working. You will have time to refresh yourself and prepare for the day ahead.

If you are allowed to check out late, you will have some spare time to relax before your flight or your long trip back home.

 JA Resorts

2.    Know what comes with your nightly stay at the hotel

Before leaving for your work trip, make sure you know all the perks that come with staying at the hotel you’ve chosen. Find out what amenities and services are included in the daily rate and which ones come at extra fees.

By doing some research in advance, you will avoid being surprised by your bill when you check out.

3.    Take advantage of all freebies and perks

 Once you know which amenities and services come for free, make sure you use them. Enjoy their free complimentary drink upon check-in. Take advantage of the free breakfast buffet and coffee every morning, too.

If you are allowed free use of the hotel workspace or co-working space, get some work done in these areas. You will enjoy faster Wi-Fi connection and additional services including printing and secretarial assistance.

Lastly, create an itinerary of all the free, fun things you can do at the hotel such as cooling off in the swimming pool, visiting the garden or working out at the gym. If your work trip is in the UAE, don’t forget to take advantage of the wonderful spa deals in Dubai.

With an itinerary, you will be sure to enjoy all the pleasurable things your hotel has to offer.

 JA Resorts

4.    Get some work done in your hotel room

If you are more productive when you’re alone, then get your laptop out and work in your room. You will definitely be able to concentrate and be more productive in your room. If you love watching TV or listening to music while working, you will be able to do so without worrying about disturbing other people.

In case you need to get a lot of work done and you can’t spare time to go out to have lunch, dinner, or a snack, take advantage of the hotel’s room services. Aside from having a delectable meal or snack, you won’t have to eat in a rush to get back to your work.

5.    Don’t be embarrassed to ask for extras

Do you want an extra pillow, blanket, or robe? Call the front office.

 Most hotels do not advertise this, but you can enjoy certain small freebies and extras. All you have to do is ask.

You can also ask for extra shampoo, conditioner, lotion, razor, toothpaste, coffee, creamer, or sugar. Most hotels will be happy to accommodate your requests. Just make sure you ask for what you need.

6.    Use your hotel loyalty or travel credit card points

Lastly, if you are a member of a hotel loyalty program, check how many points you have. See if you have enough points to get a free room upgrade. If not, check what other perks you can have access to such as late checkout or a free drink at the bar or lounge.

 In case you have a travel credit card, see if you have sufficient points you can apply to the room. You can also use it for other services such as a hotel breakfast or to get a massage at the hotel spa. You may even be able to use your points for free laundry or dry cleaning services and avoid the task of hand-washing your clothes.

When you follow these tried-and-tested tips, you can go through your work trip productively and smoothly. You will be able to find time to get some much-needed R&R, too, even if you have a hectic schedule.

  JA Resorts

AUTHOR BIO

Thomas Grundner is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for JA Resorts & Hotels. He has more than 20 years of expertise in the hospitality and leisure industry – across international markets including Germany, Egypt and Spain. Grundner oversees all sales, marketing and revenue efforts as the company continues to build on its key growth and development strategies and further cultivates its unique blend of “Heartfelt Hospitality” and “Casual Luxury.”

 

 

10 Reasons Why Your Furry Companion Is the Perfect Travel Companion

Reasons why dog is the perfect travel companion

Our lives today are stressful and exhausting amidst all the chaos. It is essential to take out some time to unplug yourself from the world and what better way than taking a vacation to travel around.

Lots of planning and preparation goes into achieving the perfect vacation. You have to choose a holiday destination, look for comfortable yet budget-friendly accommodation, book flights and make sure you get the best deals. There is a lot that goes into planning a memorable holiday trip. But as much as all these factors need to be considered, what matters the most is finding the right travel buddy.

Even the most well-thought-out vacation can turn into a disaster if you travel with someone who has different interests or isn’t compatible with you. For these reasons, many people prefer vacationing alone, but at times we do want someone to be there with us in those special moments without any additional drama of course. Well, I may have the solution to your problem – take your furry companion along. Yes! Even though it may sound difficult, with a few extra preparations it is possible to travel with your dog. The effort is worth it and here are ten reasons why!

Your Dog is Always Up for an Adventure

A perfect travel companion is one that is ready to head out and explore with you and who would love adventures more than our furry friends. They are always excited to discover new places, take strolls around the town, window-shop for long hours and meet new people and dogs. Even if you are being lazy and want to stay in, your canine will compel you to head out and make beautiful memories- just the sort of motivation one needs!

They Happily Agree to Our Choices Especially for Food

I love my family and friends, but I can’t think of one trip when we didn’t have a disagreement. Someone wanted to go to the museum while the others wanted to go to the beach. If I wanted to try Italian, my friends would want to have Chinese and such arguments would ruin the fun. With dogs, you wouldn’t have to worry about these disagreements. You can eat out wherever you’d like but make sure it is a pet-friendly restaurant so you can take your bud along.

Dogs Can Help You Socialize

Dogs are social magnets and are great ice-breakers. Whenever I go out with my pooch, I have people coming up to us wanting to pet Oscar, and that becomes a means of initiating conversations. Some people will also mistake you as a local when you are out with a dog which is a smart way to protect you from scams and con artists.

You Wouldn’t Have to Worry About Being Away From Your Furry Companion

We all love our pets and even the thought of spending time away from them can be upsetting. If you do manage to find a perfect place to board your dog or a trust-worthy sitter you will still find yourself worrying about your dog’s well-being, whether he misses you, had his food, was taken for a walk and what not. Wouldn’t it be better not to have to worry about these things and entirely unplug yourself from the world? Well, that can happen when you take your dog along, you can be stress-free and enjoy time bonding with your pal.

Dogs Don’t Complain

When you travel with pets, you don’t have to listen to anyone criticize your driving or complain about the drinks you brought along, that there aren’t enough snacks (I could go on and on about the rants I have heard.) But if you want to unload and whine about how unfair life has been, well your pet can be the perfect listener.

You Get the Best of Both Worlds

Many people like to travel solo to stay away from any drama and get some time to themselves, but there are moments when you wish to share the experience with someone you love. Some memories aren’t complete if you don’t have someone by your side. Fortunately with your furry companions you can get the best of both worlds. You can have a fantastic time with your pooch without being on your own.

Dog’s Provide Security

With your pooch by your side, you wouldn’t have to worry about unwanted visitors that don’t mean well. Your dog can be the perfect alarm system to notify you of any suspicious activity or person around you. So head out to the beach and doze off without any worries- you have your furry friend guarding you!

You Get to Explore Places You Never Knew Of

When I travel with my pup, I try my best to make sure we visit pet-friendly destinations and consider his interests. I have often discovered unique places that wouldn’t have been on my list if I was traveling alone. Since Oscar is a nature lover, we spend time sight-seeing, exploring the great outdoors, and chilling at coffee shops. I also try to look for dog-friendly destinations that offer exciting activities for both of us such as enjoying a delicious meal with my dog at the “Yard Bar” in Austin. You can find out plenty of dog-friendly cities and the activities they offer, so both you and your furry companion have a fantastic time.

Dogs Don’t Kill Your Vibe

A vacation is all about relaxing; you want to chill and do things your way. With humans that can be a problem at times. You want to spend time reading a book peacefully in a roadside café, but your partner wants to rush to the hotel. Well, this won’t happen when you travel with your pooch. Also, you wouldn’t be at the risk of getting stuck in the car with someone who has terrible taste in music or keeps nagging about how far the destination is since that can kill the entire vibe of the trip.

You Don’t Have to Worry About Your Dog Canceling on You Due to Other Commitments

I can’t even begin to whine about the plans that have been ruined because the people I wanted to travel with weren’t available and had to cancel at the last moment. You can’t blame them as most of us have hectic schedules. It does get challenging to find out a time of the year that suits everyone. The best solution is to bring your dog along; he will happily accompany you without any excuses or particular demands (except for a few essential preparations.)

When I travel with my pooch, I carry a few essentials such as travel documentation, a crate, my pup’s favorite treats and flea & tick preventives for my dog (I don’t want to risk his well-being.) Yes, it does cost more than what solo travel would and I do have to put in some extra effort, but the peace of mind and the entire experience the two of us have is worth it.

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog Here Pup.

Favorite 5 American Inspired Restaurants in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the world’s great destinations and particularly well known for its food. You’ll visit new and exotic places and indulge in everything it has to offer. You’ll experience a different culture; visit historic monuments; see nature; and of course, try local cuisine. If you’re visiting Hong Kong, you’ll want to try dim sum. There are of course many places where you can find dim sum and other Chinese food in Hong Kong. If you feel more like an America-inspired meal, here’s 5 American inspired restaurants where you must go.

1. Butchers Club Burger

If you crave real burgers, don’t go to Burger King or McDonald’s on this trip. Try a Butchers Club Burger. Here, you’ll find authentic and delicious American burgers – arguably the very best burger that you can find in Hong Kong! Even though it seems very simple, making the perfect American burger is a tricky process. This restaurant has been Michelin-listed since 2016 and is one of only two burger joints with a Michelin listing in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong - Butchers Club Burger

2. Big Sur

If you want to inject a dose of California into your Hong Kong restaurant experience, Big Sur is the perfect restaurant for you. You can choose from contemporary barbeque cuisine including ribs to healthy salads and tacos, and even delicious seafood dishes. Big Sur also has a perfect bar as well, where you can drink cocktails and craft beer. It’s an oasis in the sea of Hong Kong street restaurants. Check it out and take a break from HK food, and go to this California inspired spot for at least one meal. They are open from noon on weekdays so a perfect place for lunch; on weekends and holidays, you can opt for a brunch at 10 am.

Hong Kong - Big Sur

3. Beef and Liberty

Another place for great burgers, or other American-inspired dishes, is the Beef and Liberty. This is the second burger restaurant in Hong Kong (after Butchers Club Burger) to be Michelin-recommended. The magnificent burgers here are made from hormone-free grass-fed beef. The Beef and Liberty is also well known for delicious chicken wings and offers other American dishes to suit different tastes. Desserts include a warm skillet cookie and cream, which is basically a huge cookie filled with chunks of great chocolate, and with cream on top!

Hong Kong - Beef and Liberty

4. BLT Steak

This restaurant is from the chain of BLT Steak restaurants in America, and is medium priced compared to other restaurants in Hong Kong. Apart from the delicious steaks and lunch buffet, the best thing about this restaurant is the fantastic view. It’s located just a couple hundred of meters from the pier and overlooks the water. The restaurant is spotless, and the service is impeccable. The lunch buffet is available from 12 and 3 pm on weekdays. On weekends from 12 to 4 pm, there is a great brunch buffet with all-you-can-eat roast beef and lamb, and a large selection of salads.

Hong Kong - BLT Steak

5. Grassroots Pantry

If you are a vegan or you require (or want) gluten-free meals, then this is the place for you. Grassroots Pantry is extremely authentic. By far the favorite thing of everyone who steps inside this restaurant are the hand-drawn menus which look fantastic. If you’re vegan, there’s nothing you won’t like; and each dish is a generous portion. You can choose vegan pancakes or salads for a starter, then move onto the delicious potato tofu croquettes, and finish off with caramelized apples or coconut brown rice pudding.

Hong Kong - Grassroots Pantry

People think that New York City is hectic, and it is. But you should visit Hong Kong – as one minute in New York is one second here. You can find literally anything to eat here. But eat smart! You can’t go wrong by choosing one of these five excellent Hong Kong restaurants!