5 Things to do in Orlando

In a place with unlimited activities and attractions, there is obviously more than 5 things to do in Orlando. This Florida city often crops up on people’s bucket lists. Filled with theme parks, fun and adventure it’s the perfect destination for anyone looking for a fun, stress free trip with lots of laughs. Whether you are looking for an action-packed week away with the kids, or the chance to explore on your own, Orlando has plenty to offer.

With so much going on it’s essential that you choose the right base. Somewhere like Marriott’s Grande Vista is the perfect place to relax at the end of long days, getting a good night’s sleep and preparing for your next great adventure. But, wherever you stay it’s a good idea to do a bit of research first. With so much to do it’s easy to miss things that you would love. So, here’s a look at 5 of the things that you should put on your to-do list for your trip to Orlando.

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Disney’s Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom was Walt Disney’s first theme park and remains one of the most popular theme parks in the world to this day. No matter how old you are, a little bit of Disney magic can be a great way to relive your childhood. You can’t help but smile as you look up at Cinderella’s castle or watch the evening fireworks. This theme park includes rides, roller-coaster, simulators and various Disney themed areas. A must for any Disney fan.

Universal Studios

If your movie love is a little wider than just Disney, Universal Studios is the place to be. Home to rides and attractions based around all of our movie favourites this is a fantastically fun day out. If you prefer a bigger adrenaline rush or are traveling with older children, you might want to buy a “park to park” pass so that you can also head over to the Islands of Adventure park.

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld is always a big hit with kids and adults alike. Home to various different species of sea life and fish, SeaWorld lets you get up close and personal with your favourite creatures, while learning more about their environments and lifecycles. There are also talks, displays, shows and aquatic themed rides.

The Kennedy Space Centre

If theme parks aren’t your thing, and you’ve got no desire to spend your days on roller-coasters and rides, Orlando still has plenty to offer. Just a 45-minute drive away from Downtown Orlando on the Eastern coast of Florida is the Kennedy Space Centre. At the Kennedy Centre you can see actual rockets that have left the earth’s orbit, you can learn more about space and space crafts and you can walk on the same ground as many of NASA’s greatest astronauts.

Aquatica Park

Yes, Orlando has lots of theme parks and plenty of museums and historic sites, but it’s also known for its water parks. Aquatica park is perhaps the biggest and best of them all. Home to head to head slides, flumes, rapids and the famous Dolphin Plunge it’s a fantastic family day out.

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. Among other things, Austria has its history, natural beauty, and Alpine terrain. It’s a perfect vacation destination for travelers in search of a new adventure in Europe. Enthusiastic skiers and snowboarders regularly visit to experience the famous Austrian Alps. But there is a lot 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 distinct and unique cultural feel. Here’s my short list:

Vienna

Vienna is a cultural centre for architecture, fine art, and music. 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 hosts over 200 balls every year in its celebrated tradition. 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 special time with its many magical Christmas markets. And no visit to Vienna is complete without a visit to one of their many famous cafes. Austrian cakes, like the “Sacher Torte” are world renowned. There’s nothing better than a slice of cake and a coffee at a famous Vienniese 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 and old city centre. 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, rolling hills, and snow-capped mountain ranges. It has served as one of the countries prime tourist destinations for over 100 years. The area dates back to the Bronze Age when salt production began here. Needless to say, a tour of the salt mine in Halstatt is a must. There is no shortage of recreational activities to do in the area including mountaineering, horseback riding, swimming and cycling. The Salzkammergut region has many luxury spas and hotel resorts within the area. If you are visting in the summer months, a slow boat ride around 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 and see 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 short 20-minute train ride from Innsbruck takes you to Seefeld. From there, you can take a funicular and then cable car to Rosshutte. At the very top, you’ll see the mountain tops of 4 countries – Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

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Zell Am See

For travelers who are looking for both natural scenery and wilderness adventures, the town of Zell am See is a ‘must-visit’ destination. Surrounded by the Austrian Alps, world-class ski areas, and serene blue lakes, Zell am See hosts numerous outdoor recreation events year long. In the winter, it plays host to a number of ski and snowboard competitions. Be sure to take a drive along 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 very 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.

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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 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).

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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. You can walk across the world’s scariest bridge, see the Museum of Funeral Carriages, or eat 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.

Thinking Of Renting A Car In Europe? Here’s What You Need To Know

Renting A Car In Europe

Renting a car in Europe lets you explore and discover different countries and cultures. Renting a car gives you freedom to travel on your own schedule and time. You can get off the beaten path and get to smaller towns and sights with relative ease. There are potential challenges like “driving on the wrong side of the road” in the UK, different rules of the road and some country specific laws. But it’s all well worth it for the memories and potential trip of a lifetime. Here’s the short list of things to consider when you’re renting a car and driving in Europe.

Renting A Car In Europe? Book In Advance

Ca rental rates vary widely by destination and season. Generally speaking, rates are higher for any rental car company or location if you wait to book. (Especially if you walk up to a rental counter with no reservation). You will save money by paying for your car rental ahead of time. Auto Europe is one of the best options for car rentals in Europe. They’ve been in business over 60 years with more than 20,000 locations in 180 countries. They work with well known car rental companies and provide unbeatable rates on car rentals. You can book your car rental as soon as you book your trip with the option to modify or cancel your booking if your plans change.

Beyond the large highways in Europe, most roads are tight and winding. And parking is tight and tricky with limited street parking and small parking lots. A smaller car, typical in Europe, is the best way to get around and easier to drive. Many cars in Europe are equipped with a manual transmission. If you don’t drive a standard/manual transmission, you’ll need to book early to make sure that you get a car equipped with an automatic transmission.

Renting A Car In Europe

Renting A Car In Europe? You’ll Need Insurance Coverage

With Auto Europe, if you select a basic rental rate your price will include value added tax (VAT), public liability insurance, fire insurance and unlimited miles. If the inclusive rate is selected, it will include everything in the basic rate plus collision damage waiver (CDW) and theft protection for the rental vehicle. I definitely recommend the inclusive rate specifically to have full CDW and theft protection on your rental car. If you rely on credit card coverage or your own car insurance, you may not have enough coverage and/or you may have to pay in full for a claim and then seek reimbursement.

Renting A Car In Europe? You Might Need an International Driver’s Permit

Many European countries—like the United Kingdom and Ireland—recognize North American driver’s licenses. However, other countries—like Italy, Germany, and Spain—require that you possess and carry an International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP is proof that you possess a valid driver’s license. It also translates your driving qualifications into ten of the world’s most commonly used languages, and allows travellers to drive in over 150 different countries.

You can get an International Driver’s Permit at AAA (U.S.) and CAA (Canada) for a nominal fee, and you only need proof of your driver’s license to apply.

Renting A Car In Europe? Be Prepared For the Unexpected

The unexpected can of course happen anywhere and at anytime. Be aware of what’s covered by the rental car agency if you have an accident or your car breaks down. Most offer some form of roadside assistance in the event of a break down. Traffic tickets and toll fees will naturally be billed to you if you don’t pay locally.

If your rental car is involved in an accident, it is imperative that you contact local authorities immediately. A valid police report is always required, regardless of how minor the accident is. The second number you should contact is the one listed on your car rental key chain. For further protection, take pictures of all the damage done to your rental car and any other parties involved.

Having your cell phone activated for use in Europe is a must for driving directions, destination information and in the case of emergency. A SIM card saves on roaming and data charges while keeping you connected. TravelSIM is my choice because its prepaid (providing cost control), works in over 170 countries and incoming calls and messages are free. Between driving and blog support, I need coverage while in Europe.

Renting A Car In Europe?

Renting A Car In Europe? Find Out the Rules of the Road

The autobahn actually exists in Austria and Germany where the drivers follow a strict code. The left lane is for passing only (most cars will be travelling at more than 160 km/per hour). The middle lane is for the average driver – 120-160 km/per hour. Anything slower is on the right lane.

In the UK, you drive on the left side of the road , and you pass on the right side. There are also numerous roundabouts where you need to know which exit you are taking ahead of time.

Turning right on a red light is not permitted anywhere in Europe, unless there’s a sign that indicates otherwise.

Renting A Car In Europe? Other Things To Know

  1. It’s not a bad idea to buy a traditional paper map as backup. Maps are readily available at gas stations and highway stops. Google Maps or offline maps work but you may not have service or data in remote areas.
  2. Most tolls can be paid by coins, cash or credit card. Some countries like Austria and Switzerland require the purchase of vignettes (driving stickers) that need to be displayed in your front window. They are readily available at gas stations and road side stores.
  3. Getting gas in Europe typically requires that you pay in advance before pumping.
  4. Parking in Europe varies greatly by town and city. Parking can be free, pay via parking meter or require a parking permit. Pay attention when you park or you will invariably get a ticket.
  5. You’ll get comfortable driving in no time. Enjoy the trip, lookout for great places to stop and enjoy the views!

Auto Europe Car Rental

7 Things To Consider Before Travelling

7 Things To Consider Before Travelling

Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

Getting out there and seeing what the wider world has to offer is something that everyone should do in their lives. We do like the comfort of our own homes and our own areas, so it can be a difficult prospect for many, but it’s completely worth it. You may think you’ve seen a lot in your life, but if you venture out onto the other side of the planet, you’ll see how wrong you were.

There are a vast amount of cultures and traditions that you couldn’t even fathom as you sit in the comfort of your home, and your mind is truly broadened by experiencing them. The world is home to some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes and monuments you could imagine.

If you’re seriously thinking about dropping everything and heading on a long-term trip around a continent (or two!), then it’s not just a case of hopping on some public transport and haplessly heading on your merry way – it takes a bit of thought and some real commitment.

You’ve gotten this far, so you probably have a vision in your mind of hiking through unknown areas. And feeling goosebumps as you gaze upon some foreign lands. Want to do it? Well, before you make a move, you have to get a bunch of things in order. Let’s go through some now.  

Make Sure You’re Ready Mentally

The first point isn’t exactly one of the formalities, but it is vital. It’s a big step and a big commitment. If you’ve never done anything like this before, then it may be more and more nerve-wracking and overwhelming as the time draws nearer. It’s hard to battle your inner thoughts, but just know that this experience will better your life!  

Do A Little Research

It goes without saying that you should know what you’re getting into – you’re about to head into places very much unlike what you’re used to. It can be a fun little session, however, as you get to look into all of the exciting places that you could potentially visit. If you’re not in tune with the travelling scene at all, then this is a good time to soak up as much knowledge as you can. There’s no real set way of doing things, so you can absolutely come up with your own method after learning a thing or two.

Plan Your Entire Trip

As we mentioned before, you can’t just book a flight or a train and go walking around without first having a set plan of doing things. You need to have a plan and it will need to be as airtight as possible so that you don’t manage to make a mess of your trip. It may be a little boring but preparation is key.   

Make Sure You Have The Money!

Another obvious point here, but if you don’t have the funds to get yourselves successfully around then you’re going to be in a bit of a pickle. Look into your budget and see what you can and cannot do. You might think you have the money, but there may be some costs that you haven’t taken into account, so be careful.

Find Places To Stay

As you make your way around, you’ll need places to rest and rehabilitate before you get out and do more exploring – you’re not just going to sleep on the streets. A lot of people on their travels aren’t exactly made of money, so they’ll find cheaper overnight stays like motels or staying in hostels. There are, of course, more luxurious ways if you’re that way inclined – if you’re travelling through some Asian countries, you could, for example, research some monthly rental in Singapore or Malaysia and see if that fits your criteria. Having a comfortable place to sleep at night is vital if you want to have some energy for the days and weeks ahead.      

Vaccinations

When you enter certain parts of the world, you’ll find that they differ from your home. Unfortunately, on the other side of the planet, there are some serious diseases that can be spread around, and if you’re not protected against them, then they could do some serious damage. It’s wise to go to your doctor and let them help you. You should get vaccinated about four to six weeks before travelling.

Remember To Take Photos!

Finally, and this one is less of a stress, bring your camera or keep your phone charged up! It’s nice to have the memories stored in your mind’s eye, but having tangible proof of being somewhere is lovely too. You’re bound to make wonderful memories and capturing them forever would compound the delight! Also, if you’re a bit of social media person, then your friends and followers may get a kick out of your jollies!

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.