How to Make a Portugal Vacation Memorable

Everyone wants to have a holiday to remember, because of the great times and not because of unfortunate experiences. Visitors to Portugal can easily have the best vacation of their lives, as long as they prepare properly. By following these tips, you can relax and enjoy your time in this beautiful country.

1. Do Not Hesitate To Get A Tourist Card

One of the biggest letdowns during a holiday is to worry about going over budget. While spending is a natural part of a vacation, it does not mean you cannot control your expenses or save some money. You can opt to buy a tourist card, like the Lisbon Card that will allow you to take public transportation and get discounts on some entrance fees.

2. Learn Some Basic Portuguese

It is not that difficult to get around the country when you speak English, but learning some phrases in the local language is always a good tip when you are traveling. Beyond learning how to say hello and good morning to be friendly and respectful, you can learn some important words you might need, like medicine, doctor, toilet, help, and many more.

3. Protect Yourself From The Sun

Visitors from the cooler parts of the world are always eager to go out into the sun, not realizing that their skin can get burnt quickly. While this is not a health emergency, a sunburn can make you very uncomfortable and ruin your holiday. Make sure you are ready to stay under the sun by stocking up on sunscreen with high SPF and avoiding the sun between 12 and 3 pm when the sunlight is very intense.

4. Pack Light And Wear Comfortable Shoes

Tons of visitors to Europe do not realize that many of its cities are full of cobbled streets dating back hundreds of years. While they make the streets look beautifully old, they are definitely not friendly to heels and stilettos. You should pack sneakers or sturdy sandals instead to allow you to walk without any problems. These cobblestones are also a menace for big suitcases, as they can run down the wheels especially if they are heavy. Pack light instead with a backpack or invest in suitcases with sturdy wheels.

5. Taste The Local Cuisine

One of the highlights of a Portugal holiday is the food. They have many delicious dishes that you should never miss out on, especially if you have the chance to dine at the local restaurants. Avoid fast food restaurants and ask the locals for recommendations where to try out the cuisine.

6. Drink Coffee

Coffee lovers will love the local cup that will certainly put Starbucks to shame. Watch out, however, because they use strong espresso so you might not want to order too many, otherwise you cannot sleep at night. To make it easy for you, a meia de leite contains 50% coffee and 50% milk, while a galão contains an espresso shot with triple the amount of milk.

Thanks to their beautiful beaches and charming cities, Portugal tops the list of favorite destinations around the world. With these tips, you can plan your holiday perfectly and have a hassle-free time.

Why Try Cornwall for a Holiday or Vacation

The UK’s leading holiday destination is undoubtedly the picturesque county of Cornwall. Located right next door to Devon, which is also popular with tourists, Cornwall offers an amazing experience for holidaymakers. Cornwall has attractive beach towns and fishing villages, exceptional sandy beaches, jaw-dropping sea cliffs, rugged moors, dense forests and rolling countryside to discover. It is a fantastic location to visit for a holiday or vacation, consisting of many natural, historical locations and picturesque destinations such as castles and Celtic ruins. And now with a big selection of fantastic tourist attractions, activities and restaurants, it’s no wonder that Cornwall holds the title of the UK’s leading vacation destination.

Great Weather

But why is it so great? To start with, the weather is milder in this remote, south westerly part of Great Britain. Because of that the Cornish peninsula boasts subtropical gardens which motivate and impress visitors. Its steep cliffs are natural tourist attractions worth the journey alone. With its location at the far fringes of mainland Britain, this peninsula is almost surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and bordered on its north eastern edge by the River Tamar, giving it an island feel. This helps to offer Cornwall it’s own character and culture, and a real sense of pride and self-reliance in its citizens.

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All this makes Cornwall an original and celebrated holiday location for visitors from the UK and many places worldwide. it is always voted the UK’s leading tourist area and for fantastic reason. It’s an amazingly spectacular location with its own laid-back culture and wonderful environment. No wonder families return here again and again to holiday in Cornwall holiday cottages and have fun together in this stunning location.

Celtic Heritage

Cornwall has rich Celtic heritage still intact from its days as a backwater far away from English power. It is at Tintagel where the legend of King Arthur was created. And there are Celtic crosses and monoliths to check out everywhere.

In more recent centuries Cornwall became one of the nation’s important places as its production of tin and clay were exported worldwide for the manufacturing of industrial materials. The remains of these markets can be seen dotted around the landscape. The noticeable outlines of tin mining engine houses are obviously all over and permanently connected with the county of Cornwall. And it’s this human communication with the landscape and environment that is now safeguarded in lots of UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the county.

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Untamed Beauty

In spite of it’s industrial past, Cornwall remains an untainted and rural location. There are still wild, wilderness areas and sensational countryside to check out and farming stays a big part of the economy below. If you step away from the towns and villages, and crowded beaches, to find the interior, you will find yourself in a landscape untouched by time and raw and reliable in its spectacular charm.

It is a backwoods with a laid-back environment, you should not be mistaken for thinking Cornwall is old-fashioned. Just recently Cornwall has actually experienced a little a revival and end up being a little bit of a trendy area, with a huge array of trendy hotels, great dining establishments, art galleries, cool stores and hip bars, coffee shop’s and dining facilities opening up in all corners of Cornwall. Star chef Rick Stein has really originated the culinary revolution in Cornwall, now followed by other Michelin starred dining facilities and wonderful dining establishments up and down the county.

Excellent Accommodation

There are many excellent hotels, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, self catering lodges and hundreds of holiday cottages for rent in Cornwall. There are many local holiday companies who can help you find the perfect base for your adventures in this beautiful part of the country. Using these holiday accommodation options as a base, you can explore and enjoy the best that Cornwall has to offer. For those people looking for a less costly vacation, there are various exceptionally located caravan parks and campsites around Cornwall to choose from.

Newquay is among the primary destinations for a holiday in Cornwall and is world-famous for the sport of surfing. The coastline in Newquay and throughout Cornwall routinely produce great waves to be enjoyed by surfing enthusiasts of all abilities. Together with kite surfing, stand up paddle boarding, mountain biking and other modern-day activities, surfing is one of the main reasons for adventurous people to visit Cornwall. But it’s also an excellent destination for people who want to do nothing more than a short walk along the beach.

Perfect for a Holiday or Short Break

Whatever you prefer to do on holiday, Cornwall has something for everyone. From romantic couples, to groups of friends, to families with kids, teenagers or students, Cornwall is a superb place to visit for a really special vacation.

Obscure But Spectacular Travel Locations in Europe

Europe has indeed so many cities to explore that many tourists only tend to visit the biggest and most popular ones. Everyone seems to head to major hotspots like Paris, Barcelona, Venice and Athens. However, even though they are not as well-known, the following word travel destinations are secret jewels that have inspired visitors with their charm and beauty, but without the crowds and top prices.

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg Germany

This small city overlooks the Neckar River, offering visitors with beautiful walks along its banks. However, it is the quaint old town that makes it quite unforgettable, making you feel like you are in a different era altogether. Do not forget to visit the castle on top of the hill, which is actually nothing more than just ruins.

Bruges, Belgium

Though rising in popularity, Bruges is still relatively unknown compared to the other Belgian cities Brussels and Antwerp. However, this city boasts of medieval architecture and the many canals, which is why it is called “Venice of the North.”

Ferrara, Italy

This walled city gives visitors many palaces that date all the way back to the 14th century, as well as breathtaking cathedrals. The nine kilometers of ancient walls around it and the wide streets will give you much to see even just walking around.

Padstow, United Kingdom

Boats in Padstow, Cornwall

Travellers from around the world may have heard of Cornwall – a beautiful coastal area in the South West of the United Kingdom. But will have heard about Padstow – a charming fishing town in an amazing area of spectacular seaside scenery and long golden beaches. Padstow is a thriving holiday town where tourists flock for the natural beauty and quaint Cornish way of life. There are plenty of great places to stay in and around Padstow.

Valencia, Spain

Known for its famous paella and the fresh oranges that grow just outside the city, it also has numerous sights for visitors who love architecture and old towns. Beyond the historical buildings, the futuristic structures of the City of Arts and Sciences provide an interesting contrast. The city does not just have beaches, but also a park crossing one side of the city to the other.

Porto, Portugal

This lesser-known city in Portugal is not to be missed, especially if you are into festivals. But the city itself will marvel you, as the old town boasts of cobblestoned streets, a gilded baroque church, and even a truly majestic palace.

Biarritz, France

Beach in Biarritz France

Located in the French Basque Country, this is a top beach destination, especially for surfers. The waters of the Bay of Biscay gives them exciting waves that will challenge their skills on the board. This is why the annual Biarritz Surf Festival draws together surfers and fans from every corner of the globe. If you are not much into surfing, enjoy the unique Basque cuisine and culture by having your fill of pintxos.

Innsbruck, Austria

While this is more well-known as a literal winter wonderland, having hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice, it is also a great destination during the warm months, giving visitors lots of options for hiking, climbing, and even mountain biking.

Gothenburg, Sweden

The fresh and young vibe of this city can definitely be attributed to it being a university city, but it also draws young people to their popular film and music festivals. You can also enjoy the unique Scandinavian architecture as you stroll through the city.

Budapest, Hungary

Of the many underrated capitals of Europe, Budapest is on the top of the must-visit list. Not only does the romantic and historic Danube River flow through this city, it also has old buildings that are simply picture-perfect.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn - wonderful travel location in Estonia

This medieval city has also managed to mix together Baltic, Scandinavian, and Russian culture, which by itself is a huge reason to come and visit the city. The old town is also a UNESCO heritage site without the hefty price tag of more popular European cities.

So the next time you plan for your European getaway, forget the usual tourist draws and find yourself touching more authentic cultural destinations like the 10 on this list. You can, at the same time, enjoy a more relaxed holiday away from the hoards of tourists.

The Boulders Resort and Spa

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I was in search of a perfect place to unwind in America and I found myself in the comfort of the Boulders Resort and Spa, a 1,300-acre richness of the Sonoran Desert foothills. I did not only spend quiet moments at the Boulders, but even had an adventurous experience with the different outdoor activities they offered. My energy is refreshed, my soul is renewed.

The Natural Beauty of the Resort

Located in the state of Arizona, The Boulders is set on a strategic location where over 12-million-year-old boulder formations are found filling the panorama. The vastness of the space and the magnificence of the natural architecture altogether create a picturesque view of the hotel. If you ask me, it is the resort’s natural sprawling beauty complemented by cabin-like design that sets the Boulders apart from the high-rise hotels with manmade landscapes.

Ultimately, I appreciated the Boulders because of its friendliness to the environment. The concept of the place is vintage as evident in the deep wood furnishings used and the native furniture pieces and indoor accessories displayed. They filled the spaces with cacti, to stay true to the Arizona scenery. It is indeed a confirmation of what they say about the relevance of details. Even in the selection of their cleaning products, the hotel is very conscious, according to the room attendant I randomly asked. They only choose those that have green seals; some toiletries are organic. This information was consistent with their website profile. I double-checked and indeed the resort has earned the Environmental Award of Excellence from the Urban Land Institute for good reasons. More so, if you are also craving for healthy delicious meals, you will find them at the Grill.

Outdoor Adventures

While my room offers a relaxing ambiance that is conducive to sleeping, I spent my time mostly outdoors. I couldn’t resist the activities offered, particularly the horseback riding and hot air balloon. Naturally, I love horses and the thought of galloping in the foothills excites me. The staff are friendly and the safety gears are provided. The hot air balloon was a scary idea at first since I am used to ground and water adventures, yet the staff are better able to orient and debrief us. Thus, I was able to conquer my fear and truly enjoy the desert view. I was even able to catch a view of the infamous Grand Canyon.

For golf lovers, the Boulders is also a perfect venue to test your precision. They have a wide 18-hole field and a fantastic view of the desert. If golfing isn’t your sport, you have the option to swim your heart out or play tennis with friends or newly-found friends. I also had the amazing wildlife encounters with bunnies, birds, turtles and fishes. You may traverse to the Downtown Cave Creek to experience more of the wildlife.

On my third and last day at the hotel, I availed of their deep tissue massage and dozed off in the process. My stay in Arizona is truly one for the books because I had a taste of the Boulders service. For first timers, I suggest you to bring comfortable shoes as the property is so expansive you may do a lot of walking. Overall, my Boulders experience was a rewarding one.

Bela Kuka Hotel, Bitola

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On my first trip to Macedonia, I was given the choice to head to Skopje or Bitola instead. Knowing that Bitola is the famed ancient Ottoman City of the Consuls and besides the fact that I’ve never been there before, I knew I had to skip the northern city and head south. Thankfully, a guide directed me to the Bela Kuka Hotel where I was instantly drawn by the warmth and cordiality of the people running the establishment. It’s not much, but it’s definitely where the heart is.

I later found out that there are plenty of hotels with more luxurious amenities, grander designs, and more robust services on offer in this part of the country. However, I was deeply intrigued by the throngs of travelers lining up to book a room at Bela Kuka. It’s the friendliness and genuine hospitality of the staff that’s something that no other accommodation can ever replicate. It captures the very essence of a hotel being a home away from home.

Deciding to dig even further, locals say that the Bela Kuka has consistently been rated by travelers as the best place to be in this side of Macedonia, not because of the accommodation and the various services that the hotel provides but rather because of the warm greetings, genuine smiles, and general helpfulness of every single member of the staff.

It is a place where you’d have someone readily showing you the ins and outs of the city, arranging transportation when needed, and all that stuff that all hotel staff are trained to do. However, I did get the sense that Bela Kuka staff don’t just do it because it’s expected of them; they do it because they love seeing their guests happy and content. Now that is really something unexpected.

Bela Kuka Hotel is situated right in the center of the city, just several minutes’ walk towards the Main Square where I got to see the city come to life. The ever-busy Shirok Sokak Street with its many shops and cafes serving piping hot drinks is just right outside the doors of Bela Kuka.

The suite I stayed in is very homey complete with a private bath and shower that I thought I would never find in this part of the world. There’s a mini bar, although I find it quite unnecessary as I’d rather have more time chatting with the staff who are so knowledgeable about the history of the hotel and the city. On hindsight, I think I can ditch my traveler’s guide and just spend 30 minutes or so with these real-life talking historians and story-tellers. They’d definitely bring me up to speed with all that’s happening in the city.

With its central location, a very friendly atmosphere, and hotel accommodation that are quite commendable by themselves, it’s the perfect den for lovers everywhere. Too bad I was traveling alone.

I could have always gone to a classier, chicer hotel and be treated like any other guest. But I’m sure glad I stayed at the Bela Kuka Hotel where I got to become part of a big family, even for a short while.

The Best Countries in the World to Visit for Nature Lovers

There’s no doubt that we live in a very beautiful planet. From the deepest oceans to the highest peaks to the most rugged terrains and to the flattest of regions, the planet we live in is full of remarkable contrasts. While most of us are content on seeing the beauty of this planet through pictures alone, there are those who prefer being with nature to feel what it’s really like to be one with Mother Nature. Here are the six of the best countries or places in the world to visit for nature lovers.

Banff, Canada

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Covering an amazing 2,500 square miles sprawled in the Canadian version of the Rockies, the Banff National Park boasts of turquoise lakes that are fed by Canadian glacial systems, abundant wildlife, breathtaking Rocky Mountain peaks, and outworldly scenic drives. There are more than 1,000 miles of well-maintained hiking trails that take you on a sunset stroll by the river or even let you feel the Alpine breath of glaciers. There are nearly 120 miles of mountain bike trails making the exploration of Banff more exciting.

Plitvice, Croatia

 

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Travelers who love to study geologic formations will marvel at what the Plitvice National Park in the Dinaric area of Croatia has to offer. It boasts of being one of the planet’s most impressive and truly magnificent karst entities. It features canyon-like formations, carved by water that flows through the Mesozoic limestone and guarded by dolomitic rocks. Aside from its karst features, Plitvice is known for its forest communities made up of Alpine beech, beech-fir, spruce, and silver pine, among others. Animals that live off these forests abound. It is truly one of the most mesmerizingly beautiful, natural travel destinations in the world.

Pembrokeshire, Wales

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UK travellers have long known that Wales is a first class destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. It’s an incredibly beautiful, but small, country attached to the United Kingdom. Wales has a lot to offer for nature lovers from the mountain top wildernesses of Snowdonia National Park, to wildlife rich estuaries, and thick pockets of native forests to the wild expanses of the Brecon Beacons. But perhaps one of the country’s most beautiful areas for a vacation is Pembrokeshire in the South West of the country. This is a little populated region with some of the most stunning coastline you are ever likely to see anywhere in the world. Here you will see high cliffs, crashing waves, small sandy coves and a plethora of wildlife including seals, dolphins and all sorts of sea birds. The sea views here are astonishing – providing sights you will remember for the rest of your life.

Göreme, Turkey

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What makes the Göreme National Park so special is its natural land formations that have been shaped by several millennia of erosion. Ancient dwellings can still be seen from these natural rock formations as if you’re essentially looking at a gigantic anthill. But don’t underestimate these dwellings as they provide the world of solid evidence of the exceptional brilliance of Byzantine art from the post-Iconoclastic era.

Khao Sok, Thailand

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Actively promoted by the Thai Tourism Ministry as the place where nature meets adventure, Khao Sok is nothing less than a magical place for nature lovers. Covered in the world’s oldest rainforest of evergreens, deep valleys, exciting caves, tall and imposing limestone mountains that reach for the sky, and breathtaking lakes, the Khao Sok National Park is undoubtedly one of the planet’s best when it comes to nature adventures. It’s also within popular southern Thai destinations like Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, and Khao Lak.

Tongariro, New Zealand

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The moment you set foot on Tongariro National park, you will instantly be transported to Middle Earth, specifically to Mordor, in the Lord of the Rings franchise. Its fantastic and very unique landscape can be both incredible and surreal at the same time. Trek the Tongariro Alpine crossing and you’ll find yourself traversing Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe volcanic peaks.

From space, Earth is a gem in a sea of darkness, lit up only by distant stars. On Earth, these places are fitting testaments to just how beautiful this planet really is. For more travel inspiration, check out this video:

Viceroy Snowmass, Colorado

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The Viceroy Snowmass is one of the more popular hotels in Snowmass, Colorado. I had the pleasure of staying here because according to their site, it is the perfect place to stay if you plan on visiting Aspen. I planned on visiting Aspen during the summer, but since I did not feel comfortable staying in crowded places, I was looking at hotels that were a few kilometers away from the crowds.

Location

Viceroy Snowmass is only seven miles from Aspen, to be exact. This was ideal for me because it was enough distance to be away from the noisy area of Aspen when the tourists come in. At the same time, Viceroy Snowmass is located near notable mountains like the Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass.

When I arrived at the airport, I was greeted by one of their valets because the hotel offers complimentary pick-up and drop-off to the airport. This was a plus for me because it allowed me to save the time and effort of figuring out where Viceroy Snowmass is in Snowmass Village.

Interior Design

The hotel boasts of interior designs made by Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston International. As I have no idea who that is, I just assumed that for him to be named, he must have been a great interior designer. My expectations were met.

Upon entering the hotel, I was greeted by a symphony of wood, brick, rock, and glass. It was a display of different shades of brown and gray and although it would seem that it would be dark and gloomy, the lobby radiated feelings of warmth and welcome. However, what I noticed is that it wasn’t so spacious especially if the hotel was going to have a lot of guests. The long couches made everything stuffier and it occupied a huge portion of the lobby.

Amenities

By being a five-star hotel, Viceroy Snowmass is expected to have the basic hotel amenities vamped up to world-class which they do have, actually. Although I wasn’t able to see their executive boardrooms and private dining rooms, I was able to stay around their other amenities like their gym, cocktail bar, pool, spa, and their famous Toro restaurant.

Their spa is a great cozy place for relaxation. They offer a jacuzzi as well which is great for anyone who wants to try out different ways to relax. I also stayed for an hour in their gym, although I notice that for such a small space, there were lots of gym equipment. I commend them for filling it up, but I wish they had more space for everyone to move. I had to constantly be conscious if I was going to hit somebody whenever I tried any of their gym equipment.

Staff

To cap off my stay at Viceroy Snowmass, I want to talk about how welcoming the staff is. From the valet that picked me up to the reception, everyone was warm and accommodating. They helped me get rentals for ski equipment, they were accommodating to my food requests, and what was most impressive of them all is that they never made me feel that I was traveling alone. Yes, I was just by myself, but the staff was so friendly you feel that you have been a regular visitor at the hotel.

Soho Grand Hotel, New York

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Among the hotels in Lower Manhattan, New York, Soho Grand Hotel is one of the more famous ones. I would say that it’s famous because it has been in the New York scene since 1996. It was also featured in several shows like Sex and the City, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The Sopranos.

Location

The exact location for Soho Grand Hotel is at 310 West Broadway, right between the Canal and Grand streets. The place used to be occupied by a church and among the 8 or so attempts of having a hotel built up in the exact spot, the Soho Grand Hotel stands today with 17 stories and a total of 353 guest rooms and 2 penthouses.

I also found out that the Soho Grand Hotel is just a few minutes’ walk to boutiques and restaurants around New York City. This made me love the hotel more because I don’t have to hail a cab to go around Lower Manhattan. Everything was very accessible from the hotel.

Interior Design

If there’s one thing I can say regarding the interior design of Soho Grand Hotel, is that it is the perfect depiction of the old and new times. The interior showed a glimpse of the time when it was built and this was incorporated into the modern times we have now.

The lobby, hallways, and the dining areas are filled with plush seats that are very inviting. But at the same time, they aren’t bulky as to make the hotel look smaller. There is actually a lot of space for anyone who just wants to walk around the hotel.

However, the room that I stayed in was nothing plush. Instead, the room had a background of New York City on its walls and it gave an industrial and city vibe. I appreciate the effort they put into integrating the culture of The Big Apple, but I just wished they were able to match patterns better. There were patterns that made the room look “noisy”.

Amenities

As for the amenities, the Soho Grand Hotel has everything you can wish for in a New York hotel. As I was on a business trip, it made no sense for me to stay in a place that has a lot of amenities and that was also filled with families.

It was such a relief that the Soho Grand Hotel felt that it was made for businessmen and adults rather than families. You can actually notice it in the amenities they have – they don’t have play places for children and there aren’t any family activities offered. For someone who was on a business trip, I was very content with this.

Instead of having those family-friendly amenities, the hotel has its own fitness center, bar, restaurant, and spa. The room services were also superb so it was a perfect opportunity to just stay in bed during the free time I had in the city.

Staff

Since it was my first time to stay in Soho, I was unfamiliar with where to go and where the amenities were located. Good thing that the staff were accommodating and I didn’t feel the need to be ashamed that I was a first-timer there.