Category Archives: Travel

6 spooky spots to make your Halloween holiday

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Forget the jack-o-lanterns, the tricks, the treats and the naff costume parties. Standard Halloween celebrations simply aren’t spooky enough for some people.

We’ve picked out six scary spots around the globe to make your eerie October trip truly frightening…

Paris catacombs, France

This city-centre ossuary is one Paris’s most chilling attractions, with its huge repository of human bones meticulously (and artistically) stacked beneath the streets of Montparnasse. Take a jumper for the temperature drop and before entering make sure you’re fit to climb the 83 steps on the way out. When you emerge above ground, recover with a drink in one of Montparnasse’s famous literary bars, such as La Coupole or Le Rotonde.

The Witch House, Salem, USA

Sit tight and have a knuckle handy to chew on if you dare to attend a session of ‘Tales at the Witch House’, eerie storytelling tours held in the former home of witch trial judge Jonathan Corwin. The tours take place every Friday and Saturday evening in October and there’s no hiding in the corner: you’re guided through lantern-lit rooms by costumed staff who are well versed in giving visitors the creeps.

Hoia-Baciu Forest and Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania

You can always rely on Transylvania to bring the Halloween thrills. Not only can you visit Bran Castle, the imposing former home of Vlad the Impaler (blueprint for the character of Count Dracula himself), but you might also want to brave a walk in Hoia-Baciu Forest. This place might take the prize for eeriest photo opportunity, due to its dense crops of trees with unnervingly twisted trunks. Visitors claim to have witnessed all sorts of strange goings-on here, from UFO sightings to reports of malevolent spirits.

Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico, South America

This island is about as creepy as it gets. Its former caretaker, Don Julian Santana (who died on the island in 2001), took it upon himself to festoon the trees with thousands of hanging dolls (now rather worse for wear) as a tribute to a deceased young girl. Whether you believe the dolls are evil or lucky charms, they make a pretty spooky sight for your photo album. The best way to access the island is via boat to the Xochimilco canals.

The Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

The dense Black Forest, stuff of fairy tales by day, and perhaps nightmares past dusk, retains a long legacy of supernatural sightings, not least the headless horseman spotted thundering past on his white steed near the former village of Wolmerspur. If that’s not scary enough, consider the other rumours of werewolves, dwarves and witches, not to mention nymphs dwelling in murky Mummel Lake… Take refuge at night in one of the many welcoming hotels and guesthouses in the area.

Shocktober Fest, Tulley’s Farm, Crawley, UK

For guaranteed squeals and frightening spectacles of a more theatrical kind, book your ticket for Shocktober Fest at Tulley’s Farm. This October event comprises 18 days of immersive Halloween entertainment. Among the 2014 attractions you’ll find Zombie paintball, a haunted hayride, a room full of jiving rock and roll clowns, and a drive-in cinema screen marshalled by sinister usherettes. Children are welcome – as long as they’re 15 or older and up for being spooked.

Top tips for surviving long flights

CaptureLong-haul flights can be uncomfortable, unsettling or even boring, especially if you’re flying in economy class. However, it can be exhilarating and fun as long as you’re prepared.

If you’re heading off on a trip that requires several hours in the air to get there, check out our flight survival guide.

Your essential toiletries flight bag

  • Lip balm, hand cream and moisturiser to combat dehydration
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste for freshening up
  • Painkillers, just in case
  • Hand sanitiser to avoid contracting that cold you really don’t need on your holiday

Put comfort first

  • Book an aisle seat. A window seat is the next best – at least one side of you won’t have another human wedged into it.
  • Request a seat with extra leg room if you’re particularly tall.
  • Got restless legs? Invest in some flight socks – most airports sell them.
  • You’re more likely to sleep if you have some sort of pillow. Some people swear by inflatable neck cushions.
  • Pack an extra pair of socks and a jumper or cardigan for warmth. Even if it’s baking hot on the runway, you’re bound to cool down at 30,000 feet.
  • If you’re a light sleeper, pack a pair of earplugs and an eye mask.
  • If you wear contact lenses, change into your glasses to reduce the discomfort of dry eyes.
  • Stick some boiled sweets in your pocket – the swallowing action helps reduce ear pain on take-off and landing.
  • When it comes to plane attire, the last thing you need is to be glamorous. Choose stretchy clothing or your sleepwear. Fitted outfits, even your favourite jeans, can really get on your nerves when you’ve been sitting in a plane seat for 12 hours.
  • Get up and stretch in the aisle every so often to keep your circulation going. You can even stretch in your seat by rotating your feet from the ankle and your hands from the wrist.

Keep distracted

  • Invest in comfortable headphones for listening to music or watching films – in-flight ones don’t always cut it.
  • If you’ve got a selection of in-seat films in front of you, choose the lightest, fluffiest ones you can, preferably with a few laughs thrown in.
  • Not all planes will let you use your electronic device for reading, so take at least one book or magazine that really interests you.
  • Can’t get into your book? Puzzles and crosswords work a treat – you’ll arrive before you know it.

Stay hydrated and nourished

  • Drink plenty of water – it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether when you’re in the air.
  • Keep some healthy snacks handy (crackers, fruit, nuts) – heavy food doesn’t make for a happy flight.

Fear of flying?

If you’re a panicky flyer, read up on dealing with flight nerves. You’re not alone and there’s plenty of good advice out there to help you through.

Britain’s best stargazing spots

Pull on a woolly hat, grab a flask and do your best Brian Cox impression.Stargazing-Britain_2783402k

Stargazing on holiday is a fantastic way to relax and escape from day to day life. We’ve rounded up some of the best star spotting locations, all of which have Dark Sky Discovery status, to suit the most avid of stargazers and budding astronomers.

Where: Northumberland National Park

Why: Did you know that rural areas of Northumberland National Park, Kielder Water and Forest Park have the darkest skies in England? So much so, that a large part of Northumberland has been declared the largest ‘Dark Sky Park’ in Europe by the International Dark Sky Association.

Its dramatic landscape is the perfect setting for gazing up at the sky and feeling like you’re standing on the edge of the universe. It’s also home to the world-class Kielder Observatory, a public observatory in Kielder Forest. Cosy up in this converted church in Bellingham after an evening out star spotting.

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Where: St Agnes and Chapel Porth, Cornwall

Why: The breathtaking coastal landscape, panoramic views and abundant wildlife are not the only reasons to visit St Agnes and Chapel Porth – you can go stargazing too of course! St Agnes Head and Chapel Porth beach are prime stargazing spots where, if you’re lucky, you can spot the Milky Way and Andromeda.

Away from light pollution, Cornwall is one of the best places in the UK to get a good view of the night sky. This coastal cottage with sea views is just a short stroll from Chapel Porth beach.

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Where: The Brecon Beacons, Powys

Why: Few areas in the UK get such dark skies and bright stars so it’s easy to understand why, along with the other locations in this list, the Brecon Beacons has been awarded International Dark Sky status.

Steeped in history and legend with its prehistoric stone circles, Iron Age hillforts and Roman camps, the night sky won’t be the only sight leaving you feeling inspired. Leave modern day life behind and stay at this shepherd’s hut in Welshpool for a week or two of whimsical stargazing.

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Where: Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries & Galloway

Why: Galloway Forest Park boasts some three hundred square miles of rugged wilderness and is believed to be one of the best places to look at space in all of Scotland. On a clear night it’s possible to see over 7000 stars! A forest might be an unusual choice but, as with most of the Scottish Highlands, low light pollution makes for great star spotting conditions.

 The raw beauty of the landscape below inky-blue skies is sure to excite any stargazing enthusiast. Make friends with woodland creatures at this cottage in Galloway with the Forest Park on your doorstep.

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 Where: The Peak District National Park, Derbyshire

 Why: Fancy yourself as a plucky Elizabeth Bennett or a debonair Mr Darcy? Follow in the footsteps of these star-crossed lovers and wonder the moors and dales of Derbyshire. The park’s night skies can be up to 15 times darker than nearby towns and cities so the stars are well and truly on show here.

When you’re not stargazing, there’s plenty to do such as horse riding, cycling and climbing. This barn in Buxton makes a great base for a holiday in the Peaks.

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The world’s best places to eat ice cream

Forget Mr Whippy and 99 flakes – get the scoop for National Ice Cream Cone Day on 22 September. Holiday Lettings shares the best places to devour sweet, frozen flavours, from Nice to New York City.

New York City, USA

1 icePhoto credit: FunkBrothers (license) via Flickr

Take a bite out of the Big Apple with Big Gay Ice Cream’s melting pot of wacky toppings. Quirky cones, like the Bea Arthur’s dulce de leche and crushed wafers, and the Salty Pimp’s dulce de leche, sea salt and chocolate dip, are their signatures.

The shop’s East Village location is quintessential NYC. Stroll around the neighbourhood and you’ll find graffitied crimson-brick walls, soaring skyscrapers and sweet coffee shops with wobbly tables, all of your New York dreams.

Kingston, Jamaica

2 icePhoto credit: David Amsler (license) via Wikipedia Commons

Devon House in Kingston is the grand design of the Victorian Caribbean. It was home to Jamaica’s first black millionaire and now houses its finest ice-cream stand – what’s not to love? Almost 30 exotic island flavours are available – everything from mango to soursop. Relax in the tropical gardens slurping your ice cream of choice.

Saunter down the road to the Bob Marley Museum: there you’ll see his juicer, favourite denim shirt and star-shaped guitar. Watch out for the hive of bees – Marley adopted them in the mid-70s and they’ve been buzzing around ever since.

Nice, France

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Black-olive ice cream or tomato-basil sorbet anyone? Fenocchio’s flavours, from rosemary and thyme to pink peppercorn and lemon verbena, are the south of France in frozen form. Just don’t take too long choosing one of the 70-plus types or you’ll never get to the front of the queue.

Step outside the ice cream shop and you’re in one of the most picturesque squares in Old Nice. By day the Place Rossetti offers flower-decked balconies, ochre facades and pretty cafe terraces. By night you can sit by the lovely fountain and admire the baroque cathedral.

Florence, Italy

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Perchè No!s are the gelati that defied the Nazis: at the height of World War II, they were considered such a staple that the shop was specially reconnected to the power grid. Try their treats and you’ll consider their sesame seed, green tea and coffee ice creams an essential part of life too.

The shop is just a couple of minutes’ walk away from the cathedral with pink, white and green rippled walls and a dome that dominates the city’s skyline. You can work off your ice cream binge by climbing the cathedral’s 462 steps. From the top you’ll fully appreciate this literally breath-taking feat of engineering.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

5 icePhoto credit: Luis Argerich (license) via Wikipedia Commons

Travel back in time to 1938: the same family has been making ice cream the same way for 75 years at Heladeria Scannapieco. The shop boasts a range of 50 yummy flavours, from peach and cinnamon to caipirinha (a cachaça and lime cocktail).  Don’t forget to try the dulce de leche – it’s been hailed as the most delicioso in town.

Dance away the sugar high at Sin Rumbo, one of the city’s oldest, most traditional temples to tango. Located in the nearby neighbourhood of Villa Urquiza, you can watch demonstrations from authentic milongueors (dancers) and spot future stars on the dance floor.

How to post a review on TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor reviewsWriting a review about your holiday is a great way to offer your feedback to the owner and help other travellers decide where to stay. You might simply want to thank them for a lovely stay. It’s fun to do and only takes a few minutes.

Getting your review on the owner’s advert is easy. Here’s how it works:

  • Find the owner’s Holiday Lettings advert (using the Home ID) or TripAdvisor listing (using the home name). Click on the button to write a review and you’ll be taken to a form on TripAdvisor. Alternatively, the owner might send you an email with a link to their ad, in which case, just follow the link.
  • You’ll need to provide a few details, such as the guest’s name that was on the booking and the date of your stay. Then comes the fun bit: give your stay a score out of five, create a title for your review and then write your comments. Click on the ‘Tips & guidelines’ link above the comments box for advice.
  • You have the option of rating your stay in more detail by clicking on Rate Your Experience and you can even add photos. Tick the disclaimer box and then you can submit your review straight away or preview it first.
  • When you click on Submit at the bottom of the form, you’ll be asked to sign in to TripAdvisor. If you don’t have a TripAdvisor account, you can create one for free or sign in via Facebook or Google.
  • If you’ve submitted the review correctly you’ll receive an email from TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor then checks the review to make sure it meets the guidelines. This can take a little while, particularly during busy seasons.
  • The review will be displayed on the owner’s Holiday Lettings advert and their TripAdvisor listing.

Top tip! Try to make your review as useful as possible for other guests. For example, rather than just saying “the beach was excellent”, say “the beach was excellent because it was clean, quiet and just a short walk from the holiday home”.

Need to know info

Why do I have to sign in to write a review? The vast majority of websites that allow people to comment now require some kind of sign in. This is to stop any misuse of the system, take away absolute anonymity and make sure that owners can’t post fake reviews about their own home.

Where’s my review? If you can’t see your review yet and you’ve been waiting for a while, make sure that:

  • You received a notification email from TripAdvisor thanking you for your review (if you didn’t receive this, you may not have completed the review properly or signed into TripAdvisor).

If, after checking the above, you still can’t see the review it could be that it didn’t meet the guidelines. In that case, you can try and resubmit your review after double-checking the guidelines.

Top Tips for Discovering Ireland

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With endless rolling hills dotted with sheep and any number of medieval castles ready to explore, Ireland is a stunningly beautiful country. Alongside the wonderful scenery, the rich history and the friendly locals make this a great place for a weekend away or family holiday. To ensure you make the most of your time in the Emerald Isle, here are five top tips for visiting the country.

Forget the fancy restaurants. There’s no need to pay over the odds for a meal out when nearly every pub in Ireland sells delicious, home cooked meals. Forget the limp burgers and soggy bread buns that are too common in most pubs in England. Here we’re talking about ground steak hand-pressed into delicious burgers, cooked to perfection and served in fresh rolls straight from the bakery. The chips are made out of potatoes and the onion rings actually have onion in them. It’s simple stuff, but when it’s done properly it can make all the difference.

Be ready to drink. I hate stereotypes but sometimes they exist for a reason. Just like the French love their garlic, the Irish love their alcohol. Guinness is the star of the show, but whatever your poison there’s no excuse not to have a tipple or two, or even three or four. There’s no better way to spend an evening in the Irish countryside than in the local pub with a pint in your hand, especially if there’s a traditional band playing in the background.

Get to know the locals. Irish people are without a doubt some of the loveliest folk you could ever meet. It will never cease to amaze me how friendly and welcoming they can be, whether it’s a stranger saying hello as you pass them in the street or the locals going out of their way to make sure you have the best holiday possible. The pub is probably the best place to meet them, but wherever you are there will be someone who will be more than happy to strike up a conversation.

Make sure you’ve got a car. Unless you’re planning on just staying in Dublin, you’re going to need some wheels. Part of the beauty of the country is the open space and empty fields, but unfortunately that means everything is rather spread out. There are a few trains and buses between the major cities, but that’s as far as it goes when it comes to public transport. It’s not a problem though, as every airport will have a selection of car hire options available and if you’re getting a ferry over from the UK you can bring your own car with you.

Take the scenic route. When I was a kid every holiday to Ireland involved at least one occasion when we got lost on some narrow winding roads or got the car got stuck in a muddy field, but that was all part of the fun. These days the road network has come on quite a bit, but I would still recommend getting off the motorway and taking a detour through the countryside whenever you get the opportunity. Your chances of getting lost might increase, but so do your chances of discovering some unexpected wonder.

Author bio: Catherine is a recent graduate from Yorkshire who is currently making plans and preparations to start a life on the road as a permanent traveler. You can follow her journey from the workplace to the world on Ever Changing Scenery. Alongside the tips for travel preparations and destination guides for several cities and countries, Ever Changing Scenery is full of information about Ireland and great ideas for things to do and places to go in the Emerald Isles.

6 holiday homes with hot tubs

There’s nothing like a good soak in the tub to clear the mind and sooth aching muscles. While most of us aren’t lucky enough to have a hot tub sitting in our garden, on holidaylettings.co.uk you’ll find 100s of cottages, lodges and apartments with hot tubs up for grabs.

To kick off your search, here are some fabulous holiday homes with hot tubs.

Where:  Andalucia, Spain

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Nestled in the picturesque village of Canar, this light and spacious home boasts traditional features including chestnut beams and slate stone floors. The hot tub is on one of the terraces with spectacular views of the mountain. Chill out in the tub with a good book, an eye on the views and the smell of your lunch coming from the barbecue.

The owners tell us that on a clear day, you can see the Rif Mountains of Morocco! And if you lose track of time relaxing in the hot tub, you can see the village clock tower from here too.

Where: Reykjavik City, Iceland

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Located in a quiet area of Reykjavik city, the house boasts stylish and unique features including a dedicated “Congac area” (you’re unlikely to find many of those!) The hot tub is heated with spring water to a very cosy 39° – 41° so there’s no need to worry about getting cold when taking a dip on a chilly day.

After a good soak, visit the Viking museum, dine at one of the many traditional Icelandic restaurants and take a walk near the scenic harbour.

Where: Loch-Tay, Scotland

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If you’re looking for a lodge with a hot tub and a bit of pure escapism, then this is the place for you. With spectacular views across Loch Tay, the lodge is set in an acre of beautiful grounds near a secluded shore and harbour.

Spend the day outside in the hot tub admiring the views, then cosy up inside near the log fire as the light fades over the loch. The lodge is great for walkers, families who just want to relax and couples who’re looking for a romantic retreat.

Where: The Brecon Beacons, Wales

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The owners of Ty Peren pride themselves attention to detail throughout this log cabin set on a working farm in the heart of mid Wales. Handmade Tiffany lampshades and original artwork ,picturing local landscapes, adorn the rooms. Sit on the balcony and enjoy a morning cup of coffee. The patio loungers are great for laying back and listening to the birds in full song.

The hot tub is situated in a lovely spot with views of the luscious, green countryside. Far away from light pollution, stargazers will enjoy long evenings unwinding in the hot tub.

Where: Brasov, Romania

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If you prefer to soak in the tub indoors, try this recently refurbished apartment located in the heart of the medieval city of Brasov. Sleek and stylish, the apartment is bursting with mod cons including Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs and a dishwasher (ideal when you’re self-catering!).

If you’re looking for an active holiday, there’s plenty on offer here including hiking, skiing, horse riding, climbing and fishing. It makes the Jacuzzi all the more welcoming after a long, busy day.

Where: Newquay, Cornwall

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If you’re looking for Newquay accommodation with a hot tub, then this cottage just 300 metres from Fistral beach could be for you. Dine al fresco on barbecue food before taking a dip in the hot tub or swim spa with sea views.

The local area is very popular with bird watchers, anglers, picnickers and walkers due to its tranquil and scenic setting. There are plenty of options for eating out too, from sea food restaurants serving up the catch of the day to fine dining experiences.

 

Top-5 Happiest Countries in the world

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The latest World Happiness Report (2013) has declared Denmark the happiest country in the world, followed by Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden (in that order).

Within the last calendar year, I have been lucky enough to travel to all 5 of these countries. At the time, I didn’t know the “official record” that these were the happiest countries in the world. But looking back, it makes perfect sense.

Each and every country is so welcoming that I never wanted to leave. The people are extremely friendly, the economy seems to be just right, and the positive vibes in the air are just too good to be true.

So, why should you add these countries to your travel list?  Read about them below and find out what makes them the Happiest Countries in the world!

1. Denmark

I knew that Denmark was a special place from my first impressions of Copenhagen. Everyone is beautiful and has a giant smile on their face. Copenhagen is one of the most biker-friendly cities in Europe, so I recommend renting a bike ($10USD per day) and roaming around town.

The people are friendly, outgoing and extremely welcoming. No matter where I went around town, I had a positive feeling and I was eager to explore around.

Head over to the Tivoli Gardens or the King’s Garde to get a taste of what I am talking about. Both of these places are so inviting that you can spend an entire day there and never be bored!

2. Norway

It may just be a coincidence, but Norway is the most naturally beautiful country that I’ve ever seen. It would only make sense that the people are just as easy-going and fantastic as the environment.

If you want a natural experience, then I recommend going to a Western city called Bergen. Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, and it is known as the “Gateway to the Fjords,” because many of the Norway’s most spectacular fjords are located in the area.

Everyone that I met there was first to say hello and greet me with a smile. It was one of the happiest trips of my life!

3. Switzerland

Another beautiful country amidst the grand Alps Mountains is Switzerland.

This country is pretty small, so I highly recommend taking a train throughout its entirety. The countryside is hard to beat anywhere in the world. The Swiss landscape is so beautiful that it looks like a drawing out of a Dr. Seuss Book.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, and just seem to have their own fantasy world compared to the rest of Europe. The people are relaxed, joyful and friendly.

Head over to Interlaken if you want to experience true bliss. It’s sandwiched in between the Alps and 2 giant freshwater lakes. You won’t regret it!

4. Netherlands

The Netherlands is a special place. Of course, the most talked about city is Amsterdam, which is also one of the most visited cities around the world.

The Netherlands, as a whole, is a remarkable place with a thriving culture that is full of life and happiness. Dutch people are just about as kind as they come, and you’ll find that out by every local that you meet.

Amsterdam is another bike-friendly city, so most of the transportation is via bicycle. When I was there, I just lost concept of time and was in complete shock by the beauty around me.

Spend an afternoon in Vondelpark for a picnic and enjoy the incredible atmosphere. On any given nice day, thousands of people will be hanging out and enjoying life to the fullest.

5. Sweden

Sweden is an amazing place. I was lucky enough to go to both Malmo and Stockholm, and it sparked my appetite with the urge to explore more around this beautiful Scandinavian country.

People frequently approached me on the street and asked me if I needed help getting around. It made me feel very welcomed into their country.

I also realized that Sweden is a very accepting society, which has positively shaped their culture to one of the finest in the world. It’s very easy to figure that out just after a few hours of being there.

Stockholm city is really the place to be. It’s the capital city of Sweden and is the place where all the biggest activities are happening. I found lots of relaxing parks around the city that were excellent places to hang out for a few hours.

Author Bio: Owner and founder of www.thehungrypartier.com – Drew Goldberg is a recent college graduate who has visited 43 countries since the beginning of 2012. His favorite things about traveling are eating the local foods, meeting awesome people and experiencing the nightlife scene. Drew is currently teaching English in South Korea and he blogs about food, culture and nightlife at the Hungry Partier. Follow him on Twitter @Drewbinsky7

Must try foods from around the world (Part-1)

When travelling to a foreign country, you may be eager to see the iconic sights and shop for the perfect souvenir. When it is time to take a break and refuel, don’t go for the familiar or fast food, check out some of the unique foods and try something new. Here are a few tasty samplings of must try foods from around the world recommended by Linda of Tripping Blonde

BELGIUM – Mussels and Waffles

When sampling some of Belgium’s best food, you probably should leave the calorie counter at home. After all, you are on vacation, so why not indulge in the best waffles, mussels, fries, chocolate and beer you will ever have. Go for it!

Moules-frites is a staple on the menus in Belgium, and you’ll see specials advertised on menu boards for it all over Belgium’s cities. A simple steaming pot of mussels with a side of crisp potato fries is the perfect meal while visiting Belgium.

MusselsPhoto credit: Dennis and Aimee Jonez Flickr.com

You’ll also spot Belgium waffle stands scattered about the cities.   They come in two different styles, the Brussels style and Liege style.   The two styles differ in appearance, texture, and taste. The Liege style, an uneven shaped waffle, is the most common waffle you’ll find in Belgium made with pearl sugar. It is sweet, chewy and dense. In comparison, the Brussels style is a perfect rectangular waffle often dusted with powdered sugar. It is made with a yeast-leavened batter giving it a light texture. Waffles are often served either dipped in chocolate or with whipped cream and fruit toppings.

Waffles

JAPAN – Pancakes and Octopus Balls

Visiting Japan, you might think you’ll be eating nothing but sushi. Wrong! Granted, you can get great sushi in Japan, probably the best you’ll ever have, but there are so many other delicious foods to try while visiting this island nation. Don’t say sayonara to Japan until you’ve tried the okonomiyaki or the takoyaki.

Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake associated with Hiroshima but can be found in Osaka as well as other parts of the country. Depending on where you eat it, it may look a bit different (mixed vs. layered) but the recipe’s ingredients are pretty much the same. This filling dish is made with a pancake-type batter, cabbage, pork, shrimp, sprouts, and other optional items. It is then topped-off with your choice of noodle (yakisoba, udon), a fried egg and okonomiyaki sauce.

Takoyaki, also called octopus balls, is a snack food that you can usually find from a street food stall or at a Takoyaki specialty restaurant, usually in the cities of Kyoto and Osaka. A takoyaki is a deep fried ball of batter filled with diced or minced octopus, crispy pieces of tempura, pickled ginger, and green onions. The takoyaki is then brushed with takoyaki sauce, a sauce similar to Worcestershire sauce.

Octopus balls

PERU – Guinea Pig and Pisco Sours

When visiting Peru, take a break from hiking the Inca Trail and be sure to try some of the unique foods including the cuy chactado washed down with a pisco sour.

Cuy chactado, or fried guinea pig, is a popular dish in the highlands of the Andes Mountain region in Peru. Although the more popular way to eat your guinea pig is fried (chactado), you can also order it broiled or roasted. You’ll be able to try this meal when visiting Cusco, a city that is a common stop for visits to Machu Picchu, but it is also available in some of the restaurants in Lima.

Originating in Lima in the 1920’s, the Pisco sour is Peru’s national drink. The Peruvian Pisco Sour is made with Peruvian pisco as the base liquor and lime juice, simple syrup, egg whites, Angostura bitters and ice.

Pisco sourPhoto credit: Manuel Gonzalez Wikimedia.org

 

Six Tips You Need to Know for Your First Family Holiday

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Having a baby doesn’t mean that you can’t have a holiday. In fact, it’s a great excuse to go away for a week of fun with your extended family. Hiring a big chateau or cottage, or perhaps a pretty villa, is a great way for your little ones to enjoy some quality time with their grandparents, cousins and other family members. Plus with a variety of babysitters at your disposal, it means that you’re bound to get at least one night off to enjoy some time with your other half!
Picking a destination and where to stay requires a bit of consideration though, so think about the following:

1. Location
Unless you have a really well behaved baby (lucky you, if you do!) you may want to stick to short-haul destinations which require less air time, as well as accommodation within a 30 minute drive of the airport. Places like Nice and Bordeaux in France or little regions in Italy or Spain are beautiful and filled with loads of easily accessible villas and chateaus. Just click the links if you need a bit of destination inspiration.

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2. Equipment
Gorgeous infinity pools and lavish villas may have you hankering for the ‘book now’ button, but make sure you check out the list of facilities before you commit. Ensure the property is listed as child friendly, find out if cots and highchairs can be provided and try to visualise your visit there so you can think of all the practicalities.

3. Temperature
Jetting off to a sunny beach may sound like heaven, but you’ll need to think about how hot it will be during your visit. Scorching temperatures can be a little uncomfortable for adults, let alone children. If you do go for a hottie make sure you opt for high SPF sun creams, hats and obviously keep well hydrated.

4. Fun
Depending on the age of your little one(s), you may want to take advantage of properties with playgrounds or trampolines. Some even have football-tables and consoles, so make sure you do a bit of research. Also consider whether you want to be in a secluded area, making your own meals and entertainment, or whether you want to be in the hub of activity close to restaurants and cinemas. You’ll know what works best for your family.

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5. All the Family
No doubt your baby will be your number one priority, however if grandparents are joining your trip make sure you consider their needs too. Loads of properties have bedrooms on the ground floor which means that they can avoid tiresome steps. You’ll often find that a property description will highlight ease of access for the elderly, so it’s worth checking them out.

6. Flights
Spying your perfect villa or cottage is an amazing feeling, but before you click book just check out the flight times and prices. Travelling during the summer holidays will undoubtedly push the prices up so avoid this time if you can. Ryan Air and easyJet fly to so many destinations throughout Europe though, so you’re bound to find an affordable flight. Just make sure you consider the flight times. Early starts can be difficult with children, especially when you consider the check-in time and your journey to the airport. An 8am flight can end up meaning a 4am start! Most property rentals don’t allow check-in until the afternoon anyway, so you’re probably better getting a later flight.

Once you’ve thought about these things you’ll have the perfect first family holiday. Just remember your camera so you can capture those amazing memories.

Author Bio:
Shortlisted for “Best Female” in the lowcostholidays Blogger Awards 2014 and featured in Company Magazine’s High Street-Edit, Taylor Hearts Travel is a stylish travel blog to inspire amazing travel; from ideas for epic bucket list ticks to suggestions for local weekend trips. Find out how big travel dreams can be achieved. Char Taylor, the writer behind this blog, is currently finding out what it’s like to travel with her young nephew.