Portugal For Wine Aficionados

Wine tourism is at it’s best in Portugal, where viniculture is rooted in rich history, and is more a way of life than an interest. Wine enthusiasts will appreciate the abundance of selection, quality, and complexity found in Portuguese wine of all kinds. The cheapest table wine in Portugal is often more delicious, and of better quality than the most expensive wines in other parts in the world. Home to the world famous Port wine, you’ll have plenty of variations to try, and many vineyards and wineries to discover.

There are many wine regions in Portugal, each of which offer their own unique taste and distinct characteristics. The origins of Port wine can be traced back to Douro Valley, in the Northern center of Portugal. Just two hours outside Porto, you’ll find picturesque vineyards that sprawl across the hills and landscape of the valley, lining the river that comes inland from Porto’s coast. Further south, in the Lisbon area, you’ll find wine tourism at it’s best. Many of the most famous vineyards in the country can be found here, with accommodation, spas, restaurants and more all available for those looking for a little more than just wine tasting. In the Northwest, you can find the second most exported wine in the country, Vinho Verde, or Green Wine. This wine has a distinct, fresh taste, as it lacks the aging stage many wines have. In addition to all of these, there is also Alentejo wine, Moscatel wine, and much more. No matter where you go in Portugal, you’ll find a region with it’s own unique, signature wine and flavor.

In the cities of Lisbon and Porto, you’ll find many wineries that offer not only tasting, but tours of the cellar and other stages of the process. Port is by far the most popular Portuguese wine, and you may be surprised to discover just how many variations there are. Ruby Port and Tawny Port are the most popular, but there is most recently pink Port to enjoy as well. Discover details about the wine making process, what grapes come from which region, and even how to pair a wine with a complimentary cheese. Take an instructional or informational course, stop by a wine bar, take a wine tasting cruise, and enjoy all the many aspects of wine tourism Portugal has to offer. There is also an annual Wine Festival held in Porto, among it’s many wine related events, where you can taste and sample wines from all over the country. Research more about Portuguese wine, and wine tourism in Portugal on this site.

Posted in Attractions, Destinations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Packing Tips for Extended Holidays

Where ever your vacation might take you, packing is an important step you should give great consideration, especially if your trip is particularly long. Extended holidays are often most popular during summer vacation, when families travel together, and often go abroad or overseas for a much needed getaway. Packing for a long holiday is much different from packing for a short one, for many reasons. Taking the time to pack carefully can make the difference between an uncomfortable journey, and a smooth holiday.

Depending on the type of holiday you have planned, the destination, and the time of year you’ll be there, packing clothing will vary. Your best option for extended trips, however, will always be the same: pack for all possible weather conditions! You may be escaping to a remote island for the summer, but it’s likely you’ll experience rain, wind, and cold nights as well. Make sure you have everything you’d need for both extremes, just in case. This is also applied to footwear; you’ll regret bringing five pairs of sandals and flip flops, and no tennis shoes or walking shoes.

Many will choose a hotel for their holiday, but if you’re going for budget accommodation, you may need to plan for possible inconveniences. For example, you might not even think about having to washing your clothes while you’re on holiday, but if you’re camping, or in a hostel, you’ll need to pack some essentials. Instead of purchasing expensive detergents at your destination, your can bring individual packs of detergent. Laundry soap sheets are dry, compact, and portable, with no liquid mess. You can use them for hand washing, or machine washing, and you won’t need to carry around any extra products or weight. Extendable clothes lines are also available, making it easy to dry your clothes when the facilities aren’t available.

When you’re traveling with children, you should make sure you’re prepared for every possible scenario. Illness can ruin any trip, and children are more susceptible when on holiday. When traveling abroad, something as simple as drinking unfamiliar water can cause stomach ache. Bring along familiar medications to cover all the basics, from a cold, to head aches and stomach aches, even to jet lag or motion sickness. This will save you the trouble of deciphering unfamiliar labels or translating a foreign language at the pharmacy. Check out more packing tips here.

Posted in Planning | Tagged | Leave a comment

Travel Accessories for Backpackers

Backpacking is an exciting way to see the world, and is an experience everyone should have at some point in their life. Whether you’re just seeing Europe on a budget, or want to discover rural Asia, backpacking offers a unique traveling experience unlike any other. Most loved by those in their youth, backpacking with a group of friends, sleeping in dorm-like accommodation in hostels, and traveling primarily by train and public transportation, there are many travel accessories that can make your trip comfortable and enjoyable.

The most popular travel accessories are coveted by backpackers because they offer portable convenience, as minimal luggage is essential, which poses a problem for extended trips. Opportunities and resources to wash your clothes, for example, will not come often, and carrying around large, heavy products such as bottles of detergent just isn’t realistic. Thankfully there are laundry soap sheets and product packages that are small, compact, and effective. Packed individually, you can use these sheets or portions to hand wash your clothes, or in a washing machine. Hand soap is also available in the same form, in a small pack with soap sheets that are easy to use and carry. When it comes to drying your clothes, you can use a extendable clothesline that is light weight and easy to pack away. These accessories are designed with backpackers in mind, knowing resources, and even funds might be limited. There are also travel sized products that reduce wrinkles, which is simply sprayed on wrinkled clothing and smoothed flat.

Carrying everything on you at all times can seem safe, especially when thinking of money or important travel documents like your passport. However, you’re more likely to be the victim of pickpocketing than to have things stollen from your room. For this reason, you should invest in a money belt, hidden pocket, stash wallet, or similar method for organizing and hiding your money and credit cards. These items are usually designed to be worn around the neck, around your waist, around your calf, and often under clothing. This makes it almost impossible to have cash or cards stollen from you while you’re carrying it. When it comes to organizing other items, such as toiletries, purchasing a kit or bag, and using refillable containers is the best way to stay organized and cut down on bulk. Refillable containers are ideal for those who need to carry liquids in their carry on luggage, where security prohibits full sized items. Find a comprehensive list of more things you should pack right here.

Posted in Accessories | Tagged | Leave a comment

Useful Travel Apps

These days, there’s an app for everything, no matter what phone you might have. iPhones, blackberries, smart phones, or any web enabled phone can make the most of these travel apps. Whether you’re on holiday, a business trip, or just planning a weekend getaway, you can find an app to make your trip smoother. There are apps for those traveling with children, those who need last minute booking, and those who love discovering local cuisine. Every traveller can benefit from the broad range of travel focused apps out there; here are just a few of the most popular and useful.

Weather is an important part of your holiday, whether you want to be sure you’ll have plenty of sun for the beach, plenty of snow for the slopes, or you just don’t want to have your flight delayed. There are many apps that provide you with updated forecasts, but Accuweather is one of the most reliable. Offering forecasts for the coming hours, and up to fifteen days in the future, you can check current weather conditions any time, any where, for any destination.

Apps that give you directions, and help you find the nearest shops and restaurants are also in abundance. Many of which you’ll likely have to pay for. However, by far the most useful, organized and convenient location app is Google Maps, which is free to use on any phone that is web enabled. Many popular destinations across the world have thousands upon thousands of listings for cafes, super markets, and even metro or bus stops listed in the Google Maps directory. Check out even more travel apps over here.

Calling back home, especially when traveling abroad, can be particularly expensive. International calls, roaming charges, and long distance costs can really add up. If you want to chat with friends or family overseas, you can save a lot of money by using the Skype app for your phone. All you have to do is find a Wi-Fi hotspot, and call any of your contacts, no matter where they are, for a cheap international rate.

Planning a trip, especially an extended summer holiday, often requires multiple bookings, reservations, and other planning details. This means you’ll have an inbox full of confirmation emails, with important details such as contact information, reservation numbers and more. Keeping this information organized is crucial, and instead of bringing an encyclopedia’s worth of printed documents, you can simply reference the information on your phone. The TripIt app helps you organize and quickly find all of your delicate travel information, all in one place. All you have to do is forward your confirmation emails, and TripIt will arrange the data and organize your activities, flights, accommodation and more.

Posted in Planning | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Best European Shopping Destinations

Europe is home to many prized travel destinations, every country offering it’s own unique experience and attractions. From historical monuments to ruins, from natural wonders to feats of architecture, Europe attracts travelers from all over the world for a variety of reasons; however, one attraction stands above the rest, and that is shopping. Shoppers flock from every corner of the world to enjoy the opportunities Europe has to offer. With leading names and designers in the fashion industry, the most luxurious and coveted boutiques, and not to mention some of the largest and most popular shopping centers in the world. Europe has a lot to offer avid shoppers of all kinds, no matter what your budget, sense of style, or brand name preference may be.

Shopping motivates many individuals to travel, and where most would see a vacation opportunity to unwind, others see a great shopping opportunity. If you’re planning on traveling sometime soon, you should take advantage of the local shops and boutiques available. Shopping abroad poses many unique shopping experiences you may not find back home, especially when it comes to big cities that have the most popular brand names and boutiques, not to mention a long history in the fashion and shopping industry. For example, Paris would be an obvious travel destination for shoppers, as it is one of the largest fashion capitals in the world. The department store of Galeries Lafayette is not only a stunning example of Art Nouveau design, but also a gem in the shopping world. Marvel not only at the interior architecture, but also the abundance of luxurious shopping opportunities. Moving on to another fashion capital, Milan has home of the famous 10 Corso Como. Originally an art gallery, this boutique offers art of a new kind: fashion. Walking through this shop is like flipping through the pages of Vogue magazine, with every accessory and garment paving the way for the newest trends.

However, great shopping opportunities can be found outside of the fashion industries flagship cities, such as in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Here you can find one of the oldest department store chains in Europe. De Bijenkorf is several floors worth of shopping delight, with everything from jewelry, to coveted fashion brands, to books, to home decor and appliances. In Berlin, there is the modern and trendy Quartier 206, featuring all of the elite designer names in fashion, along with divine perfumes and interior decor and design shops. No matter how specific your shopping tastes might be, you can find it in Europe. For example, shoe shoppers will particularly enjoy the selection.

Posted in Attractions | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Most Iconic Cafes in the World

There are many things that motivate people to travel, and many sights that attract tourists from all over the world. Often these are monuments or historical landmarks, or feats of architecture that we can’t see anywhere else in the world, especially in our daily lives. Although these attractions will be in many tourism agendas, there are plenty of other worth while sights to see that may be slightly off the beaten path. For example, turning your afternoon coffee break into a sight seeing trip is another way to take in as much of your travel destination as possible. Make every occasion a chance to see and experience something new, after all, everyone has time in their schedule for a coffee.

Cafes offer a unique and relaxing atmosphere, one that can only be found in few places in the world today. The ambiance is created by the decor, history, and location. It’s funny to think that the coffee itself almost comes second, considering how much aesthetic value a cafe can really offer, one with fantastic coffee is always a bonus. Much of the decor is focused around one art style, which is carefully worked into every detail of the cafe. For example, Art Deco fans will appreciate the stunning Cafe Imperial in Prague, Czech Republic. This cafe is so famous it has appeared in many movies, with it’s iconic, tiled walls featuring ornate mosaics and Art Deco inspired furniture. They also serve traditional Czech pastry, which is a plus for tourists taking in local culture. Read this guide to Prague’s Cafe society for more info and ideas.

Those who prefer Art Nouveau on the other hand, will really fall in love with Cafe Confeitaria Colombo, in Rio. This cafe embodies the feeling of high class luxury, with it’s stained glass, high ceilings, and general atmosphere of grander. It’s not a surprise this location hosted many cultural events, balls, and other formal parties. Not to mention, delicious pastry, Brazilian coffee, and Iberian cuisine is served here daily. In a similar, Art Nouveau style, is the Cafe Tortoni, in Beunos Aires. Complete with elaborate stained glass and Tiffany styled lamps, marble and bronze, this cafe can’t be missed. The locals swear by the pastry, which keeps them coming back. There are also live performances, poetry readings, Tango shows and more.

Paris is known for it’s cafes, but of all their famous cafes through out the city, one stands above the rest: the Cafe De La Paix, in Paris. Styled in the same design as the nearby Opera House, this cafe features extravagant pillars, gold detailing, stucco ceiling, frescoes, marble and more. Many say the pastry is just as luxurious as the decor.

Posted in Attractions | Tagged | Leave a comment

Central Europe via Prague

Prague is quickly growing as one of the most popular destinations in Central Europe, primarily because of it’s ability to cater to even the most strict of budgets. From low cost flights, to cheap beer, Prague is a highly desirable, and budget friendly location for many reasons. For those planning an extended trip around Central Europe, you’ll find Prague to be a convenient starting point for many itineraries.

Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, has long been a popular destination among budget backpackers, for stag parties, and everything in between. This city is rich in delicious beer, beautiful architecture, and tourist attractions. Prague is a great introduction to Central Europe, especially for those who have not visited the continent before. It is full of quaint walking streets, stunning cathedrals, sprawling cityscapes around a winding river. It’s history and monuments are very much preserved, giving the visitor a very mediaeval experience with it’s breathtaking aesthetics. The look of Prague is very iconic to what many believe Europe to be, which makes it the perfect beginning to your exploration of Central Europe. It’s so iconic, in fact, it’s used to double several popular European cities in multiple movies.

Because Prague is essentially in the “heart” of Central Europe, transportation is not a problem. getting two, from, and around Prague is quick, easy, and affordable. Prague’s airport welcomes various budget airlines, offering cheap airfare to other popular European destinations. Popular Hungarian and German budget airlines, among others, fly in and out of Prague frequently. If you’d prefer to travel by train, you’ll find your destination options are not at all limited. You can reach Vienna, Austria, or Bratislava, Slovakia in mere hours at an affordable rate. These trains run often, which makes it easy to connect and visit other destinations as far as Budapest, Munich, Krakow, and more. Buses are another transportation option, with both domestic and international destination itineraries covered daily. These buses are comfortable and inexpensive, offering you yet another transportation option. Within Prague, you can enjoy an efficient and accessible network of metro lines, buses and trams. Anything can be reached by a combination of public transport services, all of which run frequently.

Czech Republic shares it’s borders with Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia, offering great opportunities for discovery nearby, without lengthy travel times. You can take a day trip to another country, and stay within your budget very easily. Having an insider look can help you plan, and get the most out of your trip. Research on blogs, such as Rick Steve’s Blog on Europe for more information on your European trip.

Posted in Destinations | Tagged , | Leave a comment