Pamplona Offers More than a Bullish Encounter

pamplona city from the mountainPoor Pamplona! This wonderful town in the Navarra region of Spain has become known for just one crazy annual activity – the Running of the Bulls. Certainly you’ve seen it on television. Each July, a group of wacky locals – as well as plenty of nutty foreigners – gather on certain streets within the city limits while a group of angry bulls is released into their midst. The object? Outrun the darn things before they gore you to death! All of this is done in honor of the Festival of San Fermin (and to transport the chosen bulls to the bullring), though chances are you’ve heard little about the rest of the event.

And while you may have always dreamed of watching the Running of the Bulls, whether from close up or far away, you can rest assured that once that fairly brief event has come to a close, the city of Pamplona has plenty more to offer tourists, from beautiful architecture and lovely little museums to an urban center that’s actually quite nice, with lots of parks and green areas and plenty of places to enjoy a meal and a little nightlife. (more…)

Pamper Yourself at One of Santorini’s Top Luxury Hotels

Port below FiraLocated about 120 miles from the mainland of Greece, beautiful Santorini sits in the southern Aegean Sea, just waiting for visitors to come and soak up her sun and bathe in her warm waters. A volcanic island that was once the site of one of the largest eruptions ever recorded – some 3600 years ago – it’s basically a water-filled caldera that’s become one of the most trendy vacation destinations in the Greek Islands, known for its beautiful blue water, sandy beaches, flourishing wine industry, and friendly people. It’s become such a popular place that both the BBC and Travel + Leisure Magazine dubbed it the “World’s Best Island” in 2011.

As the tourist infrastructure continues to grow in sun-kissed Santorini, more and more options have become available to luxury travelers. These days, top-notch accommodations are almost the norm rather than the exception, and vacationers looking for luxury lodging should have no problem finding something that covers all their wants and needs. Here are a few of our favorites.  (more…)

Sweden’s Best Castles and Palaces

153569000Spring and summer are ideal times of year for a trip to beautiful Sweden. The short days are becoming longer, the wintry winds have subsided, and the place is abloom with flowers galore. The cities, like Stockholm, are waking up and you’ll find the hustle and bustle reappearing. Shops are sprucing up for the spring season and there’s just a general overall feeling of rebirth. The countryside is coming to life as well, ready for tourists to take to their bicycles and explore places like Ängsö National Park, the Scandinavian Mountains, or the beautiful Bohuslän Coast.

If you’re a lover of castles, palaces, and other grand edifices, spring and summer are the perfect time for exploring those structures as well…and Sweden has plenty of them, probably more than you might expect. Some of the structures date back as far as the 11th or 12th centuries and are still in good condition or have been lovingly restored. Others consist of interesting ruins. Many are a joy to photograph and are within reasonable driving distance of each other, so visiting won’t consume an excessive amount of time. Some have also been turned into hotels and provide a unique accommodation experience. (more…)

Catch the Spirit of Scotland on a Fun Whiskey Tour

151521151Okay, admit it! While the idea of seeing Scotland’s wonderful cities and pretty countryside mildly excites you, what you really want to do on your next visit to Scotland – besides perhaps playing a round or two of golf – is to take time to sample the country’s wonderful whiskeys. More than just having a sip or two with dinner, true whiskey aficionados can arrange an official whiskey tour of the country, complete with opportunities not only to taste that “liquid gold” but also to meet distillery owners and learn more about the process of making fine Scotch Whiskey.

If you’re a fan of Scotland’s favorite spirit, you can ask your travel agent to book such a tour for you. These tours can range from trips that take just several hours or perhaps a day to complete to others that are multi-day. You choose how much time you want to spend discovering the fine art of whiskey making and your agent will design a trip to match your interest.          (more…)

Still Time for Skiing in Zermatt

156263019While skiing in the U.S. is starting to wind down for the most part, those who are trying to squeeze just a little more out of this winter season might consider packing up their suitcase and heading to one of our favorite ski resorts in Switzerland, Zermatt. Indeed, it’s not too late since beautiful and exciting Zermatt has the longest ski season in the Alps, stretching all the way to May, with spring skiing often as fine as that which is offered in January or February.

The reason why is simple. Zermatt boasts mountains that are among the highest in Europe. Hence, its ski areas are at an altitude where snow remains for a very long time. Some soar up to 3800 meters – about 12,500 feet – so it’s not unusual for many runs to remain open until well into May. And don’t think you’ll be cheated by poor snow quality. Zermatt is so well-maintained that they wouldn’t consider opening mediocre runs, so you can be sure that your experiences will be all that you’ve anticipated. (more…)

Britain’s Finest Castles Will Make You Feel like Royalty

Edinburgh CastleEngland, Scotland, and Wales are home to many wonderful tourist destinations, not the least of which are the many castles that dot the landscape. Indeed, all three countries have a number of notable castles and palaces, some of which are more recognizable than others and many that should appear on your must-see list of attractions, especially if you’re a castle fanatic.

As a matter of fact, many travelers who are particularly keen on viewing the great castles of the past organize their entire itinerary around visits to the best of these structures. In Great Britain, it’s certainly possible to cover many of them on just one trip. To help you with such a travel agenda, we’ve compiled a list of what we consider to be Great Britain’s top castles. So brush off your suite of armor, polish the crown jewels, and head to these wonderful edifices of the past, some of which are still in use today.  (more…)

An Italian Riviera Honeymoon Exudes Glamour and Luxury

Portofino by nightIf you’re considering a honeymoon to Italy, you’ve probably researched excursions that include one of the “Big Three” – Rome, Venice, and Florence. But if you’re in search of an Italian honeymoon that includes some beach time, consider the possibility of visiting the Ligurian region, which includes the beautiful Italian Riviera, an area that has long been a favorite of European’s elite and the perfect place for them to escape the everyday pressures of being rich and famous. Indeed, the palm tree-lined avenues, the sandy beaches, and the fine hotels found in towns like San Remo, Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino, and others along the crescent-shaped coast beckon those looking for a luxurious place to relax and shed the rigors of everyday life.

For honeymooners, the larger resort towns and small fishing villages of the Italian Riviera offer plenty of romance and lots of options for whiling away your time in the sun. You can spend your days lounging on the wide, sandy beaches and your nights at the casino, go shopping along seaside promenades, or take simply time to explore the astounding beauty of the area, which stretches from Tuscany to the border with France. Whichever you choose, you can be sure that you’ll be surrounded by beautiful scenery and beautiful people, and that you’ll create honeymoon memories that’ll last a lifetime. (more…)

The Benefits of Small Group Travel

Triana Bridge, Sevilla, SpainBig cruise ships are great, but they can’t get into the little spaces a small yacht can access. The same can be said for small group travel. While it’s often fun to be with a large group of travelers, a trip that includes perhaps 20 or less is the perfect way to gain passage to those intimate experiences that you might otherwise miss if you were traveling with the large group size that is common on many organized tours.

So what constitutes a small group? In most instances, travel companies characterize a small group as one that consists of about 12 to 24 people, much smaller than the standard 50-60 that fill a large motorcoach on a traditional guided tour. If you’ve never experienced small group travel, you’ll find – like many others do – that it’s an experience far different than those that surround you with dozens of other travelers, most of whom remain strangers throughout your journey. In small groups, it’s all about being personal.   (more…)

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