If you’re looking for a vacation close to home, Bermuda is an excellent choice. With stunning beaches, deep turquoise waters, and a rich history, there’s plenty to see and do one a trip to Bermuda – whether it’s for a 3-day weekend getaway or a longer, relaxing vacation. Here’s what’s at the top of our list for any stay in Bermuda:
The Best Places to Visit in Spain
With its breathtaking landscapes, stunning beaches, cultural centers and rich history, it’s no wonder Spain is one of the top European vacation destinations. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in the country’s history, relax on the beach, have an outdoor adventure, or just explore the bustling cities of Spain, there’s something for everyone. Here is just a small glimpse of the best places to visit on your next trip to Spain:
Just a hop, skip and a jump across the Pacific sits the beautiful country of New Zealand, known for its rich landscapes, and diverse culture and history. Whether you are ready for an adventure-filled vacation or just want a leisurely trip through the countryside, there is something for everyone in New Zealand. Here are our must-see stops:
Portugal is one of the most-visited countries in Europe – and for good reason. It’s ideal climate, beautiful countryside and rich history make it a perfect vacation destination for everyone. Here’s our list of the best places to visit on your trip to Portugal:
Whether we tune in to watch the ball fall on Times Square or spend the day with friends and family, we all have our traditions on how to ring in the new year. As we turn the page on 2020, let’s take a look at some of the more unique ways people celebrate the New Year around the world:
Russia. For over 25 years, two divers who represent Father Frost and the Ice Maiden plunge into the frozen waters of Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake, with a decorated New Year’s Tree and take it down more than 100 feet and leave it there. This event draws tourists from all over the world.
Brazil. In Brazil, you will find that on New Year’s Eve everyone dressed in white and headed to the beach. White represents luck and prosperity, and is meant to ward off evil spirits. At the beach, they’ll jump seven waves (a lucky number in Brazilian culture) for good fortune, and then throw white flowers and candles into the water to ask Lemanjá, the goddess of the seas, for her blessing on the new year.
Japan. The Japanese welcome the new year with a bowl of soba noodles in a tradition known as toshikoshi soba, or year-crossing noodles. No one is quite sure how the tradition started, but it is thought that the long, thin soba noodles represent a long and healthy life, and the buckwheat they are made from represents their strength and resiliency.
Greece. The pomegranate symbolized fertility, life, and abundance in Greek mythology, and has come to represent good fortune to Greeks today. Just after midnight on New Year’s Eve, you’ll find Greeks smashing a pomegranate against the door of their house, and according to tradition the number of seeds scattered is directly related to the amount of good luck to come in the new year.
Turkey. As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s, it is considered good luck to sprinkle salt on your doorstep in Turkey. As with many traditions around the world, this is meant to promote peace and prosperity in the new year.
Switzerland. For good luck, wealth and abundance, the Swiss drop a dollop of ice cream on the floor at midnight on New Year’s.
Bolivia. Bolivians use the age-old festive tradition of baking pennies into their desserts on New Year's. Whoever finds the coin has luck for the year ahead!
If you are looking forward to a new year filled with travel and adventure, Luxury Destinations Concierge can help! Give us a call at (805) 236-4437 to start planning your dream vacation today.
If you think about it, most of us associate special foods with the holidays. Whether it’s the candy canes, gingerbread houses or grandma’s Christmas dinner, we all have fond memories of gathering around the table to share a meal or two. Here are some of the more unique foods that people around the world eat at the holidays:
Many of our holiday traditions are looking quite different this year because of the pandemic. Shopping, going to the local tree-lighting and other family-friendly events have been cancelled. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t experience them from the comfort of your own home. Here are some ways you can get your fill of the holiday season virtually:
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Lights. The Museum of Science + Industry Chicago takes you on a tour of their annual exhibition of Christmas traditions around the world celebrated through Christmas trees. Each of the 40 trees and displays are decorated to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. The free event is available at various times through December 24th.
A Christmas Carol. The Old Vic in England continues its efforts to bring stage performances into our homes with Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This isn’t a pre-recorded version – it’s done live each day through December 24th, performed on the Old Vic stage and live-streamed across the globe. Visit their website to find out how to purchase tickets and access your showing.
AskSanta.com. If your kids are begging to talk to Santa this year, then do it online through AskSanta.com. They’ll be able to talk to Santa in real time, and he’ll answer all their questions with the help of AI. They can talk about whatever they want, there are conversation starters to help get you going, and the best part is it’s free!
The Nutcracker. No holiday season would be complete without seeing The Nutcracker. Marquee TV brings you the ballet courtesy of the New York City Ballet. This version of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker was performed in 2019 at the Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts. Get ready to be swept away into the world of sugar plum fairies with this beautiful production. You can access it through Marquee TV’s website through January 3rd.
Virtual Scavenger Hunts. What could be more fun than a holiday scavenger hunt? Watsons Adventures has come up with a great way to find out more about holiday traditions around the world through their Joy Around the World: Virtual Holiday Scavenger Hunts. So grab your family, friends and colleagues through Zoom for an all-around good time. A kid’s version is also available. Join one of the public hunts through December 26th, or inquire about a private hunt just for your party.
Christmas Markets Around The World. Christmas markets around the world always are a sight to see, with the lights, the hustle and bustle, and the various traditions that underscore each one. It’s no wonder that they are some of the top holiday destinations each year. Even though most are closed because of the pandemic, you can still enjoy them with these virtual tours of some of the most famous markets around the world.
We hope you enjoy these virtual holiday tours and activities, and have a safe and happy holiday season. When you’re ready to plan your trip for 2021, Luxury Destinations Concierge is here to help. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437 to start planning your dream vacation today.
All around the world, everyone is getting ready to celebrate the holidays. While we all have our family traditions at this time of year, we tend to forget that not everyone celebrates in the same way – or even on the same day. Here are some of the more unique holiday traditions in other countries:
Philippines. The Saturday before Christmas Eve, the Philippines holds their Giant Lantern Festival in the city of San Fernando which is known as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines. Eleven villages take part in the competition, trying to outbuild the others as they race to create the most elaborate lantern. Originally, the lanterns were made of origami paper, lit by candle and measuring no more than 3 feet across. Today, they are incredible displays of art made of electric lights and other materials and can measure up to 16 feet across. Started over 100 years ago, the festival is a celebration of light which symbolizes unwavering hope to the Filipinos.
Norway. One of the more unusual holiday traditions is the hiding of brooms in Norway on Christmas Eve. This centuries-old tradition goes back to when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. To this day Norwegians will hide all their brooms, so you better get your cleaning done beforehand!
Sweden. Dating back to ancient pagan festivals, the Yule Goat is one of Sweden’s Christmas traditions. In 1966, they upped the ante when someone decided to make a giant straw goat. Today, this goat is known as the Gävle Goat, and measures over 42 feet tall, 23 feet wide and weighs in at about 3.6 tons. It’s set up in Castle Square the first Sunday in Advent, and has even made the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest straw goat.
New Zealand. While many associate Christmas with a winter wonderland, down under it is actually summer. Their Christmas celebrations usually entail family gatherings around the barbie (grill) and you’ll probably see Santa in sandals and a rugby shirt on the beach. Kiwis also have their own special Christmas Tree, the Pohutukawa, which blooms a bright-red color in December.
Germany. It’s thought that the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree started in Germany in the 16th century. One of the more interesting Christmas tree traditions Germans have is hiding an ornamental pickle in the tree and whichever child finds it gets a present. Full disclosure: there are other stories that have circulated that this tradition could have started in Spain when two young boys were held prisoners in a pickle barrel and Saint Nicholas rescued them.
Mexico. In Mexico, Christmas is centered around the Posadas. In Spanish, a posada is an inn or place of lodging and the Posadas celebrate the Christmas story. Held each evening from December 16th to December 24th they commemorate the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph’s search for a place to stay where Jesus could be born. Posadas in Mexico feature hot food and drinks, sweets, music, and piñatas.
Iceland. In Iceland, you’ll hear tell of the Yule Cat that roams the streets only one time per year. This is not your cuddly kitty-cat, though: It’s said to be a ferocious creature that will eat anyone who doesn’t have new clothes by Christmas Eve. You see, the Yule Cat is the “good behavior enforcer” – children who did their chores before Christmas would get new clothes (i.e., socks) and those that didn’t complete their chores would be fair game for the Yule Cat. It’s also used to inspire generosity – giving to those who don’t have “new clothes” so they can avoid the “consequences”.
Want to celebrate other holiday traditions around the world? Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437 to start planning your dream vacation today.
Top 7 Places to Visit in Croatia
Located on the beautiful Adriatic Sea, Croatia has fast become a bucket-list vacation destination. Croatia offers something for everyone: you can soak up the sun on glorious beaches, explore national parks that will take your breath away, or dive into a rich history that goes further back than the Roman Empire. Here are the places to visit in Croatia at the top of our list:
Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is one of those places that has something for everyone – especially if you’re a Game of Thrones fan as much of the show was filmed here. The main attraction is Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, from the medieval ramparts that give spectacular views of the Adriatic, to the churches, cathedrals and shops you’ll see as you explore the streets of this old city. Lapad Beach is great for sunbathing, and you don’t want to miss the sweeping views of the city and the coast riding on the Dubrovnik Cable Car.
Split. As the second largest city in Croatia, Split is able to balance its history with modern culture. Visit Diocletian’s Palace, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was built in the 4th century and is recognized as one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture in the world. Don’t miss the 7th-century Cathedral of Saint Domnius – the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure. Take a walk on the Riva promenade or relax on Bačvice Beach. For wine connoisseurs, visit Putalj Winery just outside the city for their winetasters tour.
Krka National Park. Croatia has 8 national parks, and Krka is one of the best. Known for its stunning waterfalls. The most spectacular waterfall in the park is Skradinski Buk waterfall, where you may be able to swim on a warm afternoon. Hike the many trails through the creeks, forests and other waterfalls, and take a boat ride to see the Visovac Monastery on its own island in the middle of the lake.
Pula. The Pula Arena is one of the most complete Roman amphitheaters still standing in the world. Originally used by Augustus Caesar for the gladiator spectacles, medieval knights used the space for their tournaments over 1,000 years later. The town is brimming with influences from the Roman Empire, including the Arch of the Sergii to commemorate a 30 BC battle with France, the Temple of Augustus that was converted into a church after the Romans adapted Christianity, and the Gate of Hercules which boasts carvings of the names of two Roman officials who established Pula. You can also see the influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the military forts surrounding the city.
Plitvice National Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice National Park is home to 16 crystalline lakes that are connected by a series of 90 waterfalls. The Explore the park on foot by way of its boardwalks through lush forest areas, or take advantage of the free buses and boat rides that are available throughout the park.
Rovinj. Set on a peninsula overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Rovinj is a picture-perfect town that reflects its history with the Romans, Venetians, Hapsburgs and more. St. Euphemia Cathedral dominates the Rovinj skyline, and the view from the bell tower is breathtaking. Walk down the cobbled streets of Old Town to glimpse into its Venetian past. Enjoy the beaches along the coast of the Adriatic. Or take a quick trip outside of town to explore the ruins of Dvigrad, a medieval town that was abandoned in the 1700s and never repopulated.
Zagreb. No trip to Croatia would be complete without a trip to the capital city of Zagreb. This unique city actually developed on two separate hilltops – Kapitol and Gradec – and the differences are apparent even to today. Kapitol was where the clergy was based, and the Zagreb Cathedral was its main landmark. On the other hill, Gradec was the more secular part of the city, where you can still see the influences of the artisans and tradesmen as you walk the cobblestoned streets. Visit the Gornji Grad district for a historical look at various churches and town squares. And if you need a break from the museums and hustle and bustle of the city, head out to Jarun Lake for some leisure time.
There is much more to see and do in Croatia, and Luxury Destinations Concierge is ready to help you plan your trip. Give us a call at 805-236-4437.
Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands have a uniqueness all their own. This archipelago of 19 islands was formed exclusively from volcanic and seismic activity and sits where three ocean currents converge. Combined with its isolation from other land masses has led to the unique development of both land animals and marine life. It’s no wonder that Darwin’s theory of evolution was inspired by his trip to the Galapagos Islands in 1835!
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, a trip to the Galapagos Islands is certainly one that will be filled with wonders you have never seen before – and will want to see over and over again. Make sure you include these highlights on your trip:
Tortuga Bay. Tortuga Bay is one of the top attractions in the Galapagos for good reason: white sandy beaches, great snorkeling, and you’ll see your fair share of Galapagos’ wildlife. Playa Mansa is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling. You’ll share the beach with some interesting animals, including a large marine iguana colony which are the only iguanas in the world that have learned to swim. Take the self-guided trail through the cactus forest, where you will learn more about the flora and fauna of the islands through informative signs along the way. In the water, keep an eye out for the sea turtles and whitetip reef sharks!
Rancho Primicias. Rancho Primicias is the place to see giant tortoises in the Galapagos. Located on Santa Cruz Island, Rancho Primicias is a privately-owned animal sanctuary where you’ll be able to see the giant tortoises up close and personal (just don’t feed or touch them). Explore the lava tunnels or climb into an empty tortoise shell!
Charles Darwin Research Station. To get a better understanding of the uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands, make sure you visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Part of the Charles Darwin Foundation, its goal is to preserve and study the Galapagos habitats. The Fausto Llerena Breeding Center allows you to catch a glimpse of the differences in the various species of giant tortoises. The baby tortoise house is especially interesting as you will see them before they are resettled in their natural environments – over 7,000 have been successfully released into the wild. You’ll also see several types of iguanas and Darwin’s famous finches, as well as great examples of the islands’ vegetation.
Concha Perla. Located on Isabela Island, Concha Perla is a calm bay with crystal clear waters that is perfect for snorkeling. The marine life is amazing, and you’ll see penguins diving for food, swim with a variety of tropical fish, and play with the sea lions.
Los Tuneles. Also on Isabela Island, Los Tuneles is a microcosm of the Galapagos Islands. Formed by lava flow, its unique arches and tunnels above and below the water is home to many of animals we associate with the Galapagos Islands – penguins, sea lions, tortoises, black and white reef sharks, pelicans and even blue footed boobies. A must-see stop, even if you don’t snorkel as the waters are so clear you can see most of it from the comfort of a boat.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The province capital of the Galapagos Islands, there is a lot to see in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Make sure you take a tour to Kicker Rock for the snorkeling and view. Or visit Frigatebird Hill if you are up for hiking and bird watching. If you want to lounge with the sea lions, head on out to La Lobería, where you’ll also spot wild iguanas, lava lizards, yellow warblers and frigates and more.
The Galapagos Islands is clearly a nature-lovers paradise. Let Luxury Destinations Concierge plan your trip to this wonder-filled destination. Give us a call at 805-236-4437.
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