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6 Events to Attend in Europe This August

1 Aug
Edinburgh International Festival 2014, Delusion11eif2014 - Photo credit, Wonge Bergmann

Edinburgh International Festival

August is the time of year where most of Europe is on holiday. While city dwellers head to the coast in search of a sunny beach, these festivals keep cities alive during summer months by drawing in both locals and tourists alike. If you’re headed to Europe – or are already there – here are six events to attend during the month of August.

1. The International Beer Festival in Berlin, Germany
Held between August 1st and 3rd on Karl-Marx-Allee, Berlin’s International Beer Festival doubles as a folk festival with various musical acts taking one of the many stages. Also known as “Beer Mile” (it spans 2 kilometers!), the event gets over one million visitors per year. This festival will satisfy beer aficionados, as it features both local and international craft beers and microbrews. This year, you’ll be able to sample a variety of 2,000 brews from 86 countries.

2. La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain
Be ready to get messy and paint the town red at La Tomatina! This traditional event takes place in Valencia’s Buñol on the last Wednesday of August each year and draws crowds from all over the world. The tradition caught on in the mid-forties after a local food fight erupted and has since stuck. The premise is simple: People gather the streets, wait until the first canon is fired at around 10am, and start throwing tomatoes! The second canon signals the end of the tomato fight. If you’re ambitious, take a shot at trying to climb the wooden pole to get to the ham (another tradition).

3. The Edinburgh Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland
Head to the Scottish capital to enjoy a display of art and culture at one of the largest festivals in Europe. Created in 1947 after the Second World War, its mission has always been to provide a platform for human growth through art. An umbrella term for the many events that makeup The Edinburgh Festival, it spans over three weeks and includes everything from performances, to music & comedy shows, and art exhibitions.

4. The International Street Art Festival in Waterford City, Ireland
From August 1st to the 3rd, this medieval city’s free, urban International Street Art Festival encompasses all the best in street music, theatre, and art. Also called “Spraoi,” the three-day event marks the beginning of the August Bank Holiday for UK residents. The festival focuses on both Irish and international art and exhibitions range from installations, to music, workshops, and more. Be sure not to miss the festival parade!

5. Amsterdam Gay Pride in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Held during the first few days of August, Amsterdam Gay Pride is it one of the largest pride celebrations in the world. It’s also one of the busiest weekends in Amsterdam during summer as thousands of people from across the globe gather to celebrate the festivities. The event hosts a number of parties, concerts, activities, and more, including the famous canal parade on the first Saturday of August.

6. Rock en Seine near Paris, France
From August 22nd to the 24th, Parisians and Europeans will head to the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud just west of Paris to enjoy their favorite bands perform at Rock en Seine. Hailed as one of the largest music festivals in France, it comprises four open-air stages, along with a campsite for those who wish to stay the weekend. This year’s line-up includes Lana Del Rey, Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, and Blondie, along with many other coveted acts.

Are you headed to Europe this August? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo credit: Wonge Bergmann

La Tournée des Entrepreneurs – Promoting Entrepreneurship In Quebec

30 Jul

La Tournee des entrepreneurs group photo Charlevoix 2014

This past weekend, Busbud CEO LP Maurice embarked on the first of three roadtrips across the province of Quebec as part of La Tournée des entrepreneurs.

Watch the video recap of the weekend in Baie-St-Paul, Charlevoix.

 

Connecting with local entrepreneurs

The tour brought together entrepreneurs from different regions of the province in order to learn, share experiences and inspire. Topics discussed included prototyping, how to sell online, fundraising, web analytics, innovative business models and social entrepreneurship.

Montreal entrepreneurs participating at this first event: Caithrin Rintoul (Provender), Sophie Boulanger (BonLook), Christine Renaud (E-180), Francis Gosselin (f&co), Raff Paquin (AlveoLabs and formerly Frank & Oak) and Fabrice Vil (Pour 3 Points).

Next stops, Gaspé and Rouyn-Noranda!

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10 Tips & Tricks for Bus Travel in the UK

8 Jul
travel by bus to London

London

Traveling within the UK by bus is one of the best ways to discover the unrivalled scenic gems its regions have to offer – something you’ll definitely miss with the plane. With more bus paths than train routes, not only is the bus a cheaper, greener, and more flexible alternative, but it’s also the chosen mode of transportation among the locals. From Scotland’s diverse countrysides, to England’s bustling city centers, if you’re currently in Europe or planning an upcoming trip, here are our 10 tips & tricks for bus travel in the UK.

1. Opt for the scenic route
Travelers with a penchant for wanderlust usually revel in the idea of an offbeat adventure, and choosing the bus will help you get there. Riding a bus – or a coach – in the UK is perfect for visiting more than one city or village off the beaten path because they usually take routes that don’t exist by train. These journeys boast an array of mountainous panoramas, unspoiled countrysides, and historic architecture, making it easy to unearth the many wonders that dot the UK’s landscape. If you pass through small towns, you’ll even get the chance to observe how the locals live.

2. Take advantage of full stops
Another great way to snap Instagram-worthy pictures is by getting off the bus! Not only are these breaks welcome during longer trips, they’re ideal for uncovering the territory’s picturesque backdrop. If you’re traveling by day, you’ll begin sightseeing before reaching your destination – for free.

3. Discover tasty snacks
Delving into the local fare is a fun way to discover other cultures. Want to begin sampling the region’s food before stepping off the bus? Pick up a Cornish Pasty or a Bedfordshire Clanger for lunch breaks. These traditional goodies are easy to pack, making them perfect for on-the-go munchies.

4. Dress for appropriate temperatures
We all know the UK has a reputation for its unpredictable weather, so ensure you dress wisely. Since it tends to be generally colder than other parts of Europe, be sure to pack a good pair of walking boots for treks (bonus if they’re waterproof), a wool sweater if you’re visiting in winter, and a sturdy umbrella.

5. Pack your music
What’s better than admiring the scene to the sound of a personal soundtrack? Create a vacation playlist for your UK adventure by adding tunes like “London Calling” by The Clash or some classics from The Beatles to your repertoire.

6. Familiarize yourself with the terminology
Knowing a few of the UK’s key terms will come in handy for bus travel: Bus (coach or sleeper coach), bus station (coach station), bus driver (coach driver), line (queue), highway (motorway).

7. Research and book your bus tickets online
Search your departure date & time and book your ticket with Busbud. Once that’s done, simply arrive at the bus terminal and board stress free! This is also the easiest way to ensure you are booking through a safe and reliable bus company – and it’s an eco-friendly alternative to other modes of transportation.

8. Choose luxury
Most coach buses in UK are already equipped with a high level of coziness, but you should also consider upgrading to first class for ultimate comfort. The UK has some pretty luxurious coach buses that are at par with some airline cabins. The majority will offer reclining leather seats, WiFi, power outlets, movie screens, sleeper kits, air conditioning, as well as onboard snacks and meals.

9. Organization is key
Many buses journey to neighboring countries, and though most Western countries in the European Union do not have border checkpoints, passport checks still happen from time to time. Be sure to keep passports and bus tickets in order and within reach.

10. Make friends with your bus driver
If you do speak the language, chat your driver up during breaks. You’ll be amazed at how much they know – and how much they’ve seen. They will even give you tips on which side of the bus you should sit on to get the nicest views…and photos!

Have you taken the bus throughout the UK and have some tips you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below!

 

10 Tips & Tricks for Bus Travel in Peru

26 Jun
travel by bus to Cusco

Cusco

Traveling within Peru by bus is one of the best ways to discover the unrivalled landscapes the country has to offer – something you’ll definitely miss with the plane. Brimming with a myriad of scenic gems, Peru’s buses pass through many regional sites that will awaken your inner wanderlust. If you’re currently in South America or planning an upcoming trip, here are our 10 tips & tricks for bus travel in Peru.

1. Get ready for high altitudes
Wondering why bus travel in Peru is longer than your usual trek? High altitudes are to blame, and they can reach 5000 meters above sea level. If you aren’t used to traveling on these routes, you may start to feel tired and dizzy thanks to the low air pressure up there.

2. But know how to curb its effects
The best way to deal with high altitudes is to be sure you stay hydrated, pack altitude sickness pills, and avoid overexerting yourself.

3. Discover Peruvian snacks at bus terminals

Delving into the local fare is a fun way to discover other cultures. Want to begin sampling the region’s food before stepping off the bus? Mouth-watering snacks you’ll come across at Peru’s terminals include juanes, tamales, and humitas, which are all neatly wrapped up in traditional leaves. These goodies are easy to pack, making them perfect for on-the-go munchies.

4. Don’t forget to layer
It can get chilly depending where you are, so bring an extra sweater. From the Andes, to the Peruvian Amazon, traveling through many geographical regions means experiencing different temperatures!

5. Admire the scenery
If you’re traveling by day, you’ll begin sightseeing before reaching your destination. With prime views of the Peruvian panorama, unearth the many coastlines, canyons, mountains, and active volcanoes that dot the landscape – for free. If you pass through small towns, you’ll even get the chance to observe how the locals live.

6. Take advantage of full stops
Another great way to snap Instagram-worthy pictures is by getting off the bus! Not only are these breaks welcome after hours of sitting, they’re the best way to get a sense of Peru’s picturesque backdrop. These are also popular locations to buy souvenirs as local crafts people set up shop here – no need to worry about buying gifts during your stay.

7. Research and book your bus tickets online
Search your departure date & time and book your ticket with Busbud. Once that’s done, simply arrive at the bus terminal and board stress free! This is also the easiest way to ensure you are booking through a safe and reliable bus company – and it’s an eco-friendly alternative to other modes of transportation.

8. Opt for luxury
Consider upgrading to first class for ultimate comfort during long day trips or an overnighter. Peru has some pretty luxurious coach buses that are at par with some airline cabins. They offer reclining leather seats, WiFi, power outlets, movie screens, air conditioning, and a hostess that serves onboard snacks and meals.

9. Learn the lingo 
Knowing a few key words and phrases in Spanish will come in handy for bus travel in Peru: Bus (autobús), bus station (estación de autobús), Where is the bus stop? (¿Dónde está la parada del autobús?), schedule (horario), arrival (llegada), departure (salida), destination (destino), bus driver (conductor de autobús).

10. Talk to your bus driver
If you do speak the language, chat your driver up during breaks. You’ll be amazed at how much they know – and how much they’ve seen. They will even give you tips on which side of the bus you should sit on to get the nicest views…and photos!

Have you taken the bus throughout Peru and have some tips you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Brazil Bus Finder – Follow your World Cup team with Busbud

11 Jun

In Brazil for the World Cup? Book the right bus ticket to the next match using Busbud.com’s Brazil Bus Finder. Screenshot Busbud Brazil Bus Finder World Cup 2014 To celebrate the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, we’ve created a microsite dedicated to help soccer fans easily book their bus trips between the host cities across Brazil. On www.busbud.com/worldcup, you can filter bus routes and schedules by team or city, and book bus tickets for various companies online, directly on Busbud. Routes will be updated continuously based on the evolving World Cup match results.

Busbud Mobile - Brazil Bus Finder for World Cup 2014

In Brazil, buses are the main mode of long-distance transportation: they are clean, comfortable, run on time, and the main routes — between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, for example — are typically served many times a day. The thing is, finding the right bus online is often cumbersome, especially for international travellers. That’s why a few of us at Busbud got togetherand created a tool that simplifies the process of finding and booking city to city bus tickets. We hope it saves our fellow travellers and football fans a bit of time — and the extra trip to the bus station.

Ready? Search. Click. Gooooooooooooaaaaaaal! busbud-brazil-bus-finder-worldcup-2014

10 super fun non touristy things to do in and around London

27 May

Planning a trip to London? Gaël, fresh off the Montreal-bound boat after 6 years in London, shares a few tips on having fun in the Big Smoke.

1- Have a barbecue in London Fields

London Fields

Photo: Café Naiveté

On your way through Broadway Market, grab a single use barbecue, a few packs of Cumberlands, a bottle of PIMMs, mixer, cold beers and head up to London Fields for some fun in the sun. Once you run out of drinks, head over to the iconic Pub on the Park on Martello Street for a few more. And if it gets really warm, you can take a dip in the London Fields Lido

2- Take a dip in one of Hampsted Heath’s ponds

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Photo: Neill Hall/The Telegraph

Want to demo your mad belly flop skills? Then jump into your budgie smugglers and head to Hampstead Heath for a float around one of the Heath’s ponds. There are male and female ponds and a mixed pond. Before you leave home, do grab your picnic blanket, some nibbles and, most importantly, some all important drinks because all that floating will definitely work up a thirst.

3- Stroll through Goldborne Road Market

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Photo: His and hers London

Just north of the famous Portobello Road market market is the more local and multicultural Goldborne Road Market. Go to Lisboa for a coffee and one of their famous pastel de nata – watch out they sell out fast! – grab a bite at the cute Goldborne Deli or feast on a fish and chips at the famous George’s Portobello Fish Bar. Then head over to the iconic Trellick Tower, or rummage around the vintage clothes and furniture at Phoenix, Rellik and Les Couilles du Chien or Jane Bourvis for vintage dresses (call ahead for an appointment). If your tastes are somewhat more contemporary pop into Ally Capelino’s for some designer accessories then head over to Pizza East for good quality comfort food with a great vibe – but watch out for the lineup!

4- Ponce it up at the Westbourne in Notting Hill

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After Goldborne Road Market, time for a glass… no, a jug! of PIMMs. From Goldborn Road, either walk along Regent’s Canal to Westbourne Park or walk along Westbourne Park Road. Either way, you can’t miss The Westbourne, which, if it’s a sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon, will be packed with Notting Hill locals. If you can, grab a table on the terrace. Be warned: ordering can be slightly tedious, but what the Westbourne lacks in service it makes up for in atmosphere. If it gets a bit busy at the Westbourne, you can also cross the street to The Cow, an Irish pub and oyster bar. Once you start getting hungry, head back down the street to The Oak for (a last cocktail on the first floor! and) a wood oven pizza.

5- Rent a barge and float along Regent’s Canal

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Photo: Anna Batchelor, The Guardian

Get a group of friends together and rent a barge for an afternoon and meander down Regent’s Canal. You might start North of Paddington Station and make your way to the North of Regent’s Park, by London Zoo, and float along towards Camden Lock. Hop off at Camden to stroll around the Stables Market and grab a bite before heading for the night to Proud Camden for a good boogie woog. For barge rentals check out Drifters and Camden Canals.

6- Have brunch at the Columbia Road flower market

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Photo: TimeOut/Piers Allardyce

Head to Columbia Road early to beat the crowds – the flower market opens at 8AM – and nab a table at the Royal Oak for a hearty Sunday Roast. Once you’re feeling nice and full, plough your way through the flower market, and buy a plant you’ve never heard of. After all, as the traders will remind you, shouting at the top of their lungs, it’s “anythin’ for a fiver!”. Don’t forget to take a peak behind the stalls and check out the cool little boutiques like Ryantown, Vintage Heaven, and Lapin & Me

7- Day trip 1: Walk along the white cliffs of Dover

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Photo: Andy Coleman

Get up early on Saturday morning, grab a bus or train from Victoria Station or rent a Zipcar and head South to the White Cliffs of Dover. From Dover Priory, make your way 2.5 miles to the White Cliffs visitor centre. From there, chose from a number of walks along the coastline. You can also take a boat trip and view the cliffs from the Channel. Get in touch with Dover White Cliff Tours for more information. If you’ve rented a car, on your way back to London loop West and head to Rye. If you haven’t walked enough climb up the stairs of the church clock tower from where you’ll have a great view of the coast and then head to Ye Old Bell for a pint of ale. 

8- Day trip 2: Go for a day trip along the Jurassic Coast

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Hop on the bus, train or rent a car and head down to Weymouth for a walk along the Jurassic Coast. There are also a ton of outdoor sports to chose from, from climbing and cycling to kayaking, kite surfing and coasteering. If you want to cover more ground you can hop on and off the Jurassic Coast bus service. After all that sport, make sure you stop for a slice of pie at The Lookout Café before heading back.

9- Go to a music festival… any festival!

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Photo: Southwestfour

London offers a seemingly endless number of festivals – way too many for us to list (check out TimeOut for good reviews), but here are a handful to get you started. For top names head to Hyde Park for the Wireless festival. If you’re more into the indie scene, check out Field Day, which takes place in beautiful Victoria Park. Victoria park is also host to the always excellent LoveBox festival, which attracts top names in hip hop, electronic and indie. For top DJ acts of the likes of Avicii, Deadmau5, Calvin Harris, Armin Van Buuren, Tiësto and Hardwell, check out Southwestfour which takes place in Clapham Common during the afternoon and early evening. Slightly farther afield are Global Gathering, which takes place on an old airfield at Long Marston and Creamfields. Both are multi-day festivals. Finally, if you’re looking for a bit of indie camping fun, check out the Isle of Wight festival, Latitude festival in Suffolk as well as Bestival

10- Obligatory: go to the pub(s)

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Photo: Dumitru Brinzan

Skip the museums and shops and head to one (at the very least!) of London’s iconic pubs.  If you’re in central London, head to the Ship n’ Shovel, London’s only pub that is either side of a street. While you’re there, walk down Villiers Street and head down into Gordon’s Wine Bar, one of London’s oldest bars, for some wine and cheese – try and get a table in the cellar. If you’re in Clerkenwell, take a walk up and down Exmouth Market before heading into the Eagle, one of London’s first gastropubs, which serves excellent grub. Moving west into Green Park or Knightsbridge drop by the Nag’s Head, and if you’re by Sloane Square, definitely visit The Grenadier a venerable London landmark. Finally, if planning and making decisions is a bit too much, fear not, the Circle Line Pub Crawl is here for you: get up early and round your friends up for 27 stations, 27 pubs, 28 drinks in a 12 hour sprint. Here is a map. You’re off!

Our favorite travel and lifestyle bloggers in Berlin (in English)

18 Dec

We’re continuing the series we started with Amsterdam! This week we chose to introduce you to our top lifestyle and expat bloggers in Berlin, for an alternative way to discover the city once you’re there.

überlin
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Created by Zoë and James, two expats in Berlin, überlin deals with the city’s culture at large. This blog is actually a great resource to immerse yourself in the unique Berliner identity. There you’ll find insights about the city and it’s inhabitants, nice places to go eat and drink things to see and do, music, street style. Oh, and they wrote this cool list of things to know about Berliners, pretty funny stereotypes!
Read more here

Berlin Reified
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Berlin Reified was founded by the expat Sylee Gore in 2006. This blog is definitely homey, full of beautiful pictures and that’s something we love about it. It’s author takes you to day trips around the city, show you a singular point of view of what’s a perfect day in Berlin and takes you to her favorite food spots and cafes.
Read more here

Stil In Berlin
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Stil in Berlin is an online photography project, in a blog format. If originally focused on street style, the blog now covers various topics like food, style, shopping and life in Berlin.
In addition to presenting loads of beautiful pictures, Stil In Berlin provides a super nice feature: a map that helps you locate the blog’s eating and shopping suggestions
Read more here

Finding Berlin
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Finding Berlin is a visual magazine that celebrates Berlin’s rich and diverse culture through video and photography. What makes the content special is the alternative eye the contributors have on the city. They take you to a tour through places, urban art and anecdotes. Among all the great content, we like the 10 things to do series they did for summer and autumn.
Read more here

Slow Travel Berlin
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Ok, Slow Travel Berlin is more a website than a blog, but it totally had to make our list, for many reasons. The biggest one is because it embraces a totally different point of view of the city, and brings us to consider taking our time to actually discover Berlin beyond the touristic landmarks. We like the variety of information on the site, like jumping from a list for an ethical Christmas shopping in Berlin to a vintage Berlin Guide. Take some time and explore!
Read more here

Our favorite travel and lifestyle bloggers in Amsterdam (in English)

6 Dec

When planning for a trip, traditional information resources like guides and magazines are always a good start. But the best way to find great insights and well kept secrets about your destination is to checkout what locals, expats and travelers who actually know the city differently have to say about it

Stuff Dutch People Like
Stuff Dutch People like

 

The blog, created by Colleen Geske, a Canadian expat living in Amsterdam, is an awesome resource of all you need to know about the dutch cultural specificity. The blog deals with stereotypes with a sassy and humorous tone, making it a really funny way to get more familiar with people and habits before you reach to the city. It was really hard to choose which posts we like most, so here are two examples: Sinterklaas, and for the linguistics: Speaking in expressions. But seriously, you should read them all, they’re hilarious!
Read more here


Your Little Black Book
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Anne is a lifestyle blogger living in Amsterdam. First of all, her blog is very pleasant, full of beautiful pics, and gives you a good global view of what to do in Amsterdam, whether you are a foodie explorer or the shopping addict type. The Amsterdam City Guide section gives great weekend guides, tips on seasonal events and things to do in the city, like the best up-coming new year’s eve parties, or hotspots to discover.

Read more here


Amsterdamian
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This blog, created by an Amsterdam lover, takes you to the streets and hidden gems of the city through a beautiful visual journey. If you take some time to wander around this blog, you’ll discover an other point of view on the city, people, seasons and art in Amsterdam, with lots of images. For example, here’s a reason why Amsterdam is a great place to visit in autumn and this one gives you a good sneak peek at the Amsterdam Light Festival
Read more here


Life In Amsterdam
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Life in Amsterdam was obviously made for all the foodies out there. What we love the most about this blog is the super simple way reviews are presented. One glance and you have all the key information, like: what is the place perfect for?, is it worth a bike ride?, the best features, etc. After exploring the blog, the places we picked up to try next time we’re in Amsterdam: Caffe Milo for sounding that fancy, and Bistro ‘t Stuivertje for sounding so friendly.
Read more here


Some of our favorite worldwide travel bloggers also had their Amsterdam adventure..

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Here’s the Amsterdam experience seen by Matthew from Nomadic Matt, and here Kate from Adventurous Kate tells you more about how she totally fell in love with dutch architecture

5 Romantic Getaways for Valentine’s Day

12 Feb

Ah, Valentine’s Day ! Cupid throws his arrow and it hits you on the head. Year after year, it’s the same dilemma. What to do ? Where to go ? How to celebrate ? In order to help you plan a spectacular Valentine’s Day, we have compiled a list of romantic travel destinations tried and tested by the Busbus team! Below are a few places that get our stamp of approval!

1) Manual Antonio, Costa Rica : If wild beaches, luscious vegetation and intimacy are on your list this Valentine’s Day, then Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica is definitely the place to go! Offering uniquely breathtaking views, the Manual Antonio National Park is one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world. Surrounded by rainforest, vast white sand beaches and coral reefs, there are plenty of places to be secluded with your Valentine, in total privacy (well, almost, you might find a few monkeys peeking..)!

Beach view inside Manuel Antonio Park in Costa Rica

2) Paris, France : Ask any person what cities come to mind in terms of romantic destinations and you’re sure to end up with Paris on this list. And with reason ! No matter where you go in the city of love, you’re constantly reminded of its romance. Gothic architecture, love letters that have survived the ages, charming cafés, vast gardens, city lights and the iconic Eiffel Tower: what more could one ask for? Whether a promenade along the Seine or a walk through the Marais, St. Germain-des-Pres, and the Latin Quarter, you’re sure to succumb to Paris’ charm. After all, the French are masters in the art of seduction!  So this Valentine’s Day, get lost in your partner’s eyes at a quaint coffee shop, pick up a sweet surprise at La Durée, and indulge in some of the best cuisine worldwide! While you are at it, why not add a little spice with a later night cabaret show?!

Notre-Dame-de-Paris by night. Photo credit: Kim Gradek

3) Quebec City, Canada : Longing for Paris but can’t cross the Atlantic ?  No worries, Quebec City will take you back in time to the most romantic ages. Opt for a “caleche” (horse carriage) ride through Quebec’s Historic town that dates back to the 18th century.  Then leisurely stroll through the Quartier Petit Champlain, where boutiques, cafés, art galleries and adorable restaurants line the winding streets. If the frosty weather is getting to you, head up to the Dufferin Terrace boardwalk for a panoramic view of the St Lawrence river, before stepping into the city’s rococo landmark, the Fairmount Le Château Frontenac, to warm up by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate.

Quebec City streets at night, with the historic Chateau Frontenac on the hilltop

4) Napa Valley, California, USA : If the scenery alone isn’t enough to make you fall head over heels in love, the wine and food are sure to awaken your senses. California’s wine country is a treasure trove of romantic spots. And the Napa Valley has a few jewels that shine brighter than the rest. Be warned however, these jewels come don’t come cheap! Perched on Angwin Mountain, Cade winery‘s breathtaking view is second to none in the northern valley. Take advantage of it and sample delicious wines in an intimate interior decor or step outside to admire the splendors the terrace has to offer. Then, head over to Yountville for a visual feast and late afternoon tasting at the casually chic art gallery Ma(i)sonry. Finally, reserve a table at the Restaurant at Meadowood: you’re sure to be in for a treat! Chef Kostow and his brigade will leave your taste buds in awe.

Tasting Room at Cade winery - Angwin, Napa Valley, California. Photo Credit: Kim Gradek

5) Girona, Spain : Even though the Spaniards celebrate their romantic holiday in April, here’s a city who has it all and is the ideal romantic destination. Nestled away between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea, Girona’s charm is almost indescribable. A walk along the historic city’s walls will allow you to glimpse into the city’s rich cultural baggage. Also known as one of the main sources of world gastronomical creation, Girona is home to the second best restaurant in the world: El Celler de Can Roca.  History, amazing food and Spanish warmth, what more could one ask for? Great music! So be sure to stop by Lola Café and let the sounds of flamenco invade you as they revive your romance and passion.

Balconies at night in Girona, Spain

Photos by: LWY (Quebec City) and MarimbaJLamesa (Girona)

Holiday Travel: Don’t Miss The Magic of German Christmas Markets!

22 Dec

German Christmas Market. Photo by: gravitat~on

The days are getting colder and all is slowly turning white. If you’re traveling (hopefully by bus!) between now and early January, Germany has the perfect way to keep you warm and merry during the holiday season: the “Christkindlmarkt”.

The country’s bustling outdoor Christmas markets have been around since the Middle Ages and are an absolute must-see when in Germany! Every city’s square becomes a maze of stalls stocked with hand-crafted ornaments, unique gifts and local delicacies. Sweet perfumes of gingerbread and hearty aromas of roasting sausages entice your appetite, while the mulled wine is sure to keep you jolly through the night!

A Christmas Treat: Aachener Printens, Christmas Market, Germany. Photo by: Kim Gradek

More than six dozen markets spruce up around the country every year. To make your life easier we’ve selected a few based on history, charm and yummy treats. Even better, all are accessible by bus!

Nuremburg

As tradition has had it since 1628, a “Christkind” (a young woman dressed up as an angel) opens the Christmas bazaar on the first Advent at the end of November. With its 180 candy-cane striped wooden stalls, Nuremburg’s Christmas Market is famous for its delicious gingerbread cookies and fruit loaves, as well as beautiful Christmas tree ornaments, candles and prune-people! Visit the official website for details.

Nuremburg Christmas Market’s Famous Prune People. Photo by: Charley

Stuttgart

Attracting millions of visitors each year, Stuttgart’s winter wonderland is also not to be missed! The Christmas market is one of the largest and loveliest in Europe with over 200 stalls decorated down to the tee, a tradition that has been emphasized for the last 300 years. Unique specialties include Spätzle, a thick hand made noodles served with cheese sauce and Schupfnudeln, a delicious hash-brown served with apple sauce. Visit the official website for details.

Little houses to decorate for the village under your Christmas tree, one of many Christmas gift ideas available at Stuttgart’s Christmas Market, in Germany. Photo by: David Blackwell

Monschau

Just a few kilometres over the Belgian border and surrounded by the Eiffel Hills is one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Monschau’s Christmas market is quite small, but that shouldn’t stop you from strolling through the stone-paved streets, completely falling under the charm of its wooden buildings, tasting their exquisite mustard, and indulging in their chocolate treats in cafés around the village. Visit the official website for details.

Kim looking like Rod Stewart at Monschau’s Christmas Market in 2010

Photos by gravitat~on, charley1965 and David Blackwell. on Flickr.

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