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Planning for the Perfect Family Getaway? Consider These 5 Schengen Countries

Travel Blog - Ross French - July 8, 2019

Time spent with people who matter is time well spent. And on top of this list is our family. But given our demanding work schedule these days, we barely get quality time with our loved ones. That is why, taking time out and going for a family vacation is an excellent way to cement bonds, courtesy sharing loads of experiences with them in a new destination.

So, if you too are planning to take your family for a wholesome vacation abroad any time soon, then we suggest taking them to the Schengen countries. With just a single visa, you will able to explore many fantastic European destinations and will enjoy diverse experiences.

Also, since, all the Schengen countries are well connected through local transport itself, that will ensure you can travel from one country to another with much ease.

However, before you decide on which Schengen country/countries to visit, make sure to apply for a Schengen visa well in advance. Also, in addition to this, it is advisable that you buy travel insurance for Schengen visa in India, as that will keep you covered against any unnecessary expenses arising due to various challenges during the trip.

So, now let’s share about four such Schengen countries that can be perfect for your family getaway plan.

1. Greece

Greece is one of the most stunning places in Europe. Having the second largest coastline in the continent, it has picturesque harbors and offers mesmerizing sunsets. So, this place can be your perfect beach holiday. Moreover, if you’re traveling with your children, then there are also many kids-friendly beaches here that have shallow waters and sheltered bays.

Not just that, Greece also has magnificent mountain ranges and dramatic gorges, where you and your family can enjoy hiking. After some adventure, you can also explore tiny villages having a unique charm of their own here. Few must-see places here include Meteora, a collection of six monasteries on top a rock structure, Santorini beach, and Mount Athos.

2. Switzerland

Stunning vistas await you in every corner of this beautiful country of Switzerland. Moreover, with world-class train system to ferry you from one place to another, and a very secure environment, you can be reassured of your loved one’s safety and convenience too. You and your loved ones can also enjoy adventure sports in Switzerland’s many skiing resorts and hiking trails. You can also go to Interlaken, another paradise in this place or visit the famous cities of Zurich and Geneva.

When in this iconic country, do see the Matterhorn mountains, Jungfraujoch– the top of Europe and, Lucerne, a medieval old town here. Oh, and make sure that you also enjoy Swizz chocolates to the fullest while in the country.

3. Spain

Spain is a destination that will surely leave your family, especially kids in high spirits. From its Mediterranean coastline where you can relax in Barcelona which has many exciting museums for you to explore, you will have lots to do here.

You can also stroll through the many quaint villages, castles, and cities here and soak in their beauty. Spain also offers travelers a chance to experience and witness horse shows, flamenco shows, fiestas and interactive museums, which can mean great fun for your kids and you. A few places that you must include in your itinerary here include the Madrid: The Golden Triangle of Arts Museum, Seville, the city with beautiful neighborhoods and the La Sagrada Familia, the famous Basilica in Barcelona.

4. Belgium

One of the smallest countries in Europe, Belgium has more than just chocolates and waffles to delight you. From Bruges canals to castles and Antwerp, Belgium is alive and exciting. There are many places like the Botanical garden of Kruidtuin, the animal park of Pairi Daza which are good places to explore with your kids. You can even visit Musuemschip Amandine, which is a ship where you can see how seamen live.

For some adventurous fun, you can enjoy cycling and sailing in Ardennes, and if you visit during winters, then do see Bruges’s Christmas market. Moreover, if you like historic places, then Belgium also has 13 UNESCO sites which you can explore during your stay here.

Enjoy Your Vacation Without Any Worries

Going for a vacation means that you should leave all your worries and tensions behind you. However, traveling to foreign locations has its share of unexpected challenges that may play a spoilsport for you. Moreover, European countries are expensive also due to their stronger currency. That is why we suggest that you buy travel insurance for Schengen visa in India so that any challenge such as loss of passport or relevant documents and flight cancellation does not cause a dent in your pocket.

Having travel insurance for Schengen visa in India means that no matter which Schengen country you visit, you will be covered for expenses arising from such challenges. You can easily buy this policy online from reputable insurers like tataaig.com that also cover you for bounced hotel and airline bookings, flight delay for more than 12 hours due to certain specific reasons among several other benefits.

So, before you fly off to any such exotic location, buy a travel insurance policy and keep worries at bay.

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Enjoy Authentic Greek Cuisine at These 4 Destinations

Travel Blog, Travel Tips - Ross French - June 26, 2019

In Greece, both the sun and sea work together to open your horizons to all kinds of experiences; especially when it comes to discovering new tastes, aroma, and food combinations. Featuring a unique ensemble of Mediterranean cuisine, local produce, and fine spirits, the Greek archipelago offers an enormous repertoire of flavourful dishes that have evolved.

From traditional or modern, regional or Panhellenic, to sophisticated or straightforward, here’s are some places where you can discover authentic Greek cuisine in all its manifestations.

Combining the Flavours of Sun and Sea – The Aegean

The Aegean is one of the world’s largest island groups, each one of which features a specific microclimate.

The microclimate, in turn, contributes to the creation of a unique culinary paradise, not to be found elsewhere. We have the cuisine of the Cyclades, which is primordial and has a deep cultural connect. Some of the famous recipes with a distinctive character and heady aromas are:

  • Kassian pilaf
  • Aegean ‘makarounes’ (or hand-made fresh pasta with caramelized onions)
  • Sgardoumia (or offal soup from the island of Santorini)
  • Marathotiganites (or fennel rissoles from Serifos)
  • Dolmadakia made with herbs and vine leaves
  • Melitera (or sweet cheese pies with vanilla from Anafi)
  • Melopita (or the famous honey pie from the island of Sifnos)

A Taste of The Cosmopolitan – The Ionian Islands

The flavors at the Ionian Islands have distinctive characters and fascinating Italian origins. The trademark of the cuisine here is ‘savoro,’ which means sour and is a combination of rosemary and vinegar. Savoro is widely used to season and preserve both fish and vegetables.

Then we have the local favorite of ‘bourdetto,’ which is essentially the scorpion fish prepared in a red-hot spicy tomato sauce. When in the Ionian Islands, you can also explore other distinctively lip-smacking recipes including:

  • Strapatsada (or scrambled eggs with feta cheese and tomato)
  • Tsigareli (or cabbage/wild greens cooked in a spicy tomato sauce)
  • Ppastitsio this nonas (or mince and baked pasta with béchamel sauce topping)
  • Bakaliaros me agiada (essentially de-salted preserved codfish fillets prepared in a ‘skordalia’ garlic sauce)

The flavor of these recipes is increased tenfold with superb beverages such as kumquat liqueur and ginger beer. That said, don’t forget to finish off a delicious meal with mouth-watering Greek desserts such as ‘pantespani’ (syrup-soaked sponge cakes), ‘pasteli’ (sesame seed and honey bars) and ‘mandola’ nougat.

Experience the Elixir of Life – Crete

The island of Crete is a popular tourist destination in the Mediterranean, boasting of seductive natural landscapes and vibrant culture. That said, the island also features some of the most satisfying authentic Greek gastronomic experiences.

Therefore, when in Crete, be sure to discover the secrets of Cretan cuisine through a culinary tour of popular towns of Chania, Heraklion, Rethymno, Ierapetra, and Siteia.

Some of the most popular and authentic Greek recipes that you can relish in Crete include:

  • Chania pilaf rice (traditionally prepared with rooster)
  • Ofto (or roasted baby goat)
  • Fresh Greek salads
  • Dakos (or barley rusks cooked with soft white cheese, fresh tomato, and olive oil)

Enjoy the Magic of Cooking – The Dodecanese

At the heart of the Dodecanese islands, the culinary palette of Rhodes (the island of the Knights), Karpathos, Patmos, and Kastelorizo is a rich amalgamation of bold flavors and rustic origins. Over time, while the recipes have evolved to incorporate a variety of Eastern Mediterranean flavor profiles, they still have pretty straightforward preparations.

The real magic of authentic Dodecanese cuisine is best experienced through the following recipes:

  • Boukounies (or pork prepared in various herbs)
  • Xerotigana (or fried spiral pastries in honey or syrup)
  • Pastelaries (or dried figs with sesame seeds and almonds)

The Flavours of the Mediterranean are Best Explored in Greece

When it comes to combining quality ingredients with centuries of culinary knowledge, there is no match to the Greek cuisine. In Greece, dining is not just about having a multi-course meal. Instead, it is about coming together and sharing a meal with family and friends, in a casual and pleasant affair.

While there is no lack of fancy restaurants or exquisite seaside settings in Greece, some of the most authentic and flavourful food can be enjoyed inside no-frills places and humble downtown taverns.

If you too wish to experience authentic Greek cuisines in their original setting, be sure to check out the archipelago of Greece in its entirety.

To maximize your trip experience, you can start with finalizing your itinerary and making a list of towns and cities you plan to visit during your trip. It is equally crucial to create a financial budget for the vacation and purchase an overseas travel insurance policy to extend an additional layer of financial protection against any contingency.

With the help of overseas travel insurance; therefore, you can not only tackle any unexpected medical treatment expenses but also avail benefits such as coverage of trip cancellations, the total loss of checked-in baggage and loss of passport.

Just like you have a delicious pie or refreshing ice-cream to finish off a satisfying meal, buying overseas travel insurance too serves as a fitting endpoint for your travel preparations.

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Top 4 Cruise Destinations for Globetrotters in 2019

Travel Tips - Ross French - April 25, 2019

Have you been initiated into the beautiful world of cruises already? If you have, we know that you must be on the lookout for your next cruise destination. There is a plethora of options today that might end up leaving you confused for days together. Whether you are interested in wilderness cruises in the Arctic or beach cruises, in cultural journeys or adventure-packed ones, all you need to do to find a good cruise deal is research enough. Here, we have listed down four of the most popular cruise destinations for globetrotters in 2019 to give you some inspiration:

1. The Caribbean

It is undoubtedly the most famous cruise destination in the world and sees millions of tourists flock the region in cruise ships around the year. Apart from being an exhilarating experience, it also offers great value for money since you can visit different islands without having to fret about other things such as flight tickets, visas, accommodation etc. The best time to visit the Caribbean on a cruise is between the months of November and May, and avoid travelling between December to March if you don’t like too much crowd since it is the peak season.

2. Alaska

Alaska is truly the epitome of natural beauty on Earth, with its spectacular scenery, wildlife and glaciers. There will not be a single moment on this cruise where you will not be left awestruck by the vistas of the biggest state in the United States. This cruise will take you around some beautiful spectacular fjords and glaciers as well as mountains alongside Alaska’s coastline. Most routes here begin from Vancouver and go all the way up to Juneau, which is the fun capital of Alaska. The best time to head on a cruise to Alaska is between early May to mid-September, with June to August being the peak season.

3. The Mediterranean

Who doesn’t love Southern Europe for some sun, sand and the sea and one of the best ways to enjoy this is by taking a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. There is an abundance of natural beauty in this region which will leave you awestruck and wanting to dive deep into the rich cultural heritage of this region. Whether you visit Italy or Spain, the Greek islands or tiny Malta, this cruise will definitely prove to be one of the most unforgettable experiences of a lifetime.

4. Hawaii

Say ‘Aloha’ to what will be the most fun week you ever spend on water, and maybe even on land. Hawaiian cruises have been known for decades as a fun trip around an archipelago of eight main islands. A cruise will let you soak in the wild natural beauty of the islands of Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau and Kahoolawe. If you think the offerings of each island will be similar to the other, you are mistaken.

Seasickness is a thing of the past when you head out for a cruise vacation to any of the above mentioned destinations! So, prepare yourself for a week of sightseeing, fun and luxury as you pack your bags for your next cruise!

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5 Unique Experiences You Can Find in Las Vegas

Travel Blog - Ross French - April 1, 2019

Though Las Vegas is famous for its casinos, Sin City is home to so many other amazing attractions. From shows and sporting events to five-star dining experiences and some really awesome museums, there are all sorts of things to do and see in Sin City. Throwing a few bucks in a slot machine is part of the Vegas experience, but that shouldn’t be the only thing you do while you are in town – especially when there are so many other interesting things to check out. Here are just a few of the many unique experiences you can find in Las Vegas.

1. The Neon Museum

Las Vegas is famous for the bright lights lining the Strip. Once an iconic sign is removed, though, it often makes its way to The Neon Museum. Founded in 1996, it is unique sport serves as a repository for all sorts of Sin City history. The Neon Boneyard is filled with old signs from famous places like the Stardust, Golden Nugget, and Caesar’s Palace – some of which are lit up during the evening hours. Tours are available seven days a week, and you can choose from a self-guided tour, an hour-long guided tour, or a private tour.

Be sure to check out the gift shop, too. There you will find all sorts of souvenirs inspired by the bright lights of Las Vegas.

2. Vegas Indoor Skydiving

If you’ve ever wanted to try skydiving but weren’t thrilled about the prospect of jumping out of an airplane, you have to check out Vegas Indoor Skydiving. There you can experience the sensation of freefalling without actually having to dive from a plane when you are thousands of feet in the air. It’s an awesome, adrenaline-pumping experience that provides all of the thrills with a lot less risk.

Once you suit up and complete a basic instruction course, you’ll be taken into a padded wind tunnel to take flight. Inside the tunnel, you jump over a powerful DC-3 propeller that creates wind speeds of up to 120 miles per hour. The powerful engine keeps you afloat and creates the sensation of freefalling. If you want to skydive while remaining a lot closer to the ground, Vegas Indoor Skydiving is a unique experience that can’t be missed.

3. The Barbershop

The Barbershop is a Las Vegas bar with a little something extra. Instead of just serving up tasty cocktails, it also provides stylish haircuts to its patrons. Located inside The Cosmopolitan, it’s part upscale bar and part barbershop. It has the vibe of a probation-era speakeasy and is home to some of the city’s best barbers and bartenders.

In true speakeasy fashion, the entrance to The Barbershop is tucked away out of site, and entry is elusive. Once you’re inside, you can enjoy a cut or a shave while sipping on your favorite beverage. Whether you’re in the mood for a cocktail, craft beer, or whiskey, the skilled bartenders are ready to serve up exactly what you’re craving in an atmosphere that is truly unique.

4. Exotics Racing

A trip to Exotics Racing is a must for anyone who has a need for speed. The original, largest, and best-rated supercar driving experience allows guests to pick from more than 23 racecars and 50 exotic cars. Whether you’re in the mood to try out a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, or just about any other high-end car you can think of, Exotics Racing will let you get behind the wheel and live out your driving dreams.

When you visit, you’ll first attend a briefing and learn how to best drive on the track. Next, you will ride along with a lead instructor in a Porsche SUV to see the track in person. The instructor will demonstrate the techniques you learned during your training session to ensure that you know what to do when it’s your turn to get behind the wheel. You’ll then be introduced to your personal instructor, who will accompany you during your driving experience. He or she will be there to help you take full advantage of the car and ensure that you stay safe.

All participants receive a certificate of completion after their racing experiences. You can also choose to invest in extras like drifting ride-alongs, onboard video, and additional laps. If you have a valid drivers license and a need for speed, make sure Exotics Racing is on your Las Vegas to-do list!

5. Shark Reef Aquarium

Get up close and personal with more than 2,000 creatures at Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Home to sea turtles, a Komodo dragon, sharks, giant rays, and much, much more, this large aquarium also has an Animal Encounters program that allows visitors to get up close to feed stingrays, sharks, and sea turtles.
If you really want an exciting experience, though, you have to check out the Dive with Sharks program. This exhibit gives certified divers the opportunity to dive with a higher concentration of sharks than they would ever find in the wild. There are more than 30 sharks of various species, including sandbar, sand tiger, and white tip reef sharks. Participants in this once-in-a-lifetime dive get a guided tour of the aquarium, an exhibit and equipment orientation session with a dive guide, and memorable dive experience. Divers also receive a video of their dive and up to four guest admissions so friends and family members can watch.

Conclusion

Las Vegas may be well known for the glitz and glamor of the casinos, but they aren’t the only places worth visiting in Sin City. No matter what you are interested in, the city provides unique entertainment options for people of all ages. The unique experiences listed above are just a few of the many activities that you can enjoy while you are in town. There are countless things to do and sights to see. Stop by the concierge desk at your hotel to find out about the most unique things to check out on your vacation.

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5 Best Destinations to go Island Hopping

Caribbean, Travel Blog, Travel Tips - Ross French - January 24, 2019

Island hopping is a buzzing trend in the world of sea lovers where people go from one island to the other to reach the sea. The thrill of going from one place to other, covering all the islands in an archipelago, using different transportation systems – from boats to ferries, cars and airplanes – makes it a must-try for most lovers of the beach and sun. If you decide to go on an Island hopping holiday, make sure you choose your destination carefully.

Read on to know about five top places where you can do island hopping and have lots of fun with friends and family.

1. Greece

One of the most beautiful countries in the world, Greece works well for island hopping as well. The country comes with a number of beautiful islands like Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, Zante, Corfu, and so many more, which are bound to make your vacation prettier and happier. You can choose your itinerary as per your passions – go for the food or the iconic mythology – and enjoy the sun and the sea on one of the oldest civilisations in the world.

2. Caribbean Islands

One of the most popular destinations for island hopping, the Caribbean offers you a lot in terms of exploration. You can take a cruise or visit places like San Juan, Orcas Island, Guadeloupe and many more on your vacation. The sandy beaches and the turquoise water, mixed with the exquisite appeal of the local culture and traditions make the Caribbean a must add on your island hopping bucket list.

3. Fiji

No place in the world is better for island hopping than Fiji. Complete with over 300 plus islands, Fiji has a number of ferry/boat options to go through these islands and make your trip real fun. You can enjoy different cities and locales of the country if you opt for a combined set of places you want to visit. The blue, clear waters and the sand along with coral reefs make Fiji every bit as instagrammable as you imagine. You can also enjoy activities like snorkeling, surfing, etc. on your trip.

4. Florida

Florida Keys is the answer to all your queries if you want to go island hopping in the United States. The islands are perfect for a number of fun activities in the sea from scuba diving to snorkeling. The bonus are the beauteous Floridan sunsets. You may prefer to take a ferry which will make your trip even more magical. You can visit places like Islamorada, Dry Tortugas, Key West and Key Largo during your island hopping here.

5. Scotland

As with everything else in the country, the Scottish islands are a wonderful treat to all lovers of nature. There are around 800 islands, grouped in four parts – Shetland, Inner Hebrides, Orkney and Outer Hebrides, however, it is not exactly a tropical experience. The best thing about Scotland is the fact that you can drive around in your car, in some cases, from one island to another, which is good for travellers on a shoestring budget. Ferries also go from place to place, so be sure to check that out.

One of the best ways to enjoy island hopping and reduce costs is to have a big group. So, get out with your besties and go to the beach this year!

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