A Visit to Krakow!

 

Kraków is a beautiful cultural city in southern Poland best known for its well-preserved medieval buildings and Jewish quarter, as well as many other wonderful sights.

Wawel Dragon

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As folklore goes,  the Dragon of Wawel Hill lived in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill on the bank of the Vistula River in Kraków. The Wawel Dragon Statue can be seen at the foot of the Wawel Hill in front of its den and actually breathes real fire!

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 St. Mary’s Basilica sits in the Main Square in Kraków and was founded in 1221–22 by the Bishop of Kraków. The original building does not exist as it was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of Poland. Although a new church was built on the remaining foundations between 1290–1300, it was again completely rebuilt between 1355 and 1365. Many additions have been added inside and out over the years and the final Basilica built in the neo-Gothic design is stunning today.

 

Wieliczka Salt Mine

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The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the only mine in the world to run continuously since it was first mined in the Middle Ages. Today, the mine is both a monument and an art gallery where you will find historical tunnels, vast chambers,  reliefs, chapels and freestanding sculptures carved from the salt rock walls. There are even chandeliers carved entirely out of the walls of rock salt as well as a large underground lake.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

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The images above are a chilling reminder of the Holocaust and the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps which lie just over 50 kilometers west of Kraków in the small town of Oswiecim.  It was established in 1940 and originally constructed to hold Polish political prisoners before becoming a site of the Nazi extermination of Jews transported to the camp by train from all over German occupied Europe. At the very least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz including Jews, non-Jewish Poles, Roma and Sinti people, Soviet POWs and many others from different nations. Since the war ended, the site has been preserved as a museum and memorial, receiving over a million visitors a year. To visit Auschwitz-Birkenau can be a very upsetting and moving experience, but maybe a necessity to be reminded to never let it happen again.

Wawel Cathedral

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The Wawel Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church situated on Wawel Hill in Kraków, Poland and was first constructed in the 11th century. The present gothic Cathedral is actually the third construction on the site as the first and second were destroyed in the 11th and 12th century respectively.  The Wawel Cathedral has been the main coronation and burial site for Polish monarchs since the 14th century and has been significantly extended to house additional burial chapels.

Old Town

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Kraków Old Town is the historic medieval central district of Kraków and one of the first sites chosen for the UNESCO’s original World Heritage List. The Main Market Square in the Old town is one of the biggest squares in Europe and has an abundance of horse and carriage rides to enjoy.

Soak up the atmosphere and embark on a truly extraordinary experience in Kraków.

 

 

 

 

 

Monaco must be one of your stops

Monaco is a sovereign city state that is situated in Southern Europe. Monaco has much to offer visitors. There are so many thrilling sites to see there. It is also known for its glitzy casinos and its yacht-lined harbour. It is truly a mesmerising place to visit. Many of our tours stop there such as The Principalities of Europe by Insight Vacations. Here you will find the list of things to visit in Monaco.

The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium in Monaco

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Photo credit: jeffwilcox via Foter.com / CC BY

This was established by the scientist prince Albert I in 1910. It is one of the fascinating must-see spots in Monaco, especially if you like aquariums. This place has everything, you can see there numerous species you have never seen in your lifetime. You can discover the fantastic mix of sea life, art and historical artifacts. Likewise, if you go there, it offers a nice rooftop view, a new playground as well as a cafe. Moreover, this is a very easy museum and aquarium to get through and children can wander around at their leisure. So, you will have a good time exploring the aquariums there. You will see some very exotic and large fish.

Monte-Carlo Casino

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Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis) (70M Views) via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

This Grand Casino is a luxury palace located in the central quarter of the principality of Monaco. This Casino is made up of gorgeous architecture and stained glass. It is set in a formal garden and can give you splendid views over Monaco. Therefore, if you like to play games, the atmosphere is full of richness and glamour there. Inside this beautiful building, it’s extraordinarily lavish. There is a wide range of table games like the « Salons Privés », « Salle des Amériques » and « Les Supers Privés ». Besides, there are the usual slot machines to try. Apart from that, if you want to explore some other beautiful sites in Monte Carlo, you can rent a luxury car at gpluxurycarhire, it helps you to complement the visit.

The Exotic Garden of Monaco

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                               Photo credit: seanavigatorsson via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

In French, this spot is called « Jardin Exotique de Monaco ». It is located in the principality of Monaco on the Mediterranean coast between Nice and Menton. The garden contains lots of tropical plant life and had a nice layout that allows you to leisurely stroll through to enjoy everything. This garden worth a visit as you will see hundreds of cacti and succulents. Furthermore, you can get amazing views across Monaco there. Many different vistas and plenty of seats are found there as well. After making a tour of the garden, there is a large cavern that you can visit at the bottom of the garden. The cavern is full of stalactites, stalagmites, curtains and columns that you can discover.

Some genuine yachts to see in Monaco

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Photo credit: chris nelson dot ca via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

This whole city is beautifully clean and picturesque with tons of enviable yachts. There, you can see at least 4 of the top yachts in the world at any one time. For a case in point, you can uncover the Silver Fast, the Solandge, the Twizzle and the super yacht I Dynasty. The luxury of the yachts in Monaco is unbelievable. You can attend the Monaco Yacht Show where some of the newest luxury yachts are on display. You can even wander round the fantastic yachts and super yachts in this city.

In this way, you should not miss out all these places. There are lots of things you can do in Monaco such as admiring the Oceanographic Museum. It is a great opportunity to visit Monte Carlo that has an elegant casino as well. Additionally, you can spend a few leisurely moments at the Exotic Garden.

Solo Travelling!

holiday-1260208_960_720Travelling alone gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully and not be concerned what other people want to do.

norway-772991_960_720People also often say that “meeting new and different people” is one of the reasons they love travelling alone.

abstract-1239389_960_720Travelling on a coach tour is by far the easiest way to do this, as well as enjoying all the other benefits of a holiday designed to cater for your every need.

coach-tours-trafalgar-trips-world-wideFor example. a coach tour with Trafalgar on their ‘European Highlights’ tour gives you all this:

Dining Highlights6 hot buffet breakfasts.
3 dinners.
First class travel HighlightsLuxury air-conditioned coach with WiFi in most countries or alternative transportation (such as rail journeys)
Hand-picked 4 and 5 star accommodation
Hand-picked Insider Experiences
Optional Experiences and free time
All porterage and restaurant gratuities
Must-see sightseeing and surprise extras
An expert Travel Director and separate Driver
All hotel tips, charges and local taxes
VIP entry to many sights
Audio Headsets for flexible sightseeing
Ferry from Dover to Calais.
Ferry from Calais to Dover

Guided holidays are a hassle-free and enjoyable way for you to discover your destination if you’re travelling solo.

However, travelling alone can also mean the dreaded ‘single supplement’ which can put people off.

You can avoid it altogether by booking with a tour operator that offers roommate matching, or still have a single room with a reduced fee.

A double bed in a London hotel

Trafalgar offer solo travellers a 50-100% discount on their standard single supplements on selected trip departures.

For example, you could get the whole 100% discount with their Italian Holiday (ITIH) – 7 days tour starting on the 15 Apr 16.

 Cosmos also have some great offers on their holidays for single travellers.

Cosmos also have a single share option where you share a twin room with a fellow traveller of the same gender.

As an added bonus, Cosmos will let you enjoy a single room to yourself at no extra cost if there is not another single traveller on your tour.

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If you are travelling with Expat Explore on your own, they provide a room share with another traveller of the same gender as standard.

If, however, you would prefer the privacy of your own room, you can upgrade to a private single room with private bathroom for the duration of your tour.

Expat Explore prices are so reasonable that the extra cost won’t hurt so much!

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In the end one becomes many…………….

Celebrating Easter Around the World!

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Wow – Easter is nearly upon us again so why not find out how Easter is celebrated all over the world.

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In Britain, a lot of Churches hold special Good Friday services. Congregations are sometimes led to the church by a person carrying a large wooden cross in respects to that Jesus died on a cross on Good Friday.

Many people go to Church on Palm Sunday to celebrate Easter, and often receive a small cross made of palm leaves which have been blessed.

A famous British Easter tradition is the giving out of ‘Maundy Money’ by the Queen on Maundy Thursday, by giving little purses of money to a few chosen men and women. Past tradition included reigning monarchs washing the feet of the poor to remember that Jesus washed his disciples feet before the Last Supper.

Decorating Easter Eggs is a common tradition in Britain. Henry VIII was the first person in Britain to receive an official Easter Egg from the Pope!

In York, traditional Passion Plays are still performed for the public in the Old English language as they were first performed during medieval times.

Britain also likes to indulge in many unusual sports. From pancake races and barrel kicking matches, to egg-rolling competitions!

 

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In France, Church Bells do not ring on Good Friday or Easter Saturday.

Boxwood branches are sometimes used instead of palm leaves and put over doors in houses to bring good luck to the people in the house.

A few Easter games are played in France including Easter egg hunts. Another game is where children each take a raw egg and roll them down a hill (simulating the stone rolling from Jesus’ tomb), the child whose egg travels the farthest without breaking is the winner.

 

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In Germany, the Priest sometimes rides to the Palm Sunday service on a Donkey!

In the weeks before Easter, Germany gets ready for a new season by displaying spring flowers on traditional “Easter trees.

The custom of boiling and painting eggs began in Germany; the bright colors represent sunlight and growth, the symbols of new life.

On Easter Saturday evening, Easter bonfires will be lit in the north of Germany, chasing away the dark spirits of winter and welcoming the warm spring season.

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Easter is treated as a very important celebration in Spain, with the whole of Holy Week often being a holiday.

On Ash Wednesday, as a way of saying sorry to God, people have a cross made of ash put on their foreheads.

On Maundy Thursday, there is a special ‘Dance of Death’ performed by men dressed as skeletons in Verges, Gerona.

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting for some, and most people go to mass in the morning on Palm Sunday, .

Many towns and cities in Spain celebrate Easter with processions using highly decorated floats through the streets at night.

In southern Spain, the processions are often accompanied by drums being beaten by the local boys. The most famous and biggest processions are held in Seville.

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On Easter Day in Italy, the Pope conducts a very large Mass Service in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican City.

The service is broadcast all over the world and is seen as a place of Pilgrimage to Catholics.

Olive Branches are often used instead of Palm leaves in the Palm Sunday services and celebrations, .

In Venice, there is a big Mardi Gras festival at the start of Lent.

On Good Friday, more than 2,000 friars dressed in ancient costumes walk through the streets of Enna, in Sicily.

Touring Weather! Check the climate and the season to prepare for your tour of Europe.

Europe  probably has a wider range of weather conditions than anywhere else on earth.

Europe is home to huge mountains and vast lakes and rivers, and is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, resulting in a diverse array of weather conditions which are changeable all year round.

Touring Europe is also something you can do all year round, so knowing the weather conditions of some of the places you may visit would be a bonus.

Look below for weather information on some of the most popular places to visit in Europe:

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England – London

The UK is well known for its unsettled weather conditions where many types of weather can be experienced in one day. However, England does tend to have warmer temperatures throughout the year than the rest of the UK, with the sunniest month being in July. It rains on less days throughout the year than other areas in the UK, with the driest month being May. Strong gales are also not as common in England, while the  prevailing wind direction for the UK is normally the south-west.

Weather in London

Germany – Berlin

Germany can have cold, cloudy, wet winters and moderate warm to cool summers.  In the north and northwest of Germany, the climate is extremely oceanic and rain can fall all through the year.  In the east, the climate reflects the continental and has very cold winters for long periods, and warm summers. In the centre and the south, Winters are mild and summers quite cool. Berlin has a Maritime temperate climate and a mild continental climate due to its inland position, with winter frosts being quite common.
 
Weather in Berlin

Greece – Athens

 Greece’s climate is Mediterranean with hot and dry summers and quite cold and wet winters. The north of Greece can be very cold during the winter with even snow being common in the higher mountains. In the south of Greece and the islands, the winters will be much milder. Summers in Greece are usually very hot, especially in July and August where temperatures can reach 30 to 35°C, and even 40°C and more.

Weather in Athens

Italy – Rome

Italy has various climate systems depending on whether you are in the north or south. The northern areas of Italy have a humid subtropical climate compared to the south which has a more Mediterranean climate. The north and south can also have considerable differences in temperature, especially during the winter. Rome has a more Mediterranean climate with cool winters and hot summers, with January the coldest month and July and August the warmest. The best time to travel to Rome is in the springtime, between March and May, and Autumn, in September and October.

Weather in Rome

Parks & Gardens of Paris!

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Embracing the wonderful beauty of a landscaped garden is sheer heaven to the soul.

Whether you want to admire some awe inspiring sculptures or just take in the surrounding beauty, a walk through a park or the landscaped gardens of a grand building takes some beating.

Now, add the fact that you can find them in Paris, and you have a good idea on what a perfect experience can be.

Find below some truly wonderful places to visit on your next trip to Paris:

Parc Monceau

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Parc Monceau

Parc Monceau is a public park situated in Paris at the junction of Rue de Prony, Boulevard de Courcelles and Rue Georges Berger. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset and has extended hours in the summer months. There are actually nine gated entrances to the park looked after by a park watchman who lives above the north entrance.

The park was established by Phillippe d’Orléans, the Duke of Chartres who was a cousin of King Louis XVI, as well as a a close friend of the Prince of Wales, later George IV. As a consequence, he loved all things English and so designed the park as an ‘English garden’.

The park includes a collection of scaled-down architectural masonic references (Philippe d’Orléans was a leading freemason) which include, amongst many, an Egyptian pyramid and Chinese fort. There are also a number of statues of famous figures including a beautiful statue of the famous musician  Frédéric Chopin, sculpted in 1906 by Jacques Froment Thomas.

 

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Parc Monceau

Jardin du Luxembourg

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Jardin du Luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg or Luxembourg Garden was first created in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici for the Luxembourg Palace.

The garden is known for its tree-lined promenades, lavish lawns and flowerbeds, the Medici Fountain and its large octagonal basin of water where you  an sail model boats.

There is also a playground and vintage carousel, as well as live music seating to while away an afternoon.

The garden also houses over a hundred monuments, fountains and statues which include figures of French queens and  Famous women and saints.

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Jardin du Luxembourg

Jardin des Plantes

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Jardin des Plantes

The Jardin des Plantes in Paris is the main botanical garden in France. It was founded in 1626, and first planted as a medicinal herb garden in 1635 by Guy de La Brosse, Louis XIII’s physician.

 The Jardin des Plantes includes four galleries of the Muséum: the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, the Paleontology Museum, the Entomology Museum and the Mineralogy Museum.

It also houses a small zoo, Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes which was founded in 1795 by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre.

From the Alpine Garden to the Rose Garden, this botanical garden has it all!

 

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Jardin des Plantes

Palace of Versailles

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Palace of Versailles

If you fancy venturing out a little further from Paris, the Palace of Versailles and its opulent gardens is just a 20-minute ride away on the local RER line.

Famous because of Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, this palace has up to five million visitors per year and its vast grounds attract over six million.

 The construction of the Palace and its gardens lasted through three different reigns, from Louis XIV to Louis XVI, and undergone five major re-plantations.

Indeed, in 1774-1775 Louis XVI ordered  a complete replanting of the gardens.

 The entire grounds of Versailles now cover some 800 hectares of landscaped land.

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Palace of Versailles