Travel your five senses to a Greek summertale

Apr 15, 2016 by

Travel your five senses to a Greek summertale

When thinking about holidays each person has their own preferences and priorities. However, it is safe to say that the general consensus definition of a good holiday must satisfy most, if not all, your senses.

Your holiday should be abundant in beautiful visuals, aromas, scents and flavours; it should be full of exciting sensations brought about by entertainment options and location exploration; it should leave you utterly replenished, completely recharged and full of tactile memories.

The choice of destination greatly depends on the type of vacation you are after; you may want an all-out luxurious holiday featuring spectacular views, or a high-energy holiday that entails blowing-off some steam, or alternatively you may want ultimate relaxation, away from the noise and commotion of daily life. The Mediterranean offers this, and much more, in the heart of its own. Greek destinations are leading the way for offering individual travellers experience-filled holidays.

See, Hear, Smell, Taste, and Feel the best of Greece

There are three destinations that will tantalise your senses: two islands, Mykonos and Santorini, that are in close proximity to one another and connected by air and sea, and Halkidiki located in the Northeast mainland of Greece, accessed via Thessaloniki.

Processed as legendary Fuji Velvia 50 using VSCO Film

Processed as legendary Fuji Velvia 50 using VSCO Film

Mykonos – The party island

The ‘island of winds’, as it is known amongst locals, has been a favourite for celebrities and high-profile visitors for the past 60 years at least. As trends change with time, Mykonos always keeps up, meeting the demanding expectations of the contemporary visitor every time. Ultimately it is a jet-set destination, where celebrities go to have luxurious fun and to be seen.

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SEE: It has a multitude of idyllic beaches that are a frequent stop for celebrities such as Psarrou and Elia, and others that offer similar beauty but are less ‘posh’ in terms of the beach-goers such as Platis Gialos and Agios Stefanos. Notorious landmarks of the island are the many Windmills of Mykonos, which are part of Mykonian heritage and add to the charm of the island, the Armenistis Lighthouse and also the Little Venice area (a very elegant neighbourhood) where you can watch the sunset while enjoying a cocktail.

Processed as legendary Fuji Velvia 50 using VSCO Film

Processed as legendary Fuji Velvia 50 using VSCO Film

HEAR: Its reputation as a party island precedes it, so the buzzing night-life in Mykonos can be considered as a powerful given. Clubs and bars are scattered all over the island with some in the town and others on its infamous beaches: ‘Paradise’ and ‘Super Paradise’ host the homonymous beach clubs. These are truly a clubber’s paradise frequently bringing world-class DJs, and blasting dance music from dusk to dawn, offering non-stop partying!

SMELL & TASTE: You must try the local traditional dishes Kopanisti (creamy cheese dip), Louza (cold meat cured with herbs and spices) and the sweet Amigdalota (almond cookie bites).

FEEL: Like a star! The influx of jet-set and creme-de-la-creme visitors over the years has lead to Mykonos holding the reins in luxurious accommodation, where you can further personalise your holiday. Staying at Alegria Mykonos was the perfect location for arranging for private yoga and personal training sessions, elegant and private. Mykonian hospitality has a long tradition in catering for international stars and so, it has developed its own sophistication and style when it comes to offering a high-class holiday. It is something that you must experience for yourself.

Panoramic view of iconic Mykonos Island Windmills, Chora. Cyclades, Agean Sea, Greece.

Panoramic view of iconic Mykonos Island Windmills, Chora. Cyclades, Agean Sea, Greece.

Santorini – Views of absolute beauty

Of all the Greek islands, Santorini’s natural beauty is the most astonishing. Formerly a single island before the volcanic eruption, Santorini is part of the Thira regional unit that also includes Therasia, and the non-inhabited Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. Although phenomenally destructive, the eruption left its astounding mark on what remains.

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SEE: The Santorinian Caldera, created by the eruption, is the massive cliff that is opposite the old volcano site, Kameni. This dramatic physical precipice is the setting for your ideal vacation offering serenity, privacy and magical views from the elegant Astarte Suites that will remain with you forever. The steep colourful cliffs will charm you, and whitewashed blue dome churches will intrigue you, while the incomparable sunset in Oia will move you; sunset views from Santorini have been described as being some of the best in the world (and this is not an exaggeration).

Santorini is an island you will fall in love with, fall in love in, and will want to return to, time and time again. The volcanic landscape has created some unbelievable beaches: the Red beach, the White beach and Vlychada beach, each being very particular in their sediments and appearance.

SMELL & TASTE: Wine-tasting in Santorini is a must-do as the vineyards there produce a local sweet dessert wine called Vinsanto, which is the island’s version of the tuscan variety Vin Santo. It is more golden than it’s amber relative and is made from sun-drying Assyrtiko and Aidani grapes. Vinsanto is made by numerous wineries in Santorini, so if you consider yourself as a bit of a sommelier, there are many different ones to try! Also traditional local produce such as cherry tomatoes and white eggplants are used to create Santorinian delicious specialities including domatokeftedes (cherry tomato patties), and melitzanosalata (white eggplant dip) plus many other meze dishes.

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HEAR & FEEL: The aura of the ancient civilisation that was; before the violent eruption of the volcano, the Minoans had a settlement on the island during the Bronze Age and you can visit their ruins, pottery and frescoe remnants at Akrotiri. More recently, Santorini has been considered a strong contender for the location of the mysterious city of Atlantis. Does that sound right? Visit and find out for yourself.

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Halkidiki – The Up-and-comer

Located near the city of Thessaloniki, in the North of Greece, you will find Halkidiki, a peninsula that has all the attributes of an island, but also hides a treasure in its’ earth’s depths. Halkidiki, and especially the region of Kassandra, is a source of thermal springs that are renowned for their holistic healing properties. This is why the Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort is much anticipated.

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SEE: Natural treasures: The Cave of Petralona or cave of the red stones is a natural marvel and features impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations, also preserving a human skull! The Lake of Polychrono is a pristine lake surrounded by luscious pines and is natural reserve and home for the Testudinata Turtles.

SMELL & TASTE: You must taste local delicacies, as Halkidiki has superior quality honey, olives and olive oil, as well as giving their own localised touch to pies and cheeses. In particular, a dish that you will not find anywhere else is Sardines with shallots, cooked in baking paper to retain all the flavour. Also, the locals have taken liqueur brewery to the next level as they have concocted the most peculiar of flavours, thyme liqueur among others.

 

HEAR & FEEL: Listen to the glistening Aegean sea lapping on the shore from a magical location where luxury meets nature. Feel the beauty of the location transcend you, and surrender your body and mind to absolute relaxation by experiencing specialised treatments, while enjoying the natural hot spring ground water.

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Travel Planning For Disneyland Paris Is Easier Than You Think

Apr 11, 2016 by

Travel Planning For Disneyland Paris Is Easier Than You Think

 

With two theme parks, a village with cinemas, bars and restaurants and the opportunity to meet favourite Disney characters, Disneyland Paris is a wonderful destination for a family holiday. Getting there with young children can seem a little daunting so the HolidayTaxis team have rounded up a few tips to make your trip easier and ensure magical holiday memories you will treasure for years to come.

When to go

The weather in Northern France is similar to that of the UK; as many attractions are outside this is worth bearing in mind when planning a trip with young children. Like most popular family attractions, the school holidays will be the busiest times and weekends are more crowded than mid-week. Christmas can be particularly busy so you might prefer to visit earlier in the month when the decorations will already be lit and the resort powdered with snow.

How to book

Many tour operators offer trips to Disneyland Paris but check that they are ABTA protected. You can book packages directly through the Disneyland Paris website – prices vary so shop around for the best deal. Eurostar offer train and hotel packages that can be an economical choice and you can opt to stay in Paris and take a train to the resort for the day – it is just 35 minutes away.

Getting there

You can reach Disneyland Paris by air to Charles de Gaulle: the VEA Navette is a shuttle bus that runs from the airport to the resort every 15 minutes throughout the day. If you travel by Eurostar the train will take you right to the gates of the resort, so you will have no worries about transfers. If you drive, the journey from Calais takes about three hours and free parking is provided at all the resort hotels: the car park at the resort itself is paying.

Where to stay

In the warmer months of the year, a family-friendly option is to camp: Eurocamp’s Val d’Europe site is a good choice mid-way between the resort and Paris. Alternatively, there are 7 hotels on site from which to choose, varying from the clean but basic Santa Fe hotel to the 4-star New York. Staying at a resort hotel means you qualify for vouchers for one meal a day in an on-site restaurant. accommodation can also be found at hotels outside the resort, such as the Dream Castle, which is very comfortable and within easy reach of the parks.

Food and drink

Food and drink in the parks can be expensive and rather restrictive – burgers and other fast-food favourites dominate the menus. Insider tip: there is a large shopping centre just one stop away on the train, where you can stock up with drinks and snacks. Water fountains are located throughout the park. At peak times, restaurants and cafes quickly fill up so it is well worth booking your table in advance.

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Hipmunk Hotels: How to Spend Your Time in Bar Harbor, Syracuse, and Other Northeastern Cities

Apr 7, 2016 by

Hipmunk Hotels: How to Spend Your Time in Bar Harbor, Syracuse, and Other Northeastern Cities

Feeling the need for a getaway, but unsure of where to go? Hop in your car or book a flight to the northeastern United States, where you’ll find plenty of activities and adventures to keep you entertained. Cities like Bar Harbor, Syracuse, Long Island City, Roanoke, and Williamsburg are ideal destinations for just about anyone. Check out what each of these cities has to offer!

Bar Harbor, Maine

If you’re looking for a diverse range of activities to keep you entertained, look no further than Bar Harbor, Maine. This popular northeastern destination appeals to tourists from all over the world for its rich culture and picturesque natural scenery. One of the top spots here is Cadillac Mountain, a great place for hiking and other outdoor sports. If this sounds like your kind of place, you should also visit Sieur de Monts Spring Nature Center, Asticou Azalea Garden, and Wild Gardens of Acadia. Be sure to start planning by booking a room in one of Bar Harbor’s popular hotels.

Syracuse, New York

Looking to see all that New York has to offer? Head to Syracuse, where you’ll get the chance to experience trendy restaurants and bars, fashion-forward shopping, vibrant nightlife scene, and an overall electric atmosphere that will have you never wanting to leave. Some popular tourist attractions include Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Destiny USA shopping center, Erie Canal Museum, and Everson Museum of Art. If exploring city streets is what you’re interested in, Syracuse is perfect for you. Consider booking a room in one of the city’s most popular budget-friendly hotels.

Long Island City, New York

Another New York location that offers everything you might be looking for, Long Island City is an ideal destination for anyone. Immerse yourself in culture by heading to MoMA PS1 Art Museum, Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, or The Secret Theatre. For a relaxing day outdoors, visit Gantry Plaza State Park or Hunter’s Point South Park. In the mood to try some tasty local beers? Check out Rockaway Brewing Center or LIC Beer Project before heading back to one of these affordable Long Island City hotels for a comfortable night’s rest.

Roanoke, Virginia

If experiencing history and culture is your main priority for your trip to the northeast, be sure to visit Roanoke, Virginia. Here you’ll find popular tourist attractions including Mill Mountain Star and Park, the Virginia Museum of Transportation, and O. Winston Link Museum. Roanoke is home to several famous breweries, so consider signing up for a brewery tour throughout the city. If you’re traveling as a family, bring the kids to Mill Mountain Zoo or Splish Splash Valley Water Park.  Start preparing by booking a room in one of the popular Roanoke hotels that won’t break the bank.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Last but not least, Williamsburg is a popular Virginia destination for so many reasons, including its rich cultural and historical significance. Founded in 1632, it makes sense that this town is filled with ancient landmarks, including Historic Jamestowne, Governor’s Palace, and the downtown Historic District. Looking for a place to stay near these popular sites? Consider booking a room in one of these affordable Williamsburg hotels.

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Hipmunk Hotels: Adventures in South Bend, Wichita, and other Midwestern Destinations

Apr 4, 2016 by

Hipmunk Hotels: Adventures in South Bend, Wichita, and other Midwestern Destinations

The Midwestern United States may not appear to be an exciting destination for those adventurous travelers out there, but that’s where most people are wrong. This portion of the U.S. is home to so many outdoor adventures, bustling city streets, tourist hotspots, and an overall charm that will have you never wanting to head home. Be sure to visit cities such as South Bend, Wichita, Lansing, Detroit, and Grand Rapids. Each of these destinations has something new and exciting to offer, so come see for yourself!

South Bend, Indiana

Home to the impressive University of Notre Dame, South Bend is a college town that will certainly keep you on your toes. During your time here, make a point to visit Studebaker National Museum, Potawatomi Zoo, and Basilica of the Sacred Heart. If you’re a sports fanatic, check out the College Football Hall of Fame or buy a ticket to see the Notre Dame Leprechauns play at the stadium. If this sounds like the place for you, start planning your trip by booking a room in one of the many South Bend hotels that will meet your budgetary needs and keep you more than comfortable.

Wichita, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas is a midwestern destination that should most definitely be on your travel itinerary. This city has so much going for it, including popular tourist attractions like the Museum of World Treasures, Old Cowtown Museum, and Kansas Aviation Museum. If traveling with children, keep them entertained at Sedgwick County Zoo or Exploration Place, an interactive science museum that is both fun and educational. In addition to plenty of exciting activities, Wichita is filled with budget-friendly hotels that will make your experience one for the record books.

Lansing, Michigan

Home to the Michigan State Spartans, Lansing is a vibrant college town that has something for everyone. Be sure to visit Lansing hotspots like Potter Park Zoo, R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, Dodge Mansion, and Michigan State Capitol. Lovers of the outdoors will enjoy Lansing River Trail and Red Cedar River. If this isn’t enough for you, just explore the city streets. You’ll find numerous bars, restaurants, shops, and plenty of friendly people. Consider staying at one of Lansing’s most popular hotels for the trip of a lifetime.

Detroit, Michigan

People from all over the U.S. and all over the world visit Detroit for its rich culture and diversity.  Some of the top reasons for traveling to Detroit include the famous Detroit Institute of Arts, Belle Isle Park, Comerica Park, and Detroit Historical Museum. For a true taste of this city, all you need to do is wander the streets – you’ll surely find something to keep you entertained! For hints on where to stay, look no further. Check out these Detroit hotels that will meet your budget, as well as your every need.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Another lively Michigan city, Grand Rapids is ideal for individuals, families, couples, business travelers, and just about everyone under the sun. During your time here, visit top sites including Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture, John Ball Zoological Garden, Grand Rapids Public Museum, and Van Andel Arena. Start planning your trip by booking a room in one of the many top-rated Grand Rapids hotels.

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Sailing towards the (s)ports of happiness

Mar 29, 2016 by

Sailing towards the (s)ports of happiness

When this joyful time arrives and we are all planning our vacation during any period of the year, the common outcome we seek through our any-kind-of getaway type is that of relaxation and rejuvenation. This is the common ground every traveler share with the other and comprise the main “umbrella” of the whole concept of holiday excursions.

The hotels and complexes they are about to welcome us to their premises are oriented in providing the best possible amenities to complement in creating a unique context of special experiences that will snap us off our daily routine and introduce us to a world of dreams. But what is the definition of relaxation? Is it also a shared view among travelers? This a rhetorical question rather than a philosophical.

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When I think about vacation and getting some time away from anything would stress me in any manner, I think of sports. The classic, frequent approach regarding exercising and sports is the idea that we should go to the gym or participate in a sport during our daily routines in order to blow off the steam of the everyday problems and keep ourselves calm and tranquil through our lives. Additionally, we keep our body healthy and fit, filled with positive energy and brimming with sentiments of well-being and euphoria. And all these are true.

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However, I cannot ignore those times I force myself to go to the gym or to play a sport (I am not a gym guy) in weekdays just because of the benefits exercising brings and the calmness I will experience later. The thing is that during our routine schedule and the literally numerous responsibilities and obligations at our home and work, there is one fundamental ingredient which is usually missing. Τhe fun!

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See, vacation for me is getting sweaty and super tired while playing my favorite sport, or trying and new one all out from the beginning without having in mind that I have to get back to take a shower, eat and sleep so as not be exhausted tomorrow morning. These are the times you can focus on you and enjoy playing with your partner and/or your kids as I continuously did while my stay in Creta Beach hotel when visiting the gorgeous island of Crete.

The complex featured various entertainment options for us to choose and I cannot forget the endless mornings in the beach playing beach volley, getting sun-burnt and laughing so loud I thought my abs will explode!

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Neither can I forget the all day tennis battles in this wonderful Cycladic hotel of Folegandros, Anemi, which hosts a professional tennis court with tartan floor, floodlit during the night so you could play literally day and night. Furthemore, they provided us with all the necessary equipment as bringing rackets and balls with you during a trip it is not the easiest thing in the world.

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The epic battles with my wife ended in many occasions with me drinking a dozen of rakomelo shots as token for my lost, or forcing her to enter the local, relatively dangerous, geological monument of the island, the Chrissospilia Cave the next morning during our domestic expeditions in the island. The bets along with the fun and my wife’s gestures when she was losing is something you cannot experience outside vacation context.

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Having said all that Ι could not exclude my latest expedition in Corfu and Capo di Corfu, a family paradise resort where a world of (water) sports popped up in front of us with limitless choices. Pool table, tennis, table tennis, beach soccer goals are only some of the different sports we tried with my children and surely not just one time.

My mind literally escaped from any thought that could attenuate the feeling of happiness and euphoria coming from my heart. Impeccable moments of fun combined with exercise of body and mind, simultaneously building strong, meaningful bonds with your loved ones. If you have achieved all these in a vacation trip, how else can you define relaxation?

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