Edinburgh: Why You Should Visit This European Gem

November 21, 2014 Posted by admin

While more famous cities like Paris, London and Madrid absorb the world’s attention, Edinburgh should definitely be on the itinerary of any serious traveler who wants to see the best of what Europe has to offer.

Edinburgh truly has it all. This is a vibrant and colorful city, steeped in history and tradition and replete with charm. It has a touch of the ancient, and the Old World, and the new, and it’s always an exciting place to visit.

Edinburgh is the best of two worlds: a lively cityscape with diverse cultural offerings, and a rural getaway with all the charm and beauty of the Scottish countryside. From medieval castles, to lively pubs, to the picturesque country landscapes, there is a little something for everyone to see and do here.

Fun Facts

Edinburgh has produced several of the world’s most prolific writers, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s also the birthplace of Sean Connery and Alexander Graham Bell.

Climate

Edinburgh features a mild overall climate. Summers are warm with moderate amounts of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-60s. Winters are mild and rainy, with lows generally reaching the low 30s. While you can enjoy Edinburgh all year, summer is generally the best time to visit.

Accommodations

From small villas, to cozy bed and breakfasts, to charming cottages, to luxury hotels that resemble ornate Old World palaces, you’ll find the accommodations you’re looking for in Edinburgh.

Getting Around

Like many European cities, Edinburgh is designed for walking. Short city blocks make it easy to explore on foot, and walking gives you a great opportunity to take your time, explore the backstreets, and stop at any shop, pub or restaurant that piques your interest. There are also many picturesque parks in Edinburgh that are perfect for a leisurely stroll.

You can also travel Edinburgh easily by bus. Daily bus passes are a convenient choice, as they allow you unlimited daily travel. Buses go all over the city, as well as out to Edinburgh’s rural Lothian area.

Edinburgh offers several tour bus options. Tour buses are a great way to see the sights, as you don’t have to do the driving, and an expert guide can tell you everything you want to know about the city.

Traveling Edinburgh by car is easy, but a bit impractical, as parking is limited, restrictive and difficult to access. The city offers convenient park-and-ride options,

Places to Visit

Edinburgh is divided into several different sectors, each with its own character and flair, and each with a something different to offer the traveler.

Leith

Having served as the port of Edinburgh for hundreds of years, Leith boasts a long and fascinating history. However, today the area has a youthful and vibrant vibe, and is known for its cultural offerings. Leith boasts a wealth of top restaurants, pubs and nightlife hotspots, and it’s home to several prominent art galleries.

Old Town

Meandering down the labyrinth of Old Town’s austere and narrow cobblestone streets is like taking a step back in time. Here you’ll find such Scottish treasures as the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle and St. Giles’ Cathedral, as well as the fascinating underground chambers that once housed Edinburgh’s poor.

New Town

Edinburgh’s 18th-century answer to Old Town, New Town was largely inspired by Scottish Enlightenment, and offers a glimpse of a very different period of Scotland’s history. The broad, tidy streets are lined with beautiful Georgian homes, which were once occupied by the upper crust of Edinburgh society. There is still an upscale feel to New Town; the area is known for its fine dining, chic pubs and high-end galleries.

Haymarket

Centered around the Haymarket Railway Station, this area is great for families. It’s the home of Murrayfield Stadium, where some of Scotland’s most exciting soccer matches are played, and Murrayfield Ice Rink, where you can catch a hockey game or bring your brood to skate. It’s also 10 minutes from the Edinburgh Zoo, and features a number of charming restaurants and shops.

West End

West End’s streets are lined with boutiques, quirky shops and high-end stores, making it the perfect spot for a daylong shopping excursion.

Grassmarket

Perhaps the most fascinating spot in Edinburgh, Grassmarket offers visitors a look into the city’s medieval past. Once a marketplace and a site for public executions, today Grassmarket is a vibrant area full of restaurants, pubs and shops, where people come to drink, dine, and marvel at the medieval architecture.

The Lothians

While not part of Edinburgh Proper, the Lothians lie just outside the city, and offer travelers a wonderfully authentic rural Scottish experience. The green and lush rolling hills are home to historic castles and abbeys, charming small towns, beautiful gardens and serene country parks.

An Elegant Mediterranean Getaway in Nice

November 14, 2014 Posted by admin

Called “Nice the Beautiful,” the picturesque charms of this French city have inspired many an artist, and its warm and breezy Mediterranean climate has inspired many a visitor looking to escape the cold.

Nice was a haven for 18th-century English aristocrats, and a muse for such artists as Matisse, Chagall and Arman. Today, it welcomes 4 million travelers of every stripe each year, making it one of France’s most-visited cities. To accommodate such marked interest, the Nice has the country’s third busiest airport and its 2nd largest hotel capacity.

Located in the Provence-Alpes-Cote D’Azur region, Nice is the capital of the famed French Riviera. It has a population of 350,000, making it France’s fifth most populous city.

History

Nice’s history is complex and ancient; the area is believed to have first been inhabited at least 40,000 years ago. Nice as a city was founded as by the Greeks in around 350 BC. Its name comes from a version of the Greek word “Nike,” which means victory. Rome built a nearby rival city, called Cemenelum, which today is part of Nice itself.

Nice eventually became part of Italy, then Savoy. The city did not, in fact, become part of France until 1860, when it was ceded to the French by the Sardinian king in the Treaty of Turin.

During WW II, Nice was part of the Vichy France “Free Zone.” The Vichy sided with their German and Italian occupiers. Nice was liberated by American troops in 1944.

Climate

Nice’s Mediterranean climate is part of its allure. The city enjoys 300 sunny days a year, and the weather is pleasant year round, Summers are warm and very sunny, with temperatures ranging from the high 60s to the mid-80s, and very little rainfall. Winters are mild, with lows in the high 30s and alternating sunny and rainy days. The best time to visit Nice is in September or October. The temperatures dip down to 65 degrees, accommodations are more available as the summer crowds leave, and rates and prices go down as the high tourist season comes to a close.

Getting Around

If you’re looking to enter or leave Nice, you can do so by air through the Cote D’Azur Airport, on the Nice-Ville Rail. The Nice-Ville can reach Marseilles in two hours and Paris in six hours, and has international connections.

Getting around the city itself is not difficult. Renting a car is one option—rentals are available at the airport and in the city center. Keep in mind that Nice’s streets were built in the time before cars; they are narrow and require some tricky navigation. Nice’s bus system is reliable and affordable, and taxis are available on demand around the clock.

Accommodations

Nice features every type of accommodation, from charming, colorful villas, to palatial Mediterranean-style hotels, to upscale, contemporary brand hotels.

Best Things to Do

Castle Hill: This site features the remains of Nice’s only castle, which was destroyed long ago. It’s not evident at first that a castle ever stood here, but when looked at from the right angle, especially when the ruins are lit up at night, it becomes easy to see its outline.

Getting to the site is a bit of a hike, but it’s worth it; you can see the whole city, as well as the Alps and the Mediterranean. This is the perfect place to bring the family, your camera, or your easel—there are plenty of park benches available where you can relax and be inspired by the view.

Promenade des Anglais: When English aristocrats began coming to Nice, they would commonly take walks along the same scenic route, leading locals to call it the Walk of the English, or “Promenade Anglais.” This promenade has become one of Nice’s famous. It winds along the Mediterranean Sea, with plenty of opportunities for strolling along the beach, wading in the crystal-clear waters, or just sitting back and taking in the scenery. Walk as long as or as short as you like—or take a leisurely bike ride.

Old Town: Old Town offers an intriguing glimpse into Nice’s past, and is a delightful place to spend a day. The narrow streets are lined with colorful Mediterranean buildings, ornate Baroque churches, and charming shops and restaurants. There are also numerous bars and pubs, and the town comes alive at night

Promenade du Paillon: One of Nice’s newest and nicest additions, Promenade du Paillon is a pleasant and beautiful park in the center of town, which offers the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors. There are gardens, playgrounds, and jets that shoot mist into the air, both to cool and entertain visitors.

Visit an Old Soul With a New Vibe in Granada, Spain

November 7, 2014 Posted by admin

Most people associate Spain with Flamenco dancers, bullfighters, and ornate European Old World architecture. When it comes to Spain’s history, most people think of Conquistadores, intrepid world explorers, and wars for independence. However, there is more to this country than its most iconic offerings, as the city of Granada shows.

Located on the Iberian Peninsula, Granada is a vibrant city with an old soul. It is fundamentally a place of contrasts; geographically, it offers both sun-soaked beaches and towering, snow-capped mountains, while culturally, it maintains a Spanish identity while reflecting its deeply ingrained Moorish past.

The entire Iberian Peninsula was under Islamic rule for 800 years, and Granada’s art, architecture and culture reflects this aspect of Spain’s history like no other. However, while Islamic influences do dominate the cityscape, Granada is really a compilation of many cultural elements. Jewish, Phoenician, Greek and Punic influences have all played a part in the city’s history, creating a complex and layered culture that is a delight to explore.

Granada is a popular city among those traveling to European travelers, partly due to its skiing and sunbathing opportunities, and partly due to its unique cultural experiences. The city caters well to its visitors, offering exceptional dining, sightseeing and accommodation options.

Granada Fast Facts

Granada has a population of 265,000. It sits between two hills at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, about 270 miles from Madrid and about 150 miles from Seville. The city was founded by the Moors in the 11th century, and was called “Garnata.” Today it serves as the capital of the Granada province.

Climate

Granada features very warm summers and cool, mild winters, with abundant sunshine throughout the year. The city’s location near the Mediterranean ensures gentle sea breezes and warm temperatures. One of the best times to visit is in spring, when the air is just warming up and the bright, colorful flowers foliage are beginning to appear.

Early summers are pleasantly warm. In July and August, daytime temperatures can climb above 100. However, it is a dry heat, and evening brings immediate relief with considerably cooler temperatures.

Fall temperatures range from the high 50s to the high 60s during the day, and are considerably colder at night. Rain showers are common during fall months. Winters in Granada are relatively mild, and if you don’t mind a little chill in the air, December, January and February can be a great time to visit. These months are less popular for travelers, which means fewer crowds and better deals on hotels and dining.

Getting Around

The best ways to see Granada are by bus and by walking. The bus system in Granada is reliable and will easily take you where you need to go. Walking is a great way to sightsee here, as there are many pleasant streets to meander down. Just be sure to bring comfortable shoes for the cobblestone streets you come across.

Accommodations

Granada offers something for everyone, from sleek, modern hotels with five-star amenities, to rural houses, to rentals that can accommodate 20 people or more. If you are traveling in late spring or summer, be sure to book accommodations ahead of time.

Dining and Nightlife

Granada has a wide range of dining options, many of which offer a delicious sampling of traditional fare. Some even delight visitors with a Flamenco show. In true Spanish style, bars, pubs and nightclubs are everywhere in the city, and include everything from the latest hotspots, to traditional tapas bars and tabernas.

Best Things to Do

The Alhambra: This captivating and awe-inspiring Islamic palace is showcase of Islam’s a must-see for Granada visitors, and possibly one of the best attractions in all of Spain. Touring the palace is an extensive event that takes several hours, but seeing the exquisite architecture and the beautiful Generalife gardens, set against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains is completely worth the trip.

This attraction is very popular, so try to purchase your tickets weeks in advance.

Casa del Arte Flamenco: This small sit-down theater offers one of the most authentic Flamenco experiences you will find in the area, and possibly in Spain. The artists’ genuine, moving and passionate performance is well worth the visit, and very well worth the affordable ticket price.

Albayzin: Albayzin is Granada’s old Moorish quarter, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meander down the cobblestone streets to experience a bit of what Muslim life was like in Spain. View the flower-draped mansions and courtyards, visit medieval mosques and palaces, and enjoy a unique dining and shopping experience in the small shops and teterias. The Carrera del Darro, which flanks the Albayzin and the Darro River, is considered one of Granada’s most scenic walks, and is a must for those seeking to experience Granada’s history.

Portland: A Cultural Retreat in the Pacific Northwest

July 17, 2014 Posted by admin

Known for its wine, its incredible cuisine and its free-spirited people, Portland beckons foodies, artists, nature-lovers, and those who like to live a little bit out of the mainstream.

This city has a both a laid-back vibe and a bit of a wild side, which makes it an intriguing and memorable place to visit. There is something curious to see everywhere you go in Portland, and something new to experience. While remnants of the city’s Wild West past remain, including horse rings in many places, this is a forward-thinking place that values progress and ideas. It’s a city known for celebrating individualism, self-expression and creativity.

Portland tends to draw in those who march to the beat of their own drum, and part of its charm is experiencing the city’s offbeat culture. The people are quirky, idealistic, friendly and passionate, and everyone you meet has a story to tell.

Like other cities in the Pacific Northwest, Portland is highly invested in preserving nature, utilizing local natural resources, promoting local farms and small businesses and supporting the farm-to-table movement. Healthful, organic food options abound, and fresh meats, seafood and produce are easy to come by. In the skilled hands of Portland’s many exceptional chefs and artisans, these ingredients become something truly incredible.

Portland is a food-lover’s paradise. The city was named 2010’s second best foodie town in America, and for good reason. There are more intriguing, off-the-wall and delightfully unique restaurants than you can imagine in this city, and almost all of them have a keen eye on quality, innovation and sustainability. There are also food trucks everywhere, traveling wherever the crowds are and offering delicious and distinctive food on the go. There is something for every palate and philosophy here. The city even holds the distinction of having the most options for vegans and vegetarians.

Things to Do

Parks and Gardens

Those who live in and visit Portland typically have a deep appreciation for nature, and many of the city’s best attractions are outdoors. Portland has pleasant springs, beautiful, mild summers and brilliantly colored autumns, and the scenery is truly breathtaking in every season.

One of Portland’s most popular natural attractions is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. With its thundering waterfall, 80 miles of canyons and stunning vistas, this is a perfect place to immerse yourself in Portland’s natural beauty.

Forest Park, another gorgeous Portland spot, sits is situated just outside of downtown, yet makes you feel as though you’re deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. This is the largest urban park in the country, and features extensive hiking and biking trails, a formal Japanese garden and a zoo.

Often called the City of Roses, Portland comes alive with colorful flowers in the spring and summer. The International Rose Test Garden is a perfect place to see some of the city’s finest specimens. Wander around the garden, stretch out for a nap in the lush green grass, and enjoy the serene view of Mount Hood in the distance. There is no admission fee: come as often as you like and stay as long as you like.

Another of Portland’s most beautiful planned gardens is the Lan Su Chinese Garden. This exquisite garden is the result of collaboration between Portland and its sister city Suzhou, which is famed for its Ming Gardens. Located in Chinatown, Lan Su offers the opportunity to experience a classic Chinese garden. It features graceful and opulent Chinese architecture, indigenous Chinese plants and a tea house that makes the perfect spot for refreshment and relaxation.

Museums

Portland features a number of excellent museums that are well worth visiting. The Oregon Museum of Science and History features a planetarium, an empirical theater and four separate halls filled with fun and educational hands-on exhibits. This is a perfect place to bring the whole family.

The Portland Art Museum is a true treasure for art lovers. It features one section showcasing contemporary art, and another with Native American, European and Chinese art. The works featured are truly exceptional, and it’s easy to spend a whole day getting lost among the exhibits.

Indicative of Portland’s charm and unique quirks, the Faux Museum is the museum that isn’t. Tongue firmly in cheek, it calls itself a “conceptual art museum,” and features weirdly wonderful collections of items that include everything from the world’s last wooly ant to jars of fingernails. The whole museum put together with a touch of humor, which is perfectly balanced with a true sense of wonder.

Landmarks

One of Portland’s most popular landmarks is the quaint and beautiful St. John’s Bridge. Drive over the bridge, or walk across it to take things in more slowly. Once you’ve crossed, take some time to hike either side of the bridge, or visit the charming garden that sits underneath.

If you’re looking to experience a bit of Portland’s energy and see some of its true colors, head to Pioneer Place. Located in the heart of downtown Portland, this four-block square features shopping, dining and entertainment, and is always bustling with activity. This is the perfect place to enjoy some of Portland’s famous coffee, or indulge in people watching.

The Pittock Mansion is one of Portland’s oldest and most beautiful landmarks. This historic house and museum offers a rich look at Portland’s storied past, and features a 46-acre park with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

Explore Portland with Travelation: Find amazing accommodations at the best rates today.

Exploring the Best of Bangkok With Travelation

April 10, 2014 Posted by admin

The bustling, still-burgeoning metropolis of Bangkok is a scintillating mixture of the ancient and the new, as well as a great place to experience Thailand at its best. It’s no wonder that this travel spot is a favorite among Travelation users who are traveling to Asia. While Bangkok’s nightlife is famed the world over, there is much more to this city than what it offers after dark. This is a perfect place to visit for those who love exploring new cities, dining on some of the world’s most fantastic food and embracing a new cultural adventure.

What to Do

Dinner Cruise: Bangkok offers several dinner cruises, where you can enjoy the city scenery from the comfort of a luxury boat as you dine on delicious Thai food. Bangkok comes alive at night, as the temples and skyscrapers light up and the locals come out to enjoy the evening air.

Klong Tour: A klong tour is a great way to explore Bangkok as it once was. You can take a tranquil ride along Bangkok’s canals in a beautiful long-tail boat. You’ll get a glimpse into traditional Thai life, from trading boats packed with fresh fruit to beautiful teak houses.

Old City Tour: While there are many ways to sample the modern, cosmopolitan side of Bangkok, nothing is more fascinating or enlightening than touring the Old City. Here’s where you’ll find the most beautiful and treasured relics of Bangkok’s past, including the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, the historic Sanam Luang Park and the National Gallery.

Street Food: Thailand is famous for its street food, which is cheap, delicious and enjoyed by locals everywhere. Sampling noodles, roasted duck, dumplings and an assortment of fried spicy, sweet and savory treats is a must. Even if you don’t plan to partake, the smells, sights and sounds of the food are irresistible.

Tuk Tuk Rides: While Bangkok’s famed tuk-tuks are losing out in popularity to colorful taxis, they are still a fun and iconic way to get around the city, and an adventure worth taking.

What to See

Wat Arun: Set on the bank of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun is one of Bangkok’s most beautiful and most recognizable temples, featuring colorful spires, a sense of grandeur and an ancient atmosphere.

Siam Square: Siam Square is a sprawling, upscale shopping and entertainment center that features everything from brand-name mall stores to out-of-the-way boutiques. There are also great cafés and restaurants that offer a range of different foods, from traditional Thai to international cuisines.

Floating Market: While some have become a bit inauthentic in their attempt to win over tourists, Bangkok’s famed Floating Markets still offer a fascinating glimpse into a traditional Thai way of life, with boats offering fresh tropical fruit, coconut water and freshly prepared foods.

Getting to Bangkok is easy with Travelation. Simply book your flight on Travelation’s website, and enjoy the lowest fares around.

Mumbai Captivates Travelers With a Dizzying Array of Attractions

April 3, 2014 Posted by admin

Visiting Mumbai is a travel experience unlike any other. From the moment you step outside the airport, you are greeted with a barrage of colors, sounds, smells, and fast-moving people and cars. It takes a bit for the uninitiated to get used to the sights, sounds and lightning-quick pace of Mumbai, but eventually those who visit fall captive to its vibrant charm and intriguing culture.

Formerly known as Bombay, Mumbai is India’s most populated and wealthiest city, as well as its entertainment capital. The city’s complex heritage, British and Portuguese influences, and mixture of cultures and religions make it a diverse place, with many different cuisines, cultural attractions and historic sites to explore. It’s no wonder that this city is becoming one of Travelation’s most popular destinations.

Museums and Galleries

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, or Prince of Wales Museum, is Mumbai’s largest and most comprehensive. The museum features exhibits from all over India, including Indus Valley sculptures and a contemporary art gallery.

The Nehru Centre features a number of options for those looking for a cultural experience. It’s also a great place to bring children. It features a planetarium, a theater, a gallery and a fascinating Indian history exhibit.

The National Gallery of Modern Art offers art lovers a wonderful collection of works by Indian and international artists, as well as works by Pablo Picasso.

Temples

Mumbai’s namesake temple, Mumbadevi, is dedicated to the patron goddess of the city, and is one of Mumbai’s most prominent, important and popular temples.

Built more than 100 years ago to honor the Hindu god Shiva, the Walkeshwar temple is among Mumbai’s most ancient temples, and is most often visited during full moons. Once a year, the temple hosts a Hindustani classical music festival.

Another of Mumbai’s oldest temples, the Mahalaxmi temple is nestled at the foot of the picturesque Malabar hills. The temple’s unique architecture is well worth seeing, as are the millions of devotees who visit the temple each month.

Attractions

If you’re willing to trek a bit out to sea, the Elephanta Caves are well worth the trip. Located on an island near Mumbai in the Oman Sea, these caves showcase an incredible array of sculptural masterpieces dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

One of Mumbai’s most famous landmarks and a stunning example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, the Gateway to India sits in South Mumbai, facing the Mumbai harbor, as an example of the city’s colonial past.

A journey down Marine Drive will give you a beautiful glimpse of Mumbai’s coastline. Watch the sun set over the ocean, or take in coastline’s famed art deco architecture.

 

Set in the Malabar Hills, across from the Kamala Nehru National Park, Mumbai’s Hanging Gardens feature manicured hedges in the shapes of animals, as well as a spectacular view of the Arabian Sea at sunset.

Beyond its numerous attractions, the city of Mumbai also hosts many colorful festivals throughout the year. It also offers numerous places to sample local cuisines. For those who enjoy shopping, Mumbai provides many options from ancient bazaars to modern malls.

If you’re planning a trip to Mumbai, trust Travelation to help get you there. The site offers the best rates and the most comprehensive options for your trip.

Travelation Is Unmatched in Pricing

August 8, 2013 Posted by admin

There are hundreds of “low cost” travel websites on the Internet. Choosing the right one for your travel plans can be confusing. How do you know that you are really getting great prices without searching dozens of websites? Travelation takes that worry away with its unmatched low prices and exceptional customer service. When customers book their travel with Travelation, they can be confident that they are receiving the best fares on airline tickets, rental cars, hotel rooms and even cruises. Travelation is so sure that it has the best prices that it even offers a low-price guarantee.

 

Travelation Guarantees the Lowest Price

 

Any company can claim it has the lowest prices for travel, but that doesn’t mean it really does. Many travelers learn this the hard way. They book “best deal” airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars only to find out too late that they could have received a much better deal on another site. Travelation takes this worry away with its “Lowest Price Guarantee.” Customers receive this guarantee automatically when they book travel with Travelation. If a customer finds a lower price on the same travel within 24 hours of booking, the company will automatically refund the difference in price. This is the easiest way to ensure that customers have the lowest travel prices every time they book.

 

Travelation Believes in Customer Service

 

The online travel site Travelation takes pride in providing friendly, reliable customer service. In addition to providing the lowest prices on airfare, accommodations and rental cars, the company’s customer service representatives are always on hand to help customers with any travel issues. These professionals are trained to help people plan and book their travel plans quickly and easily and without the hassles of some of the other “budget” websites. The user-friendly format and great customer support ensure that everyone who uses this travel booking service will receive the lowest prices and best service.

 

Travelation Partners to Get Travel Discounts

 

How does Travelation manage to consistently have the lowest prices on travel components such as airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, vacation packages and even cruises? The answer is simple: Travelation partners with hundreds of companies to ensure that customers have access to the largest base of discounts possible. Some other “cheap” travel websites work with only a few partners and are limited in the prices and destinations they can offer. Travelation, on the other hand, gives travel discounts consistently on a large variety of destinations and services through its extensive network of travel partners.