Barcelona – The City of Dreams

As destinations go, Barcelona must be one of the most well known in the world. So find affordable flights to this fantastic place on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and have a blast!

Your visit should start at the Tourist Information office in the Plaça de Catalunya right in the heart of the city. Not only does this have all the maps and guides you need, but also has a lovely shop with items a bit more out of the ordinary than the normal tourist giftware. From here its just a few steps to the famous La Rambla, a long street lined with unusual market stalls which stretches right down to the sea. Be sure to visit the wonderful La Boqueria market about half way down – a real foody heaven and quite an experience if you haven’t seen one before. At the end of La Rambla you will arrive at the Port Vell area with yacht marinas, a fishing port and Maremagnum – a shopping mall and nightlife complex which also houses Europe’s largest aquarium (and unlike other shopping malls in the city, this is also open on Sundays and Public Holidays). From here it is possible to walk along the promenade, alongside the marvellous sandy beaches, to the Olympic Port. There are many restaurants all along this route.

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Barcelona is of course famous for its Gaudi connection. Back at the Plaça de Catalunya, a short walk along the Passeig de Gracia will take you to Casa Batiló. You can stand and admire this amazing building from the outside, but for a fee it is also possible to visit the inside of the building. A little further away, still within walking distance (but you can of course use the metro if you wish) is the absolute must see Sagrada Família. This fantasy church, which was begun in 1882 and has an anticipated completion date of 2026, is breath taking. If you want to visit the inside, be sure to purchase your ticket in advance and so short cut the long queues. Another Gaudi experience is Parc Güell, a short way out of the city centre, which houses the famous lizard sculpture and serpentine seating.

Montjuïc is a hill on the south west side of the city and was the setting for many of the summer Olympics in 1992. As well as various attractions such as the castle, well kept gardens and Joan Miró museum, it is a pleasant place to walk and take in the magnificent views. You can reach the topmost section by cable car.

There are also of course wonderful shopping experiences in the city , with all the usual designer shops and many individual boutiques. With something for everyone, Barcelona lives up to its name – the city of dreams.

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7 Reasons Why you Should Visit Finland

Wild and beautiful, civilized and friendly. Ever since Eric Idle sang that it was ‘The country where I want to be”, Finland has held a place in the hearts of Monty Python fans. Finland is an amazing country to visit for many reasons. Here are seven of the best ones.

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[Photo courtesy of Veronika Galkina/shutterstock.com]

The Northern Lights

The most spectacular light show on Earth, the Aurora Borealis can be clearly seen from Finland. Never forgotten, this unearthly display of charged particles reacting with solar winds lights up the sky in greens, pinks, reds and other colours, all in amazing patterns unique to each occurrence. The Northern Lights appear regularly in Finland, though they cannot be predicted. The most common months to see them are April-September.

Aurora Borealis, Blue, Cabin, Cold, Lights, Night

[Photo courtesy of Pexels/pixabay.com]

Christmas in Finland

The Christmas season in Finland is a magical time, with a wealth of traditions that appeal to the nostalgia of visitors. Helsinki hosts the Santa Lucia Festival, which predates Christmas, being based on a pagan fertility celebration all mixed up with celebrating the life of a Christian saint. The St. Thomas Christmas Market is a wonder to behold, with its lovely Christmas lights and stalls selling all the gifts, food and drinks you could possibly want for the festive season. Best of all, the Santa Claus village is open all year round, with the chance to meet St. Nick himself, as well as his reindeer and helpers.

Climate

Finland is a land of opposites. It has gorgeous hot summers with an average 23 degrees Celsius, perfect for making the most of the stunning scenery and walks, followed by a lovely sauna. Winters are crisp and snowy in the north, with winter sports aplenty. The temperature regularly reaches -20 degrees. Above the Arctic Circle there’s a night called ‘the polar night’ when the sun doesn’t rise at all and the opposite is true, of course, in the summer. Whatever type of holiday you’re looking for, from sunbathing to hiking or skiing or snuggling up with a hot chocolate in front of an open fire, Finland can supply it.

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[Photo courtesy of Waldo93/pixabay.com]

Outdoors all year round

This variation in the weather with four distinct seasons makes it an ideal holiday spot all year round. Check out the 15 Best Places to Visit in Finland for some ideas on where to spend your vacation on any season. In the summer there are nature trails, saunas, hiking, cycling and any other kind of outdoor activity you fancy. In the winter there is skiing, dog sleigh rides, snowshoeing and snowboarding amongst other activities. There is never a reason to sit indoors, unless you want to!

Wildlife

Finland has some fascinating wildlife due to its seasonal climate and geographic position. You can see much of it on nature trails, from fish to birds of prey. In the vast forests you can hire a guide to seek out that which interests you the most, or you can choose to sit comfortably in a specially set up hide to see if some of the country’s more timid inhabitants might make an appearance. Brown bears, wolves and elk roam freely, alongside 248 species of bird and many others.

Finland, Rennes, Deer, Wood

[Photo courtesy of jackmac34/pixabay.com]

Finnish cuisine

You should always try new foods if you can and in Finland the sheer variety of meats and fish available means there’s certain to be several that you discover you love, unexpectedly sometimes! Finland serves up reindeer, horse and other meats that are more commonly found outside the UK and they’re delicious!

Communication

Finland is English speaking, so although you’re surrounded by a fascinating and very different culture you’ll have no problems getting across your needs, asking for directions or ordering another mulled wine.

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3 Reasons Norway Needs to Be Top of Your Bucket List

Norway may not be winning any awards for glamour anytime soon, but ignore this vacation destination at your own peril. It largely flies under the radar as a location when people are planning their dream holidays. That’s because Norway doesn’t have the same marketing pull as other more desirable locations. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that other countries do. Why is that, you ask? Well, simply, because it doesn’t need to.

The lure of Norway is in its simplicity. It doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not. What you see is what you get. And what you see is one of the most visually stunning places in the world. If the essence of beauty is what drives you when planning your vacation, you should not need to look much further afield.

That isn’t to say, though, that Norway doesn’t have plenty to offer. It’s a lot more than just aesthetically pleasing. No matter what your personality, you’re sure to find an abundance of things to do and see. Don’t believe me? Take a look at a few of these ideas and see for yourself….

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Geirangerfjord

Don’t be mistaken into thinking that you’re land-locked when it comes to visiting Norway. Though its picturesque landscapes are breathtaking, none quite more so than its lakes and countryside. Indeed, there is no greater evidence of this than Geirangerfjord, a 20 km ferry journey that is sure to take your breath away. Navigating around the cliffs while traveling the clear waters will leave you in awe. If photo opportunities are what you’re after, you won’t get many better Kodak moments than taking this ferry trip.

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Northern Lights

Perhaps the most sought after naturally occurring phenomena in the world, you can see the Northern Lights in Norway. The intense light show is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and should not be overlooked. As a matter of fact, if it doesn’t rank highly on your Bucket List, it may need rewriting. Travelers from all over the world visit Scandinavia to catch a glimpse of the incredible sight. And there is no guarantee that you’ll be lucky enough to witness it. The risk, though, is one worth taking.

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Bergen

If an out-of-this-world experience is what you’re looking for, the city of Bergen has everything you could possibly want. The charming and quaint little city seems like one right out of a fairytale. The coastal landscape is captured on a backdrop of mountain terrain, which is perfect for a skiing holiday. The buildings are mostly crafted entirely from wood, which makes for some spectacle. Indeed, it’s a city that is flushed with history. Take the time to learn about it and you won’t be disappointed.

Next time you’re planning a vacation, it is definitely worth your time to give Norway some serious consideration. It may not have the same pull as more glamorous locations, but it can certainly rival them. No matter where you end up, you’re guaranteed to create memories that will stay with you for your entire life.

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