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4 Reasons to See Europe in Winter
Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The following is a sponsored destination post brought to you by Escape Travel.

When you think about vacations, you usually imagine warm weather; sunshine and beaches, yet taking a holiday during the winter season can be quite a beautiful experience. Just imagine the snowy moors of England or the vast darkness of Sweden. These are places where activities continue to delight residents and some brave travelers. The pubs are frequented, and the fireplaces in various accommodations roar with delightfully bright flames to warm your insides. Really yummy baked goods and steaming hot chocolate top off the end of days in many European countries.

Choosing to Travel in the Off-Season:
For every reason that you choose to stay at home in the winter, there is at least one reason to go on a winter holiday to Europe. Keep reading and you will come up with many more important reasons to travel in the winter months.

You will definitely save money.

Air fares and hotel accommodations are much cheaper in the off-season. In today’s world, we are all looking to save money and not give up everything in order to do so. See Paris, London or Stockholm in the rain and snow and save bundles when you are willing to capture these moments. Wherever you are traveling, off-season rates will always be available and serve to save! You may choose to book at the very end of winter, when you can still save and see signs of spring, too. You’ll save money back home when you set your own thermostat low and just go!

Many European Holiday Spots are Still Quite Warm.

Places like southern France and southern Spain. Greece offers plenty of reasons not to “light” there in the summer. Winter is comfortable for sightseeing while still allowing for an afternoon swim. Many airlines offer a great deal on ski packages for those who really embrace the snow and the cold. Love the adventure of it all.

European Christmas Markets.

The markets are hustling and bustling and alive with the season of festivities and there are so many uniquely unusual gifts can be purchased in these markets. Making your family especially happy, bright and cheery via special gift giving may be your prime motivation for a winter trip to Europe. Give that special person in your life the Christmas gift of plane tickets to a desired European spot and leave immediately after the holidays.

Crowds are Sparse.

Less crowds means more “elbow room.” All of the usual tourist attractions will be free of the crowds and make it possible to enjoy a much more pleasant experience. There are also festivities available during the winter months that you will never see in the summertime.

Whichever season you choose to travel to your most cherished European destination, planning and dreaming are the key elements that will open you to the pleasure of a wonderful experience. There are a number of Europe tour packages at great prices available at the moment.

Svalbard After Dark
Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The following is a sponsored destination post brought to you by Private Jet Charters.

In November 2012, a total solar eclipse will clip some islands along the northern coast of Australia.  After that, the next chance to experience a total eclipse will be on March 20, 2015 in the Faroe Islands, Svalbard, and the North Pole.  Trips to the North Pole are available to civilians and it would be amazing to see a total solar eclipse from the North Pole.  Unfortunately such trips cost about $20,000.

I will be in Svalbard for the solar eclipse.  Svalbard is an archipelago north of, and possessed by, Norway.  Spitsbergen is the main and only inhabited island.  Longyearbyen is the capital and largest settlement.

I have already witnessed one eclipse in Shanghai in 2009.  There, I saw half of the event before rainclouds moved in and obscured the view.  Svalbard, with its cold-induced clear skies, will be ideal for not only a total solar eclipse, but heavens-watching in general.  It is said that Svalbard is the world’s best location for catching a glimpse of the rare daytime aurora.

Flights within Norway are operated by SAS.  The eclipse is on a Friday so it is convenient that flights between Oslo and Longyearbyen are cheapest on Thursdays.  The least expensive flight option would be to spend a full week in Longyearbyen, Thursday to Thursday.

Most flights to Longyearbyen go through Tromso, which is worth stopping to visit for at least a day or two.  In the 19th century, Tromso was known as “the Paris of the North.”  Today, it is known for its techno music scene, stunning vistas, and the distinctive Arctic Cathedral.  Perhaps more importantly, Tromso is in the middle of the Aurora Borealis zone.  Catching sight of the Northern Lights is quite possible in Oslo, but in Tromso your odds are 50-50 on a night in March.

Flights aren’t booked more than a year in advance and things change.  It is possible that more flights will be scheduled to accommodate the increased demand.  Then again, perhaps not, since hotel accommodations will be limited.  There are several small lodges.  The only full size hotel (and the northernmost in the world) is the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen.  They are very aware of the upcoming event.  Rooms are already in high demand and could become difficult to find soon.  As far as the flights go, you can check back with SAS in 2014 or with Private Jets Charter.

There is plenty to keep you busy in Svalbard during a visit to witness the solar eclipse. For example, you can go dog sledding, tour a coal mine, or visit a few of the museums. Animal lovers will enjoy catching a glimpse of seals, whales, reindeer and polar bears.

March 2015 may seem far away at the moment, but the total solar eclipse will be here before you know it – it never hurts to plan ahead!

South Korea- A Place to Go
Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Traveling to South Korea is not a typical destination for most people given the distance of travel between North America and the Korean Peninsula. It would; however, qualify as the exotic trip for many who are in search of new and different places to spend their Career Break.

From the rugged mountains of the countryside to the cosmopolitan life of the capitol city Seoul, South Korea is a destination worth pursuing as a great vacation. Many people in the western world simply know of South Korea as a place far away where a father or uncle fought during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, but the South Korea of today is a modern, economically developed nation with a high standard of living. Also well-developed is the tourism industry, which is just waiting for adventurous tourists from North America and Europe to come and experience a different part of the world.

Given the costly nature of a trip like flying to South Korea, travellers should ensure that their worldwide travel insurance has been paid before they go. There would be nothing worse than spending thousands of dollars on non-refundable tickets for flights, events, hotels and other items only to have something go wrong like a medical emergency, an accident, or something at home requiring a traveler’s immediate return. This kind of incident would dramatically increase the traveler’s costs, as they would be faced with abandoning plans and purchasing new flight tickets, meals, and accommodations well beyond their expected budgets.

Seoul is the jewel of the Korean crown, and features everything from historic royal palaces to modern shopping (Korean Tourism Organization). Despite that; however, many tourists across the globe are now wondering if Seoul and the rest of Korea are safe destinations, given the obvious increases in political tensions between North and South Korea. To put international traveler’s minds at ease, www.Korea.net reports that 31,151 visitors arrived at Incheon Airport during March/April, which is higher than last year’s total, as 30,408 tourists came through the airport during the same time period when tensions were lower. The same official web site for South Korea has expressed that war is unlikely with North Korea, given the weakened state of the economy and armed forces of North Korea. It is business as usual in South Korea, other than a slightly colder spring.

Amongst traditional attractions, such as shopping and historical landmarks, South Korea features unique museums to satisfy any taste. Some of the museums mentioned by the Korean Tourism Organization include the Korean Museum of Embroidery, the Museum of Traditional Liquor, the Whale Museum, the Korean Furniture Museum, the Glass Museum and many others that travellers will not have seen anywhere else in the world. These many choices contribute to how South Korea has become an international destination of choice for sophisticated travelers since the darker years of the 1950’s. A career break including South Korea would certainly be a trip to remember.

Greg Beck is an avid travel writer who regularly contributes content to the wide travel community on behalf of the prestigious Direct Travel Insurance based in the UK. On occasion he likes to travel himself and especially likes music festivals where this year he will be travelling to Sziget in Croatia.

Why Berlin is a great place to study
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

In recent years Berlin has not only become a very popular tourist destination – longer term travellers are also opting to live and study here. Here are a few reasons why Berlin is regarded as a great place to go to as part of a career break, from its flourishing arts and music scene to its beautiful architecture and high standard of living.

Things to See

Berlin has a rich history – it was established in the 13th century and then served as the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia for four centuries. Today, the city is notable for mixing classical architecture with high modernism. Examples include the Reichstag and the Fernsehturm – the fourth tallest freestanding structure in Europe. Art is everywhere – from the liberal and inventive graffiti to the numerous sculptures that are found throughout the city.

When sightseeing takes its toll, there’s also plenty of opportunity to reconnect with nature. Approximately one third of Berlin is made up of parks, gardens, forests, lakes, and rivers. Grunewald is the city’s largest forested area and is easily accessible via S-bahn. Alternatively, try the Charlottenburg gardens – a kind of mini-Versailles.

Mixing with the Locals

Berliners are generally friendly and happy to express themselves. If in doubt, head to Mauer Park where residents shamelessly take the mike in front of large crowds for Bearpit Karaoke. Then there’s the seemingly endless stream of street parties and festivals. Some of the best include the colourful Karneval der Kulturen at the end of May, and the excitingly, flamboyant Christopher Street Day Parade in late June.

Learning the Language

As the cultural centre of Germany, Berlin is a wonderful place to learn and practise German. There are numerous organisations, such as ESL-Schools.org, that specialise in immersive language courses. More often than not, these courses use the city itself as a learning tool – for example, with visits to museums, galleries and films. Learning German in Berlin is a great way to get to know the country better and further your experience of travelling here.

Students will also be able to try Berlinerisch – the German dialect spoken by Berliners. There are numerous differences between Berlinerisch and ‘straight’ German. Examples include the tendency to replace the final ‘s’ in common words. ‘Das’ is pronounced ‘dit’, and ‘was’ like ‘wat’. Words ending with ‘er’ are replaced by an ‘a’ sound – so ‘Wasser’ becomes ‘Wass’.


Berliners love to party, and the city is famous for its eclectic music, novel venues and commitment to seeing in the dawn. There are literally hundreds of nightclubs – from the rooftop terrace at Weekend, to the roped-together pontoons that form Club Der Visionaere on the Landwehr canal. If dancing doesn’t appeal, the city is packed with atmospheric pubs in which to meet up and sample some of the country’s famous draught beers.

Photo credits: Timo Maier, chtfj21

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