Category Archives: Travel Tips

Croatia’s Dubrovnik gives other rivieras a run for the money

(CNN)For those who can afford them, the French and Italian rivieras have always been unbeatable destinations for anyone in search of sun, sea, sand and style. Or have they?

With 260 days of sunshine and one of the most eye-catching coastlines in the Med, this chic stretch of Adriatic shoreline is justifiably pulling in ever-greater visitor numbers each year.
The 20-kilometer riviera is a silhouette of dramatic emerald mountains that tumble down to inviting bays overlooking royal blue seas.
Coupled with Dubrovnik Old Town, one of the world’s most photographed medieval walled cities, the region offers an alluring beach and city combo.
Here are 12 reasons to go:

1. Medieval Dubrovnik

The largest and best preserved in Europe, Dubrovnik’s 14th-century city walls are nearly two kilometers long and 22 meters high.
A circumnavigation of the chunky walls offers photogenic views across the terracotta tops of the Old Town.
Jutting out on a fortified island, suspended at sea, the historic Dubrovnik Old Town is one of the most recognizable sights in Croatia.
Within it, baroque churches rub shoulders with centuries-old monasteries and palazzo.
A sea of red roofs shrouds whitewashed buildings, fringed by the azure Adriatic.

2. Mount Srd cable car

Arguably the best view on the Dubrovnik Riviera.
A short revolving cable car ride to Mount Srd reaches an elevation of 412 meters over Dubrovnik, which can be seen below, laid out like a map.
On a clear day, the hills of neighboring Montenegro and silhouettes of surrounding islands are visible.
The clifftop Napoleonic Imperial Fort museum showcases footage of the siege of the city during the Balkans conflict of the 1990s. The views are never better than at sunset.

3. Dubrovnik Carnival and Summer Festival

Each July and August, outdoor piazzas become open-air platforms for the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
The oldest cultural festival in Croatia is a mix of theater, ballet, classical music, opera and dancing in the streets.
In February, Dubrovnik mirrors Venice with a five-week medieval carnival that transforms marble streets into a parade of masked balls.
There’s also a wine and jazz festival during the more tranquil month of September.

4. Scenic coastline

One of Europe’s most attractive drives is the 20-kilometer Dubrovnik to Cavtat coastal route.
The mountaintop route wends through vineyards and quaint waterfront villages. Antique churches, forested headlands, beach boats and cafes are all part of the scenery.
There are coastal resorts at Cavtat, Mlini and Srebreno, away from the bustle of Dubrovnik.
Mlini offers isolated beaches and dense greenery.
Cavtat is charmingly Croatian and sometimes sprinkled with famous faces said to include Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

5. ‘Game of Thrones‘ tour

Dubrovnik’s walled city is riddled with filming locations used in “Game of Thrones.”
It served as the setting of King’s Landing, capital of the Seven Kingdoms.
A three-hour walking tour takes in highlights such as the scene of battles such as Stannis Baratheon‘s Battle of the Blackwater.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it’s still a fun alternative tour that mixes fact with fiction.

6. Killer villas

Boutique villas are to Dubrovnik what riads are to Marrakech.
Often converted private residences, the luxury whitewashed villas blend into the landscape
Among them is Villa Dubrovnik, a spa with suites equipped with hot tubs overlooking the Adriatic.
Recently upgraded, the Leading Hotels of the World property has sensational views of the Old Town from its rooftop Prosciutto & Wine bar.
It also has a stylish vaporetto speedboat for transfers to the Old Town.

7. Croatian wines

Croatia may not be a name synonymous with wine, but it should be.
With wine-producing history dating back to around 2200 B.C., the industry flourished under the Greeks but was disrupted by the Ottoman invasion.
Things picked up again in 2010 with the creation of the Association of Croatian Wineries.
There are some 64 indigenous grape varieties producing Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1,000 or so wineries that scatter rural Croatia.
“Posip is the famous white wine from Korcula Island,” says Tonci Nola, a manager at Villa Dubrovnik.
“A heavier option is the strong and bold-flavored Kuca Glavic from this Dubrovnik Riviera. Red-wine lovers should opt for Tribidrag, from the far north, for its powerful, full-bodied finish.”
Fall is when the vineyards come alive and can be visited.

8. Food with a view

There’s no shortage of restaurants with stellar views along the riviera, but only a few have food to match.
Among the best are Nautika’s outlets — a distinctly Croatian group of waterfront and clifftop eateries.
Panorama is an intimate casual affair atop Mount Srd, reachable by the cable car, where local cheesecakes and sauteed fish can be enjoyed alongside views of the Old Town.
Flagship Nautika, regularly named among the world’s most romantic restaurants, sits on a waterfront cliff edging the Dubrovnik’s ancient fortifications.
Here, chef Mario Bunda serves Mediterranean flavors including lobster from the Dalmatian island of Vis and shrimp from the Adriatic.
Further along the Riviera, in Cavtat, there’s a lineup of harbor front restaurants serving typically Croatian lamb chops and baked octopus.

9. Island hopping

With more than a thousand Croatian islands, the question is where?
And how — travelers can cross the Adriatic waters aboard anything from kayaks to sailboats.
Lokrum Island is easily accessed from Dubrovnik and is known for its Dead Sea-style salty lake, 12th-century Benedictine monastery and resident peacocks.
There are spotless beaches and picturesque harbors bordered by rolling hills and hidden coves on Korcula.
Mljet, accessible by boat from Dubrovnik harbor, promises adventure.
The Mljet National Park spans 3,100 hectares, with lakes and indigenous forests filled with hiking trails. Offshore are wreck sites for divers.

10. Betina Cave Beach

Betina Cave Beach is only accessible by swimming from a boat, kayak, or from land.
In the heat of summer, this beautiful spot provides a cool shelter, with pebble sands lapped by turquoise Mediterranean waters.

11. Cliff bars

Clinging to a cliff and suspended over the sea, Buza Bar is a legendary location on the Dubrovnik Riviera.
It’s a great spot to mingle with locals while watching magnificent sunsets. There are no signs, so finding the spot is half the fun.

12. Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina

The fjords and mountains of Montenegro are a stone’s throw from Dubrovnik Riviera. A coastal road leads straight to the Bay of Kotor UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Dotted with tiny stone fishing villages and ornate homes, churches and islands, this is an unforgettable day trip.
The border of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies inland, but can also be explored in a day’s outing.
Popular day trips include Mostar, for the iconic Stari Most, a 14th-century bridge.
There’s a cobbled bazaar, ornate wooden balconies and towering mosque minarets that offer 360-degree city views.

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Barcelona day trips: Picasso’s Catalonia

(CNN)The line stretches the length of a narrow stone-paved street in the heart of Barcelona’s old quarter.

Picasso and Barcelona

It may not be the largest or the one that holds the artist’s most celebrated paintings, but Barcelona’s Picasso Museum boasts some unique qualities that earn it a place of honor in the Picassian world.
This is the only Picasso museum which the artist himself helped set up: a tribute to the powerful connection to Barcelona that the Malaga-born Cubist kept throughout his life.
“This is the only place where you can get a full vision of Picasso’s formative years, we have a very comprehensive collection covering the years of his youth,” says Malen Gual, the museum’s conservator.
Picasso regularly donated his works to the museum, including the “Meninas” series, the artists homage to 17th-century Spanish painter Diego Velzquez.
“It is the only museum that keeps one of Picasso’s thematic series in its entirety,” adds Gual.

Caf Els 4 Gats

A short walk from the museum, and still within the Barcelona’s old quarter, is another must for anyone retracing Picasso’s footsteps.
The cafe Els 4 Gats (The 4 Cats) still looks pretty much as it did in the early 20th century when it was the epicenter of Barcelona’s artistic life and one of Picasso’s favorite hangouts.
It’s here that Picasso held his first solo exhibition and, most importantly, where he met the local bohemia. Fellow, older, painters like Ramon Casas and Miquel Utrillo fascinated him with tales of Paris and the wider world.
Picasso would indeed travel to Paris, eventually settling there and becoming the renowned artist we all know.
But before all that, and to better understand how it all began, we need to head to the Catalonian countryside.

‘Everything I know, I learned in Horta’

The picturesque hilltop village of Horta de Sant Joan, surrounded by almond and olive groves, seems a world apart from the buzz of Barcelona’s old quarter.
Hardly any tourists make it to this off-the-beaten-track corner of rural Catalonia, some 150 miles southwest of Barcelona, and yet these landscapes played a massive role in the making of Picasso, the artist.
Born Pablo Ruiz Picasso in Malaga in 1881, the teenage Picasso moved with his family to Barcelona in 1895.
He signed up for art school, where he met Manuel Pallars, a native of Horta. Not only would they become lifelong friends, but this encounter would prove providential.

Barcelona: the magical capital of Catalonia


In 1898, young Picasso was going through a rough patch. He’d had a scholarship canceled and contracted scarlet fever. Longing for change, he accepted Pallars’ invitation to spend the summer with him in Horta.
Rather than staying with Pallares’ family, the two friends headed for the nearby hills, where they converted a natural rock refuge into a temporary home.
They were to spend the next few weeks living in the wild, painting. Their only contact with the outside world were sporadic supply visits from Pallares’ younger brother and the occasional visit to nearby farmhouses.
This primitive lifestyle ended with the summer, but Picasso remained in Horta until early the next year, with an initial two-month stay stretching into eight months.
This experience left an indelible mark on the young artist.
He did not resume his art studies.
Instead, he joined Barcelona’s bohemian scene and embarked on a path that would lead him to develop his own style and become a pioneer of the Cubist art movement.

Horta revisited

But this was not to be the end of Picasso’s affair with Horta.
He returned 10 years later, in 1909. Already a successful artist by this time, he was joined by a group of friends and his lover and muse, Fernande Olivier.
If Picasso’s first visit to Horta marked him personally, this second visit was to do so artistically.
Picasso, who was already experimenting with Cubism, found in Horta the ideal place to consolidate his emerging unique style.
The characteristic outline of Els Ports mountain range, with its clearly defined geometrical shapes, provided, together with the presence of Fernande Olivier, the right state of mind for him to enter a particularly productive period.

Picasso painting breaks record, sells for $179 million


Picasso obsessively painted the nearby Santa Barbara mountain, in an apparent homage to Paul Cezanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire series.
It’s at that time his style showed an accelerated progression towards abstraction.
In his Horta series, “Picasso ended up merging the mountain and the image of his girlfriend, perhaps in an attempt to combine his two loves, Horta and Fernande,” explains Elias Gaston, the president of Horta’s Centre Picasso.
The Center doesn’t hold any original paintings, but it has facsimile reproductions of Picasso’s works inspired by Horta.
Local spots connected to the painter are also conveniently marked with plaques, making it easier for enthusiasts to trace his footsteps.
The landscape around Horta appears little changed since Picasso’s time. Horta is one of the gateways to the Els Ports Natural Park, where the adventurous can visit the rock refuge in which the artist and his best friend spent that transformative summer of 1898.

In the shadow of the Pyrenees

But Horta isn’t the only Catalan village where you can follow Picasso’s footsteps in a majestic natural setting.
Right at the foot of the Pyrenees, the charming mountain hamlet of Gsol, with its traditionally built stone houses and dramatic alpine scenery, couldn’t be more different from the Mediterranean olive groves of Horta.
Yet this is a landscape that’s also closely connected to Picasso.
The only way to reach Gsol in 1906, when Picasso traveled there in the company of Fernande Olivier, was a long and arduous mule ride. But this isolation and deeply rural atmosphere was to make a big impact on his work.
“Picasso was going through a period of artistic blockage,” explains Marc Bernadas, manager of Gsol’s Gsol’s Centre Picasso.
“He was increasingly frustrated by the fact that he did not find a satisfactory way to complete the portrait of American art collector Gertrude Stein. When he came to Gsol he was looking for a getaway, a place where he could isolate himself from the social and artistic scene he frequented and find new sources of inspiration.”
And he found it. The 90 days he spent in the village drove Picasso’s style further into primitivism and on the path to cubism.

Barcelona: A guide to the Catalan city


In particular, a polychrome 12th-century wooden Madonna he encountered at the local church is believed to have made a particular impression on his work, in particular his 1906 painting “Woman with Loaves.”
The Madonna is currently preserved at MNAC, Catalonia’s National Art Museum.
Catalan Romanesque art remained a constant source of inspiration for Picasso throughout his life.
Although still relatively off-track, it’s now much faster and easier to reach Gsol than in Picasso’s time. You can even manage it as a day trip from Barcelona, about 90 minutes’ drive away.
The village is a gateway to the Cad-Moixer Natural Park and the twin-peaked Pedraforca mountain.
Gosol’s tiny Centre Picasso documents the artist’s stay in the village and displays reproductions of some of the most significant works he completed during his stay here.

Leaving a mark

Although Picasso last visited Barcelona in the 1930s and spent most of his adult life in France, where he died in Mougins in 1973, the intense experiences he lived in the city and the nearby villages during those formative years never fully left him.
A quote often attributed to Picasso in his later years is, “Everything I know, I learned in Horta.”

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    Budapest: Insider Travel Guide

    (CNN)Budapest usually comes as a sweet surprise to travelers, who don’t quite know what expect before visiting this city of 1.7 million.

    In many ways it’s still in transition.
    It has made so much progress over the past two and a half decades since the fall of the Iron Curtain, yet everywhere there are unmistakable signs that still better things are yet to come. The din of major construction and restoration projects is ever-present.
    The local fashion and design scene has taken off, and of course there’s the food. Hungarian cuisine is worth traveling for, and the restaurants in Budapest — from the traditional to the Michelin-starred — are still a relative bargain. Luckily the country also produces equally fine wine to pair with the food.
    There’s no better place to start than with the best of Budapest:


    Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace
    This Four Seasons is consistently lauded in international travel magazines, and for good reason.
    It not only offers five-star luxury in a perfect location (facing the Danube at the foot of the Chain Bridge), but the building itself is an art nouveau stunner.
    Built in 1906, the building was beautifully restored, down to the last Zsolnay tile.
    More than a quarter of the hotel’s 179 rooms face the Danube.
    The attic-level spa has an infinity lap pool and offers treatments using products created with mineral-rich thermal water from Omorovicza, a local company.
    The lobby bar makes excellent cocktails, and the attached Gresham Caf has a menu combining modern Hungarian with Italian.
    Corinthia Hotel
    When the Corinthia first opened on busy Erzsbet boulevard in 1896 it was the city’s most luxurious hotel, favored by celebrities and royalty.
    It has been beautifully restored, and its 414 rooms (with marble bathrooms) are a welcome refuge after a day of exploring.
    The attached Royal spa — which has a 15-meter pool and several saunas and steam rooms — dates to 1886 and was nearly turned into a parking garage a few years ago before it was re-discovered at the last minute.
    The breakfast buffet is fabulous, and be sure to book in advance if you plan to dine at the attached Bock Bisztr.
    Baltazar Hotel
    The 11-room Baltazar, located in the Castle District, is Budapest’s newest boutique hotel.
    Rooms are all individual, colorful and decorated with vintage furniture and pops of fun touches (like the Keith Haring theme in one and the playful take on “Girl With a Pearl Earring” in another).
    Bathrooms have rain showers and feature handcrafted local limestone.
    Though you may have trouble leaving your room, the restaurant and wine bar on the ground floor, thankfully, are just a few steps away.
    The family that owns this hotel and restaurant also operates several other popular Budapest restaurants.
    Tip: ask for the room with the balcony, from which you can enjoy the quiet Castle street view.
    Brody House
    Brody House is more than just a super-cool boutique hotel in the up-and-coming Palace District.
    It’s also a hub of creativity, focused on showcasing and supporting local artists, designers, writers, musicians and other creative types.
    The 11 rooms are all unique, decorated by a different artist and featuring Brody’s signature rough-luxe style, with most furnishings and dcor created from up-cycled material.
    If you need more space, there’s also the nearby Brody Residences, eight similarly cool furnished apartments.
    Be sure to check out the roster of events happening at Brody House and its newer venue, Brody Studios.
    Zara Continental
    Located in the Jewish Quarter, in its previous life the Zara was an elegant bathhouse.
    The 272-room hotel has art deco touches throughout, and offers great amenities for business travelers (including a business center and conference rooms) as well as for tourists.
    The rooftop garden and pool (closed November-March) is a highlight, and the surrounding streets are full of quirky bars, shops and small cafs.


    Budapest became a Michelin-star city in 2010 when Costes got the first.
    Onyx earned its star the following year and is the only other restaurant in the country with this top award.
    Onyx is owned by Gerbeaud and is located in the historic Budapest patisserie’s former Royal Salon, where Habsburg family members once ate cake.
    Chefs Szabina Szull and Tams Szll focus on using the best local ingredients to prepare updated versions of traditional Hungarian cuisine (the best way to experience this is to try the six-course Hungarian Evolution tasting menu).
    The three-course lunch menu is a relative bargain at 27.
    Bock Bisztr
    Jzsef Bock, an acclaimed winemaker from the southern Villny region, is this restaurant’s namesake.
    But chef Lajos Br is the one behind the menu, which was one of the first in Budapest to deliver a contemporary approach to Hungarian cuisine.
    Attached to the Corinthia Hotel, Bock Bisztr naturally has a wonderful wine list (which includes selections from around the country, not just Bock’s own).
    And the ever-changing menu features Br’s imaginative takes on Hungarian classic dishes (for example foie gras sushi and cabbage leaves stuffed with pike perch tartare) and Hungarian-style small plates (such as Mangalica carpaccio).
    Be sure to make reservations in advance.
    Named for the hotel that once operated in this building, Tigris is an upscale Hungarian restaurant with a 19th-century atmosphere (in keeping with the style of the building), and a great selection of Hungarian wine.
    The menu is fairly traditional and relies on seasonal ingredients.
    Though nearly every Hungarian restaurant offers one or two foie gras dishes (Hungary, after all, is the second largest producer of it in the world), Tigris takes its passion for foie gras to an extreme and offers at least a half-dozen different preparations of it at a time, as well as an equally nice selection of sweet Tokaj wine to pair with them.
    The name Borkonyha translates as “wine kitchen,” and the attention to the nectar here makes it a perfect place to sample some of Hungary’s increasingly fabulous vintages (four dozen are available by the glass).
    Chef kos Srkzy takes a contemporary approach to Hungarian cuisine and his menu changes every week or two.
    If Mangalica (a luscious Hungarian heritage pork variety) is available, this is a great place to try it.
    Borkonyha’s signature foie gras appetizer — wrapped in strudel dough before sauting so it develops an ultra-crispy crust — might be the best in Budapest.
    Try it the traditional way: accompanied by a glass of sweet Tokaj wine.
    Atakm Budai Bistro
    This low-key restaurant in a residential Buda neighborhood (just below the Castle District) has quietly become one of Budapest’s most interesting restaurants.
    Chef Lajos Nanasi has created a menu that mixes French with Hungarian and usually includes one or two wonderful fresh pasta dishes.
    The beef tartare appetizer, a Hungarian favorite that’s given a French touch here, is a menu staple worth ordering.
    The wine list focuses on small local producers from Hungary and the neighboring countries, which are not widely available.
    From eggs Benedict at breakfast and burgers for lunch, to steak frites for dinner and late-night drinks at the bar, Dryn’s regulars come at all hours.
    It’s easy to see how it has become such a favorite: it feels like the perfect bistro.
    In its previous life, the space was Buda’s grandest caf (owned by the Auguszt family), complete with an orchestra for afternoon tea.
    The atmosphere of old-time elegance remains in the handful of different dining rooms (each with its own personality).
    Dryn’s kitchen also produces wonderful bread and pastries, which are sold at a sidewalk kiosk.
    Centrl Kvhz
    Coffeehouses at the turn of the last century functioned as second homes to the artists, poets and journalists who labored at their marble tables, while the headwaiters supplied them with paper and even ran their errands.
    The coffeehouses were sadly shut down during the communist era, and most never re-opened.
    Centrl, however, has been restored to look just as it did in its heyday.
    Though there is a full lunch and dinner menu, Centrl is also a fine place to simply sit and sip coffee (and perhaps nibble on a slice of Dobos torta) and admire the surroundings.
    Auguszt Cukrszda
    The Auguszt family bakery first opened in 1870 and was the most elegant patisserie on the Buda
    The business has always been family-owned, but went through many ups and downs during the Communist era.
    Now, there are three locations (two on the Buda side and one on the Pest side), which serve some of the best cakes in town.
    This is one of the best places in Budapest to try a krmes (similar to a Napoleon) or an Ezterhzy torta (a layered walnut cake).
    Belvrosi Diszntoros
    In Budapest, butchers aren’t just places for buying meat.
    Some of them also serve lunch: simple roasted and fried slabs of meat, sausages and pickled vegetables.
    The “Downtown Pig Feast” is a more modern version of this tradition.
    Instead of selling raw meat, it focuses on cooking.
    As at a traditional butcher, tables are standing-only and food is eaten from paper plates with plastic cutlery.
    But here the selection is wider and it’s a great place to try some of the classic no-frills Hungarian meat-heavy dishes such as knuckle of pork, roasted duck and sausages with fresh grated horseradish and a pickled vegetable selection from the pickle bar.
    Being a landlocked country, Hungary isn’t well known for its roster of fish dishes. Halkakas, however, has decided to try to change that. This very casual restaurant specializes in local freshwater fish.
    While it occasionally offers a classic Hungarian fish dish such as halszl (fisherman’s soup), it prefers to skip the usual Hungarian recipes in favor of simple grilled or fried fish, or more unexpected dishes like catfish gyros and fish burgers.
    The owner, who is often waiting the tables herself, is the daughter of a fisherman (who also makes the house wine).


    DiVino Borbr
    DiVino is a lively wine bar located just in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica.
    When the weather’s warm, tables are set up in the square next to the Basilica, and drinkers spill out into square with their wine glasses.
    DiVino (now with other locations, including one in Gozsdu udvar) specializes in wines made by the younger generations of Hungary’s great wine-making families.
    Boutiq’ Bar
    Fun bars with personality abound in Budapest, but precious few make a good cocktail.
    Boutiq’ is one of them.
    Boutiq’ bills itself a neo-speakeasy, and has deep red walls, numerous mirrors and subtle lighting.
    High quality cocktails are what Boutiq’ is all about, and the highly trained, and deeply passionate, bartenders here produce them artfully.
    The cocktail list is long, and tempting.
    If you are having trouble deciding, try a drink made from plinka (Hungarian fruit brandy).
    Lht Craft Beer Bar
    Hungary’s so-called craft beer revolution is still in its infancy.
    But interest in local microbrews, and their availability, is growing rapidly.
    “Beer Cooler” is located in Gozsdu udvar (a complex of seven buildings connected by six courtyards, full of cafes, bars and restaurants) and is among the best places in Budapest to sample a few of the new craft beers.
    The bar has six taps and a frequently changing lineup of beers, both on draft and in bottles.
    No food is served, but if you’re sitting outside you can grab a burger or a sausage from the nearby food trucks.
    Clustered in the inner seventh district, ruin bars are a phenomenon unique to Budapest.
    Visiting these quirky, eclectically furnished bars, which are located in crumbling abandoned buildings, is a fun way to spend at least an evening.
    Fogashz is one of these ruin pubs, but is more than just a bar (actually, there are three bars inside the two-story building).
    It holds a variety of cultural events from art exhibitions and film screenings to DJs and dancing.
    This town excels in nightlife, and Instant is the best of Budapest.
    There are extensive opportunities for fun in the two buildings and three levels that comprise Instant: there are 23 rooms with six bars and three dance floors.
    The music plays all day, the drinks flow, there’s food and there are many concerts and DJs.
    Instant describes itself as an enchanted forest, and with the fairytale-like animals throughout the venue, that’s exactly how it feels.


    Central Market Hall
    The Central Market Hall is one of Budapest’s many fantastic local markets.
    The cavernous 19th-century building is definitely a tourist attraction, but it’s also a place where locals do their daily shopping.
    Butchers sell everything from the nose to the tail, greengrocers have piles of local, seasonal vegetables and fruit, and the strings of dried paprika hanging everywhere won’t let you forget you’re in Hungary.
    The briny scent of pickles can be followed down to the basement level, where there are gorgeous displays of them, as well as fish and game.
    Falk Miksa utca
    Whether you’re a serious collector or just like to browse, Falk Miksa utca, a lovely tree-lined street two blocks from the Danube, is the perfect strolling venue.
    Between the Parliament and Margaret Bridge, Budapest’s antique row holds the highest concentration of antique shops in town.
    A few shops and galleries to look for: Kieselbach Galria (Szent Istvn krt 5) specializes in paintings and also functions as an auction house, Nagyhzi Galria (Balaton utca 8) is one of the larger shops and stocks a variety of items from outdoor statues and rustic painted furniture to oversized chandeliers and shiny Biedermeier furniture, and Darius (Falk Miksa utca 24-26) sells top-notch furnishings, weapons, rugs and paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries.
    Falk Miksa utca between Szent Istvn krt and Szalay utca; moderate-expensive
    Owned by a graphic designer and a photographer/print designer, Printa is mainly focused on the printed arts.
    There’s a silkscreen studio in the back, and the shop stocks designs, mostly by Hungarian artists.
    There are posters and prints, clothing and handbags, and wallets and jewelry.
    Many pieces are made from up-cycled materials, and the Budapest-themed pieces make great souvenirs and gifts.
    Even if you’re not shopping, some of the best coffee in Budapest makes it worth popping in.
    Hybrid Design Shop & Caf
    After standing empty for years, a few years ago the blocky old bus station on Erzsbet tr was transformed into Design Terminal, a venue that focuses on the contemporary and urban arts.
    This attached shop sells items made by Hungarian designers, from books and stationary to jewelry and ceramics.
    The small caf serves coffee, drinks and a few sweets.
    Hybrid Design Shop & Caf, 1051 Budapest, Erzsbet tr 1-3; +36 (1) 327 7200
    Mester Porta
    Hungary’s folk artisans create beautiful pieces out of clay, wool, felt, thread and glass.
    Most Hungarian regions have their own folk style or prominent folk motifs, and Mester Morta is a small shop below the Castle that offers a nice selection of high quality folk art.
    There are sets of all-black ceramics, colorful embroidery from the Maty region, delicately painted eggs and more.
    Each piece is labeled with the name of the artisan who made it.
    Mester Porta, 1011 Budapest, Corvin tr 7; +36 (70) 244 8432


    The Danube and its banks
    The Danube runs through the center of Budapest, with Pest on the east and Buda on the west.
    The best way to begin exploring the city is by taking a walk along its banks, where you can take in some of the city’s most important sights.
    Point so interest include the neo-Gothic Parliament (third largest in the world), the Buda Castle, the Shoes on the Danube (a moving memorial to the Jews who were shot into the Danube during World War II after being ordered to remove their shoes), Gellrt Hill and the Statue of Liberty, Margaret Island, and the bridges connecting the two sides (most notably Chain Bridge, which was first built in 1849 and was the first bridge to connect the two sides).
    Tip: If you don’t feel like walking, the #2 tram on the Pest side runs along the Danube. There are also boats that ride along the river
    Margaret Island
    Budapest’s most scenic park, Margaret Island is a Danube isle between Buda and Pest.
    The park holds two swimming pool complexes, a padded jogging path, a petting zoo, an open-air theater, a musical fountain, a restaurant and many perfect picnic spots.
    Home to the Opera House, embassies and diplomatic residences, museums, and more.
    Andrssy t
    Andrssy t, a wide, tree-lined avenue that begins not far from Dek tr, is the city’s most elegant boulevard, lined with architecturally striking buildings.
    If you have a few hours to spare, leisurely walking the length of the street is a nice way to spend them.
    Be sure to admire the Opera House (Andrssy t 22), and if you need a break, stop for a coffee at Mvsz Kvhz (Andrssy t 29) or Bookcaf (Andrssy t 39, second floor of the former Paris Department Store).
    The House of Terror (Andrssy t 60) is a powerful museum where you can learn about the grim realities of life in Hungary under the Communist and Nazi regimes.
    Andrssy t ends at Heroes’ Square, where City Park begins.
    The M1 (yellow) metro line runs the length of Andrssy t, below ground
    Budapest’s largest park includes Heroes Square, built in 1896.
    City Park and Heroes’ Square
    Hsk tere (Heroes’ Square) marks the end of Andrssy t, and is flanked by the Museum of Fine Arts and Mcsarnok on either side.
    Heroes’ Square, and the Millennium Monument at its center, was built to commemorate the millennium of the Magyars.
    Archangel Gabriel tops the monument and the seven chieftains who led the Magyar tribes to Hungary are below.
    Statues of Hungarian historical figures stand between columns fanning out from the center of the square.
    City Park (Vrosliget) — the largest park in Budapest — and all of its diversions lay beyond the square.
    Here you will find the Szchenyi Bath House, the Zoo, the Circus, the Museum of Agriculture and a pond that offers ice skating in the winter and row boating in the summer.
    Franz Liszt Academy of Music
    After a two-year restoration, the Art Nouveau Zeneakademia was reopened earlier this month.
    This concert hall and music academy was founded by Hungarian composer Ferenc Liszt in 1875, and is still Hungary’s most prestigious music school.
    Even if you aren’t attending a concert, it’s worth peeking inside to take a peek at the stained glass windows (made by Miksa Roth), the Zsolnay tiles, the crystal chandeliers and the shimmering mosaics and murals.

    Bath Houses

    The ground under Budapest is rich with thermal water.
    Here are a few places to experience its healing properties.
    (Be aware that each bathhouse has its own entrance procedure and changing room system, which can be complicated! Best advice for navigating it: just follow someone else who looks like they know what they’re doing.)
    The largest of the city’s Turkish bath houses, Rudas also opens late.
    Rudas Frd
    The 16th-century Rudas has a 10-meter-high domed ceiling through which rays of light pierce the water below.
    The large octagonal pool is the main attraction, flanked by four smaller pools of varying temperatures in the corners.
    There’s also a series of saunas and steam rooms.
    Located on the Danube bank in Buda, the fantastic rooftop sunbathing area has some of the best views in town.
    The late-night weekend hours draw a younger crowd.
    Kirly Frd
    Built in 1565 by the Ottomans, the Kirly is among the smaller bathhouses.
    Though it’s long overdue for renovation and a bit of modernization, Kirly’s regulars love its tranquility and unchanged atmosphere.
    There’s an octagonal main pool under the domed roof, with beams of light poking the water lapping over the edges, along with two other small pools: a very hot one and an ice-cold plunge pool.
    If you’re looking to avoid crowds, this is your bath.
    Szchenyi Frd
    Located in City Park, the 19th-century Szchenyi is Budapest’s most popular bathhouse, and rightly so.
    The Neo-Baroque building is one of Europe’s largest spa complexes, and the steam rising from the outdoor pool is an iconic Budapest image.
    In addition to the three outdoor pools there are another 15 indoor pools and 10 steam rooms and saunas.
    The thermal water that fills the Szchenyi’s pools comes from a depth of more than one kilometer below the ground.
    Gellrt Frd
    The Secessionist-style Gellrt, built in 1918, is arguably Budapest’s most beautiful bathhouse, with architectural details like frescoed ceilings, intricate stone columns, tile mosaics, statuettes and domed ceilings.
    There are three main sections with eight thermal pools, two Jacuzzis, and several saunas and steam rooms.
    The Gellrt is the city’s most expensive bath, and the crowd here consists of tourists more than locals.
    Palatinus Strandfrd
    Budapest’s largest swimming complex, on the western side of Margaret Island, is where Budapest comes to cool off during the summer.
    Its 11 different pools include water slides, an adventure pool, a wave pool, several swimming pools and two open-air thermal pools.
    There are playgrounds, plenty of grassy areas for sunbathing, and vendors selling beer and junk food.
    Water in the pools comes from the thermal springs on Margaret Island.
    Veli Bej Frdje
    This bath was also built during the Ottoman era and recently underwent a five-year restoration and modernization.
    Though it re-opened in 2012, the renovation process is still not quite complete, so to enter this bath house you must walk through an adjacent hospital.
    Like the other Turkish bathhouses, there’s a large octagonal pool surrounded by four smaller pools of differing temperatures.


    Read more:

    Stay protected around the globe with worldwide travel insurance

    Article by Peter Smyth

    Whether you are visiting the ancient Mayan Ruins in Mexico or the Sydney Opera House in Australia, having worldwide travel insurance can help make sure that trip is one to remember, for all the right reasons. Few activities bring the pleasure and excitement that traveling all over the world does, but costs are always a concern and every traveler at some point or another has considered whether or not they should get travel insurance.

    Travel insurance is needed by all travelers:

    Travel insurance is now easier to get than it’s even been before. Travel insurance companies are aggressively marketing their policies and services in various ways, especially on the internet. You need only to enter in your travel information, and in seconds you can receive numerous quotes from providers who eager to provide you with a policy for your next trip.

    If you are a worldwide traveler then it’s not a question of whether or not you’ll need travel insurance, but merely when. Some people doubt the need for travel insurance, falsely believing that it is too expensive and unnecessary, but nothing could be further from the truth. Even in the case of minor incidents, having travel insurance can prove to be well worth the added expense to your trip.

    Don’t know where to begin your search for world travel insurance?

    If the idea of looking for travel insurance seems intimidating, here are a few ways that you can take the process step by step and find the best coverage.

    Identify what coverage you will need- Worldwide travel insurance offers almost any type of coverage you may find yourself in need of when traveling, including accidental death and dismemberment, medical care, lost and stolen baggage and personal property, and trip cancellation and interruption. Most insurers offer plans which will include all of the aforementioned protection, so as to address the needs of every traveler as best as possible.

    Compare insurers- Worldwide travel insurance is offered by plenty of companies but the best deal for you may be available only through one company. Don’t accept the first quote you receive, instead shop around and compare coverage from a number of providers, it’s the only way to guarantee that you’re in fact receiving the best rate on insurance that’s available.

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions and read the fine print-It’s important that you understand exactly what your travel insurance does and does not cover, and the best way to do so is to ask questions and read the details of the policy before you purchase it.

    Having just any travel insurance plan just won’t do; get adequate coverage from a provider that you can count on.

    Article by Peter Smyth

    For great rates on worldwide travel insurance try:

    Staysure’s 5-Star rated, Award Winning products can give you the peace of mind needed at a price that’s right – allowing you to widen your travel horizons.



    // ]]>

    Top Adventure Travel Ideas

    The thrill and allure of adventure travel has to be experienced to be believed. For the adventurous travelers, there are loads of activities to be done and destinations to be visited that can make for an unforgettable vacation.

    Be it mountain biking or skiing, the adrenaline rush experienced by the adventure travelers at some destinations in the world is much more in comparison to what is experienced at other destinations. So, let’s list here the adventure sports and the destination you need to book your cheap flight to for maximum excitement, fun and adventure.

    For one of the greatest ski experiences in the world, pay a visit to the renowned Alpine resorts of Zermatt and Chamonix. The 140 km route, which takes about a week to complete, offers scintillating views of the finest peaks of the Alps. If it’s a challenging hike that you prefer to skiing, visit the resort during summers and hike away to the Haute Route.

    The Icefields Parkway, stretching beyond 230 km, is considered to be one of the most scenic roads in the world. Cycling on this lake-lined valley between Jasper and Lake Louise can take anything from 2-5 days depending on ones expertise and pace. Replete with mountains, lakes and an array of mammals, a bike tour between two chains of the Rocky Mountains is an experience worth remembering for a lifetime.

    Fondly called the Golden Eye jump, the bungee jumping at Verzasca Dam in Switzerland is one of the highest commercial bungee jumps in the world. From the leap backwards to the classic swan dive, endure one of the most exciting bungee jumps that has created movie history by featuring in the James Bond movie! A must-visit destination for all the biking enthusiasts, Moab in Utah, United States is undoubtedly one of the most renowned mountain biking routes in the world.

    Featuring sandstone ridges, plunging descents and super steep climbs, one can take on this 20 km loop through one-day or multi-day tour options. Book your cheap flight to Utah today and get a unique mountain biking experience like nowhere else in the world. Krabi, located on the Andaman coast of Thailand, is one of the best rock climbing destinations in the world. Featuring spectacular karst formations, the mountain climbing routes in the region is for all adventure seekers who are serious about scaling a cliff.

    If it’s kayaking on your mind, the Glacier Bay in Alaska is the place to be in. Full of icebergs that flow down from the mountains, paddle where you wish by getting dropped by a tour boat at varied spots in the bay. To walk along the hungry hordes of lions and cheetahs, there’s no better place to visit than the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

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    Apart from cheap flights to Alaska, one can easily book kayaks and guides online from the comfort of ones home or office.The park features seven wilderness trails where one can either walk amidst wilderness on their own or opt for safer guided overnight walks. With cheap flights to South Africa being available all through the year, it’s no surprise that this national park is quite sought after amidst adventure seekers from around the globe.

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    How to travel the world on a shoestring.

    As travel has been made extra inexpensive, handy, and sensible, it actually has change into a staple a part of the lifestyles that so many of us lead. Journey is each instructional and inspirational. When we venture to new areas, we not only expand our private horizons, but we familiarize ourselves with necessary points of different cultures, languages, and ways of life. Travel might be instrumental to our private development and important to the way in which we see the world. Travelling to different nations might be refreshing because it permits us to get a grasp on bits of history as well as culture. Individuals, locations, and establishments in several elements of the world can really open our eyes to all different facets of life. Whether you are travelling for personal causes or enterprise causes you must at all times maximize each second spent away from home.

    Every new place you go to can really convey lots to the table. Whether you are branching out out of your normal on a regular basis life to embark on a historical journey, or you are holidaying and eager to take advantage of a tropical expertise in Hawaii, the most effective methods to get an all-inclusive travel expertise is to take a tour of the location. Luxurious escorted tours have gotten excellent methods to get a agency understanding of any destination. From Asia, to South America, to Australia, skilled tour guides can ensure you do not miss a thing; thus, permitting you to maximize each day of your travels.

    Travelling to completely different elements of the world might be quite expensive, which serves as more incentive to benefit from your experience. With luxury escorted tours, you may relaxation assured that each side of the country you are visiting will be covered. From thrilling prepare rides, to enchanting local highlights, luxury escorted tours can serve as a key factor in giving individuals a nicely-rounded travel experience.

    Tour packages to plenty of international locations can be found on the market. Irrespective of which nation stands out to you, luxury escorted tours are available and reasonably priced on the internet. Nothing can quite evaluate to giving the present of travel to the one you love or household, or simply taking time off work for a once in a lifetime personal vacation overseas.

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    New resorts are now being built not only with accommodation but also with venues for meetings, events, conferences to meet the international increasing demands of choosing Vietnam Trips to be their destination.

    Graham Hughes, the first person to visit every country in the world without flying offers his expert advice on how to travel the world on a shoestring. When …

    More Budget Travel Articles

    Europe Budget Travel Tips

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    by Dean Wickham 

    Full of history, great culture and beautiful architecture and natural landscapes, Europe is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, but it is also one of the most expensive. Finding a cheap flight is a good way to start saving money on your European trip, however once you are there, accommodation, food and transport costs can quickly chew through your budget.

    Although Europe can be expensive, there are many ways to save money and travel this great continent even if you are a budget traveller. Here are some tips on how to travel Europe on a budget.

    Accommodation Hostels One of the best ways to save money in Europe is to stay in hostels. You may think that hostels are only for 20 something backpackers looking to party, but in truth there are hostel options for all types of travellers. The cheapest hostel rooms are known as dorms, where you get your own bed in a shared room that usually house from 4-10 people, as well as a shared bathroom. Most hostels also offer private rooms, some just as nice as a hotel room but at a much cheaper price.

    Camping:  Even cheaper than hostels, camping can be a great option. In Europe there is an excellent amount of convenient camp grounds, often even within major cities. And these camp grounds have excellent facilities such as bathrooms, cooking areas and shuttle buses to take you to the nearest town or city.

    Last minute deals, multiple night stays and advanced bookings: If you want to stay in hotels, there are still plenty of ways to save money. Often hotels will offer last minute deals if they have plenty of rooms available, and give a great discount. Many hotels also offer discounts for booking more than a certain amount of nights, while others offer discounts if you book well in advance. It’s a good idea to look around on hotel sites and see what is available.

    Apartments: If you’re staying in a certain city for a few weeks or more, renting an apartment can be a very affordable option. The longer you stay, the more options there are to save money. For example some apartments can be rented on a weekly basis, while others are monthly. This is also a great option if you are travelling with a few people to share the cost.

    Food, Cook your own:  If you are staying in a hostel, camping or renting an apartment, it is likely that you will have kitchen facilities available. Buying your food at a supermarket and cooking it your self will save you a lot of money. This doesn’t mean that you have to eat every meal like this, but even one meal a day will save you a lot of money in the long run.

    Eat local:  Eating where the locals eat can be a lot cheaper than eating where the tourists eat, and usually the food will be a lot better too. Often restaurants that are located close to tourist attractions will leave you with a hefty bill, while you may be able to walk a couple of blocks away and find a nice restaurant for half the price! Usually the locals know best.

    Street food/take away:  It’s not unusual to find different food carts or eateries located around a city, and they are a great option for saving money on food. For example: For only a couple of dollars you could buy a nice slice of Pizza in Rome, a Crepe in Paris, or a Bratwurst in Berlin.

    Transport Rail pass:  One of the best ways to travel in Europe is on the train, and a great way to save money on train fares is to buy a rail pass. There are many different passes available from single country passes to complete passes that allow you to travel all over the continent. It entirely depends on your trip, but a rail pass can literally save you hundreds of dollars.

    Tourist passes:  Many cities in Europe have special tourist passes that you can buy, and they usually give you free use of their public transport systems, and also offer free or discounted entry to attractions and museums in the city.

    Walking and cycling:  One of the best ways to see a city is on foot. You will always see more and have a great experience, it gives you lots of exercise and costs you absolutely nothing. Many European cities are also very bicycle friendly, and renting a bike for the day can be a great way to explore a city.

    Budget airlines: There are two great budget airlines in Europe, EasyJet and RyanAir, and together they fly all over Europe to most major destinations, and at excellent prices. This is a great option if you are short on time and want to travel faster or over larger distances. Lease a car: If you are going to be travelling in Europe for an extended amount of time and want to hire a car, it can often be cheaper to lease a car instead. Many companies such as Peugeot lease cars for a certain amount of months. Travel in Europe doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think, and if you use these tips, you are sure to save plenty of money on your trip through Europe.

    Dean Wickham is the author of The Road to Anywhere World Travel Blog, and Go World Travel Guide. Find great practical travel information, travel stories, destination tips, guides and travel photos.

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    Top 10 Travel Tips for Summer of American Airlines

    Article by laptop battery

    Airlines’ Top 10 Travel Tips for Summer in American
    American Airlines has some really useful travel tips for traveling during the high summer travel season. These tips are applicable regardless of where you fly from, whether it be the United States, Europe, Asia, or other parts globally.

    The following tips were sent to me and the practical take on travel tips are ones that fit this site. These tips are great for wherever your travels may take you, on whichever airline they may be. The added bonus for those traveling on American Airlines is that there are a few extra tips/reminders just for you.

    *TOP 10 SUMMER TRAVEL TIPS are provided courtesy of American Airlines*


    To ensure that your summer vacation (from Memorial Day to Labor Day) is the best it can be, American Airlines offers up these Top 10 Travel Tips for that great individual, couple or family trip:

    10. Don’t procrastinate. Book early.
    9. Travel during off-peak times.
    8. Pack smart with security in mind.
    7. ID your baggage, but don’t lock it.
    6. Check in early.
    5. Arrive early at the airport; avoid the lines.
    4. Dress for success to navigate security.
    3. Don’t forget your photo ID.
    2. Stay close to your departure gate.
    1. Relax and enjoy your flight to the vacation of your dreams.

    Let’s face it. Your summer vacation is your time to unwind and relax after a half year of hard work. You’ve earned this time off and you want everything to go as smoothly as possible. Following the above 10 tips can go a long way to ensuring a great travel experience for you and your fellow travelers.

    No. 10: Don’t procrastinate. Book early. Whether you book online at or another travel site, use a travel agent or redeem your AAdvantage® frequent flier miles, it is imperative to book as far in advance as possible to get the best deals on flights, hotels and rental cars to the destination you desire. During the summer months, popular flights sell out early. Generally speaking, the longer you wait, the more expensive your trip. For convenience, go to the AmericanAirlines VacationsSM Web site for complete travel packages (air, car and hotel) at the click of your mouse.

    No. 9: Travel during “off-peak” times. The major airport “hubs” tend to get more crowded during the “peak” traveling times (early morning, late afternoon). Try to travel during off-peak times (mid-morning through early afternoon or in the evening) from Monday through Thursday.

    No. 8: Pack smart with security in mind. With increased security at every airport, it only makes good sense to pack accordingly. All your baggage will be screened and possibly hand-searched. Pack your medicine, jewelry or other valuables in your carry-on baggage. Do not pack or bring prohibited items to the airport. Prohibited items are weapons, explosives, incendiaries and even seemingly harmless items that could be used as weapons. For a complete list of prohibited items, visit the Transportation Safety Administration’s Web site at Quick tip: place all undeveloped film and cameras with film in your carry-on baggage. Checked baggage screening equipment will damage undeveloped film.

    No. 7: ID your baggage, but don’t lock it. Place identification tags on the inside and outside of your baggage. Label your laptop computer as well. Laptops are the number one forgotten item at screening checkpoints. And don’t lock your checked baggage. If security personnel need to check your baggage, they may have to break the lock to gain access. There are new locks on the market that only can be opened by the TSA. For more information, go to the TSA’s Web site.

    No. 6: Check in early. You can check in for your flights online prior to departure. With American Airlines, you can check in 30 hours prior to departure on the® Flight Check-InSM Web page. You also can select seat assignments, as well as print boarding passes and your receipt. Also available online are automatic Flight Status Notification and gate/arrival time updates sent to your computer, phone or mobile phone. More than 90 percent of American’s customers fly on electronic tickets.

    No. 5: Arrive early at the airport; avoid the lines. Think 60, 90, 120. Arrive 60 minutes before your flight if you are not checking any luggage, 90 minutes if you have luggage to check. For international flights, allow two hours. If you didn’t check in online, you can go to the nearest AA Self-Service Check-In® machine to check in at the airport, make seat selections and print your boarding passes and your receipt, thus bypassing the potentially long lines at the ticket counters. Curbside check-in also is available in most airports. If you need wheelchair assistance, check with a skycap at curbside or with a ticket agent upon arrival.

    No. 4: Dress for success to navigate security. Metal may look cool to you, but the screening machines hate it. Avoid wearing shoes, clothing, jewelry and accessories that contain metal. Place your outer coat in a bin. Don’t take wrapped presents to the airport. Ship them in advance or wrap them upon arrival.

    No. 3: Don’t forget your photo ID. If you are over 18 years of age, you will need a photo ID. You must have your ID in hand at the security checkpoint and during the boarding process. Make sure the name on your ID matches the name on your boarding pass

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    No. 2: Stay close to your departure gate. Don’t slip away to purchase a low-fat frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkles when boarding begins. Board when your group number or row is called. Group or row numbers are printed on your boarding pass. You may be selected for additional screening during the boarding process.

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    No. 1: Relax and enjoy your flight to the vacation of your dreams. After all, it’s YOUR VACATION. You’re supposed to relax. If you packed wisely, checked in early, arrived early at the airport, prepared yourself for a smooth security screening and boarded on time, you have virtually eliminated the stress that can be caused by travel procrastination. Congratulations. And have a nice flight.

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    *TOP 10 SUMMER TRAVEL TIPS are provided courtesy of American Airlines