A Trip to Washington State

Planning a trip in the States sometime soon? You can do a lot worse than Washington State. This Pacific Northwest state offers its visitors a little bit of everything, from cosmopolitan cities, local culture and energy, and plenty of annual events. And let’s not forgot what is perhaps this state’s biggest draw: the incredible natural beauty, which is perfect for getting out and about and into the great outdoors. Whatever your interests are, you’ll find that they’re well catered for in Washington. Take a read below for some of the best things to do while you’re there. It’ll be all the inspiration you need to book a trip!

pexels-photo (1)

The Great Outdoors

We have to start here, because the natural beauty of Washington is so extensive that, well, where else can you start? Even if you only spent time in the outdoors when you were there, you’d have a good time. There are three main national parks in the state: Olympic; the North Cascades; and Mount Rainier. These three offer many, many miles of remote wilderness, so you have to well prepared! Casual visitors will find that Olympic National Park is the best one for them, because it offers a bit of everything, from jagged mountain peaks to lush rainforests.

Into the City

There a lot of great cities in Washington, but the biggest and most “cosmopolitan” is Seattle, which you’ll certainly already know a thing or two about. This is the home of Starbucks Coffee, and Boeing, and plenty of world-changing musicians. When you go there today, you’ll find a whole host of great tourist attractions. Go down to Pike Place Market and grab yourself some fresh fish while soaking up the energetic atmosphere. Go to the top of the Space Needle for the best views of the city. Check out the city’s museums, which include the Seattle Art Museum and the Museum of Flight. And above all, wander the city and sample its delicious food and drink!

The Real Washington

Seattle could be considered “the world’s view of Washington,” but there’s also a lot of other smaller areas that showcase “the real Washington.” Book a room at Quality Inn & Suites Walla Walla, and you’ll be able to enjoy the best that Washington has to offer. Walla Walla – so nice they named it twice – has views, activities, history, and fine dining: everything you want when you’re traveling! Also be sure to check out some of the state’s best small towns, such as the waterfront village La Conner, and the Bavarian-inspired Leavenworth.

Festivals

There are many, many annual festivals that take place in Washington; far too many to mention here. Some of the best include the Seattle International Film Festival, which attracts somewhere in the region of 150,000 spectators each year; The Washington State Fair, which is one of the best in the country; and the Leavenworth Oktoberfest, which is obviously inspired by the German counterpart and is a lot of fun. Whenever you’re visiting, though, there’ll be plenty of local events and festivals taking place. There always is!

Planning A Trip To Mykonos: 4 Things You Must Do To Make The Most Of Your Trip!

Whether you’re planning a winter beach break or a getaway for this coming summer, Mykonos could be the perfect place. One of Greece’s most glamorous islands, Mykonos is known for being a party place. However, there’s a lot more to this island than meets the eye; it’s much more than the party scene it’s known for. The type of experience that you have when visiting Mykonos depends on a range of factors, from where you opt to stay to when you go. To ensure that you make the most of your time on this beautiful island – think St Tropez meets Ibiza, here are four things you must do.

  1. Try the local cuisine

souvlaki-1649221_960_720

It might be tempting to eat in the most glitzy and glamorous restaurants that you can find. However, if you want to get a real taste of Greek cuisine, you need to look for independent restaurants. Smaller eateries and street market stalls run by local people will allow you to get a real taste of Greek cuisine. The foods that you just have to try while you’re in Greece include moussaka, souvlaki, gyros, and baklava. Oh, and if you find a seafood restaurant, many Greek seafood dishes are to die for.

  1. Stay in a villa by the sea

Of course, you could opt to stay in a hotel. However, many of the best hotels in Mykonos are party hotels, not tranquil and relaxing retreats. So if you plan on heading out for a relaxing break, it’s best to look into Mykonos villas. There are plenty to choose from, but the best ones are located by the beach. What could be nicer than waking up and hearing the sounds of the ocean lapping against the sand?

  1. Visit the best beaches

greece-mykonos-breasts-aphrodite-161947.jpeg

As well as being famous for its party scene, Mykonos is also renowned for its beautiful beaches. Although most of the beaches are fairly packed out in the summer months, come winter they’re a lot less crowded. So if you’re not a fan of busy beaches, opt to visit this beautiful island out of season, or take the time to find the beaches that tend to get less crowded. Some of the best beaches on Mykonos include Lia, Paradise, Paraga, and Kalafatis.

  1. See the sights

To make the most of your time on Mykonos, make time to see all the best sights and attractions. Even if you are planning a relaxed and tranquil break, it’s still worth taking the time to visit some of the island’s most famous attractions. From Little Venice, a beautiful seaside town, to Cine Manto, a gorgeous open-air cinema, there’s plenty to see and do here. It’s just a case of taking the time to research what’s on offer and selecting the activities that appeal to you and your travel buddies.

If you’re planning a trip to the gorgeous Greek island of Mykonos, it’s important to plan it out. To ensure that you’re able to make the most of your time away.

How To Pack Light And Chic For Your Great Escape

The sweet sound of sunshine and siesta is calling. It’s time to work on that tan, stroll along the beach and take a dip in turquoise seas. It all sounds so heavenly and relaxing. It’s vacation time! It’s our chance to retreat for a while into a place that offers health, wellness and calming vibes. So why do we stress about holiday packing? Here are my top essential packing tips, so there are no last-minute panics.

If you’re going on a beach holiday, you really don’t want to take too much with you. We’ve all done it, and we’ve all regretted it!

sea-beach-holiday-vacation-large
Bronzer and Illuminator

A slick of bronzer in the day and an added illuminator at night are all you need for laid-back holiday make-up. Get your lashes lifted and dyed before you go. The iconic Nars The Multiple is the original multi-functional stick. It provides an irresistible splash of luxurious colour to your lips, eyes and cheeks. Add a shimmering dimension at night with the Ilia Polka Dots and Moonbeams Illuminator.

Bags and Belts

Never under-estimate the power of the BNB. Bags and belts are the ultimate holiday accessories to dress up your look. Take a stylish and brightly coloured beach bag for daywear. This can double as a handbag if you are taking in any sights. Make sure it’s big enough for a towel, reading book, bottle of water and a t-shirt. Choose something with a zip pocket to keep your valuables safe if you are on the move. If you want to go luxury, take a peek at Melissa Odabash’s collection. If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, try Sportsgirl or ASOS. Whether you’re in Bermuda or the Bahamas, you’re going to want to get glammed up at night. Pack an embellished clutch in a neutral colour that is big enough to fit your phone and money. Also, pack skinny belts in metallic gold and silver for super-luxe evening style.

fashion-woman-cute-airport-large

Only Three Pairs of Shoes

You need a thong, a heeled sandal and a brightly coloured espadrille. It’s as simple as that. We often make the mistake of taking too many shoes, and it just ends up dragging us down. Think about co-ordination. Choose nude shades for your heeled option as they work with everything. Nude colours have the bonus of making our legs look longer too. Go bright and bold with your espadrille. You can also wear these at night when you want to add a bit of colour. And a thong is a thong. Don’t over think it!

One Hero Piece

Your holiday wardrobe should consist of a few multi-wear pieces that co-ordinate with each other. Three bright bikinis, two beach cover-ups, white shorts and white jeans, a couple of pretty sundresses, a skirt that works both day and night and a loose shirt. But you are allowed to choose one hero piece. This could be a gorgeous maxi dress that can be worn both day and night. Or it might be an expensive silk shirt that you can wear multiple times. Make your hero piece bright, beautiful and tropical. Take this chance to show off your style in your chosen sun-drenched slice of the world.

Where To Travel If You Want To Be A Photographer

With so many of our devices having cameras built in, it seems everyone can become a photographer. You don’t need a lot of equipment to carry with you. And you can even edit the images as you take them too. Then with a single push of a button, those images can be shared with the whole world on social media too. They’re geo-tagged, so you’ll always know exactly where you were to get that stunning view too.

So what can you do if you want to take your photography further? Many of us love taking pictures of our friends and family. And the Selfie is losing no popularity either. But it’s the pictures of the places with those stunning views that make us stare the longest. If you love travelling and you’re a keen photographer, then the world is waiting for you to take some of the most beautiful photos in the world.

Some tour operators even offer a photographer’s package. You may be exploring Gozo or travelling by helicopter from Vegas to see the Grand Canyon. These are all exceptional opportunities to get some great shots of the landscape. There are a few things you need to remember though if you are keen to pursue your photography.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Always be aware of your surroundings. There are thousands of beautiful landscapes across the globe to choose from. But many are very dangerous. Never lean over a cliff or stand too close to something hazardous for that one magical photo. Instead, invest in a bigger lens that brings the image closer to you rather than you getting closer to the hazard.

Many beautiful landscapes are on the coast. This means it can be wet and wild. Protecting your digital equipment is essential, so invest in some great waterproofing. You will also need to be protected from the wet and the cold, or you’ll soon find your photography to be a miserable experience. Keep warm and dry with some good quality wet weather wear.

Light and shade bring an image to life. You may find that early morning sun and that golden hour before the sun sets to be the best time to take your images. A high sun at noon doesn’t always offer the best sculpting of shadows, and may need more filters to reduce its impact on your image. If you’re shooting at night, you will definitely need a tripod as exposure takes longer. Hand-held shots can create wobbly blurs if you’re taking pictures at night.

Rock formations, waterfalls, coastlines, and woodlands make beautiful photographs. There are plenty of natural phenomena you may be interested in capturing too, like the Northern Lights, geysers and bird migrations. All of these things require patience and a little luck to capture. If you love the great outdoors and you’re a fan of travelling, this could be the perfect hobby for you. You may even earn a penny or two selling your images too.

Photography is so much fun and is a great way to record your experiences as you travel. You can take courses to help you become a better photographer, or try a photographic tour for a holiday. Enjoy your photos.

Scenic Road Trips in France and Cornwall

ebc.jpg

With the warm weather hopefully not too far away, you may be thinking of getting away for a while. But where to go? Well, if a scenic road trip sounds like fun, we’ve got two options which are great for both couples and families. So will it be the lush countryside of France, or home comforts of the Cornish coast? Read on to discover what both have to offer…

‘Dover to Calais’

Begin your road trip by taking the ferry from Dover to Calais. Tickets are available from as little as £39 each way, with a journey time across the channel of approximately two and a half hours. For a quicker route you can take the Eurotunnel from Folkstone, which takes only 35 minutes but is a little dearer at around £59.

Once you’ve arrived in Calais, head south along the coastal D940, taking in the stunning views of the Côte d’Opale as you drive past. For some lush, sandy beaches why not stop at Le Cap Blanc Nez, or if breath-taking cliff side views are more your thing go further south to Cap Gris Nez.

Continue on to Boulogne-sur-Mer, which is a former Roman settlement. It’s the second most visited location in the region of France due to its history, rustic charm and for being the home to the largest aquarium in Europe, Nausicaá. Also known as the City of Art and History, Boulogne has plenty to see; the Castle Museum has an impressive collection of Oceanic, African and Egyptian art, whilst the old town still has remnants of the Roman camp it was built upon. Boulogne also boasts a UNESCO World Heritage site in the form of a Twelfth century Belfry.

Next, drive further south along the D940 to Le Touquet and Étaples. Separated by only a narrow river, these two coastal towns offer some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever taste. Le Touquet is also known as the playground of the Parisian elite; the streets are lined with posh little boutiques from the 1920’s. Once you’ve sampled how the other half live, head east to Saint Omer via Hesdin, enjoying Hesdin’s Spanish architecture along the way.

Saint Omer is a quaint little town famous for its distinctive beer, so be sure to have a tasting session whilst your visiting. The town also boasts an 800-year-old cathedral and World War II museum, both of which are worthy of your time. The surrounding area of Saint Omer is full of thousands of acres of wet marshland, and boat tours are available to see the beautiful natural scenery and wildlife.

As you make your way back north to Calais, allow yourself enough time to stop off in Ardres, another quaint town. Don’t miss your chance to stock up on some superior quality French wine, as well as wandering the little streets exploring the old churches, little shops and eateries. Once the day is at an end, head back north to Calais for the journey back across the channel.

‘Cornwall’

When thinking of an idyllic beach holiday, it’s easy to overlook the beaches right here in the UK.

To get your holiday started, pick up the Atlantic Highway from the M5, just south of Bristol. This stretch of road hugs the coast of northern Cornwall, offering gorgeous scenery and quick access to some of the UK’s best beaches.

Port Gaverne should be the first place you visit. Despite being very small, Port Gaverne is a great spot to view wild seals out from the headland, or if you’re lucky, basking sharks, dolphins and porpoises. Visitors can also explore tide pools and caves, as well as taking in some great views via walks along the cliffs. From Gaverne you can take a leisurely walk to the historic fishing village of Port Isaac.

Eight miles away from Port Gaverne are the idyllic sandy beaches of Daymer Bay. Never overcrowded, Daymer Bay is a perfect spot to relax. Take a stroll through the sand dunes to the tiny stone church of Saint Endonoc. Dogs are welcome on the beach, which can be good or bad depending on your preference. It’s not really a surfer’s beach, but perfect for swimming, kayaking or windsurfing.

Further along the coast, just off the A30, sits Perranporth. This is the ideal spot for the adventurous at heart, with the beach here offering activities such as surfing, kite surfing, horseback riding, cycling, land boarding and buggy riding. You can also explore rock and tidal pools to see the wildlife in its natural habitat. And don’t forget to refresh your palette at the ‘Watering Hole’ right next to the beach.

Next on the list is St Ives Bay, featured prominently in Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel, ‘To the Lighthouse’. Stretching all the way from Gwithian down to Porthmeor, visitors will love the huge expanse of sandy beaches on offer here. St Ives is also jam-packed with shops and cafes, not to mention the home of Tate St Ives, the Cornish branch of the Tate Modern. Soak up the sun before treating yourself to a cream tea and fresh crab tart in one of the café’s.

Bypass the tourist-trap attractions of Land’s End and head straight to the sandy beaches. Sennen Cove is a surfing hotspot, drawing big crowds from all over the UK. For safety reasons, flag markers indicating safe bathing zones that are continuously updated throughout the day. Sennen is a laid-back town that plays host to a number of beachfront cafes, restaurants, pubs and shops; providing everything you could need on your holiday.

Continue on the A30 until you reach the B3315 and Porthcurno, the closest thing to an island paradise on offer in the UK. Porthcurno is famous for its gorgeous turquoise waters and fine white sand. A calm stream flows through the beach too, which makes it an ideal place for young children to practice swimming. Porthcurno beach is a stone’s-throw from Minack Theatre, so be sure to take in a show while you’re nearby.

For the last stop on your sojourn through Cornwall, Kynance Cove is the perfect send-off. Right along the Lizard Peninsula, Kynance Cove will be certain to leave a long-lasting impression with its stunning caves and rock formations. Soft white sand is also revealed at low tide, creating a perfect sunbathing spot. Despites its truly secluded appearance, getting to the beach is relatively easy, with parking only a ten-minute walk away.

Then it’s time to head back to the M5, leaving the sun, sand and scenery of Cornwall behind.

Andrew Segal works for iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of car hire excess insurance. He writes regular blogs covering a wide range of topics related to insurance, holidays and travel in general.

The Best Places for Late-season Skiing

Skiing, snowboarding and other snow sports are some of the best things to do in winter. A lot of people try to get in their skiing in the middle of the season, when they can be guaranteed great snow. But it’s still possible in many places to go skiing or snowboarding in March and April, before spring starts to arrive at higher altitudes. If you want to get in a trip before the season is over, there’s still time to book a last-minute break. Go away for Easter or pick a weekend for one last thrill before spring in these countries.

800px-Skier-carving-a-turn.jpg

France

You’ll find a couple of excellent spots for late-season snow fun in France. Like the rest of the winter, two of the most popular places are Les Deux Alpes and Val Thorens. These resorts are full throughout the winter, but they’re also excellent as spring approaches. You should be able to find plenty of snow in the Alps, although it will depend on the year. Les Deux Alpes is affordable for all the family, and a great place for a first ski trip. Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe, so their season can extend into the beginning of May.

Switzerland

If France doesn’t seem like your thing, try going over the border to Switzerland. Resorts such as Andermatt are open throughout April. If you want a more up-market trip, you can easily find a luxury hotel in Switzerland or stay in a smart chalet. If you choose the right resort, the best part about your trip might just be the après ski. Spend your time in stylish bars or sit down in a cosy restaurant to sample some of the local dishes. Warming food like alplermagronen are just what you need after a long day out on the slopes.

skiing-274423_960_720.jpg

USA

Anyone who wants to leave Europe should consider taking a trip stateside. Some of the best skiing locations in the world can be found there. It may be a little more expensive to get there, but you can find some excellent late-season snow. Try Winter Park in Colorado or Mammoth Mountain in California. You can find that you make some great savings on the rest of your trip, so the cost of getting there doesn’t sting as much. You can discover lots of other winter sports too, from snowmobile adventures to snowshoeing.

ski-tour-635965_960_720.jpg
Sweden

Most people tend to head towards France, Switzerland or perhaps Austria for skiing in Europe. If you want to consider an alternative, you might want to think about Sweden. The Åre mountains are the largest downhill skiing area in Sweden. Cross country skiing is very popular through the country too. The season lasts until the first week of May, and there are slopes to suit many beginners and family. Late in the season is a great time to visit because the days are getting a bit longer and the temperatures warmer.

You don’t have to go skiing in the middle of winter. Get in one last trip by seeking out one of these late-season locations.

4 European Destinations to Visit in 2016

 

people-sign-traveling-blur-large

The continent of Europe has some of the most varied and breathtaking locations in the world. If we live in Europe, it can be easy to overlook some of the amazing destinations that are right on our doorstep. But wherever you are in the world, the four destinations below offer a wonderful portrait of some of the variety and culture that Europe has to offer.

1) Cambridge, UK

Home to one of the finest (and oldest) universities in the world, Cambridge is an elegant and popular location. The historic architecture is breathtaking. The student culture means the town abounds with quirky coffee bars and wonderful book shops. If you like to cycle, you’ll feel right at home. Bicycles are one of the favourite local ways to travel, and with so many beautiful lawns and streams it is not surprising. Taking a tour of one of the university’s many breathtaking colleges is unforgettable. End the day with a punt along the canals and a sumptuous afternoon tea for a quintessentially English experience.

2) Helsinki, Finland

The modern, Scandi-chic capital of Finland attracts visitors of all ages and ethnicities. The markets and fresh food stalls are not to be missed, and are perfect for the crisp chilly days under a blue sky. A bracing boat ride to some of the further islands is the perfect chance to see some of Finland’s unspoilt natural beauty. Coffee is the drink of choice here and enjoyed at all times of day or night!

3) The South of France

The glamour of the Cannes film festival and exquisite French seafood are two of the attractions that make the South of France so popular. Paloma Plage in Cap Ferrat and the Plage de l’Aiguille in Theole-sur-mer are said to be some of the best beaches in Southern France. With a glass of chilled wine in one hand and a beach towel in the other, you’re ready to wile away many lazy hours. The golden sunlight of the day also gives way to a vibrant nightlife in the evenings. The cocktail culture is legendary here with many wealthy, famous guests frequenting the top bars. For a more laid back approach, why not try some of the beach barbecues or local seafood eateries? French food is some of the most famous in the world, and it is not difficult to see why.

4) Lake Garda, Italy

The largest lake in Italy attracts thousands of visitors a year. Its mild, Mediterranean climate and breathtaking views are world famous. If an active holiday appeals to you, the area has many wonderful walks and hikes with expansive views of the area. Cycling is also popular here and the freedom of riding with the Italian breeze whipping through your hair is hard to beat. For those of us hoping for a more relaxing break, simply wandering among the fragrant olive and lemon groves is enough. Pack a picnic, a good book, and make a wonderful day of it. A hugely popular and iconic spot for couples, families, and solo travellers alike.