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Friday, March 14th, 2014Offbeat St. Patrick's Day Traditions That Make Green Beer... »
When you think St. Patrick's Day, you normally think beer,...
Thursday, March 13th, 2014Top Spring Vacation Destinations for 2014 »
Spring vacations offer a great opportunity to shake off the...
Wednesday, March 5th, 20145 MLB Spring Training Destinations that Offer Way More than... »
Baseball is synonymous with springtime. As our favorite...
Monday, March 3rd, 201417 Funniest Tweets About Travel »
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Thursday, February 27th, 2014How to get more guest reviews on your vacation rental... »
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Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008Blizzard Internet Marketing Interviews FlipKey’s TJ Mahony »
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Friday, May 18th, 2012Seven Reasons to Keep the Waitakere Ranges a Secret »
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Monday, May 12th, 2008Vacation Rental Guest Reviews - FlipKey Negative Review... »
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Wednesday, July 20th, 2011Nice and Pissaladière »
The first time I went to Nice, it was barely a stop on a...
Friday, January 18th, 2008Vacation Rentals — Gotta Love ‘em! »
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Spring vacations offer a great opportunity to shake off the rust from a long winter and enjoy some new sights, sounds, and experiences. The arrival of warmer weather is the perfect time to get outside and commune with nature, explore the city, and engage with the world’s great historic and cultural treasures. Here’s our list of the top spring destinations to visit in 2014:
The capital comes to life in spring when the trees along the National Mall bloom and warm temperatures bring renewed energy to the city’s legendary sites. Explore the Smithsonian Institute, tour government buildings, and stop by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for an unforgettable spring travel experience.
Head to Paso Robles wine country for some gorgeous views in the spring. Blooming vineyards are perfect terrain for a relaxing vacation. You might even consider planning your trip around the annual Earth Day Food and Wine Weekend in April.
By: Chelsea Tyler
As some of us here at FlipKey gear up to head to Catalina Island later this week, we decided that this would be a great time to share some insider knowledge of the island with our fellow travel enthusiasts! We’ve compiled 10 of our favorite reasons why Catalina should be one of your top travel destinations, but the truth is, there are almost too many to count.
While a stay on Catalina Island may make you think that you’re in a faraway paradise, the island is actually just a short trip away and easily accessible by boat. Enjoy an hour-long ocean ride from San Pedro, Long Beach, Dana Point, or Newport Beach to the island’s tourist hub, Avalon, located on the southeastern shore.
Golf Carts Galore
Have you ever wished that you could live in a community whose preferred means of transportation is the golf cart? If so, you’d fit right in at Catalina, where very few people have cars. In fact, California state legislature actually limits the number and size of cars in the city of Avalon! One square mile in size, it’s easily explorable on foot, and golf cart rentals are a popular way to explore the island.
Mimicking the look and feel of a Grecian sanctuary, the Hamilton Cove Villas have to be some of our favorite places to rent on Catalina. Offering spectacular views and a full suite of amenities, these amazing condos are available through Catalina Island Vacation Rentals. They’re definitely worth a look as you sift through your accommodation choices!
Sunny and 75
The climate on Catalina Island is often compared to that of the Mediterranean, but when it comes to attracting visitors, this destination may have more than weather at work. Amy Tran, Director of Marketing for Catalina Island Vacation Rentals, elaborates, “There’s just something magical about Catalina Island. From the moment you see the Island to the moment you (don’t want to) leave, you are engulfed in its charm, history, and uniqueness. Compared to the Mediterranean, many of Catalina Island Vacation Rentals’ repeat guests have made a Catalina getaway an annual tradition.” Well said, Amy!
Thrill Seekers Love Catalina, Too!
If lounging on the beach all day isn’t really your thing, get your adventure fix by utilizing one of the many bicycle, kayak, or parasailing rentals on the island. Still too relaxing? Maybe ziplining down Descanso Canyon at approximately 45 mph will scratch that thrill-seeking itch. At Catalina, there is plenty to do and to explore.
World Famous Beauty
Throughout the years, motion picture directors have been making use of Catalina’s landscape for the set of approximately 300 films. If that many filmmakers are inspired by its natural beauty, it must be worth discovering in person!
Island of Romance
“Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me. Santa Catalina, the island of romance!” Ever since the Four Preps released their 1958 song “26 Miles,” Catalina Island has been affectionately named the “Island of Romance.” With plenty of secluded coves and couples’ activities to share with your one-and-only, this island is a great place to schedule your next romantic getaway.
The Tuna Club
If you have a fishing sport enthusiast in your life, or if you are one yourself, look towards Catalina Island to find America’s oldest fishing club. Established in 1898, this sports club boasts dignified and historic members such as Theodore Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, and Bing Crosby. The island’s long history with this sport makes it a great place to do some serious fishing!
Never a Dull Moment
With year-round visitors, this island community always has something planned! Check out the island’s events calendar for all of the upcoming attractions. What’s more, 2013 is the 100 year anniversary of Avalon! Join the city in celebrating this iconic birthday by planning your trip to Catalina before the end of the year.
Something for Everyone
Whether you’re 12 or 62, this island is sure to please. Catalina may not be the biggest island out there, but it has plenty of hiking, biking, museums, beaches, restaurants, shops, and accommodations to keep anyone happy come vacation time. Bring your family, your loved one, your grandmother, or just your dog! There’s something for everyone at Catalina.
Some of the most magnificent pieces of architecture in the world have been submerged under water by earthquakes, floods, and other geological events. Some of the sites still remain a mystery of how they ended up on the ocean floor. Nowadays, these cities, monuments, palaces, and even some unexplained structures can all can be found with a simple dive to the bottom of the bodies of water in which they remain, and many can even be viewed from above, making these unusual locations intriguing tourist destinations. If you have a taste for history, then stray away from museums that are flooded with tourists and navigate your way to the depths of the ocean to visit these spectacular underwater treasures.
1. Cleopatra’s Palace and Pharos Lighthouse, Alexandria (Egypt)
Alexandria’s Eastern Harbor is home to ruins believed to be remnants from Cleopatra’s Palace and the Pharos Lighthouse. The underwater artifacts include a small statue of a Pharaoh from the 4th or 5th century B.C., a colossal stone head of what is believed to be Cleopatra’s son, Caesarion, a sphinx statue, coins, sections of temples inscribed with hieroglyphics, and-of-course massive pieces of both Pharos Lighthouse and Cleopatra’s Palace.
2. World’s Wickedest City, Port Royal (Jamaica)
Back in the 17th century, Port Royal was a pirate’s haven with almost every other building being either a bar or a brothel serving seafaring men. In 1692, a massive earthquake and tsunami sank most of the city and killed 2,000 people. Today, the underwater site features hundreds of ships, paved streets, buildings, and the most famous artifact, a 1686 pocket watch that stopped ticking at exactly 11:43.
3. Submerged temples of Mahabalipuram (India)
The temple of Mahabalipuram is believed to be the last in a group of seven temples, six of which are said to be completely submerged. Divers have recovered walls, scattered square and rectangular blocks, and other artifacts. In 2004, a tsunami caused the ocean to recede in the area, and tourists caught a glimpse of one of the submerged temples. Archaeologists excavated the remains proving that another temple existed and it was in fact, bigger than the one left standing today.
4. 8000-year-old Yonaguni-Jima, Okinawa (Japan)
A monument that is 600 feet wide and 90 feet high was discovered off the coast of Japan by a dive tour operator in 1985. It has been dated around 10,000 BC, more than 5,000 years before the oldest pyramid in Egypt. Some believe the structure is manmade, while others claim there is evidence like unknown hieroglyphics and too many right angles carved into the structure for it to be made by any known civilization. If this is true and the structure is manmade, then it opens up the possibility that there was life before even the earliest recorded civilization.
5. Pavlopetri (Greece)
Pavlopetri is a completely submerged, yet intact city that dates back to 1,000 BC. It appears to be a sophisticated city with two-storey homes and a complex water system comparable to those of modern cities. Under water, you can see streets, buildings, garden spaces, courtyards, and many storage vessels used to transport goods to and from the port. There is an excavation project underway to ensure the city’s preservation before it is lost forever.
6. Dwarka Port (India)
One of the seven most ancient cities in India, Dwarka has been completely submerged by water six times since it was built. The Dwarka that stands today is the seventh Dwarka created. The ocean floor is covered with remnants of the past six Dwarkas from massive stones to smaller circular structures and hundreds of anchors providing evidence that the city must have been an enormous port at one time.
7. Parco Archaeologico Sommerso di Baia, Pozzuoli (Italy)
As a result of many earthquakes, much of the ancient port of Baia can be found underwater. Below sea level lie enormous brick piers, remnants of multiple luxurious villas, roman statues, and the famous Misenum lighthouse. The area is also dubbed a marine protected area in order to preserve as much as possible.
8. Truk Lagoon (Micronesia)
In 1944, a US Navy attack on the Japanese resulted in almost 50 vessels and 250 aircraft destroyed and sunk to the sea floor. The fleet is now known as the Ghost Fleet of Truk Lagoon and is the world’s best shipwreck destination for divers. Many of the ships are filled with valuable equipment and are famous diving sites today. Truk Lagoon is the ultimate underwater time capsule.
9. Sea of Galilee’s Underwater Stone “Monument” (Israel)
The Sea of Galilee is home to a massive stone structure that has archaeologists confused as to where it came from. The structure is made out of boulders and is said to weigh about 60,000 tons. The rocks are piled on top of each other like they are protecting an enormous burial site and it is definitely manmade. There isn’t much else known about the monument other than the fact that it must have been grueling to put together.
10. Lake Jindabyne, Snowy Mountains, New South Wales (Australia)
Jindabayne was entirely covered by water after a dam was created to develop a lake in place of the town in the 1960s. Many people were able to pack up and move their houses to the new Jindabyne location, but most of the town slipped under water. In fact, most of the town still remains intact under the water and when the water level falls tourists may be able to see the old town from the shore.
by Silvia Pe
If the landscape of human emotion were to exist in a country, it would be in Italy. -Lisa Fantino
A candlelight dinner and a rose are simple and sweet signs of romance, but if you want to seriously get your partner’s attention, organize a weekend in Italy and take love to the next level.
It is often said that it does not matter where you go, but with whom you have the pleasure to spend a romantic holiday. That said, Italy can be seen as the perfect set for a love story: striking locations, delicious food, excellent wine and a fascinating lifestyle are yours to experience with the one you wish to woo.
Italy has so much to offer, and each trip to this stunning country can be personalized according to your imagination for a romantic weekend. Here are three ideas for a lovers’ retreat in Italy…
By the Sea
If you are a sea lover, then you could combine your romantic weekend with a stay in Sardinia.
Set in the heart of Mediterranean sea, Sardinia is practically preserved from every kind of pollution. Thanks to this setting, the island boasts amazing beaches surrounded by natural beauty. Thanks also to its insular nature, Sardinia still retains rites and traditions from ancient times, as well as many rural landscapes to roam around.
If you are looking for both romance and privacy, then you should avoid the most highly touristed Sardinian destinations and choose the middle season for your romantic getaway. Try a trip to San Pantaleo, a rare traditional Galluran village tucked in among the mountains. Northeastern Sardinia is one of the prettiest areas on the island, featuring a perfect mix of stone-built cottages, a relaxed atmosphere and about 10-20 minutes’ drive to the many beaches of the Costa Smeralda and Arzachena.
When to go: May, June, September
What to try: Fish soup, mussels, and urchins. A sublime way to cook fish in Gallura is in the oven, topped with the local wine, Vermentino di Gallura.
If you like the slow travel philosophy and the countryside, and if you love art and history, then you could combine your romantic weekend with the discovery of Sicily.
A succession of different rulers over the centuries has influenced Sicilian culture and strengthened its identity: as a result, Sicily is today a land rich in history and traditions. Between palaces, Doric temples, gardens and archaeological sites, you will partake of the charm and magic that pervade the land of Sicily. This feeling of wonder will give a touch of romance to your dreamy holiday.
When to go: Spring is the best period to enjoy Sicily in bloom and the wonderful colors of nature. Summer is another option for trips that mainly visit the seaside.
What to try: Wines from the Etna region, which has become the third most important Italian region for wine production. Etna DOC wines are white, red and rosé and are all produced in the province of Catania. Do not forget to buy a jar of the popular honey produced in Zafferana Etnea, called “the gold of Etna,” also used to prepare delicious desserts and dishes.
Art and Culture
If you like art cities, then you could combine your romantic weekend with a cultural stay in Tuscany.
Tuscany is the region of lyric love poetry, and its renaissance beauty is a hymn to romanticism in and of itself. Without doubt, Florence is the art city par excellence with a nearly endless list of sights to see. Like the art, romance is also abundant here. For something special, take a short trip to Candeli, a little destination located 10 km away from Florence. Go up to the southern Arno river and you’ll find yourself in the shade of cypress trees, holm and oaks: a perfect place to relax, enjoy horseback riding and country life, and still make it back to Florence in time for a hand-in-hand walk across Ponte Vecchio bridge.
When to go: From March to June, and September
What to try: A Florentine steak, Cantucci biscuits and a glass of Chianti.
Silvia Pe is an Italian travel enthusiast, compulsive reader and sea-dependent! She works in the tourism field and runs the blog CharmingItaly.com, in which she shares information about Italy.
Sofia von Porat contributed today’s post. Sofia is the blogger behind AsWeTravel, where she shares travel tips, videos, guides and inspiration from around the world. Sofia also runs EuropeTravelr, a blog focused purely on European travel.
by Sofia von Porat
Few things evoke our lust for adventure more than the thought of a road trip: the freedom to go wherever you want and stop whenever you like without a care in the world is one of the most liberating feelings for a traveler.
No schedule, no rules – just a map (or GPS system), some really good road trip music, and you’re good to go.
Here are five awesome road trip routes around the world…
Alsace Wine Route – France
Narrow, meandering roads with sweeping vistas of vineyards on either side are part of what makes the French wine region Alsace one of the best road trip routes in Europe.
As you drive along the Alsace Wine Route you will pass historical forts and castles perched on hilltops. Driving at your own pace means you will have the opportunity to stop over in one or more of the many medieval villages that dot the region.
With half-timbered houses painted in pastel colors, cobblestone alleys and more wine cellars than you can count, the villages along this route are brimming with old world charm. Every time you take a break from driving, step out of your car and feel that you’ve entered into a world where time stopped a few hundred years ago. Relax, take another sip of the local wine, and enjoy the sensation of timelessness.
Some people choose to base themselves in Colmar, one of the largest towns along the wine route, and then take small daytrips to the surrounding villages. Others prefer to drive in one direction, staying overnight in a different village every night.
Whatever your style, I highly recommend stopping over in Colmar, Eguisheim and Riquewihr which are all very charming and picturesque.
Sydney to Cairns – Australia
The east coast of Australia offers countless fun, famous, beautiful, and quirky pit stops along the way leading up from Sydney to Cairns. A road trip along this route with plenty of breaks is guaranteed to be a good time.
From the vibrant city life of Sydney to the surfer vibes in Noosa and the Gold Coast, to the natural wonders of the Whitsundays, there are more than a few once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had along Australia’s East Coast.
Don’t miss diving in the Great Barrier Reef or surfing the famous waves at Noosa Heads and Snapper Rocks. Other awesome experiences include getting up close and personal with Kangaroos at Dundee’s Wildlife Park and whale watching by Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world.
Best of all, renting a car in Australia is easy and rather cheap, so it’s a great option for travelers visiting the country in search of adventure. By renting a car you have much more freedom to go where you want and a unique opportunity to stay in beautiful and more secluded areas that can’t be reached easily by public transport.
Northern Portugal is a region full of adorable towns and beautiful nature. From historical towns like Guimarães to the crystal clear pools of the Peneda-Gerês National Park and picture perfect vineyards on the sloping hills by the Douro River, there is something for everyone in this corner of the Iberian Peninsula.
Porto, one of the largest cities in northern Portugal, is a great city to use as a base, and well worth spending some time in. With colorful tiled buildings and a roughness that can best be described as charming and melancholic at the same time, Porto is a diamond in the rough.
Guimarães makes for a great day trip from Porto, it’s a beautiful historical town with a medieval center and a 1000-year-old castle, only 40 minutes away from Porto!
Another great road trip adventure from Porto is to drive along the winding roads of the Douro Valley. This drive offers an adventurous route and some of the most beautiful views in the region.
From Peso da Régua follow the main road and drive across the plateaux above the Douro valley. Make sure to stop over at the viewpoint of São Leonardo, where you can see the river valley and the mountains of the Serra do Marão.
Route 66 – USA
Few roads are as famous for road tripping as Route 66 in the United States. It would almost be a crime not to include this road on the list.
Although the entire Highway 66 no longer exists, you can still follow the path it used to take across the country on other highways and roads. Along the way, you’ll discover that some parts of the original Route 66 still exist (although they don’t always appear on modern maps), and it is possible to follow some of them by looking out for signs announcing “Historic Route 66.”
Driving the whole length of the route will probably take about 5-6 days, and you will travel through five states: Illinois, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
This romanticized route has many quirky pit stops along the way, from the Cozy Dog Drive-in, where corn dogs were invented, to Bottle Tree Ranch, which is an open-air work of art made from recycled glass bottles. These uniquely American tourist traps and roadside attractions are best appreciated as breaks from long days of driving. The historic route also passes through major western cities, making a drive along Route 66 a great way to link several big destinations into one trip.
North & South Island – New Zealand
Unlike many other countries, New Zealand doesn’t really have a well-traveled point-to-point driving route, since those who rent a car here tend to drive it around the whole country, seeking out the plentiful diversions along the way.
The North Island boasts incredible beaches, warm and sunny weather, and Maori villages where you can get an insight into New Zealand’s native culture and explore the unique hot springs. A must on a road trip on the North Island is a visit to Coromandel and Hot water beach, where you can dig your own hot tub in the sand.
One of my favorite stops on the North Island was Lake Taupo. The lake’s clear skies and high altitude makes it one of the world’s best places for stargazing. Sitting by the lake at night staring up into a sky so crowded with stars that it almost makes you dizzy is one of the most romantic experiences you can have while road tripping around New Zealand.
The South island offers completely different types of nature and activities. From the “Pancake rocks” on the west coast to Kaikoura with its whale watching, and the extreme sport capital Queenstown in between. The South Island is a fantastic place for thrill-seekers and sightseers alike.
I hope these places inspire you to go out on a road trip this summer!