Tag Archives: Europe

Riga Travel Guide

Riga, Latvia has a Western vibe with a difference. There is the modern Riga – dynamic and exciting – and the old Riga with its cobblestone streets and historic buildings. Cultural activities abound, including the Latvian National Opera, exhibition halls and museums, to the lively modern side offering trendy cafés, restaurants and excellent nightclubs. As with any beautiful city, it can be expensive, however there is a wealth of things to do which are either free or great value for money. Read on to learn more about this amazing city in our Riga travel guide.

Riga Travel guide photo

Riga – Shopping

There are many wonderful department stores, such as Podium, offering a huge selection of different items, however for a true Riga shopping experience head to the Old Town. Here you will find narrow streets with wonderful little shops selling souvenirs and hand-made crafts. Visit one of the art galleries to see what the local artists are producing and perhaps pick up a great investment. Prices of imported goods can be very expensive, but local products including food and alcohol are still relatively cheap and there are bargains to be had.

Getting Around Riga

It is possible to travel around Riga in a variety of different modes of transport, such as trams, mini and trolleybuses, but nothing can beat strolling around on foot. Be sure before setting out that you have taken adequate cover such as Bupa travel insurance – important whenever you travel. A great free walking tour is available which is run by extremely enthusiastic local people who take the greatest of pleasure in showing you the real Riga; you will get to discover far more than just the usual tourist areas. The tour starts each day at 12:00, meeting in front of St Peter’s Church and operates on tips only, so feel free if you have had a good time.

So Much To Do

Visit the Centrāltirgus Market with its five separate pavilions housed in old German Zeppelin hangers, but remember to take your own shopping bags, as goods are generally sold without. Take a romantic stroll around Bastion Hill, a stunning park in the Bastejkalns area, or if you prefer something more active, then rent a bicycle, perhaps from “Gandrs” bike rental and do visit Fantasy Park which offers bowling, snooker, children’s playgrounds, party rooms and video games. On Friday and Saturday nights it becomes a nightclub that is popular with locals and visitors alike.

Riga is an amazing city in northeastern Europe that will enchant and enthrall – guaranteeing that you will return very soon.

Top Reasons To Visit London: Events And Festivities

Centre Court at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships

The top reasons to visit London usually have something to do with its architecture or history. London has plenty of both to get around with. But really, different months of the year give plenty of reasons why you should go there.

It’s hard to recommend an exact area to stay in London because there are fantastic things to see and do all over the city. A good option though is to check out Heathrow airport hotels as you can usually snag a better deal than the center of town, and you can access the entire city via the tube (the London metro system).

Here’s some awesome things to check out in London for every month!

January is marked by the New Year and Londoners welcome it with a parade. During the London Parade, thousands of majorettes leave Parliament Square and head for Berkeley Square, arriving two to three hours later.

February is when the Soho and Great Spitalfields Pancake Day takes place. Participants toss pancakes from one pan to another as they race down Carneby Street towards Spitalfields. The fun event takes place on Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras which is a day before Lent. The Chinese New Year celebrated in Chinatown is also a must-see. Lion dancers and fireworks make it a raucous event.

April is a time of the year when the Easter Day Parade gives life to Battersea Park. The event is one of the top reasons to visit London. Floats and bands fill the park with music and colors. Also in the same month is the Harness Horse Parade when different types of horse-drawn carriages show off.

May is dominated by the Chelsea Flower Show. This takes place at the Royal Hospital Gardens. Seasonal fairs are also available at Alexandra, Bleackheath, and Hampstead Heath.

June is the perfect month to watch tennis matches since Wimbledon championships are right around the corner. By mid-June, you can attend the Royal Ascot to watch horse races. The Henley Royal Regatta also happens in June. Rowers race through Thames and you can watch from tents along the river. Indeed, this time of year is one of the best times to visit London in the United Kingdom!

August is the only month when Buckingham Palace becomes open to the public. The royal palace is one of the top reasons to visit London. By the end of the month you can celebrate Notting Hill Festival with the locals. It is a Caribbean street party with parades, food, and a lot of dancing.

October is when The Pearly’s, traditional performers dating back centuries ago, dance in the streets wearing pearl-covered coats.

November offers an authentic British celebration with the Guy Fawkes Night. Firework displays, bonfires, and parties are held throughout London to commemorate Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up the Parliament in 1605.

December kicks off the season with the Christmas Tree Lighting at Trafalgar Square. Londoners look at it as a very meaningful event.


Top 4 Resorts for snowboarders~

Snowboarders and skiers don’t always mix well on the slopes but there are winter sports resorts that welcome boarders with open arms. We look at four resorts in Europe and North America where boarding is a way of life, and where fans can freestyle, freeride and improve their carving technique knowing there are great facilities.

Before you go, make sure your travel insurance covers you for winter sports. Some policies include it as standard. Others, such as those from Barclays, feature it as an optional extra.

snowboarding on mountain

USA: Park City, Utah

With many facilities dating from the 2002 Winter Olympics, there are challenges for all abilities in Park City. The celebrated Eagle Superpipe, for example, has walls up to 22ft while the King’s Crown Superpark offers awesome jumps and more for the sport’s very best. Jonesy’s is a better park option for intermediate boarders looking to build confidence. Keen freeriders head for McConkie’s Bowl, where moguls or powder are the order of the day depending on the conditions. Lessons are available for all levels at the Ski and Snowboard School.

Austria: Mayrhofen

Long popular with a youthful crowd and with a reputation for great après ski, Mayrhofen was quick to embrace the boarding culture. A key attraction is Van Penken Park, which has kickers, rails and jumps, a half-pipe and facilities for beginners through to pros. There’s also a section set aside for children. Daredevil boarders (and skiers) continue to be drawn to the area’s hair-raising Harakiri Piste, which is Austria’s steepest groomed slope. Artificial snow-making facilities help when the white stuff is thin on the ground but beware of lift queues, especially in high season.

Switzerland: Laax and Flims

Boarders like their après ski but pretty Laax and its neighbour Flims in Switzerland are a quieter option for much of the season. However, it offers some excellent freeriding with about 220km of marked pistes and plenty of off-piste and powder options, including in the Vorab Glacier area. Freestylers of all abilities are catered for, with the Ils Plauns snow park a particular favourite with experienced boarders and freeskiers. NoName boasts Europe’s largest half-pipe but newbies should head for the Beginners Snow Park.

USA: Breckenridge, Colorado

The facilities at Breckenridge are rated by many, including the British Olympic team, who’ve spent many a winter’s day in training on the resort’s half-pipe. Experts are catered for at the Freeway Terrain Park at Peak 8, which has impressive jumps and rails as well as a superpipe. The same peak is home to the Trygves Terrain Park, which is better suited to beginners. Take 5 Chair to Park Lane, which boasts a collection of rails, boxes and jibs.

And one resort to avoid… Deer Valley in the USA is a skiers-only resort.

Top Reasons to Visit Spain

There are plenty of top reasons to visit Spain. And if you just consider how colorful and long-standing its history is, you’d be convinced of its worth as a tourist destination.  Tourism in Spain developed around the 1960’s and 1970’s. And back then, the country was herald as a great summer vacation spot. Today, it presents an array of alternative tourism significance, which attracts as many as 53 million visitors per year (allowing it to earn a whopping $53 billion tourism direct GDP. Spain is essentially a Mediterranean country that is run by a constitutional monarchy. And it was among the countries the nations that pioneered in world exploration, thereby making it a very influential force as far as culture and religion goes.

architecture in Madrid

Many of the tourist attractions in other countries, especially the Caribbean and Pacific involve remnants of Spanish architecture, which are often represented by town halls, forts, churches and old houses. The top reasons to visit Spain are no different. And here, folks can actually appreciate a more sophisticated depiction of its artistic side with landmarks like the Palacio de la Diputacion in Bilbao, Cathedral of Seville in Seville, Fort Sebastian and Santa Catalina in Cadiz, and the Old City of Cordoba. El Escorial is among the most interesting places to visit in the nation’s capital as it was once the center of the Spanish Empire. And in this vicinity, people will get to appreciate multiple facets of Spanish construction. Also known as the Monastery or Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de (El) Escorial, this massive building functioned as a religious sanctuary, royal palace, museum and school. It is a complex made up of a number of well-designed buildings, influenced by 16th and 17th century aesthetics. And it is surrounded by a vast woodland area, which served as the royal family’s hunting grounds. It was inaugurated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and currently attracts as much as 500,000 guests. And the best part about it is that it’s only 45 kilometers away from other highlights located in Madrid.

If you are interested in more nature-centric destinations, you could schedule a trip to Almeria, where you could indulge in local picturesque natural beaches. As mentioned earlier, one of the top reasons to visit Spain has always been its summer getaways. And Almeria has the best lineup in the world. Las Salinas and La Almadrava de Monteleva are among the undisturbed coastlines it affords people. And as an alternative, Valencia also has a nice beach waiting for foreigners to try out. More commercialized strands are found in Coastal Blanca, Brava and del Sol. And if you are particularly fond of pairing water-sports with that of party facilities, Ibiza and Mallorca are definitely some of the places you should include in your itinerary. If you want to read some more about these places, check out reviews from On The Beach.

Sierra Nevada is another one of the top reasons to visit Spain that is serving ecotourism interests. But unlike the previous, this mountain range in Andalucia offers guests more rugged outdoor experiences, from hiking to climbing, canyoning, paragliding and skiing during the winter. Tenerife is an overseas territory of Spain that also serves tourists the same set of activities, but pairing it up with spectacular beaches and a lively nightlife, making it the ultimate holiday retreat.