Main landmarks in Seville

Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, Seville, Spain - Sep 2009The city of Seville is located in Andalusia, a region in the south of Spain. This historical city has many attractions, ranging from cathedrals and ancient minaret towers to bridges and fortresses.

The Cathedral and the Giralda Tower.

The city’s main symbol is its cathedral, which was built on the ruins of an ancient mosque. This large cathedral has several naves with vaulted ceilings and gilded decorations. The main altarpiece is the Retablo Mayor, a large structure decorated with golden statues. Some of the halls have been transformed into galleries filled with antique goblets that were used during mass. Continue Reading »»

Early to rise, early to board

Kuwait International Airport - ParkingEarly morning and night flights – the bane of a traveller’s life! You might have noticed an increase in this trend, too, as more and more flight companies try and cram as many flights in to popular destinations as possible. Of course this is good for you, as it means more choice and maybe even cheaper fares, but as far as tiredness goes, it’s a recipe for bleary eyes!

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Daydream of the Week: Macau

Macau SkylineBring on the bright lights!

Seven years off and on in Sin City, and I never tire of neon. So imagine my excitement when I was able to squeeze in a long weekend in Macau during my most recent Asian adventure. After a week in Hong Kong, where I took in such sites as the Big Buddha, I headed with my mom and two brothers to “Asia’s Las Vegas.” One of my brothers has been a professional poker player in China for years, so has spent “some” time in Macau. And my mom, herself a savvy gambler, had met him there before. Me? I was ecstatic to see if for the first time! Having edited three local Vegas magazines, I’ve written/edited a lot of stories about Macau over the years. (My favorite: Bridging the Gap between Vegas and Macau by Steve Friess.) For Vegas locals, watching Macau explode has been fascinating. It’s no secret that the area’s passion for games of chance fueled mega-winnings for the casinos over there — and helped keep the Vegas outposts afloat during the US recession.

We stayed at Venetian, and it looked so much like the one in Vegas (that I know like the back of my hand) that I often found myself headed to a bathroom or something that didn’t exist. I had been told that Macau was small, and I really needed only a day or two. WRONG! We were there three days, and I wanted even more time! It’s true that there are less restaurants (and only one show!), so some non-gamblers might get bored. But not this one — I wanted to see everything!

Other than that, the biggest difference was the weather. You’ve heard of the smog in some parts of Asia — the skies in Macau were indeed grey, a far cry from the bright sunny dessert weather I’m used to in Vegas.

Next up? Mainland China!

Seattle day trip: gorgeous Bainbridge Island

Seattle day trips Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island is full of beautiful surprises.

After a silly, fun-filled day “Riding the Ducks” in Seattle, my friends and I decided to check out nearby Bainbridge Island. My old pals had just moved from New York, so it was fun that all of us were doing these activities for the first time. (After living in Vegas for more than five years, I know a thing or two about re-visiting the same tourist attractions with out-of-town friends!) Three adults and two kids under the age of five: We were a little late driving to the docks to make the ferry, so we ended up just driving our car right onboard. It was so cool! And very easy. You just drive up, tell them what you want to do, pay accordingly, and drive to where they tell you. It’s quite an experience to watch all of the bicyclists ride on the massive ferry, and then car after car parade on after them.

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Daydream of the Week: Summertime Fun in Seattle

Seattle Ferris WheelAs my social media streams load up on snow pictures from the big blizzard in the northeast (what a winter!), I was home in sunny (but still chilly) California — and I happened to come across some photos from this summer that never saw the light of the day. It’s no secret that I prefer hot, sticky tropical weather to winter wonderland snowstorms. So I thought I’d skip down memory lane as an ode to all the fun I had last summer in the carefree months after I decided it was time to leave Las Vegas for the California coast. This picture is from underneath the Seattle Ferris Wheel, taken during a long weekend I spent there last July. After jumping onboard the off-the-wall “Ride the Ducks” tour and a day on Bainbridge Island, my two pint-sized friends (ages 2 and 4) caught a second wind and ran towards the big wheel, willing to wait in line as long as it took. As the tourists in front of us started to load up one enclosed cabin after another, I couldn’t help but wonder how the little kids in my party were so fearless. We were getting ready to go sky-high — even I was getting a little nervous! But once we climbed in, all of that was forgotten. We were so excited! Slowly, we rose higher and higher, in our own car with plenty of room to move around as we each tried to see everything. What a view… The wheel increased to some pretty impressive speeds once it was full and could really get going. We looked for our car, pointed out interesting people along the boardwalk and took a ton of photos. The water was gorgeous with a smattering of sailboats.

Winter is cozy, but I am already looking forward to the lazy days of summer!

Low-Cost Family Escapes to Lanzarote

Neighboring Gran Canaria island.

Neighboring Gran Canaria island.

Family holidays take many different forms, but when planning aim for the big three: diversity, well-equipped resorts and plenty of fun.

Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, certainly ticks all of those boxes. For starters, kids will love exploring Lanzarote’s volcanic landscape – take them to visit the fascinating Timanfaya National park as part of a day trip, and watch them marvel as small geysers erupt on demand. Or treat your family to a tasty lunch cooked over a geothermal barbeque, powered by searing volcanic heat. The scenery is this part of the world is nothing if not dramatic, and your kids can learn oodles about volcanoes, eruptions and geology by discovering Lanzarote’s lunar-like landscape and lava fields.

Of course there’s no work without play, and once your kids have filled their brains with facts and figures about Lanzarote’s fiery volcanic past, they can hit the beach with Mum and Dad. There are around 30 kilometres’ worth of beaches around the island, along with plenty of other sandy patches and rocky coves dotted around the coastline. Some beaches are made up of black and grey volcanic sands, which create a striking spectacle against the turquoise seas, livid green palms and bright blue sky.

As for resorts, Lanzarote is home to a wide range of child-friendly resorts. Families are best steering clear of Puerto del Carmen which, although it boasts one of the best beaches, is pretty lively and tends to attract party animals to its pub-packed town centre. However, Costa Teguise is a great choice for families. Its breezy coast means there are plenty of watersports on offer, and it’s within a stone’s throw of the island’s only water park – perfect for energetic kids. It also has a lovely white-sanded beach which is a great spot for a day paddling and building sandcastles with the kids.

Lanzarote is home to a wide range of family-friendly resorts, from quiet family retreats to full-on holidays that are all about family fun in the sun. Find out more by searching online at one of UK’s most popular family holiday agents thomascook.com, Thomas Cook’s Lanzarote holidays.

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