Winter in Black Forest, Germany

The weather is getting colder and colder now. Sometimes, we are already reaching sub-zero temperature.   Our temperature is getting up to  -5 deg Celsius. This is not really so bad compared to other parts in Europe. Last week was  milder because we  had around 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.

Last December 2010 was my first  sight of the Black Forest. We did not had a trip there but  we only passed this part of wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. Germans called it Schwarzwald in  which  “Schwarz”  means  black  and  “Wald”  means forest.   I am not quite sure if our driver made a detour  as we were on our way to Strasbourg from Zurich,  Switzerland.  I tried to look on google maps and from Zurich to Strasbourg  will only take around two and  a half  hours. I guessed it us over three hours  to reach our destination that time.

Have you also  heard about Black forest cake? I am not quite sure if this is related to this place in Germany. It is said that it is called Black Forest because the
Romans who referred to the thickly forested mountains there as Silva Nigra or Silva Carbonara (Latin for “Black Forest”). It is  because of  the dense growth of conifers in the forest which   blocked out most of the light inside the forest. (more…)


Holiday Expenses Infographics

This infographic shows the main holiday expenses: food, alcohol, trips, gifts, duty free, travel & transport, holiday decorations, clothes, sports, and accessories. New Year is a great opportunity to spend a vacation in: Nevada, New York, Colorado, and Florida. 37% of Americans even don’t think about their spending, especially when they are on vacation. Astoundingly, 63% of Americans take out payday loans to get quick cash, along with high fees. During the holiday season, it is necessary not only to control your expenses, but also to use payday loans right way, for emergencies.

Top 10 Reasons holiday makers overspend Infographic


My First Visit in Budapest, Hungary

Let me greet you first a Happy New Year 2013!  I  hope that  you gladly welcome the new year. I also hope that you are all  doing good. I can’t complain until now since a lot of wonderful things happened during  the first week of the year.  There is only one not so good news and I hope that it will be  fine soon.   I am praying that one of my wishes for this year  will come true. That is, to have a vacation back in my home country.

Let me go back to my main topic.  Last 2011, I had the chance to go to the  capital city of  Hungary. I can’t imagine that I was able to visit  Budapest. It was indeed a dream came true.  I can’t imagine  that I finally stepped on this land.

We took a bus trip when  we went there last summer 2011. My dear  friend Jean was with me.  Our trip started in Regensburg, Germany which is around  525 kilometers to our hotel in Gyor, Hungary. Normally when you drive  with the car going there, it will only take  around 5-6 hours driving. Since  the maximum speed of  most buses in Europe is only around 100 kmh, it took us almost 8 hours to arrive in our hotel in Gyor. That is including the  breaks or stop-over we made along the way.

Many of my friends have been telling me that Budapest is a beautiful city. I agree with them. There are a lot of sights to see and it is not so expensive compared to other  capital cities in Europe. Among the sights we experienced   are the Chain Bridge, the Fisheman’s Bastion, the Matthias Church, the Gellert Hill, Heroes’ Square and the Parliament.  The highlight of our trip was when we  witnessed the fireworks  at the Danube River during its National Holiday  last August 2011.

It was so far a  fabulous  trip we had. Of course, I still want to visit this city again when I have the chance and  finances.  I took some  images  for you to see.

St. Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary-©

View of the  Parliament in Budapest, Hungary from the Fisherman’s Bastion. Taken last August 2011.

St. Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary-©

St. Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary-


Nuremberg’s Christmas Market

The Christmas Market in Nuremberg is held annually.  I love going to Nuremberg’s Christmas market.  If I am not mistaken,  I have been there for the fourth time already.   I was not able to visit it this year due to busy schedules. My  first visit was  in 2005 and the last one was in 2011, when I accompanied and toured some  friends  from the United States.

It is also called  Christkindlesmarkt, a German word for Christmas market.  It is one of the most famous Christmas markets  not only in Germany but also worldwide. This is also the reason why it is visited by over 2 million guests and visitors  every year.  The market is held at the Hauptmarkt or Main Market Square which is located in front of the Frauenkirche or Church of Our Lady.

For your information, Nuremberg, written in German as Nürnberg, is a city in  Bavaria (Bayern), Germany.

Here are images I took during one of my visits there.

DSC03825-© One of the booth’s in Nuremberg’s Christmas Market. During summer festivals and events in Nuremberg, you can see a lot of tents in the festival area. Some might purchased their tents  from  Altegra, a company that sells  quality  tents and  marquees.
© www.countrysidetrip.comDSC03962-©

The Frauenkirche in the background. Some stalls selling goods at Nuremberg’s Christmas Market.


A tent selling the famous Lebkuchen  or Ginger Bread made in Nuremberg, Germany.


Where to unwind in London

In a city known for its unrelenting fast pace, there is still a surprisingly large number of places to indulge in a bit of well-deserved downtime. Whether you’re drawn to the river, serene parks or calming cafés, you’re never too far from a relaxing haven in the Big Smoke. The Telegraph‘s In the Know feature, inspired by its partnership with American Express UK, shares insider knowledge on how to find London’s hidden gems.

Regent’s Canal stretches from Little Venice to Limehouse Basin, passing through Primrose Hill, Camden, Angel and Hackney en route. The towpath makes a pleasant and often shaded walk lined with gorgeously decorated narrow boats, passing Victorian factories, leafy parks and even London Zoo. Safe, secluded and popular with families, cyclists, joggers and dog walkers, you’ll find yourself exchanging nods and smiles with passers-by – a far cry from the bustling inner-city streets. There are plenty of spots along the towpath that are perfect for a picnic, a drink in one of the many waterside pubs and cafés or even a bite to eat when the canal reaches the eclectic bustle of Camden Market.

The Trafalgar Square in London. ©

Elsewhere, sunny days were made for climbing the slopes of Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory for a stunning view across the city. Take in the glittering skyscrapers, the Millennium Dome, the iconic skyline and the beautiful curve of the river. On a hot day, kick back with a book or hide behind your sunglasses and grab a sneaky snooze.

Soho, meanwhile, is a great spot to take some time out for a laid-back afternoon of people-watching. From business tycoons to out-of-their-depth tourists, all and sundry walk the streets of Soho throughout the day and a pleasant hour can be spent sampling smoothies, nibbling paninis and sipping espresso in the area’s glut of quirky coffeehouses. Soho Square or Golden Square are perfect grassy spots for kicking back with a take-out coffee and cooling off for a while as the bustle of Soho continues around you.

Once you’ve recharged your batteries, you’ll be ready to make the most of London’s amazing cultural opportunities. American Express UK customers can use a credit card to book tickets in advance and avoid missing out on the many great shows, concerts and films on offer in the capital.


The Royal Palace of Brussels

It is over two years now since  I visited Belgium.  From our 3 days trip in Paris,  France we took the train in going to Brussels.  That  actually a European tour with a friend from the US. She stayed in Europe for almost  three weeks and we toured to the different countries here including Italy, France, Netherlands,  Luxembourg and Germany. We also go for a short trip to the border of Czech Republic.

Anyway, one of the sights we visited  in Brussels was the Royal Palace. The construction of this beautiful building  started in 1783  and was completed in 1934. It has neoclassical architectural style.  It is the official palace of the King of the Belgians  but it is not used as royal residence.

Here is a shot I took during our visit.

Royal Palace of Brussels-

View of  the Royal Palace of Brussels from the Brussels Park- Taken  during our trip last August 2010. ©

I Miss Monaco!

Many tourists worldwide  dream to go to Monaco. I might be one of those lucky ones who was able to visit this city state. It was last spring 2011 when I had a trip with some friends to this principality. It was actually a bus trip we had. During that  holiday, we also visited  some of the cities and towns in French Riviera and Italian Riviera.

From our hotel  in Pietra Ligure in Savona, it was  only over an hour  ride with the bus.  I love this city and I was overwhelmed by its location in a waterside. It was only a  short visit but we had experienced a lot. Among the sights we visited  are the Monaco-Ville, Monte Carlo, the Monaco Cathedral (had a short tour inside), the Oceanographic Museum (only from outside since our time was limited) and some others. We also had a  short tour at  the Formula 1  Grand  Prix. From the Castle hill, you can also have a nice view of it and some other parts of the city.


I love Monaco and also wishes to go back there someday.

The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium is a world-renowned attraction.

View of Monaco from the Castle Hill. I visited this city  state last spring 2011.


Countryside Trip to Pamukkale, Turkey

I saw an image of Pamukkale from one of my schoolmates back in high school. I did not expect that I will also see it during our vacation in Turkey last year. It was not actually included in our itinerary but our tour guide made a short photo stop in this famous sight of Turkey. I was so happy after seeing it because I only thought that I can only see it in postcards or images online but I was truly there! Amazing beauty of nature!

Pamukkale National Park, Turkey

Pamukkale, means a  “cotton castle” in Turkish. It is  a natural site in Denizli Province in southwestern Turkey. The city contains hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water.


How to Find a Holiday Bargain

With the cost of living constantly on the up, salaries being squeezed and little luxuries put on the backburner, you’d be forgiven for thinking that holidays should be one of the first things you give up when times are frugal. But as we all know, taking time out to escape the daily grind and get away for a few days is an essential part of everyday life.

It doesn’t have to be a luxury getaway or even a trip abroad. It’s all about getting away and putting some distance between you and the stresses and strains of your daily routine. The good news is that if you fancy jetting off to feel the sun on your face and the sand between your toes, the holiday market is packed with special offers. So if you’re searching for cheap holidays from Ireland you’ll find plenty of options and some great prices to boot.

Take late deals for instance. In most cases when you search for holidays departing within the next few weeks, the majority will be significantly cheaper than the original price. Affordable last minute holidays come in many forms and could be a basic self-catering apartment on the Spanish coast, or a four-star getaway near the golf courses of the Algarve.

The best bet is to keep your options open when looking for late deals, and search for as broad a criteria as possible. Availability may be limited so to get the best price, try not to set your heart on a specific hotel or resort if you can help it.

Alternatively if you have a strict criteria and you can’t bear the thought of booking and jetting off within the space of a week, your best bet is to book well in advance. Reserving your holiday well ahead of your preferred departure date – anything up to a year beforehand – means you’ll not only have longer to pay off the cost of your holiday, but most tour operators will offer special deals to early bookers too. Perfect!


Awesome Ski and Snowboard Destinations of Canada

Canada is home to some of the world’s best ski and snowboard destinations. Winter sport enthusiasts literally count the sleeps until that first snowfall, and when winter arrives, they rush out to the stunning snow filled Canadian ski slopes.

Those in the know will tell you the best areas for a spot of skiing, snowboarding and winter fun can be found in British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta, and that what newbie’s should be on the lookout for are graceful long runs and sharp drops. Canada offers the most spectacular backdrops, incredible scenery, and a huge variety of winter sports including tobogganing and glacier skiing for the intrepid winter sport enthusiast.

Tabor Mountain is one of those amazing destinations where there is an abundance of heavy snow all throughout the season. With trails that cater to all experience levels, it is hugely popular ski destination for the intermediate snowboarder and skier. And one of the biggest attractions is the extremely fun long run ranging nearly 2 miles right from beginning to end.

Right in the heart of the resplendent backwoods of the Canadian Rockies will bring enthusiastic skiers and snowboarders to the ultimate resort of Powder King. Velvety slopes are perfect for the beginner, and breathtaking runs and sheer drops entice the intrepid snowboarder and skier.

Powder King is also the exciting host to many of the premier winter sports events and it is the exclusive training playground for the Canadian Freestyle team.

If you are visiting Kamloops in British Columbia, then Harper Mountain is the perfect place to take the entire family. It may be a good idea to have your credit card application sorted out and verified before you get there, so that you can hire all your rental equipment and gear you will need for an exciting family winter holiday.

During season, night skiing is a key feature, which even beginners can take part in, and will make for a truly momentous family outing that will not be forgotten in a hurry. You can rent snowboards and get a full season pass, so that your family won’t miss out on anything.

Fernie Alpine Resort has more than 100 demarcated ski and snowboard trails; an abundance of acres of tree trails for the cross country skier that wants to improve their skills and no less than 5 alpine bowls. Heavy snow falls between November and April make Fernie an exciting ski destination that will delight winter sports enthusiasts of all experience levels.



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