Travel Expressions Ltd.'s Blog

Istanbul has emerged as true a world capital of the 21st century - a city located on two continents, rich in culture and history. The architecture is magnificent, the food is amazing and the luxury tourism is booming (you HAVE to go to a spa while you're there). 

Check out this video for more info! And contact us to plan your next trip!

The savvy traveler knows to pack light. Especially if you're going on a business trip packing should be efficient,  quick, and easy. Cramming everything into a backpack or trying to sneak a heavy suitcase past the gate is more trouble than it's worth. 

That's why the Red Oxx Air Boss was created. This 5-Star rated bag "makes other carry-on bags nervous."

In fact, it's "one of the most functional and well-made carry-on bags available." It was designed to be the ultimate carry-on bag by Doug Dyment of OneBag.com, and it certainly lives up to the hype.  

It might sound counterintuitive, but no wheels and no backpack straps mean total freedom. You can cross uneven terrain (ever try to roll a suitcase down subways stairs?), run through airports, get where you need to go and get there fast. Because there are no wheels there's less weight and more interior room.

Speaking of, in addition to the 3 main compartments where you can organize your belongings, the bag also features 2 zippered pockets on the outside as well as a sleeve pocket. The narrower outside pocket is ideal for storing your passport and airline tickets. It also has tie-down inside that will keep your clothes in place and wrinkle-free. And to keep it on your shoulder, a detachable non-slip Claw strap comes along with it.

You can pack what you need and still fit this bag into the tiniest of overhead compartments.

All of this utlity, plus good looks (it comes in 12 different colors) doesn't come too cheap. The bag runs about $225 USD, which when compared to other carry-on luggage really isn't too bad. Plus it comes with a Lifetime Warranty. A+

I'm a big museum fan. I've been fortunate enough to visit some incredible, unique collections (the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires; the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston), and I always make a point to visit at least one whenever I travel.

However, I know not everyone shares this interest. Some people would rather fight a bear than crawl through a cold, stale space with art that doesn't move you. 

Sometimes though, a museum is so well curated that everyone can find something to love. 

Take the newly opened Nouveau Musee National de Monaco, filled with fun, contemporary works. This incredible new space is a reflection of the growing art and cultural sphere of fabulous Monaco. As Dorothy Spears writes for the New York Times,

"Monaco, a tiny principality that clings improbably to a limestone cliff on the southeastern coast of France, has long been known as a playground for vacationers with means who dabble in hobbies like gambling and Formula One car racing. Yet in recent years, it has become home to a distinctive and vibrant international contemporary art community, a new tourist draw in a country with no shortage of them..."

"... In its short tenure, the museum has managed to produce ambitious shows like “La Carte d’Après Nature,” including a range of mediums, guest-curated by the German artist Thomas Demand, which was voted among the best exhibitions of 2010 in Artforum magazine. Its recent exhibition, “Le Silence. Une Fiction,” envisioned a modern city as a future ruin. This summer, an exhibition of work by Thomas Schütte, “One Man House,” which includes a freestanding house in the garden of the Villa Paloma, looks promising. (Set to open on July 5, the show will be presented in collaboration with the Castello di Rivoli of Turin.)"

("Monaco Adds Art to Its Seaside Allure")

All around this tiny country, galleries and public art exhibits are cropping up, a diverse mix reflecting the heterogeneous character of the area, and well-funded by some of the region's elite (like Princess Caroline of Monaco.)

It's certainly off the beaten travel path, but definitely something to consider for the summer, even if only for a few days. Just ask the experts at Travel Expressions to put together your next trip! 

Lovely Cologne is located on both sides of the Rhine River, one of the major European metropolitan areas. The city is a major cultural centre of the Rhineland and has a vibrant arts scene, home to more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. Exhibitions range from local ancient Roman archeological sites to contemporary graphics and sculpture. The city also hosts a number of Trade Shows. 

Evan Rail, of the New York Times, just posted a neat review of his experience visiting the city ("36 Hours: Cologne, Germany"). From the hip clothing boutiques to the worldclass dining to the traditional brewpubs, there's plenty to do to stretch out a trip. 

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"ONE of the oldest cities in Germany, Cologne has been drawing visitors since at least the year 50 A.D., when it was officially founded as the Roman outpost of Colonia. Today the big attractions are the city’s ancient (and gargantuan) cathedral, vibrant night life, a great native beer called Kölsch, and eau de cologne, invented here in 1709, not to mention the ever-present Rhine River. But the city the Germans know as Köln is hardly resting on its former achievements. New surprises just keep showing up. After crossing off bucket-list items like exploring the cathedral and crawling through legendary Kölsch pubs, you can easily spend an entire weekend focusing on the shops, restaurants and hotels that have opened (or reopened) within the past few years."

(Image: Jock Fistick for The New York Times)

Check out the full article for his complete itinerary. 

 

Get inspired to travel and contact Travel Expressions to start your next adventure!

 
 

 

We've already posted one beautiful video of Lithuania - full of long, aerial shots of the countryside. I wanted to share this video as well for another look at the cityscape. 

Created by Valdas Kotovas of his visit there last June. It's a mixture of different sites and images, a busy metropolitan and gorgeous landscape. 

Get inspired and start your next trip today with Travel Expressions! 

Off the typical travel grid waits Tallinn, the capital and largest city of Estonia. It's Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with many unique attractions and festivals held year round. 

It was also ranked a European Capital of Culture for 2011. Since its return to independence, improving transport links and Estonia's accession to the EU, it has become a hot spot for tourists. 

As a recent article in the NYTimes put it, 

"ESTONIA may be one of the smallest countries in Europe, but right now its 1.3 million citizens are among the continent’s most cheerful people. Last year the country celebrated 20 years of independence from Russia and dropped the kroon in favor of the euro, and its capital, Tallinn, was celebrated as a European Capital of Culture. Unlike many other places in Europe, unemployment is down, and there’s a sense of optimism in the air, helped by companies like Skype that have their main offices here. And there’s a full schedule of cultural highlights for 2012. The list includes many music festivals — this is, after all, the country that paved the way to independence with a Singing Revolution — and the premiere in May of a ballet at the Estonian National Opera, “Modigliani, the Cursed Artist.” Throughout Tallinn, remnants of the Soviet era are being repackaged as tourist attractions, while many of the city’s chefs, inspired by the “new Nordic” movement, are busily creating a Baltic cuisine that takes traditional ingredients — from beet root to wild boar — and uses them in inventive ways. The Old Town still trades heavily on its medieval past but, throughout the city, a 21st-century vibe is becoming increasingly apparent." ("36 Hours: Tallinn, Estonia" - Stephen Whitlock)

(Image: Kadriorg Palace)

Travel Expressions Ltd. is the premier agency for travel to Eastern Europe. We know exactly what it takes to create your perfect vacation.

Just contact us for more info!

If you are planning a trip to one of the world's greatest cities Madrid, Spain you have to visit the world's oldest restarurant Sobrino de Botin

Located in the heart of Madrid, Sobrino de Botin is certified as the oldest in the world by the Guinness Book of Records. Botin is a typical Spanish four floors (including the cellar) restaurant, with a centuries old woodfire oven, dating back to 1725. The house specialties are cochinillo asado (succulent roast suckling pig with crispy skin) and cordero asado (roast lamb), cooked following old style Castilian recipes.

Travel Tip: Modern Museum of Budapest

Budapest is the kind of European city with both a rich cultural history and a thriving modern art scene. Considered one of the most beautiful cities in the entire region, its extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, the Andrássy Avenue, Heroes' Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second oldest in the world. That's not mentioning the more than 80 geothermal springs and the #1 bar scene in Europe. 

One place we want to recommend is the Mucsarnok and its institutions. Here's the museum's history from their website:

The Műcsarnok (“art hall”) was founded in 1877 on the initiative of the Hungarian National Fine Arts Association. The original building was situated at 69–71 Andrássy Street, now home to the University of Fine Arts. The exhibition hall on Heroes’ Square was erected in 1896 for the millennium celebrations, and was designed by Albert Schikedanz. Today the hall operates on the pattern of the German Kunsthalle: it is an institution run by artists that does not maintain its own collection. The three-bayed, semi-circular apse houses a roofed exhibition hall that allows in light through the roof. Since the building was renovated in 1995 the Műcsarnok has welcomed visitors and leading Hungarian and international contemporary artists alike, mediating and representing modern artistic tendencies whilst not maintaining its own permanent collection. 

To plan this trip (and any others!) contact us at Travel Expressions! 

Edinburgh is one of the those cities that leaves you wanting more!!

But if you only plan on visting once and are facing a time crunch, don't miss the below 5 attractions.

1. Edinburgh Castle - Need I say more this imposing castle sits on an extinct volcano mound offer looking  the city and provides one with a view fit for royalty.

2. Palace of Holyrood House - This 12th century Palace and former residence of Mary, Queen of Scots is a must see for all.

3. National Gallery of Scotland - The National Gallery of Scotland is nestled in the heart of Edinburgh and includes works of art from Monet, Titian, Raphael and Rembrandt

4. Arthurs Seat - The tallest of the seven hills that form Holyrood park , Arthurs seat overlooks the entire city of Edinburgh ,and provides it's vistors with stunning views as well as a pleasant escape from the city below.

5. Royal Mile - This is where the action is. This one mile long strip is Edinburgh's busiest collection of streets and  the hub of daytime and nightime activities.

If you have not yet been to Edinburgh but it's on your list, don't think or worry - just pack!!! At Travel Expressions we will take care of the details.

 

This country is incredibly underrated - being off the typical travel radar though means that you can visit and have an entirely unique experience, without having to wait on long lines or deal with huge crowds. The city is rich in culture and history and offers beautiful landscapes. 

Check out this incredible video by Bitlas for some inspiration. Here's the video's description:

"More than 50 flights using various aircrafts, tens of thousands of travelled kilometers and shots taken have become a big format photo album "Unseen Lithuania". From Vilnius Old Town to the Dunes of Neringa, from Raigardas valley to the meanders of Musa river..."

 

When you're ready to travel, contact the specialists at Travel Expressions!

Vienna is the very lovely capital and primary city of Austria, as well as its cultural, economic and political centre. The city centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and apart from being regarded as the City of Music, it's also known as "The City of Dreams" because it was home to the world's first psycho-analyst, Sigmund Freud. 

Indeed this city is a powerhouse of history, culture and modernity - there is so much for the passionate traveler to do and see - here's where to begin!

St. Charles's Church, Vienna

1.  Visit Schonbrunn Palace.

This amazing Palace has been a tourist attraction since the mid-1800s, and with its 1200 lavishly decorated rooms it continues to be a must see for all visitors.

2. Indulge in a Viennese Coffee.

Vienna is famous for its many coffee houses, and indeed the coffee and pastries are to die for.

3. The Vienna Zoo.

From Pandas to Bison the Vienna Zoo is a great, family-friendly attraction to check out.

4. Take a Stroll in Stadtpark.

Home to the Johann Strauss who composed the “Blue Danube," the park is a great way escape the hustle and bustle of Vienna for a peaceful afternoon. Have a picnic!

5. Visit Prater.

This incredible theme park has enough attractions to keep you busy for the whole day. It features one of the world’s finest Ferris wheels, as well as tubulent roller coasters, spooky ghost trains and attractions for all sorts of the youngest.

6. Visit the Jewish Museum.

The 10 year old museum has an amazing collection of exhibits and will provide you with a great background of the Viennese Jews.

7. Tour St. Stephens Cathedral.

Built in the 12th century the Cathedral has survived both a fire in 1258 and extensive damage during World War 2. It is one of the best representations of gothic architecture in all of Europe and is a focal point of Vienna’s downtown centre.

8. Shop on Mariahilferstrasse.

This is the trendiest shopping area in Vienna full with department stores and small boutiques.

9. Attend an opera or music concert.

Music is the beating heart of this city and there are an array of options to choose from, like the Vienna Boy’s Choir and the State Opera House.

10. Take in a performance of the Lipizzaner stallions.

There are two options to choose from you can grab a ticket for the full performance or witness the morning training sessions.

 

When you're ready to book, just contact us at Travel Expressions! We know exactly what it takes to get you on the trip of your dreams!

Traveling with your kids can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to prepare for a trip to help it run smoothly.

Sonya of SeekingGreener.com posted her top 10 family travel tips that are pretty helpful, like to "pack a fun bag for each child," and "create a memory box with souvenirs."

From my experience, the more engaged and involved kids are the better they will be throughout the vacation. Let them in a little on the planning process. Talk up your destination and look at pictures together before you go. While you're traveling, let your kids pick out the restaurant for lunch one day or make other decisions that help them feel included. 

And the easiest way to make your next trip with the kids run smoothly?

Book with Travel Expressions. Our expert travel consultants can make even the most complicated of trips a snap. 

I wanted to share this amazing timelapse video by Aaron Mendez of Ahwahnee Films, an incredible look at his experience in luxury, culture and adventure.

As Jessica Festa of Gadling.com writes, "luxury travelers will enjoy seeing the pristine beaches, buzzing nightlife, and high rise buildings of the city, while the adventure-enthusiasts can witness off-roading, sandboarding, and came riding into the desert."

Not to mention dancing and hookah bars!

Shot on 5D mkll with 24-70mm and 70-200mm. Motion timelapses were done using a Kessler Pocket dolly with Basic controller.

Music (I love this song!): "Midnight City" by M83. 

You'd be hard pressed to find a traveller without a camera. Whether it's a new adventure or a much-needed vacation, most of us like to preserve these special times with our family and friends by taking a few pictures to keep as momentos. 

As we go through them back at home, the ones that we want to display and share are the stand-outs - you know which ones. That sunset you captured in all of its colors; that quick moment in the market you snapped just in time; smiley family shots without red eye or blur. 

Wouldn't it be great if all our photos were like that?

The thing is, it's easy to use a camera, but it takes a little skill and know-how to be great at it. 

Check out this article by MalloryOnTravel.com: Understanding Your Camera - Take Great Images not just Snaps. This is a really comprehensive but easy-to-read guide that covers everything from choosing the right tools to explaining the different modes/functions of the camera. Check it out!

P.S.

When you come back from your trip, show off your pics on our website! Our Photo feature makes sharing your travel photos a snap ... and we LOVE to see them!

Vilnius is one of the most underrated European capitals. Not only is this city rich in culture and history, but its gorgeous sites, delicious food

It's also very accessible to tourists. As Katie of KatieGoingGlobal.com pointed out from her trip to Vilnius, 

 

"I have to say that the overall infrastructure for tourists in Vilnius really impressed me. Numerous office locations equipped with English-speaking personnel meant you never had to go far if you had a question. Each location provided a plethora of brochures and information in multiple languages, including a 100-page Visitor’s Guide and a series of specialized guides and walking routes relating to themes such asRussian Heritage in Vilnius, Jewish Heritage in Vilnius and Along the Road to Lithuanian Statehood. Signs throughout the Old Town also helped to point you in the right direction."

During her trip, she acquired a 72-hour Vilnius City Card and took advantage of the many sightseeing opportunities that it offers, like touring the entire city with an audio guide and visiting several museums. 

Definitely check out her full write up, Vilnius in 72 Hours, for more information and inspiration. 

And when you're ready to book that trip, contact one of our expert travel consultants to make it happen!

 

New Online Travel Resource: Where Should I Go On Holiday

Greetings, Travellers! We wanted to share this online resource we came across - an interactive graphic map that lets you know where it's hot and when in major European cities by their climate. Perfect for planning your trip this 2012!

According to an article by TravelingGreener.com,

"BBC Weather and the MET office, the UK's national weather service, are the sources of the climate data on 70+ cities and 36 countries in Europe. Map users hold their mouse over a city destination and find out monthly temperatures, hours of sunlight, rainfall and humidity levels."

Click here for the map

 

Happy New Year from all of us at Travel Expressions!

For most of us, the holidays mean BUSY. Cutting a few corners is about surivival - sure you might've brought store-bought cake to the work party but you used the extra time to pack for your trip. 

But how far does that go?

Airports have long peddled souvenirs and merchandise, great for gifts or bored travelers killing time. Nowadays many airports are eqiupped with everything from a spa to an electronics store. But is this where you can buy gifts? 

Jaunted.com author JetSetCD says yes. It's Okay To Shop for Holiday Gifts in Airport Vending Machines explores this new world of quick and easy gift shopping. Check out the full article! and let us know what you think!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Travel Expressions!

Brussels is truly one of Europe's gems. There is so much to see, do and eat in this very cosmopolitan, capital city. 

Contact Travel Expressions to plan your next trip!

Make sure to dine at this favorite restaurant in Budapest, with authentic Hungarian cuisine including a romantic, 3 course folklore dinner. Experience Hungarian culture without any of the "touristy feel." There is an extensive wine list featuring some of Hungary's best, and a delicious menu of Hungarian gastronomy.

Located in the beautiful and historical Castle District, you can come here for amazing food in an elegant, informal atmosphere, set to the music by one of the best Hungarian Gypsy bands. 

Restaurant Website 

Munich is one of the world's greatest cities! Check out these lunch spots and make your lunch an experience you will not soon forget.

Alpentraum

This restaurant puts a modern twist on traditional alpine cuisine. Try out the comfort food here: Beef and scallops with a hint of vanilla; calf’s head served with potato and chive dressing - MMMmm good.

Hoftbrauhaus

You knew it would be on this list somewhere, but really does it get better than this? Grab a seat at a century old table in the Die Schwemme and enjoy the schnitzel and beer.

Schelling Salon

Famous for entertaining some of the most influential people in modern history including Lenin and Adolf Hitler. Try the Kasespatzle Germany’s version of Mac and Cheese.

Prinz Myshkin

Vegetarian? This is the perfect spot for you. You will find Asian fare, amazing pizza and pasta options, and some of the best Indian food in the alpine region.

Cosmo Grill

Get your burger fix here. The organic ingrediants mixed with the healthy portions make the Cosmo grill a must for the burger lover!

A somewhat anomalous swatch of green space along the Strip, the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens are a spectacular display of nature amidst the dry desert of Las Vegas. They will be one of the highlights of your trip!

Conservatory-ChineseNewYear2011-Wideshot.jpg

On display 24 hours a day every day of the year, the Gardens are a free display that are re-imagined and created anew 5 times a year (fall, winter, Chinese New Year, spring & summer).

Each seasons brings in new bright and beautiful flowers, towering structures and unique designs. Go in and breathe the fresh, fragrant air and enjoy the breathtaking and imaginative works of art.

Visit early in the morning for the least amount of crowds. This is a great place to bring your kids.

Why not do something different this year and visit Vegas for the holidays! We can plan and book your trip according to your budget and interests. Just contact us for more information!

More information on the Bellagio Website

Address: 3600 Las Vegas Blvd S 
Tel:             (702) 650-9459      

 

For a unique and authentic culinary experience consider Thailand's original Food Tours. Explore the city's tastiest neighborhoods, try different delicious Thai cuisine and learn about Thai culture and local history. Fun for all ages!

The company offers a variety of tour options: Historic Bangrak Food Tour, Chinatown Foodie Walk, Bangkok Bites & Bike Tour, and a Private Group Food Tour. All are fairly priced and well-reviewed

Check out their website for more information!

And contact us to help you on your way to this magical city!

Check out this video: Traveling by Train in Europe with Sarah Sathmari, an experience travel guide in Hungary and greater Europe. (Filmmaker: Paul Volniansky)

From the video:

"When booking a train ticket from Prague to Vienna, log on to the Internet for rates and schedules to reserve a seat for the five-hour journey. Take something to read and travel to Vienna, a lovely Baroque city, with tips from an experience travel guide in this free video on travel."

P.S.

Want to make that train trip but still a little confused? Need help finding the best rates? Contact us for more info on how to make your trip stress-free. 

See the city in an entirely unique and extraordinary way. Take a Hot Air Balloon Tour over the capital, or experience a number of other sights offered by this company in Lithuania.

One of the most popular tours is the Flight over Vilnius, the capital and one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. The Vilnius Old Town was in fact added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994 for its historical value and originality. The company takes off from several sites, depending on the daily wind direction, but they will pick you up from any hotel in Vilnius and bring you back afterwards.

Price: 399 Lt or 119 Euro or about $117 USD. Comes with a first flight certificate, champagne, passengers’ retrieval and insurance, in addition to the tour.

Other tours include a flight over historic Trakai, a popular lake resort; Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania; the exclusive port at Klaipėda and Palanga resort; and much more. There are even Romantic Flights and opportunities for Corporate Events.

Address: Upės str. 5, LT-09308 Vilnius, Lithuania 
Tel:             +370 5 273 27 03       
Email: info@ballooning.lt

Bonus!

Our expert consulants can plan the perfect trip for you to Vilnius - or anywhere else in the world! Contact us for more info. 

 

The Avala Mountain in Belgrade, Serbia is a historical site that's draped with beautiful trees and wildlife, an amazing destination in this area. The word Avala is derived from tyhe Arabic word "havala," which means "beautiful view."

Mountain Avala is just 511 meters high and is covered by evergreen forests and other trees. The wildlife that surrounds Mount Avala has been a protected natural zone since 1859 for the rich animal variety and unique plants that grow there. 

At the top of the mountain is the Unknown Soldier Monument that's dedicated to the soldiers who fought in World War I. The mountain is connected to roads, highways and railways, making it easy to get to.

Near the top of the mountain is the Avala Hotel, Mitrovicev Dom lodge and the Carapicev brest students' rest home. This area is perfect for picnics, sightseeing and enjoying nature!

Do You Want To Go Here?

Contact any one of our experienced travel consultants to help you plan the perfect trip to Belgrade.