Travel Expressions Ltd.'s Blog

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!

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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      

 

Valmiera is the largest town of the historical Vidzeme region of northern Latvia, and while certainly off the beaten tourist track, the city's many outdoor activities and cultural attractions, particularly the Valmiera Theatre, make this economically developing city a unique center for culture.

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The Valmiera Theatre - Valmieras teātris - was built in 1885 as an active amateur theatre by the Valmiera Association of Latvians, and by 1919 became a professional, traveling theatre with regular shows and a steady audience. Today the theatre is among Latvia’s finest, a regular prize-winner at the annual Latvian theatre contest, and globally the theatre has been increasingly recognized as a center for the performing arts.

Seating inside is intimate. The building also houses a small café, and there is access for disabled people.

The Theatre offers behind-the-scenes tours, meetings with popular actors, shopping at the theatre boutique and an opportunity to enjoy coffee in the pleasant café atmosphere.

Tickets are available at the theatre box-office or here.

Here is some more information about the theatre by the Official Latvia Tourism Portal.

In addition, in the city you can ice-fish at the Gauja River, visit the Valmiera history museum, or check out the Olympic centre where athletes train for a variety of different sports, including basketball, football, running and ice-hockey. Pending the weather (winter is extremely cold) there are a variety of sightseeing and outdoor activities.

Here is the website for the Valmiera Tourism Information Centre, where English is spoken and maps, guides, souvenirs, books and free internet access are available.

If this sounds like a trip you'd like to take, let us help plan and book your accomodations. Our Consultants have a unique expertise in travel to Eastern Europe and we can make this your best trip yet. 

by Csaba Tamas with Yellow Zebra, uploaded on expertvillage

From the video’s description:

Downtown Budapest is brimming with popular tourist destinations and, of course, plenty of eateries that will give you a taste for the culture and area. Gain some tips on where to eat in Downtown Budapest in this free video series.

Expert: Csaba Tamas Bio: Csaba Tamas is an experienced travel guide working for Yellow Zebra / Absolute Tours company that is offering walking, bike and segway tours to explore the city of Budapest. Filmmaker: Paul (Leopold) Volniansky

"Kossuth Lajos Ter Metro Station in Budapest." Uploaded by expertvillage

From the video’s description:

Metro tips for Budapest. Get around by train and metro in Budapest, Hungary! Learn how to get around at Lajos Kossuth Square in this free travel video.

Expert: Dante Mena Bio: Dante Mena is a writer who resides in Budapest, Hungary. Filmmaker: Paul Volniansky

 
 

Bonjour!

Europe isn't as well-known for it's street eats as some other regions, but there is a ton of variety of traditional anf fusion flavors that you just have to try. 

Here are the street cart smarts you need to navigate through the mixed and marvelous world of European street cuisine. 

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Picnic 
One of the most fun parts about Europe is the many squares, plazas, fountains, parks and other public spaces available that are perfect for setting up a picnic.

Oftentimes there are street vendors stationed nearby; especially in more urbanized areas street vendors continue to be a popular local snack or meal that you can find almost anywhere.

Set up with some chow to people-watch and chat with friends, or add a cheap bottle of wine and you have budget-friendly romantic date.

Farmers’ Markets 
This is one of the best places to find fresh produce, baked goods, drinks and snacks. European produce is high in quality, and since many people do their shopping out of Farmers’ Markets, you’ll have a large selection to choose from.

Throughout Europe you can find Farmers’ Markets that sell pre-maid snacks and meals for discount prices. Ask around locally where you can find them.

Turkish Influences 
Particularly in Germany, the Netherlands, and France, a wave of immigration from Turkey and other countries in the Middle East has brought about an influx of delicious, rich flavors, now a staple in the street cart world.

In Berlin especially, Turks make up the majority of the immigrant population, meaning a plethora of fresh Turkish cuisine to enjoy.

Try the infamous döner, which is kebab meat with yoghurt sauce and fresh greens served in a flatbread like a sandwich. According to local legend it was invented in the 1970s by a business-minded Turkish immigrant at Kottbusser Tor.

Falafel is another popular import. In Amsterdam if you’re looking for a cheap, fresh snack, head over to the Amsterdam Central Station for the little falafel cart outside. For more about falafel in Amsterdam, check out this article.

Drink 
In Italy you can easily find a street-side café or Espresso bar for a quick, pick-me-up espresso.

For places like Prague and Berlin, lift your spirits with some wonderful mulled wine. In Berlin, you can find Glühwein, a hot spiced red wine, usually prepared with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, orange peel and sugar. Sometimes fruit wines, like blueberry and cherry wine, are used instead of grape wine. For an extra kick order it mit rum(with a shot of rum). Glühwein is über popular in Berlin, especially during Christmastime.

In Prague, between the art and craft stands at the Christmas Market in Old Town serves up the most warm and wonderful mulled wine. It’s strong and sweet and unlike anything you’ve ever tried.

Sweets 
Ich bin ein Berliner! Seriously though, if you’re in Berlin, don’t miss out on thepfannkichen, a type of doughnut filled with jam.

In Italy, it’s a gelato dream. In major cities you can find small, bodega-like establishments on pretty much every block. For a few Euros you can cool off with a few scoops of gelato. Stick to places that sell only gelato though. One good rule of thumb for food carts is the fewer the options the better the quality.

If you’re traveling to Belgium, you have to try the waffles. Squeezed between the incredible art and architecture in Brussels are dozens of small stands serving up fresh waffles, covered in fruit, chocolate and whipped cream.

In Paris and other areas of France, crepes are where it’s at. For dessert have one spread with confiture de ait or with salted butter and honey. Or if you’re me, lots and lots of nutella. Crêperies are available on almost every street corner and in addition to dessert-style, you can find Arab versions with feta cheese, spinach, olives and sausage or with grated gruyère cheese, and a softly-fried egg.

Here’s Where to Get the Best Crepes in Paris.

Fried Cheese 
Just stop and think about how good that sounds. One of the most popular and traditional of Czech street foods is syr smazeny, which is breaded and fried cheese, usually of the Edam, Gouda or Swiss variety. It typically comes with tatarska omacka (tartar sauce), along with fried potatoes, and salad or bread.

You can find this treat in Bulgaria too, except it’s made with kashkaval cheese.

Top Picks 
Europe is tricky because it’s a region that encompasses 50 different countries. There are a few top hits though, so we’ll try to point them out (let us know what we missed!)

England is famous for fish n’ chips, seasoned with vinegar and salt served on a paper plate piled high with chips (“french fries”).

Across the Balkans you’ll find the most delicious, hand-formed sausages also known ascevapi or cevaps, served on lepinje, a type of flat bread. On the Dalmatian coast in Croatia, it’s fried seafood and seafood salads, such as lignje na salatu (squid salad).

In Athens, it’s the gyros; Germany has sausage with bread, wurst, kartoffein, and struedel; Bury Market in England serves up the best blackpudding; and Stockholm has cheap knäckis, a sandwich of fried herring, topped with cucumbers and red onions, and served on hard bread.

Speaking of herring, don’t go to Amsterdam without trying the “nieuwe” herring, salted and served on a paper plate with onions and gherkin (pickles). Eat with a toothpick and enjoy the surprisingly mild, savory taste.

More Resources 
Here’s a good, more specialized guide to Eastern European Street Food

Huffpost Travel: The 8 Tastiest Street Foods in Europe

Uzupis is a district situated on a hill along the Vilnele river. A kind of blending of town and village, on April 1, 1997 its inhabitants "officially" declared the area to be an independent republic, with its own president, flag, and constitution. This cheeky behavior is indicative of the district which is largely populated by Vilnius's Bohemian scene. It also is home to some pretty remarkable historic sights of its own, plus spectacular views of the city. This is the perfect neighborhood to get away from the city and walk around and explore.

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Once home to craftsmen, weavers, and tradesmen, during the Soviet period the district was re-inhabited by artists, poets, musicians and squatters, many of whom have helped to restore the houses and set up galleries. While some of the area seems run-down there is a great richness of culture and offbeat beauty to see here. The architecture resembles the Old Town and the streets are lined with lovely old wooden houses. Locals refer to the area as “Montmartre” for its Bohemian free-spiritedness.

There are yearly festivals of alternative art and fashion. On April Fools day mock border guards stamp passports and the entire area, or Republic, erupts into a party.

Check out the “Border Sign” and Constitution Plaque, found on a wall in central Uzupis just around the corner of the statue of the angel. Articles are written in Lithuanian, English and French. It seems serious at first but upon further inspection you’ll see it’s also fun. Here are some of the statements of Uzupis’ constitution: 

  1. Everybody has the right to live by the River Vilnele and the River Vilnele has the right to flow by everyone. 
  2. Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation. 
  3. Everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat. 

 

Here is the full Constitution translated into English.

Some of Uzupis’ other sites include St. Ann’s Church, one of the most beautiful churches in Vilnius and in Lithuania. Small in size but an incredible example of Gothic architecture. Another is Bernadine’s cemetery, one of the three oldest in the city, which dates to the 18th century and has over 14,000 burial sites.

Be sure to check out the Old Yards of Uzupis and the Banks of the River Vilnele. Make a trip to the Bartholomew Church, not so much of a stunner but perfect for spectacular views of the city. The Vilnius panoramas from Uzupis are marvelous in general. A must-see site is the Angel of Uzupis Statue. An 8m tall statue of an angel blowing a trumpet and standing on an egg.

Adding to the charm, the district also has a somewhat unexplainable but seemingly genuine fascination of and devotion to Frank Zappa.

For those who want a break from the noisy, touristy Old Town and want some a more relaxed, creative and humorous scene, take a trip Uzupis. A former major of Vilnius, Artūras Zuokas, even lives in Užupis and frequently takes part in the Republic’s events.

Interested? Let us help you plan a trip!

The Holy Birgitta Monastery, also known as the Pirita convent, is a consecrated place for Scandinavian female saints and a national landmark of 16th century catacombs and ruins. The convent is a solemn but beautiful and introspective holy space, self-defined as ecumenical, perfect for visitors seeking quietude and contemplation.

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The St. Bridget’s Convent in Tallinn convent has a deep history dating back 500 years. The convent and guesthouse are situated only 7km from medieval old town, just a few hundred meters from the sandy beach of the Baltic Sea, easily accessible to the town center by public transport. They are also connected by a scenic walking road built along the sea, with views to the old town and the Tallinn bay.

The convent ruins are part of a picturesque park, with a museum opened year around. Regular admission is only 2 Euros.

During the summers the convent hosts many concerts and cultural activities within the church. Every August a week-long Birgitta festival with operas and various concerts takes place within the walls of the old church, peaking with Convent Day on August 15. The day includes concerts, activities and events for children and adults, all free of charge.

The Bridgettine sisters have a long standing tradition of offering lodgings and welcoming guests at their convent’s guesthouses. Though they are a Catholic order, all religious backgrounds are welcome. The modern guesthouse of the convent is located just next to the medieval ruins of the majestic Bridgettine convent.

Prices for rooms per single, double, triple or 4 persons are respectively 34, 47, 62, 80 Euros ($49, $67, $89, $114 USD). Payment should be made in cash. Price includes breakfast and parking; lunch and dinner are available upon request. Every room has a separate shower, Internet connection, phone. All guests have access to the multi-lingual library, computer facilities, conference room and TV-room.

The money earned from the guesthouse goes towards various social projects.

Address: Merivälja tee 18, TALLINN 11911 
Location: Pirita beach area, 5km from the city center 
Tel:             +372 605 5000      

Photo Credit and more pictures.

Interested? Let us help you plan a trip!