Tag Archives for " europe "

The Quirky Secrets Of Cyprus: 10 Fascinating Reasons You Should Visit Cyprus

10 secrets that will make you want to visit Cyprus

What are some places you want to visit?

……………………

Paris?

The Pyramids of Egypt?

The Grand Canyon?

Maybe Hawaii?

………………………..

Those are all great places to visit but why limit yourself to JUST those tourist hotspots?  What if there were hidden gems on this earth just waiting to be discovered?  Some place warm with beautiful sandy beaches, with close ties to ancient civilizations, wonderful food and a mix of modern and ancient culture?
Sounds good right?  I know of such a place.

Cyprus, The Place You Never Knew You Wanted To Visit

If you’re like most, you probably don’t know a lot about Cyprus and if you do know a lot than you don’t need to read this.

For the rest of you, I’m willing to bet that once you learn a little more about this forgotten frontier, you might actually put Cyprus on your list of places to visit one day.

Luckily for you, Cyprus has a healthy tourism industry of over 2 Million tourists ever year. So whether you want to find a villa in Cyprus, a 5 star Hotel or a charming bungalow for two you are sure to find a wide range of accommodations for anyone’s budget.

Not So Secret Secrets!

Technically, none of what I’m about to share with you is a secret. Nevertheless, I’m sure you will discover something new.

1- Cyprus Is “The Playground of the gods”

Aphrodite also known as Venus de Milo was from Cyprus

The Romans call her Venus. She is one of the most famous Greek goddesses of ancient civilizations. There is even a statue of her in the Louvre in Paris called “Venus De Milo”.

You might be surprised to learn that Venus has her roots in Cyprus where she is known as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and sexuality.

Another interesting fact is that Aphrodite is the mother of Eros the god of love (Eros is known as Cupid) and according to Homer’s Iliad her father was Zeus.

2- Cyprus Is where?

this is a map of Cyprus

 

Contrary to popular belief, Cyprus is NOT part part of the middle east even though geographically it is close to the middle east. It is less than 70 Km away from Turkey.

Nor is it part of Greece even though Greek is spoken throughout parts of Cyprus and much of its culture resembles Greece’s culture.

No, Cyprus is its own country and since 2003 it has been part of the EU. Cyprus is also an Island. It’s the third largest island in the Mediterranean right after Sicily and Sardinia.

3-The Languages of Cyprus

The official language of cyprus is Greek and Turkish but english is widely spoken

The island of Cyprus is divided in two. The main language spoken in the south, known as the Republic of Cyprus is Greek while Turkish is mainly spoken in the northern part of the island, known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Ironically, nearly 80 percent of the population speak English due to the fact that Cyprus was once a British colony from 1878 to 1960 so you will have no problem understanding and communicating with most locals.

4- What Do People from Cyprus Look Like?

I don’t actually know anyone from Cyprus so I was curious what the people of Cyprus looked like.

For fun, I looked for famous people who were either from Cyprus or of Cypriot Descent. I found 2 people you may have heard of. Unfortunately, I could not find any famous females.

George micahael is of Cypriot descent

George Michael: Born Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou.

I was surprised to learn that of all people, George Michael, the famous pop singer made famous for singing in the 80’s group WHAM is of Cypriot descent. Technically only half since his father is a Greek Cypriot and his mother was English. His real name isn’t George Michael either. He was actually born Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou. (I have no idea how to pronounce his real name either).

easy Jet founder is from Cyprus

Stelios Haji-Ioannou: Founder of EasyJet Airlines

courtesy of www.thisislondon.co.uk

Stelios is a Greek Cypriot who founded Easy Jet at the age of 28. He is probably one of Cyprus’s only billionaires and most celebrated Cypriot’s.

5- MEOW! Go See Some Cats

cats-st nicholas_monastery

Cats are not native to Cyprus which suggests that cats were introduced by humans. Nevertheless, cats are everywhere on this island. You should in the least make it a point to visit them unless of course you hate cats.

Here are two places you can go to see some cats.

St. Nicholas of the Cats

There is a holy monastery on the Island of Cyprus known as a sacred cat haven. It’s called St. Nicholas of the cats.

Legend has it, hundreds of years ago, Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great introduced cats to control the snakes and vermin which infested the area. The cats did their job and to this day you can find hundreds of cats roaming the monastery all cared for by nuns through donations and a special grant from the Cypriot government.  (warning, many of the cats are supposedly very scrawny looking and not well looked after).

The Malcolm Cat Sanctuary

You can see even more cats at the Malcolm Cat Sanctuary.  Their motto is “Help us make a difference for the cats in Cyprus”.

If you go to either of these places, please be sure to bring plenty of treats and plenty of love because the cats love to be pet and fed. You can also make a donation by visiting their website www.malcolmcat.org.

Go For The Archeology

oldest pet cat found in cyprus

Cyprus is an archaeologist’s dream come true. Every year archaeologists from around the world visit the island hoping to uncover stories of lives from the past and discover new secrets of ancient civilization.

6- Oldest Pet Cat Found In Cyprus

Recently a discovery was made by some of those archaeologists involving more cats.

According to a story in the National Geographic, it was believed that cats were domesticated in Ancient Egypt. However, the oldest skeletal remains of a pet cat was recently found buried inches away from it’s owner in a grave found in Cyprus. This discovery suggests that people have been keeping cats as pets for over 9,500 years. MEOW!!!!

You don’t need to be a historian or archaeologist to enjoy or imagine how the ancient people of Cyprus and Romans lived. There are plenty of places for the average person to visit.

 7- Ancient Tombs and Archaeological Sites

tombs_of_the_kings

Archaeological sites like the “Tombs of the kings”, an underground tombs carved out of SOLID ROCK which dates back to the 4th are one of many archaeological sites you can visit.

Many of these places are on rough terrain in isolated areas so be prepared to walk and wear comfortable shoes.

8- Try some of the oldest perfume scents in the world

oldest-perfume-cyprus

Although France is known for perfume, it was not the French who invented it.

Around 2003, a team of Italian archaeologists unearthed the worlds oldest perfumes and perfume bottles to date in Cyprus. The Italian archaeologist also discovered evidence of an enormous factory that existed over 4,000 years ago. The sheer size of this perfumeries indicates that perfume manufacturing was on an industrial scale.

At least 60 stills, mixing bowls, funnels and perfume bottles were perfectly preserved at the site, which had been covered in earth after a violent earthquake around 1850BC.  The finds are now on display at the Capitoline Museum in Rome along with several modern re-creations of the old scents.

Archaeologists say that the original perfumes were a mixture of olive oils and essential oils gathered from herbs and flowers.

Today you can find perfumes created using similar ingredients as the original perfumes in the Ayia Napa markets in Cyprus.  I hear the smell is very strong.

 

9- Food

meze cyprus food

Due to it’s location, the food of Cyprus is an interesting blend of Mediterranean , Middle Eastern with influences of the many countries who colonised the island at one time or another. You’ll even find African influences.

Coriander seeds, cumin, fresh herbs and parsley along with olive oil and lemon juice are just some of the typical things that can be found in many of the local dishes.

Be sure to try “Meze” which is usually served before a meal and consists of 10 to 15 different small dishes. It’s a great way to try lots of different dishes if you are not sure what to order as your main plate.

10 Beautiful Beaches

beaches-of-cyprus

If Greek mythology, cats or archaeological digs are not your thing than there are of course the miles and miles of beautiful beaches with clear blue water and golden sand just waiting to be explored by you.

Conclusion

Cyprus has so much to offer as a travel destination for both families and care free singles. The few things I’ve mentioned above are only a tip of the ice-berg.

Question: What do you think about Cyprus?  

 

What Is A European River Cruise and Is It Right For You?

European River Cruise: is it right for you?

Have you ever heard of a “River Cruise?

What about a “European River Cruise”?

Neither had I until recently.   

If you are thinking about taking a river cruise or you are not sure if it’s right for you, you should read this. Especially if you have kids!

First let me say that I have not taken a river cruise and I don’t know if I will take one any time soon.

More on that later.

The Ocean Cruise I Thought I Would Hate!

For my birthday in 2012, my husband Blake asked me what I wanted to do.

I said “lets go on a one of those Mediterranean cruise aboard those HUGE multi-deck ocean liners.”

To my surprise he said “YES”.

It was my first cruise and to be honest, I was convinced I would  hate it. So why did I choose to go on a cruise in the first place if I thought I would hate it? Simple, for the kids and our sanity.

As a parent, sometimes we make sacrifices for the greater good.

Between the nightly on-board live entertainment, swimming pool slides and all you can eat buffets, I knew the kids would have a great time which meant that Blake and I would NOT be dealing with whiny unhappy kids.
Besides, we were living in the Mediterranean and everyone raved about taking a cruise.

Let me tell you, I was wrong about hating the cruise! We all had a blast!

 I LOVED our Mediterranean ocean cruise

In rome: one of our 5 stops on our Mediterranean cruise

Our Mediterranean ocean cruise was literally like being on a floating luxury hotel with nightly entertainment, music, dancing, 4 course diners, a casino, a gym, swimming pools, activities for kids and more.

I liked it so much, I thought maybe we should take another one this year.

I thought If I liked an ocean cruise, I might like a river cruise too!

So I started doing a little research and came across something I had never heard of. “A River Cruises”. More specifically, since we are in Europe, “A European river cruises.”

Photo of river-Barones: River cruises usually stay by land at all times. So you get a great scenic view.

I quickly discovered that although I like the idea of a river cruise, it might not be for everyone especially if you have kids..  

Before I tell you why, let me first explain what is a river cruise.

What is a European River Cruise?

A European river cruise is voyage aboard a boat inland along rivers and waterways which makes frequent stops at multiple ports, allowing you to experience local life more intimately.

Is A River Cruise Right For Me?

The answer is it depends.

Below, I’ll list out the major differences I found between the more popular ocean cruise and river cruise.

What’s the difference between an Ocean Cruise and River Cruise?

Here’s what you get on a river cruise!

  • More excursions: You’re constantly near water which means you have more opportunities for shore excursions.
  • Spectacular and relaxing scenery: During river cruises, you are usually sailing by land so while sailing you can get a view of the scenery as you sail by.
  • Travel off the beaten path where cruise ships cannot go: Because river ships are small in size, they can go to out of the way places and cities where a big ocean cruise ship cannot.
  • Small town access: Again because of the small size of river ships, you can visit small towns that would be inaccessible to visit via a big ocean ship. Remember, many cities were built around rivers so there are plenty of docks in the centre of cities and towns to stop at.
  • More intimate: Cruise ships typically have around 2,300 passengers where  river cruises typically have between 75 to 200 passengers. This small number of passengers makes it more conducive to meeting and getting to know other people and maybe make lifelong friends even.
  • Duration: River cruises typically last between 5 to 15 days but it’s not uncommon to take one that lasts for 3 weeks or more.
  • Average passenger is older: The average age is going to be well above 50 and even 60 years old.
  • Fewer or no families with kids: Because river cruises typically cater to an older crowd, there will be little to nothing for families. All the entertainment, excursions and even food will be mainly aimed at pleasing adults.
  • Lower Key Entertainment: Don’t expect fancy or exciting shows like you get on ocean cruises. Often, the shows are by local people from the region you are visiting. Sometimes there are no shows or just a piano player.
  • No casino on board.
  • All inclusive: Many river cruises include guided tours at each port of call unlike ocean cruises where a guided tour can cost extra and can be quite expensive too.
  • Alcohol included: you are more likely to have alcohol and beverages included in the price of your ticket whereas on an ocean cruise you pay extra.
  • Themed Cruises: Some river cruises offer themes dedicated to one topic. For instance, a France river cruise might focus on paintings or Jewish heritage.

If you do decide to take a river cruise!

france river cruise

What To Look For or Ask?

Does your boat speak English?

  • If you are doing a European river cruise or a river cruise starting in another country,  check to see what the primary language on board will be.
  • Internet Access

Will your boat have free or paid Internet access? Many offer it free as part of the package but you should check.

Should you take the family and kids on a European River Cruise?

As I mentioned before, there will be little to nothing for families in terms of entertainment, excursions and even food. I’ve been told that kids might find river cruises boring. Other reasons why it might not be a good idea to take a river cruise if you have kids are listed below.

-Not enough beds in one room for a family:  Most river cruise ships have double occupancy only. You might have a hard time finding a ship that has a room for 3 or more people. Not so good if you have little ones or want to stay in the same room.

-No children friendly food: If your kids are picky or prefer to eat nuggets and pizza than a river boat cruise probably won’t work since the food is mainly geared towards adults.

-Can your kids handle cultural things: If your kids like to do 3 hour walking tours with lots of historic facts, touring historical site, cathedrals and museums than they should be fine. Otherwise, can you handle the blow back  from tired unhappy kids?

Even my kids who are world travellers can’t handle more than a few days at this slow pace before they go stir crazy to do something where they can jump, scream, splash or just be a kid.

-Is their a high chair on board?

-You might get scowls: Are your kids loud and do they like to run around annoying people?

Many older people choose river cruises because of the fact that there are few to no children running around. If you’re kids are the annoying loud type then expect sneers.

Minimum age: There may be a minimum age for the river boat tour.

Conclusion

-In short, European river cruises or any river cruise for that matter would be great if you wanted a low key trip AND you are interested in learning about the area you are cruising in.

-If are looking for more entertainment like the ocean cruise I took, you want more luxury and more amenities for the family then you should stick to ocean liners.

Will I take a river cruise?

As for me, I don’t think I’ll be going on a river cruise for a while. Maybe once the kids are little older but for now, I think I’ll stick with the ocean cruises. It’s just more family friendly.

Question: Had you heard of a river cruise before? would you take one? Leave your comments below. And please share this on Facebook. it helps drive traffic to this site.

 

ski-europe- cheap unheard of ski places in europe

5 Cheap European Ski Destinations You Have Probably Never Heard Of

If you are looking for a winter vacation spot to ski, why not look to Europe?

Is it because you think it is too expensive?

Skiing in Europe is cheaper than you think.

In fact, some of the most affordable skiing spots in the world can be found In Europe. You just have to know where to look.

5_ski_europe

5 cheap European ski destinations you probably haven’t heard of.

Let’s first get a base cost for how much skiing can cost for a single 6 day ski passes for one adult in the US and Canada

  • At whistler in Brittish Columbia Canada = 460 Dollars
  • At Vail Colorado US =700
  • Sugarloaf in Main USA = 460

Pretty pricy right? That’s not including food, extra people, transportation. That’s just a ski lift for 6 days. Ouch!

Now let’s look at some of the more affordable European ski spots in Europe

1- France

Méribel-france

France is probably the most famous and the most expensive place to ski in Europe but not as expensive as you think. .

You’ve heard of the Alps right?  Méribel is a an affordable ski resort that lies in the very centre of the Three Valleys. It’s not only affordable, It’s also one of  Frances most popular and most attractive ski resorts.

It has a modern lift system that virtually eliminates queuing up.

This resort is perfect for all skiing abilities and would be a great place to take your family.

2- Livigno, Italy

Livigno-Italy

Bring an extra bag because Livigno is a duty free zone.

Livigno is located fairly close to the Swiss border and has excellent skiing for both intermediate skiers, advanced skiers and even snowboarders to.

Livigno has many attractions but one of the biggest ones is its amazing terrain park which has huge pro-sized jumps as well as rails and kickers.  Have fun all you dare devils.

6 day ski pass: £161, $255

3- Borovets, Bulgaria

Borovets-Bulgaria

Borovets is one of the oldest and biggest resorts and is supposed to be one of the largest Alpine resorts in the country. It’s been completely modernized so no rickety chair lifts or decrepit run down areas can be found.

The ski resort is perfect for most beginners and intermediates. For those that enjoy after ski activities, the town is lively with bars that are cheap and cheerful

6 day ski pass: £129, $204 (including skis and poles)

4- Russia- Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana

Russia-Sochi

People ski in Russia. Who knew?

There is a town called Sochi in Russia about two hours from the country’s most famous ski centre Krasnaya Polyana and just 45 minutes from the Black Sea.

If you haven’t heard of Sochi, you soon will because Sochi will host the country’s first Winter Olympics in 2014 sochi2014.com. The ski centre Krasnaya Polyana is still pretty un-modernized but changing rapidly in preparation for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

No prices posted but it’s less than $200 for passes.

5- Romania- Brasov

Romania--Brasov

Poiana-Brasov is the most popular resort in Romania. It’s small and very well suited for beginners or families. If you’ve never tried night skiing, here’s your chance because the floodlights light up the runs. After skiing and after dark the bars offer cheap food and drink in a cheerful atmosphere.

6 day lift pass: £87, $138

Summary

The next time you are planning a ski trip, look towards Europe. Not only will you get an awesome and affordable ski vacation but you’ll get an international one at that.

Store coming soon Dismiss