Friday, August 21, 2015


Travia: Hawaiians live, on average, five years longer than residents of any other state.
Photos by Cynthia Dial
#travel #travia #traveltips #travelingcynthia

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Top 10 Dream Trips

Think about it.  What, of all of earth's destinations, would be your dream trip?  When this question was posed to followers of TripAdvisor, the results are as follows:
Photo by Cynthia Dial

 1. See the Northern Lights

 2. Over the water bungalow stay in Bora Bora

 3. Sunset over Santorini

 4. Trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

 5. Explore the Galapagos

 6. Visit the Amalfi Coast

 7. Take an African Safari

 8. Trek Route 66

 9. Set foot on Antarctica

10. Ride the Trans-Siberian railway

#travel #travelsurvey #travelingcynthia #dreamtrip

America's 25 Sexiest Cities


LOS ANGELES, CA - Playboy magazine today released its list of "America's 25 Sexiest Cities," as featured in its September 2015 issue.
New York took the list's top spot, and was described by the magazine as a city where "the people are hot." NYC was also recognized for having "the best and most nightlife" of the ranked cities.
The following is Playboy magazine's complete list of "America's 25 Sexiest Cities":

Photo by Cynthia Dial
1. New York
2. Los Angeles
3. Chicago
4. Miami
5. San Francisco
6. Boston
7. Seattle
8. Las Vegas
9. San Diego
10. Portland
11. Dallas
12. Philadelphia
13. Austin
14. Minneapolis
15. Denver
16. Tampa
17. Atlanta
18. Phoenix
19. Washington, D.C.
20. Charlotte
21. Orlando
22. Houston
23. Pittsburgh
24. New Orleans
25. Santa Barbara

Playboy's list was determined by results from two customized polls conducted exclusively for the magazine and other metrics such as "hot locals, cool nightlife, a great setting.”
Survey results voted Detroit the "unsexiest city in America."
#travel #travelsurvey #traveltips #travelingcynthia

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Travel Quote

"Life is short and the world is wide."
Simon Raven
Photo by Cynthia Dial

#travel #travelquote #travelingcynthia

Sunday, August 16, 2015

11 Things You Need to Know Before Your Flight is Cancelled

By Kelsey Blodget for

It’s 1 a.m. when we know for sure that the plane isn’t going to take off. Not tonight. We’ve been sitting on the runway for hours, and after a maintenance problem that turned out to be nothing and the jet refueling guys that never showed, we’re heading back to the gate.

The bureaucratic tap dance we then endure -- rebooking our flight (that won’t leave until the next afternoon), attempting to locate our luggage (unsuccessfully), trying to book an airport hotel (also unsuccessfully) -- leaves us grumpy. After the umpteenth frustrating customer service encounter, I start to get slightly hysterical. Despite making my living as a travel expert, it turns out I am not always a good traveler.
Photo by Cynthia Dial

Countless travelers have found themselves in just this situation and can well relate to the misery. Mere hours after falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle in Costa Rica, somehow, inexplicably, my husband and I find ourselves sleeping in Miami International Airport under harsh fluorescent lights. (We would have preferred to crash in a South Beach hotel overlooking the ocean, but alas, it wasn't in the budget.) He is wearing his Panama hat with a macaw feather tucked in the brim, a souvenir from our trip. I am wearing a Miami sweatshirt that I bought in a gift shop, because my spaghetti strap maxi dress isn’t enough to combat the airport chill. After hours of travel -- unwashed, bleary-eyed, and now sprawled across the airport chairs like hobos -- we must look like quite the pair.

Upon finally arriving back in New York City, I decide to investigate just how often things go so awry -- and what, if anything, passengers can do to prepare themselves. I want to know everything -- which airlines are the worst, which airports are the worst, what compensation customers can expect, and what they’re legally entitled to. Of course travel won’t always go smoothly, but it’s always possible to increase your odds that it will, and to respond intelligently when it doesn’t. The result of my findings, I hope, will be your ultimate survival guide to a delayed or canceled flight.

Envoy and Spirit Airlines Are Actually the Worst

The fact that cut-rate carrier Spirit Airlines doesn't have a great track record when it comes to flight cancelations and delays should come as no surprise. Customers should expect to pay for those cheap fares in other ways -- one of which is the much higher than average chance of not arriving to their destination on time, or at all. In June, only 49.9 percent of the airline's overall reported flight operations arrived on time, according to the August 2015 Air Travel Consumer Report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). And 4.9 percent of its operations were canceled altogether -- a number surpassed only by Envoy, a regional affiliate of American Airlines, which had 5.2 percent of operations canceled. 

"Consumers can limit their exposure to cancelled and delayed flights by avoiding flying on regional jets, which tend to be canceled more often than larger planes," George Hobica, founder of, says. 

I flew American Airlines, which had 1.1 percent of operations cancelled. For on-time flights, American came in eighth out of the 12 airlines ranked in the report -- one ahead of United.

Hawaiian, Alaska and Delta Airlines are the Best
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the carriers with the fewest cancellations in June were also the carriers with the most on-time flights. For on-time flights, Hawaiian Airlines came in first, followed by Alaska and the once-hated (by me, at least) but now much-improved Delta. (Forbes writer Ken Krogue also noticed the airline's recent improvements, and I distinctly remember seeing a subway ad a few years ago from its "Keep Climbing" campaign declaring that "The Only Way Up is Up," which turned out to be an accurate assessment of the airline's trajectory.) Though the DOT hasn't released July data yet.  Investopedia reported, July data from Flight View showing that Delta moved up in July to take first place for on-time flights.

"As we show in our airline performance rankings, some airlines are better at on-time performance (notably, lately, Delta), and at not overbooking (JetBlue, for example)," Hobica says."Consumers concerned about the small chance they’ll be bumped -- and it is a small chance -- should book on airlines that perform better."

In terms of cancelled flights in June, Alaska had .4 percent, Delta .3 percent, and Hawaiian just .1 percent.

It Might Be Wise to Avoid a Layover in Chicago O’Hare

Chicago O'Hare International Airport is one of the country's busiest airports -- and it had one of the worst track records in June for on-time arriving and departing flights, according to the DOT report. Only 66.2 percent of arriving flights were on time, and 63.8 percent of departing flights. Compare that to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, an even busier airport that managed to have 80.1 percent of flights arrive on time and 76.2 percent depart on time, and it's easy to see that Chicago's numbers aren't too great. 

Airlines are Doing a Worse Job of Making Customers Happy This Year

The DOT announced Tuesday that consumer complaints filed with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division this year have risen significantly -- specifically, they're up 20.3 percent in the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of last year. So if you've become accustomed to a smooth flying experience, it may be time to get ready for a bumpy ride. 

You Are Entitled to Compensation if You Are bumped From a Flight

If you are bumped from a flight involuntarily due to overbooking, the airline owes you money, even if they rebook you on a later flight. If your rebooked flight arrives at your destination one to two hours later, the airline still owes you an amount equal to 200 percent of your one-way fare (with a $650 maximum), according to DOT rules. If you get to your destination more than two hours later (or more than four hours later for international flights), you are entitled to 400 percent of the price of your one-way fare, up to $1,300.  

But if Your Flight is Delayed or Cancelled

That's right -- if your flight is delayed or canceled, the airline owes you squat. Some may choose to provide food vouchers or hotel accommodation, but it's entirely at their discretion. When my American Airlines flight was cancelled, we did get food vouchers but not a hotel voucher. 

Many airlines have set policies in place that can be found on their websites; United, for example, says it may offer free hotel accommodations for delays that exceed four hours between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m. if the delay or cancellation was within its control. Alternatively, American Airlines only provides a "distressed passenger rate" voucher for a discounted hotel room when the cancellation is due to bad weather. So when the cancellation was American Airlines' fault, as it was in my case, passengers can expect to figure out their own sleeping arrangements.

Most Flights Are Delayed Because of a Late-Landing Aircraft

As noted, the cause of the delay is an important factor in what compensation the airline might offer you. So it's a good idea to understand what causes them most often. According to the DOT report, an average of 74.8 percent of flights were on time in June, 8.8 percent suffered a delay to a late-arriving aircraft, 7 percent were delayed because of an air carrier delay (read: something that was the airline's fault, such as maintenance or crew problems), and 6.3 percent were due to a National Aviation system delay (something like heavy traffic volume at the airport or another airport operation issue). Just .9% were due to an extreme weather delay, a comparatively low number.

Knowing that, American Airlines' policy of only providing discounted hotel rooms for cancellations due to weather seems a lot less generous (and for them, certainly less expensive) than United's policy of providing free hotel rooms for air carrier delays. In short, if United had stranded me overnight in Miami instead of  American, I would have been a happier camper. 

Your Domestic Flight Shouldn’t Get Stuck on the Tarmac for More Than Three Hours

Unless the pilot deems there is a security concern, or air traffic control believes that returning to the gate would significantly disrupt operations, your domestic flight is not allowed to stay on the tarmac for more than three hours. And the flight attendants must provide you with food and water after two. (On my flight, when we finally got water and granola bars after being stuck on the tarmac for what felt like far more than two hours, we thought the flight attendants were doing it out of the goodness of their hearts; turns out they legally had to.) And yes, you must be allowed to use the bathrooms.

Avoid Checking a Bag, Especially on Envoy

After our flight fiasco, we didn't see our bags again for several days. We got them eventually, but it's good to know that some airline carriers have a better track record with your baggage than others. Unsurprisingly, good ole Envoy Air has the worst record with mishandled bags in June, with 10.5 reports per 1,000 passengers ("mishandling" meaning bags that were lost, delayed, damaged, or pilfered). American Airlines was fourth worst, with 4.3 reports per 1,000 passengers.

If Your Bags Are Permanently Lost, You Will be Compensated – But Expect It to Take Awhile

If the airline loses your bag, they do have to compensate you, but expect to haggle over the value of your goods and wait four weeks to three months to get paid. If the airline deems a passenger claim exaggerated they may deny it altogether. Receipts will help you prove the value of your lost belongings.

Don’t Just Wait in Line at the Airport – Call Customer Service, Too

After the airline announced that our flight was canceled, there was a mad gallop to the customer service desk. Smart passengers didn't just wait in line to rebook their flights -- they also called the airline customer service number. This will almost always result in quicker service, and as you are competing against the other passengers to rebook the best remaining flights, time is of the essence. You may not want to step out of the line altogether, though; if there are food or hotel vouchers on offer, you can't get those over the phone.

#travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #airlinetips #cancelledflights

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

From Painting With Dolphins to Orange Cotton Candy, Here is the Latest in Can't-Miss Vegas

Published by Cynthia Dial in

Oh, Las Vegas. Where else can you visit Lake Bellagio, the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower within the same day? Adhering to its founding principle, “spare no expense,” this is a town where over-the-top glitter and beyond-the-imagination glamour are unabashedly applauded. Las Vegas is where you feel you’ve trespassed a velvet rope line onto a red carpet that is never ending. Sin City's streets are enhanced with world-class restaurants and one-of-a-kind entertainment. Whether you're a first timer or have acquired a lifetime of (classified) stories from Las Vegas, there's always something new to be experienced. Here's some of the city's newest, best and/or must-do events: 


The Delano's lobby boasts a fashion-runway-like carpet that was the setting of the hotel’s 2014 fashion show opening. Floor-to-ceiling Grecian-style fabric columns line my way toward the floating stone artwork suspended above the aisle. Check-in is effortless, for within minutes I’m standing in my suite (all rooms are suites), surrounded by white and enjoying my window framed view of the Strip. A Mae West quote, “Between two evils, I always pick the one I’ve never tried before,” is imprinted on a black card sitting atop my crisp white bed.

Presidential references are found throughout this hotel named for the nation’s 32nd leader, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Franklin is the hotel’s sophisticated drinking spot, is known for its craft cocktails, one-and-only spirits (from a Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon to a custom Glen Moray scotch), more than 30 craft beers and a selection of wines by the glass exclusive to this bar. Breakfast at Della’s Kitchen serves up such specialties as Portuguese pastrami hash, spiced pumpkin pancakes and mimosa trois (a mix-your-own champagne cocktail with your choice of three juices). 

Just around its corner, 3940 Coffee + Tea offers s’more lattes. All are reflective of Chef Jay Calimlim’s edict: “Create something a little different.” The soon-to-be-unveiled addition to this delicious line-up is an Alain Ducasse Mediterranean-inspired restaurant and lounge called Rivea that will sit on the 64th floor, showcase 180-degree city views and feature creations of this world-renowned, multi-Michelin-star-ranked chef.

Tasting Dinner

Las Vegas is known for its collection of top-dollar events. But the Cognac Tasting Dinner at Sage, one of ARIA Resort & Casino’s premiere restaurants, is an experience found in limited edition. Featuring a five course menu, each beginning with a cognac tasting and followed by a champagne pairing from the prestigious Hardy house, Benedicte Hardy guided guests through the feast that began with foie gras custard brulee and ended with “Perfection” cognac, an extremely rare, 150-year-old cognac expression at the cost of $25,000 per bottle. 

Celebrity Chefs

Wolfgang Puck started the celebrity chef trend more than two decades ago when he opened Spago in The Forum Shops at Caesars. Following in his footsteps are such luminaries as Chefs Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Michael Mina. Fleur by Herbert Keller (celebrated Top Chef Masters’ finalist) features an unexpected, innovative wine-versus-beer pairing dinner. The Chef’s Table at Buffet Bellagio (a hotel known as a top-choice of millionaires and for its Chihuly sculpted glass ceiling and musically choreographed dancing waters) is an elaborate spread complete with stuffed quail eggs, tableside carved prime rib, a weekend caviar station and a white and dark chocolate fondue finish. Chef Robert Ferris’s comfortable approach: “It’s casual, I’ll be in and out.” Veranda at Four Seasons (so exclusive Mandalay Bay’s activities are available to Four Seasons’ guests, though not the reverse), is an Italian inspired trattoria, showcasing such Chef Antonio Minichiello creations as la pasta cotta nel vaso (handmade artichoke pasta cooked in a jar with assorted seafood) and his signature sharing dessert – tiramisu cake, espresso gelato and orange-flavored cotton candy. 

Daytime Activities

Whether it’s spa-ing, sunning or secret gardens, Las Vegas-by-day teems with selections. Vdara is home to the city’s first ESPA-branded spa, a pamper facility found in prestigious around-the-world locations on five continents – from Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel to Cabo’s One & Only Palmilla. Described as a “private, sophisticated, European bathing experience,” adults only are allowed to enter Mandalay Bay’s Moorea Beach Club. Summer features a Toptional Beach (yes, tops optional) and winter offers s’mores served around the fire pit. But it was my VIP tour of The Mirage hotel’s Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat that presented my favorite surprise – an interactive experience called “Painting with the Dolphins.” Easiest explanation: Personally picked paint selections are loaded into buoy brushes that dolphins hold in their mouths and swipe onto your hand-held canvas. Final result: modern art.

Action seekers have the Las Vegas High Roller, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel at 550 feet found in the LINQ outdoor promenade. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, which appeals to art aficionados is currently showcasing “Picasso: Creatures and Creativity” exhibit (until January 10, 2016) – a collection of more than 43 pieces of the prominent painter’s work, including a portrait that has never been seen in public.


When the sun goes down, the curtain comes up in Las Vegas. Mandalay Bay’s Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil is a musical and acrobatic tribute to the legend. Its unforgettable highlight, the clever use of a hologram, all too realistically transports the audience back to the time when the King of Pop reigned and was “the One.” Continuing the Cirque du Soleil theme is nearby LIGHT Nightclub, another Mandalay Bay entertainment enticement. Complete with headlining DJs, pulsating music, a packed dance floor and frenetic energy, each night is different, each night is a happening and each night is an effervescent party.
Photos by Cynthia Dial

#travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #lasvegas 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

European Cities That Won't Break the Bank


City breaks in Europe are a popular type of holiday for those on a tight budget and many cities off the beaten track have lots to offer travelers.
Eastern Europe is particularly affordable and a long weekend in countries such as Bulgaria, Poland and Croatia definitely does not have to break the bank.
Here are five of the best for an affordable city break:
Photo by Cynthia Dial

Warsaw has long been one of the most popular affordable city breaks in Europe.
The Polish city is known around the world for its unique nightlife, with countless pubs and bars to choose from. Revellers are advised to head to the courtyard in Listopada, which is where the amazing alternative club Hydrozagadka can be found.
Warsaw has lots to offer during the day too, with royal art collections and a series of fascinating museums to explore. A walking tour through Warsaw's historic Old Town is also a great way to get a feel for the city and learn about its past.
Historic Hungarian capital Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of Europe. Famous for its thermal spas and gourmet pastries, Budapest is a city that is definitely on the up.
Condé Nast Traveller has named Budapest the world's second best city and it boasts an extensive World Heritage Site, which takes in locations such as the banks of the River Danube and Heroes' Square.
Budapest is also renowned for its unique cuisine and strong café culture, while visitors should visit some of the Danube's seven islands, the best of which is perhaps Margaret Island, with its lovely park.
Prague may well be the cheapest city in Europe for food and drink, so a long weekend in the capital of the Czech Republic can be easily done on a small budget.
The city has countless top cultural attractions to explore too - there is too much to fit into one trip - but must-see sights include Old Town Square and the Prague astronomical clock, Prague Castle and Charles Bridge.
With very diverse nightlife options, city breaks in Prague are particularly suited to younger travellers but there are lots of museums, galleries and theatres to enjoy for the older crowd too. Czech beer is famous around the world and Prague is undoubtedly the best place to sample it.
Sofia is the second oldest city in all of Europe but is enjoying a sudden boost in popularity. The National Literature Museum and the Museum of Socialist Art are two of the most important cultural locations in the city, which also hosts the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria.
Among Sofia's UNESCO World Heritage sites are the Boyana Church, while those interested in religious buildings should also take time to visit Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which can hold as many as 10,000 people.
Sofia also has a completely unique atmosphere and its location at the foot of the Vitosha mountain gives the city a very special feel.
Croatia's capital city has a rich history and its museums are the envy of the whole of Europe. Zagreb is also famous for its INmusic festival, which takes place in the middle of the summer and attracts some of the biggest names in music each year.
Among the best tourist attractions the city has to offer is the Maksimir Park & Zoo, which is just a ten-minute tram ride out of the centre. Seals, sea lions and otters are among the zoo's many animals, while this part of the city is also home to Croatia's national football stadium, where Dinamo Zagreb play their home matches.
#travel #travelingcynthia #traveltips

Where, oh where, in the world is this?

Photo by Cynthia Dial

Tip: The view from this perspective is so well known for its beauty, it's been featured on Visa cards.

#travel #travelpics #travelingcynthia 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

100 Reasons to Visit Spain

By Miruna Corneanu

There are far more than 100 reasons why you should visit Spain, but hopefully this list will help you get an idea about how beautiful and fascinating this country is and how many fantastic attractions lie beneath its hot glowing sun.
Photo by Cynthia Dial

1. The Beaches. Spain is blessed with an amazing variety of beaches from long sandy stretches jam-packed with tourists to wild surfing beaches and nearly secluded bays. In 2012/2013 Spain featured the largest number of blue flag beaches (550) from all participant countries.
2. Madrid. From food, culture and nightlife to sights and art, everything in the majestic Spanish capital is fabulous.
3.Barcelona.  A feast for the eye, Barcelona is bursting with Modernist architecture and sophisticated cafes to which it adds a lovely local vibe in order to create the most appealing and cosmopolitan city on the Med.
4. The Food. A superb combination of long-lasting culinary traditions, fresh produce, Mediterranean diet and avant-garde Catalan techniques, the Spanish cuisine is one of the best in the world. Just think about it: exquisite jamon, Valencian paella, Andalusian gazpacho, amazing seafood, Crema Catalana, tortilla de patatas, Queso Manchego…
5. Gaudi’s Works. The Catalan master who endowed Barcelona with some of the world’s most beautiful and unusual buildings is a pretty good reason to visit Spain.
6. Flamenco. The sensual Spanish art is a wonderful experience, especially in the south of Spain (Granada and Seville), where it originates.
7. Andalusia’s White-Washed Villages (Pueblos Blancos), where people still live according to century-old traditions and where narrow medieval lanes steeped in history and culture, invite you to soak up the feel of an ancient Spain in small tucked-away cafes and idiosyncratic shops.
8. The Moorish Architecture. Spain is known worldwide for its amazing architecture, and the Islamic influences – the result of seven centuries of Moorish occupation, are a strong part of its aesthetic charm. The most striking examples can be found throughout the south of the country.
9. Tapas. Everyone falls in love with Spain’s most delicious tradition.
10. Ibiza. The world’s party capital with its vibrant mega clubs, unique music culture and exuberant atmosphere never fails to impress.
11. Golf. With its awe-inspiring landscapes and high-quality courses, it’s no surprise Spain is one of Europe’s best golfing destinations.
12. Sierra Nevada. Where else can you ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon? Sierra Nevada offers that due to its proximity to Granada (32 km) and Costa Tropical.
13. Las Fallas de Valencia. Valencia’s flamboyant carnival welcomes visitors with an exuberant mix of gunpowder, fireworks, music and giant characters that take by storm the city’s beautiful streets. The festival takes place each March.
14. Football. That’s right, football can bring you to Spain. The country is home to some of the world’s best football teams (Real Madrid and FC Barcelona), the locals are crazy about this sport and each game ends up into a fiesta. This is an experience no one should miss while visiting Spain.
15. The Museums. Spain boasts an amazing variety of over 1,400 museums that range from science, sex and chocolate to some of the world’s finest collections of art.
16. The Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí – a stunning group of ancient, UNESCO-protected churches tucked away in the sleepy villages of the high Pyrenees.
17. Seville, the romantic capital of Andalusia with its warm atmosphere and delightful melting pot of Andalusian, Islamic, Gypsy and Jewish cultures.
18. Bullfighting, the most iconic and violent Spanish traditions. The season lasts from spring to autumn, with Madrid and Andalucía the most popular destinations to see a bullfight.
19. The Mezquita de Cordoba (the Great Mosque of Cordoba), one of Spain’s most spectacular displays of Renaissance and Moorish architecture.
20. The Canary Islands with their awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes, gorgeous beaches, year round sunshine and charming laid-back atmosphere.
21. The Easygoing Spanish Lifestyle. That’s something you rarely find in Europe.
22. Seville’s Semana Santa. The Holly Week in Seville is one of the most important and dramatic Easter events in Spain, and a magnificent experience that shouldn’t be missed.
23. The Pyrenees, a land full of legends, outstanding landscapes, unspoilt villages and fashionable ski resorts.
24. Santiago de Compostella. Galicia’s monumental capital is the final destination of the renowned Camino de Santiago, but apart from its religious importance, it is also a lively city brimming with culture, atmospheric restaurants and youthful vibe.
25. Alhambra. Granada’s astonishing architectural complex is certainly one of greatest wonders of Europe.
26. The Spaniards are fantastic people and they know how to make you feel welcomed in their lovely country.
27. The Roman Ruins of Cordoba, including the Roman Bridge across the Guadalquivir River and the enchanting gardens behind the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos.
28. The National Parks. Spain boasts 14 National Parks, each with its own distinguished landscapes and stunning flora and fauna.
29. The Variety. This is probably the word that best describes Spain, the country that has it all, from mountains and sea to deserts and rolling hills.
30. The Vibrant Nightlife. From restless Madrid to crazy Ibiza and the sophisticated Costa del Sol, the Spanish nightlife has something for everyone.
31. It’s Affordable!
32. La Tomatina. Spain is the country of peculiar festivals and La Tomatina, the huge tomato fight held each August on the streets of Bunol, is one of its most interesting and unusual fiestas.
33. The Language.
34. The Upscale Marbella with its delightful mix of stylish boutiques, top-notch restaurants, lively nightlife and inspiring architecture.
35. The Mediterranean Flair.
36. The Gorgeous Wine. Spain is the third largest wine producer in the world after France and Italy. La Rioja, Jerez (home of sherry), Galicia’s Rias Baixas and the glorious Catalonia are the country’s best destinations for wine lovers.
37. Its Proximity to Africa (Gibraltar). A holiday in Spain can be easily combined with a trip to Morocco.
38. Shopping. With its renowned Inditex Group (Zara, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, etc), unrivalled sales seasons (rebajas/rebaixes) and the nation’s serious passion for fashion and consumerism, it’s no wonder Spain is a shopping paradise.
39. The Summer Music Festivals. From Barcelona’s Sonar and Primavera Sound to FIB (Festival International de Benicasim) and Bilbao BBK Live, the Spanish summer is packed with all kind of bouncy music festivals.
40. The Festival of the Patios, Cordoba (May).
41. The Castellars. The human towers of Catalonia have been declared by UNESCO a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
42. Pamplona’s San Fermin Festival. Let’s face it, where else in the world can you run with the bulls? Moreover, the fiesta is much more than that, and Pamplona is a lovely city full of parks and medieval sights.
43. The Weather. With almost 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s easy to see why Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world.
44. San Sebastian, the Basque Country’s most beautiful and sophisticated city.
45. Water Sports. To offer you a glimpse, there’s excellent surfing on the Atlantic coasts, great scuba diving on Costa Brava, luxury sailing in the Balearics and Andalusia, terrific windsurfing in Tarifa, amazing snorkeling on Costa Calida, and all of the above (and even more) in the Canary Islands.
46. Mallorca. Ibiza’s stylish sister has wonderful beaches, high-end dining, sophisticated party atmosphere, charming traditional villages and a plethora of natural wonders.
47. The Undiscovered Murcia.
48. Spain is the country with the second largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which makes it a paradise for culture buffs.
50. The Atmospheric Chiringuitos that line the beautiful Spanish beaches.
51. The Basque Country’s exquisite Pintxos.
52. Picos de Europa. Spain’s northern mountain range abounds in wildlife, outstanding natural beauty and outdoor activities.
53. Picasso, Dali, Miro, Velasquez and the list can go on. Anyone should visit a country that gave birth to such illustrious artists, not to mention admiring their extraordinary works.
54. Granada’s characterful gypsy quarter (Albayzin)
54. Cadiz, the oldest city in Western Europe
55. Adra in the province of Almeria – One of the sunniest, safest, cheapest and best Spanish towns to relocate. The Telegraph portrayed is as Spain’s best-kept secret, but I guess that’s not the case anymore.
56. The Charming Cadaques with its arty vibe, stunning location on the edge of the Cap de Creus Peninsula and Salvador Dalí House-Museum.
57. Hiking. From the south to the north, Spain offers an incredible range of hiking opportunities.
58. The Lively Squares. There’s nothing more Spanish than drinking a beer with your friends in one of the country’s alluring plazas.
58. Formentera, the laid-back Balearic Island and the home of Europe’s most beautiful beaches.
60. The Paradors. Spain plays host to a wonderful variety of paradors – castles, palaces, fortresses, monasteries or other historic buildings converted into luxury hotels.
61. Vigo’s Amazing Sea Food, often regarded as the best in Spain.
62. La Rioja, where culture meets wine.
63. Jerez de la Frontera, a land of flamenco, fine horses, aristocratic palaces and sherry wine.
64. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
65. The Beautiful Salamanca with its UNESCO-listed Old Town, spectacular Renaissance architecture and cool university vibe.
66. Besalu, one of the most charming villages in Catalonia.
67. Juzcar, aka The Smurf Village. The only blue tint in the white-washed villages of Andalucía, Juzcar is the only official Smurf village in the world.
68. Girona, the prettiest Catalan city after the fabulous Barcelona.
69. The Spectacular Covadonga Lakes in Asturias
70. Toledo, dubbed “The Imperial City” of Spain.
71. Malaga, Spain’s sunniest city, the birthplace of Picasso and the place with the largest concentration of bars in Europe.
72. The enchanting seaside town of Santander in Cantabria.
73. Valencia. Lonely Planet called it “the perfect summer city”, and with its smart mix of beaches, handsome architecture and lively nightlife it’s easy to see why.
74. The Parks. Most of the Spanish cities and towns are filled with beautiful parks and green spaces.
75. Leon, a city packed with history, culture and genuine Spanish character.
76. Zaragoza. Situated midway between Madrid and Barcelona, the mighty capital of Aragon offers everything from culture and exquisite gastronomy to raucous nightlife and delightful shopping.
77. The Green Galicia.
78. The Designer Hotels. The new wave of designer hotels that have taken by storm the beautiful regions of Spain in the last few years are quite impressive.
79. Each region has its own peculiarities and that makes Spain adorably unique.
80. Lovely Burgos, the north-central Spanish town with eye-catching medieval architecture, UNESCO-listed cathedral and vibrant dining scene.
81. The postcard-perfect Basque town of Getaria
82. Ski. The Spanish Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada provide surprisingly great ski opportunities.
83. Tarragona, the perfect mix of beach life, ancient Roman ruins and Catalan charm.
84. The dynamic cultural scene.
85. It boasts the oldest restaurant in the world – Sobrino de Botin (Madrid)
85. Sailing. Spain is home to 5000 miles of blissful coastline spotted with over 320 fully equipped marinas, so sailing here is a national sport.
86. Cantabria, the worlds’ richest region in archaeological sites from the Upper Paleolithic period
87. Spain is an outdoor country.
88. The Coffee. Spain is probably the country with the widest range of coffees.
89. Spain welcomes everyone from backpackers to jet-setters.
90. The Countryside. From Catalonia to Andalusia to Asturias, the Spanish countryside is brimming with stunning landscapes, charming villages and fascinating traditions.
91. The Posh Yacht-studded Marinas dotted around the Spanish Costas.
92. Spain has something for everyone.
93. There’s art and history everywhere you look, how can you not fall in love with such a rich country?
94. Celebrity Spotting. Mallorca, Ibiza and Marbella are known worldwide for attracting the trendiest Hollywood stars to their gorgeous beaches and upscale clubs.
95. Bardenas Reales, the stunning desert of Spain.
96. Las Medulas, a historical site of outstanding beauty in northwestern Spain declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site due to its great importance in the Roman Empire.
97. The Breathtaking Cies Islands, also known as the Galician Caribbean.
98. Tarifa, a laid back town with Arabian feel and tremendous surfing conditions.
99. Sitges. Often referred to as the Saint Tropez of Spain, Sitges is an attractive coastal town only 30km southwest of Barcelona and one of the most gay-friendly places on Earth.
100. Spain is one of the most beautiful, varied and welcoming countries in the world and has it all, from majestic mountains and sparkling seas to fabulous history, culture and amazing food.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Travia: Airports at higher altitudes require longer landing strips, due to lower air density.
Photo by Cynthia Dial

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