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The beginners’ guide to Mediterranean cruises

Cruise Oceania Dubrovnik XL The beginners’ guide to Mediterranean cruises

If you are after a truly inspiring getaway and you’re tired of the usual destinations then why not try exploring multiple destinations on Mediterranean cruises.

Do you fancy floating on these gorgeous waters uninterrupted, or punctuating your voyage with some of the most beautiful, historic destinations in the world, and all the time eating a mountain of delicious food?  Then read on to find more about this unforgettable holiday experience.

Why the Mediterranean?

There are currently more cruise ships floating around the Mediterranean than any other part of the world. This is testament to the Mediterranean being the ultimate holiday destination.

No other place on Earth could possibly match the Mediterranean in terms of its cuisine, culture, history or the glory travelling through it first-hand.

The beaches, the beautiful villages and the busy cities can all be experienced with a cruise ship, provided you’ve booked yourself with a cruise programme tailored to your needs.

Where should I leave from?

Anywhere you like! Drive over to Southampton to hop aboard a cruise ship right in the UK or, if you’re impatient and want the fun to start immediately, you could take a flight into the heart of the Mediterranean, leaving with the ship from Venice, for instance.

Mediterranean cruises The beginners’ guide to Mediterranean cruises

The ultimate guide to Queen’s Day in Amsterdam

image The ultimate guide to Queen’s Day in Amsterdam

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Amsterdam on Queen’s Day this year, you can expect to have a fantastic time – the streets will be bathed in all things orange, there will be plenty of dancing and drinking and the opportunity to pick up a bargain to boot!

Here are just a few things to look out for while exploring the Dutch city during this incredibly popular festival.

Accommodation

Ok, let’s get the boring part out of the way. If you want to find cheap hotels in Amsterdam, make sure you book early! It might sound obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Queen’s Day is one of the most popular events on Amsterdam’s calendar, with tourists and locals alike flocking to get a piece of the action – make sure you’re one of them and that you’re not paying over the odds for your trip.

What is Queen’s Day?

It’s always good to know exactly what you’re celebrating – and you’ll probably have a much better experience if you take the time to brush up on some local culture and customs before you leave.

Queen’s Day – as the name suggests – is held in honour of the queen, with the first of these festivals held back in 1885 on August 31st to mark Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday. Nowadays, the celebrations are held on April 30th, but just to confuse you, this isn’t the current Queen Beatrix’s birthday – it’s actually her mother’s.

Beatrix decided to continue to host the annual festival on April 30th in honour of her mother, Queen Juliana, when she acceded to the throne in 1980.

Why orange?

If you have any orange items of clothing, you should pack them for Queen’s Day and if you don’t, you should go out and buy some!

Orange is the colour of the Dutch royal family, so dressing yourself from head to toe in the shade – and preferably coating any visible skin in orange body paint – is a must if you want to fit in with the locals.

Queen’s night party

All the fun of the festival actually starts the night before Queen’s Day, when the streets of Amsterdam come alive with revellers. Every club and bar in the city will be holding some kind of themed party, so have a good look through the listings ahead of your trip and see what takes your fancy.

There’s everything from pumping clubs to open-air concerts and don’t be surprised to see some well-known DJs taking to the decks.

If you’re not the planning sort, you can always wander around until you see – or hear – something that grabs your attention. Mingling in the streets is a great way to get into the spirit of the event.

Queen’s Day – the canals

One of the biggest events on Queen’s Day itself is a procession of brightly-decorated canal boats drifting along Amsterdam’s network of waterways.

For a great view of the proceedings, position yourself on one of the bridges. There will be lots of music and dancing, so if you still have some energy after the previous night’s revelry, get involved!

There will also be parties happening all day long. If the weather’s good, make sure you head to one of the parks or squares – Wertheimpark, Smederijplein and Fredericksplein were just a few of the top spots in 2011.

Bag a bargain

Aside from all the parties, one of the main features of Queen’s Day is the vrijmarkt or free market. This is basically like a giant garage sale that takes over the streets, squares and parks of Amsterdam.

If you’re travelling with kids – or want to grab a present for someone back home – head to Vondelpark, where children will be selling everything from old clothes to toys, and some of them will even try their hands at busking for the day!

7265 The ultimate guide to Queen’s Day in Amsterdam

Meet Private Tour Guide Sunil in Dubai

Interested in exploring Dubai and seeing it through the eyes of a local? Book a tour with private guide Sunil! Indian by citizenship but born and raised in the UAE, he is passionate about traveling and loves showing visitors around the region.

Known for its ultra-fast modernization, Dubai is also a cultural hub where people from different parts of the world have come together to create a unique destination for exploring. Additionally, it is incredibly safe and more liberal than many of its neighboring countries, which makes it an ideal location for traveling. And with over nine years of tour guide experience, Sunil is the perfect resource for anyone looking to plan a trip there!

Meet Private Tour Guide Veronica in Quito, Ecuador

Traveling to Ecuador? Let Veronica be your guide! An experienced certified National Tour Guide and International Tour Leader, she has traveled all over Latin America and can help you with just about anything you would need.

Adventure-seeking travelers will have no problem finding fun things to do with Veronica; she loves rafting, canopying in the jungle, and staying active. Passionate about natural medicine, nature, and yoga, she even includes free yoga classes in her tours!

For those looking for cultural excursions, Veronica can set you up with an Ecuadorian cooking class and food market tour, and she can even tell you all about the Indigenous-Spanish history of the region.

Here’s what one happy traveler has to say about Veronica:

From the time I first contacted Veronica about helping me, she was a very conscientious and attentive professional. Well before my arrival, she identified several appropriate itineraries, verified the appropriateness of lodging, and exerted an impressive effort to ensure that my first trip to her country would be fantastic. In person, she was very knowledgeable, articulate, and reliable. I will be visiting Ecuador again and working with her again.

Whether you want to go sightseeing in Quito, shopping in local markets, or try out an outdoor adventure, Veronica is a great resource!

Check out Veronica’s Viator Private Tour Guide profile for more details of her private Quito tours and further information on how to contact and book with Veronica.

Meet Private Tour Guide Daniel Gray in Seoul, South Korea

Tue, Sep 6, 2011

Viator Local Experts

Editor’s Note: Viator is proud to introduce some of our new local experts. This network of licensed tour guides covers most every destination you can imagine, so check‘em out the next time you’re looking for a private tour guide – or simply looking to explore a destination from a local’s perspective.

Meet Daniel Gray, one of Viator’s local experts in Seoul, South Korea (and a highly rated licensed tour guide you’ll find at Viator Private Tour Guides).

Originally from Delaware in the U.S.A., Daniel Gray is a Korean adoptee who returned to Korea five years ago and is a resident of Seoul, South Korea. He speaks fluent English, of course! He has traveled around nearly all of Korea and offers expert knowledge of destinations outside of Seoul such as Gyeongju (where he lived for a year), Jeonju. Andong, Busan and Daegu, among other cities.

Daniel started the popular Seoul restaurant review website, www.seouleats.com, and specializes in leading restaurant tours and cooking classes for those visiting Korea who want to get to know the local delicacies. Current culinary tours offered exclusively by Daniel include the “Korea Night Dining Tour,” where you’ll get a crash course in Korea’s exciting drinking and bar food culture; and the Korean cooking classes at his own cooking studio!

While food is clearly one of Daniel’s favorite topics, he is of available to guide you on any manner of customized, private tours – for individuals or small groups – of Seoul and greater Korea. You can count on him to help you create a personalized itinerary based on your interests, schedule and budget, including the right transportation options to make the most of your time in Korea.

Daniel’s tour “Through the Hidden Alleyways, See Dynamic Seoul” will take you to the kind of places you wouldn’t normally hear about or see, or he’ll be happy to create something just for you. Traveling to a different country with a foreign tongue is so much easier and worry-free with a friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating professional guide like Daniel, so you can just enjoy yourself, look, listen and learn about your surroundings!

Check out Daniel Gray’s Viator Private Tour Guide profile for more details of his private Seoul, South Korea tours and further information on how to contact and book with Daniel.

Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands (Spain)

Meet Miguel Corral, one of Viator’s local experts in Palma de Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands of Spain (and a highly rated licensed tour guide you’ll find at Viator Private Tour Guides).

Spanish native, Miguel Corral, is a fully qualified and registered tour guide for the Balearic Islands, based in the lovely capital city of Palma de Mallorca. Not only does he offer extensive academic and practical training, but he’s a Viator top-rated Private Tour Guide. Miguel greatly enjoys meeting people from other countries and showing them the best of the area he knows and loves so well!

With the personable Miguel Corral by your side, you’ll learn the history of this beautiful island, meet its inhabitants and try the local cuisine. Experience the real Mallorca (or Majorca), comfortable with the knowledge that you have an English-speaking, Spanish-born person with you who lives and works on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

Miguel specializes in small, private sightseeing tours in Mallorca with a customized itinerary – whether for families, friends or partners traveling together. Travelers find his tours offer a uniquely personal touch and Miguel’s passion for his region shines through. A member of The Guild “Colegio Oficial de guias turisticos de las Islas Baleares” and the Federation of European Guides, Miguel speaks English, but also French, Spanish and Italian – whew!

What more can we say when Miguel’s five-star reviews on Viator speak for him, such as this one: We (5 people) had a great day together with Miguel Corral, and will recommend him to everybody! Only one thing to say: The best!!

Check out Miguel Corral’s Viator Private Tour Guide profile for more details of his private Palma de Mallorca, Spain tours and further information on how to contact and book with Mark.

A Guide to the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Destinations, USA, Canada, Mexico

If you’re reading this, then you’re most likely in Montreal and ready to attend the 32nd Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the world’s largest jazz festival. It’s a mega event in Montreal, and rivals New Orleans Jazz Fest with its stellar lineup of some of the biggest names in jazz, blues, soul, reggae, and contemporary sounds.

The event, which goes from June 25 to July 4, presents some 800 concerts, both in and out of doors. Alongside a full roster of the most talented musicians from around the world, this year’s festival includes showcase performances by Gizelle Smith, Diana Krall, Youssou N’Dour, Regina Carter, and George Wein. Prince even gave a special performance to kick off the festival. And don’t worry if you don’t have tickets; many of the events are free. For the latest schedule, check out www.montrealjazzfest.com.