If you’re in search of a global romantic getaway, then look no further! AFG is here to help with our list of great Valentine’s Day locations for a variety of budgets (depending on your starting location, of course). So, let’s take a look at the places to visit with the one you love…or lust!
Some Like it Hot…. Sydney
For most of us, it’s pretty darn cold around this time of year. If you’re looking to heat things up, then look no further than The Great Oz! February is still part of Australia’s summer and is commonly one of the hottest months of the year. There are a variety of fabulous hotels to stay right at the water’s edge, with views of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. If you’re looking for a “Wild Night Out”, you’ll want to check out the Twilight at Taronga series in Sydney. Take a ferry across the Sydney Harbour over to Taronga Zoo. There you will find a variety of different concerts (depending on which weekend you go) where you sit under the stars, picnic-style and enjoy live music, food and beverage in the summer night. During the day, with plenty of beautiful beaches nearby, you can get tan and lovely with your significant other. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
French Kiss…. Paris
It may seem cliché, but Paris is the “City of Love” for a reason. With breathtaking architecture, phenomenal food, and encourage PDA, there’s no wonder why this is a top choice for couples in search of sexy scenery. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; in Paris there is much to behold. Whether you’re into art, antiques, architecture, fashion, music, food, etc…. there is truly something for everyone here. Take a dinner cruise, get tickets to a cabaret, or simply enjoy the local fare. You can’t really go wrong. Despite the chilly temperatures, we guarantee you’ll find plenty of ways to warm things up!
The Big Chill…. Aspen
A world-class destination for outdoor adventures, the arts, and small-town charm. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, this gem is a wonderful location for a romantic getaway. What could be better than snuggling in a charming cabin, roaring fire, snow-frosted window panes,...? Have we painted the picture yet? Hit the slopes with your loved one during the day and come home to a secluded cabin. Have some wine, hit the hot tub, you know what to do… If you just want to be warm and cozy in a snowy setting, look no further.
Love me Tender…. Thailand
We believe that romance and relaxing go pretty much hand-in-hand. There might be no better way to relax than with a fantastic Thai massage. The weather in February is surprisingly warm, so hitting the beach or the pool is definitely a possibility. If you’re more interested in indoor activities, there are plenty of places to do yoga, spa retreats, or enjoy delicious dining options. Spas, spicy foods, and luxurious suites? We think that sums up a pretty wonderful Valentine’s Day. Don’t you agree?
We hope to have given you a few romantic getaway options….or, if anything, at least given you some ideas you can make your own. We wish you and yours a fabulous February 14, 2014!
Chinese New Year (also called the Spring Festival) revolves around the lunar calendar. It begins, this year, on January 31st and goes until February 18th. Chinese New Year has many traditions including: fireworks, dragon dancers, feasts, parades, red envelopes of crisp cash, and time with family. The traditions of Chinese New Year are popularly themed around “good fortune”, “happiness”, “wealth” and “longevity”.
Each year a Chinese zodiac animal sign is celebrated. There are 12 Chinese zodiac signs in total. 2014 is the year of the Horse. So, what does this mean specifically for the celebrants? Well, if you were born under the year of the Horse, you should look forward to some better luck in love and career.
This is an excellent time to travel to China and take in the culture; specifically Beijing, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. Finding a hotel in any of these locations can be a bit hectic.
With hundreds of years of tradition, you can expect to see amazing festivals at the local temples. The Chinese New Year temple fair is a highlight of the Spring Festival, but does require some special travel plans. Travelling within China will be crowded and a bit stressful, so have your plans for transportation, food, events, etc… all booked in advance if possible. The weather will also be quite cold, so pack appropriately.
If you are able to get to China a few days before the start of the Spring Festival, you’ll want to check out the Flower Fairs. There is a lot of significance based around each type of plant, and they will all be in full bloom by the start of the festival. There’s also Lion Dance Performances to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits. The movements, music and fireworks are truly a site for onlookers. The weather here will be a little chilly, but there will be some sunny moments.
• Hong Kong
Although it’s celebrated a little differently here than on the mainland; the parade and fireworks are quite the spectacle. It’s biggest holiday of the year in China, and they certainly spare no expense. Three days of events filled with lots of entertainment and a magnificent fireworks display based around the Victoria Harbor. Be prepared to battle the crowds. Try to pick out a spot early in the day and hold your ground as the night falls. Weather here will be comfortable as far as winter temperatures are concerned.
If you can’t make to the far East, your local Chinatown is also a great place to celebrate. San Francisco, New York, London, and Paris all have impressive Chinatowns that will delight their viewers with many of the celebrated Chinese traditions.
If you haven’t already purchased your travel ticket to Sochi, chances are you are already behind the game! Sochi is anticipated to be quite a large event… 2014 Winter Olympics, DUH! This February 7th through the 23rd is going to be a very high-time for travel into Russia… or into much of Europe for that matter.
Some tips you should know before you go:
YOU WILL NEED A TOURIST VISA- You will be visiting another country, so hopefully this is a given for most of you. The rules in Russia however, are a bit stricter. You will be given an immigration form which you have to register within three days of arriving. This form must be stamped at every hotel at which you stay and be on your person at all times.
YOU WILL NEED OLYMPIC EVENT TICKETS (if you plan on attending any)- Tickets are for sale on the Winter Olympics website, but are only sold to people with a Visa card issued in Russia. There will be sales prior to individual Olympic Events, but each country is only issued a certain number of tickets available for purchase through a broker. Try CoSport if you choose to go this route.
YOU WILL NEED A PLACE TO STAY- If you book a travel package to Sochi, you should be covered for accommodations. Your best bet is to book through a travel agent - AFG now offers Hotel Bookings as well as Flights ;). If you are trying to plan the trip on your own, keep in mind that you will need an invitation provided from where you plan on staying, which you can use to assist in applying for your tourist visa.
YOU WILL NEED A WARM JACKET- If you’ve seen any pictures or know anything about Russia at all, you’re well aware that it’s Cold, especially in winter. Plan on dressing for 30 – 40 degree Fahrenheit weather. If you want to do some skiing or any other snow-filled activities, prepare accordingly.
YOU WILL NEED CA$H- Currency in Russia is the Ruble. You can exchange your country’s currency for the Ruble at most banks, but be aware that they will only take bills that are not ripped, torn, creased or folded. Bank tellers are very particular in Russia.
If you really want to be in Sochi during the Olympics, book now or forever hold your peace!
To start off the list we have Sydney, Australia. One of the first places on the globe to get the New Year’s party started (and also considered the NYE Capital of the World), Sydney has much to offer its spectators. The Sydney Harbour boasts a spectacular fireworks show based around the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is said to be the best in the world. There’s a series of events leading up to the big finale at midnight including the Harbour of Light Parade. Lit up vessels, designed to a specific yearly theme, make their way around the Harbour illuminating the night. This year, there will be over 50 vessels illuminated with colorful displays of rope lights. Fun for the family and exciting for all, Sydney is a great place to bring in the start of 2014.
New York City
It just wouldn’t be right to have a list of places to spend New Year’s without including New York City. With one of the most iconic events of the hour, the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, this destination is hard to rival. Times Square brings in over 1 million guests every year to join in the ‘10-second countdown’ at midnight. There are always live broadcasts, famous musical acts, and other festive activities. Don’t forget the excellent fireworks show set off from Liberty Island.
This year, there is going to be your typical, “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” party, now hosted by Ryan Seacrest. A line-up of performances are starting to show up on the roster, including: Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo and Robin Thicke, just to name a few. If you want to grab a ticket to the event and join the enormous sea of people, a Balldrop Pass is required and will set you back about $250. In Brooklyn, legend Billy Joel will be performing with Ben Folds Five for the Barclay’s Center. Of course, there will be a giant range of parties and clubs open until the wee hours of the morning. Party On!
There will be a series of events to welcome 2014 in Barcelona. With lots of beautiful architecture and heritage, anywhere you go in Catalonia will be memorable. Smaller street parties are the traditional means of celebration and fireworks displays, as opposed to the last two cities mentioned above. Families and friends all gather in the streets for impromptu gatherings. Having a handful of grapes is really all you’ll need to get invited to one of the many parties happening during the evening. For good luck, 12 grapes are eaten at midnight, one grape for every chime of the clock.
Although much less organized than the two previous mentions, Barcelona is a great place for nightclubs and dancing ‘til dawn. Most parties will go on until the sun rises, at which point some Cava champagne completes the celebration. For cuisine, dining on tapas is the local specialty. Filled with tradition and simplicity, Barcelona is a great place to bring in the New Year in a fun and non-committal way.
It only makes sense to include a Chinese city for a holiday that is so largely based around Fireworks! So, we bring you Hong Kong. Although, many say that Chinese New Year is a much larger event, those who choose to visit this city for the traditional New Year’s Eve should not be disappointed. Victoria Harbour is the place of action for the evening. Following a large fireworks display is the “Symphony of Lights”, a light and laser show that’s displayed over dozens of surrounding skyscrapers.
Cruises are a popular choice during New Year’s in Hong Kong for an uninterrupted view of the city skyline, directly from the harbour. If Hong Kong happens to be a closer journey then say, New York, then this is also a great place to go and see a similar “ball drop” ceremony. The Times Square shopping mall in Hong Kong has an event that mimics that of NYC. If you stay here long enough, you’ll get a double-dose of New Year’s, with the Chinese version in late January or early February depending on the year.
Paris is already known as the “City of Lights”, making it a shoe-in for a New Year’s celebration. With fireworks, light shows and events centered around the iconic Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees, you are guaranteed something truly beautiful and unique to gaze upon. Come armed with Champagne and picnic baskets for the evening out. Be sure you get there early to ensure you have a spot. If you wish to opt for a less crowded space, there are plenty of bars, clubs, boats and restaurants to choose from.
This year, an exclusive Gala dinner and show at the Moulin Rouge will be held. A fabulous meal of lobster, caviar, veal and St. Marcellin cheese will all be washed down with a Cristal Roederer Champagne. After you dine on such a feast, you will be entertained by over 100 world-renowned dancers throughout the night, and encouraged to get on the dance floor to celebrate ‘til dawn. However you choose to spend your time in Paris, you can be certain it will be magnificently memorable.
From Alpha Flight Guru, we would like to wish you all a splendid 2014. Happy New Year! Cheers!
We all know the song, “I’ll be home for Christmas”. But for some of us, maybe home is too ordinary, too expected, too ‘everyday’. Why not go out and adventure during the holidays? Why not experience a winter holiday trip that truly enhances your yuletide nostalgia? Maybe it’s time to step away from the usual routine and check out some exceptional places to get you in the spirit in ways you never imagined.
Join the locals as they celebrate the legend of Sinterklaas. Starting around mid-November, Sinterklaas traditionally arrives on by boat in the Netherlands. The world’s largest Saint Nicholas parade in the world celebrates his arrival. He comes bearing gifts such as pieten and pepernoten (small, spiced biscuits) for the thousands of spectators who welcome his arrival. He then rides through the streets on his white horse, Amerigo. The Christmas Palace is a unique emporium of festive goodies and is among countless Christmas Markets that are located all over Amsterdam that start bustling around November. Although much of the gift-giving between families is done by December 5 and 6, celebrations continue through New Year’s Eve with champagne and fireworks. You’ll get you’re fill of all the Christmas delight you can handle along with an equal serving of Dutch charm, should you visit here for the holidays.
Lapland, Finland (ice hotel, Santa Claus Village, and Santa Park)
“Walking in a Winter Wonderland” will be on your mind the entire trip in Lapland, Finland. Located near the Arctic Circle, “The Official Hometown of Santa Claus” is a prime spot to celebrate the holidays. Enjoy the world-famous Santa Claus Village, go for a dog sled ride, and even see live reindeer! Bring the family to enjoy the magic as they gaze upon the real Santa! But this vacation isn’t just for the kiddies. With the ICEHOTEL offering Snow Rooms and Art Suites, you’ll be surrounded by stunning ice sculptures and subtle lighting - how romantic. The hotel is rebuilt every year, ensuring a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all who visit. How often can you look up at the night’s sky and see the Northern Lights from the comfort of your own little “igloo”? Whether you come with family, or as newlywed lovers, this is an enchanting place that will give you some life-long memories.
New York, USA
It’s no surprise that the city of New York is on this list. With iconic places like Rockefeller Plaza and Central Park, there’s no question that New York in December is world famous. The tree lighting ceremony in Rockefeller center is a momentous event, and even the locals will stare in awe among the thousands of tourists at the world’s most recognized Christmas tree. Ice-skating, rides in horse-drawn carriages, and window shopping at elaborate store displays are just a few of the activities that New York is well-known for this time of year. If you’re lucky enough to attend during a year that sees snow during this season, you will truly be immersed in a winter wonderland. For those who love to see the sights and do some serious shopping, this is the place for you.
Filled with traditions, history and delicacies, Provence is a wonderful place to discover the South of France and the holiday season. Like a fairytale or a well-crafted holiday postcard, the villages here light-up the night’s sky with their twinkling lights, music and warming scents. Christmas in Provence lasts about 2 months, starting on December 4, and ending on February 2. Here you will see lights and decorations boasting beautiful colors of white and gold. Enjoy specialty food items from Christmas markets such as: Gingerbread, calissons (French candy) truffles (mushrooms or the chocolate varieties) and mulled wine. There are also decorations and crafts available such as: santons (hand-painted nativity figurines) and Christmas baubles (ornaments). A family tradition in Provence is the 13 desserts, which are set out on Christmas Eve and remain on the table for 3 days. After a lean meal, families enjoy a main attraction of Thirteen Desserts, each representing a religious symbol. If you’re looking for rich tradition, special time with family and a more deeply religious meaning of Christmas, this is the place to go.
Whether you decide to travel somewhere new or decide to enjoy a “staycation”, we want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and we hope you’re able to spend it in a truly unforgettable way.
Many of us have thought that Thanksgiving was purely an American holiday, revolving around the 3 “F’s”: Food, Family, and Football. But on the contrary, there are many Autumn festivals around the world that have celebrated a day of giving thanks and for the harvest before the coming winter season.
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, and has been since 1941. Although, it has been an annual holiday in the states since 1863. Based around an iconic roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, and other common sides. This is a day to celebrate family and feasting. Once many have reached their “fill-line” they sit down to a popular Parade on tv or the Football game. Others still, might skip this holiday altogether to sit outside of their favorite shops and wait for “Black Friday”- the biggest US shopping day of the year.
Still in North America, and still called “Thanksgiving” is Canada’s celebration also based around giving thanks and the close of the harvest season. Many of the traditional food-stuffs are the same, as Americans who came to settle in Canada brought much of the traditions with them. Perhaps not as well-known as the US holiday, Thanksgiving is still a popular secular holiday occurring on the second Monday in October. It is thought that this early date of celebration is due to the earlier onset of winter for our “Neighbors of the North”.
Germany:Known as Emtedankfest, and celebrated in early October is the German version of Thanksgiving. Much like North America, it too includes a large feast and parades. The other well-known celebration going on around the same time is the ever-popular Oktoberfest.
Kinro Kansha no Hi is a national holiday in Japan that is celebrated on November 23. This holiday was adopted during the time of World War II, with American occupation in the country. There are more ancient roots to this holiday from the celebration of hard work called Niiname-sai, which dates back as far as 600 BC. It’s a commemoration of labor and giving thanks to one another. The main crop of this harvest celebration is rice.
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the first Thursday of November in this West African country. Liberians have several holidays in common with the US. This holiday is a celebration to give thanks for being granted to live as free men in Liberia. The common foods eaten during family gatherings on this day are roasted chicken, green bean casserole and mashed cassavas.
Thanksgiving in this Australian external territory is celebrated on the last Wednesday of November. Brought to the island by visiting American whaling ships, Thanksgiving has been celebrated on Norfolk Island since at least the time of the Second World War. Traditional far like pumpkin pie is served, as well as foods like cold pork and chicken and banana.
There are always good reasons to be thankful. No matter where you are, or where you may be traveling during this time of the year. We wish you well, and hope you get a great meal to share with good friends and family.
It’s November, you’re thinking about the end of the year and all you have left to do before 2014 approaches. There are deals to close and things you’d like to have counted on that 2013 tax sheet. There is still a Business trip or two you have to take before you get that long-awaited, Christmas vacation. Fall can be a great time to travel and often one of the cheapest times to fly. But the window is rather small, so you have to get your tickets booked during the peak time, or you might pay the ultimate price. Not only cost, but crowds will begin to build as we approach the holidays. But not to worry, we’ve got the scoop on when to fly and what to do if you’re stuck doing your business travel during the “busy travel season”.
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