Amazing Destination Bakeries Worth Traveling For

Perhaps paradoxically, at the same time North Americans have been waging war on carbs and gluten-laden treats, there has also been a growing infatuation with bakeries of all stripes. Of course, not all bakeries are created equal and very few of them are worth traveling far from home for. From traditional European shops to all-American classics, here are 8 world-class bakeries that definitely justify the purchase of the plane ticket, all on their own.

8. Konditori Fågelsången (Uppsala)

A konditori is a Swedish café and meeting spot that usually serves pastries, in line with the Swedish tradition of fika (a social coffee break). The Konditori Fågelsången in Uppsala, while maybe not as trendy as some of the cafes in Stockholm, was established in 1954 and still bakes their pastries, cakes and other sweets in-house. While it isn’t headed by a world-renowned pastry chef or perhaps as innovative as some of the other bakeries mentioned here, Konditori Fågelsången makes traditional treats and makes them well. You’re not going to find a better spot for Swedish treats like kladdkaka or prinsesstårta. If you do find yourself here, a traditional Swedish cinnamon roll (kanelbulle) is always a safe choice. A personal favorite is the wienerbröd, similar to American-style Danishes, but infinitely better.

7. Le Panier (Seattle)

Opened in 1983, this Pike Place establishment is committed to making Normandy-style pastries; the owners still make regular trips to France to ensure they’re on the up-and-up with French baking. Given that Seattle’s a bit closer for West Coasters than France (or even Montreal), visiting Le Panier is the next best solution. Try the tarte aux abricots, a fruit tart with almond pastry cream and sour apricots, or one of the bakery’s own creations, like the Feuilletes: puff pastry with savory fillings like spinach and mushrooms. Macarons, eclairs and friands round out the menu. Le Panier offers seasonal variation on some of their staples too, like their pumpkin macaron, the apple friand and the hazelnut éclair. If you’re in Seattle, skip Starbucks and head over to Le Panier instead.

6. Elizabethan Desserts

Whoopie pies, cupcakes and homemade Twinkies are features on the menu of classic, 1950s-style American treats available at Elizabethan Desserts in El Camino Real, California. The strawberry rhubarb pie is made with a shortbread cookie crust and the peanut butter in the chocolate peanut butter praline crunch cake is made from scratch. Vintage cookie jars and a mint-and-white palette add to the old-timey feel. Consensus is that the must-try entry is the Louis Gooey Butter Cake Bar; Elizabethan Desserts adds a fruit topping to their version and the classic yellow cake batter that serves as the foundation of the dessert is mixed with cream cheese to create a decadent delight for your tastebuds. The creamy vanilla custard filling rounds out the flavor experience.

5. Bäckerei Balzer (Berlin)

Germans are noted for their rich pastries and desserts: Black Forest cake and what we call Danishes (known as “Vienna bread,” after the capital of Austria, in some parts of Europe), as well as German chocolate cakes and bundts are all part of the average North American’s catalogue of sweet treats. Many of these treats emigrated to North America in centuries past, but if you want to taste the authentic, you need to get to Germany. The Bäckeri Balzer in Berlin was established in the 1920s and continues to make traditional German treats to this very day, even as other establishments have given way to trendy cafes and shops. The Bäckerie’s streuselschnecken are famous amongst locals, and you’ll have to arrive early if you want a chance at sampling one; they sell out fast. Apple fritters, bread rolls and buttercake round out the bakery’s offerings.

4. Muddy’s Bake Shop (Memphis)

Muddy’s Bake Shop in East Memphis, Tennessee, has ended up on a few best-of lists, and one trip to the bakery itself makes it clear why. Muddy’s is a homey sort of establishment that hands out mismatched coffee mugs to customers perched on vintage furniture. Make no mistake, though: the bakery does it while serving up serious Southern treats, including decadent cupcakes, pies and toffee bars. The Prozac cake, which is 2 layers of devil’s food cake smothered with smooth chocolate buttercream, and the Frankly Scarlett cupcakes, which are red velvet with cream cheese frosting, are 2 of the best items on the menu. Other treats include banana pudding, butter cookies and the Nancy’s Boy pie, a chess pie with coconut. You can’t miss the Shady Wake pie, a classic pecan pie.

3. Bakery Lorraine (San Antonio)

Texas may not be high on your hit list for places with great bakeries, but it should be: Bakery Lorraine is there and it would be a darn shame to miss a bake shop this good. Open since 2012, the bakery has been hailed as one of the best new bakeries in the whole of the U.S., and the shop had already outgrown its original location by 2013. Owners Anne Ng and Jeremy Mandrell take a novel approach to both French and American pastries, ranging from Pop-Tarts to kouign-amann. Most popular are their colorful macarons, which come in a plethora of refined flavors, including dark chocolate lavender, chamomile vanilla, earl grey and pumpkin spice. The menu is ever-changing, based on seasonal ingredients and locally sourced products. If you have a chance, try the fig chevre tarts, which are filled with fig jam and vanilla-flavored goat cheese.

2. Maison Christian Faure (Montreal)

If you want French-style baking without traveling all the way to Paris, a trip to Montreal is on your itinerary. The city has probably more than its fair share of bakeries serving up traditional French treats and New World-twists, like the Montreal-style bagel, but Maison Christian Faure is a standout in a place full of exceptional establishments. Chef Faure maintains his own pastry school in the French tradition, which should give you an inkling about the quality of the pastries available in the shop. Everything is accented by a focus on locally sourced ingredients and seasonal Quebec produce. Enjoy an éclair or a traditional mille-feuille without stepping off the North American landmass. The absolute best menu item is Paris Brest with praline cream. Not feeling something sweet? The shop also has a snack menu and a deli.

1. Dominique Ansel Bakery (New York)

Dominique Ansel, creator of the international sensation known as the cronut, is something of a celebrity chef in the Big Apple, and for good reason. His Soho bakery, located at 189 Spring Street in Manhattan, has a wide variety of delicious goodies up for grabs, including mini-meringues, large cakes, macarons and other gifts. The chef creates a signature item every year; past inventions have included the Frozen S’more and the Cookie Shot. His imagination has earned him the title “Willy Wonka of NYC” and his bakery, opened in 2011, has been named the best bakery in the city by various magazines and newspapers. If you’re in the Big Apple, you need to stop by; in fact, you can probably justify traveling to NYC based on a visit to the now-iconic shop alone.

The World’s Strangest Laws

The world is full of strange and unusual laws that sometimes don’t make any sort of sense. Some are just so farfetched it’s hard to believe they are real while others are just confusing and sometimes ignorant. From the illegality of having donkeys sleep in your bathtubs to the ban on building sandcastles to a law that prevents chewing gum into a country; these 15 laws are some of the world’s strangest laws.

15. Donkeys and Bathtubs

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It is one of the most ridiculous laws we have ever heard of and it’s unsure why it even exists, perhaps to make people scratch their head and wonder what they were thinking. In Oklahoma, it is illegal to have a sleeping donkey in your bathtub after 7 pm. Does this mean you can have an awake donkey in your bathtub? Or even a sleeping donkey in your house? Apparently, the law is based on a case that happened in 1924 when a donkey fell asleep in a bathtub and headed down the river into a valley.

Locals had to haul the donkey back to its home and signed a petition to pass a law, in case this sort of thing ever happened again. We doubt anyone still has donkeys in their bathtubs, but hey, you never know.

14. Keep smiling in Milan

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They certainly are happy in Milan but perhaps they are smiling because it is actually the law to do so. The law in the province of Milan actually requires every citizen to smile when they are out in public. Exemptions are made if you are headed to a funeral or visiting someone in the hospital. Breaking this law can lead to being arrested and fined up to $100. It’s a good thing it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown or a whole lot of people would be facing daily fines.

13. No Sandcastles in Eraclea, Italy

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There are a lot of strange laws in Italy and although some make sense, this one baffles us completely. If you are heading to Eraclea, make sure you know that it is absolutely illegal to build sandcastles here. Lawmakers say that sandcastles “obstruct the passage” but try telling your five-year-old that it is actually illegal to do so. It is not known what the punishment is for breaking this law but you should probably leave your buckets and shovels at home when you head to this beach.

12. Check for Children, Denmark

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The road laws in Denmark actually say that you have to check under your car for children before going, but only sleeping children according to officials. We have absolutely no idea why this law came into effect but we have to wonder how the people of Denmark are raising their children if there is a chance someone might find them sleeping under their car. Regardless you can face fines and punishment if you accidentally forget to look under the car for those sleeping children before pulling out.

11. No Public Eating During Ramadan, United Arab Emirates

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If you plan on traveling to the United Arab Emirates during Ramadan, the holy month, you should definitely know the laws during the fasting hours. First up the fasting hours are during daylight and if you think you are going to eat or drink in public without getting a fine, you would be wrong.

The price of the fine can range but just recently two tourists were charged $275 each for taking a drink of juice in public. Make sure you stick to your hotel room if you want to eat lunch, take a drink, or have any sort of public displays of affection with your partner. Because as most of you know, public displays of affection are also banned in this country.

10. Make sure you flush the Toilet in Singapore

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It is actually illegal not to flush the toilet in Singapore and if you thought officials didn’t enforce this law, you would be wrong. According to the law, you can face a fine of up to 5,000 Singapore dollars for not flushing a public toilet after using it. Officials have actually been known to do random spot checks and will certainly find any offender. While this law is strange we must admit we wish every country would put this law into place and crackdown on it. No one likes going to a washroom with a floater in it.

9. No noisy footwear, Capri, Italy

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Don’t plan on wearing your flip flops here, unless you have somehow managed to make them silent as wearing noisy footwear in Capri Italy is actually illegal. These peace-loving locals are serious about their peace and quiet and people have been both fined and arrested for wearing wooden clogs, noisy flip flops, and other shoes that don’t fit the quiet bill. Make sure you are also fully clothed when walking around this island as wearing just a bikini or without a shirt will also lead to a fine.

8. No Camouflage Clothing, Trinidad and Tobago

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Don’t plan on wearing anything that remotely resembles camouflage on your next trip to Trinidad and Tobago or you will be faced with a possible fine of up to $1000 and 18 months in prison. The law was put in effect as camouflage too closely resembles the uniform of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. It is even illegal for children to wear this kind of clothing. You will be in more trouble if you do break this law and someone mistakes you as part of the force. They take their military seriously around here.

7. Don’t Feed the Pigeons, Italy and San Francisco

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In both Italy and San Francisco along with a handle of other cities, it is illegal to feed those pesky pigeons. Yes, it may be tempting as they are one of the only birds brave enough to walk right up to your hand and eat out of it but pigeon feeders can be arrested and fined serious cash. So why is it illegal? It causes over breeding, health hazards, and a few more reasons that lawmakers cite every time someone gets arrested for the act. Some hypothesis the cities just don’t want to pay someone to clean up all the pigeon crap that constantly wreaks havoc on the sidewalks. Both ways, it’s a law and it is highly enforced.

6. Watch where you step, Thailand

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There are a number of strange laws in Thailand, such as it is illegal to leave your house without wearing underwear (we wonder who checks for this one) and you have to wear a shirt while driving a car. One of the strangest laws here though can easily be broken simply but not looking where you are going. It is actually illegal here to step on any Baht, the local currency. For example, if you drop a bill and it starts to fly away, don’t even think about stepping on it to stop it. You can get arrested and fined for stepping on any Baht currency here, as well as if you decide to throw it at a person in anger or deface it in any way.

5. No Overweight People, Japan

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It is the slimmest industrialized nation and it’s no surprise considering it is actually illegal to be overweight here. In 2008 lawmakers in Japan passed the Metabo Law, hoping that it would stop the dreaded metabolic syndrome from affecting aging populations.  Citizens here now have to comply with a government-imposed waistline standard, the maximum waistline size for anyone age 40 and older is 85 centimeters (33.5 inches) for men and 90 centimeters (35.4 inches) for women.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of health risks, including stomach flab, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The penalty for breaking this law is far from harsh though and individuals are required to attend a combination of counseling sessions, monitoring through phone and email correspondence, and motivational support.

4. Don’t Stop on the Autobahn, Germany

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The Autobahn in Germany is one of the last places on earth that you can drive as fast as you want and although many places have speed limits, there is still a fair number of long stretches where you can put the pedal to the medal. There are certain laws though that go with this privilege of driving however fast you want.

First off make sure you don’t run out of gas on this highway as it’s highly illegal. So is stopping on the side of the road. So is walking on the Autobahn. That’s three strikes against you if you happen to pull over because your gas needle is on empty and you have to walk to get gas. Don’t get caught as you can face $100 per fine, and you will be whacked with more than just one in this case.

3. Don’t Cheat in Hong Kong

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If you are a male, we highly suggest not cheating on your wife if you happen to reside in Hong Kong. This is because it is actually legal for a female to kill her cheating husband, as long as she uses her bare hands. Not just the husband but the women who have been with him is also allowed to be killed by the wide, but by any manner she chooses.

There are numerous forms of punishment for wives who have been cheated on, in case they don’t feel like committing murder. Wives can send their cheating husbands away to a work camp for up to two years, the wife can claim half the possessions given to the secret lover and they can even demand compensation from their husbands.

2. No Chewing Gum, Singapore

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A ban on the sale, import, and manufacture of chewing gum in Singapore took effect on 3 January 1992 and the law still exists today. In 2004 therapeutic chewing gum was allowed into the country and dental and nicotine gum are exceptions, but only from a prescription from your doctor.

This law was created in large part because the local railway system was being vandalized but it can be dated back to 1983 when the former prime minister was fed up with the amount of chewing gum that was being left on sidewalks, in mailboxes, and in elevators. Then the MRT started running in 1987 and vandals began sticking chewing gum to the doors, causing the sensors to malfunction. In 1992 Goh Chok Tong took over as president and immediately banned chewing gum.

1. Leave your bible at home, Maldives

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This Muslim nation is serious about their religion and owning a bible here is illegal and can get you thrown right out of the country. The Islamic government here prevents its citizens from converting to any other religion other than Muslim and non-obeyers can face serious consequences. The few that did convert are forced to meet underground. If you plan on moving here and want to be accepted as a citizen, you best leave that bible at home and prepare to convert to the Muslim faith.

12 Best Museums to Walk Among Dinosaurs

If you ever had the inkling to come face to face with a dinosaur, now is your chance. Although there are not any Jurassic Park theme parks as of yet; there are plenty of museums where you can get a more realistic idea of where dinosaurs came from and how they evolved. From China to New York to the land down under these 12 awesome museums give you the chance to walk among the dinosaurs, each offering their own unique spin on exhibits and displays.

12. Jurassic Land, Istanbul, Turkey

Part education and part entertainment, this is the closest you will come to living out your Jurassic World fantasies. Your journey here starts at the museum which features bones and eggs from millions of years ago and takes visitors through the history of dinosaurs with incredible exhibits. The science center is among the favorites and informative guides take visitors through, talking about the incubation units and introducing them to the moving realistic looking dinosaurs.

There is a great digging workshop for kids and after excavating they will receive a certificate. The 4-D theatre is suitable for all ages, although if you have really young kids it may be scary. This interactive film takes visitors a ride to Dinosaur Island and be prepared as you may just want to watch it again and again. Part museum, part amusement park, this is best suited for families with kids.

Via istanbulkesfi.com

11. Iziko Museum, Cape Town, South Africa

You won’t be heading here to see dinosaurs such as the famous T-Rex or Stegosaurus; instead, you will find prehistoric beats from the Karoo Region. This museum caters to visitors who want to learn more about the less known dinosaurs and their cousins that inhabited the continent. The dinosaur hall is where you’ll find a permanent exhibition called Stone Bones of the Ancient Karoo.

Here visitors will find ancient lizards, huge crocodiles and a cast of the most complete skeleton of Heterodontosaurus found to date. Make sure to check out Kirky the dinosaur, arguably the cutest dinosaur in the history of South Africa. The Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance and you will want to explore more than just the dinosaur hall here.

Via fireflyafrica.blogspot.com

10. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, Colorado

Although this museum is quite small, it delivers an awesome experience for those looking to learn more about dinosaurs. The center features an awe-inspiring display of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, pterosaurs, and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous period. Graphics and life-restoration sculptures are used to help visitors imagine these animals in real life.

What is so cool about this museum is the fact that you can see right inside the working fossil laboratory through the glass windows. This is a great museum for kids as it is not so big they will get tired and there are plenty of activities for them such as a fossil dig box, activity stations, and two short movies. Visitors will definitely want to take advantage of the tour that is included with admission as they run about an hour long and are highly informative.

Via The Dinosaur Stop

9. Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany

Besides housing an extremely large collection of bones excavated from Tanzania, 250 tones to be exact, this museum is also home to the tallest dinosaur on display in the world. The Brachiosaurus dominates the first gallery, standing at 41 feet, 5 inches tall. Also on display at this museum visitors will find the impressive Kentrosaurus, a spiky lizard that lived in the Upper Jurassic period.

What might be the most impressive here though is the Archaeopteryx fossil, thought to be the best-known fossil in the world and provides the link between birds and dinosaurs. One of the most interesting things this museum has done is install Jurascopes that allow visitors to bring the dinosaurs to life.

Via YouTube

8. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta

This museum is home to the permanent exhibition “Giants of the Mesozoic”, where a battle between giants is taking place. The world’s largest dinosaurs are shown here in a predator vs. prey situation and replicate the badlands of Patagonia, Argentina, where the largest dinosaurs in the world were unearthed. This exhibit features the Giganotosaurus, a dinosaur that is comparable in size to the T-Rex, as well as the Argentinosaurus, who scientists claim is the largest dinosaur ever classified.

Visitors will want to look up as more than 20 pterosaurs are shown overhead. Other notable features in this museum are the pterosaur and dinosaur tracks, remnants from an Araucaria tree, a fossilized crocodile, and additional fossil casts. It should be noted that all the fossils are cast replicas of the original specimens as the actual fossilized bones remain in Argentina, where they are considered a national treasure.

Via Expedia

7. Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science, Brussels, Belgium

The most important pieces in the museum are definitely the 30 fossilized Iguanodon skeletons, discovered in 1878 and helping to make the dinosaur hall Europe’s largest museum hall completely dedicated to dinosaurs. This museum is not just fascinating to walk through though, it actually offers an incredible amount of education through the interactive exhibits including the details of the fossilization process and dinosaur digs.

Parents will love watching the eight interviews with paleontology experts around the world while kids will have a blast in the paleo lab where they can touch and explore real fossils, along with putting together a life-sized stegosaurus and walking in dinosaur footprints. This museum does an excellent job linking dinosaurs to modern-day animals, making it even easier to understand how evolution works. A win-win in our books.

Via Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

6. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Alberta, Canada

This museum holds more than 130,000 fossils and is the only one of its kind dedicated to the science of paleontology. This museum focuses on education, creativity, and fun while opening visitor’s eyes to the fascinating world of dinosaurs. Visitors will want to make sure to head over to the Albertosaurus exhibit where this close relative of the T-Rex is displayed moving across a dry river channel.

This exhibit was the result of scientific evidence collected from a mass grave. The Dinosaur Hall features one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains that have been reconstructed and a favorite of many visitors. A rotating fossil display will enthuse visitors who are looking to see more of the tens of thousands of fossils this museum has. Make sure to make your way over to the Cretaceous Garden and experience what that environment was like and see Canada’s largest collection of prehistoric plant relatives.

Via fortwoplz.com

5. Zigong Dinosaur Museum, Zigong, China

This museum attracts over seven million visitors a year, in part because of its awesome location atop a fossil site. The excellent reputation it holds comes from the life-like exhibits, unique architecture, magnificent burial sites and incredible environment. Visitors here will experience two floors of displays and exhibits. The first floor features the favorite of many, Dinosaur world where 18 dinosaurs of different species and size are displayed.

The first floor is also home to the burial site, the largest burial site for watching spot-on protected dinosaur fossils so far known in the world. The second floor features a treasure hall, a display of all the flora and fauna from that period and displays on the evolution of dinosaurs and species. This huge roc cave-like museum was the first museum in Asia dedicated to dinosaurs and will surely not disappoint visitors.

Via CNN.com

4. American Museum of Natural History, New York

This museum has one of the greatest dinosaur fossil collections in the world and houses two famed dinosaur halls in the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing. The Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs is where visitors will find one of the major groups of dinosaurs, the ones with grasping hands. It is here where you will find the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex and the Apatosaurus. Along with the fossils, there is a slew of video footage and photography exploring the history of paleontology at the museum.

The Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs features the group of dinosaurs defined by a backward-pointing extension of the pubis bone and include such dinosaurs as the Stegosaurus and Triceratops. The museum has actually developed a dinosaur map to go along with the exhibit and visitors can use the app to help plan their way through the exhibits. For kids ages 6-13 there is a special overnight experience that takes place in the dinosaur hall where they can explore the exhibits by flashlight.

Via Citi Bike

3. National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra, Australia

Home to the largest permanent display of dinosaur and prehistoric fossils in Australia, this is where you should head if you want to know anything about dinosaurs down under. The museum actually follows the evolution of life and just happens to put the emphasis on dinosaurs. The favorite part of this museum has to be the dinosaur garden, with its imposing dinosaur sculptures made out of fiberglass and animatronics.

The museum has only been in operation since 1993 and with 23 complete skeletons, and over 300 displays of individual fossils, it is growing and expanding its collection as each year passes. Special experiences here include guided tours, children’s learning events, and fossil digs.

Via ABC

2. Wyoming Dinosaur Center, Thermopolis, Wyoming

It is one of the few dinosaur museums that have its own excavation site within driving distance and the standout attraction is the 106 foot Supersaurus on display, although their claim to fame here is the Archaeopteryx.  Only 12 specimens exist in the world and “The Thermopolis Specimen” is second only to the “Berlin” specimen in terms of completeness, including a well-preserved skull.

Also, there are over 30 mounted dinosaurs including two Velociraptors and a 41 foot T-Rex that is attacking a Triceratops horridus. Walking through the museums means following the time displays which go from earliest life forms to dinosaurs and finally mammals. The dig site can be toured in nice weather and it’s a rare opportunity for visitors to see dinosaur bones in the ground and the actual excavation of them. The real draw here is the chance to speak with actual paleontologists or to join one of the “dig days”.

Via Pitchengine

1. The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

It has the most famous of all museum dinosaurs, Sue, the largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world. The original skull weighs over 600 lbs and flashes 58 teeth and she is over 42 feet long and 67 million years old. That is just the beginning of this awesome dinosaur experience here at the Field Museum of Natural History.

The permanent Evolving Planet exhibition takes visitors on a journey through an expanded dinosaur hall where you learn about every major group of dinosaurs, where they lived, and what scientists have learned from Sue. Kids will love the fossil play lab located in the dinosaur hall. Don’t miss the 3-D movie where visitors are taken on a ride through Sue’s life, from hatchling to a 7-ton ferocious beast.

Via Chicago Tribune

The 8 Best Airport Hotels in the World

For too long now airport hotels have been gouging travelers with the overpriced, small and amenity lacking rooms, but thankfully times are changing. Hotels located in the airports and close to the airports are listening to what guests want, such as soundproof windows, a variety of dining choices and more amenities. The best airport hotels in the world offer all of these things, plus more including free Wi-Fi, award-winning spas, luxury suites and day rooms that are perfect for those long layovers. From Canada to the United States to Germany and beyond, here are the eight best airport hotels around the world.

8. Aloft San Francisco Airport, San Francisco, CA, USA

Located just half a mile from the airport, this hotel makes it easy to reach with its free and frequent shuttle service that runs 24/7. Relatively new at just two years old this hotel is perfect for an overnight stay while connecting on an early flight. An open-air lobby invites guests to enjoy a billiards table and old-time board games.

The business center is also located in the lobby, which can make it a bit noisy if you are looking to grab a meeting there. An outdoor pool and backyard patio space features live music or a DJ spinning beats on the weekend. The bar is typically busy with other guests grabbing a much-needed drink or snack. As far as downsides go, we don’t really see any considering a stay here starts at just $169/night.

Via travelforsenses.com

7. Hilton Munich Airport, Munich, Germany

Located between terminals, travelers will quickly leave behind the hustle and bustle when they enter into the beautiful Hilton Hotel at Munich’s airport. Whether you want to book a room during the day to kill eight hours or spend the night here, there are enough amenities to keep any grumpy traveler happy. Enjoy the 24-hour fitness center that boasts an abundance of state of the art machines, or head to the heated indoor swimming pool for some laps.

The signature restaurant on-site along with two bars gives travelers the perfect excuse to enjoy a nice meal and a glass of wine. The rooms are elegantly furnished with luxury bathrooms, there is ample meeting space and the hotel atrium will simply amaze you. Make sure you don’t leave this hotel without checking out the Fit & Fly Spa, the perfect way to relax before a long day of travels.

Via Travelocity

6. Regal Airport Hotel, Hong Kong

It doesn’t get much better than this, a nice hotel directly connected to the passenger terminal of the Hong Kong International Airport, by an enclosed air-conditioned link bridge at that. Travelers who are staying here can expect to visit the OM Spa, one of the only spa facilities in Hong Kong to provide couples massages, and if you are just too relaxed to move this spa actually allows guests to spend the night in the spa. A 24/7 workout center is also available for guests along with steam rooms, saunas and an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.

Rooms are spacious, stylish and provide the perfect resting place for weary travelers. Dining here is easy with an array of distinctive dining experience from Cantonese to Japanese to Western to International cuisine. This hotel receives constant awards for its hotel spa, class of excellence and best in class in terms of airport hotels.

Via travel.rakuten.co.jp

5. Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport

This beautiful airport hotel opened in May 2008 and became the first international upscale hotel to operate with direct access to Singapore’s Changi Airport’s Terminal 3. The hotel was designed with style and high tech in mind and features open corridors, rainforest-style gardens and natural light throughout from the strategically based skylights.

Some of the favorite amenities for travelers here include a beautiful swimming pool that is designed around landscaped “mini-islands” and Jacuzzi tubs, providing natural hideaways to soak your tired body. Other travelers choose to head directly to the spa treatment center for some jet-lag reflexology. Delicious restaurants and bars, contemporary rooms with added bonuses and direct access to the airport make this hotel one of the best in the world.

Via IHG

4. Sofitel London Heathrow, London, UK

This airport hotel combines convenience and elegance and offers a break away from one of the busiest airports in the world.  The hotel is actually connected to Heathrow Terminal 5 via a walkway and to the other terminals via free inter-terminal transfers. Three restaurants and two elegant bars await weary travelers who are looking to grab either a quick bite to eat or sit down for a nice meal.

Every room includes in-room Wi-Fi, a mini fridge and a plush bed that offers a great sleep. Many travelers here take advantage of the award-winning Heathrow spa located in this hotel, offering over 25 innovative treatments. A 24-hour fitness center is also on-site, along with a sauna and Jacuzzi. Additional added touches include soundproof windows and an extensive champagne list that will have anyone wanting more than just one glass.

Via Accor Hotels

3. Langham Place, Beijing Capital Airport, Beijing, China

This convenient airport hotel offers elegant flourishes, modern design, and sparkling service; making travelers forget they are still at an airport hotel. Guests of this hotel should expect timeless luxury and tailored hospitality, with added bonuses throughout. Guestrooms include several lofts, townhouses, and an ultra-luxurious penthouse.

Oversized bathrooms, an abundance of gadgets and a bed you will never want to leave await you in the rooms. There are a total of five restaurants to choose from, whether you are seeking classic or international cuisine. A state of the art cardio studio, an art gallery within and spectacular meeting rooms make this more than just your run of the mill airport hotel.

Via red-luxury.com

2. Fairmont Vancouver Airport, Vancouver, Canada

This soundproofed, luxury hotel and spa are located directly within the Vancouver International Airport. Guests here are treated with floor-to-ceiling views, diverse dining choices, health club, spa, indoor pool and many other amenities. Dining here is a breeze and many choose the signature restaurant that offers views of the runway. Others head to Jetside Bar for live music offered five nights a week.

Rooms here are beautiful with state-of-the-art technology, views of mountains, ocean and the runway and this airport hotel offer day rooms for guests with long layovers. The Absolute Spa offers over 130 different treatments while the health center offers saunas, a whirlpool, children’s wading pool and workout area. With check-in for major airline carriers at the hotel lobby, it couldn’t be easier to choose this as your airport hotel of choice.

Via Booking.com’s

1. Hilton Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt, Germany

If there were one word that could sum up this hotel it would be ‘fantastic’. From the fantastic service to the fantastic rooms to the fantastic gym to the fantastic food; it is easy to see why this hotel is one of the best airport hotels in the world. All rooms in this awesome hotel include king size beds, Wi-Fi access, soundproof windows and a large desk for any work that you may need to get caught up on.

The Hilton offers two choices of dining, both being open late into the evenings to cater to guests. A fitness room, steam bath, and sauna are on-site for any fitness buffs. Getting here is a breeze; simply use the pedestrian walkway from Terminal 1. With offerings of rooms, suites, and dayrooms this hotel caters to anyone who doesn’t’ want to spend hours upon hours in those uncomfortable airline seats.

Via cvent.com

10 Memorable Places Best Visited By Cruise Ship

When planning your next vacation, there are a variety of trips you can go on. Will you fly to an all-inclusive resort and lay on the beach? Will you rent a car and go on a road trip down a beautiful coastline? How about a backpacking adventure? One of the options that is always present, is going on a cruise. Cruises are a great way to see a variety of locations in a short amount of time, while travelling in comfort and class. The best part about a cruise, is that you only have to unpack once!

 

1. Alaska

Visit this isolated and chilly part of the world from the comfort of a cozy cruise ship cabin. You are able to see Humpback Wales, Bears, Hawks and Moose, just to name a few of our animal friends that will be waiting for you in Alaska. Denali National Park is also one of the sites you can explore on some Alaskan cruises and it features the highest point in North America.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

2. Hawaii

With so many islands and a limited amount of holiday time, cruises are a great way to get a taste of each Hawaiian island in a short time span. Many Hawaiian cruises will feature a lot of the Hawaiian culture and traditions to help you feel like you’re on an island, even when you’re cruising through the ocean. When the boat makes stops, there are so many once in a lifetime opportunities to try out on each island such a helicopter tours, hiking, rafting and so much more. The scenery is to die for!

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

3. Caribbean

If you are wanting to go on a trip to the Caribbean, it can be difficult to decide where to go and what island to see. On a cruise ship, you can see a wide variety of the Caribbean islands. Then, in a few years you can fly to the island that was your favorite on the cruise and make the most of that location. Another winning factor of going on a cruise here, is that it is very family oriented.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

4. Mediterranean

Are you looking for a visually stunning location with tons of history? Take a Mediterranean cruise, and I promise, you will not be disappointed! These cruises are ideal for mature, adult travellers who are looking for some enriching experiences and peacefulness.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

 

5. Norway

Throw on a thick sweater, a good book and some slippers and cruise around Norway. These cruises are special because of the amount of daylight that is present for a large portion of each day. It allows you to see the maximum amount of scenery in a good amount of time. You also get to experience entering the Arctic Circle where there is a noticeable change in the water, temperature and overall climate.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

 

6. The Cook Islands

When you see islands like this, you probably think it’s in the Caribbean. The actual fact is that this set of islands is halfway in between Hawaii and New Zealand. It has an untouched quality about it and the best part about it is that there is no bad time to visit! The lowest temperature in the winter is 18 degrees Celsius. See all of the Cook Islands on a breathtaking cruise to ensure you won’t miss a thing.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

7. The Nile

Have you ever considered cruising down the Nile River? The best time to go is between October and April for between 3-7 days. These cruises allow you to visit many historical sites such as the Valley Of The Kings and countless temples. You also have the opportunity to hire a private tour guide to show you all the sites along the way.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

 

8. Australia and New Zealand

Aside from the stunning views and peaceful locations, this cruise will lead you and your loved ones to the Great Barrier Reef to see incredible fish and other wildlife. Your experience of a lifetime will also be highlighted by cruising through the Tasmanian Wilderness where you will see more wildlife and breathtaking locations.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

9. The Baltic

Where does a Baltic cruise go you ask? It travels to Russia, Estonia, Poland and Germany, just to name a few locations. The incredible architecture and historic locations are enough to convince you to sign up for one of these tours. One advantage is that there is very short distances between ports because there is so much to explore. You will be transported to a fairy tale when you are walking through these magical old towns.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

10. England, Scotland and Ireland

When you think of a cruise, you probably don’t think of these countries first. As someone who has been on a ship in the Irish Sea, I can say it is completely worth it. See ruins of castles and heart stopping landscapes that make incredible photos. These cruises also feature culturally accurate cuisine so you won’t miss out on the perks of the mainland.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

15 Best Retirement Cities in Europe

Retirement is an exciting time of wrapping up your many years of service to society and starting a new adventure in life using all the knowledge and wisdom you’ve acquired over the years. Then comes the question of where to live – where you have your whole adult life? Or moving to an incredibly beautiful, new location? Well, it’s not like I’m biased or anything, but I feel like your biggest adventure can start with where you live. Check out these places you may not have considered moving to.

 

1. Pau, France

A well-loved area of France, Pau is also known as the Garden City, filled with woodlands, friendly locals and a lively college student community. It is also in Wine Country and has the ancient town Gaves De Bearn within.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

2. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is one of those places that is easy to navigate in and is filled with beauty around every corner. It is Spain’s second largest city and will keep your mind stimulated with all it’s historic landmarks.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

3. Gozo, Malta

Why wouldn’t you want to live here? Oh my goodness it’s stunning. Retire to Gozo, Malta which is filled with sunshine and the ocean. Welcoming locals will want to involve you in their Karnival traditions and you will never run out of places to explore by foot and by boat.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

4. Cascais, Portugal

This small town is filled with incredible architecture and breathtaking views. Looking out onto peaceful waters, this little community is filled with incredible restaurants and stunning designer boutiques.

Photo By: Shutterstock

5. Canton of Valais, Switzerland

Home to the world renowned mountain Matterhorn, this incredible location will not disappoint. Visit the Ice Palace nearby or after hitting the slopes,  take a weekly trip to the closest thermal spa. This little spot will hold a special place in your heart once you settle in for your retirement years.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

6. Abruzzo, Italy

Instead of a city, this region of Italy is absolutely stunning and couldn’t be reduced to just one city. With fantastic house prices and welcoming locals, this area of Italy is well loved by locals and expats alike.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

7. Paris, France

When you’re surrounded with culture, you can only become a better person. Paris is one of those places where you will always keep learning and experiencing new things while travelling through the city for only 1.90 Euros for public transit. With movies, museums, local grocers and bakers nearby, you’ll always get the best of everything. Talk about a luxurious retirement!

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

8. Halkidiki, Greece

A gorgeous location with reasonable home prices is the perfect recipe for a successful retirement. Who would’ve thought that you could afford a dream location like this?

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

9. Algarve, Portugal

Stunning, isn’t it? With affordable real estate, sunny weather and sandy beaches, I don’t see why you wouldn’t just retire tomorrow and move here as soon as humanly possible!

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

10. Dusseldorf, Germany

Dusseldorf is a city filled with culture and overall joy. Listed as the city with the second best quality of life, retirees will find a vibrant city culture in their new home. The city also is a hub of finance, fashion and the arts, so there is always much to see and do any day of the week.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

11. Gdansk, Poland

Listed as one of the happiest places to live, Gdansk will light up your life with it’s strong community. Gdansk is also known as the City of Freedom for playing a vital role in the collapse of communism.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

12. Bruck an der Mur, Austria

This tiny town is clearly under rated. With mouth watering good food, historical monuments tucked away for you to discover, and good health care, what else can you ask for?

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

13. Munich, Germany

Discover the historic and photogenic city of Munich! It is considered the most liveable city by the Mercer Quality of Life Index and has the best healthcare in Germany. You can sleep easy knowing that you will be well cared for in this diverse city.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

14. Dorset, England

This quaint little county has views that will make you stop in your tracks to fully take in the beauty in front of you. Dorset attracts retirees so many friendly neighbours await, and there is a high level of health for the 65+ age group.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

15. Bergen, Norway

Did you know that Norway is the world’s happiest country? Bergen is Norway’s second largest city, but has the feel of a small town. Located near dramatic waterfalls, breathtaking Fjords, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is no shortage of beauty here.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

The Fairy Tale Tour: 10 Best Medieval Castles in Europe

Since ancient times, Europe has been layered in history, and one of the best ways to see the culmination of different architectural styles is the famous castles. Many started out as medieval fortresses that served as strategic defense systems against nearby invaders. After the 15th century wars, royalty and aristocrats transformed many of the crumbling fortress into opulent, captivating pleasure chateaus that inspired Walt Disney and other famous fairy tale writers. From Rapunzel to Cinderella to Belle of Beauty and the Beast, discover the ancient medieval castles of Europe at these 10 stone fortresses.

10. Chateau de Chenonceau -Chenonceaux, France

Walt Disney drew inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World from several castles in Europe, including the Chateau de Chenonceau, the crown jewel of France’s Loire Valley. Situated on the river Cher in the small village of Chenonceaux, the chateau is one of the most visited private historical monuments in France. With its magical five arches and four corner turrets, it’s a lasting relic of medieval Gothic architecture with a touch of ornate Renaissance detailing. Such an enchanting palace is fit for Cinderella and Prince Charming, especially the moat filled with swans and richly decorate rooms with paintings by Rubens, Le Tintoret, and other great masters. Like a page out of a fairy tale, Chenonceau is a treasured castle of the Loire Valley and a testament to the passion and influence of the French Renaissance.

Chateau de Chenonceau

9. Windsor Castle -Berkshire, United Kingdom

Another quintessential fairy tale castle is Windsor Castle built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. Today, the ancient medieval fortress is still the primary castle of the royal family. Although it suffered a fire in 1992, it was renovated a few years later and fully restored to its original glory, including Gothic turrets and towers, and romantic moat, all cornerstones of a fairy tale castle. The castle was also a favorite spot for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who were the first monarchies to open parts of the fortress to the public. Now, visitors have the chance of seeing the same rooms where royalty entertained top aristocrats and dignitaries. Head to Berkshire and begin the long walk to the enchanting castle, which is considered one of the finest examples of English Perpendicular Gothic architecture.

Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com
Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com

8. Chateau Fontainebleau -Loire Valley, France

You might recognize the towers, moats, and turrets of the Chateau Fontainebleau from Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, since Disney is noted to have drawn inspiration from this Loire Valley treasure. With its French Renaissance style architecture and famous horseshoe staircase, the castle is the perfect setting for princesses and visiting royalty. Today, France’s largest castle is a World Heritage Site and national museum where visitors can tour the boudoir of Marie-Antoinette, the throne room of Napoleon, and the apartment of the Pope. The Fontainebleau started out as a fortified castle in the 12th century. After the wars of the 15th century, castles were no longer a viable defense, so Francis I decided to rebuild the crumbling medieval fortress and transform it into a lavish pleasure palace in the 16th century. Later on it was taken over by Henry II and Catherine de’ Medici who continued to expand the chateau.

Chateau Fontainebleau France

7. Prague Castle -Prague, Czech Republic

The city of Prague is full of some of the best-preserved medieval, Classical, and Renaissance architecture in Europe, making it a real life fairy tale town with Prague Castle as its crowning achievement. Situated on a hill overlooking the Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle is home to centuries-old myths and legends passed down through the generations. Popular Czech fairy tales were set here, including Dalibor’s Tower where the Knight Dalibor of Kozojedy was imprisoned. It also was the setting for Golden Lane, the age-old tale of alchemists trying to invent gold. Looming above the Vltava river, the castle overlooks the ancient city like a fairy tale fortress with spires, towers, and enormous palaces. Meander through the galleries, historic buildings, and museums to catch a glimpse of Prague’s most beloved national treasures.

Prague Castle

6. Krivoklat Castle -Bohemia, Czech Republic

Krivoklat Castle in central Bohemia is classic fairy tale with its ancient towers, stone turrets, and Gothic detailing, making it an ideal setting for the movie The Brothers Grimm (2005). Built in the 12th century by Bohemian kings, it got several major overhauls by powerful members of the monarchy. Later on, the castle suffered some setbacks, including several fires that caused considerable damage. But luckily, Krivoklat has a fairy tale ending. During a wave of romantic époque in the 19th century, the family of Furstenberg saved the castle from ruin and had it rebuilt with a glorious mix of Gothic, Classical, and Neo-Renaissance styles. During that time, aristocrats all over Europe were transforming crumbling fortresses into lavish palaces, a trend that symbolized the lasting legacy of wealth and idealism of the Renaissance.

Krivoklat Castle

5. Chateau de Chambord -Loire Valley, France

After the wars of 15th century, the French aristocrats and royalty saw the idyllic countryside of the Loire Valley as the perfect spot for building extravagant pleasure castles, many which were Walt Disney’s inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World. In fact, the Chateau de Chambord is among them, particularly for its 16th century turrets, Gothic towers, Renaissance style detailing, and opulent interiors. If you look closely at Disney’s version, it looks very similar to Chambord, making it a real-life castle out of a fairy tale. Standing out against the lush, verdant landscape of the French countryside, the chateau contains all the fairy tale touchstones, including a swan-filled moat, hundreds of ancient frescoes, and fancywork ceilings. In its heyday, it drew 16th and 17th century A-listers, including visiting dignitaries and high society aristocrats.

Chateau de Chambord

4. Bran Castle -Transylvania, Romania

Commonly referred to as Dracula’s Castle, Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania, was the setting for the world famous Bram Stoker’s Dracula, making it a top destination in Europe. Built in 1211 as a customs post along the mountain pass from Transylvania to Walladia, it also served as a defense against the Ottoman Empire. Vlad Tepes, the real-life man characterized as Dracula, never actually resided in the castle but stayed in the dungeon for two days when the Ottomans invaded Romania. An exciting way to see the castle is by an authentic 19th century horse and carriage ride that will bring you through the countryside and to the Gothic gates of Dracula’s Castle. Once inside, get ready to enter an ancient, medieval world where time stands still.

Bran Castle

3. Blenheim Palace -Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England

Serving as the backdrop to Disney’s live action version of Cinderella starring Cate Blanchett, Blenheim Palace is considered England’s crowning glory and an architectural achievement of the ages. Built in the English Baroque style in the 18th century, the castle was commissioned to celebrate the victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession. Designed by Sir John Vangrugh, the monumental country house is till home to the ancestors of the dukes of Marlborough who opened its doors to the public in 1950. The palace has had its share of ups and downs, particularly at the end of the 19th century when it was saved from ruin by the 9th Duke of Marlborough and restored to its former glory. The surrounding gardens are full of ancient oaks and tranquil moats, a classic example of English landscaping.

Amra Pasic / Shutterstock.com
Amra Pasic / Shutterstock.com

2. Mont Saint-Michel -Normandy, France

Situated in Normandy is Mont Saint-Michel, one of the most revered and culturally significant chateaus in France. It also inspired the depiction of Rapunzel’s castle in Disney’s animated feature Tangled. Like many castles in Europe, its origins can be traced back to medieval times when the island was a fortified defense system strategically located at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. Since the 10th century, the castle has undergone extensive renovations and rebuilding, the most significant construction in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 11th century, William de Volpiano, an Italian architect, designed the abbey in the Romanesque style followed by the building of Gothic elements in the 12th century. Opened year round, pilgrims, tourists, and locals travel here to see some of the best-preserved medieval architecture in Europe.

Mont Saint-Michel

1. Neuschwanstein Castle -Fussen, Germany

Of all the enchanting fairy tale castles in Europe, Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen, Germany is one of Europe’s top destinations and the most-visited castle in the country. Built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the architectural design was actually inspired by the fairy tale operas of world-renowned composer Richard Wagner. In fact, his ballet opera “New Swan Castle” was set at Neuschwanstein, which also inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle at Disney World. Also known as the “Fairy tale King,” Ludwig cherished Wagner’s fairy tales so much that he designed the castle and interiors based on his characters. In fact, when it was built in the 19th century, a time when European castles were no longer a strategic or viable defense, it was considered by many to be extravagant and over-the-top, even for a king. But today, the village of Fussen treasures its grand castle, which is now a major tourist destination.

Neuschwanstein Castle

8 Places to Visit in Europe Before You Have Kids

There are two ways to visit Europe, the first is with kids and although that seems overwhelming at first, this continent is actually quite kid-friendly. The second way to travel this beautiful continent is without kids, before you have them, and when you have all the time in the world. Whether you want to visit Europe to party, for a romantic getaway or to have the experience of a lifetime, there are hundreds of cities to do just that. These 8 places in particular though deserve a visit before you have kids. Think long strolls on the beach, the Eiffel tower at night and getting up close and personal with celebrities.

8. Paris, France

Known as one of the most romantic cities on the planet, there is no better time to visit Paris than before you have kids. It is truly a city where you want to embrace the clichés, whether you are strolling the streets hand in hand or taking a sunset boat ride down the Seine. Visit the Eiffel tower in the day and again at night when the lights are twinkling and it’s picture perfect. Take your time wandering through the amazing museums and ancient historic sites. Sip coffee at a sidewalk café and people watch for hours, or hole up in tiny boutique hotels where no children are allowed. Dine at five star restaurants, meander through the cobblestone streets and find romance in this city of love. Only then will you truly appreciate just how special it is.

Paris romance

7. Barcelona, Spain

Spain’s second largest city deserves two visits, one before you have kids and one with the kids in tow. There are so many things to see and do in this colorful city that is a mix of modern design and old-world charm. Visitors sans-kids will spend hours wandering through the outdoor European markets, window shopping and strolling through ancient city walls and stone corridors. The nightlife is alive in this city and whether you are looking for a vintage concert hall or the rapid rhythms of flamenco, you will find it here. The city’s wild side comes out in the wee mornings as party-goers hit the clubs sometimes as late (or as early) as 3am. Sun-drenched beaches beckon visitors to their shores, to hike, jog or simply swim in the deep blue waters. As you wind your way through hidden squares, fountains, and palaces along the Mediterranean; it will become abundantly clear why you got here before you had kids.

National museum Barcelona, Spain

6. Munich, Germany

Germany’s unofficial southern capital flourishes throughout the year, but especially during the summer and Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is definitely the most famous celebration in Munich and everyone should plan on heading here once in there lifetime to celebrate, preferably without kids. This 16-day festival involves consuming a large quantity of Oktoberfest beer along with a mixture of attractions. Visitors will be privy to amusement rides, side stalls and games, traditional food, parties, parades and a slew of traditional Bavarian gear. If you are visiting the city outside of Oktoberfest time, make sure to take in the world-class art galleries and museums, churches, palaces and castles, and impressive parks.

Jazzmany / Shutterstock.com
Jazzmany / Shutterstock.com

5. Mykonos, Greece

It’s the party place in Greece, perfect for those looking to get one last shin dig in before having kids. It is here where you will find a mix of holidaymakers, cruise-ship crowds and fashionistas, all coming together for one great party. This whitewashed paradise is in the heart of the Cyclades and visitors should be prepared for beach bars, loud dance clubs and lots of people. If you want to explore the quieter side of this party island, head to Delos- a small uninhabited island that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its impressive archaeological sites. Or head to one of the many museums that dot this island. Little Venice and The Windmills is a popular spot to watch the sunset and grab a cocktail at one of the many outdoor bars/cafes.

Mykonos, Greece

4. Cilento, Italy

The Cilento coast is absolutely beautiful with its small bays, dramatic cliffs and seaside villages, and has this stuck-in-time feeling. It is one of the lesser-known areas in Italy and you won’t find throngs of tourists or really any kid-friendly activities, thus why visiting here before you have kids is the best choice. If you are after romantic isolation, head inland to the Cilento National Park where you will find incredible hiking trails and mountain inns that serve delicious wines and some of the best fresh mozzarella you will ever taste in your life. Famed for its orchids, streams and towering waterfalls, there is no shortage of beauty that will surround you in this park. The park also has a colorful history that is worth exploring while in the region.

Cilento, Italy

3. Monaco

This former Portuguese colony has grown to be one of the top gambling destinations in the world and if you want a vacation packed with glitz and glam before you have kids, this is the perfect destination. If you have deep pockets there is only one way to spend your money here and that is at the Grand Casino where you will gamble alongside the rich and famous, where the dress code is strict and the entry fees are high. Other than gambling though, Monaco offers its fair share of things to see including Monaco-Ville, a medieval village made up of pedestrian streets, century homes and picturesque buildings. There are a slew of exotic gardens to be found here, along with an art gallery, opera house and the Prince’s car collection. This is not a budget destination and thus is best done before kids, and at a time when you have some extra money to spend.

Monaco grand casino

2. Cannes, France

It was once a small fishing village but is has turned into a glamorous and equally expensive seaside town in France, considered to be one of the social hubs of Europe. When this town shines the brightest though is in May as it plays host to the Cannes Film Festival, drawing the rich and famous to its shores from all over the world. Fans flock here to see actors, celebrities and directors on the famous steps of the Palais des Festivals at the end of La Croisette. If you prefer to visit the rest of the year, there are plenty of things to see and do. Walk the narrow winding streets of Old town where the view from the castle ruins at the top is excellent, or head to one of the beaches to soak up the sun. Dine at one of the local restaurants serving up regional fresh produce sourced directly from the markets.

Cannes, France

1. Berlin, Germany

Move over New York City, Berlin is the city that truly never sleeps; a city full of Germans who love nothing more than a good time. This is a great city to visit before having kids, as it is full of iconic sites, sky bars, chic restaurants, boutique hotels and a party that literally never stops. It is here where you can take in top international performers at theaters or concert and opera stages. Berlin is a city full of museums, artists and a colorful history, where modern architecture and historical buildings meet. There is an endless amount of shopping, parks to explore, open-air cinemas, beach bars, forests and more here. The relaxed vibe of this city will enthrall you, suck you in and make you never want to leave. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Berlin Germany party night

15 Amazing Hotels Around The World For Under $100

While it is very easy to spend a lot of money when staying at a nice hotel there are some places around the world that have world class service and rooms that easily fit into any budget. With a little searching you can find hotels that offer luxury accommodations, great facilities and locations. Next time you are looking to get away for a weekend getaway, head out on a business trip or even once in a lifetime family trip, you don’t have to settle for a small room in a substandard hotel because you are afraid it might break your budget. Take some of these suggestions for amazing hotels that you can book for under $100 a night.

15. Chatrium Hotel Riverside -Bangkok, Thailand

The Chatrium Hotel Riverside is a multiple award winning hotel located adjacent to the Chao Phraya River, just 30 km from the International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. A Grand Room with a city view is under $80 and comes with a private balcony. At 60 sq. meters the room comes complete with a kitchenette and dining area, coffee and tea making facilities, bathrobe and slippers. The hotel offers a business center that includes everything necessary if you just can’t leave work behind. A 35 meter infinity pool overlooking the river with an outdoor Jacuzzi awaits along with a fully equipped fitness center. Head to the Nemita spa on the ground floor and get a relaxing massage or do pick up some items in the shops. Also on the premises is a Starbucks Coffee Shop and the Saizen Japanese Restaurant. The hotel also has facilities for meetings and weddings.

Photo by: Chatrium Hotel
Photo by: Chatrium Hotel

14. Sri Bungalows -Ubud, Bali

For under $100 you can book a suite at the Sri Bungalows. The bungalows located in Ubud Bali comes with handsomely appointed suites with a private balcony overlooking the rice terraces. The rooms are stylishly appointed and other facilities include two swimming pools, restaurant and full service spa so you can enjoy a Balinese massage. The bungalows cover two floors and are surrounded by gardens and terraces. The hotel is only a short walk to the Ubud Market and the Monkey Forest. For a relaxing stay in a tropical paradise the price is hard to beat.

Photo by: Sri Bungalows
Photo by: Sri Bungalows

13. Radisson Blu Hotel -Cebu, Philippines

Located in the second largest city in the Philippines, Cebu is a popular destination because of the proximity to beautiful beaches and laid back lifestyle. The number one rated hotel in Cebu can also be had for under $100. The Radisson Blu, located 11 kilometers from the International Airport is conveniently located near all the popular tourist sights. With rooms offering goose feather pillows and duvets the Radisson will surely please. The hotel’s restaurant, Feria, offers both à la carte options and a buffet and with five master chefs the food runs the gamut of Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean and International cuisines. The hotel has a large tropical pool outside along with a fully equipped state of the art fitness center and spa. For those staying in a business class room or suite the business class lounge is open daily. The hotel also has a 180 seat lobby bar a pool bar and a tea bar serving 21 different teas from Sri Lanka, China, Japan and South Africa.

Photo by: Radisson Blu
Photo by: Radisson Blu

12. Riad Viva -Marrakech, Morocco

Located in the city center, 15 minutes from the airport, the Riad Viva Hotel offers visitors a relaxing stay in beautifully appointed rooms. The hotel offers guests a wide range of amenities including free WiFi, 24 hr. room service and airport transfers. With a combination of Moroccan style and luxurious amenities guests can be assured of a royal stay. The hotel has a pool along with a steam room and restaurant. The friendly staff can also help in arranging tours to the Ourika Valley, a Berber village, the magical city of Essaouira or point you to the best shopping in town. You can also check out the cooking classes offered by the hotel so you can learn how to use all those aromatic spices and flavors to impress your friends when you return home.

Photo by: Venere
Photo by: Venere

11. Hilton Anatole -Dallas, Texas

You don’t have to travel half way around the world to get a good hotel deal. The Hilton Anatole in Dallas offers the business traveler or visitor to the city comfortable rooms with all the amenities. A room with a King Size bed can be had for under $90 and has just about everything you need as a traveler. The hotel has a full business center and conference facilities and also offers an ATM, currency exchange, clothing store, onsite convenience store and concierge serve. Feel like getting a little exercise? Head to the Verandah Club with fully equipped fitness center, 25 meter lap pool, cross training and boxing gym or enjoy racquet ball the jogging track or basketball courts. The V Spa is the perfect place to get a relaxing massage or spa treatment. In addition to room service there are 5 dining establishments at the hotel including SĒR Steak + Spirits serving up tender steaks and fresh seafood on the 27th floor.

Photo by: Hilton Hotels
Photo by: Hilton Hotels

10. Hotel Paseo Del Arte -Madrid, Spain

Located just a 100 meters from the Atoche Train Station, the Hotel Paseo Del Arte is a 4 star hotel in the heart of Madrid. Comfortably appointed rooms are tastefully furnished and offer a panoramic view of the interior garden or the city. Complete with desk, free WiFi, flat screen TV with international channels, and marble bathroom guests are in the perfect spot to explore the city. The hotel has a fitness facility, shops, coffee shop and bar. The restaurant serves a breakfast buffet and along with regional and international cuisine. With 260 rooms the hotel is less than 15 km to the airport making it easily accessible. The hotel is located in the area known as the Arts Triangle and within walking distance to several museums, parks, shopping, restaurants and the famous Madrid nightlife.

Photo by: Hotel Paseo Del Arte
Photo by: Hotel Paseo Del Arte

9. Century Plaza Hotel and Spa -Vancouver, B.C.

The Century Plaza Hotel and Spa is a family owned and operated located in the center of downtown Vancouver. The hotel prides itself on providing the best service possible. With a business center, conference facilities and indoor pool, the Century Plaza is the perfect place for business travelers and families visiting the city. Since opening the Absolute Spa at Century Plaza Hotel 12 years ago, the Spa has received over 50 awards and is the favorite of celebrities like Zac Effron, Elle McPherson and Gwyneth Paltrow when in town. With an ozonated swimming pool, eucalyptus steam room and relaxation lounge the Spa is the perfect place to get pampered. The hotel also features the C Prime Italian Steak and Wine Restaurant. Using locally sourced meats, vegetables and seafood Chef Bruce Woods has made the restaurant one of the hottest destinations in Vancouver. A coffee shop, salon and Vancouver’s iconic comedy club The Comedy Mix are also available to guests.

Photo by: Century Plaza Hotel
Photo by: Century Plaza Hotel

8. Sana Hotel -Berlin, Germany

The Sana Hotel is a 4 star Superior Class hotel located on the west side of Berlin. With 203 rooms including suites and apartments the Sana offers a wide choice of accommodations. A double room can be booked for less than $100 and prices go up from there. Facilities include a breakfast room, restaurant serving Portuguese cuisine, two bars, terrace garden, fitness center and massage services. The F8/eight Bar & Lounge seats 50 and guests can relax with fine wines and spirits while listening to live jazz. A smoking bar also exists for those that enjoy a fine cigar. In addition to massage services the wellness area on the 7th floor offers an indoor swimming pool, sauna and Turkish bath. The Sana Hotel is also centrally located for sightseeing with the Brandenburg Gate less than 5 km. away, as well as the zoo, museums and cultural facilities being nearby.

Photo by: Sana Hotel
Photo by: Sana Hotel

7. The Signature at MGM Grand -Las Vegas, Nevada

Located just off the famed Las Vegas Strip, The Signature at MGM Grand offers an elevated level of personalized service. Luxuriously appointed suites start at just under $100 and have all the amenities you might expect in luxury hotels costing much more. With a private pool complete with personal cabana and in suite spa services to the spacious suites with granite and marble bathrooms and kitchenettes the hotel does everything possible to pamper the guests. The hotel concierge will ensure you get tickets to the best shows and hard to get restaurant reservations and has a gourmet delicatessen on the premises. Whether you are hitting the Las Vegas Strip, spending the day golfing or seeing the sights you can relax and unwind in your private suite at night and get the rock star treatment from a dedicated staff that does everything the ensure you have the ultimate Las Vegas experience.

Photo by: Signature at MGM Grand
Photo by: Signature at MGM Grand

6. Golden Tulip Amsterdam West -Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is known for offering cheap backpacker accommodations with over 180 hostels in the city. For those not wanting budget sleeping arrangements with noisy neighbors there is an alternative. Conveniently located to Schiphol Airport and the city center the Golden Tulip Amsterdam West makes exploring the city easy. With rates under $100 you can have the comfort of a spacious room with heated floors, a rain shower and free internet access. Comfortably appointed rooms have been designed to be soundproof so guests can get a good night’s sleep uninterrupted by the wild Amsterdam nightlife. The buffet restaurant seats 300 and is open for breakfast and dinner and the modern bar is a great place to relax and have a cocktail, cup of coffee or a slice of homemade pie. The tram stop is a mere 50 meters from the hotel for easy commute to the famous sights such as the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum.

Photo by: Golden Tulip Hotels
Photo by: Golden Tulip Hotels

5. Relais Spa Chessy Residence -Paris, France

Visitors to Paris know hotels and pretty much everything else can be pricey. With a little searching you can find gems such as the Relais Spa Chessy Residence near Disneyland Paris. A premium room with free WiFi, unlimited spa access and shuttle to Disney Land can be scooped up for under $100. The rooms have a small office area and a discreet kitchen with hot plate. Hotel amenities include pool, steam room, sauna, gym and spa treatments. The Franklin Bar makes for a cozy place to relax with friends for a drink while the Brasserie Flo restaurant serves up sophisticated French cuisine. The hotel staff strives to ensure each guest gets the VIP treatment.

Photo by: Realis Spa
Photo by: Realis Spa

4. Chateau Victoria -Victoria, B.C.

Sitting on the location of a former mansion the Chateau Victoria is a boutique hotel offering a touch of opulence to guests. The hotel has a colorful past due to a parrot that inherited the old mansion that previously stood there and some swear they have seen the well-dressed ghost of Victoria Jane, the previous mansion owner, roaming the halls. Whether you see a ghost or not one thing you can be assured of. The hotel goes out of the way to make to feel comfortable and the rooms complete with free WiFi and big comfortable beds await the tired traveler. The hotel’s Vista 18 restaurant offers regional cuisine and has an extensive wine list. The hotel bar, Clive’s Classic Lounge, has been listed as one of the top hotel bars by several publications. The hotel offers in room spa treatments and massages and the hotel has a lap pool, hot tub and fitness center.

Photo by: Trip Advisor
Photo by: Trip Advisor

3. Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba -Tokyo, Japan

While Tokyo has its share of pod hotels, where you get to sleep in what resembles a submarine torpedo tube, there are other options. One such option is the Grand Nikko Tokyo Diaba Hotel, a 5 star resort located just 20 minutes from Haneda International airport on 15 minutes from downtown Tokyo. A superior Double room can be booked for under $100 during the week and the hotel comes with such amenities as an outdoor terraced swimming pool with fantastic views of Tokyo, a wellness salon, acupuncture center and has a medical clinic on the premises. The hotel fitness center is fully equipped and has trainers on staff and the hotel has several shops on site. There are eight restaurants at the resort including sushi, Chinese and Italian and the Ruy Lopez Bar stocks liquor from around the world along with fine cigars.

Photo by: Jalan
Photo by: Jalan

2. Lancaster House -Bogota, Colombia

Lancaster House in Bogota Colombia is a boutique hotel designed in the art deco style. The 4 star hotel has two bars, restaurant, gym and sauna. Gatsby Restaurant serves traditional Colombian and International food while the more relaxed Bistro 106 is a great place to relax and get a lighter meal or dessert. Relax in the piano bar with a game of billiards or a cocktail before heading up to your luxurious room. The Junior Suite comes equipped with a living and dining area, work space and kitchen. The hotel also offers a mobile spa service so guests can book a massage or just relax in the sauna. Located in an upscale neighborhood close to embassies and near the major shopping areas the Lancaster is centrally located for easy access to all the city has to offer.

Photo by: Lancaster House
Photo by: Lancaster House

1. Kaani Village and Spa -Maldives

The Kaani Village and Spa located in the beautiful Maldives offers guests a pampered option to staying at a discounted beach hotel. With a Double Deluxe room overlooking the pool that comes with a breakfast included the hotel makes a perfect base to enjoy the island. The Sampa Spa at the hotel offers tradition Thai massage as well as aroma massages performed by two masseuses at once. The hotel has a pool and restaurant and the hotel staff can arrange activities such as fishing, dolphin watching, scuba diving, snorkeling or an island tour complete with picnic. Rated number 3 out of 40 small boutique hotels by TripAdvisor the Kaani Village and Spa does everything possible to pamper guests and make your stay memorable.

Photo by: Kaani Village & Spa
Photo by: Kaani Village & Spa

Eerie Abandoned Olympic Venues Around the World

The Olympics are an exciting time. We watch the games and cheer on our country’s representative athletes as they go for gold and strive to be the best in the world. To be awarded the title of host city for either the summer or winter Olympics is a great honor which requires years and years of preparations. What we see on the television is often bright, sparkly new state-of-the-art facilities which house the various sporting events during the games. What we don’t often see are the very same facilities, years later, which have become run down, abandoned and in serious states of disrepair. This dark side of hosting the Olympic games often goes unmentioned but many cities still sport the scars of games past. Here are some of the abandoned Olympic structures which are still standing around the world today:

1. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia -1984 Winter Olympics

In 1984, the city of Sarajevo in Yugoslavia (now Bosnia and Herzegovina) hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Many relics still stand around the country today, like this Olympic medal podium.

Fotokon / Shutterstock.com
Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

2. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia -1984 Winter Olympics

This concrete track in Sarajevo was used as the bobsled track for the 1984 Olympic games. It still remains today but these days it is covered in graffiti and overgrown with weeds.

Sarajevo Winter Olympics

3. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia -1984 Winter Olympics

This abandoned ski jump was the setting for many of the ski events during the 1984 Winter Olympics. Though the jumps are still intact today, they haven’t been used in decades.

Fotokon / Shutterstock.com
Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

4. Beijing, China -2008 Summer Olympics

Beijing, China was the site of the 2008 summer Olympic Games. The most notorious structure, the “birds nest” or Beijing National Stadium was to be used for sporting events after the games wrapped up but now sits unused, except for tourist tours.

Zhao jian kang / Shutterstock.com
Zhao jian kang / Shutterstock.com

5. Beijing, China -2008 Summer Olympics

During the 2008 summer games, this stadium was the site for the men’s and women’s volleyball championships. Today the stadium sits boarded up in a sad state of disrepair.

Photo by: Citylab
Photo by: Citylab

6. Beijing, China -2008 Summer Olympics

This concrete park in Beijing was the site of the Olympic kayak aquatic center. Today the site is abandoned but the words”One World, One Dream” still encircle the track.

Photo by: ABC News
Photo by: ABC News

7. Athens, Greece -2004 Summer Olympics

Athens, Greece played host to the 2004 summer Olympic games and the government spent a reported $15 billion in preparation for the games. In the end, the government went over budget, and today most of the expensive structures are no longer in use.

Mike Liu / Shutterstock.com
Mike Liu / Shutterstock.com

8. Athens, Greece -2004 Summer Olympics

The aquatics center in Athens, Greece was the site of many Olympic swimming and diving events during the 2004 summer games. Today the facility sits abandoned and run down.

Photo by: Fast Co Design
Photo by: Fast Co Design

9. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy -1956 Winter Olympics

This dilapidated ski jump in Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of a few relics still standing from when the Italian city hosted the 1956 Olympic winter games.

Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock.com
Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock.com

10. Munich, Germany -1972 Summer Olympics

The city of Munich in Germany hosted the 1972 summer Olympic games. These games were overshadowed by the tragic Munich massacre in which 11 athletes and a German police officer were killed by a terrorist group. Today the abandoned Munich Olympic Train Station stands as a somber reminder of the 72′ Olympic games.

Munich Olympic Train Station

11. Berlin, Germany -1936 Summer Olympics

The 1936 summer Olympics were held in Berlin, Germany during Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror.  Also called the “Nazi Olympics” this was where Hitler used the games as an opportunity to promote his ideals of racial supremacy. Despite the games occurring 80 years ago, many old abandoned structures from the games can still be found around Berlin.

Photo by: i09
Photo by: i09

12. Helsinki, Finland -1952 Olympic Summer Games

The 1952 summer Olympic games took place in the city of Helsinki, Finland. Like many other host cities, Helsinki built several athletic facilities specifically for the games, which can still be seen today, although somewhat understandably, they aren’t looking so pretty these days.

Photo by: Confidentielles
Photo by: Confidentielles