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Renting a Flat in London

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in Travel Advice, Travel Finance | 0 comments

London flatIf you’re going to be spending three or more months in Europe, consider renting a flat. It’s a great way to live like a local and can actually save you money. If you’re staying with a group, a flat is definitely the way to go. Check online to find rental agencies and private landlords, compare prices, and read reviews. Craigslist, London Guest Suites, and Homes & Property are great websites to start your search.

Living in a flat will give you privacy (unlike a hostel), a kitchen, and the opportunity to explore local bars and restaurants. Some flats come with free Internet access, but don’t expect a washing machine. Many flats have a minimum stay of six or twelve months. If you’re staying in Europe long-term, this shouldn’t be an issue. Most flats in London come furnished.

London’s rental market is quite competitive nowadays. Here are some tips for renting a flat:

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Staying in Europe for more than 90 Days

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Travel Advice, Travel Finance, Work & Education | 0 comments

Backpacking in EuropeSpending a few years traveling Europe is only a dream for most of us. But you can make it work if you’re dedicated. If you’re worried about finances, click here for ways to earn money while you travel. The first thing you need to figure out is how long you’re legally allowed to stay. The Schengen Area encompasses most of Europe. You can travel within this area on a traditional passport for 90 days within a period of 180 days.

With a Schengen Visa, you can stay in the area for more than 90 days. Countries outside the Schengen Area all have different Visa requirements. You can learn about the requirements for US travelers from the US State Department.

If your parents or grandparents are European citizens, look into the process of obtaining an EU passport. Otherwise, here are some ways to prolong your stay without obtaining a Schengen Visa:

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Renting a Car in Europe

Posted by on Oct 5, 2013 in Travel Advice, Travel Finance | 0 comments

Mini CooperTransportation is a big concern when planning a trip to Europe. Renting a vehicle is more complicated and expensive than in the US. You’ll get the best deal if you rent by the week and select a package with unlimited mileage. Just like plane tickets, the earlier you book, the better. You can reserve a rental car online or with the help of a travel agent. Shop around and make sure to ask any and all questions you might have. Make sure to read the fine print before you agree to anything. Rental companies are notorious for tacking on extra fees.

You should definitely rent a car if you:

  • Have lots of luggage
  • Are traveling with a group of three or more
  • Will be camping
  • Plan to explore one area in depth rather than travel across Europe
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Does Dermarolling Work & Which Microneedling Kits are the Best?

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in Health & Beauty | 0 comments

An Effective Anti-Aging Tool?

While it is true that everyone looks to live many years, the actual process of aging is dreaded around the world. But old age is not the only dreaded stage in life, puberty with all its awkward changes as acne and skin spots can be just as devastating while middle age has more than a fair share of troubles which manifest themselves in wrinkles and fine lines. And with appearance coming at such a premium these days, we are every day confronted by promotions touting all sorts of magical remedies for skin defects on mainstream media as well as online. After trying dozens of them with little to show for it, many people have given up altogether in their bid to reverse signs of aging and skin damage. However, there is a product that calls for more than just a second glance: the Derma Roller.

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European Medical Spas

Posted by on Dec 4, 2013 in Health & Beauty | 1 comment

Thermal Spring Each year, hundreds of thousands of people travel to Europe to visit medical spas and weight loss spas, where they take advantage of curative remedies while enjoying the majestic landscape and unique culture found only in Europe. While American spas treat you like a guest and focus on relaxation and beauty, European spas treat you like a patient and focus on medical wellness treatments that improve overall health. Many European medical spas use natural resources as part of treatment.

 

What is a Medical Spa?

The term “medical spa” is a little misleading. Is it a fancy hospital or a spa for sick people? Turns out, a little bit of both. A medical spa (or “medi-spa”) combines a traditional, relaxing spa experience with techniques and procedures you’d normally find in a doctor’s office. A licensed health care professional is on-site at all times. The staff is committed to improving the overall health of their patients by use of alternative and holistic medical therapies. The use of medical spas and alternative medicine has increased drastically over the past 20 years.

Some medical spas are built around natural springs or have their own source of natural minerals. These spas offer hydrotherapy treatments, which use water for pain relief and treatment. The physical properties of water, like pressure and temperature, are used to stimulate blood circulation and treat diseases.

 

Popular Treatments

A thermal spring bath is great for those with circulation disorders, spinal column issues, arthritis, paralysis, metabolism disorders, osteoporosis, gynecological problems, and recovering from surgery. Europe’s hot springs contain lots salt and sulfur (a “universal remedy”). Minerals dissolve in saltwater, which eventually comes to the surface from deep underground. Thermal springs are cooled down from their natural temperature of about 160 degrees. When used for medical treatment, minerals are absorbed through the skin and deposited in certain areas of the body. As you relax into a thermal spring bath, you will find muscle and join pain relieved. You can find  a thermal spring at the Hotel Drei Quellen Therme in Germany.

Tree of Life SpaIf you suffer from a nervous disorder, joint disease, spinal pain, gynecological issue, arthritis, or simply want to rejuvenate your skin, consider a moor mud bath. Europeans have been using warm moor mud since the 14th century. Also called “therapeutic peat,” moor mud is a combination of organic remains from grass, herbs, and flowers. Deposited at the bottom of a swamp, these materials did not decompose completely due to lack of oxygen. Over time, these remnants slowly become peat. The peat is exposed and removed when moorlands are drained. The peat is then cut into small pieces and combined with purified water, forming a thick paste. When the mud is heated, a combination of acids, minerals, vitamins, hormones and trace elements are released, absorbed into the skin, and deposited into certain parts of the body. You can find this treatment at the Tree of Life Spa Resort in the Czech Republic.

Other popular treatments include water cure therapy, climate therapy, fango mud, Kneipp therapy, thymus/fresh cell therpy, stanger bath therapy, aslan therapy, and cryotherpay.

Some of Europe’s best medical spas:

  • Schloss Elmau Luxury Spa & Cultural Hideaway (Germany)
  • Viva Mayr and F.X. Mayr & More (Austria)
  • LeFay Resort & Spa (Italy)
  • Grand Resort Bad Ragaz (Switzerland)
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Top 3 European River Cruises

Posted by on Nov 29, 2013 in Luxury | 0 comments

Douro River ValleyAlthough ocean cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have been suffering some setbacks lately, the river cruise industry in Europe is booming. Instead of spending days traveling between islands with nothing to see but water, river cruises offer a never-ending, constantly changing scenery full of old-world wonders. Europe’s vast network of waterways is just waiting to be explored.

What’s so great about a riverboat?

  • Luxurious
  • Fine dining
  • Countless amenities
  • Easy access to the heart of many cities

You might want to look into budget airlines because you’ll be shelling out more than $3,000 per person for any of Europe’s luxury river cruises. Relax from your cabin, the deck, a dining area, or the pool as you watch the fairytale countryside of Europe pass you by. You’ll see famous cities, vineyards, and majestic cathedrals all without buying tickets or standing in line. This is sightseeing at it’s best! DouroAzul, Avalon Waterways, and Viking River Cruises offer many different excursions including themed and holiday trips. We’ve picked our favorites.

 

#3 – DouroAzul: Douro River Valley

DouroAzul is Portugal’s largest river cruise operator. They just released two new ships, the AmaVida (holds 106) and the Queen Isabel (holds 118). Wine lovers will enjoy this cruise through the heart of Portugal’s wine country. Onboard the Queen Isabel you will find a spa, fitness center, heated pool, and gourmet restaurant. The cruise is seven days, departs from Porto, Portugal, and ends in Salamanca, Spain. The Douro River Valley excursion is available between the months of April and November. Excursions ashore expose guests to the region’s finest wines. The cruise takes guests to five UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Sites including Porto’s Ribeira district and the Alto Douro wine region. The price includes three nights in Lisbon, Portugal prior to embarkation.

 

#2 – Avalon Waterways: The Legendary Danube

Avalon Waterways announced the launch of their sixth ship in May 2013: the Avalon Expression. This 166-passenger luxury ship has all the amenities you’d expect from a five-star hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows give guests a great view from practically anywhere on the ship. Cabins include open-air balconies from which guests can watch the landscape flow by. The Legendary Danube varies slightly each year. The 2014 trip departs from Nuremberg, Germany and ends in Budapest, Hungary. The price includes three nights in Prague prior to departure during which you can explore places like the Jewish Quarter, Hradcany Castle, and Wenceslaus Square. The seven-night cruise passes through the medieval cities Regensburg, Passau, and Vienna. Guests have the opportunity to attend events in each city.

 

#1 – Viking River Cruises: Rhine River

Viking LongshipViking River Cruises is consistently at the top of the charts. A cruise on one of their new Longships is like staying in a five-star hotel (not to mention the Longships are equipped with hybrid engines and solar panels). With a disciplined Swiss staff and a team of chefs that prepare meals onboard (they even have a herb garden on the ship), all your needs will be taken care of. The Rhine River cruise is the perfect romantic getaway. The trip takes up to 190 guests through five countries. Guests glide by the magical castles of Black Forest, Germany and are treated to a fun stop in Amsterdam. Without worrying about taxis or trains, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.

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Work and Travel in Europe

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 in Travel Finance, Work & Education | 2 comments

Have you ever wanted to travel to Europe – but don’t have enough money? One of the best ways to truly experience a country is to work while you explore. A job will immerse you in the local culture and fund your journey. After all, you’ll find that your savings won’t amount to much when exchanged for euros. The UK, Germany, London, and Spain are a few of the most popular places for Americans looking for work in Europe.

Before you pack your bags, consider the following:

  • How long do you want to work in Europe?
  • In which country do you want to work?
  • Will you need to take language classes?
  • Are you able to/do you need to acquire a work permit?
  • Are you interested in teaching English?

Seasonal & Short-Term Jobs

German vineyardGreat for backpackers, these jobs usually don’t require a work permit and pay in cash. Farms and vineyards are always looking for short-term employees. If you want to visit Europe during the summer months, consider being a camp counselor. This is a fun, rewarding job that allows you to work with kids. As a bonus, counselors are usually provided with food and a place to stay free of charge.

If you’re young, you should definitely consider being an Au Pair – a foreign individual hired to care for children and do housework. As an Au Pair, you will have food, a safe place to stay, and money. Living with a family will completely immerse you in the local culture. You might even have the opportunity to learn a new language. European parents are always eager to hire English-speaking Au Pairs.

If you don’t like kids or farm work, look into hostels, bars, and tour companies. You will probably have access to a free room if you work in a hostel. It’s an easy way to make cash – as long as you don’t mind cleaning toilets! Bars, on the other hand, are great places to meet the locals (and snag a few free drinks). If you like speaking in front of a group, consider being a tour guide. Sandeman’s New Europe Tours, one of Europe’s most famous tour companies, operates in cities such as Amsterdam, London, and Berlin. Tour companies often require you to have a work permit. If they are unable to sponsor you for a work permit (but still want to hire you) you might be in danger of exploitation.

Long-Term Jobs

London busTeaching English is the most popular long-term job available to Americans. You’ll want to earn your TEFL certificate before you leave. You can teach at a private language school, work on a freelance basis, or work with an agency. For more information on teaching in Europe, click here.

If you’re looking to further an existing career, consider an internship (Europeans call them “mini-jobs”). Unfortunately, many internships are unpaid. On the plus side, most interns are sponsored. Magazines and tour companies are the best places to look for an internship. Once again, be wary of exploitation. It’s a good idea to ask other employees about their hours and paychecks. Don’t let yourself be exploited just because you’re thankful for the opportunity to work with the company!

Online is the best place to start looking for work. Check out StaTravel and WorkAway.

 

 

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Weight Loss Spa Vacations in Europe

Posted by on Nov 3, 2013 in Health & Beauty | 1 comment

 

Thinking about the delectable dishes and fine wines of Europe might make your mouth water, but did you know that some people actually travel to Europe to lose weight? Staying at a weight loss spa is pricey, but we guarantee you’ll return home relaxed, rejuvenated, and a few pounds lighter.

RelaxAlong with traditional spa services, weight loss spas also offer detox programs, exercise classes, nutritional advice, and medical procedures. Personal trainers and nutritionists are on hand for advice, personal meetings, and lectures. Some of these institutions focus on relaxation and detox while others put guests through rigorous exercise.

 

All of Europe’s luxury health care facilities focus on:

  • Long-term lifestyle changes
  • Detox
  • Relaxation
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Feeling young

What better place for a spa than Europe’s majestic landscape? Both you and your waistline will enjoy vacations to these outstanding weight loss spas:

 

Clinique La Prairie (CLP) in Montreux, Switzerland

Located right on Lake Geneva, CLP has gained worldwide fame due to its anti-aging technology. Using “CLP Extract” (sheep cells), the institute offers rejuvenation treatments that can be found nowhere else on the planet. These treatments are recommended for guests over 40. Results last for about two years. Just 17-minutes of “Corpotrim” produces results similar to one hour of aerobic exercise. “Corpotrim” was developed to help keep astronauts in shape without the help of gravity.

CLP isn’t a fat camp. The machine-based BeautyMed program lasts 12 days and is ideal for individuals aiming to lose just a few pounds. Each guest undergoes a daily electro session in which the muscles and skin are stimulated and lymphatic drainage increases. Guests have access to a wide variety of electro and laser therapies. A slew of professionals are available for advice and to help you form a personal exercise routine.

 

CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa in Anguilla, British West Indies

Venus SpaThis intimate beachfront resort is located in the curve of Rendezvous Bay. The 10-day program is available to only 20 guests at a time. In the morning, participants enjoy a relaxing walk on the beach followed by classes such as aerobics and yoga. There are also many traditional and unique spa treatments available (like Aquatherapy) in the famous Venus Spa. Meals consist of nutritious foods made with ingredients from the resort’s hydroponic farm. In addition to fitness classes, guests will also undergo a health assessment and attend lectures about fitness and nutrition.

Visitors uninterested in spa treatments or weight loss can take advantage of the resort’s championship golf course, fine dining, and of course the beach.

 

Stobo Castle in Peebleshire, Scotland

Prepare to be pampered. Just 20 miles north of Edinburgh sits a gorgeous castle featuring a Japanese water garden, tennis courts, a unique Crystal Steam Room, and a hydrospa. The indoor, glass-roofed spa offers over 80 different treatments. At Stobo Castle, guests can float in mineral-rich water in the Dead Sea Flotarium. You’re sure to lose a little weight from the haggis-only diet. In case you don’t know, haggis is a pudding-type dish that contains sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs. These ingredients are minced with spices, suet, oatmeal, stock, and onion. Despite the description, haggis makes for a savory meal with a great nutty texture.

 

 

 

 

 

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Best Business Schools in Europe

Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in Work & Education | 1 comment

Many individuals attend college in a foreign country not only to earn a prestigious degree, but also to experience different cultures. A business degree is a valuable tool to have in today’s tough job market.

A business degree will:

  • Teach you skills useful for any career
  • Improve your teamwork, time management, problem-solving, and leadership skills
  • Give you opportunities to travel
  • Prepare you for life
  • Help you structure your personal finances

Whether you want to go for a basic accounting degree or pursue an MBA, earning a business degree is never a bad idea.

imgres-4Earning a degree is a different experience in Europe than in the US. Whereas US applicants are pressured to show uniqueness, European applicants are asked to show why they are interested in a particular subject. Along with standardized test scores, European schools look at leadership skills and motivation. If you mention an extracurricular activity, it better be related to your intended field of study.

European schools are focused on education – there are no mascots, school colors, or football teams. This “no frills” approach to learning enables universities to be cheap (sometimes free!). While American professors are easily approachable and viewed as mentors, European professors lecture in great halls while standing on a raised platform. Which school you attend should depend on your personal goals.

Here are the top three business schools in Europe:

#3: Saïd Business School (Oxford, UK)

Here’s a fun fact: just three months after they graduate, the average alumni is earning six figures (maybe these are people staying in Europe’s luxury golf resorts later in life)! Oxford’s prestigious business school is known for producing programmers. The school is divided into three sections: Business, Finance, and Management. Graduate students can earn their MBA in one year at SBS. In 2006, SBS launched a series of programs in which students can earn one of three diplomas in just 18 months. In 2013, SBS’s MBA program was ranked 24th in the world, 3rd in the UK, 6th in “The Best International MBA Programs” (Forbes), and 5th in “International Business Schools” (Business Week).

#2: London Business School (London, UK)

London Business School LBS is the UK’s top business school. It is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 business schools in the world. A competitive school, LBS offers many different business degrees including MBAs and PhDs. Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy is perhaps the school’s most famous degree. It is a master’s program developed for senior executives and professionals. Most Sloan Fellows have 15 years of experience under their belts before they start the program. The degree is full time and takes one year to complete. LBS also has a campus located in Dubai.

#1: INSEAD (Paris, France)

It’s not easy to get into INSEAD. Students must score 702 or higher on the GMAT (one point higher than the score required to get into LBS). This global graduate school is famous for its MBA program. It also offers a Master of Finance, a PhD in Management, and many other executive programs. Because INSEAD has campuses in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, students have the unique opportunity to study in three different continents. Alumni have endless opportunities because INSEAD shares career services with Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Kellogg School of Management in the US.

 

 

 

 

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Luxury Golf Resorts in Europe

Posted by on Oct 11, 2013 in Golf, Luxury | 1 comment

The Game of Golf The Scots are credited with the invention of modern golf, but the origins of the game are widely debated. Most believe that the game was first played in Europe during the Middle Ages. Evidence unearthed in 2005 suggests that Mongolian travelers may have been the ones who brought the game (called “chuíwán”) to Europe. Either way, golf has been around for a long time.

Golf was banned several times throughout the 1400’s, but finally spread from Europe to the United States in the 18th century. It was firmly established in Europe by the end of the 19th century. In 1880 there were only 12 courses in England; by 1914 that number had risen to 1,000. Golf became incredibly popular in the US during the 1920’s. When an American won the British Open Championship in 1992, the US claimed dominance over the sport – a status they still hold today.

The history of golf is preserved worldwide in these famous museums:

  • British Golf Museum (Fife, Scotland)
  • US Golf Association Museum (New Jersey, US)
  • World Golf Hall of Fame (Florida, US)
  • Canadian Golf Hall of Fame (Ontario, Canada)

Today, Europe has become a destination for wealthy golfers. The rolling hills and mild climate are perfect for the sport. Luxury golf resorts aren’t just about golf; they focus on attitude, prestige, exclusivity, and landscape. Most important, they place guests in the very lap of luxury. Here are two of Europe’s best luxury golf resorts:

Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily

VerduraOn Sicily’s south coast you’ll find a resort boasting discreet exclusivity (there are only 203 rooms). The grounds contain a private beach and every room has a view of the ocean with a private terrace. The resort’s two golf courses were designed by Kyle Phillips, a leading golf architect. When playing The East Course, golfers will travel along a meandering route that brings them to the sea twice. The 18th hole is located alongside the cliffs and the end of the course brings you to an elevated, tumbling landscape. The West Course is less diverse but touches the Mediterranean in the middle and is capped with a magnificent seaside finale. Both The East Course and The West Course make ingenious use of the natural terrain and make for a fulfilling experience.

Vidago Palace, Portugal

A long ago destination for those seeking Vidago’s legendary mineral waters, Vidago Palace is a resort fit for kings. With Belle Epoque charm, the resort combines the grandeur of a palace with the coziness of a cottage. There are only 70 rooms in the palace. The resort is nestled in the mountains and surrounded by woodlands. The lush atmosphere, mineral water, and tranquil setting make for a magical, restorative vacation.

Vidago Palace’s championship golf course was built in 1936 (a Mackenzie Ross original). Redesigned by Cameron and Powell according to USGA specifications, the course will remind you of the sport’s inherent beauty and is an exhilarating challenge even for experienced golfers. Great contrasts in landscape evoke a respect for the palace’s natural surroundings. The course is located in Centennial Park, presenting players with magnificent views of rolling hills and small villages. The middle of the course dips into the historic Oura Valley. The course also includes a driving range, chipping area, two putting greens, and a golf school.

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Flying Budget Airlines in Europe

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in Travel Advice, Travel Finance | 0 comments

airberlinOnce they arrive, most visitors to Europe don’t consider flying an option. Until recently, rental vehicles and public transportation have been the most cost-effective ways to travel Europe. Things are different now. There are four reasons the cost of airfare has decreased dramatically in recent years:

 

  • Deregulation of European airlines in the 1990’s
  • The Open-Skies Treaty of 1992
  • Competition between airlines
  • Proliferation of small, niche airlines

There are currently 62 budget airlines in Europe. SkyScanner and Kayak are two great places to start looking for flights. Purchasing tickets far in advance will enable you to find the cheapest flights. Look for airlines that use either your starting or ending point as a hub. If you have multiple flights, be prepared for delays and leave yourself with plenty of extra time. Be flexible. Try to fly on weekdays during the spring or autumn. Avoid flying during the holidays. Check for sales and look for flights that depart early in the morning or very late at night. If you can’t find the exact flight you want, check flights to nearby airports. Departure times can change suddenly by up to 10 hours. Double check your itinerary a few days before your trip and check in online to avoid fees.

Does a $100 (or less) plane ticket sound too good to be true? There are many downsides to low-cost airlines. You can’t use travel agents, tickets are available only online and are not refundable, and schedules are tight. Flights that aren’t filled up are sometimes cancelled on short notice. If you’re late, the plane will not wait for you. Almost all budget flights are point-to-point and do not offer connecting flights. There’s always the chance that a small airline will suddenly go out of business. Budget airlines are safe, but provide only basic transport (don’t expect snacks). Since the airlines don’t make much money on ticket sales, they will use every excuse to fine you. Make sure to read the fine print and look up all information about luggage.

RyanairWith 41 hubs, Ryanair is Europe’s largest budget airline. If you book early, you can find flights from London to a variety of European cities for only $20. Ryanair is notorious for “add-on fees.” The only way to avoid paying a credit card fee is to use a prepaid MasterCard credit card. The average one-way ticket from Ryanair is between $55 and $65 (this price includes tax and fees). Ryanair has very strict baggage regulations. It is recommended that you purchase insurance that protects against flight cancellation because Ryanair has a very limited compensation policy in regards to cancelled flights. Make sure you know where your end point is because Ryanair often flies to small, obscure airports far from the city you’re trying to reach.

A little more expensive is easyJet, Europe’s second largest budget airline. When flying with easyJet, you will not be charged a fee for printing your boarding pass in the airport. However, like Ryanair, there is a fee for every piece of checked luggage. But unlike Ryanair, easyJet tends to use principal airports. There are no seat assignments and a one-way ticket ranges from $27-$570.

The third largest budget airline in Europe is airberlin. It has a huge network and offers long flights in addition to within-Europe flights. One-way tickets start at $60. This price includes luggage, fees, and tax. Unlike most of Europe’s budget airlines, airberlin offers free drinks, newspapers, and snacks onboard. They also allow up to 44 pounds of free checked luggage per passenger.

 

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Top 3 Bed and Breakfasts in the Lake Como Area

Posted by on Sep 14, 2013 in Bed & Breakfast, Luxury | 0 comments

Nestled amongst the snow-capped mountains in Lombardy, Italy you will find a Y-shaped body of water called Lake Como. Its quiet waves cover over 90 square miles, making it the third largest lake in Italy. Formed by a long-ago glacier, Lake Como has been an oasis for the wealthy since Roman times. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction famous for its elegant old villas, breathtaking vistas, spas, palaces, historic churches, and wildlife. And don’t forget water-based activities like sailing, windsurfing, or simply taking a ride on the ferry. You’ll want somewhere peaceful to stay in which to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Here is a list of the top three bed and breakfasts in the Lake Como area:

#3 – Le Eriche (“The Heathers”)

Le EricheLocated less than two miles from Lake Como’s tourist center, Menaggio, Le Eriche presents visitors with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. If you’re looking for a peaceful way to enjoy the outdoors, Le Eriche is for you. Upon your arrival, you will be greeted warmly by the hosts. Guests have two types of rooms to choose from, each with a private garden in which free breakfast is served each morning. The room comes with a fridge, free Wi-Fi, a parking space, and a crib (if requested). The rooms are well furnished and clean. Guests staying at Le Eriche most often comment about the spectacular views, excellent breakfasts, and warm service. At Le Eriche, you are treated like friends.

#2 – Nest on the Lake

A few minutes drive from the famous Bellagio resort in the charming village of Lezzeno lies what was once a simple fisherman’s house. Today the structure is a casual bed and breakfast called Nest on the Lake. All bedrooms look out upon Isola Comacina, Lake Como’s only island. This inn can be hard to find, but once you get there you won’t want to leave. Guests are treated to spacious rooms and a private beach. Make sure to book a room with a balcony to enjoy stunning sunsets over the lake! The inn has a peaceful, antiquated feel that will make you feel like you’re staying at grandma’s house. Start your morning with a delicious outdoor breakfast as you watch for swans and other wildlife. Explore the many restaurants within walking distance, take advantage of the free Wi-Fi, relax on a raft in the lake, and make sure to ask your host about the bus and ferry services.

#1 – Villa Tres Jolie

Villa Tres JolieOur number one pick is Villa Tres Jolie, a luxurious bed and breakfast located above the lake at its top end. Surrounded by mountains, Villa Tres Jolie was designed for relaxation. Inside you will find a generous breakfast room, a library in mountain chalet style, a “salone” (bar), and a room full of information about things to do in the Lake Como area. Outside is a sun terrace with a hot tub. During the summer, breakfast is served outside on the terrace. Organic, homegrown produce is used as much as possible. Villa Tres Jolie offers “special weeks” in which guests can learn about Italian topics such as wine, language, culture, and cooking. Make sure to contact the villa in advance if you are interested in staying during a special week.

 

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Top 3 Tourist Attractions in Paris, France

Posted by on Sep 10, 2013 in Travel Advice | 0 comments

There are certain European cities with a romantic, fairytale-like reputation. Paris, France is one of them. The current capital of France, Paris has been an important European city for over 2,000 years. Today it is a world leader in business, entertainment, and culture. Over time it has earned nicknames like “the city of love.”

It’s easy to become overwhelmed if you’re a first time visitor to Paris. Monuments, museums, and cathedrals are everywhere. Every corner and café in the city is worth exploring, but there are certain places you just can’t miss. Here are the top three tourist attractions in Paris, France:

#3 – Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame CathedralThe world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral is a wonder to behold with its gargoyles, chimeras, dramatic towers, and prominent spire reaching over 400 feet into the air. This Catholic cathedral is a marvelous example of French Gothic architecture. Bishop Maurice de Sully commissioned the cathedral in 1163. Legend goes that the church’s design is based on a sketch Sully drew on the ground as the result of a holy vision. After more than 100 years of labor, the cathedral was completed in 1345. It was one of the first buildings in the world to feature flying buttresses and its stained glass and sculptures were harshly at odds with the Romanesque architectural style prevailing at the time. Today the cathedral is the official chair of the archbishop of Paris. Take a tour of the place to behold wondrous sculptures, Gothic carvings, ancient relics, and breathtaking rose windows. Don’t forget to climb the North Tower, where you can view the city from Quasimodo’s lair.

#2 – The Louvre

They say you could spend a lifetime exploring the Louvre. Indeed, the museum is home to over one million artistic works dating from the medieval period to the present. Located inside the Louvre Palace, which was originally built as a fortress for King Phillip II, the art museum opened in 1793 with a proud exhibit of 537 paintings. The structure itself is a work of art with its signature glass pyramid entrance. Inside you will find world-famous works such as Michelangelo’s Dying Slave, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and the Greek sculpture Venus of Milo. The diverse collection includes exhibits featuring Egyptian artifacts, works by Rembrandt, the Code of Hammurabi, the luxurious apartments of Napoleon III, and much, much more. When in Paris, you won’t want to miss this most coveted of the city’s museums located on the banks on the Seine.

#1 – The Eiffel Tower

Eiffel TowerWhat image comes to mind when someone mentions Paris or France? The Eiffel Tower, of course! This worldwide cultural icon soars over 1,000 feet into the air. Located on the Champ de Mars, this gigantic structure is one of the most photographed attractions in the world. Named for engineer Gustave Eiffel, construction on this iron lattice tower started in January 1887. The tower was finally unveiled in May 1889 as the entrance to that year’s World’s Fair. Although Parisians disliked the structure when they first saw it, the Eiffel Tower is now the most-visited paid monument in the world. Did you know there are actually two restaurants within the tower? Visitors can take the elevator (or stairs!) to see breathtaking views of Paris during the daytime or evening.

 

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Travel and Teach in Europe

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Travel Advice, Travel Finance, Work & Education | 0 comments

TEFLIf you’re interested in becoming a traveling teacher, Europe is one of the best places to go. With so many countries to explore, the opportunities for adventure are endless. Unlike Americans, Europeans aren’t all about work. You’ll find that a teaching job provides you with enough money and free time to fully experience your new home.

Finding a job in a foreign country can be intimidating. The first thing you need to do is decide in which country you’d like to teach. Almost every country wants English teachers, but Spain, the UK, Georgia, and France have the highest need. Based on ease of obtaining a legal job and overall experience, the best countries in which to teach English are Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, France, and Denmark. If you’re not ready to immerse yourself in a foreign language, consider teaching in the UK. Many people move there just to learn English.

Each country has different education requirements. Make sure you meet the qualifications for your new job. Most employers require an undergraduate degree or a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. You can obtain a TEFL certificate online, but it’s best to find a program that includes teaching experience. English, Literature, and Teaching degrees are also valuable. Some institutions will require you to prove your proficiency in English. Others require only a basic teaching license. Interpersonal skills are also very important when it comes time to apply, as well as previous experience.

If you wish to work in a private language school, you will have to complete a basic course of 100 or more hours with 6 hours of observed teaching. Some facilities offer and require more specific courses, such as ILT (Introduction to Language Teaching), PLT (Practice of Language Training), and Literacy.

Many Americans overlook the fact that some European countries prefer a certain gender. Other countries only hire teachers within a certain age range (usually 20-40). If you have obtained a TEFL and you are under the age of 19, you will probably only be able to teach in volunteer situations.

SalaryAs with almost any job, your salary depends on many factors, including experience, seniority, and education. There is sometimes a danger of exploitation when you travel and teach. In recent years, many institutions in Spain have paid teachers under the table in order to maximize their profits. This might not sound bad for the teachers, but when paid illegally, teachers can lose their benefits. Make sure you are paid in accordance with the law.

Some countries ignore labor laws when it comes to foreign employees. They assume the foreigners won’t know or understand local laws regarding things like end-of-contract payments and working hours. If you don’t speak the local language and/or aren’t familiar with the country’s culture, you may find yourself a victim. Individuals who can’t adapt to the culture of their new home usually give up after a few months. With proper preparation, you should be able to avoid this situation.

Speaking of preparation, you’ll also want to make sure you have the proper documents. Requirements are different for each European country. Many teachers follow the “don’t ask, don’t tell” method by working illegally with a tourist visa. This is not a good idea!

There are several websites you can visit to help you get a professional teaching job abroad. Check out TeacherHit.com and TeachAway.com. Keep in mind that September is the highest recruiting month for foreign English teachers.

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Hungary, a Popular Destination for Medical & Beauty Tourism

Posted by on Aug 15, 2013 in Health & Beauty, Luxury | 0 comments

hungarybeautytourism

More and more people are combining the fun of a well earned vacation, with much needed medical or beauty treatments. This is a money saver and has the added benefit of leaving you with cherished memories. Hence, medical and beauty tourism in Europe is becoming increasingly popular.

A common destination is Hungary. Well known for it’s very distinct and beautiful architecture, it has long been a destination for tourists wishing to partake of it’s rich historical heritage and culture. Hungary also has the largest thermal lake in all of Europe, Lake Heviz.. State of the art health care facilities and beauty rejuvenation centers, have made Hungary one of the top choices for travellers from all parts of the world. One of the first attractions for international tourists are the thermal spas, bath pools supplied naturally with warm soothing waters containing health improving minerals and salts. Cosmetic treatments are hugely popular, as many seek a safe and more affordable country for elective surgery. Basically every kind of beauty treatment is offered, from liposuction to face lift surgery and everything in between. As with most medical practitioners, a cosmetic surgeon must be board certified to practice, which demands rigorous training.Also attractive are the high quality health care available at a fraction of the cost in say, the United States. Other treatments offered include:

  • dermabrasion
  • chemical peels
  • radio frequency facials
  • tummy tucks
  • vericose vein surgery

Many visit this central European nation for dental work, especially cosmetic procedures. The trend started in the eighties when patients from Austria would visit clinics in Hungary for high quality dental work at a very affordable price. Mostly limited to border towns at the onset of this trend, the focus has now shifted to bigger, well known cities like Budapest. The huge popularity of dental specialists in this country is due to the application of highly sophisticated dental techniques, thorough and comprehensive dental training schools as well as strict enforcement of credential verification. Hungarian regulatory bodies are widely accepted as being among the most demanding across the globe. Also, most clinics make use of the latest equipment and procedures in the their treatment. And coupled with many years of professional experience will assure the dental tourist that his experience will be a pleasant one.

If medical and beauty tourism in Europe sounds good to you, consider the beautiful country of Hungary. Low cost, high quality medical and beauty care is readily available, and you might make some time out for sightseeing. It is well worth it. On the other hand, just as beauty tourism is taking off, more and more individuals are also opting for at home beauty treatments like microdermabrasion and high frequency facial therapy. Take the specific example of radio or high frequency facials for example. It used to be that a session of this type of treatment cost upwards of a $100 when done in a beauty spa or at the dermatologist’s. Nowadays, at home DIY versions of this treatment is accessible via handheld devices. Other popular treatments that have been brought to the home include microdermabrasion and chemical peels. There are  a variety of chemical peels – the most popular ones include lactic acid

and glycolic acid peels. Compared to chemical peels conducted at spas and dermatologist offices, home chemical peels are typically milder. For example, while you may receive a 70% glycolic acid peel at your local spa, it is recommended not to use a solution that exceeds 50% when doing it yourself at home.

The last treatment we will cover is microdemabrasion. Nowadays, there are many handheld microdermabrasion devices and microdermabrasion machines that allow you to access this treatment without having to pay exorbitant prices at a spa or dermatologist office. Just like chemical peels, do  not expect home treatments to match the strength you receive at a professional office. Generally, home machines operate at about 70% or less of the strength of professional machines.

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Recommended European Cosmetic Brands

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in Health & Beauty, Travel Advice | 3 comments

BourjoisVisitors to Europe may be at a loss when it comes to purchasing cosmetics. This article will give you some advice on which brands to look for. London, Berlin, and Paris have the largest selection of beauty products. Keep in mind that each European country sells different brands. International names like Estee Lauder, Body Shop, Shiseido, and Chanel are found all across Europe, but it’s more fun to explore the brands unique to the country in which you’re staying.

If you’re on a budget, drugstores will be more than adequate for your beauty needs. Lots of European drugstores allow you to sample their products. This is a great feature lacking in US drugstores.

Bourjois is one of Europe’s most famous cosmetic brands. With a focus on the particular glamor of 19th century Paris, this brand can proudly claim to have created the first powder blush. If  you’re looking for a makeup remover, go for Bioderma Crealine H2O. For a great moisturizer, try Embryolisse.

If you’re visiting Europe during the summer, you’re going to need sunscreen. La Roche-Posay Anthelios AC is recommended for oily skin and those suffering from acne. Unlike sunscreens that claim to be “oil free,” this one really is!

In France, look for Monoprix and luxury brands Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. When visiting Sephora stores (you can find these in France, Italy, and Spain), look for eye shadow and blush by Fred Farruggia. Sephora stores also carry Makeup For Ever products and drugstore brands like Maybelline and L’Oreal. Sephora often has sales on their more expensive products during the summer. Another French brand to look for is Lollipops.

If you like perfume and you’re visiting Paris, you’re in for a treat. Visit a boutique called Serge Lutens at the Palais Royale. Inside you can sample a gigantic array of perfumes.

Kiko In Italy and France, look for Kiko stores. Kiko is known for its wide selection of products, great prices, and sales. The Italian store Limoni Perfumeria has a wide selection with great packaging. Look for inexpensive brands Pupa and Collistar.

In London, look for EU-exclusive Illamasqua shades.

In Germany, look for brands Astor and P2. Both brands can be found in common drugstores. Their products are inexpensive and of good quality. P2 makes great lip products. Catrice (a little more expensive) and Essence (a little less expensive) are two more great drugstore brands found in Germany. Catrice has a reputation for wonderful nail polish. You can also find hair treatment tools, serums and creams there, wonderful for post curling or straightening treatment.

Germany is known for its focus on organic makeup and skincare. In Denmark, visit stores Matas and Magasin to find a great selection of products. If you see the name Nilens Jord, check out the mascara and eye shadow. All Nilens Jord products are free of paraben and perfume. The Danish brand GOSH is not recommended.

In the Netherlands, drugstore Kruidvat en Etos is recommended for beauty supplies. They carry aforementioned brands Catrice and Essence. They also carry MNY. Essence can also be purchase in Switzerland’s drugstores.

In the United Kingdom, visit House of Fraser. Look for brands Illamasque, Butter London, Sleek, 17, Models Own, and Barry M. International travelers often say that in regards to makeup, the UK is similar to the US.

In Spain, look for Agatha Ruiz de la Prada perfume and try out some skincare products from Instituto Español de la Piel.

 

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Schengen Visa: What, When, and How

Posted by on Aug 5, 2013 in Travel Advice | 0 comments

Schengen VisaIf you will be traveling to Europe either for business or for pleasure, you might need to acquire a Schengen Visa. The Schengen Agreement back in 1995 led to the formation of a 26-country borderless zone called the Schengen Area. This region includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Citizens of European countries that are not part of this zone may travel through this region with no limitations (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, and the UK). With the Schengen Visa, you will be able to travel freely throughout these countries without showing documentation when crossing borders. The goal of the Schengen Agreement was to harmonize visa policies and eliminate traffic jams caused by border checks. For international travelers, the Schengen Area is sort of like one really big state. In fact, this area is home to over 400 million people.

If you’re from the following list of countries, you are able to visit the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a period of 180 days without the visa: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong (SAR), Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macao (SAR), Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, and Venezuela.

EuroThe Schengen Visa comes in three types. You’ll need Type A (Airport Transit Visa) to pass through airports within the Schengen Area. However, this visa is not standardized and each country has different regulations to determine which citizens need the visa to pass through Schengen airports.  Type B (Transit Visa) is valid for only five days. This visa is issued to citizens of non-Schengen countries in order to travel through the Schengen Zone to reach their destination. Type C is the most commonly used Schengen Visa. It is valid for up to 90 days within a period of six months and grants entry into the Schengen Area. Tourists use this visa for single, double, or multiple entries into the Schengen Area.

To apply for the Schengen Visa, contact the Embassy of whichever country you will be staying in the longest during your European visit. If you will be in different countries for equal amounts of time, chose the country you will visit first. If you have any questions, feel free to ask the Embassy.

There are many requirements you must meet in order to acquire the Schengen Visa. First of all, your passport must be valid at least three months prior to the date at which you will visit the Schengen Area. In addition, you must prove to the Embassy that you have enough money to fund your trip. You must also prove that you have a valid itinerary, have purchased round-flight tickets, and have reserved room(s) in a hotel. Don’t forget to purchase travel health insurance covering at least the equivalent of $40.56. Your insurance must include hospital treatment and emergency flight. Lastly, you must prove that you are a citizen of your home country and convince the Embassy that you really will leave the Schengen Area within 90 days.

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Neuchatel, a Vibrant Town Nestled in the Jura Mountains

Posted by on Aug 15, 2013 in Travel Advice | 0 comments

Nestled in the Jura Mountains, Neuchatel brims with opportunities to fascinate the adventurous traveler. Less well known than many Alpine locales, Neuchatel offers cozy charm and a relaxed atmosphere to those who visit. The town is located in northwest Switzerland on the shore of Lake Neuchatel, the largest Swiss lake and surrounded by the foothills of the Jura.

neuchateltour

Neuchatel has long been known as the center of the watch-making world, and has been producing fine timepieces since the 1600s. Because of the relative isolation of Neuchatel, particularly before rail and auto travel, the bustling town was forced to manufacture its own products including watches. Today, tourists can take watch-making tours to learn the rich history behind this craft or they can stroll the streets window shopping for some of the finest watches on earth.

Diving even farther back into history, the Collegiale Church, built in 1276, stands proudly in the old town square atop a hill that overlooks the more modern metropolitan area. Enjoy the intricate stained glass windows and the fifteen giant statues of knights inside the old cathedral. Next to this gothic cathedral sits the Chateau, an imposing stone building over a millennium old, constructed in its first iteration during Roman times. While the entire hilltop gives a magnificent view of the surrounding area, a climb to the top of the adjacent prison tower provides a truly breathtaking panorama of the city.

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Baden-Baden, One of the Best Spa Towns in Germany

Posted by on Aug 15, 2013 in Health & Beauty, Luxury | 0 comments

baden-baden-spa

One of the top luxury spas in Europe is in Germany at Baden-Baden, situated on the edge of the Black Forest in a lush green valley on the Oos River, it has been a popular spa destination since Roman times. Being close to both Switzerland and France it is the perfect location for those who maybe taking a tour of Europe and want to have some time out for relaxation and regenerating.

The Brenners Park Spa Resort a five star complex which provides everything that today’s demanding traveler could possibly want. With a full medical spa and a team of experts on hand they will put together the perfect wellness plan for you. The center specializes in dentistry, gynecology and physio for those who require medical treatments at a fraction of North American prices. For those travelers seeking total peace and solace then why not consider booking one of the exclusive spa suites which include a Japanese blossom baths and personal Finnish sauna with a large secluded private terrace overlooking the mountains and forest it is the perfect location to unwind. There are lots of treatments on offer the massage menu is extensive and includes Thai massage which will help boost your energy levels. Shiatsu which concentrates on pressure points. Lomi which is also known as a Hawaiian massage and is a mixture of grip and deep tissue. You can also indulge in sports and aromatherapy massage.

Other treatments on offer include facials, again there is a large menu and there are now facial therapies for men. For those seeking a complete spa package you could opt for one of the specialist programs which includes various treatments tailored to your needs. For example, you could opt for a microdermabrasion or high frequency facial treatments sell at home microdermabrasion machines that you can bring back for DIY treatment) Fitness along with diet are all part of the packages. The head chef works along side the nutritionist to provide delicious organic meals which will suit all dietary requirements.

Baden-Baden could easily be combined with one of the spa resorts in Switzerland, France, Italy or Austria who all have their own unique spa towns. Or you could consider one of the stunning spa resorts that can be found in the UK, one of the most luxurious being in Bath, England. People have been bathing and enjoy the spa since Roman times and this could be combined with a visit to Stonehenge and is very close to London. There are so many possibilities and options available for anyone searching for the perfect spa vacations in Europe.

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Affordable Bed and Breakfasts in London

Posted by on Aug 15, 2013 in Bed & Breakfast, Travel Advice, Travel Finance | 0 comments

london b&b

Hotel rooms and apartment prices in London are some of the most expensive in Western Europe. If you are planning a trip to the capital city it maybe worth considering staying at one of the many affordable bed and breakfasts in London. One of the huge advantages at staying at a B&B is that you will be staying with local people and very often within their own home. You will receive that warm welcome that corporate chain hotels simply do not provide. Choosing the right B&B can sometimes be a challenge, below are a few you may like to consider if you are looking for affordable bed and breakfasts in London.

The B&B Belgravia is a boutique style bed and breakfast situated in Ebury Street. It is close to the fashionable Sloane Street with all its high end designer stores. If you are visiting London during the Chelsea Flower Show this would be an ideal place for an overnight stay. The rooms are modern with crisp linen and very functional. There are either a double or twin bed, flat screen television and free wi-fi. Some of the rooms have both a bathtub and shower. One of the most important features of a B&B and what will make a good B&B great is the breakfast. At this establishment they offer a full English breakfast using organic produce. There is also a continental breakfast buffet. With prices from just £65 it is great value but to get the best rates you do need to book early.

If you wanted to stay in North London, near to Hampstead Heath yet only ten minute tube (subway) ride from Buckingham Palace then you may like to consider Charlotte Guest House. It is very much in a residential area with lots of nice bars, restaurants nearby as well as having a bit of a country feel because of the greenery of the heath. This establishment would suit students, solo travelers as well as families. They do have a couple of family rooms. This clean comfortable B&B offers stays from £21 per person per night, with a hot English breakfast included it is affordable and super value.

If you need a good affordable bed and breakfast near to Gatwick airport then take a look at Masslink Guest House which is in a traditional Victorian house. It is also a great location for those who maybe visiting Reigate or Gatton Park. The rooms are comfortable and there is a cozy breakfast room where a full English breakfast is served. With rooms from £30 per night it is great value for money.

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