MashaTravel

Once in a lifetime

Exploring Venice and Naples

If you're thinking of a bit of summer travelling, Italy is the ideal place to choose. With such beautiful countryside and equally stunning ancient cities, there are few places in Europe that have such mas appeal.

When planning an itinerary for travelling, Italy has many cities that lend themselves to and extensive exploration. Two such cities are Venice and Naples - very different, but both spectacular in their own right. Be sure to give both these Italian gems your undivided attention and you will be well rewarded.

Venice

As the capital of the Veneto region, Venice is a must see for anyone travelling to Italy. The canal city sits on a marshy lagoon and is made up of a group of islands that, some say, are sinking slightly more each year. Despite this shadow, the city itself is truly magical. It actually has a history that dates back beyond what is considered to be the traditional founding, when the first church was built on the site in 421AD. With palaces and secret nooks, quirky side streets and a busy water thoroughfare, it is no wonder the entire city is named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Magical Myanmar for the Traveler

Breathtaking world wonders wait in time-warped Myanmar. Formerly known as Burma, this almost forgotten ancient corner of Southeast Asia yields a concentration of Buddhist pagodas and monasteries festooned with maroon robed monks and delightful nuns in pink. There are artisanal villages still navigated by ox and horse carts and there are genuinely warm and welcoming people who have remained largely uncorrupted by mass tourism and fervent capitalism - for the time being.
The future is now for Myanmar - a country that has emerged after a long hibernation under a military dictatorship, and is now on the tenuous path to democracy and full of exuberance. Myanmar's "new-ness" is in part why it has become the destination du jour: attracting everybody from Barrack Obama to international capitalists after a piece of the pie, to travellers and adventurers far and wide eager to discover new lands.

Myanmar is re-discovering itself and changing fast, speeding to catch up to the 21st century. For tourists this is both good and cause for concern. The great charm of the country, or good deal of it, rests in its old world appeal. Modernization has its price, and while the influx of capital means better infrastructure in the works, it also means higher prices. Hotel prices have in two years tripled in many cases, and price hikes will not stop until enough new hotels come online.

The Quirky Charm of San Francisco

The suspension of disbelief begins as you descend from the skytoward San Francisco International Airport. The plane drops and drops again, closer and closer to the sea, never revealing the land it is aiming for until you're right above it. And then, after so much anticipation, it is over and you are taxiing nonchalantly along the runway.

The airport personnel are as warm as the temperate climate, such a change from the false, frozen grimaces of those in the North. They may have forgotten how to smile, but in San Francisco, you remember.

Your first sight of the surrounding hills, some rising 1,000 feet on the way into the city, is impressive. Everything is unexpected for someone who has never spent much time in the desert or the tropics. It is so arid the few sparse trees and buildings cling to what's left of the sandy turf. You can imagine the houses to be made of dried clay.

Top Religious Sites of Amalfi

Booking a stay in any of the delightful villas in Amalfi is becoming extremely popular, thanks to the idyllic natural beauty of the area. The town itself, however, is steeped in Medieval Christian history - with many religious sites serving as silent, timeless witnesses to the past. If you stay in one of the villas in Amalfi, it will definitely be worth your time to visit these spiritual and cultural landmarks.

Duomo di Sant'Andrea Apostolo - Constructed in the 9th century and still serving the faithful to this day, this famous cathedral deserves to take the top spot in the list of religious sites. It has gone through quite a few restorations over the centuries, with the Saint Andrew's Cathedral of today boasting beautiful striped marble and unique lace detailing that sets it apart from usual Italian architecture. Step inside and you will be treated to a wide array of venerable works of art, from The Martyrdom of Saint Andrew to a crucifix made completely of mother-of-pearl.

Chiostro del Paradiso - The Cloister of Paradise is exactly what it sounds like - a little slice of tranquillity here on the Italian coast. The Cloister was constructed in the 13th century AD, and was designed to house the noble dead of the town. It now serves not only as an important cultural and religious landmark, but also as an open-air museum where visitors can appreciate art and history. The curious thing about the Cloister of Paradise is its Middle Eastern architecture - most notably the pointed arches and the slender double-columns indicative of its Arab influences. This demonstrates the extent of the influences the region has experienced over the years.

Exploring the Historical Museum Of Crete

Historical Museum Of Crete
Like most Mediterranean destinations, Crete is mostly known as a beach holiday resort. Its temperate Mediterranean climate, sandy beaches and picturesque sights are the main factors responsible for the majority of the volume of traffic operators of Heraklion airport transfers get each year, with most of it, predictably, occurring during the summer months.

However, much like many of its sister destinations along the Mediterranean coast, there is more to Crete than meets the eye. The island shares a lot of history with Greece and, while significantly lesser known, its own history is no less interesting than that of the mainland country it is administratively linked to. Some of the attractions found in not only in this city but also a number of other locations around the island are well worth a visit. Many of them may be passed on the Heraklion airport transfers, and can be returned to on foot while exploring this wonderful city.
First impressions are important

Menorca - Vacation Ideas to Extend Your Creativity

If your vision of an ideal holiday is sitting on the beach or in front of grand vistas with your sketchbook on your lap with the glorious sun on your back as you record the amazing landscape, here's a great place to do it: Menorca. Vacation on this island paradise and you'll be assailed by stunning scenery, beautiful buildings, colourful wildlife and even more colourful events - all of which make amazing subjects for artistic masterpieces.

Every artist knows that there's nothing like the inspiration of a different location to bring out their best: new environment brings out artistic juices, a new perspective and the amazement that drives artists to create!

What's there to sketch, draw or paint on Menorca? Vacation here and you'll be spoilt with many subjects to choose from! Here are a few!

Seascapes and landscapes

Discovering Some Hidden Gems of Menorca

Luckily for those looking to get away from it all is it still very possible to visit a beautiful Spanish island without having to endure the crowds that normally come with a Mediterranean locale. On Menorca, your experience all depends on what you actually know-the island has a lot more to offer than what many travel agencies post on their brochures or websites. Aside from the excellent villa rentals available on the island, you'll also get to enjoy these other aspects of its personality.




Explore the Main Sights Of Heraklion

Heraklion
As far as tourist destinations go, Greece is one of those locations that can offer the best of both worlds. Known, deservedly, for its appealing beaches and temperate climate, the country nonetheless offers motives of interest for avid ramblers or history buffs, among other groups.
The same is true of Crete, Greece's companion island, which offers just as many motives of interest as the mainland. In recent decades in particular, this island has been attracting the attention of many tourists, won over by the charms that this island shares with Greece itself.

Discovering the very best attractions

Most of these charms are likely to be experienced first-hand by guests first arriving in Crete, on the course of their Heraklion airport transfers. As Crete's main city, it holds many of the island's main tourist attractions, and visitors are likely to pass at least a few of these on the way to their hotel.
Most of the tourist sites these guests pass on their Heraklion airport transfers are likely to be of the cultural persuasion. The city's main motives of interest are its museums, any of which can help visitors get a grasp on the island's history and culture, as well as that of Greece itself.

What Are the Best Ways to Visit Russia?

st petersburg
Traveling to Russia has gotten quite a lot of publicity due to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but will soon be talked about with the FIFA World Cup scheduled there in 2018. There really is a lot to see, and not only because it's by far the largest country in the world. I had the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg a couple of years ago and will always have vivid memories of the city. In some ways it was very different from what the average American probably pictures, and in other ways quite the same.

The thing that did impress me was that Russia is changing fast, and it seems people aren't really sure if they should embrace it or resist it. As with many places in Europe the trauma of war from the Twentieth Century still casts a shadow, and this may be difficult for Americans to comprehend. But even with all the hardships they are still proud that their country is still a beautiful place.

But many are probably discouraged from attempting to visit Russia because of the cost and difficulty of working through the red tape. It is true that it is more difficult for most Americans to get in and out of Russia than probably most other countries. If you want to do it the easy way do like we did and take a Baltic cruise that includes St. Petersburg. You won't have complete access to the city, but staying with the tour group you will see a lot, and the entry and exit will not be a problem.

Exploring Ispica and Corleone on Sicily

When you're dreaming of endless warm days, far, far removed from the chill of winter, one place that should pop into your mind for your next holiday is the lovely Italian island of Sicily. As the largest of all the islands in the Mediterranean, with some of the richest history and a slew of beautiful beaches to laze on, it is no wonder that villas to rent in Sicily are some of the most sought after in Europe.
You can choose villas to rent in Sicily on the waterfront, or, if you prefer the elegance and beauty of the interior of the island, the villages and towns dotted around are ideal as a base to explore the wider region. One of the most appealing things about the island is the warm, engaging nature of the local people - you will feel like you exploring a true history, no matter where you turn. Two lesser-known places to visit are Ispica and Corleone.

Ispica

While it is always interesting to see the larger cities of the island, sometimes it is more fun to choose villas to rent in Sicily outside the more populated areas - like Ispica. Located on a hill in the southern part of the island, Ispica is only six kilometres away from the seaside. It is home to some of the most splendid examples of Sicilian Baroque architecture in existence. First mentioned in history in a church document in 1093, the history of the town goes way beyond that, however. It was almost entirely destroyed in a great earthquake of 1693, and many of the architectural touches of the city are owed to Vincenzo Sinatra, who rebuilt the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

Nearby, the Cave of Ispica, from which the town gets its name, is a series of houses carved into the rocks that have been there since before the Greek colonisation of the island. If you are lucky enough to holiday there during Easter, you are in for a treat, as the town is well known for its impressive Easter celebrations.

Corleone

When you are looking for villas to rent in Sicily, you may also wish to consider somewhere in the northwest of the island, near Corleone. If the name sounds familiar, you may recognise a suggestion of links to the modern incarnations of the mafia - and there is an element of truth to that. But the history of the town goes back much further and is far more complex. The 11th-12th century watch tower, Saracena, still stands guard over the town, but the impressive defensive walls have long since crumbled. You should also take the time to visit the Mother Church, which was begun in the 1300s and is a beautiful testament to the changes that architecture can bring to a region over the ages.


Looking for your perfect home away from home in Italy? Mark Slaviero is a Director of Holiday Homes in Italy, a company specialising in finding the holiday home, villa or apartment of your dreams. For the ideal villas in Sicily and accommodation in Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, the Italian Lakes, ski resorts and more, we offer the best in every region.

Son Bou - A True Holiday Heaven

With a little more effort when planning and setting up contingency plans, your annual holidays can be memorable for all the right reasons. If you choose to take a break in the delightful Son Bou, holidays won't mean rushing around or spending obscene amounts of money. Here are just some clever ways to ensure that you enjoy the best experience.

Planning around the weather

When you've decided on Son Bou, holidays feature one thing in abundance - beaches. As such, visiting this beautiful coastal resort depends a lot on the weather-making the mistake of visiting it during a rainy spell (or worse, in the middle of the rainy season) can significantly diminish the experience. The resort's climate is typical of the Mediterranean: cooler during the months of spring (from April to May), becoming hot during summer, then cooling down again as winter approaches. The "winter" of other countries is translated by the Mediterranean climate into rainfall-so from November until March, there is the expected increase in rainfall. Plan your holiday around the spring and summer and you won't be disappointed.

Do your research

Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria island
Anna Maria is an island, but only just. Cradled in the temperate waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it clings to the coast of Western Florida by a few bridges and a long spit of keys that stretch past Grassy Point Bayou to Sarasota Bay.

The central regions of the island are completely taken up by residential neighbourhoods, generally single family or semi-detached homes, many of which are rented to visitors for much of the year. You will not find any skyscraper condos or hotels on Anna Maria Island. Through the constant efforts of its permanent residents and Historical Society, the city has navigated the stormy waters of modernization to rest quietly somewhere between the turn of the (2oth) century and the Age of Aquarius.
Once you've arrived at your cottage of choice, you can enjoy your stay fully without ever getting back in the car. From almost any location, the beaches that encircle the island are within walking distance. So too are several caf├ęs, boutiques, and diminutive general stores, as well as surf shops where you can procure anything you might be missing for seaside amusement - sand-buckets, parasols, windbreakers, and especially flip flops. Flip flops are Anna Maria's signature, probably because they're almost all you need to appreciate this little slice of paradise.

Amazing Croatia

croatia
About Croatia

It is located in the southeastern part of Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, Montenegro to the sotheast, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Serbia to the east, Hungary to the northeast, and Slovenia to the northwest. Croatia has mediterranean and continental climate. The continental part of the country is predominant with hot summers and cold winters while the Adriatic coast has mild winters, and dry summers. With a size of approximately 57,000 sq kilometers and population of slightly less than 4.5 million, Croatia is in fact a small land with many extraordinary sights and unique beauty. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. Tourism is the most developed industry, and millions of people visit Croatia every year.

A small country for a great vacation

The Best Alpine Mountain Biking Trails

Mountain Biking Trails
Over the years, the French Alps have deservedly extended their reputation for delivering great thrills from winter sports to the realm of extreme sports in general. While certainly nowhere near as highly in demand during the warmer months as it is during the winter, France's main mountain range has managed to take those characteristics which make it a prime skiing and snowboarding destination and apply them to other sports as well.

Case in point: Alpine mountain biking. With a configuration that unites steep descents with hair-raising bends (and bordered by stunning views not fully enjoyable during the winter), it might seem as though the Alps were a no-brainer for fans of downhill and nature trail cycling. However, only in recent years does this sport seem to have begun being associated with the world-renowned mountain range, as more and more practitioners of the hobby discover all the region has to offer in this regard.

Visiting Sovereign Hill in Ballarat Australia

Sovereign Hill in Ballarat,
Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, Victoria is one of those places that both entertains and educates, with the latter happening without you knowing. Families, couples and anyone with an interest in Australian history will love this historic park and the glimpse it provides into the day to day life during the gold rush years. Sovereign Hill includes shows, a museum, restaurants and even some of the best hotels in Ballarat.

The park is a not for profit, community based cultural tourism organisation and is open from 10 am to 5 pm (5.30 during daylight saving) every day of the year except for Christmas day. The outdoor museum is a re-enactment of the first 10 years after gold was discovered in Ballarat in 1851. Thousands of foreigners flooded to the area in the hope of making their fortune digging for gold. The result was a vibrant and bustling community, and Sovereign Hill gives visitors a chance to step back in time and be part of the excitement.

Between Two Options For Holiday Accommodation - Hotel Or Luxury Villas?

Luxury Villas
When you choose to stay at a luxury villa on your next holiday, what images does it throw up before you? Surely, you see before you a ritzy classy house with all the mod cons and the best quality of everything you're going to need. But don't think that just because we're talking luxury, it means you empty out your pockets on your holiday.

In fact, this is a misconception. Luxury villas aren't more expensive than hotels. On the contrary, they work out to be more reasonable than a hotel stay, if you rightly calculate all the amenities and facilities offered to you in a luxury hotel. Besides, you get much more than what a hotel can give you, and anyone who has enjoyed staying at a luxury hotel will vouch for this.
Here are some areas in which luxury villas score over hotels:
Some of the advantages are:

Cost-effective: Holiday villas cost lesser than a resort. If you are with a group of people, you will find living in a villa good value for money. In a hotel, you would have to take several rooms, but in a luxury villa, everyone can fit into one villa.

Tips for Travelling to America

America
America
If you have never been to America before, you could be finding it a little bit intimidating. The country is massive and you don't know what they culture will be like when you get there.
You also won't know what to do when you go through customs. They are a lot stricter than any other country, and rightly so after what they have been through with 9/11.
However, going to America for a holiday is amazing. You should be looking forward to it, rather than feeling anxious about what it is going to be like when you get there. It really is an amazing place.
If you are thinking about travelling to America and you feel like your anxiety about now knowing what to expect, is putting you off, then read on for some tips on how to make the trip anxiety free.

Before you leave