Top insider tips for your visit to Prague

Prague is a tourist city of note and it’s therefore always handy to have a couple of insider tips to make your stay less crowded and more memorable. It’s also useful to know what to eat and drink and how to get around.

Here are some great insider tips for when you travel to Prague:

1. How to get around

Walk walk walk, and when you can’t walk anymore, hop on a tram. Prague is a city to be seen on foot, and it’s relatively easy to do so.

There are cobblestoned streets and alleys to meander along and every so often you will stumble upon something unexpected such as an underground jazz bar.

Prague’s public transport system is great, so when you have to travel a bit further and don’t have a lot of time, the metro is a win.

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2. What to drink

It is often said that beer is cheaper than water in Prague, and even though that might not be 100% accurate, it’s pretty close. A bottle of beer will cost you roughly 15 CZK while a 500ml water will cost you roughly 10 CZK.

Prague is also famous for its hot alcoholic drinks such as Becherovka (a Vermouth-style dry aperitif and often served with a fruit juice) and then there’s the staple hot alcohol drink – hot mulled wine.

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3. What to eat

As with any big city, food is more expensive closer to big tourist attractions. Keep this in mind when travelling to Prague (or any big city for that matter). However, it’s also not exorbitant. Prague is a very affordable city for the most part. Things like electronics and fashion items are much more expensive here, however.

Get your teeth stuck into the Goulash and slobber up some slow-cooked pork knuckle. In fact, indulge in all the pork in all its forms: ribs, slow-roasted, and so the list goes on.

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4. What to see

Prague is a city with plenty of tourist attractions that are all well worth a visit. There’s the Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the Astronomical clock, the Jewish quarters and much more. But don’t forget the city’s underground! It is really something spectacular. There are numerous underground city tours to choose from and almost every building that you pass by would have a section underground.

Hotel Jalta is one such establishment. It’s a nuclear fallout shelter, right under a 5 star hotel in Wenceslas Square. The shelter was connected to the outskirts of Prague via tunnels to allow people to escape in case of nuclear attacks.

After the end of socialist times, Hotel Jalta was bought by an investor with a passion for history, who preserved the shelter and turned the hotel into a five-star property.

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5. Other useful tips

Charles Bridge is certainly one of the top tourist attractions so rather plan to see it early in the morning or later in the evening when there will be fewer people.

Within the fairy-tale fortress that is Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) – the largest ancient castle in the world – you can visit the St Vitus Cathedral and climb up the tower for a breathtaking view of the city.

The historic buildings inside the castle walls represent virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. Best of all? It’s free to walk the castle grounds and cathedral, or you can pay a reasonable fee for a tour and be able to enter the galleries, museums and other restricted areas.

Central Prague is divided into 10 different districts, with areas of Prague 1 through Prague 10 considered to be convenient by residents. While Prague 1 is the heart of the tourist district, where Old Town Square and the Castle is located, it doesn’t mean that Prague 10 is the furthest away.

Tip your waiter. If there is one type of person you do not want to upset, it’s a Czech. Tip your waiter at least 10%.

There are plenty opportunists in Prague, so keep a close eye on your belongings. It’s not an unsafe city, but you would be wise to always be cautious.

If you’ve never been, or wish to visit the city of Prague again, join us on our next trip! Contact us on info@ctheworld.co.za

Five fun things to do in Scandinavia

Holidays are often associated with beach time or pool time – depending on where you come from (and where you are going). Perhaps Scandinavia seems like an oddly cold holiday destination, but there are plenty reasons why it needs to be added to your travel list.

Yes, it might be cold, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing fun to do! Here are five fun things to do when you visit Scandinavia:

 

1. Experience a local fish market – Bergen

The Bergen fish market is described as one of Norway’s most visited outdoor markets, located in the heart of the city between the fjords and Bergen’s seven mountains.

Dating back to the 1200s, it has been a meeting place for merchants and fishermen through the ages.

Apart from fresh Nordic fish and seafood, you can also indulge in local farm food like fruit, berries and vegetables or buy some fresh flowers and plants. You don’t even have to buy anything! Just walking around and taking it all in is an adventure in itself.
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2. Flamsbana train journey – Flåm

Norway is World famous for fjords (long, narrow inlets with steep sides or cliffs, created by a glacier). Drive from Bergen to the town of Flåm, on the edge of the Sognefjord.

Enjoy the Flamsbana train journey which meanders between the Sognefjord and Hardangervidda. The Flåm Railway takes you from high mountains in Myrdal station, through the Flåm valley and down to the very bottom of the Aurlandsfjord and Flåm station. National Geographic Traveler Magazine called it “one of the top 10 train journeys in Europe” while in 2014, Lonely Planet Traveler dubbed it “the best train journey in the world.”

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3. Marvel at Geirangerfjord and traverse Trollstigen pass – Geiranger

Geirangerfjord is a Unesco-listed fjord and a must-see when you are in Scandinavia. Sure, it is Norway’s second largest cruise port , and sure, there are many tourists, but how can you blame them? National Geographic has rated the Geirangerfjord as the best preserved Unesco World Heritage Site.

Drive down Trollstigen (The Troll’s Ladder), a 105km-long stretch of road that descends out of the mountains on 11 hairpin bends and is surrounded by lofty peaks dubbed Kongen (the King), Dronningen (the Queen) and Bispen (the Bishop) and hugged by lush vegetation.

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4. Get funky at the Abba Museum – Stockholm

If you’re in Stockholm, pop in at the ABBA Museum. But don’t expect a boring walk through a history museum. The ABBA Museum is fun and interactive and while you’ll learn about the story about Björn, Benny, Frida and Agnetha and their lives growing up and when music entered their lives, you will feel what it’s like to be onstage with ABBA, to sing at the famous Polar Studio or to dress up in those legendary costumes (virtual experience).

You might walk in, but you’ll certainly be dancing out of there!

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5. Play at Legoland – Billund

Yes, Legoland! Many people don’t even know that Lego is Swedish (not everything is American, folks)! So if you find yourself in Scandinavia, don’t keep yourself too adult to go play at the marvellous Legoland situated in Billund, Denmark.

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C the World has a trip to Scandinavia coming up in May 2019! Book your spot today. Contact us on info@ctheworld.co.za

3 things you probably didn’t know about Paris

As a tourist in Paris, it’s easy to soak up the cafe culture, drool over freshly baked baguettes and enjoy the romantic feel in the air. It’s also easy to tick off things on a “must-see list” such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, or the Arc de Triomphe.

But how sad it would be if that was the end of it! There is so much more to Paris than meets the eye. There are secrets long forgotten or perhaps never heard of around every corner and even underground.

Did you know these three interesting facts about Paris?

 

1. There are roughly 9,060 bars, cafes, or restaurants with open terraces 

Bars, cafes, and restaurants abound in the City of Love. But did you know that there are an estimated 9,060 of them with open terraces where you can sit down and take in the beauty of the city?

Basically, if you were to spend each day of your life in Paris visiting a different open terrace of a bar, cafe, or restaurant, it would take you about 30 years to see them all – and that’s just the current ones… there’s probably a new one opening already as you are reading this!

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2. The Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty have something in common

French architect and structural engineer, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel was not only responsible for the build of the world-renowned Eiffel Tower (designed by the two chief engineers in Eiffel’s company Emile Nouguier and Maurice Koechlin), but he also had a hand in the Statue of Liberty in the United States.

When the Statue of Liberty’s initial internal designer, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, unexpectedly passed away in 1879, Eiffel was appointed as his replacement. Eiffel and Koechlin rejected Viollet-le-Duc’s original idea to make the bronze exterior of Lady Liberty bear all her weight and instead installed an iron skeleton inside of her for support.

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3. You can overnight at the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore

George Whitman founded the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris in 1951 with the motto “be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise”. It is said that Whitman travelled the world as a self-proclaimed “tumbleweed,” blowing from place to place, “sheltered by the grace of strangers”.

He opened the doors to all sorts of writers, artists, and intellectuals who needed a place to rest their heads for a night or two. In exchange, the “Tumbleweeds” are asked to read a book a day, help out in the shop for a couple of hours, and write a single-page autobiography for Whitman’s archives.

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C the World has an epic trip planned to Europe in December, contact us today to book your spot and visit Paris, Germany, Switzerland, and more!

Interesting flower facts about Keukenhof in the Netherlands

Springtime in the Netherlands mean many things. But one of the overarching topics of discussion is certainly flowers! Or more specifically, Tulips.

Keukenhof in the Netherlands is probably best described as a flower heaven of sorts and it’s quite difficult to convey in words the beauty of this colourful spectacle.

It is simply something you have to see for yourself, and definitely add to your bucket list if it isn’t featuring on there yet.

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Here are some interesting flower facts about Keukenhof:

1. Keukenhof is a platform for the Dutch floricultural sector. Its focus is on the 7 million spring-flowering bulbs of the 100 participating exhibitors and participants which allows them to showcase their bulbs, flowers and plants.

2. In 1949 a group of 20 leading flower bulb growers and exporters decided to use the estate to exhibit spring-flowering bulbs, which put Keukenhof on the map as a spring park.

3. A year later, in 1950, the gates were opened and the park was an instant success. It saw 236,000 visitors in the first year alone!

4. Depending on the year and weather patterns, the best chance to see the flowers blooming at Keukenhof is usually the last two weeks of April and the first week of May.

5. 2019 will be the 70th edition of Keukenhof, under the theme “Flower Power”.

6. The Netherlands produces nine billion flower bulbs a year and it accounts for 90% of global trade in flower bulbs. The biggest of these in export are Tulips.

7. During the 17th century, the Tulip caused a phenomenon called “tulip mania” when it became a coveted luxury item which resulted in the price of Tulips skyrocketing.

8. In 1937, some single tulip bulbs were reported to have reached a price equivalent to 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. Buyers revolted and a sudden price collapse soon followed.

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If you’ve never seen the Tulips bloom at Keukenhof, why not join us on our next visit to the Netherlands in April 2019? Also, have a look at what some of our previous travellers have said about travelling with C the World

December Christmas markets in winter-wonderland Europe

Christmas markets is something people look forward to year-round. There is an unexplainable magic in the air at a Christmas market that can get even the most unfestive person into a happy, serene, festive mood over the Christmas holidays.

Here are some of the coolest Christmas markets we’ve experienced, and so can you on our December Magical Moments Tour 2018:

Berlin

Germans just know how to create the most incredible festive feeling around the Christmas holidays. We’re not sure if it has to do with all the decorations in the streets and on buildings and houses, the abundance of chocolate and other sweet delicacies, or the fact that there’s an exciting Christmas market around every corner.

Indeed, in the bustling city of Berlin, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to Christmas markets (there are almost over 100 markets in Berlin alone!)

  • Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt

If you’re into unique handmade products and unique art, drop in at Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt and shop till you drop. You can expect glassblowers, candle makers, and jewellers in addition to the origami master, embroiderer, a milliner and an ivory-carver. When you’re done gaping in awe at all of this, you can indulge in the delectable foods and special delicacies.
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  • The Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus

The Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus is probably one of the oldest and most popular Christmas markets in Berlin. You might actually just feel like you’ve walked into another era, like the early 1900s when the market first started, thanks to the old-world decor of the stalls.

This is the market for those with a bit more energy, or those wanting to warm up with something other than Glühwein. There is a massive ferris wheel as well as a large ice skating-rink to add a touch of fun to the food, drink and other goodies for sale.

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  • Winterwelt at Potsdamer Platz

Attracting roughly 2,5 million people every year, this market is known for turning Potsdamer Platz in the heart of the city into an enormous winter wonderland.

Another market offering more physical fun, there are lots of fun to be had and memories to be made at this market. Think toboggan run, an outdoor skating rink, Eisstockschießen (a game which is best explained as a mix between bowling and curling), and stalls offering heart-warming, seasonal treats.

Prague

Prague is a wonderful city all-year round. But at Christmas time, it becomes alive with pure winter wonderland magic.

  • Old Town square market & Wenceslas Square market

These are the two main Christmas market locations in Prague where you can expect to find brightly decorated wooden stall stocked with local handicrafts such as ceramics, jewellery, embroidered lace, wooden toys, scented candles, Christmas tree ornaments, hats and gloves, and puppets and dolls dressed in traditional costume.

Best of all is all the food and all the beer and other warming drinks such as Glühwein and hot chocolate. Think roasted ham on the spit, grilled sausages, flatbreads, and trdelník (hot cinnamon-sugar coated pastries) and other sweet delights.

There are also a couple of other, smaller markets at Republic Square, at Havel’s Market, on Kampa Island, and on the square in front of St. George’s Basilica at Prague Castle.

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Budapest

Did you know that the Hungarian capital, Budapest, was voted the most affordable Christmas Market destination in Europe by the British Daily Mail?

  • Christmas market at Vörösmarty Square

Set on Vörösmarty Square, the market is made up of 100 stalls – all set up around the slender, colourful Christmas tree. You can expect unique arts and crafts products, music, tasty local food and drinks as well as great programmes for kids and families.

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  • Christmas Fair at St. Stephen’s Basilica

What a great place for a Christmas market! Among other things, the market at St. Stephen’s Basilica in downtown Budapest offers four and half weeks of entertainment leading up to Christmas as well as special artisan gifts, a 200sqm ice skating rink, a light show and, of course, plenty to eat and drink.

Vienna

  • Viennese Christmas market at Rathausplatz

Vienna simply becomes a place where dreams are made when its streets and stately buildings are covered in snow.

In Vienna, Christmas is celebrated in the classic, traditional way which includes Christmas decor, food, drink, and lots of gifts. The Viennese Christmas Market takes place in front of City Hall and guests enjoy everything from reindeer rides to an ice rink for skating and curling, to hot drinks, pancakes, and pretzels.

Other markets in Vienna include Schonbrunn Palace Christmas market, Spittelberg Christmas market.

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Salzburg

  • Salzburg Christkindlmark

At the famed Christkindlmarkt in the center of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old City of Salzburg, you can perhaps expect a more “Sound of Music” feel as there are daily sing-alongs and traditional wind music performed above the square on Thursday and Saturday nights music (in addition to all kinds of delectable treats in the form of Austrian specialties, mulled wine and hot punch). It’s one of the world’s oldest Advent markets – dating back to the late 15th century.

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If you’ve always wanted to have a white Christmas, what a better way than to experience all the Christmas festivities mentioned above than with C the World on our next Magical Moments Tour

This is why we love Greece

Often a faraway dreamy idea for many, Greece is a special place that has crept deep into our hearts.

And it’s not hard to figure out why we love it so much…

1.History

If you are an ancient history lover, there are few places in the world that’ll capture your heart and imagination like Greece. And if you think history is pretty boring, Greece will no doubt teach you otherwise.

It’s definitely close to impossible not to marvel at the ancient structures such as the 5th-century BC temple complex of Acropolis in Athens, the archaeological site of Delphi, the open-air island museum of Delos, the mesmerising Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, or the myth-laden Palace of Knossos on the island of Crete.

 Acropolis

2.Food

Many people, when they hear “Mediterranean diet”, immediately think it starts and ends with fish and vegetables. How wrong they are! Even though it may be healthy, and there’s definitely some Greek salad and fresh fish involved, the Greeks eat like kings! And don’t forget the wine and variety of desserts. Think baklava (filo pastry, nuts, butter, sugar), Amygdalota (gluten-free almond cookies), Moussaka, Tzatziki, Dolmades, and tasty meats, among plenty other mouthwatering foods!

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3.Affordability

If done the right way, Greece can be an affordable holiday. It really doesn’t have to cost you your pension to tick off this dream destination on your bucket list. Travelling to Greece with C the World this year September/October will cost you R23,450 pp sharing.

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4.Islands and beaches

Let’s be honest, you don’t go to Greece if you hate sunshine and sea sand. Definitely not. Greece is world-renowned for its splendid, picturesque beaches and islands and you’ll search long and hard to find a place that’ll match the beauty of the Greek Islands.

Mykonosharbour

5.Rejuvenation

Greeks, much like Italians, are masters of the slow life. Anyone who’s been to Greece will most likely tell you that they saw the most magnificent sunsets from a balcony in Santorini or while sipping on a cocktail on a beach in Mykonos. Within just a couple of days, you’ll find yourself feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to take on the world again. Or maybe retire, buy a beach bungalow in Santorini and set up shop in this paradise… Who knows?

MykonosSunset

For only R23,450 pp sharing you can travel to Greece this October with C the World. Book your space today!

Four dreamy spots to visit in Croatia

Croatia has been an up-and-coming travel destination for a couple of years now. And it’s no secret why. Beaches, forests, waterfalls and history – it’s basically a small piece of heaven. Or at least how we’d imagine heaven to be like.

 

1.Plitvice Lakes

If this place doesn’t look like a dreamy fairy tale destination, then we don’t know what would. The Plitvice Lakes are situated in the Plitvice National Park and are without a doubt one of the most jaw-dropping natural wonders in Croatia and Europe, for that matter. It consists of 16 interconnecting lakes that are divided into upper and lower clusters and formed by natural travertine dams. There are also beautiful waterfalls and a lush forest to meander through.

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2.Dubrovnik

That’s right folks, from Game of Thrones fame, dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries, Dubrovnik is is one of the best-preserved medieval walled cities in the world and described as one of the “Pearl of the Adriatic”.

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3.Northern Velebit National Park

Croatia’s got some hiking options too for those who like to brave the mountains by foot. For some awesome hiking trails, head to Northern Velebit National Park which encompasses the northern side of the largest mountain in the country, Velebit Mountain.

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4.Split

Another Croatian city with a nickname is Split. Known as the “Mediterranean Flower” Split is Croatia’s second-largest city. Located on a peninsula off the Dalmatian Coast, the city’s main attraction is its historic centre which boasts dramatic Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Another attraction in the city is the Emperor Diocletian’s palace. He built a palace for his retirement at the end of the third century AD, and it still stands in the centre of Split. The palace complex is a maze of marble walkways lined with shops, cafes, and bars.

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For only R30,450 pp sharing, you can travel to Croatia this September with C the World. Book your spot now!

The ins and outs of French wine

Apart from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Louvre, French cafes, and fresh French loaves and cheese, many people travel to France for authentic wine tasting experiences.

Whether you’d describe yourself as a wine connoisseur or not, everyone knows that the French know what they’re doing when it comes to wine. The only problem for a non-French wine drinker who wants to enjoy French wine is understanding what the bottle says.

Understanding the label

 

French wine labels can be confusing. This is mainly because of the lack of varietal (type of grape) labelling. Most of us are used to seeing the name of the wine farm and the grape varietal on the label rather than only the region of origin (known as ‘terroir’ in French).

Terroir

Why would they put the region on the bottle and not the grape varietal? Because the place of origin is what gives the wine its true character. Wines are different because of the are in which the grapes are grown. So most French people know which varietals grow in which areas.

Another thing to note is that French wines are very often blends rather than varietals. For this reason, the ‘terroir’ labelling system also works pretty well.

For example, red Bordeaux wines are generally blends of Merlot and Cabernet. Plenty of red blends also come from Southern France, primarily from the Languedoc region, where blends of grapes like Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan are popular.

Putting together regions and varietals

Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhône wines are the three primary French red wine regions of interest that we’ll explore in this post.

To help you further decipher, here are a couple of hints from Food & Wine on which area mainly produces which varietal so you’ll find choosing your favourite wine a bit easier.

  • Bordeaux

White Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Muscadelle

Red Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec

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  • Burgundy

White Wines: Chardonnay

Red Wines: Pinot Noir, Gamay (in Beaujolais)

Chardonnay-inside

  • The Rhône Valley

White Wines: Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier

Red Wines: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre

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So, as you start familiarising yourself with the wine-producing regions, the first thing to note when deciding on a bottle of French wine is the terroir where the wine was made – this is the best way to determine which grapes are in the bottle.

And there you have it. We hope the next time you travel to France, choosing a good French wine will be a cinch!

C the World’s European tours sell out fast! Contact us to secure your spot today.

 

Fascinating traditions: Spain

Spain is one of those European countries, rich in history and even richer in culture and traditions.

Here are some of our favourite fascinating traditions in Spain:

1.Flamenco

Ever heard of the ‘Flamenco’? And no, it’s not a bird.

Referred to as Spanish art, the Flamenco originated in the southern regions of Spain and is made up of three parts: guitar playing (“guitarra”), song (“cante”), and dance (“baile”). Even though it originated in the southern regions of Spain, some believe it has influences from Latin America, Cuba, and Jewish traditions.

Traditional Flamenco dancers rarely received any formal training as it’s more a case of it being passed down from friends, relatives, and those in the community.

What does it entail? The Flamenco can be quite dramatic, seeing as dancers try to express their deepest emotions by using body movements and facial expressions. They often clap their hands or kick their feet and many also use ‘castanets’ to add to the performance.

When you travel to Spain, the Flamenco is something you’re bound to come across.

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2.Running of the bulls

Bullfights happen throughout Spain. The fiestas of San Fermin are celebrated in Irunea/Pamplona, a small city in Spain’s northern region of Navarra.  These fiestas take place during summer from 6-14 July and have become internationally known because of the running of the bulls.

Even though it’s synonymous with parties drinking, dancing and singing in the streets, the annual running of the bulls through the city is actually part of a religious festival to honour St. Fermin, the patron saint of the city.

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3.Piñatas

You may have seen them in the shape of ponies, flowers, or even unicorns, and while the history of the piñata has a religious and spiritual significance, today piñatas are associated with celebrations in Spain.

 The traditional piñata is usually in the shape of a six-point star and the first piñatas in Spain were made completely of clay – decorations and bright colours were only added later on.

PIÑATA

4.Quinceañera

15 is an important age for girls in Spain. When a girl reaches the age of 15, it signifies her ‘coming of age’, so to speak. This is when she passes from ‘girlhood’ to ‘womanhood’ and for Spanish families, this is a cause for big celebrations.

The birthday girl usually struts a formal dress and receives real princess-like gifts such as tiaras, bracelets and earrings from family members.

Quinceañera includes all things festive such as a religious service, followed by a dedication mass whereafter there’s sure to be music, and dance, and lots of food!

quinceañera

Why not join us on one of our next trips to Spain where you’ll get to visit Barcelona, Madrid, Salamanca, Seville, Mijas and more!

 

Five random facts about Amsterdam

Canals, bicycles, windmills, marijuana, wooden clogs, cheese, Anne Frank’s house, and stroopwafels… these are all things people often associate with Amsterdam. But there is much more to Amsterdam than meet the eye!

Here are five random facts you might not have known about the Dutch capital.

1. There are more bicycles than there are people

Amsterdam is a city built for bicycles almost more than it is built for cars. It is a well-known fact that the city is ruled by cyclists of every shape and form. In fact, 60% of traffic is attributed to cyclists. Some walk their dogs by bike, others transport kids or furniture, and still, others simply make their way to work by bike whilst eating an apple and texting at the same time!

There are roughly 850,000 people living within the city limits of Amsterdam, and it is estimated that there are more than 850,000 bicycles in the city.

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2.Plenty bicycles end up in the canals

There are 165 canals in Amsterdam – which means there’s clearly a lot of opportunities to fall into the water… Did you know that between 12,000-15,000 bicycles end up in the canals every year?

canals

3.There are more bridges than in Venice

Well, with more 165 canals, one would expect a lot of bridges. Amsterdam is said to have 1281 bridges – almost three times as many as Venice.

bridges

4.There are more than 30 parks to explore

Even though it’s a city, parks and public spaces abound in Amsterdam. There are more than 30 parks in the city to pick and choose from, including the Vondelpark, which is said to attract some nine million people each year.

ams park

5.Don’t fret about your pet

Low-income residents are allowed to take their pet to the vet for free once a year.

pets

Amsterdam is a wonderful city to explore. C the World would love to have you on our next tour! Find out more here.

 

Top must-try foods in Portugal

Many a great city with great people and great food exists – we all know that. Portugal is one of those places that mustn’t get left off the list. In fact, in the eyes of the Portuguese (just like the Italians), food is always a cause for celebration.

Known around the world for its sweet treats from heaven, otherwise known as Pasteis de Nata, its mouthwatering peri-peri chicken, sardines, and more, Portugal is an unending well of goodness for those who travel after their noses and stomachs – and even those who aren’t necessarily foodies may just find themselves converted.

Here are our top five must-try foods in Portugal:

 

1.Sardines

We know what you might be thinking… really? Sardines?

Really.

Few things beat good an ol’ grilled fish – let alone the Portuguese’s grilled sardines. A perfect, affordable snack and a staple of the country, sardines can also quickly be turned into a full-on meal (think sardines on a fresh Portuguese roll…).

sardines

2.Bacalhau

Keeping to the fresh seafood, bacalhau is another must-try when discovering Portugal. Also known as salted, dried codfish, this dish is extremely popular throughout the country. Did you know there are apparently more than 1000 recipes for it?! Bacalhau is usually prepared on the grill (although some do boil or bake it). When a local offers you bacalhau, or when you see it on a menu, don’t think twice – go for it!

Bacalhau

3.Bifanas

Even though this name might sound like everything else but food – don’t let the name fool you. Just imagine: thinly-sliced pork cutlet, marinated in a white wine and garlic mixture, slapped on a fresh, oh-so-soft Portuguese roll. Makes your mouth drool, doesn’t it?

Bifanas

4.Chicken peri-peri

A restaurant that serves grilled chicken in a home-made peri-peri sauce is as common in Portugal as a pizzeria is in Italy. Usually served with rice or fries, it’s a classic Portuguese dish and it’s an absolute must-try.

chicken peri peri

5.Pasteis de Nata

Made with puff pastry and filled with the most decadent custard in the middle, these tiny custard tarts are more than just tarts. They are actually heaven in your mouth. They are readily available throughout the country, but some of the best ones are found in Lisbon and Alcobaça.

pasteis

Aperitivo in Italy: what it is and why it’s so cool.

Certainly one of the best things about Italy is the food and culture. Sure, the art, architecture, and rolling hills of Tuscany are incredible. But there is something very unique and special in the combination of food and culture. You cannot, in fact, separate the two.

Perhaps one of the coolest Italian traditions is aperitivo – or “pre-dinner drinks and snacks”. For students and budget travellers, it is often a sneaky way to eat on the cheap. For locals, however, it’s truly a way to get ready for or to “open the appetite” for dinner – which is usually only around 9-10pm.

Even though Italy is famous for having particular regional specialities, aperitivo is something you’ll find in almost every single town. The only difference might be the price – Milan, Rome, Venice, and Florence being the most expensive cities. If you travel to Italy without experiencing aperitivo, you’ve certainly missed out on one of the best cultural experiences.

How it works

Most bars and restaurants in Italy offer aperitivo between 6-9pm. Usually, you’d pay a set price for a drink and then you’ll either have the green light to help yourself at the buffet snack table, or you’ll be served some snacks with your drink at your table. Most places will put a markup on the drink in order to compensate for the snacks that are included.
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The food

The food selection varies from place to place but you could find anything on a buffet table ranging from fresh salads and cheeses to cold meats, bruschetta, a variety of bread, pasta, and pizzas. On a spread served with your drink at your table, you can expect anything from a selection of cheeses, cold cuts, nuts, olives and so forth, or simply some potato crisps and peanuts.

Having evolved from merely pre-dinner drinks and snacks (think chips and peanuts), it seems as though most bars have become so proud of their delectable aperitivo spreads that you have to have a lot of self-control as not to spoil your dinner appetite.
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The drinks

Typical aperitivo drinks include Aperol spritz, Campari spritz, Prosecco, vermut, Negroni, Americano.

The cost

In Milan you can expect to pay between €5 and €15, once again depending on the type of bar and snacks on offer. In smaller towns in the Veneto region, for example, you’d pay a mere €2-5 at some places.

Aperitivo is great for many reasons – apart from the obvious ones mentioned above. It’s an easy way to relax and socialise with friends, or to make friends if you’re a solo traveller. It’s also a great way to get to know a town by going ‘aperitivo hopping’  from place to place.

If you want to experience la dolce vita, better do it properly!

Travel to Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is, quite simply, that place on the Italian Riviera where people take those magnificent pictures (usually at sunset) of colourful village houses tucked away between the cliffs which makes you want to quit your job and hop on the next plane out. 

What is “Cinque Terre” and why do you need to visit?

Cinque Terre is, quite simply, that place on the Italian Riviera where people take those magnificent pictures (usually at sunset) of colourful village houses tucked away between the cliffs which makes you want to quit your job and hop on the next plane out.
Actually, many people think Cinque Terre (five towns) is one place when, in fact, it’s five different small fishing villages or ‘hamlets’, if you will.

Why you need to visit Cinque Terre?

Even though Cinque Terre is a popular tourist attraction, there’s just something different about it.
Perhaps it’s because there are no queues of 100+ people waiting to enter a church tower. Perhaps it’s the crystal-clear ocean water that screams “come jump in!” around every corner as you wind through the cobblestoned streets. Or, perhaps, it’s the nostalgic feeling of an era gone by but still somewhat preserved in these authentic, old towns.

The low-down on the Cinque Terre towns

The villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore make up the Cinque Terre.

Monterosso

Monterosso is the biggest of them all and boasts many sandy beaches, rows and rows of beach chairs and beach umbrellas. In comparison to the other four, Monterosso is a chilled spot with way fewer stairs to climb and pebbles to hurt your feet.

Monterosso

Vernazza

Vernazza is special for many reasons. This is where you want to sit at a sea-facing bar in Piazza Marconi with an ice cold glass of wine or spritz and relax as you people-watch and soak in the beauty around you. Remember, this is Italy! When you travel Italy, you have to learn to slow down and relax.  Thanks to the horrible floods a couple of years back there is now a small rocky beach. However, many people simply enjoy jumping in the water from the pier.

vernazza

Corniglia

Corniglia is the smallest of all the Cinque Terre, and that’s probably why it’s so magical. Many people, on their arrival, give the 360+ stairs up to the town from the railway one look, sit down, and wait for the next train to pick them up. But don’t lose heart! There is also a shuttle that operates throughout the day. Even though Corniglia takes some effort (after you’ve climbed the stairs to get to the town, you have to climb down the other side to get to the best swimming spot), the reward is great on the other side. Absolute paradise. There are also beautiful, quaint shops and restaurants in the village.

corniglia

Manarola

Manarola is famous for its sweet Sciacchetrà wine which is made from the surrounding vineyards’ grapes. We know, romance in a bottle. This village also boasts a great swimming spot in the small harbour. Sunbathe on the rocks and, if you’re feeling brave, jump in from the high rocks as the water is nice and deep.

Manarola

Riomaggiore

This fishing village has a pebble beach as well as a great swimming spot in the small marina that is both lovely for swimming. After a refreshing swim, stroll through the streets with its peeling buildings or stop for a delicious pizza as you enjoy watching how people do life here: men playing cards and women hanging washing and chatting in the streets.

Riomaggiore

One of the essential things to remember on your visit to Cinque Terre is comfortable shoes so you can enjoy the dreamy ancient footpaths that connect the villages. For those not so keen on walking, don’t stress! There is also a train that runs frequently between the villages as well as boat rides.

We know there are many awesome travel destinations in Europe, but Cinque Terre definitely needs to be on your list!

 

Tour Venice on your European Holiday

The capital of the Veneto region of northern Italy, Venice comprises of over a 100 small islands in the Venetian Lagoon. Knitted together by canals, bridges and walkways, Venice has no roads and when you get there you wouldn’t want to drive anyway. The walkways and waterbuses as well as vaporetto are the means of transport and are perfect ways to get a true experience of Venice.

Here are few things to do in Venice, some of which are included in the Best Europe Tour.

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

At the entrance of the Grand Canal, you’ll find the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Outstanding to say the least, it is known for its architecture and dome shape, the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute dates back to the 17th-century

Basilica di Santa Maria

Source: wikimedia.org

Grand Canal

grand canal

Source: pixabay.com

The 17th-century-domed church guards the entrance of the Grand Canal. About 40 kilometres of canals tie over a 100 islands together that stream and join at the Grand Canal. What you’ll find really beautiful and fun is to stroll through the vast web of alleys and side walkaways that connect the islands.

While the walking around and taking in the scenery is enough to take over your entire trip, you cannot visit the Grand Canal without going on a cruise along the streams on a boat called a vaporetto. Other than being the quickest way around the gondola, these boats work like buses in the city whilst offering magnificent views of surrounding buildings.

grand canal river

Source: www.bildrum.se

Rialto Bridge

Arguably the heart of Venice, the Rialto Bridge was built in the 16th century. Since then, the Rialto Bridge was the only way to cross the Grand Canal before the Accademia Bridge, which was built in the 1854.

It is said that approximately 12 000 wooden pilings has supported the bridge for more than 400 years. The structure is built with three walkway diversions, two of which located on the outer balustrades. The central walkway stretches between two rows of shops, which is a perfect opportunity for tourists to find souvenirs.

Rialto Bridge

Source: wikimedia.org

Glass blowing Island of Murano

Venetian Lagoon

Source: pixabay.com

Situated north of Venice in the Venetian Lagoon, the Murano are a group of islands linked by bridges. Murano is well known for glass making, where glass artisans perform at craft shows and festivals. These amazing artisans blow glass baubles, beautiful works of contemporary art.

Visit Lido

Lido beach

Source: wp.com

Lido better known as the Lido di Venezia is popular for hosting tourists as a summer resort. It’s location separates the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. This is a great spot to catch some sun and get away from the urban vibe that is often crowded depending on the time of year.

Amsterdam – the best places and attractions to explore, experience and eat

Amsterdam has many popular attractions to explore. Some of which are significant to history and others worth exploring if you want to dig into the Dutch culture.

Amsterdam bridge

Zaanse Schans

With extensive meadows in the background, you are able to see the windmills turning slowly in the distance. A magnificent spectacle, the windmills of Zaanse Schans create a serene scene. The windmills belong to a neighbourhood of Zaandam, Amsterdam. These are the windmills you can see at Zaanse Scahns:

  • De Huisman
  • De Gekroonde Poelenburg
  • De Kat
  • De Zoeker
  • Het Jonge Schaap
  • De Bonte Hen
  • De Os
  • Het Klaverblad
  • De Bleeke Dood
  • De Ooievaar
  • Mini-mills on the Schans.

 

These well-preserved and historic windmills were established in the early 1960’s. The Zaanse Schans is one of the most popular tourist attractions.  Zaanse Schans forms part of the European Route of Industrial Heritage. Other than the extraordinary windmills, you can visit the Zaans Museum that is located next to the Zaanse Schans. Visiting the Zaanse Schans is part of C The World’s European Tour

.Amsterdam Windmill

Volendam, a beautiful harbour village

There are many things to do at this little village. First, a stroll along the main harbour strip will lead you to little stalls and a residential area. You’ll find trawlers and fishing boats, which is the lifeblood for many living in surrounding areas. Being that it is a fishing village, be sure to sample from the fresh seafood at the harbour. Some popular attractions in Volendam include:

Red Light District

The Red Light District is located in the city of Amsterdam. Lined with medieval alleyways, the Red Light District is locally known as De Wallen. The area is southeast of the Central Station and is in close proximity to the neon-lit canals of Oudezijds Voorburgwal that run from the Grimburgwal to the Sea Wall. Merging into the Oudezijds Kolk.

 

Heineken brewery

At the Heineken Brewery you can expect an informative and interactive experience. With several different brewery tours, either way it’s a guarantee that you’ll have a brilliant time. This is a must to visit when touring Amsterdam, as the Heineken Brewery isn’t your usual brewery museum.

Part of the experience is a walk through on how beer is created. What’s more, after the tour and activities, be sure to make your way to the rooftop to enjoy your Heineken drinks overseeing mesmerising views of the beautiful city.

Anne Frank’s House

A self-guide tour, at the Anne Frank’s House will take you back to the devastating past when Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis. The rooms in which the family hid is perfectly preserved and displays the harsh reality of life for Jews during the Holocaust. Just being able to walk in the very rooms where the family lived is moving and offers great insight into the strength and plight of those who were oppressed. Otto Frank did a great job at documenting what the family and those who perished endured. The main feature of course is the diary of Anne Frank, well known for its raw truths. Every single page of her diary is in a glass display for visitors to view.

Ensure that you order your tickets online as you can expect quite a long queue, as queuing visitors only enter after 3 p.m.

Restaurants in Leidse Pleins

The Italian

Visit this restaurant for what could be the best pizza you’ve tasted, well at least in Amsterdam.

Where: Bosboom Toussainstraat 29

Brasserie Blazer

A culinary journey through some classic French dishes in a relaxed setting.

Where: Lijnbaansgracht 190

Café George

For fast yet amazingly good food, head over to Café George, which is well known for serving delicious steak fries and risotto.

Where: Leidsegracht 84

Buffet van Odette

As beautiful and lively as the Leidse Pleins is, the Buffer van Odette gives you a break from the hustle and bustle.

Where: Prinsengracht 598

The Hofbräuhaus München Experience

Munich is known for an abundant supply of local beer. After the Oktoberfest, the Hofbräuhaus München claims the title of the most iconic tourist attraction in Munich. While this beer hall is a popular tourist attraction, management reports that half of its visitors are in fact regular customers. Some of these beer lovers are even luckier to store their personal mugs in the padlocked cages on the first floor of the beer house.

After a commission established that Munich have its own brewery in the late 1500s, the Hofbräuhaus München was soon founded. This brewery has been moved on several occasions over of the years and under the power of different dukes. However, by 1897, the beer hall we know today opened its doors to tourist and locals alike.

The Hofbräuhaus München is renowned by the city of Munich and is operated by Michael and Wolfgang Sperger, whose parents were the previous landlords of the Hofbräuhaus München.

Unforgettable beer experience

 

Eat and drink

This iconic beer house can host up to 3500 beer drinkers and diners simultaneously. On busy days, it comes as no surprise that the Hofbräuhaus München sees up to 30 000 guests.

Depending on the atmosphere you’re looking for, there is a spot that is sure to suit your every mood. Of course, the Hofbräuhaus München is more than its long history and great beer, if you’re looking to grab a bite or have a casual meal make your way to the main floor. In addition, on the main floor a cool gift shop has awesome souvenirs such as traditional stoneware beer mugs as well as Hofbräuhaus t-shirts and trinkets on sale.

On the second floor, a more refined ambience, most appealing to those travelling from western countries such as the USA.

If you’re looking to join in on festivities the Bavarian way, be sure to go to the top floor, the Festive Hall is where the Bavarian Evening is hosted. Here, a buffet is on offer, including a folklore show. Considering it is Europe after all, the price sure is reasonable bearing in mind how delicious the food is. You’ll get the likes of crisp-skinned roast pork, sausages, grilled chicken, and a Munich traditional dish – apple strudel, all included in the buffet. What’s more, when dining during warmer evenings there is outdoor seating under the tree-shaded beer garden which is able to seat at least 400 people.

Beer garden

One of the most popular beers to be bought at the beer hall is the Hofbrau Original lager or Helles. For a more traditional taste, be sure to try the Dunkles, however, it is slightly stronger than the regular varieties. If you’re enthusiastic about trying new types of beer, be sure to taste the strongest beer, the Oktoberfestbier and Maibock, which has holds approximately 7.2 percent alcohol. If you’re travelling alone, the taproom and beer garden may feel too much as it can get a little crowded. Considering that it is compulsory to share tables, introverts might find this an unpleasant experience. So if this is not for you avoid it and visit the beer hall outside the normal meal hours or after 10pm instead. However, I do feel like this is an awesome way to meet new people particularly if you’re travelling solo.

Location and nearby attractions

The Hofbräuhaus München is located a walking distance away from the Marienplatz, central square in the city centre of Munich.

What’s great about this iconic attraction is that it is open daily, which includes major holidays such as Christmas Day. Operating hours are from 9 a.m. to 11.30 p.m.

C The World’s Europe tour includes a visit to the Hofbräuhaus München where you get to spend the evening at this traditional German Beer Keller.

Travelling alone: tips for a spectacular solo journey.

So you’ve decided to venture on a solo journey, as you haven’t found a suitable travel buddy. It’s a scary feeling. Many fear loneliness. Stress no more, here’s a brief guideline to traversing beautiful destinations without a friend to tag along.

Trail hiking in Europe

Staying safe

Safety can be a huge concern when travelling alone. And while the saying goes “safety in numbers”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’d be at risk. There are many ways you can avoid being singled out. No need to fret as being alone means that you can easily fit into a group without drawing attention to yourself.

Alone but never lonely

One of the biggest fears is the feeling of loneliness. This is probably one of the main reasons why people put off travelling. But when wandering through magnificent destinations such as Europe, you’ll find natural meeting spots, especially during peak season. Here you can meet and interact with people from all around the world.

Eating out

Eating out is another way to interact with locals. It’s about tasting different foods and exploring a new destination. And so, it’s a great excuse to get out and experience the culture. Even when you’re dining alone, hopping around from restaurant to the next will prove fun.

Photography mission

Keep busy by making it your mission to photograph as much of your trip as possible. By photographing as you tour, you’ll be capturing precious memories. When you return home, you’ll have plenty photos to show family and friends.

4 Ingenious Tips to Prevent Losing Your Luggage

Imagine, you watch the luggage carousel rotate and suddenly you realise you can’t locate your luggage. No one wants to spend a few days without clothes, particularly in a foreign country. Here are a few tips to prevent your luggage from going M.I.A.

Luggage on carousel

Get luggage that looks different from everyone else’s 

Smart travellers buy bags that don’t look like the rest. Avoid buying bags that are in plain colours such as black as you won’t be able to easily spot it at the carousel. Instead, go for a colour or even a print that stands out from the rest.

If you already have luggage, simply tie a ribbon on the handle or get colourful handles to easily distinguish your luggage from the others.

Remove old tags

Yes, it’s totally human to forget to remove old tags from luggage. Make a mental note to remove old tags from your bags before adding your new tags. It’s possible that your old tags might be confused for your current location. What’s more, always check that the airport code on the new tag is correct.

Check in your luggage the right time

Checking in your luggage within the right timeframe is essential. If it’s too early there’s a possibility that it would get stashed and forgotten about. If it’s too late, your luggage might not make it onto the plane. Airlines aren’t responsible for getting your luggage on the plane if it misses the flight because it was not checked in the right time frame then that onus falls on you.

Take pictures of your luggage

As your last line of defence and your luggage actually gets lost, take photos of the inside and outside of your bag. Even after you’ve taken the necessary precautions, there’s a possibility that your luggage could get lost. With the pictures, you can use as a reference when contacting the airline to assist with locating your luggage.

Weird but pretty cool festivals in Europe

While the Glastonbury Festival usually takes the limelight for festivals in Europe, there are many unusual festivals that few know about. Here’s a list of weird but awesome festivals to join on your next trip to Europe.

Notte Delle Luci, Italy

A simple village tradition of lighting candles every year has expanded to what we know today as the Notte Delle Luci festival in Italy. This festival has grown into a five-day experience where mind-blowing lights can be seen across the entire city.  The festival commences annually on the 5th July. A devotion to saint Santa Domenica who is famous for saving the people from a plague in 1600.

While the festival has come a long way from just lighting candles, the craftsmanship and traditions are as strong as it has ever been.

The luminaire structures are a highlight of the even and it is sure to your breath away. These structures are built with wood and carpets with LED lights. The awe-inspiring beauty of this celebration must be experienced. Immersing yourself in the festivity is the only way to understand and fully appreciate the significance of this celebration.

Vlaggetjesdag, Netherlands (Flag Day)

Better known as Vlaggetjesdag, the festivities that take place at the Flag Day festival is spectacular. One of the biggest festivals in The Hague, the lively music and a variety of flags waving in the wind brings together people from all across the country. On this day, local youth proudly don the unique traditional attire of the Netherlands.

A big part of the festival is celebrating the catch of the new herring of the year, which is better known as the “New Dutch”. The catch is the auctioned between May and June, with the proceeds donated to charity.

Up-Helly-Aa – St Ninian’s Isle, Scotland

North of Scotland, budget travellers and those looking for new and unusual experience should attend the Up-Helly-Aa Viking Festival

Every year on the last Tuesday of January, the Up-Helly-Aa festival takes place. The reason for this fantastic festival is the celebration of Shetland’s history as well as to celebrate the triumphant demonstration of the skills and spirit of the islanders. Expect about fifty helmeted Vikings and a burning Norse galley.

Some of the highlights that you can look forward to are:

  • Longboat burning
  • Partying with the locals
  • Appreciate the awe-inspiring scenery of Shetland Islands
  • Experience traditional music sessions
  • Be sure to visit the St Andrews, ‘Home of Golf’

Burning the Clocks, England

On the 21st December, the strange yet exciting Burning the Clocks festival takes place. This unique community event is well known for bringing the entire city together.

At the festival locals create their own paper and willow lanterns, using kits and then finally parading through the city. The lanterns get thrown into the burning bonfire as a token celebrating the end of a year.

At the end of the night, the celebration continues at Patterns, Marine Parade where you should expect the party of the year. Expect live bands to keep you going through the night as you party with locals and tourists alike.

Calcio Storico, Italy

Originated in the 16th century, the Calico Storico festival takes place in Florence annually. The festivities consist of soccer, rugby and wrestling. For each game, there are four teams dedicated to the historical neighbourhoods of the city. The four teams include:

  • Santa Croce
  • Santo Spirito
  • Santa Maria Novella
  • San Giovanni.

The game is setup at the Piazza Santa Croce where the square is covered in dirt as a way of preserving the original setting during the 16th century. Benches and stands are setup for spectators to enjoy the game as well.

The festival happens every year early June, with the final match hosted on the 24th June.

However, it doesn’t end there. At the end of the day, celebrations end off along the banks of Arno where marvellous fireworks are launched from the Piazzale Michelangelo.

While the cost of tickets varies from year to year, the tickets generally go from 22 to 53 euro. Tickets for the festival can be booked online from as early as May.