Antoni Gaudí played a huge role in Barcelona’s history. He was one of the most famous figures of Catalan culture and world architecture, and spent over 40 years designing the Temple of the Sagrada Familia – truly an astonishing piece of architecture which is still in the process of being completed.
Other marvellous Gaudí creations include Colonia Güell, La Pedrera and Casa Vicens, among others.
Though it has a beautiful city and architecture, Barcelona also has lush greenery that allow you to take a breather from the city chaos. Some must-see parks include:
Certainly a highlight on the famous 1,2km-long street in Barcelona, Las Ramblas Street, is La Boqueria Food Market. Get lost in all the colourful flavours, fresh produce, flowers, and more. Once you’ve had enough of food, take a guided walking tour down the street and discover lots of lost tidbits that tell the history of this renowned street.
You can’t visit Barcelona and miss out on it’s most famous dish – paella! Paella is made of rice, saffron, chicken, or seafood, and cooked and served in a large shallow pan. You’ll find a great paella easily, but one of our favourite spots is at La Palmera, close to La Boqueria Market.
Tapas is small appetizers or snacks typical in Spanish cuisine. Though it is simple, it is delicious and actually easy to make: it can be whipped up from almost any ingredients (often left-overs) and can be served hot or cold.
FC Barcelona’s headquarters, situated at Camp Nou Stadium, is the heart and soul of the Catalonian people. You’ll be impressed – even if you aren’t a soccer fan.
1. Praia da Falésia, Algarve: Praia da Falesia is renowned for the red and white cliffs which tower above the sand. What makes this beach great is not only that the cliffs block much of the northerly wind that often blows in the low season, or the bits of greenery along the cliffside, but perhaps mainly that it is such a clean beach. Praia da Falésia has consistently earned its Blue Flag Beach title.
Another plus point is that space is never a problem – the beach stretches over six kilometres. You won’t be getting dirty looks from beachgoers as you plant your umbrella as chances are slim that you’ll be blocking anyone’s view.
2. Praia da Marinha, Algarve: You’ve probably seen this beach before – perhaps not in person, but definitely on a TV ad. Praia da Marinha is often referred to as one of the best beaches in Europe with it’s turquoise waters (ideal for snorkelling), steep limestone cliffs and magnificent rock formations. Another highlight is that it is fairly difficult to get to, meaning less crowds.
3. Benagil Sea Cave, West Algarve: If exclusivity is high on your list when it comes to beaches, your best bet is to frequent a beach that you can only access from the water. Benagil sea cave is a watery pantheon situated next to Benagil beach with sunlight streaming in through a hole in its domed ceiling onto the tiny beach. The only way to get there is to swim or kayak. If this spot gets too crowded for your liking, you can swim or kayak 100 metres further to Praia da Corredoura, which has another beautiful sea cave.
4. Praia Dona Ana, Lagos: The Praia Dona Ana’s modest beach is sheltered by lofty sandstone cliffs and aquamarine waters softly stroke its golden sands. The only access to Dona Ana beach, however, is via a long flight of steps that makes the beach inaccessible for some people with mobility challenges.
5. Praia de Porto de Mos, Lagos: Praia de Porto de Mós is another large sandy beach and has some fun waves for surfers and bodyboarders. With facilities along the beachfront, Praia de Porto Mos gets busy during the high season.
You’d be mistaken if you think Poland is all city and snow. The country actually has a very diverse nature including almost 800km of seashore, a few mountain chains, the only Central-European desert, Pustynia Błędowska, dunes in the Pomerania region, as well as wetlands and islands.
Poland is home to a myriad of World Heritage Sites and among these sites is the biggest castle in the world – Malbork Castle (143,591 square metres).
Did you know that the 150,000-hectare Białowieża Primeval Forest, which stretches over the Poland and Belarus border, is Europe’s last ancient forest? Not only that, but it is home to 800 of Europe’s heaviest land animals, the European bison.
Towards the end of summer, many Polish families have a tradition of heading into the forest to pick wild mushrooms. This way, children are taught how to distinguish between edible and poisonous mushrooms.
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The oldest restaurant in Europe, the “Piwnica Swidnicka”, is located in Wrocław and has been open since 1275. What makes it even cooler is that you can still eat there today!
One of the most rewarding and fun things to do in Switzerland is to hit a hiking trail. There are so many trails to choose from, it’s cheap and will give you photos and memories to get nostalgic about when you nibble on your Swiss choccies back home.
But why not spice up your hike by trekking with a llama if you’re in the Jungfraujoch region? Not only is a llama a cute, unusual addition to any hiking party, but it also acts as a mobile storage unit. Nifty.
You may not know it, but summer is actually the high season in many parts of Switzerland, for example, Interlaken. As the sun melts the snow on the mountains the rivers and gorges fill up masses of white water – perfect for rafting and canyoning activities. If you’re one for a bit more adrenaline-inducing activities, we’d recommend taking on the Lütschine River’s class III-IV rapids on a white-water rafting expedition in the Grindelwald valley.
While that’s all fun and games, everyone needs to sit back and relax at some point on their holiday. We can’t think of a better way than by lazing the day away in a thermal bath and spa, preferably surrounded by views of mountains.
Not like that. Get high as in 3,454 meters above sea level at the highest railway station in Europe, located in the Jungfrau Region. Some say that on a clear day at the station platform, you could even see as far as Italy, Germany, and France! The Jungfraujoch train winds around the towering Eiger and Mönch Mountains, snaking its way past Eismeer and Eigerwand stations, all the while leaving your mouth hanging open at the awe-inspiring views.
The beauty of Switzerland is certainly in the eye of the beholder. And while it’s a definite must to plan to go sightseeing, skiing, river rafting and all the rest of it, something that’ll no doubt solidify this glorious place in your memory is watching a sunrise. Find out from local where there are great viewpoints, get up bright and early, grab a cup of coffee, and head out to mindfully appreciate this stunning piece of the planet.
Istanbul is world-renowned for its array of spices and people come from far to roam the markets. The Spice Bazaar in Istanbul is probably the most popular. It’s an indoor market consisting of 88 shops where mounds of colourful spices share a space with dried fruits and teas for sale.
One of the most scenic geographical sites Turkey has to offer is Cappadocia. A semi-arid landscape with chimney-like sandstone structures, worn away by the elements, pops out of the earth. Many of them have also been converted into cave hotels.
Cappadocia is the place you probably drool over every other week on Instagram with someone sitting on a rooftop with a drink in hand overlooking the landscape with hundreds of hot air balloons floating in the background.
Turkey boasts an incredible coastline – also referred to as the Turkish Riviera, or the Turquoise Coast, which stretches over Alanya, Antalya, Kemer, Fethiye, Marmaris, Bodrum, Kuşadası, and Çeşme.
Beaches and bars abound and there is certainly no better way to holiday than frequently taking a plunge into the magnificent Mediterranean.
Throughout Turkey you’ll find a mix of ancient ruins, lavish palaces, and extravagant churches and other places of worship that’ll have your mouth hang open in pure amazement. In many towns there are also underground towns magical enough to make any history lover’s heart sing.
Where better to rest and relax than at a Turkish hammam? Sounds a bit weird? A Turkish hammam experience, simply explained, starts by relaxing in a heated steam room. You then move to a hotter room with the purpose of making your body sweat out the toxins. The experience ends with a quick splash of cold water to abruptly awaken the senses.
No it’s, not just pizza, and no, Mario around the corner in Malmesbury doesn’t do it as good as they do it in Italy. You cannot travel to Italy without trying a good ol’ Italian pizza.
Pasta is certainly a staple starch for Italians and the reason you need to try a pasta when you’re there is because they are so particular about how they prepare it. Italians take great pride in making a delicious pasta and they don’t even break a sweat doing it – it’s second nature.
If the pasta is not al-dente it get chucked away (okay, not always, but sometimes) and it is always prepared with fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. Our favourite ones include spaghetti alla carbonara, cacio e pepe, pasta alla norma, pasta al forno, and lasagne.
In many countries, risotto seems like a really fancy dish which takes hours to prepare. Not for the Italians.
In fact, it’s often a go-to meal because it requires basic ingredients that most Italians always have in their homes – rice (Arborio or Carneroli varieties), onion or celery, stock and then whatever else you have in the fridge, be it carrots, peas, or mushrooms. It’s almost hard to believe that those simple ingredients can result in such a creamy, luxurious dish!
When in Italy, you simply have to try a Sicilian speciality called arancini – aka freshly-fried rice balls. You can find these starch bombs in bars, restaurants, and market stalls all over Italy, but the best ones will certainly be in Sicily.
The Sicilian arancino (which translates to “small orange”) is quite large, and either conical or circular in shape. It is typically filled with ragu and some sort of cheese, with optional veggies like peas, mushrooms, or eggplant. If you want one that’ll make your toes curl, make sure it’s freshly fried when you order it.
Not much to say here… If you don’t eat a gelato on your trip to Italy, you may as well have stayed at home. Because did you really go to Italy if you didn’t eat gelato?
When seeking out fresh, artisanal gelato, keep an eye out for a couple of things: before purchasing, inspect the color (does it look natural or neon?). Consider whether the fruit flavours are in season (they should be). Check if there is an ingredient list on display. Also, keep in mind that artisanal gelato is slow-churned, though now usually stored in covered, silver, round containers. So steer clear of those trays of wavy-topped gelato containers with gelato so neon bright you need sunglasses to look at it.
The deceptively simple Tiramisu is probably the country’s most beloved dessert. Legend has it that this delectable no-bake parfait, featuring alternating layers of soft, sweetened mascarpone cheese and coffee-soaked ladyfingers, was first made in the 1960s in Treviso by Roberto Linguanotto, owner of Le Beccherie restaurant and his apprentice, Francesca Valori, whose maiden name was Tiramisu.
Even though it may be simple to make, not everyone can make a good Tiramisu. You can’t go wrong by ordering from Fermi deli in Treviso (+- 30min from Venice).
Book your spot on our next Italian tour in April 2019 and experience this divine food explosion for yourself!
Travellers who like to discover a country through savouring its food will fall in love with Thailand on a whim.
Bursting with fresh, local ingredients like lemongrass, chillies, vegetables and seafood, among others, we have yet to find a traveller who doesn’t like Thai food.
Thai people are some of the friendliest, warm and welcoming people.
In between the draped electrical cables, thousands of cars, scooters skyscrapers and Tuk-Tuks in crowded cities and towns like Bangkok and Phuket, is the rural heartland of Thailand with its rice paddies, tropical forests, villages, mountains, waterfalls, beaches and islands.
The ragged limestone cliffs of Krabi invites the beginner and avid rock climber alike to explore its nooks and crannies. And if heights are not your thing, you can simply admire the cliffs from the turquoise waters.
Bangkok with its unending shopping options and hip and happening nightlife is something to experience. The same goes for Phuket. These cities never seem to sleep, offering lots of fun and excitement for visitors.
Have you been to Thailand before? What was your favourite place? We’re headed to Thailand in March 2019 and would love to invite you along!
It’s incredible how, once you’ve experienced a new country, you realise that the ‘world’ you’ve been living in is really, really small.
You might think you’ve been keeping up with world news, current events, the Kardashians, or whatever else, but still actually have no idea what is really going on outside the comfort zone of your own borders, TV, PC or mobile screen.
There is a big world out there and it’s sad that many people have no desire to travel whatsoever or aren’t interested in learning from other people and cultures. They are the ones missing out because there is nothing more enriching than that.
Even though cultures may differ in extreme ways, people are still people. Whether it’s catching the bus, sitting in a café or waiting for a train; watching people is probably the most interesting activity there is (not in a creepy way, of course).
It’s fascinating not only because it can be hilarious, but also because you realise that language, religion, sport, geographical borders, food and drink preferences, and habits aside, people are still people – desiring relationships, friendships, conversations, humour or even just a smile (once again, not in a creepy way).
Your home country, with all its issues, isn’t the only one with problems. We often hear that we should be thankful because, you know, “there is always someone else worse off than you.”
That is actually a truth you’ll only grasp fully once you’ve travelled. We’re not saying we only see people worse off than ourselves if and when we travel, but once you travel, you realise that spreading bad PR about your own country isn’t as easy as when you’re actually in your own country.
Language barriers, food, public transport: around every corner you’ll find yourself a challenge. It’s up to you how you’re going to overcome it. Travelling is not for the faint-hearted – and that’s exactly why the faint hearted should do it.
There’s more often than not some truth in stereotypes, so be ready for them. The best thing you can do when encountering a stereotype is to not get annoyed, but rather let them humour you. It’s an added, and usually funny, experience.
When travelling, it’s very much up to you what you get out of the experience. Learning some basic words and phrases in the local language will enrich not only your travel experience but your life in general.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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 is a wonderful city all-year round. But at Christmas time, it becomes alive with pure winter wonderland magic.
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.
Did you know that the Hungarian capital, Budapest, was voted the most affordable Christmas Market destination in Europe by the British Daily Mail?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
White Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Muscadelle
Red Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec
White Wines: Chardonnay
Red Wines: Pinot Noir, Gamay (in Beaujolais)
White Wines: Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier
Red Wines: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
Low-income residents are allowed to take their pet to the vet for free once a year.
We know what you might be thinking… really? Sardines?
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…).
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Typical aperitivo drinks include Aperol spritz, Campari spritz, Prosecco, vermut, Negroni, Americano.
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.
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.
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 villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore make up the Cinque Terre.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
Visit this restaurant for what could be the best pizza you’ve tasted, well at least in Amsterdam.
Where: Bosboom Toussainstraat 29
A culinary journey through some classic French dishes in a relaxed setting.
Where: Lijnbaansgracht 190
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.