Canada

April 13, 2017

Easter Traditions Around the World

Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection from the dead. The origins of the word “Easter” are largely unknown but there are several common theories. Some claim that “Easter” comes from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring and fertility. Others account the origins to hebdomada alba, white week, in Latin, for people who wore white when they were baptized. Easter is an entire season of celebration and observance, from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Monday. Easter is celebrated all around the world and you can take a family vacation in one of these countries to take in the traditions!

Italy: Pasqua

There aren’t set traditions in Italy. It’s more about where in Italy you are that sets the stage for the traditions and celebration you will encounter. The Vatican is a mecca for Catholics and all pilgrims who wish to attend the Pope’s mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica on Good Friday. After the evening’s mass, the Pope goes on a candlelit procession at Palatine Hill stopping fourteen times along the way to remember the walk of Christ and pray, ending at the Colosseum. Mass is held every day from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday. Another tradition in Rome is the food that is traditionally served: pizza sbattula (sponge cake), hard boiled eggs, ham and salami, and colomba (dove-shaped cake).

Peru: La Semana Santa (Holy Week)

One of the most well-known Easter celebrations takes place in Cuzco. The city’s celebration circles around Señor de los Temblores, Lord of the Earthquakes. The King of Spain had sent a statue of Christ to Cuzco to convert the locals. The statue was placed inside the church in Cuzco but during a major earthquake in 1650, the locals removed the statue from the church and the earthquake stopped. Since then, the statue has remained in the Plaza de Armas as a symbol of their Savior. One of the celebrations falls on Holy Monday when there is a six-hour procession around the plaza. There is mass during the rest of Holy Week. Another Easter tradition involves food as it represents a time of rejoicing and gratitude after an extended period of fasting. On Good Friday, is it common to eat twelve main dishes like soup, fish, potatoes, and dessert like mazamorra.

Canada: Easter

Easter in Canada is much like that in the United States. The celebration of Easter is preceded by Lent, during which Christians practice penance that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. In French Canadian communities, Lent is interrupted by Mid-Lent. This is mostly celebrated in Quebec and Acadia. Otherwise, Easter is celebrated in the same manner as other Western countries.

Canadians mark the holiday with family gatherings and food. Lamb is a common dish, as well as ham and hot cross buns. Consumption of the buns dates to the British tradition of making the cross buns incised with a cross as a symbol of Christ. In modern times, icing is used to mark the cross on top of the buns. There are many symbols of modern Easter that have more to do with the beginning of Spring than with the religious holiday itself such as egg hunts, the Easter Bunny, chocolate, and more.

The messages of rejoice and gratitude are the same while celebrations in these countries can be different. This is a time of the year to celebrate new life and a fresh beginning of the season. You can travel to any one of these places and see these celebrations and traditions up close and personal. Seeing traditions play-out in a different culture is one of the best parts about travel!



February 2, 2016

Affordable Family Vacations: Big Change for Thailand, Ireland, and Canada

It isn’t often that things become cheaper but the quality stays the same, or in this case gets even better. We’ve updated our itineraries for Thailand and Ireland to show more of the places that you want to see with more fun and adventures along the way. As the US Dollar has gotten stronger in the global economy, specifically against the Euro, the Thai Baht, and the Canadian Dollar, and we wanted to pass any savings we could on to our traveling families. After adjusting for the strength of the US Dollar, some of these trips are as much as $800 lower per person. Thailand, Ireland, and Canada are three very different destinations, all special in their own way, that all make for a great affordable family vacation!

Thailand

affordable family vacation to Thailand

This is a country that is great for all travelers, but older kids tend to appreciate the cultural differences more than our younger travelers. Visiting temples, participating in traditional alms-giving with monks, and meeting hill tribe villagers are just a few of the ways that cultural exchanges take the driver’s seat on this recently-more-affordable family vacation option. Everyone also enjoys fun activities like jungle hikes, zip-lining, relaxing on the beach, and exploring the cities of Chiang Mai and Bangkok. This is an awesome adventure in Southeast Asia.

Ireland

affordable Ireland family vacation

The Emerald Isle is a great spot to take an family vacation. This is particularly great for younger travelers that are starting to get their exploration experience in.  You’ll see Ireland in ways that you never thought you would— ride a bike through the Slieve Mish Mountains on the Dingle Peninsula and learn how to sail in Kinsale Harbor. Kids will also enjoy hearing tales of pirates, taking a friendly ghost tour around Kinsale, and exploring the star shaped Charles Fort. Plus, part of this adventure is staying in your very own castle. If that isn’t enough of a reason to go to Ireland than we don’t know what is!

Canada

affordable canada family vacation

Our neighbor to the North is home to an incredible stretch of the Rocky Mountains. This adventure is great for families that like to be more active than usual on their vacations. Spend time exploring scenic Banff and Yoho National Parks. Hike to Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks to see this awe inspiring region by foot. The adventurers in the family will also enjoy rafting down the Kicking Horse River. There’s no reason not to vacation up North for an affordable family vacation that’s close to home!

These are all just a snapshot of the fun and excitement that can come on your next family vacation.



June 12, 2015

Four Unlikely Places for Great Wildlife Viewing

Taking time to explore the wildlife in countries can be an amazing experience. We share this world with beautiful creatures that live in the forests, jungles, mountains, and oceans. Seeing animals in their natural environments is breathtaking. Once you have seen some of these places, the importance of conservation efforts and responsible travel can’t be ignored. Viewing wildlife on a family vacation isn’t just good in the Galapagos and Tanzania. Here are four places that aren’t traditional destinations for wildlife and they are all part of North America!

Baja

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Baja is the western most part of Mexico, just to the south of California. If ocean and marine life is of the slightest interest to your family, then Baja must be on your bucket list of places to visit. Baja is the best of the best when it comes to life below the sea. The Sea of Cortez is home to the largest variety of whales in the world and every year gray whale mothers and their calves migrate to Magdalena Bay where they come close enough to visitors that you can touch them! This isn’t even to mention the thousands of fish that swim in the waters- and sea lions!

Panama

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When you neighbor Costa Rica it’s hard to compete in the wildlife department but, Panama does very well. It is home to over 200 mammals, 200 reptiles, 150 amphibians, and 900 birds (the most of any Central American country). Darien National Park in Panama is one of the best places to go bird watching in the world. A few of the birds that people travel to see are the harpy eagle, quetzals, macaws, parrots and toucans. Panama also has a great monkey population in spider monkeys, white-faced capuchins, squirrel monkeys, and the Geoffroy’s tamarin which can’t be found anywhere else in Central America.

 

Cuba

When thinking of Cuba, it is hard to think of it as a place great for a wildlife adventure. But the truth is that Cuba has the most animal species in all of the Caribbean. One of the more fascinating animals in Cuba is the bee hummingbird. Many believe that this is the smallest bird in the world, just over 2 inches long and weighs less than an ounce! The locals say it is a symbol of love and call it a “zunzun.” Cuba is also home to crocodiles, flamingos, butterfly bats, reef sharks, and the emerald humming bird and much more!

Canada

Big Horned Sheep

While hiking in the Canadian Rockies you are bound to see some incredible and massive animals. Numbering in the thousands, there are plenty of opportunities to see elk. These creatures are majestic and you may want to get as close as you can to them, but remember they are wild and you need to stay at least a couple of hundred feet away. Your family will also have the chance to see mountain goats and bighorn sheep in action climbing the sides of mountains! There is also a scarce population of wolves and cougars that are rarely seen. Canada is truly a wild adventure and these animals only help add to the ambiance!

Taking your family vacation to any of these destinations is bound to be filled with excitement and great wildlife. Get out there and see the beauty that nature has to offer!



November 5, 2014

Glacial Lakes

By: Beth O’Donnell

You know that gorgeous green-blue color of the lakes in all the pictures from the Canadian Rockies?   It is even MORE beautiful in person!  And the color comes from the sediment of the glaciers, called “glacier flour”.  What happens is glacial erosion causes tiny particles of bedrock to enter the meltwater (water released by melting glacial ice).  This enters the rivers which flow into the glacial lake and create colors ranging from milky white to bright turquoise.  This phenomenon is particularly observed in the Canadian Rockies.  See this for yourself on our newest itinerary – beginning in July 2015!

lake with trees

Lake