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Portugal is one of the most beautiful places in the world and a trip to this breathtaking country should be on your must-see list. Why?

Beaches: With its crystal clear waters, eye dropping cliffs and perfect sands, Portugal is home to some of the most beautiful beaches, including Praia da Marinha. You should also spend time at São Miguel Island, one of the largest islands in the Azores archipelago. Here you’ll find lakes, cliffs and hot springs to explore.

Speaking of exploring, try some diving and yachting at the Azores, a group of nine islands Portugal that also includes Vila Franca do Campo, a town that is surrounded by orange and pineapple plantations.

Castles: From their history to their amazing architecture, castles are always a sight to see and Portugal is filled with many amazing structures. One of the most popular castles is The Castle of the Moors, located in Sintra and hilltop medieval castle that is the oldest in Portugal, dating back to 7th-century AD. You will also want to travel to Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon, to see the São Jorge Castle all lit up.

Palaces: If you prefer a palace over a castle, then you must see The National Palace of Queluz and its historical gardens. The building itself is spectacular and you can tour the inside.

Lisbon: Speaking of Lisbon, take a few days to tour this city and make sure you see the Belém Tower or the Tower of St Vincent, walk the cobblestone streets, and take some time to explore The Lisbon Oceanarium, the largest indoor aquarium in Europe, located in the Parque das Nações, which was the exhibition grounds for the Expo ’98. Then there’s also Baixa, Lisbon’s downtown area where you can shop till you drop at Lisbon’s oldest and traditional shops. Here you’ll find jewelry and other crafts.

Romance: If you’re interested in Portugal’s romantic side, then you need to visit Coimbra, which is considered the country’s most romantic riverfront city because of its medieval churches and streets.

While here you must visit Conímbriga, one of the largest Roman settlements that was excavated in Portugal. It was classified as a National Monument in 1910. You should also visit the Peneda-Gerês National Park which is known as Gerês. It’s the only national park in Portugal which was created on May 8, 1971.

Contact your travel agent to arrange a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Portugal.

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Visiting Provence

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Provence is located in the southeastern region of France, approximately eight hours away from the city of Love, Paris. If you’re in France, it’s worth the trip over to see Provence, the beautiful area that was documented famously in Peter Mayle’s book, A Year in Provence. The author tells his journey of moving to a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs.

Provence is a nice place to visit and, just like Mayle, you may even want to live there and there’s good reason why. First let’s start with the amazing produce and food in the Provencal weekly markets where you can find fish, bread, pastries, olive oils, wine and fruits. Then there’s the beauty of the area, with its lavender fields and sunflowers, olive groves, and vineyards. Speaking of beauty, you must see the Senanque Abbey, Gordes but you must visit this particular attraction between June and August when the lovely lavenders are in bloom. Here you can see the lavender tours and it’s been said that lavender is the soul of Provence, and its Valensole Plateau where you can see most of the lavender fields.

This beauty has been an attraction to some of the most amazing writers and artists of our time including Picasso, Matisse and Chagall.

In Aix-en-Provence, it is Cezanne’s life and work that is celebrated at his former studio.

There’s so much more to see in the area including Pope’s Palace, Avignon, also called Palais des Papes, which was the residence for six popes and is one of the world’s largest and most important gothic buildings.

Provence is also about the arts and it is festival season in the summer, so be sure to catch one while you are there too. You have your pick, including Festival d’Avignon, Orange’s celebration of opera, Choregies d’Orange; and a citywide international photography exhibition in Arles, the Rencontres.

Whatever the reason is that you are visiting Provence, France doesn’t matter. You’re here enjoying the beauty, food, culture and art that the area offers. Contact your travel agent to arrange your vacation details.

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This 200-square mile island is one of the largest of the Mariana Islands, an overseas territory of the United States, and is jam packed with millions of visitors every year.

It might be a popular tourist attraction, but its Chamorro residents are laid-back, so make sure you say Håfa Adai, which means greetings, go at a slower pace and enjoy the sites and attractions of the area.

Keep in mind, however, that when you arrive, it’s probably going to be hot – and humid. If you’re looking for cooler weather, visit between January and March. To cool off, head to the coral sand of Tumon Beach, but you might have a hard time finding a place to put your toes in the sand. It’s the most popular attraction on the island, especially with its Underwater World waterpark that has a 300-foot long walk through tunnel aquarium.

For unforgettable views of Tumon Beach and the island, head up to Two Lovers Point, a cliff-side lookout point, which plunges 400 feet into Pacific Ocean. The point is named after two young lovers who were forbidden by their families to be together, so they leapt to their death together from the cliff.

If you want to relax on a quieter beach, try FaiFai Powder Sand Beach — check out the limestone cave while you’re there – or the more secluded Ritidian and Talofofo Bay.

While in Guam, do that the Chamorro people do and immerse yourself in their culture. There is the Gef Pa’go village where each hut in his living museum is staffed by a Chamorro who teaches traditional crafts, arts and cooking, including how to husk a coconut to make coconut oil and coconut candy, and how to weave sleeping mats and make rope from coconut leaves and other organic materials.

There are many festivals held each year, including a procession in honor of Santa Marian Kamalen, the island’s patron saint, on December 8 each year. Catholics spill on to the streets of Hagåtña to celebrate their faith and culture.

While you’re in Guam, you should take a sunset cruise around the island, swim with the fishes or the dolphins, enjoy the fire dancers at a dinner show and play around. There’s plenty to do, such as paddle boarding, kayaking, beach volleyball, fishing, snorkeling and hiking.

For more information on Guam or to organize a trip to this magnificent island, contact your travel agent.  

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Top Honeymoon Hotels

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Looking for the perfect place to spend your honeymoon? The choices around the world are endless and the decision as to where to stay can be overwhelming, especially when you have so many other wedding details to take care of.

To make your selection just a little easier, here are just a few of the best honeymoon hotels in the country.

Shangri-La Hotel: The definition of the word Shangri-La is a fictional land of peace and perpetual youth, but if Shangri-la were a real place, it would be this hotel in Paris. The Shangri-La Hotel has the most amazing, stunning, unbelievable view of the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine and should be the only reason to put this hotel on the top of your list. It truly puts the romance in your honeymoon. But if that’s not enough for you, then perhaps enjoying your meals in a two Michelin-starred restaurant or sleeping in one of the most opulent rooms of this elegant hotel will make you feel like honeymoon royalty.

Conrad Bora Bora Nui: In another part of the world, you’ll find another paradise in Bora Bora. Here, the Conrad Bora Bora Nui is brand new, but it already ranks as one of the most beautiful places you can enjoy your first few days as a married couple. It’s located in a private cove on Motu To’opua, and you can stay in a bungalow that straddles the water or dine in a lounge with a glass floor. Pamper yourself at the spa or enjoy the infinity pool, mini golf and water activities. Do we even have the mention that you could just sit on the soft sand and watch the beautiful colorful seas?

Amangiri: Some of the most beautiful honeymoon escapes are found right here in the United States. This one, in Canyon Point, Utah, is a perfect hideaway that’s tucked right in the canyons of the American Southwest. The views of the desert and rock formations are absolutely stunning.  Once the wedding is over, the Amangiri can help the couple to relax and focus inward with a 25,000-square-foot spa that works on the Navajo principles of earth, wind, fire and water. Here you can enjoy massages, scrubs, wraps and flotation therapy.

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Visiting a Coffee Plantation

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travel benefits by designIt’s your morning cup of Joe, your java, cup of mud, and maybe even your Rocket Fuel. Whatever you call your coffee, it is one of the most popular beverages in the world. If you like the drink so much that you want to see a coffee plantation up close, there are a few trips you can take for a tour and a lesson.

First, head on over to the Hawaiian islands, where there are many coffee plantations that offer complimentary tours, such as the Kauai Coffee company and the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. The Kona Coffee Living History Farm participates in the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival in November that includes a pageant, farm tours and art exhibits.

Coffee production is a huge part of Costa Rica’s history and here you can explore its production. You’ll see the coffee blossom from little seed to fruit and how the pulp is removed and the coffee is made. There are tours of Doka Estate, Cafe Monteverde and the Don Juan Coffee Tour, as well as a tour of the 640-acre Espiritu Santo’s Arabica coffee plantation located in Naranjo. At the Doka Estate, for example, you will learn about every stage of the coffee making process, including how to harvest by hand. You’ll see the 121-year old water mill and get a tour of the 478-acre estate.

On the island of Jamaica, it’s all about the coffee, mon! Okay, it’s about the rum too, but coffee is a huge part of the island, especially with the majestic Blue Mountains coffee plantation, where coffee is grown at more than 3,000 feet.

In Chiang Mai, Thailand, you must visit Doi Inthanon National Park, where you can walk around the Arabica coffee trees and then, of course, enjoy a cup. There’s also India’s Tamara Coffee Estate in Coorg, where you can actually stay on a coffee plantation and learn how to brew your own coffee with your own picked beans.

Last, but not least, coffee lovers can head down to São Paulo, Brazil and take a two-hour tour of the history of Brazilian coffee at the “Fazenda de Café” or book a trip to Antigua, Guatemala to tour the De la Gente coffee plantation. It’s a non-profit that grows 100% Arabica coffee on the slopes of volcanoes. You’ll walk through coffee fields and then brew your own on a hot cooking plate.

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Seattle, Washington

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travel benefits by designSeattle is a city on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest. It is a beautiful city surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests. It’s a central location with plenty for the traveler to do. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Pike Place Market: This marketplace is truly the heart and soul of Seattle. It is located in Seattle’s downtown and hosts a wide variety of goods for sale. Sellers are from the community, being local artisans, farmers, crafters, and small businesses. Sales from the market not only help keep the local businesses and sellers supported, but also help to preserve the historic buildings in the area. Try a variety of international foods from talented vendors or buy the ingredients to make your dishes at home. Visit the over 225 local and regional craftspeople to buy a sculpture, or perhaps some herbs.

Space Needle: One of the most iconic landmarks in the United States is the Space Needle. Serving as a staple image of Seattle, the building reaches 520 feet in height. Visitors to the Needle can take in the skyline of Seattle from that height, seeing sights such as Mt. Rainier, the Cascades, Elliott Bay, and, of course, the tiny cars, buses, trains, and people commuting below. You can view the city during the day or see some of the twinkling lights at night. The Needle offers free photo experiences before boarding the elevator up, a gift shop, and even SkyCity, a 500-foot high restaurant that serves a panoramic view of the city while you eat.

Woodland Park: Woodland Park is a beautiful stretch of land that has something for everyone. You can head to Woodland Zoo and see the butterfly garden, or visit the Woodland Rose Garden that was established in 1922. There are also tennis courts, play areas for children, a skate park, and lawn bowling. This park is also the perfect place for reserving a picnic. There are barbeques, grassy hills, woods, and pathways for a fun picnic and gathering. For those with pets, dogs are welcome, and some areas even allow them to explore without a leash.

Museum of Pop Culture: Otherwise known as MoPOP, this nonprofit museum digs its roots in rock-and-roll to explore the risks and ideas that craft popular culture. Some of the exhibits as of this article feature David Bowie, Star Trek, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Henson. Visit the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit to see imaginative and creative artworks featuring popular media franchises like Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, and World of Warcraft. For video game fans, try their Indie Game Revolution exhibit, which explores the work of over 40 independent video game creators. The Sound Room is a popular, soundproof room that allows adults and children alike to jam to an original tune or cover a classic.

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travel benefits by design
Barbados is a beautiful country with an interesting origin and a great place to visit.

A little history first: at about less than one million years old, the island was formed by a collision of the Atlantic crustal and Caribbean plates, combined with a volcanic eruption. Coral formed and rose the land, and eventually the two land masses merged into one. It was first settled around 1623 B.C. by Amerindians from Venezuela, knows as the Arawaks. They were eventually taken over by another Amerindian people, the Caribs.

The Portugese came to the island and gave it the name of Los Barbados, possibly named after the island’s fig trees, as the figs gave a beard-like appearance, and Los Barbados means “the bearded ones.” Barbados was occupied by the British in 1627 and remained a colony under British rule until 1961, and gained full independence in 1966.

In the past few decades, the island has been able to reclaim their heritage and their culture, and is a great place to visit to have a unique and refreshing experience. Here are some things you can do on your visit to Barbados.

Visit the beaches: Barbados is a very diverse land and culture, and the beaches are no exception. You can find the perfect beach for you, whether you are someone who is into active watersports or someone who just wants to lounge and relax. To the north are high cliffs and coral with occasional coves and waters. The east provides windy waves that are perfect for intense surfing trips. The south has the perfect waters for all kinds of watersports, including kitesurfing. The west has the calmest beaches of them all for those who are looking to relax and unwind.

Take a tour: There is a lot to see and do in Barbados. One way to take the hassle out of your plans is to take one of the many tours offered around the island. Some tours, dubbed “safari tours”, take you off-road to cliffs, parks, and to authentic Caribbean eateries. Many tours are also water-based, and include activities like swimming with the turtles. What better way to view the island than to tour it?

Discover the culture: Barbados has a rich culture that pulls from many countries and people around the world. There are many ways that you can soak in this culture and learn more about the local life. The Frangipani Art Gallery hosts a collection of art from local and regional artists that will give a glimpse into the island’s artistic side. Food and rum tours like the Lick De Bowl tour allow you to try and view the process of making some authentic Barbados cuisine. Historic sites such as the Newton Slave Burial Ground also allow you to take a reflective look on Barbados’ past.

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travel benefits by designAn English-speaking island in the Eastern Caribbean’s West Indies, Antigua is a beautiful destination to visit with wonderful weather that ranges from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s. It’s considered the sunniest island in the Eastern Caribbean, with only 45 inches of rainfall each year.  

The history of the island starts with explorer Christopher Columbus who named the island in 1493 in honor of the Virgin of the Old Cathedral, located in southern Spain. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Antigua, visit the Antigua Museum, which tells the story of Antigua and its sister island Barbuda from their geological birth through the present day. Here, you can see historical memorabilia as well as the bat of the Caribbean’s greatest cricket player of all time, Viv Richards.

Check out Antigua’s Harmony Hall, in Brown’s Bay at Nonsuch Bay, the center of the Antiguan arts community, where you can see various art exhibits throughout the year.

There are so many beaches in Antigua that if you were to stay on the island for a year, you would only be able to visit each one once. Yes, there are 365 powdery soft beaches here. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Antigua as #11 in Best Caribbean Beaches and with good reason. The island also is home to beautiful coral reefs where snorkelers and scuba divers can drop under water and get up-close-and-personal to the beauty.

Antigua’s striking waters also make it an ideal home for one of the top regattas in the world, Sailing Week. The event is six consecutive days of challenging racing and social activities. The 2018 event, held under the auspices of the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association, will take place from April 28 through May 4.

While you are there, you must try the island’s official fruit, the black pineapple, considered to be the world’s sweetest.

If you love to hike, make sure you tackle Antigua’s Shirley Heights because, on a clear day, you are 492 feet above sea level and you’ll have an amazing view of Guadeloupe and the active volcano Montserrat. There are also parties that are held at Shirley Heights, where you’ll hear Caribbean music and enjoy a barbecue, but it does get busy, so plan accordingly. Admission to Shirley Heights is included in the admission fee to Nelson’s Dockyard, a cultural heritage site and marina.

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Reasons to use a Travel Agent that knows the area

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travel benefits by designDo you want to go to Fiji, but you don’t know a thing about the island? Want to trek through the Serengeti National Park in Africa or lay on a private beach in Bora Bora? If you’ve never done any of these things before, you don’t need a map or a guidebook (yet). You need a travel agent.

A travel agent provides travel expertise. In most cases, they’ve been there, done that. If you want to take an adventurous trip down the Colorado River, you can find a travel agent who specializes in adventurous trips down the Colorado River. If you want to go on a once-in-a-lifetime safari, you can find a travel agent who has taken that same safari and can tell you exactly what you should pack, what you shouldn’t miss and what isn’t worth your time.

While being a travel agent seems like a glamorous job because travel agents get to jet around the world to fabulous locations, they really do work hard analyzing properties and providing valuable information for you – their clients. This information helps you to make the right decisions about your travel. Travel agents do not get “free” trips. They invest their own time and money to see properties and venues where you might stay. Based on these trips, there are places they will recommend, and some they will not.

If you do not think that this experience is important, think about it this way. Imaging going to a mechanic who has never opened the hood of a car. You want him to fix the car that you spent thousands of dollars on. You hand over the keys and walk away, right? No. An inexperienced mechanic is not someone you want working on your car.

Imagine hiring a beautician to curl your hair, but she’s never used a curling iron or given a perm. Would you hire her?

Travel agents are no different. Experience means something. Ask your travel agent questions that he can answer because he’s been there. Take advice from someone who has stayed at the hotel where you are staying. A travel agent asks the right questions and gets you the right information.

Here’s another reason why you should use a travel agent who knows the area where you are traveling. Because you’re not one. You don’t know how to navigate the area. You don’t know how to negotiate deals with the resorts and you don’t know the places that aren’t worth your dollars. An experienced, knowledgeable travel agent does and, as they say, knowledge is power.

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travel benefits by designKnown as the “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean,” Saba is an island in the Caribbean, located 28 miles south of St. Maarten. If you’re looking for peace and tranquility for your next vacation, Saba is the perfect getaway when you want to leave the everyday grind behind.

Unspoiled means that Saba is an island that hasn’t been touched by any franchised hotels, and you’re not going to see jam-packed tourist attractions. However, don’t think that vacationing on Saba means that you’re ‘roughing it.’ There are plenty of accommodations on the island, including hotels, lodges, villas and cottages, for you to relax and enjoy the views of the water, beaches and mountains.

According to its history, Saba’s birth was traumatic. It was formed in 500,000 BC when the top of a volcano became active during the middle of the late Pleistocene era. Today the volcano dormant, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to do but relax on the beach (although that’s not a bad thing either).

Check out The Harry L. Johnson Museum, which is located in a 19th-century sea captain’s cottage and includes collections from the 19th and early 20th century and artifacts from the Amerindian archaeological sites around the island. The Dutch Museum Saba includes Dutch collections of antiques that are anywhere from 150 to + 400 years old.

Whatever you do, do not leave the island of Saba without taking the 30-minute drive which shows you how beautiful this island really is.

When you’re done with your scenic drive, it’s time to get into the water. Here you can take a relaxing boat tour, or dive deep or go snorkeling and see what’s beneath the ocean – and there’s a lot to see. Saba’s National Marine Park has 150 species of fish, including Great Barracuda, Wahoo, Tarpon and 5 species of shark, Surgeonfish, Parrotfish, Triggerfish, Angelfish and so much more. You’ll see turtles, Conch, Lobster and a variety of Crabs on your dives as well.

Maybe you prefer to get out of the water and go up high to take pictures of views you’ll really never forget. Remember, this was island was a volcano at one point, so you take a hike up the mountainsides and check it out or explore the island and also see a tropical rain forest, a beach, and a backcountry all on the same hike.

If you’re interested in this tiny island that packs a punch of vacation memories, contact your travel agent to arrange your next vacation.

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