Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Iceland

Iceland Flag




Why visit Iceland?
Ideal for rugged outdoors enthusiasts seeking to enjoy beaches, birdwatching, camping, cycling, ecotourism, fishing villages, glaciers, geysers, golf, hiking, horseback riding, hot springs, ice climbing, lagoons, mountain climbing, museums, nightlife, northern lights, river rafting, rock climbing, ruins, skiing, snowmobiling, volcanoes, waterfalls, and whale watching.



Háifoss Waterfall, Háifoss, Iceland. Photo Credit: Michael Bubmann/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Blankets, coins, jackets, jewelry, lava ornaments, music, paintings, photographs, scarves, sheepskins, stamps, and sweaters.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Hákarl (cured shark). Minke (whale). Porramatur (cured meats). Puffin (delicacy bird). Skyr (yoghurt-like cheese).
  • Local Drink to Try: Brennivn (wine). Egils (beer). Ísafold (gin). Pilsner (beer). Reyka (vodka). Viking Gold (beer).


Húsavík, Iceland. Photo Credit: Christian Klein/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • In 2003, opened their first hydrogen fuel station.
  • In 2010, Eyjafjallajökull Volcano eruption forced hundreds to evacuate. 
  • Has few trees due to extensive deforestation for firewood and timber.
  • Horses competing abroad are not permitted to return due to herd disease concerns.
  • One of the most educated nations in the world.
  • Most homes are heated by hot water pumped up from the ground.
  • Nautholsvik Beach (Reykjavik) is man-made.
  • Named "Iceland" by Viking Settlers attempting to discourage others.
  • Europe's second largest island and 18th-largest in the world.
  • Has approximately 30 minor islands.
  • Vatnajökull is Europe's second largest glacier ice cap.
  • Only Research Scientists may visit the volcanic island of Surtsey.
  • The Coast remains ice-free through the winter season.
  • A sitka spruce in Kirkjubejarklaustur is the tallest tree.
  • Polar bears are known to arrive on icebergs from Greenland.
  • Has no roaming amphibians or reptiles on the island.
  • First country in the world with a political party formed and led entirely by women.
  • Has had international disputes over fishing rights.
  • In the Guinness World Records book as the "country ranked most at peace" and the "lowest military spending per capita".
  • Grew to developed country from a fairly poor one.
  • Use patronymic or matronymic surnames vs traditional family names. Icelandic Naming Committee approves all names.
  • Ranks as one of the lowest rates of income inequality in the world.
  • Telephone Directories are listed alphabetically by first name vs by surname.
  • Amongst the highest ratio of atheists in the world.
  • Imports and translates the most international literature compared to any other country.
  • The Bokatidindi, is distributed to every home annually showcasing all new publications contributing to soaring sales between September - November, the Christmas Book Flood (Jolabokaflod).
  • A leader in ocean rowing. 
  • Many Icelanders use horses for transportation purposes.


Kirkjufell Mountain, Grundarfjörður, Iceland. Photo Credit: MustangJoe/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Reykjavik International Games, Reykjavik Dark Music Days (February) Icelandic Beer Festival, Rainbow Reykjavik Winter Pride Festival, Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival, (March) Design March, Design Talks, (April) Childrens Culture Festival, Reykjavik International Library Festival, (May) International Museum Day, Reykjavik Metal Fest, Vaka Folk Arts Festival, (June) Festival of the Sea, The Colour Run, (July) Eistnaflug, Lunga Art Festival, The Runners Festival, (August) National Festival, Reykjavik Culture Night, Reykjavik Pride, (September) Reykjavik International Film Festival, Reykjavik Jazz Festival, The Night of Lights, (October) Cycle Music & Art Festival, Imagine Peace Tower, (November) Airwaves, Everybody's Spectacular, (December) New Year's Eve Run and The Yule Lads.     
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, First Day of Summer, Labour Day, Ascension Day, Whit Sunday, Whit Monday, Icelandic Republic Day, Commerce Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Second Day of Christmas, and New Year's Eve.


Skogar Museum (southern), Skogar, Iceland. Photo Credit: René Boinski/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • English is widely spoken.
  • Not the ideal destination for budget conscious traveler(s).
  • Has no passenger railroads.
  • Weather is erratic and unpredictable.
  • Cuisine does not include much herbs or spices.
  • Fishing is best between June - September (arctic char, brown trout, and salmon).
  • Has a low crime rate.
  • Winter snowfall is most common in the north.
  • Interior roads are often impassable until July due to flooding and mud conditions.
  • Ski Season is  December - May (Blafjoll, Hveradalir, Skalafell).
  • Geothermal pool, Laugardalslaug (Reykjavik) is most popular.
  • Geothermal pools have a slight sulfur smell.
  • Most secondary roads are unpaved.
  • It is illegal to turn right at a red stop light.
  • Payment is rendered after medical care or hospitalization.
  • Between December - January, there's less than four hours of daylight daily.
  • Ferry Service is available from/to Denmark, Faroe Islands, Norway, and Shetland Islands during the summer.
  • Reykjavik (downtown) is known to become disorderly after patrons leave bars and nightclubs.
  • Reykjavik Card provides access to museums, swimming pools, and unlimited city transportation on a number of days purchased.
  • Seatbelts are mandatory by law.
  • Law requires headlights to be on at all times.
  • Cell phone use while driving is subject to a $5000ISK fine.
  • Route 1 (Ring Road) is a main road that runs around the island and connects all to the interior roads.
  • It is illegal to import whale goods back to the United States. Violators are subject to imprisonment and fine (up to $10,000).
  • Noted by Guinness World Records as "the Greenest Country".
  • Homeschooling is not permitted by citizens.
  • Youths from 6 - 16 are required to attend school.
  • Laugavegur is not wheelchair accessible friendly.


Route 1 (Ring Road), Iceland. Photo Credit: Stefan Meller/Pixabay 



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity upon return and two blank pages for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA not required for visits under 90 days.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000USD.


Thingvellir National Park, Southern Region, Iceland. Photo Credit: falco/Pixabay 



Subject to earthquakes, extreme snow melting, flooding, snowstorms, and volcano eruptions.

  • Best Time to Visit: June  - September
  • Coldest Months: November - March
  • Hottest Months: July - August
  • Peak Season: June - August


Photo Credit: Hans Braxmeier/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Pingvellir National Park, Surtsey, and Vatnajökull National Park. 


Photo Credit: Michelle Maria/Pixabay 



Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

Your one stop source: Accommodations I Air I Car Rentals I Cruises I Disney Excursions I Tours I Transfers I Travel Insurance I Villa Rentals



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"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" Saint Augustine



All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice.

 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Hungary

Hungary Flag




Why visit Hungary?
A destination which offers something for everyone whether to enjoy architectural landmarks, bicycling, casinos, caves, churches, folk art, folk music, hiking, historic cities, horseback riding, lakes, museums, national parks, rivers, thermal spas, villages, and vineyards.



Hungarian Parliament Building(Parliament of Budapest), Budapest, Hungary. Photo Credit: David Mark/Pixabay 



A popular destination for:
  • Amateur & Professional Photographers
  • Bucket List Destination
  • Cruise: Disembark/Embark
  • Groups: Family, Friends, Incentive Travel, Multigenerational, Reunions
  • Milestones: Anniversary, Birthday, Honeymoon, Retirement
  • Romance


Halászbástya (Fisherman's Bastion), Budapest, Hungary. Photo Credit: Giraffew/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Carpets, dolls, embroidery, lace, porcelain, pottery, spices, stoneware, tablecloths, table runners, and wine. 
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Dobos Cake (sponge cake). Goulash (soup). Halászlé (fish soup). Pörkölt (meat stew). Túrós Csusza (curd cheese noodles).
  • Local Drink to Try: Borozó (wine). Bull Blood (wine).  Egri Bikavér (wine). Pálinka (fruit brandy). Tokaji  Aszú (wine). Unicum (bitter herbal). 


Sopron, Hungary. Photo Credit: akos147/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • In 1978, Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. President had the Hungarian Crown of St. Istvan returned.
  • Amongst all the eastern European countries has the most luxury hotels.
  • Turkish Baths (Budapest) are contributed by the Turks.
  • Little remains of pre-baroque architecture due to wars.
  • Invention birthplace of ballpoint pen, carburetor, Rubik's Cube, and vitamin C supplements.
  • Citizens receive a tuition-free university education.
  • Amongst one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.
  • Receives over 15 million international tourist travelers annually.
  • Largest thermal water cave system in the world.
  • Home to the second largest thermal lake in the world.
  • Lake Balaton, is the largest lake in Central Europe.
  • First country in the world to enact Laws of Ethnic and Minority Rights.
  • Kékes is the highest mountain.
  • Budapest (capital) has over 100 embassies.
  • Has their own currency, Hungarian Forint (HUF).
  • Holds the highest rate of patents filed.
  • Budapest Metro is the second-oldest underground metro system in the world (1896). 
  • Children, church employees, handicapp low income, pension recipients, and students all receive free universal health insurance coverage.
  • Popular destination for Dental and Plastic Surgery Tourism.
  • Széchenyi Medicinal Bath, is the largest medicinal bath in Europe.
  • Esztergom Basilica, is one of the largest basilicas in Europe.
  • Switched from using Latin Alphabet. 
  • Paprika powder is a culinary staple.
  • Centuries ago, Pannonia (west) received vines from the Romans.
  • Napoleon III, last Emperor of France would order barrels of Tokaji wine annually.
  • DIgestive liqueur bitter Unicum requires 40 herbs to create.
  • Has approximately 450 public baths.
  • Home to approximately 1,500 thermal springs.
  • Herend Porcelain (Herend) is one of the world's largest operating ceramic factories (since 1826).
  • Chess is considered a sport by popularity.
  • Holds the second-highest number of Olympic gold medals in the world.
  • Holds one of the longest undefeated consecutive runs (31 wins in 4 years) in football history.
  • Millenary Benedictine Abbey was founded by Benedictine Monks.


Esztergom Basilica, Esztergom, Hungary. Photo Credit: Walkerssk/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Budapest International Circus Festival, (March) Budapest Fringe
    Festival, Budapest Spring Festival, Easter Festival, Friss Hús Budapest International Short Film Festival, Hollóko's Easter Festival, (April) Budapest Fashion Week, Budapest Lamb Toros Pork & Brandy Festival (May) Kocsonya Fesztival, Sutnicake Cake Festival, (June) 
    Budafest Summer Opera & Ballet Festival, Danube Carnival, Formula One Grand Prix, International Guitar Festival, International Palace Tournament, Island Festival, Knight Tournaments, National Jewish Festival, Organ Concerts, Rockmaraton Festival, Szeged Summer Festival, Traditional Handicraft Fair, Valley of Magic Festival, VOLT Music Festival, (July) Balaton Cross Swimming Competition, Balaton Sound Festival, Budapest Pride, Frontier Castle Festivities, Hortobagy Shepherds' Festival, Kapolcs Valley of Arts Festival, Koros Valley Folk Arts Festival, Red Bull Air Race Budapest, (August) Debrecen Flower Carnival, Sziget Music Festival, (September) Buda Castle Wine Festival, Budapest Art Weeks, Budapest Contemporary Music Weeks, Budapest International Fair, Budapest International Wine Festival, Budapest National Gallop, Tihany Garda Fish Festival, (October) Budapest Fashion Week, Budapest Palinka and Sausage Festival, Oktoberfest, (November) Goose & Wine Festival, (December) Budapest Christmas Fair and Festival.
  • Holidays: New Year Day, National Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Labour Day, Pentecost Monday, Foundation Day, National Day, All Saints Day, Christmas Day, and Second Day of Christmas.


Hollókő Castle, Hollókő, Hungary. Photo Credit: Rene Rauschenberger/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Tokaj and Villany are best known as wine regions.
  • Lake Balaton (west) is a water activities paradise.
  • Known intolerance towards Jews, LGBT, and Roma.
  • Targeted pick-pocketing crime towards tourists known to occur.
  • Travelers’ checks are not widely accepted.
  • Has zero tolerance for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) whether alcohol or drugs.
  • Validate your public transportation ticket(s) to best avoid fines.
  • Fines are paid at the Post Office. Police will confiscate your passport if you contest a fine as an “invitation letter”. Requiring you to resolve the dispute at the Police Station. Passport only returned after resolution and/or fine payment.


Tapolca, Hungary. Photo Credit: sikermarketing/Pixabay 



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity upon return and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA not required for visits under 90 days.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000USD.


Széchenyi Medicinal Thermal Bath, Budapest, Hungary. Photo Credit: baklava/Pixabay 


  • Best Time to Visit: May - September
  • Coldest Month: January
  • Hottest Month: July 
  • Peak Season: June - August


Lake Balaton, Transdanubian Region, Hungary. Photo Credit: Jakob Straub/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Budapest (including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue), Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst, Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs (Sopianae), Fertö / Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape, Hortobágy National Park (Puszta), Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma and its Natural Environment, Old Village of Hollókő (and its surroundings), and Tokaj Wine Region Historic Cultural Landscape.

Shoes on the Danube Bank Monument, Budapest, Hungary. Photo Credit: larahcv/Pixabay 



Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

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"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" Saint Augustine



Danube River, Budapest, Hungary. Photo Credit: joakant/Pixabay 

                                                           All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Honduras

Honduras Flag





Why visit Honduras?
An unpolished destination for travelers to enjoy beaches, birdwatching, cloud forests, colonial towns, culture, cycling, hiking, lowland jungle, ruins, scuba diving, snorkeling, sport fishing, volunteerism, white water rafting, and zip-lining.



Mahogany BayHonduras. Photo Credit: Michelle Maria/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Cedar carvings, cigars, jade jewelry, leather goods, mahogany carvings, pottery, woven baskets, and woven hats.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Anafres (fondue). Baleada (stuffed tortilla). Plato Típico (national dish). Sopa de Caracol (conch soup). Yojoa Fish (fried).
  • Local Drink to Try: Barena (beer). Guaro (liquor). Imperial (beer). Port Royal (beer). Salva Vida (beer). 


Copán Ruins, Honduras. Photo Credit: Juan Cernas/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • In 1821, became independent.
  • In 1969, fought with El Salvador (Football War).
  • In 1969, the national flower changed from a rose to orchid.
  • In 1998, Hurricane Mitch destroyed nearly 70% of their crops and infrastructure. Loss estimating around $3US billion.
  • Known for coffee, natural minerals, sugar cane, textiles, and tropical fruit.
  • Granted exemptions and land to USA based fruit companies in exchange for developing their northern region.
  • Known for mining gold, lead, silver, and zinc.
  • A suggestive inspiration for Cabbages and Kings book.
  • Host to the largest Peace Corps mission in the world.
  • Coco River divides them from Nicaragua.
  • Many rivers and streams are also polluted with heavy metals from mining.
  • Majority of Honduran refugees live in the United States.
  • On Christmas Eve loved ones gather for dinner followed by a gift exchange at midnight.
  • Annually (Yoro) around May or June fish fall from the sky for decades. There are many speculations as to how and why.
  • Legends of "La Llorona" story is a ghost roaming waterfront areas mourning her children who drowned.


Roatán Island in Honduras. Photo Credit: Michelle Maria/Pixabay 




Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (April) Punta Gorda Festival, (May) Feria de San Isidro, Festival de Lluvia de Peces, La Ceiba Carnival, (June) Feria Juniana, (July) Garifuna Festival, and (August) Sun Jam Festival.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Americas Day, Holy Week, Labour Day, Independence Day, Francisco Morazán's Day, Discovery of America Day, Armed Forces Day, and Christmas.


Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Photo Credit: Adrian Castro/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Poorest country amongst the Americas.
  • Northern shores and eastern region experience the greatest rainfall.
  • Mesoamerican Barrier Reef  is popular for scuba diving and snorkeling.
  • Montecristo Cloud Forest Reserve is easier accessed from El Salvador.
  • Bacterial disease, Leptospirosis is found in still waters.
  • Sand fleas exist (Bay Islands).
  • Do not drink tap water. Poor water quality due to proper maintenance and treatment.
  • Sanitation is often considered below our standards.
  • Drug trafficking is a collaborate to their high daily homicides.
  • Females are known to be forced into human trafficking and prostitution.
  • Export of  birds and pre-colonial artifacts is prohibited.
  • Export and import of export of business equipment, medication, and vehicles is strictly enforced.
  • Dry Season is known to pose air pollution during forest fires.
  • Prevalent diseases include Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, Malaria, and Zika.
  • Avoid public transportation for safety reasons.


Port Of Roatan, Honduras. Photo Credit: Michelle Maria/Pixabay 




This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity upon return and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA not required for visits under 90 days.
  • Required  Yellow Fever vaccination from select countries. Suggested: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Measles, Rabies, Rubella, and Typhoid.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000USD.

Rainy season is May - December. Subject to forest fires, flooding, and hurricanes.

  • Best Time to Visit: February - April
  • Coolest Months: December - February
  • Hottest Months: March - June
  • Peak Season: January - June

Fortress of Santa Bárbara (El Castillo), Trujillo, Honduras. Photo Credit: David Diaz/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Copán and Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve.


Photo Credit: shannonleigh353/Pixabay 



Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

Your one stop source: Accommodations I Air I Car Rentals I Cruises I Disney Excursions I Tours I Transfers I Travel Insurance I Villa Rentals



Stay connected, find us online: Alignable Facebook  LinkedIn  Pinterest  Slack  Twitter 

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" Saint Augustine


                                      All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice. 

Travel Tips Aboard

Photo Credit: Steve Buissinne / Pixabay Tourists are often targeted aboard with pickpocketing. Avoid Holding Your Phone in the Air (Makes fo...