Will you be my Valentine? From hearts to hogs, Valentine's Day around the world

Ah… being in love, there’s nothing quite like it, so it’s no surprise that countries from all over the world have a special day dedicated to celebrating ‘that special someone’… Valentine’s Day.

So, wouldn’t you like to know a little more about the different Valentine’s Day traditions, past and present from countries near and far?
Whilst some are what you might expect – traditional chocolate hearts and bright cards scrawled with adoring messages – there are others that are a little unorthodox!
So, if you’re looking for a truly unique way to surprise your loved one this Valentine’s Day, we might just be able to help!

Germany

Let’s start with one that’s a little out of the ordinary, shall we?
Although the celebration of Valentine’s Day in Germany is not as commercial as it is in places such as the UK and America, it’s a popular tradition with the locals there.
And, whilst lovers will exchange gifts of chocolates, flowers, and gingerbread cookies displaying romantic messages, they also like to exchange… pigs!
Yes, that’s right, pigs! Pictures of pigs, chocolate pigs, statues of pigs… even a real pig for those who want to really go for it!
In the country, the pig symbolises lust and luck.
It’s also pink, and so we can see why this little animal could be synonymous with the festival of love.

Italy

Going back to a more traditional way of celebrating one’s love for another, in Italy, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by way of a classic spring festival.
Couples shower each other with romantic poems, enjoy sweet ballads and scrumptious meals together, and often exchange boxes of ‘baci perugina’ – chocolate hazelnut ‘kisses’.
However, Italy also has a strange legacy surrounding its Valentine’s traditions, which states that the first man a girls sees when she wakes on February the 14th, she will marry within the next year…
To all those singles out there, keep an eye out this Wednesday morning!

South Africa

If you’re a hopeless romantic who likes to wear their heart on their sleeve, then the South African Valentine’s tradition might just be the one for you.
As well as the traditional celebrations, women in South Africa can often be seen to, quite literally, wear their hearts on their sleeves, by pinning the names of their significant others (or crushes!) to the sleeves of their tops.
A perfect way to let that special someone know you’re interested, perhaps?

China

In China, they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day exactly, but they do celebrate Qixi.
During Qixi, young women gather, prepare and offer fruits to Zhinu, in the hope that the goddess will send them a good husband.
Qixi falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year and pays homage to an old Chinese legend.
It is said that Zhinu, a heavenly king’s daughter, and Niulang, a poor cow herder, fell in love (against Zhinu’s father’s wishes), married and had twins.
Once her father learned of their marriage, he sent for her to be brought back to the heavens.
However, upon hearing the cries of Niulang and her children, the king allowed Zhinu to meet Niulang back on Earth, once a year, hence the start of Qixi.

Denmark

And finally, we have Denmark, located in Scandinavia which adds its own little Danish twist to this celebration of love.
Whilst friends and lovers in the country do exchange flowers, it’s not the traditional red rose, as the Danes instead swap pressed snowdrops to show their love.
It’s also common for men to give their secret admirers a ‘gaekkebrev’, which is a form of funny love poem presented on intricately cut paper.
For even more fun, the poems are signed off as anonymous and the receiver then has three guesses to work out who their poem is from.
If guessed correctly, the receiver will also be given an Easter egg by their admirer, later in the year.
If not, they must be the ones to buy the admirer an Easter egg – a great way to keep the gift-giving going, and get even more chocolate!
If this blog has given you some inspiration for a unique gift, or maybe even a unique trip, visit our website and discover a world of romance!

Inside India: The Highlights of an Incredible Country

Beauty in architecture, the thrill of experiencing a new and exciting culture, incredible cuisines and fascinating wildlife, sounds like the perfect travelling experience, don’t you agree?

Few places in the world offer authentic experiences these days. With the world becoming more and more commercialised, you may not feel you’re getting the real deal when visiting new places. After all, you can fly half way around the world and still find a burger chain restaurant you’d thought you’d left behind on your local high street.
Of course, some of us embrace it. And, why not? Home comforts can certainly make travelling more familiar and, well… comfortable.
But, if you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, somewhere where you can really feel you’re embracing a new culture… say hello to India.
We’ve recently launched our brand new tour and an exciting new destination, exploring India and its incredible Golden Triangle. And, we’re pretty sure this is one of those tours that will really fuel your wanderlust.
We’ve left no stone unturned when it comes to experiencing the very best of India. From iconic destinations to coming face to face with the majestic tiger, here’s just some of the incredible things you’ll experience on our brand new tour…

The Golden Triangle

Jama Masjid, Old Delhi

 
You may have heard of the Golden Triangle in reference to India before, or maybe not if this is your first insight into the country. But, the Golden Triangle is a must. It refers to India’s three most visited cities in the north-west, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and is a major tourist route packed full of fascinating sights.
Jaipur is home to some of Asia’s best Bazaars, a city buzzing with activity, nicknamed the ‘Pink City’ from the hue of its buildings, you’ll certainly want to visit its main attraction, the Amber Fort, just on the outskirts of the city.
The capital of India, Delhi, is a real contrast of old and new, from its turbulent past to its thriving future, it is host to a wealth of fascinating historical monuments as well as modern symbols of the present day such as India Gate and Parliament House.
And Agra, well… Where do we start? Obviously the world famous…

Taj Mahal

The taj Mahal

Topping many bucket lists, a trip to the Taj Mahal is a must when visiting India. A wonder of the world and universally admired, the mausoleum of white marble is a spectacular sight.
Built in Agra between 1631 and 1648, by order of the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, in memory of his third (and favourite) wife who died during the birth of their 14th child. The iconic building is a true symbol of eternal love and romance.
Easily one of the most photogenic pieces of architecture in the world, you’re probably wondering just when are the best times to visit? Two pieces of advice, early morning and evening. Although, in the morning, your view could be slightly shrouded by mist, but in the evening… expect perfection.
The orange glow of the evening sun, the warm air clearing any lingering residue and the views of the Yamuna River opening up, you don’t have to be an avid photographer to capture the most incredible photos during the golden hours of the evening.
As many as 28 different varieties of semi-precious and precious stone were used to adorn the Taj Mahal, making this more than just a gem on your journey through India, but a truly treasured experience.

Agra Fort

Agra Fort

Staying in the city of Agra, there’s more than just the Taj on offer in the former capital city of India. The Agra Fort is a sandstone and marble masterpiece.
It runs along a 2.5km stretch of the Yamuna River and was built as a military fort by Emperor Akbar. It was repurposed as a palace by no other than Shah Jahan, who spent his last years under house arrest there by his own son, Aurangzeb.
Despite being held prisoner following an illness, which saw four of his son’s embroiled in a war of succession, Shah Jahan was given a room with a view, in a tower overlooking the Taj Mahal.
The Shah Burj, as it is known, has an exquisite marble balcony where Shah Jahan spent his final days close to his late wife, overlooking his masterpiece.
If the Taj was the jewel of Agra, Agra Fort certainly shines just as bright. The walls house a number of stunning structures such as the pearl mosque and many hidden rooms, a fantastic experience learning about the grand legacy of the Mughals in India.

Fatehpur Sikri

Panch Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri

Follow the Red Sandstone to Fatehpur Sikri, a small ghost city just west of Agra. Ranking among the most visited spots in India, the city was made the political capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585.
Fatehpur Sikri is considered to be one of the architectural legacies of Akbar, hosting beautiful palaces, halls and mosques.
From the Buland Darwaza, the largest gateway in the world, to the Panch Mahal, a beautiful 5-storey ‘pleasure palace’ used for Emperor Akbar to relax and unwind and to be used for his entertainment.
The top floor offers outstanding panoramic views of the surrounding area and the brilliant architecture within Fatehpur Sikri.
The complex took around 15 years to build and is one of the best instances of Mughal architecture and is now a UNESCO heritage centre.

Ranthambore National Park

Bengal Tiger at Ranthambore National Park

One of India’s most iconic parks, Ranthambore is best known for its population of Bengal tigers. A former hunting ground of the Maharajas of Jaipur, the park now acts as home area for one of India’s most famous conservation projects, Project Tiger.
The project was launched to protect the diminishing population of tigers throughout India. With just 9 tigers in its care at the birth of the project, with the help of more tiger protection schemes around the country, India now boasts an impressive 70% of the world’s tiger population.
The importance of tiger preservation in India is more than stopping a species from going extinct, the tiger also plays a pivotal role in the health and diversity of the ecosystem.
The top predator of the food chain keeps the population of the wild ungulates (hooved mammals such as goats, cows and deer) in check, and maintains the balance between these herbivores and the vegetation that they feed on. If the tigers were to become extinct, the entire system would collapse.
Ranthambore offers more than just a chance to see the tigers up close and personal, but a real insight into India’s wildlife.
India offers one of those once in a lifetime trips of true experiences and creating lasting memories
If you’re ready to indulge in a fantastic Indian extravaganza, take a look at the full itinerary of our India’s Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore tour, here.

The 10 Most Beautiful Places in the World

Beauty – it’s in the eye of the beholder, is skin deep and can be subjective, we know, we know…  But, it’s hard to deny that there are some destinations in this world that are drop dead gorgeous!

And, who would we be to keep all this beauty to ourselves? Of course we want to share it all with you, so whether you’re looking for a little pick me up or some hearty travel inspiration, here’s our list of the top 10 most beautiful places in the world.

1. The Norwegian Fjords


Is there anything more dramatic than a Fjord? Sheer cliffs tumbling down to sea waters with cascading waterfalls either side of a narrow channel of water. As valleys go, these are pretty impressive.
The contrast of the green slopes and the deep blue of the waters below, with a dusting of white with the snow-capped tops… we can categorically say that we do not agree with the old ‘blue and green should never be seen’ saying… in terms of travel at least… we’re not fashion experts.
The National Geographic Magazine awarded the Fjords ‘The Best Unspoiled Travel Destination in the World’, something we whole-heartedly agree with.

2. Venice


Who doesn’t want to visit Venice? Well, if you are one of those people, we think it’s time to rethink. Stunning architecture, canals instead of roads, some of the most iconic views in Europe… and Gondolas! It’s easy to see why so many people call for the charms of Venice.
In the words of Elizabeth Berkley, ‘It feels like you are transported to another time – the art, music and pure romance in the air is like no other place.’
Over 15 million visitors flock to Venice every year to see it yet it’s said to be sinking at a rate of 1-2 millimetres a year! A sad thought that global warming could eventually eradicate such an iconic part of Europe.

3. Ha Long Bay


Emerald waters, towering limestone islands topped with rainforests, of course Ha Long Bay is a popular place for travellers flying in from all over the world. It even ranks top of the list as Vietnam’s number one tourist spot.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site looks like something straight from a film, and funnily enough, it is. Recently featuring in the films Pan (2015) and the soon to be released Kong: Skull Island (2017) and even going back to James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), we’d say the ethereal setting is the real star of the show.

4. Banff National Park


Canada’s oldest national park, nestled in the famous Rocky Mountains, is something that dreams are made of. Snow-capped peaks, stunning blue waters and luscious green foliage, and we can assure you, the postcard worthy photographs you see, are certainly not Photoshopped.
It’s also the perfect place to attract some of Canada’s most interesting wildlife. The moose, the elk and even the grizzly and black bear call Banff home thanks to its variations in elevation, climate, and plant communities.
More than 4 million visitors travel to Banff National Park each year to visit the mountains that range from 45 to 120 million years old. Pretty impressive, we’re sure you’ll agree.

5. Oia


Oh Santorini, the ‘poster-island’, so-to-speak, of Greece. Even if you didn’t know, you’ve probably seen it. You can pick up postcards of its white-washed buildings clinging to a cliff edge in just about any Greek island.
But, seeing really is believing, and heading to the famous Cyclades Island is a must if you’re looking for absolute heart-warming beauty.
And where better to get an eyeful of the islands beauty than visiting Oia? Famous for its small village charm, it even offers once of the best sun sets in Europe! And, it’s easily accessible from Fira, the islands capital, making it a great stop off if you’re sailing into the island on a cruise.

6. Isle of Skye


The largest island of the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Skye shows us that we don’t have to leave our shores to find one of the world’s most beautiful spots.
Its rugged landscapes and spectacular scenery make it one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations, but it’s not just a pretty face.
The island has a rich history from the Jacobite rebellion, Clan Warfare and ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, it’s even known for producing some pretty impressive dinosaur fossils! But not just that, the wildlife on offer is just as impressive.
Otters, seals, whales, dolphins and red deer can all be seen in and around Skye, only adding to the spectacular beauty on offer.

7. Milford Sound


Half a world away but always worth the miles covered to get there. Milford Sound is a stunning fiord on New Zealand’s South Island that is home to Dolphins, Penguins and seals.
Mountain peaks reach as high as 1000ft, it’s considered New Zealand’s most stunning natural attraction, famous for its ink-like waters and cascading forests, if this isn’t on your bucket list, it should be.
And the best thing? You don’t have to worry about the weather. We can’t fault a sunny day, but the best weather to view the sound in is actually rain! The granite peaks and no beaches mean the cliffs don’t absorb water, resulting in some pretty spectacular waterfalls.

8. Bryce Canyon


We’ve all heard of the Grand Canyon and many people have been there, seen it and purchased the souvenir t-shirt. But, we think that Bryce Canyon is more deserving of a place on this list.
With the largest collection of Hoodoos (oddly shaped pillars of rock left standing as a result of erosion) in the world, the canyon is a sight to behold. In fact, Ebenezer Bryce, who the spot was named after, is thought to have said ‘It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow’… a ‘moo’-ving sentiment.
On a good day, when visibility is clear, views of the canyon can spread for over 100 miles, deep into Colorado! And, interestingly, Bryce Canyon isn’t actually a canyon – it’s a natural amphitheatre! Either way, we’d echo the thought that it really is stunning… stunning… stunning…

9. Lake Bled


It’s got to be said, that beauty lies within Lake Bled! Slovenia isn’t one of the most famous tourist destinations in Europe, but this pretty little lake certainly makes visiting more than worthwhile.
The lake is one of the warmest alpine lakes, sitting at a pleasantly warm 26°C, and it’s tiny, tear shaped island is the only natural island in Slovenia! The church that sits on the island dates back from the 17th century, but we digress…
Just look at it! As lakes go, it’s so spectacularly beautiful, we just had to put it pride of place on our list.

10. Angkor Wat


Last, but by certainly no means least, we had to mention Angkor Wat. The largest religious monument in the world, you can be sure it’s every bit as breath-taking as you’d imagine.
Paramount Pictures even paid $10,000 a day to film in the temple Ta Promh for the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider film, which led to the films lead actress, Angelina Jolie, to adopting her Cambodian son, Maddox.
The UNESCO World Heritage site’s name translates to the ‘City of Temples’ with new structures and ruins being discovered almost every year. Impressively, it was built without the aid of machinery, just the help of approximately 1000 elephants.
 
Would you add any other destinations to our list? Let us know in the comments where you think the world’s most beautiful place lies.

5 of the Best Firework Displays around the World

Fireworks, love them or hate them, they’re going to be a big part of this weekend as the country gets together to celebrate Bonfire Night.

But when done properly, firework displays can be pretty spectacular. Lighting up the night’s sky in a kaleidoscope of colours, creating some of the most entertaining shows on earth.
So, as many places across the UK set the sparks going and host their own bonfires, if you’ve decided to keep snug and stay indoors, why not read about some of our favourite firework displays from around the world?

Sydney

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As one of the first countries in the world to welcome in the New Year, you can be sure to count on Australia to see it in with a bang.
And one of the most iconic sights of New Years’ Eve is seeing the Sydney Harbour lit up with a dazzling display of pyrotechnics, right as we wake up on NYE itself.
We might not be there for the fireworks, but if you’re thinking ahead to welcome in 2018 in style, we’re heading off on our inaugural tour of Oz in February on our Discover Australia tour.

Edinburgh

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Now, what’s better than tying in an impressive firework display with the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo?
Following the incredible performances, put on by the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth, international bands and display teams, weather permitting, each show concludes with one spectacular firework show. Designed to get the maximum impact from within the stands, if you’re heading to the Tattoo itself, you’ll be in prime position to catch the fireworks in all their glory!
And, that’s what we call going out with a bang.

Paris

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Bastille Day is not only France’s national holiday, it’s also the biggest party of the year! Celebrating the day in which the Bastille prison was stormed, helping to spark the French Revolution.
The 14th of July sees Paris light up from with spectacular display direct from the Eiffel tower! The iconic monument comes alive as multi-coloured fireworks burst from the structure in all directions. You can be sure the Parisians know how to put on a show and this is one that won’t disappoint.
The firework display itself lasts around 35 minutes, and for a free show, that’s pretty impressive.

Rhine in Flames

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The biggest event on the middle Rhine. On five incredible nights throughout the summer, the Rhine Valley comes alive, and it’s a real firecracker.
The sky above the glittering waterways of the River Rhine are illuminated by a medley of colours. And what better way to enjoy it than being in the thick of the action?
Join our 4-day Rhine in Flames Festival tour and watch the procession of boats glide through the valley as the sky lights up in a spectacular show. We’ve got you covered from all angles.

Disneyland Paris

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Of course, when it comes to magnificent firework displays, we can’t forget the magic kingdom. One of the most iconic firework displays in the world that takes place every night as part of the Dreams parade and it’s something both kids and adults can enjoy.
It’s said that Disneyland (although focused American counterpart) spend around $50,000 on fireworks every night! And, we’d expect our closest neighbour to spend in the same region. Now, that’s A LOT of fireworks to enjoy.
And, to go one step beyond, Disneyland even put on an extra special display for Mickey’s Magical Bonfire and Fireworks Spectacular, they say it’s a place where dreams come true, and if you dream of picture-perfect firework displays, this is certainly the place to be.
Do you have a favourite firework display? Let us know in the comments. 

Discover Australia: Our Top Spots in the Land Down Under

As you may have seen, we have recently launched our brand new, 20-day, Discover Australia tour and, crikey! We’re excited.

The magical land down under offers a whole array of new and exciting places to visit, from the bright red sands of the outback to the spectacular waters of the Coral Sea, there’s plenty of good days to be had.
But, if you’re setting foot in the land of Aus for the first time, you’re probably wanting to know, what are the best things to see and do? Well, here are our top places and attractions to visit whilst in amazing Australia.

9. Great Ocean Road

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By far one of the most scenic drives in the world… Stretching across an impressive 180 miles of the south-eastern coast, it sure is remarkable.
Travelling past world class surfing breaks, through pockets of rain forest, heathlands and on the edge of sheer drop cliffs, it offers a whole new meaning to the thrill of the ride.
Top Sight: The Twelve Apostles – although there are now only eight, these lonely rock stacks are certainly a sight to behold.

8. Philip Island

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Only 90 minutes from Melbourne, this place takes you back to the wild side. Well known for its motorsport circuit and wildlife including kangaroos and koalas, you really will have an enjoyable Aussie experience on Phillip Island.
You’ll be in for a treat with the Parade of Penguins, too. Each night at sunset, you can see one of the largest colonies of penguins in Australia waddling home after a long day’s fishing.
Don’t worry if there is a chill in the air, these little penguins will certainly warm your heart.

7. Four Mile Beach

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The clue is in the name when it comes to our next top port of call. Yes, you really can expect four miles of gorgeous sandy beach!
Once just a sleepy coastal town, the Four Mile Beach and Port Douglas have now become one of the most popular places to be in northern Australia, and it’s easy to see why.
With soft sands and tropical sunshine, you can take a stroll along this premier beach. Buildings and homes are neatly hidden behind swaying palm trees and the crystal clear waters of the Coral Sea will welcome you to paradise.

6. Blue Mountains National Park

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Home to the famous Three Sisters rock formation, the Blue Mountain National Park is World Heritage listed, full of amazing natural wonders and is ten times older than the Grand Canyon!
With its rich aboriginal heritage, it’s also home to hundreds of species of birds and rare and ancient plants, with a number of species of reptiles in there too, a trip to the Blue Mountains is an experience that is not easily forgotten.

5. Bondi Beach

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It has to be the most famous beach in Australia! One of Sydney’s most visited beaches, Bondi is a mixed bag that has something for everyone. Surf, sand, bars, cafés, you name it…
Home to the Bondi Life Saving Club, if you’re feeling adventurous, the protected waters are a great place to learn to surf.
If you’re wanting a more relaxing time at the beach, head down Campbell parade and enjoy a range of stylish surf and fashion shops and a host of stylish bars and cafes.
You can even join the locals with picnics or fish and chips by the sea. Who’d have thought you could enjoy a quintessentially British past time, even though you’re the other side of the world?

4. Alice Springs

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Situated a vast 1,500 km from the nearest city, Alice Springs in the Northern Territory is a popular gateway for adventurers exploring the ‘Red Centre’.
A vibrant art scene, a rich cultural life and its mix of Aboriginal and European colonial history makes this seemingly secluded town an interesting cosmopolitan city with plenty to see and do.
One of the most iconic things most visitors to Alice Springs set off to enjoy is…

3. Ayers Rock (Uluru)

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One of the most iconic landmarks in Australia, Ayers Rock, or Uluru by its Aboriginal name, is a sight to behold whilst in the outback.
It is a sacred site for the Aboriginal tribes and is pretty spectacular for a number of other reasons, such as its sheer size, history and rather interestingly, as each day passes, the rock actually changes colour!
There’s no Pantone for Uluru… Light and atmospheric conditions change the appearance of the rock each and every day meaning it’s never the same shade as the day before.

2. Great Barrier Reef

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One of the world’s great natural wonders, it’s the largest living structure in the world with almost 3000 individual reefs that are home to thousands of types of fish, plants and birds. Dolphins, sharks, whales, and turtles, the Great Barrier Reef attracts them all.
It’s is so long (2300km to be precise) it stretches over 14 degrees of latitude and can even be seen from space!
With its crystal clear waters it’s a haven for snorkelers and divers alike making the reef one of the most popular attractions in Australia.

1. Sydney Harbour

The Harbour Bridge is the world's widest long-span bridge.
One of the most iconic sights down under, of course the top spot just has to go to the world famous Sydney Harbour.
Streamed across the world as it becomes one of the first cities in the world to welcome in the New Year, the area is iconic for impressive celebrations in a striking setting.
With the stunning sights of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, it is regarded one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world and that’s something we certainly won’t disagree with!
 
If you’re looking for a trip down under and you want to see all of these sights and more, why not join Leger Holidays as we set off on our new adventure Discover Australia? For more information on our tour, just click here.
 

Halloween traditions from around the World

As the nights draw in, there’s a certain something lingering in the air. Something, eerie… Something, spooktacular! Of course, we’ve hit Halloween.

Love it or hate it, Halloween has crept upon us once again and shops and homes are packed full of spooky costumes, sweets and carved pumpkins that really are cutting edge.
But, as we get ready to celebrate the seasonal scare-fest, have you ever wondered how others around the world celebrate?
Well, this isn’t a trick, so treat yourself to something interesting. As the sky turns dark this Halloween night, here’s how our continental friends, and beyond, will be having a ghoul old time this weekend …

The birthplace of Halloween!

Starting at the beginning, Ireland is said to be the birthplace of Halloween, dating all the way back to its Celtic roots. Marking the end of the Pagan pastoral cycle, the 31st October was considered the last day of the year.
Celts associated winter with death, so, on the last day of the ‘bright’ half of the year, it was thought the boundary separating the living from the dead became blurred.
This not only allowed the souls of the departed to return to their former homes, but also potentially wicked spirits were released from the ‘Otherworld’ and became visible to humans. Spooky!

A Magical Haunting

The Austrians take a much lighter meaning from All Hallows Eve, leaving bread, water and a lightened lamp on a table before heading off to bed.
It was once believed that this act of kindness would welcome the dead souls back to earth and rather than it being a haunting event, it was actually considered quite magical.
By the same token, in China, during the Halloween festival known as Teng Chieh, families place food and water in front photographs of family members that have passed away, whilst bonfires are lit to light the paths of spirits as they join us back on earth for the night.
However, in Germany, residents take a slightly more cautious approach when it comes to the return of the lost, putting away their knives to avoid risk of harm to or from their ‘Otherworld’ visitors. After all, those ghosts have real spirit.

Day of the Dead

You may have heard of the Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, associated with Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries, in fact, it’s even the opening sequence to the new James Bond film, Spectre. However, Spain celebrates a little differently.
There is the Dia de Difuntos (Day of the Dead) and Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saint’s Day) and, whilst they are separate events, the two are usually celebrated together and are actually a religious holiday, with mass held three times throughout the festivities.
Much like Christmas, the holiday is considered a family day, however, visits to the graves of loved ones is high on their priorities, honouring their lost loved ones and leaving them covered in fresh flowers.
And, to top it off, there’s also performances of the most famous and romantic mythical story seducing women and fighting men, Don Juan Tenorio, to keep everyone entertained – not quite the scary story you would expect to hear around Halloween.

We’re Just Here for the Party

Our French neighbours don’t really believe in any spooky superstitions at this time of year, in fact, Halloween is typically regarded as an American holiday.
However, never being a nation to turn down a party, the French have somewhat adopted la fête d’Halloween as an excuse to dress up and celebrate, and who can blame them?
And, of course, one of the most spectacular Halloween Spooktacular’s is at the magical Disneyland Paris Resort, lurking amongst the pumpkins on Main Street U.S.A you’ll find spooky adventures for all the family.
Whilst trick-or-treating is not as popular over the Channel, the few you do find going door-to-door, will be knocking on the fronts of shops rather than gracing their neighbours’ doorsteps.
With a little push from big, multi-national companies, the knowledge of Halloween is now wide spread, with some people even objecting to the idea of an overly-commercialised American holiday, whilst others simply relish in some freaky fancy dress.
 
So, it’s over to you, how will you be celebrating this year? Do you have your own traditions of creating some freakish fun or are you having a fright night within the safety of your own sofa?
 
Ready for some more ghost stories? Find out where the spookiest places in Europe are hidden in our previous blog, here.
 
 

Top Tips to get Your Air Holiday off to a Flying Start

To celebrate our new booking system, allowing you to now book your fly and tour holidays online, we’ve pulled together some of our top tips to get your next air holiday off to a flying start.

It’s the quickest way to get to your destination and the views from thousands of feet up aren’t too bad either.
Every three seconds, an aeroplane somewhere in the world is taking off and, it’s safe to say, we’ve come a long way since the Wright Brothers first took flight.
 

Roll your clothes when packing

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Cramming all of your clothes into a suitcase is one of the biggest headaches when getting ready to head off on holiday.
At some point, we will have all come across that time when sitting on top of your suitcase has been the best solution to getting it to close.
A great tip is to roll your clothes, rather than fold them, to save room. Rolling compresses your clothes allowing you to find a lot more space to tuck your items into. You’ll also avoid the majority of crease marks you get from folding.
 

Arrive in Plenty of Time

It definitely pays to be prepared. Before you journey, check the traffic reports and make sure you have plenty of time to get to the airport.
Arriving early definitely has its benefits. If your seats aren’t pre-booked, you’re more likely to sit together. If upgrades are on offer, the early bird really does catch the worm. And to top it off, you can spend more time making the most of the duty free.
A great tip is to check in online. When given the option, always take it. It saves you time, and with some airlines, money.
 

Speed up your Security Check

The ever complicated security systems at airports can be one of the most frustrating experiences of your journey.
Be prepared, pack all non-essential liquids in your hold luggage, try and keep your pockets empty and avoid wearing a belt. Keeping electricals at the top of your bag will make it far easier to get them onto the tray ready to be scanned, too.
A good tip is to follow the business flyers. It may be a longer line, but avoiding queues with larger parties and children could save you a lot of time, frequent flyers will more than likely be prepared to pass through as quickly as possible.
 

Dress smartly…

And not in the way you’d think. The best way to fly is by wearing comfortable layers. From hoodies to scarves, these casual numbers offer a lot more than you may think.
Whilst you’re benefiting from the comfort of casual clothes there’s even more benefits to enjoy by leaving the shirts or dresses at home.
Pull up your hood to block out the cabin noise whilst sleeping, roll up your scarf to use as a pillow and by layering up you’re more than prepared for the changing temperatures from your home to your destination.
 

Stay Hydrated

Dry mouth, rough skin and your lips feeling a bit tight, the recycled air flowing around the cabin has a lot to answer for.
Fear not, these can all be eradicated by just keeping hydrated. It’s recommended that you drink around 0.2 litres of water every hour or two whilst you’re in the air.
Keep this in mind and don’t forget to drink a little more if you’re going to have a coffee or alcohol and you’re well on your way to a more comfortable flight.
 

Earplugs and Eye Masks

Simple, yet effective. If you’re looking to sleep through your journey, these little objects will work a treat, by regulating your circadian rhythms.
Your circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioural changes that are responsive to light and dark, block it out and your body will be tricked into thinking it’s time to go to sleep.
With sunlight bouncing off the clouds below and the cabin noise around you, these simple accessories will be worth their weight in gold.
 

Bring your own entertainment

Watch the time fly (excuse the pun), when you’re enjoying yourself.
You can bring that book that you’re really enjoying or stock up on magazines. Or, of course, you could just bring your tablet or smart phone on board with you.
You can load these up with TV programmes, films and music that will play even whilst using the aeroplane safe mode and you have a great variety of content that will keep you entertained until you land.
 

Keep Moving

It may sounds like the simplest of advice, but to move about whilst on an aeroplane can also be the best advice.
From stretching to taking regular walks about the plane, these simple activities will keep your blood flowing, prevent stiffness and reduce the risk of travel related conditions leaving you a very happy traveller when disembarking your plane.
 
With a great selection of escorted tours by air now available to book online, do you have any of your own flying tips to share?
 

Susie's Amazing Grand Explorer Adventure

Susie’s Amazing Grand Explorer Adventure

Sue Clark one of our customers has not long returned from her holiday with Leger Holidays. Read on to see what she thought of her trip with us on our Arctic Circle and the Land of the Midnight Sun Tour.

 


Which tour did you go on?

I went on the Arctic Circle and the Land of the Midnight Sun 16-day Grand Explorer trip departing June 29th 2013
 

How did you get there and how long did it take?

Initially by feeder coach in Lincoln, which also was our tour coach, and I undertook the whole tour by coach. During the adventure I also travelled on 10 ferries, which included an overnight one from Stockholm, Sweden to Turku in Finland
As mentioned previously, it was for 16 days, but as someone who travels as she lives, preferring the journey to the destination-it was paced just right.
 

Where did you stay?

Too numerous to mention and in a variety of accommodation, including a ski chalet.
 

What was the weather like? Did it affect your visit?

This tour was not about the weather but the experience, but the added bonus was that for the majority of the time it was glorious weather. I witnessed the Midnight Sun in Rovaniemi in full sunshine. The visit to North Cape was cloudy and windy, but very atmospheric. It rained in Tromso but that only added to the beauty of the countryside. Without the rain I would not have experienced the wonderful waterfalls and lush scenery we travelled through.
 

Which optional excursions did you do?

I booked the guided sightseeing evening tour in Oslo, and what an enlightening tour this was! I was completely unprepared for the visit to the Vigeland Sculpture Park, and as a sculpture spotter I was in raptures. For me, this optional excursion was worth every pound I spent on it!
 

Conclusion

In the words of one of our drivers, this was an adventure rather than a holiday, and it was an adventure I would not have missed! Throughout the adventure I grew in cultural, spiritual and geographical experience. It was also a very positive experience because I travelled with a lovely group of people and also a couple of great drivers.
This experience has convinced me not only to undertake more Leger Grand Explorer tours, but also to visit Scandinavia, particularly all the capital cities, for longer as I was only able to have ‘tasters’ on this occasion.
Thank you Leger, without whom I would not have been able to have such an amazing Grand Explorer adventure 🙂
 
 

From Russia, With Love

From-Russia,-With-Love

By Margot
I would be surprised if I was the only Leger lady to have more than a passing interest in the latest James Bond film Skyfall. I’d like to say it comes from my passion for one of Britain’s longest-standing cinematic legacies and NOT just Daniel Craig…but that might be a bit of a porkie.
I’ve grown up with Ian Fleming’s super spy and the last half dozen actors to have taken on the role will always hold a place close to my heart. I will always remember the first time I saw ‘Goldeneye’- I was less concerned about the super weapon falling into the wrong hands and more the safety of Pierce Brosnan! It certainly kept me gripped, anyway.
Putting one of Ireland’s best exports to one side, I also couldn’t help but be captivated by the locations in the film, especially Russia. It left such a lasting impression that I decided to make the trip myself a few years ago, taking my son for his 21st birthday.
We both agreed that it was one of the best holidays we’ve ever shared.
It was probably down to the fact that we managed to visit so many different places in the same trip, including Berlin– to see the Brandenburg Gate and The Wall – and Warsaw: the Belvedere Palace was beautiful and the city itself was great for a little shopping on a budget!
When we did reach Moscow, though, the Red Square really surpassed my expectations – I remember my son rolling his eyes as I commented on clean and well-kept it was (unlike his room as a teenager, I might add.) The guide on the tour was absolutely fantastic and really helped us appreciate some of the aspects that others might overlook. The tube stations, for example, were adorned with chandeliers, oil paintings and statues – they were quite breath-taking.
Also, it had been a life-long dream to take in the ballet in the place where it originated, at least where I think it did! I went to see a production of Swan Lake in St. Petersburg and I’m so happy to have enjoyed it in Russia, world famous for its dancers.
We both loved exploring the markets in Helsinkiand sightseeing tours through Stockholm and Copenhagen. However, no matter how hard I looked, Sean Connery wasn’t lurking in the shadows! With such a varied itinerary, including everything I’d hoped to see and some sights I hadn’t expected, I think it’s safe to say that I managed to put 007 out of my mind, if only for a little while.
If you have any further questions about Leger Holidays’ Grand Explorer tours, including the Grand Russian Spectacular and Highlights of Scandinavia, please do get in touch through our Facebook page or call us at 01709 787 463.

Are Postcards becoming a thing of the past?

Dotted around the Leger HQ are a number of Postcards all unique in their own way, from destinations all over the world, including Korcula, Rothenburg in Germany.
Although all of the Postcards were sent from all over the world, they all have one thing in common, not one of them was received in the last four years!
It got us wondering if Postcards are becoming a thing of the past. Has a simple text message or email put an end to the famous seaside souvenir?
This made us dig deeper in to the history of Postcards which resulted in some interesting finds –
 

  • The first one ever sent was a hand painted design, which was posted to a writer named Theodore Hook from himself in 1840 bearing a penny black stamp.

 

  • However the first known printed picture Postcard was created inFrance in 1870 by Leon Besnardeau.

 

  • 1871 was the year the first picture postcard which the image functioned as a souvenir was sent fromVienna.

 

  • The first American Postcard was developed in 1873

 

  • In 1984, Royal Mail gave permission to British publishers to manufacture and distribute picture Postcards.

 

  • Records show in the peak of the “saucy” themed seaside postcard, sales peaked at a whopping 16 million a year.

 

  • The study and collecting of Postcards is termed Deltiology.

 
Do you know anymore facts about Postcards? Have you received or sent one recently? Let us know in the comments section below.