Father Christmas also lives in Switzerland
Did you know that you don't need to travel to Lapland to visit Father Christmas? That's one of the things that makes him so magical - he has the gift of being in more than one place at once! From the end of November to 24 December you can also find him in the charming town of Montreux, in Switzerland, just over one hour by train from Geneva Airport (allow a little more if you're travelling by flying sleigh).more info
Tallinn the Perfect PreChristmas Getaway
Northern Europe with its markets and ad hoc decoration is the perfect destination for anyone seeking to get into the Christmas spirit before actually celebrating the festivity with their family. One city with a must-visit flea market is Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, which boasts one of the best preserved medieval towns on the Baltic. The historic precinct, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, is ringed by walled fortifications which have withstood all wars. Any further reason for visiting Tallinn? Well, it has one of the most beautiful seafronts in the world and, according to Condé Nast Traveler, it is due to become one of the most prosperous cities of 2017. What else?
Tallinn was a major commercial hub during the period when the Hanseatic League dominated the Baltic and North Sea trade routes. At that time it was known by the Germanic name Reval and such was its prosperity that it could afford to have two mayors and twenty-four municipal councillors who only worked alternate years. The Old Town dates from medieval times and is arranged around the City Hall, which bears the city’s symbol, “Vana Toomas” (Old Thomas), a weathervane in the shape of a mercenary holding a sword in one hand and a flag in the other. Noteworthy, too, is the Lutheran St Mary’s Cathedral, also known as the Dome Church, in bare Gothic style, and the Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, dating from 1900, located on Toompea hill. Danes, Germans, Swedes, Russians and, lastly, Soviets have left their mark on Estonia’s history. Prominent from the latter period is the cinema, now one of the major leisure centres in Tallinn, and the network of inner patios scattered across this Baltic city.
You can’t say you’ve been to Tallinn unless you walk down Pikk jalg (Long Leg) Street and Lühike jalg (Short Leg) Street and stop to take in amazing iconic views of the city from the Patkuli viewing platform overlooking the sea, the harbour and the Church of Oleviste (St Olaf). Neither will you be seasoned experts on the capital of Estonia unless you take a stroll through the modern Rotermanni district, or if you fail to laugh on hearing the names of two of the best known towers on the city wall – “Look in the Kitchen” and “Fat Margaret”.
The inhabitants of Tallinn enjoy going to the beach and one of the most crowded in summer is Pirita (Brigid). With its fine white sand, locals have no qualms about bathing in the wild, frigid waters of the Baltic, where freshwater fish like the pike can also be caught. This coastal district has a marina where athletes who took part in the 1980 Moscow Olympic sailing events were housed.
The Museums of Tallinn
Tallinn boasts a plethora of green areas and museums. Kadriorg Park is home to the palace of the same name, commissioned by the wife of Czar Peter I of Russia. The palace houses the Art Museum of Estonia which exhibits works by Italian, Dutch, German and Russian artists, among others, ranging from the 16th to the 19th century. Nearby is the Kumu Art Museum, one of Tallinn’s most modern and unique buildings, structured in limestone and copper, which hosts all kinds of exhibitions throughout the year, both permanent and temporary.
Other cultural venues well worth seeing, particularly for families travelling with children, include the Rocca al Mare Museum, located in a large wooded park with thatched roof farm cottages dating from the 18th to the 20th century, a timber church and a school. Another highlight is the Estonian Maritime Museum, which features such emblematic nautical exhibits as the Suur Tõll icebreaker – the largest surviving icebreaker in Europe – the Kalev mine-layer and the submarine Lembit.
Make a point of visiting the capital of Estonia – book your Vueling to Tallinn here.
Text by Tus Destinosmore info
A Family Getaway on Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria has all you need for a great family escape – a plethora of beaches of all types, suitable both for toddlers and grown-ups; reserves where you can enjoy nature in all its splendour and embark on all kinds of adventures; leisure areas where children can have a whale of a time, and a climate which permits you to enjoy holidays at any time of year. What more could you ask for? Here, then, is a selection of several family holiday plans on Gran Canaria, where you will have an unforgettable time.
Beaches for Children
Admit it – the place where kids really have the best time is at the seaside, what with its mix of water and sand where they can play for hours on end. And, don’t deny it – it’s also the perfect spot for adults, where a good dose of sunlight and a refreshing dip help you leave all your worries behind. The beaches are one of the major draws to Gran Canaria and you can enjoy them all year around, thanks to the island’s mild climate. Nearly 236 kilometres of coastline offer just short of 60 kilometres of beaches of all kinds, from the kilometres-long sandy beaches to the more rugged, rocky coves with natural pools.
If you’re travelling with the kids, we recommend you make for the south of the island, to the area of Dunas de Maspalomas. Each year this beach attracts a host of vacationers seeking a well-earned rest and it is likely to be the perfect spot for your holiday, too. Other worthwhile options include Playa del Inglés, which is perfect for doing watersports, those of San Agustín and Las Burras, swathed in an aura of tranquility, and the beach of Las Canteras, renowned for being one of the finest urban beaches in the country. If you’re the more adventurous type, then head for El Puertillo and Agaete with their natural rock pools.
Activities for Children
Apart from the proverbial seaside, Gran Canaria also hosts numerous activities for all the family. Following are some pointers.
1. Gran Canaria – a Huge Nature Reserve
As far as nature goes, Gran Canaria is the equivalent of a miniature continent which stands out for its rich biodiversity. So, make a point of touring this grand Biosphere Reserve in search of its unique landscapes.
2. Dolphin Spotting
Dolphins can often be sighted in the south of the island and spotting them is thrilling for all the family. Enjoy a sailing adventure full of excitement as you wait for these friendly cetaceans to make their appearance. They are sure to treat you the odd acrobat leap as well. Your entertainment is guaranteed!
3. Theme Parks
Theme parks are a great standby when you are travelling with children. On Gran Canaria the young ones will have lots of thrills and spills careering down the water slides at Aqualand Maspalomas, venturing into the Wild West at Sioux City or testing their climbing skills on the various circuits at GrancAventura, among other things. And, while we’re on the subject, the Poema del Mar Aquarium will be opening to the public shortly. The aquarium recreates as accurately as possible the ecosystems of dozens of species that live both in and out of the water, so take note!
A holiday on Gran Canaria is the ideal opportunity for youngsters to try their hand on a surfboard. La Cícer, on Las Canteras beach, and Las Alcaravaneras, in the heart of the city, are great spots for learning and practising this sport.
5. Sightseeing in Town
And, needless to say, a holiday on this fantastic island should also include a bus tour of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the island’s major city, its old town dating back 500 years. The atmosphere there is lively and you can do a welcome spot of shopping. Don’t miss out on it!