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111 days, 11 countries, 1 family: This Family Took An Incredible 111-Day Road Trip From India To France

I am in Segovia, Spain. Where can I go shopping?

Start at the large and leafy Plaza Mayor, surrounded by boutiques and pubs.

segovia span shopping
Image: travel.nationalgeographic.com

 

Any which way you go, up or down the cobbled lanes, you’ll find interesting things to catch your attention. Be it top brands or local lace, there’s a lot to tempt your wallet. Shops in this and other small Spanish towns shut down between 1 pm and 4 pm for lunch, but the really cool thing is that they stay open until 8 pm or slightly later, unlike in some other European nations.

I’m in Madrid, Spain. Lead me into an offbeat tavern.

maderid old quarter tavernFollow us into Meson del Champignon, an enchanting taverna in the Old Quarter of Madrid.

Located beside the grand Plaza Mayor, this cobbled medieval stretch of lanes and bylanes houses some of Spain’s oldest taverns and restaurants. The tradition is to go tapas hopping here, washing them down with wine and beer. By the end of the trail you are sure to be loosening up your belt.

At the Meson del Champignon, it’s everything mushroom, down to the art on the walls. The place is shaped like a cave.

To us, the de-stemmed mushrooms were presented as caves, too, into which went extra virgin olive oil, garlic, herbs and a little pepper. That’s it. The simplicity was what blew us away.

DSC_0269

Grilled or filled: every mushroom tapas here is an absolute treat.

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An elderly gentleman provided song and music to deepen the Spanish effect.

Website: http://www.mesondelchampinon.com

Q. I’ve heard of Tomatina. What other exciting festivals does Spain have?

Plenty!

San Fermin

Image: www.boston.com
Image: http://www.boston.com

A week-long festival celebrated annually during the first half of July in the city of Pamplona. The highlight: the iconic bull run which despite much protests from animal rights groups, has continued to gather enthusiastic crowds from all over the world. Although the entire run from the bottom of Santo Domingo street, all the way up to the bull ring lasts no more than three minutes, it is a highly energetic and exciting event where scores of dare-devil runners test their speeds against  raging bulls.

 www.sanfermin.com

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival

Image: www.sancar.ro
Image: http://www.sancar.ro

The true spirit of Spanish fiesta is best showcased at this carnival. Every February,  a parade complete with beautifully crafted floats, music concerts and dances is held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife the capital of the Canary Island. The central attraction of the Carnival which makes the audience remember its Brazilian counterpart, is the group of performers, mostly girls,  dressed in vibrant and flamboyant costumes.

www.carnavaldetenerife.com

Las Fallas de Valencia

Image: www.introitismo.es
Image: http://www.introitismo.es

A treat for the fire-loving revelers and craftsmen, Las Fallas is another unique Spanish fiesta which showcases the local craftsmanship in the form of gigantic satirical puppets that are stuffed with fireworks and set ablaze at midnight. The day-time celebrations feature bull fights, beauty pageants and parades. The highlight: lighting up a string of special firecrackers known as mascletá which are extremely loud with a rhythmic thunderous sound.

 Valencia City Guide to Fallas festival

Watch this video to get a taste of the festivities

Los Indianos

Image: wodumedia.com
Image: wodumedia.com

Probably the dry version of La Tomatina – Los Indianos is another popular Spanish carnival where instead of a ripe, squashed tomato, people fling huge quantities of talcum powder on each other. The carnival moves through the old streets of Santa Cruz de La Palma, accompanied with numerous street performers including strolling minstrels and one-man bands.

Read more about it on the La Palma Island blog

Haro Wine Festival

Image: www.cokebartrina.com
Image: http://www.cokebartrina.com

Another variation of La Tomatina is La Batalla de Vino de Haro or simply, the Wine Fight. This unique festival is celebrated every year in the small town of Haro where people drench each other with wine pouring out of buckets and water pistols alike. The festival also includes traditional dances and music concerts.

www.winefight.com

So, what’s your favourite – bulls, carnivals, fireworks, wine or talcum powder?

(Input: TS intern Preeti Sharma)

Q: Can you suggest the best resorts in the world for family fun?

Family-Fun-on-Beach

Disconnect from the world, and reconnect with your loved ones at these stunning retreats sprinkled across the globe.

LykiaWorld Ölüdeniz

Kıdrak Mevkii, Ölüdeniz
48340 Fethiye – Türkey

Image: LykiaWorld Ölüdeniz
Image: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

It sits pretty at the foot of the Lycian mountains,by the edge of a private sand and pebble beach. A place of heart-stopping beauty, this. Inhale the whiff of history sprinkled all around you: Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Seljuk, Greek and modern Turkish accents meet and merge here. When you crave a few moments just to be able to sigh at the turquoise glory of the Aegean, LykiaWorld will whisk the kids away to the aptly named Children’s Paradise; a 22,000 square metre zone customised for pure fun: 8 swimming pools with 20 water slides, a Treasure Island to explore, a Pirate’s Forest to get temporarily lost in, Hidden Caves to venture into.  And guess what: there’s even a beach for babies!

www.lykiaworld.com

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Florida

Magic Kingdom Area

901 Timberline Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Image: www.disneyandmore.blogspot.com
Image: http://www.disneyandmore.blogspot.com

When it comes to family fun, Disney does know best. The sound of crickets beneath bridges, the gem-like beauty of The Overlook Point at night, riding a Pontoon Boat, biking through the wilderness, fun-filled fishing, and the sight of the Fire Rock Geyser shooting a water plume 120-feet up into the air…what’s not to love?

Leave the youngsters to watch Disney movies and dabble in art,craft and video games at the Cub’s Den, while you head out for a just-the-two-of-us evening. Gather round the campfire for songs and fun, then watch a classic Disney movie under the stars. Soak in the scent of pines and junipers while you play checkers with the family. The fun never sets in Disneyworld.

www.disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/villas-at-wilderness-lodge/

Four Seasons Resort, Whistler

4591 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, 

British Columbia, 

Canada V0N 1B4 

Tel.1 (604) 935-3400

Image: www.travelwithkids.about.com
Image: http://www.travelwithkids.about.com

The kids get a welcome Whistler Bear as soon as they walk in. And like every family-friendly resort, they have a customised programme called Kidding Around, packed with arts and crafts, movies, games and stories. Deceptively tame stuff! The real McCoy here is the mind-blowing outdoorsy fun you’re going to have: bear watching, kayaking, cycling, ziptrekking, rock climbing, glacier hiking, horse-drawn sleigh-riding, Hummer tours, dog-sledding, snowtubing…adrenaline-pumping, testosterone-triggering fun with your family in the world’s most picture-perfect setting.

www.fourseasons.com/whistler/

La Manga Club

30385 Los Belones,

Cartagena, Murcia, Spain.

Image: www.lamangarentals.com
Image: http://www.lamangarentals.com

In the south of Spain, surrounded by emerald hills and the intense blue of the Mediterranean Sea, the 1500-acre La Manga Club estate is the water lover’s paradise. Sailing, canoeing, swimming, jet-skiing, windsurfing, catamaranning, kite surfing…you name it. Crave some canoodling? Leave the kids to go-cart at the Junior Club  and cosy up in a wild cove or frolic on the endless white beach. Evenings at La Manga are a sensory feast—stroll down picturesque fishing villages and enjoy gastronomical luxuries by the lively ports. Mmm…

www.lamangaclub.com

Forte Village Resort

Santa Margherita di Pula Cagliari – Sardinia – Italy

Image: www.italyluxuryfamilyhotels.com
Image: http://www.italyluxuryfamilyhotels.com

A great resort knows how to make itself small and close up, like a clam, to enclose you in a shell of intimacy. This one sure does. Century-old pines lean together conspiratorially, letting you savour secluded Sardinia in all its romantic beauty. Come dawn, and your seaside suite fills with a rosy glow. As the day unfolds, treat yourself to a nerve-untangling massage, then sail away on a yacht. Let the kids head to the fun-filled Kid City or the high-tech Leisure Land, whose electronically equipped go-karting track lets drivers measure their lap time. This is real Formula 1 driving: breathtaking bends, a starting grid, traffic lights and even a bottle of champagne for the winner! End the evening with a candlelit dinner by the seashore. Bliss.

www.fortevillageresort.com

Ayers Rock Resort

Uluru, Australia

Image: www.theaustralian.com.au
Image: http://www.theaustralian.com.au

This is an ‘out of the world’ experience in every sense of the phrase. At the Red Centre of the outback, you’ll set sight on some of the most astonishing landscapes on earth. Standing on a secluded sand, watching the sun etch red and gold over Uluru and Kata Tjuta, is the stuff lifetime memories are made of. Dine on the sands under the night sky, awash with a million stars. Take a scenic glider flight, sweeping over the spectacular rock formations for close up views. Go cruising on a Harley Davidson. Discover the amazing flora and fauna that survive in the often harsh Outback. The tough part? Choosing from the buffet of 65 action-packed tours of the Resort and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park…

www.ayersrockresort.com.au

Kumarakam Beach Resort, Kerala, India

Kumarakom North Post – Kottayam 686 566, Kerala, India

Image: www.karmakerala.com
Image: http://www.karmakerala.com

Kumarakom puts you in a delicious dilemma. Which would you like to book? The Float, Kerala’s traditional houseboats equipped with every modern luxury, bobbing on the bosom of the Lake Vembanad?  Or one of the plush homestyle villas, with its own private courtyard, a private pool and Jacuzzi, and a panoramic view of the luminous Lake? But no contest, you simply have to take a sunset cruise down the lake, and try a banana boat ride. Come evening, and it’s time to pamper the palate with the fresh catch of the day, Syrian Christian Duck Roast, Karimeen Pollichathu and Appams. Take the kids to the bird sanctuary nearby, and go cycling down the village together. A truly divine holiday in God’s own country.

 www.thepaul.in

Badrutt’s Palace, St. Moritz, Switzerland

Via Serlas 27, 7500 St. Moritz

Image: www.swissdeluxe.ch
Image: http://www.swissdeluxe.ch

Picture Junior stirring up sinful chocolate fondue in this fairy-tale Swiss-Alps setting. That’s when he’s not baking a key lime pie or on the super-slide or in the sand-box or out on a local jet excursion. You’ll exhaust your Powershot card in a jiffy, trying to capture the tomatoey flush on your little one’s cheeks as she comes in from the snow, or sonny’s awestruck expression as he rides a horse-drawn carriage through the streets. For the teen, there’s a buffet of goose-bumpy delights, starting from rappelling and mountain biking to sailing, rap jumping  and hydro speed.  For simple feel-good family fun, enjoy a picnic on the glacier, or cosy up inside blankets by the campfire to the divine aroma of pot roast and the sounds of tinkling laughter.  Afterwards, snuggle up under the night sky: you’ll be amazed at how well you sleep in a teepee.

www.badruttspalace.com

Sheraton Grande Laguna, Phuket

10 Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road · Tambol Cherng Talay, Talang · Phuket 83110 · Thailand

Image: www.worldtravelguide247.blogspot.com
Image: http://www.worldtravelguide247.blogspot.com

Polo in the free-form pool. Waterfalls. Mountain bikes. Blue lagoons. Coconut groves. Rainforests. A lush green gold course. A pristine private beach along the shores of the Andaman Sea. Teak sun lounges. Thirsty beach towels. Cool refreshments. Kayaking. Windsurfing. Snorkelling. Scuba diving through coral reefs. A 24-hour fitness centre. Nature walks. Thai Boxing. Yoga. Outdoor playgrounds. Indoor fun at the VIK Club, with daily visits by the resort’s baby elephants Lilly and Lucky. Asian delicacies, beside the blue lagoon. Island paradise or five-star resort? You decide.

www.starwoodhotels.com/luxury

Nickelodeon Family Suites

14500 Continental Gateway

Orlando, FL 32821

Image: www.meghantucker.com
Image: http://www.meghantucker.com

It’s like stepping into a Nickelodeon cartoon. Snuggle up in the world’s first Nick-branded resort featuring Nicktoon Kidsuites—Rugrats, SpongeBob SquarePants, Jimmy Neutron. Let the 4-D experience whoosh you into a world of underwater adventure. Hop on the shuttle for a ride to the Disney parks and Universal studios; take a seat at a show. Discover the wondrous Orlando Science Center. Check out The Lagoon – the first-of-its-kind zero-depth entry pool. Slip, slide, and splash around the four-storey water tower and 400-gallon water tank that  cascades through seven slides. Enjoy a hearty buffet at the Character Breakfast, with visits from your favourite cartoon characters. Let the Kid’s Spa pamper the girls with pedicures and hair wraps, and ink the boys with temporary tattoos. What a world of fun, for everyone!    

www.nickhotel.com

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