Destination Highlights Archive

Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières)

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on October 29th, 2012

photo courtesy of Sylvain Bourdos, flickr creative commons

About Lyon, France

A vibrant history, delightful cuisine and wine, and one of the most illustrious light festivals in the world radiates from the lovely city of Lyon. Nestled in amongst the foothills of the Rhône-Alpes region, its historic center is situated on a strip of land where the Seine and Rhône Rivers converge. France’s third largest city is often hailed as the Capital of Lights, a title Lyon has earned from its annual Fete des Luminaires (Festival of Lights). All of this is made possible by the French metropolis‚ a state of the art illuminative infrastructure, which tastefully and efficiently keeps the cobblestone streets and plazas aglow once the sun has dipped below the horizon.

History of the Festival of Lights

September 8th 1852, Lyon planned to celebrate and present the community with a statue of the Virgin Mary. It had been commissioned to be placed next to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, which is perched on a hill overlooking the city. The much anticipated festivities were postponed when the Sa√¥ne River flooded. It was thought the event would be washed out once again on the rescheduled date of December 8th, 1852 when rain storms shrouded Lyon early in the morning. Everyone was ready to accept the ceremony’s cancellation, but the evening sky decided to unexpectedly clear. Overjoyed, the people of Lyon illuminated their windows with candles and took to the streets in a spur of the moment decision to revive the event. As the public merrily marched towards the statue, the church also spontaneously resurrected their original plans to illuminate the monument. Since then, each year Lyon has commemorated the occasion.

Festival of Lights Today

In 1989, technology brought the Festival of Lights to a whole new level with the introduction of a modernized lighting system.  The lights were further updated in 2004. Now a 4 day celebration (December 8th – December 11th of each year), the festival is popular among residents who faithfully continue to honor the tradition by placing votive candles in their windows. The streets and plazas have become quite the spectacle to be seen. When the sun sets, downtown Lyon transforms into a light show extravaganza with elaborately dressed street performers, high-res images and video projections, a kaleidoscope of LED lights illuminating architectural structures, sculpture-like lanterns beckoning attention, and much, much more.

Lyon’s Electric Bill

One would think that an event centered on light would burn through massive amounts of electricity, but the Festival of Lights electric consumption is astonishingly low. In 2009 the utility bill for the city center was €3,300, and this amounts for a modest 0.1% of Lyon’s annual lighting costs. LED bulbs are used, and they are then recycled once the celebrations have concluded.

Purchase Airfare to Lyon Now

Don’t wait until the last minute to book your flights to Lyon, as this extremely popular event draws 4 million spectators yearly. Call 1-800-FlyEurope and reserve your airfare today.

photo courtesy of Lludo, flickr creative commons

photo courtesy of winter d’adulescent, flickr creative commons

 

photo courtesy of z_aurelie, flickr creative commons

photo courtesy of z_aurelie, flickr creative commons

photo courtesy of Anne Varak, flickr creative commons

Pedro Almodvar’s Los Amantes Pasajeros

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on October 18th, 2012

A new Almodvar film will be making its debut in spring 2013. Los Amantes Pasajeros (English title, I’m so Excited) is being shot at the Ciudad Real defunct airport, 50 minutes from Madrid.

Who is Pedro Almodovar?

Almodovar grew up close to his current filming location, as well as the blustery, Spanish countryside made famous by Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Pedro’s mother had dreams that her son would grow up to become a priest, but the internationally acclaimed filmmaker knew that cinema was his true calling.

In the late 60s, Almodvar moved to Madrid to pursue his dream. Turbulent political times of the Franco regime had closed down the only film school in the capital city, but that didn’t sway the director’s passion to create movies. He worked at a phone company and simultaneously he began producing short films on a Super 8 camera; Almod√≥var had to record their soundtracks separately on cassette tape.

Inspired by great directors such as Luis Bunuel and Alfred Hitchcock, the self taught filmmaker began to make a name for himself in the 80s. Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios 1988 (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) and Todo sobre mi Madre 1999 (All About My Mother) are highlights of his extensive moviemaking resume that have won the hearts of foreign film aficionados worldwide. Before Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz became international icons, they starred in several Almodvar flicks throughout the years, and it has been rumored that they both will be making appearances in Los Amantes Pasajeros.

What is Pedro Almodovar’s Film Style?

Almodovar likes to stress that his movies are not autobiographical, but he does admit that each picture contains an essence of his psyche. Many of his films storylines revolve around quirky, yet willful, feminine protagonists. The Spanish director pushes the roles of his unconventional, endearing characters to the extreme. In Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios, Carmen Maura (Pepa) plays a love-foresaken wife who self-medicates with sleeping pills; Pepa makes a mean, pill-infused gazpacho in one scene that is probably strong enough to sedate a horse. In Todo Sobre mi Madre, a grieving mother sets out on a journey to locate her deceased son’s father and befriends a transvestite prostitute, a pregnant nun and a lesbian actress along the way.

What is Los Amantes Pasajeros About?

Few clues have been disclosed about Almodovar’s latest film, but most of the movie takes place on a plane destined for Mexico City. Some sort of situation has occurred midair that leads the characters to believe their lives are endangered. It is said to be a comedy about passengers (‚Äúamantes‚Äù translates to ‚Äúlovers,‚Äù so the storyline likely has something to do with a couple or couples) divulging intimate confessions in the heat of the moment.

Watching Spanish movies with English subtitles is a great way to find some inspiration for future travel plans. Why not watch an Almodovar film or two before booking your next flights to Spain?

photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

Day of the Dead | El Dia de Muertos

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on October 2nd, 2012

November 1st through November 2nd of each year marks what is known as El Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico; similar celebrations can be found throughout the world, as well. Like Halloween, it has strong roots stemming from Christianity, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. However, it is important to note that the Day of the Dead is not Mexico’s version of Halloween.

History of El Dia de Muertos

The origins of Day of the Dead festivities have been traced back to the pre-Hispanic civilizations that settled along Veracruz coast, and the holiday dates as far back as 1000 BC. It was once a month long celebration that had ties to the Aztec solar calendar, but later El Dia de Muertos was significantly shortened upon the arrival of the Spaniards during the 15th century. Although the newly colonized Europeans tried to convert the Aztecs, Mayas, and many other native societies to Christianity, the original inhabitants of Mexico refused to let go of their core beliefs. Today, El Dia de Muertos is a 2 day occasion and is a fusion between pre-Hispanic and Spanish-European heritage.

Tradition, Symbolism and Offerings

Skulls (Calaveras) and skeletons (calacas) are used to adorn the deceased graves and altars, which are commonly found in the family‚Äôs home. There is almost always a smile portrayed on the skulls, and they historically represent death and rebirth. November 1st (Day of the Innocents) is designated to remember infants and children who have passed, and November 2nd (Day of the Dead) is a tribute to the adult souls. Bright orange marigolds (Cempax√∫chitl) are used to lure and guide the dead to their awaiting family members, who are gathered around their loved ones’ tombs. This is a time to joyfully remember the dead, rather than grieve them. Trinkets/offerings (ofrendas) such as the deceaseds‚Äô favorite foods, drinks, toys (for children) and even cigarettes (for the adults who liked smoking) are left beside graves and shrines. When night falls, the altars and cemeteries glow with the flickering light of purple (symbolizing remorse) and pink (representing purity and hope) candles.

Visit Mexico for the Day of the Dead

Does a trip to Mexico during El Dia de Muertos festivities sound enticing to you? You will need to plan ahead of time and secure your flight, hotel and car rental in Mexico well in advance. Check out Top 7 Day of the Dead Destinations for some inspiration on the best locations to experience the occasion.

 

 

What to Look For In a Traveling Partner

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights, Travel Tips | on September 21st, 2012

If you’ve decided you want to take a trip, but you don’t want to go the solo route, you’re probably looking for a travel partner. There are a few things you should take into consideration before you pick one of your friends or even a stranger. The last thing you want is to be stuck with someone who will ruin the whole trip experience for you. Knowing a person and spending every day on the road with them can be two very different things. Here are some tips to help you figure out if you are compatible to ensure an enjoyable trip.

Share Some Common Interests

This should be obvious, but as we all know, opposites sometimes do attract. Your travel partner doesn‚Äôt have to like every single thing you do, but you should have at least a few interests in common. Perhaps you both like the same types of music, so you can plan to go to a few concerts. Maybe you both like to try new foods. Something as simple as that gives you an agenda to enjoy together during the trip. There are going to be times one of you will want to do something that the other has no interest in. This is okay and should be respected by both. At these times you’ll have the option to either split up and each do your own thing or take a chance–you might find enjoyment in something you never thought you would.

Agree on a Budget

Traveling on a budget is essential. The last thing you want is to run out of money before your trip is over. You should sit down with your partner and come to an agreement on how much you can spend per day on things like hotels, food, transportation and other essentials. I’m not saying you should combine your money, but coming to an understanding can save you a lot of stress and frustration in the long run. If you can’t agree on the budget before you depart, this could cause a much bigger headache for you during the trip. It’s also a good idea to set aside some extra money for shopping and extra things that might come up unexpectedly. You never know what kind of opportunities might come your way.

Test Out Your Travel Partner

Before you commit to a long and possibly pricey vacation, make a plan to spend a weekend, or at the very least an overnight trip with your potential traveling companion. This way you can see how the two of you work together. It’s up to you if you want to be straight forward and tell them the purpose of the time together, or you can just play it off as an excuse to get to know each other a bit better before your trip. Either way, it should be a good way to see how the two of you will fare in the long run. Make a mental note of things that could cause frustrations. Do they snore? Buy some good ear plugs. Does it take them a long time to get ready? Make sure they get the bathroom first. Nip the little things that could manifest into much larger issues early on.

The Beauty is in the Details

The details I’m talking about are not the details of your trip. I’m talking about the details of any avoidable problems that might arise while traveling. Talk about how much time you might want to spend doing things on your own or if you both want to spend the whole time doing things together. Being honest is the key here. If you envision yourself spending half of your time doing things on your own and they are planning on spending the whole time with you, this could become a problem for both of you. One person is left feeling like they are forced to do things alone, while the other might feel smothered by their tag along. Once the details are a bit more flushed out, set some ground rules or guidelines for things that might happen during your trip. Decide what you might do if one person makes friends during the trip. Are you both comfortable inviting them to travel with you? What if someone starts a romantic relationship and you are sharing a room? If you have already dealt with how you’ll react to these situations before you go, there’s less of a chance of disagreements later. It’s impossible to think of every possible scenario, but the more you can talk about, the better.

The Benefits of Having a Traveling Partner

In conclusion, I personally prefer traveling with someone. Traveling solo can be enjoyable, but most of the time, the advantages outweigh the benefits of being alone. Many costs can be split between the two of you. You might see sights that you wouldn’t have thought to see on your own. And the best part, you have someone to share all the traveling memories for years to come.

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Fare Type Round Trip     One Way
Passengers  Adults
  Children under 11