5 of the greatest countries to celebrate Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras: the colourful winter carnival celebrated in cities all across the world. Bringing in huge crowds, delicious feasts, parades, parties and more. Here are the 5 of the greatest countries to celebrate Mardi Gras:

Goa, India

The Goa Carnival showcases the free, harmonious spirit that makes this Portuguese carnival so legendary. Beautiful floats covered in flowers and graceful dancers manoeuvre their way through the streets of Panjim to traditional the folk songs and strumming of guitars.

Mindelo, Cape Verde

Just off the coast of Senegal, the lush Cape Verde islands host a curious mix of Carnival traditions in the run-up to the fast. In the handsome town of Mindelo, jerry-built floats and curvy dancers sway to Creole coladeira punctuated by ululating African shrieks.

mardi02.jpg

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

If you want to celebrate Mardi Gras by the pristine, exotic beaches of the Caribbean then Trinidad & Tobago is for you. Follow the sounds of the steel pan band as they lead the newly crowned Carnival King and Queen, dressed in dramatic, embellished costumes. The crowds that follow these parades are notoriously passionate, so much so that it can be hard to see where the performers stop and the crowd begin; so dress up, dance and join the party. Brace yourself for all-night parties and raucous steel-pan music. Two days before Ash Wednesday, paint, oil, and melted chocolate fly during the mas (masquerade) parades.

Rio de Janeiro

Arguably one of the most famous pre-Lent celebrations, the Rio Carnival draws millions of people to the city for one big samba party. Thousands of performers dance on decorated floats and compete in one of seven divisions for their choice of music, costume and themes. With dancers training all year for the festivities, you know they mean business and that it’ll be the show of a lifetime.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Beginning with a masked ball on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, celebrations build to fever pitch during five days of pre-Lenten parties.

Embrace the chaos and be seduced by the spirit of Carnival. Enjoy lavish parades, masquerade balls and the unforgettable atmosphere of Mardi Gras. It’s said that the first parade float was created by a society of wealthy men called the Mistick Krewe of Comus. From this day, different secret societies, or ‘Krewes’, join the party with their own floats, colours and costumes. One to look out for is the Krewe of Rex, who wear traditional gold, purple and green colours. Newer Krewes like Bacchus, Endymion and Zulu opt for glitz with celebrity appearances, marching bands and more than 1,000 riders.

mardi01.jpg

image014 image012 image009 image015 image005

Advertisements

6 Romantic Destinations to take your loved one this Valentines

For that someone special

Maybe you are the type of person who likes to spoil their their significant other? Maybe your looking for an excuse to take your loved one on the holiday of their dreams? Or maybe, as a nice gesture, you just want to be able to spend some time with the person you love. If so, why not treat your other half to a trip out to one of these 6 romantic destinations to this Valentines Day.


6. Sānyà, China

Diverse in it’s culture, ethics, religion, architecture and cuisine, China offers some of the most amazing and romantic scenery in the world.

Sānyà offers 40 kilometres of pristine coastline partnered with a bustling city centre next to a long stretch of beaches and hotels. Being situated in the Hainan Province gives Sānyà the tropical monsoon climate it’s known for. Sanya is a noted tourist resort with incredible scenery. Mountains, rivers, beaches and the best seaview in the country, this is a place to spoil your loved one.

sanya.jpg


5. Hawaii

If you are a couple that like exploring somewhere new together, Hawaii may be the place for you! Described as a ‘place like no other on earth’, the white sandy beaches, colossal mountain ranges and beautiful nature reserves make Hawaii the incredible place that it is.

There are six major islands to visit in Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii Island each with its own distinct personality.

Hawaii.jpg


4. India

India may not be the first place you think of when it comes to romance, but India is a place deep with culture and heritage that is guaranteed to move you and your partner.

Goa, Andaman, Agra are all destinations (amongst others) that are great to visit for celebrations! Find a somewhere to join the party or spend quiet romantic time with your lover, this place will cater to all your needs.

India.jpg


3. New York City

Share a kiss at the top of the Empire State Building. The breathtaking views over the city that never sleeps makes this spot for ideal for a romantic date. But if you’re looking to take it one step further, splash out and spoil your significant other by taking them on a helicopter tour of the city!

nyc-helicopter.jpg

If you both prefer a more relaxed approach to spending Valentines Day, you should look into exploring the many art museums and galleries dotted around NYC.

love.jpg

A valentines trip to New York City would not be complete without a lazy walk around Central Park – But don’t forget to wrap up warm as you may only experience highs of 4°C. So, if the being out in the cold isn’t your thing, you can check out some of the botanical gardens that New York has to offer.

central-park.jpg

If you’re ready to brave the outdoors, then why not try out one of the most romantic wintertime traditions in the city – ice skating! Watch the ice-skaters at the Rockefeller Center rink, or tie on a pair of skates yourself.

ice-skating.jpg


2. Venice

A romantic trip to Venice wouldn’t be complete without a Gondola ride through the city. This is a great way to get around and to take in the landscape.

gondola.jpg

Enjoy the ballet or opera the Theatre La Fenice one of “the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre”.

Theatre-La-Fenice.jpg

If you happen to find yourself in St Mark’s Square, head over to the Campanile bell tower which is perhaps one of the most instantly recognisable symbols of Venice. At the top, you can enjoy spectacular views across the canals and roofs of the city. It’s open until the sunsets throughout the year, making for a very romantic evening with your significant other.

Campanile-bell-tower.jpg


1. Paris

Commonly known as the city of love. Paris has to be one the most romantic cities in the world. The world famous love lock bridge can be found in Paris, close to the Notre-Dame. Here, lovers from all over the world attached a lock engraved with a special message to the bridge.

love-lock.jpg

On an island in the middle of a lake in the Bois de Vincennes, the largest public park in the city, you can find the “Temple of Love”. A less well-known landmark in Paris, visiting the Temple of Love (also known as the Temple Romantique) means you won’t be sharing your romantic moment with dozens of other couples trying to do the same.

love-temple.jpg

Take a stroll down the River Siene admiring the boutique houseboats as you go. Below street level of the Quai des Tuileries, you will be able to find peace and comfort away from the crowds of people.

siene.jpg

Take in the view of the Eiffel Tower. A popular place for marriage proposals, the sweeping panoramic views of the city make it so perfectly romantic. But if you really want to go all out, make sure you take your loved one to view the Eiffel Tower at night. The 324m Parisian icon lights up the nights sky with a sparkly light show that will leave you lost for words.

paris.gif

Find out your visa requirements on: thetravelvisacompany.co.uk

image014 image012 image009 image015 image005

How will Brexit affect the future of travel?

As you probably already know, Britain has voted to leave the EU. Aside from the many different views and opinions on this controversial topic, we would like to talk about how this has, and could, affect the future of travel.

After the final results of the referendum, there are a few common questions many of the general public have about the future of travel, such as:

  • Will  the price of holidays increase?
  • Will I need a new passport / driving license after we leave the EU?
  • Will I require a visa to travel European countries?
  • What happens to my European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

As with almost everything related to the decision to leave the EU, it is not clear how things will proceed and it is still unclear exactly what sort of relationship Britain will be able to strike with the European Union. And so, therefore, it is uncertain as to what will actually happen regarding travel to the EU.

What we do know is that:

  • There are no immediate changes to claiming compensation if your flight is delayed or cancelled.
  • You can still bring home unlimited goods from duty free.
  • There are no immediate changes to using your phone abroad.
  • You can still use your European Health Insurance Card card abroad.
  • It is likely that British Citizens will (at some point) need brand new passports as the front cover currently features the words “European Union”.
  • It is also likely that we will (at some point) need brand new driving licenses as this has the European flag featured on it.

The UK Government will need to implement new laws for each of the above after we leave the EU. The only immediate impact to travel could be from the value of the pound.

ABTA has released this statement on the result of the EU Referendum –

The Prime Minister has stated that there will be no initial change in the way people travel. Travellers are as free to move between the UK and the EU as they were yesterday, European Health Insurance cards remain valid and regulations such as Air Passenger Rights remain in place. People due to travel this summer will see little changes to their holiday.

Once the UK formally notifies the EU of its intention to leave, the remaining Member States will have up to two years to offer the UK a deal for a future trading relationship and during this period holidaymakers will not see any immediate changes.

However, the fall in value of the pound will have an immediate impact on holidaymakers and their spending power overseas.

ABTA is the UK’s largest travel association, representing travel agents and tour operators.

For further queries or questions, you can visit ABTA’s FAQ page of their website here.

image014 image012 image009 image015 image005

Easter 2016

Opening Hours

If you are planning to make a visa application during this holiday period we are here to help! Our staff can be contacted on 01270 250 590 – see our opening times below:

eastertimes

Easter

Easter celebrations begin with Good Friday (the day that Jesus Christ was crucified). Traditionally, this day involves the attendance of Mass in the afternoon and a day of fasting. Christians will have only one meal throughout the whole day, and this will usually be a fish dish as meat should not be eaten on Good Friday.

This is then followed by Easter Sunday which takes place on the last Sunday of March. This was the day Jesus was resurrected after his crucifixion. Most commonly, the day is celebrated with the giving and receiving of sweet treats and candies, for example: Chocolate Easter Eggs. As well as this, you will find people taking part in Easter egg hunts, Sunday church service and Easter Sunday roast dinners.

easter1

Where to spend Easter?

As Easter brings with it two bank holidays, the perfect way to spend it would be an extra long, relaxing, weekend away! By this we mean, it would be best not travelling half way around the world and spending an entire day travelling… instead: A couple hours on a plane, car or ferry to arrive at your chosen destinations is exactly what the doctor ordered!

landscape

Here are some Ideas for a much needed European getaway:

Tuscany, Italy

With a huge amount to keep you busy, breathtaking landscapes, incredible art & history and some of the best food & wine in the world, Tuscany should definitely be considered when travelling to Europe! A popular region in Italy, Tuscany has great deal of attractions suitable for everybody; from families and solo travellers, couples to adventurers you will never get bored!

tuscany

Spain

Go shopping, grab a coffee, treat yourself to a fancy meal out or just relax on the beach… Spain really has so much to offer! Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Valencia and many more historic cities. This is surely a bucket list essential for any traveller. With a flight seeing you there in around 2 to 3 hours, what is stopping you?

spain

Istanbul, Turkey

The only city in the world that encompasses both Asia and Europe

Istanbul will not disappoint. This is a place filled with different wonders including: the Basilica Cistern, the Aya Sofya, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. Teeming with little shops and stalls, this is the perfect place to pick up some traditional Turkish memorabilia.

instanbul

Do I Need a Visa to travel

If you hold a UK passport; you can visit all 26 European countries in the Schengen agreement visa free!

For those of other nationalities, you can apply for a Schengne visa with The Travel Visa Company. Its as easy as 1… 2… 3!

  1. Apply for your Schengen visa.
  2. Receive your issued visa.
  3. Enjoy travel between all 26 EU countries with one visa!

Please Note: You must apply for the visa with the embassy of the destination you will first be entering.

We can assist with your travel visa needs for all nationalities and destinations worldwide:

Tourist Visas / Business Visas / Media Visas
European (Schengen) Visas
Study Visas / Work Permits

Other services we include are:

Passport Renewal Service
In-House Passport Photography and Resizing Service
UK Inbound Immigration Visas

image014 image012 image009 image015 image005

What is a Schengen visa?

What is a Schengen Visa?

A Schengen visa allows the visitor to travel between the countries that are part of the Schengen area (also known as the Schengen zone). The Schengen Area is comprised of 26 countries that have agreed to allow free movement of their citizens within this area as if it were a single country. Of the 26 countries bound by the Schengen agreement, 22 are part of the EU and the other 4 are part of the EFTA.

Travellers must apply to the single destination that you travelling to or, if you are visiting more than one Schengen member country, you will need to do one of the following.

The Schengen visa allows the holder to stay a total of up to 90 days within a period of 6 months for tourist or business purposes. If you get a multiple entry Schengen visa, you may leave and return any number of times within the 180-day period, but the combined stay within the region must not total more than 90 days.

scheng

Certain nationalities are eligible for this visa. Find a list of them here.

How was the agreement created?

The Schengen Agreement got its name because the original treaty was signed on a river-boat in the river Moselle near the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, where the territories of France, Germany and Luxembourg meet.

It began with 5 countries: Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany first signing the agreement.

Where to go and what to do:

With 26 different countries at your disposal, there’s going to be plenty to do – why not visit some of the most iconic cities in the world: Paris, Rome, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Milan, Zurich and more. There is also a plenty of famous landmarks that you can visit like the Roman Colosseum, the Acropolis of Athens, the Sagrada Familia and the Eiffel Tower.

But it doesn’t end there! There is more you can do while travelling through these 26 different countries: why not take your family / friends on a road-trip around Europe, take to the Alps for a ski session, visit local markets and museums, take a relaxing scenic walk or go it alone on a backpacking adventure!

blog

Visas

*Note: We advise that you apply at least 3 months before travelling.

*Note: It can take up to 4 weeks to obtain this visa.

We are now able to assist with all Schengen Visa Applications for non-UK Passport Holders. Visit our website here: thetravelvisacompany.co.uk/visas/schengen/

“To Travel Is To Live”

image014 image012 image009 image015 image005

Holiday Season in Europe

Why Europe?

If you’re looking for a lovely little winter get-away, then look no further… Europe is the place to be.

Europe plays host to charming small villages, world famous landmarks and some stunning cities such as Prague, Athens, Stockholm, Rome, Zurich and many, many more. With such a wide range of diverse and cultural places to go and see, travelling around Europe is a bucket list essential!

places

What to do whilst visiting Europe

Europe contains a great deal of different things to do and see. Here are just a few of our favourites:

Winter Sports

One of the most popular activities has to be Skiing. This is an adventurous pursuit that the whole family can get involved in. There’s a whole load of different ski resorts that can cater to your needs, budgets and skill level. It is said that Val Thorens (France) is rated one of the best ski resorts in the world – possibly due to the fact that it is the highest altitude resort in Europe!

But the fun doesn’t stop at skiing. Some ski resorts also offers downhill mountain biking, paragliding, ice-water scuba diving, sledding with huskies and you can even spend an evening in a Yurt. Other popular resorts include: La Plagne (France), Westondorf (Austria) and Alagna (Italy).

Another popular activity would be Mountain climbing. Now this isn’t for the faint hearted. Mountain climbs can be hard work and require a lot of training, dedication and commitment. Having said that, they are an incredible achievement and give you something to brag about for years to come! Popular mountain climbing destinations include: Fontainebleau (France), Västervik (Sweden) and San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily.

sports

Christmas Markets

For those of you who would rather relax into the festive season, Europe is the best place to find some of the most amazing Christmas markets around the world!

When you think of the Christmas markets, your first thought is probably of Berlin and their world renowned Christmas markets, however other cities such as Brussels, Cologne, Stockholm and Vienna are becoming more and more popular to travel to each year.

The markets are usually packed with shoppers out to experience everything the city has to offer. From the stalls to stores you can expect to find traditional hand-made gifts, an array of locally sourced foods accompanied with the classic: Mulled Wine, providing everything you need to get in to the Christmas spirit! But we must warn you that it is the middle of the winter and you will need to take this into account as temperatures drop and the chance of snow and ice increases.

markets

Lapland

Why not take the family out to Finland to meet Santa himself! Lapland is Finland’s most northern region and borders Sweden, Norway, Russia and the Baltic Sea. Flights from the UK usually take around 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Lapland is also known for its vast wilderness, ski resorts and (if you’re lucky enough) you may get a chance to see the famous Northern Lights! You can also get a ride in Santa’s sleigh, go for a winter safari by dog sled, visit local museums or even just relax in the sauna… and it is said that there are more saunas than personal vehicles in Finland!

christmas

Roadtrips

Just you, your family and the open road. The beauty of going on a road trip is that you can choose where you go, what you do, when you want. There are many pre-planned routes that you can follow which will take you to some of Europe’s most popular attractions – here’s a useful link for an incredible route featuring some stunning scenery: lifehacker.com

roadtrip

Thinking of visiting?

If you are a non-UK passport holder visiting Europe you may need what is called a ‘Schengen Visa’. This grants you access to 22 different European countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

For more information about the requirements and to see if you are eligible for a Schengen Visa, go to our website: thetravelvisacompany.co.uk/visas/schengen/

Facebook: The Travel Visa Company

Twitter: @thetravelvisa

LinkedIn: The Travel Visa Company

Anything you want to add? Feel free to comment below!