After adding Santiago De Compostella to our destinations; we simply had to follow up on an extraordinary event that captures in equal measures ones amusement and bewilderment.
As mentioned in the review an absolute must see event that will leave you speechless happens at certain intervals throughout the year, one falls around the 25th of July for the feast of St James which is during the pilgrimage time of year. The Botafumeiro, or to us lay folk, 'The Giant Swinging Incense Pot' is an 80(ish)kg silver pot of smoking fumes. It is hoisted on an old rope by 8 priests who start pulling in unison.
The smoking pot swings higher and higher, faster and faster until it is penduluming the entire width of the mighty cathedral at a speed of about 65km/hr (40.38mph).
This ritual started in the middle ages and purportedly one of the reasons of doing this was to clear the air from the stench of the under-bathed pilgrims who had just hiked their from all over the continent.
On several occasions in its several hundred year history the hefty incense pot has not gone to plan. On one such occasion it speared through the stained-glass windows and travelled a good distance from the church. This happened to have occurred when a certain queen-to-be was visiting - Princess Catherine of Aragon was travelling to England to marry King Henry the 8th. She was there to bare witness to this event, some say she should have taken it as an omen for her pending marriage.
*Watch to the end to see the priest take it for a twirling dance to bring it to rest.
It has been a long year for us overe here at Travelindicator.
It's a strange contradiction when your job includes running a website about the most fantastic travel destinations in the world, yet on the daily you spend most of your time sitting at your desk coding away - wishing you were there.
Don't get us wrong, that is in no way a complaint as we love doing what we do and discovering all these new destinations, and what's more we love the fact that Travelindicator actually helps us make our holiday planning that much more efficient.
But just to change the tone here for a moment, let us today share with you a bit about our very own and very personal holiday plans for summer 2015.
One part of Travelindicator (that's me!) is actually a European who resides in Singapore. A funny anecdote is that in one of my first days here some years back I enthusiastically told a local friend about my plans for the upcoming summer holiday, only to find him laughing in my face.
"Summer, what do you mean? Every day is summer in tropical Singapore!" OK, lesson learned, but we can't quite shake that European habit of spreading our wings come June-August.
Making it even more difficult is the fact that on the one hand I am surrounded by fantastic South East Asian destinations, but on the other hand long for traveling in Europe. This year my wife and I decided to go for the best of both worlds and spend a short week here in the region, and another two back in Europe.
Leg 1: South East Asia - Koh Samui
The first part of our holiday (traveling with wife and kid, by the way) brings us to lovely Koh Samui. The Gulf of Thailand rather than the Andaman Sea is where it's at at this time of year if you want to avoid the rain, so that's where we shall be.
We are staying in a resort on the northern side of the island, roughly between Bophut Beach and Fisherman's Village. I will be the first one to admit that we booked our holiday relatively late, and so finding a place to stay proved difficult as most were fully booked or outlandishly expensive.
We ended up with a four star resort that offers us what we think we need: a good beach, near to places to drink and eat but not in the midst of it, and close to the airport. We can't wait.
Leg 2: Europe - Amsterdam and The Netherlands
OK, so I am one of those people that calls The Netherlands "home home". As in, my real and current home is somewhere else, but that is where my roots are.
There won't be much sightseeing in places like Amsterdam involved here I'm afraid, as rather than that we will drive all the way to the eastern province of Overijssel and stay with relatives there.
Come to think of it, we have not written a single piece about that part of the country (to come I'm sure), but rest assured that it is green and lovely. See accompanying photo.
Leg 3: Europe - Tuscany, Italy
After spending a few days in the Netherlands we head over to what is actually the main stay of our entire holiday: Tuscany! Here we will spend 2 weeks in utter peace in an AirBnb property that stands on top of a hill and is 500 meters away from its closest neighbour.
The funny thing is that this place cost us less money for nearly 2 weeks as we pay for a short week in the Koh Samui resort. From here we will explore places like Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre and Lucca.
We then end our trip by heading over to Genoa and Milan for a night or two, and from there we fly back to Singapore. Sounds like it's going to be a magnificent summer!
Enjoy yours too.
Travelindicator was never meant to be an isolated and static website. Right from the start we planned to be a social platform for travelers to connect and discover new destinations. It just took us a little while to get there!
Allow us to introduce to you Travelindicator's new messaging, itinerary publishing and user profile system, which will make the whole Travelindicator user experience even better.
We have added user profiles (such as the one below) that display basic information about all of our users. It shows you which places they have saved, what itineraries they have created and which other Travelindicator users have liked their account.
A like may happen if you know a person (let's say if it's your brother, wife or a good friend's account) or if you feel that a user is creating some awesome itineraries and you want to keep track of their latest moves.
You will come across links to user profiles all over the place, for instance when a user leaves a review on a destination or when a user has saved or included a place in one of their itineraries.
The most fun part about user profiles is that we use all of your stored destinations to build a profile that tells you what kind of traveler you are. Whether you for instance are a family person, an adventurer, a thrill seeker and so on!
At Travelindicator you could always store itineraries, but now we have added the possibility to publish them. What this means is that you can build your personal holiday program ("Summer holiday 2015" or "Japan trip January 2016"), find destinations you want to check out and store them to the itinerary, and finally publish them.
Upon publishing they get a link (such as the one below) and you can share them with your friends, colleagues, parents, or whoever... You can add some comments to it to give them further pointers. Pretty neat, right?
Finally, we felt that a site can't truly be social without letting our users communicate with each other. Found that person who seems to like all the same places in Korea as you do? Reach out to him and see if he has any tips for you. Or just tell your friends about those shiny new destinations you just came across!
We are really excited to announce that we have just added our 700th location to Travelindicator.com. Having just added an extra destination (making it 701) we can now say:
'Travelindicator.com inspires & informs travellers on more than 700 destinations!'
We will continually include more locations to make your experience increasingly rewarding. The best part is the more destinations we add the more powerful our highly tuned search features and algorithms are in assisting you pick your next travel destination.
Here are 7 randomly chosen destinations - these were selected by hitting refresh on the home page which shows a different featured destination each time - click on any to go through to the page.
Let us know - via comment or email, any destinations you would like to see added to our database; do a quick search on our website to see if it is already on there and if not we will add it just for you as soon as we can.
Thank you for enjoying our site, we look forward to further serving you with more useful Travel indicators.
[All currently written Where to travel to posts: April / May]
Last month Travelindicator started a new series called "Where to travel to in...". With these posts we aim to provide our readers with a thorough analysis of the best travel destinations for every month of the year across the different continents. To get to our recommendations, we use all data and indicators that we have at our disposal at Travelindicator, including the weather, any special dates and holidays that we may be aware of, the relative crowdedness, budget considerations, activities and so on.
Besides giving you specific travel ideas to work with, we will also give you some generic thoughts on regions to check out and/or avoid in the fifth month of the year. Oh and if you want to store our destinations for easy reference, create itineraries and keep track of the weather and cost of a destination, you should register with us! We will slowly work our way through the year, and as we covered the month of April last time around, this month we will continue our coverage with discussing the best May travel destinations.
The best travel destinations in May
In our last instalment we told you that an old Dutch piece of farmers wisdom says that "in May birds lay their eggs". Indeed, while April is still fairly unpredictable weather-wise, May tends to be solidly on the way to "fairly nice" in northern Europe with temperatures reaching the high teens (just under 70 Fahrenheit) and generally speaking a decent amount of sunny days.
While the north of Europe may still be better visited in June (although spring is perfectly nice most of the time), for the south of Europe this may actually be the best time to visit as it will be warm, but not yet hot.
Budget-wise, our stats show a hike in prices in April and May for most of the smaller and larger cities in Europe, as these are the months that Europeans take their spring holidays. In France those will for instance fall anywhere between mid-April and early May, while the Netherlands is off in early May. In terms of crowds, May should nevertheless be a safe bet. Interestingly, a lot of the beach destinations show lower prices for May, which may make for quite an interesting mix with the solid - no let us rephrase that to remove any amibuity - great weather this time of year.
- We would travel to: Berlin (Germany), Paris (France), Diyarbakir (Turkey), Rome (Italy), Nice (France) or Venice (Italy)
- We would avoid traveling to: Mountainous areas like St. Moritz (Switzerland), Ischgl (Austria), or any skiing destination really because who likes the combination of expensive and cold? The furthest north is best avoided as well, places such as Aarhus (Denmark)
While in April, East Asia and Japan in particular were all about the Cherry blossoms, May does not have many events of significance. It does see the Korean Lantern Festival in Seoul (either late April or early May), Waisak in Yogyakarta with a similar purpose, and the Koh Samui Regatta, but none of these are events you should aim to avoid or especially come out for. Do note that May 1 is a holiday in many countries.
Weather-wise this is actually a better time to visit East Asia, as temperatures in for instance the larger cities of East China reach their mid twenties (high seventies if you think in Fahrenheit) and become warm but not yet consistently unbearably hot. Japan and Korea will be just a bit under that, but absolutely pleasant as well.
Further to the South, places like Phuket in Thailand find themselves in an in-between phase where the monsoon hasn't quite started (though rainfall is somewhat higher), but tourism has quieted down a bit from the start of the year. This may be the best time of year to head out here if you prefer it to be a bit more quiet or are looking for a good deal. The alternative is to head out to Gulf of Thailand islands like Koh Samui, which guarantee both great weather and crowds, while Bali will be busy but not crowded (and not cheap but not expensive!). If there is one place we would recommend you to avoid in its entirety, it would be India, most of which sees scorching hot temperatures this time of year.
Africa and the Middle East
If you head to Africa at this time of year, the south is where it's at - we are specifically talking about countries like South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe or Mozambique. And let's throw in Mauritius for good order. Elsewhere in the continent, East Africa gets a lot of rain while North Africa starts heating up. In terms of crowds, you will be out of the high season in most of Africa while in terms of holidays the May 1 Labour Day is probably the only one to really keep in the back of your mind.
In Central America and the northern parts of South America, this is the ramp up to the rainy season with more rain than in the earlier months of the year (for instance in Dominican Republic rainfall spikes in May). The Caribbean is an overall safe bet and we have had a look at hotel prices, these don't seem to fluctuate much throughout the year in most of destinations there.
This time of year, the central parts of South America see pleasant temperatures even at the higher altitudes of countries like Peru. For cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro this may be the best time to visit, as temperatures hover around the mid twenties Celsius or high seventies Fahrenheit. Meanwhile you may want to avoid the Amazon as it is at the back of its rain reason. Similarly, as you head further south, past cities like Buenos Aires and all the way down to Ushuaia, things start to get pretty chilly. Those parts are best avoided this time of year, although then again it is a slightly cheaper period.
In North America, many places in Mexico are at their peak in terms of hot weather, something which may be fine in Mexico City (which doesn't get too hot), but we would advise you to avoid cities like Guadalajara. Meanwhile, most of the US is fine to travel to, with even Anchorage reaching the mid teens (60 Fahrenheit).
- We would travel to: the Caribbean, United States, Canada and central South America
- We would avoid traveling to: Central America, Mexico and southern South America
Winter is nearly here in Australia and New Zealand. While in Australia, northern Queensland and cities like Cairns, Brisbane, Darwin or Perth are fine for traveling to year-round, Melbourne and Hobart are getting quite fresh, while Sydney is just about on the edge. In New Zealand places in South Island like Milford Sound reach about 12 Celsius or 54 Fahreheit. It's your call.