I haven't spent a lot of time in Holland, but their latest video sure gets me thinking about a trip back.
It's a fun, cheeky piece of work that talks about everything from Van Gogh to gay-friendly lifestyles, not to mention fresh food, bicycles, tulips and beer. Oh, and cheese. And wooden shoes. And probably there's a windmill in there, too. And there's a fun bit about the one guy in Holland who doesn't speak English that's borderline brilliant.
I was in Amsterdam after graduating from university and had a great time at the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, both of which offer some of the most amazing art on the planet. The Rijksmuseum recently underwent a major renovation.
I remember being quite moved, as anyone would be, by the Anne Frank House. And I loved the canals and the small cafe/bars with the Delft tile and the old, wooden floors. I think I stayed in a hostel on the Prinsengracht, one of the great canals in town.
I distinctly remember some great pancake houses and a great spot that served rijsttafel (rice table in English). It's a great dish where you get a big bowl of rice and then a whack of small bowls with different foods from Indonesia, including satay, curried dishes, sambal, egg rolls, and much more. Often there are a few dozen small side dishes to choose from, which is an awesome concept.
There are a million Thai places in Toronto these days but I haven't seen much from Indonesia lately, which is too bad.
I also remember taking a bike tour outside the city centre and passing some beautiful pastoral areas with windmills and contented-looking cows. Definitely one of the real treats of Europe.
SCHOLARSHIP FOR TRAVEL LOVERS
Here's a cool concept. Someone sent me a note that talks about a scholarship kids can apply for, based on their love of travel.
You can get $7,000 in school funding, so it's definitely worth doing a video and getting supporters, which is a requirement.Applications are being accepted until May 31st 2013, so student travel lovers still have two more weeks to apply and then gather support for their application.
FLORIDA AND WORLD RECORD TOURISM NUMBERS
Hey, Florida, you’re welcome.
Visit Florida officials today reported 1.5 million Canadians visited the Sunshine State in the first three months of the year; part of a record 26 million visits between January and March.
That marks a 4.7 per cent increase over the first quarter of 2012.
Of those visitors, the Miami Herald reports, 21.8 million were domestic, 1.5 million visited from Canada and 2.7 million were overseas visitors.
Guests also spent more on hotels, with the average daily rate increasing 6.8 percent compared to a year ago to $136.45 across the state.
The state’s official tourism marketing corporation also revised its earlier estimate of 2012 numbers. The total count of visitors last year was actually 91.4 million, not 89.3 million as initially reported.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the “discovery” of Florida by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon. You can check out the action in this YouTube video.
As if Florida's numbers weren't impressive enough, the United Nations World Tourism Organization reported record numbers for the planet for 2012.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism receipts hit a new record in 2012, reaching an estimated US$1,075 billion worldwide, up four per cent in real terms, from US$ 1042 billion in 2011.
By regions, the Americas (up seven per cent) recorded the largest increase in receipts, followed by Asia and the Pacific (up six per cent), Africa (up five per cent) and Europe (up two per cent), said the website breakingtravelnews.com.
In absolute values, Europe saw US$ 457 billion in tourism earnings, equivalent to 43 per cent of the world’s total tourism receipts, the largest share by region.
The top ten ranking of destinations by receipts remained virtually unchanged in 2012, with the United States, Spain, France, China and Italy leading, followed by Macau (China), Germany, United Kingdom, Hong Kong (China) and Australia.
“It is encouraging to see that the growth in international tourist arrivals was equalled by a comparable increase in spending in spite of continued economic challenges” said UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai.“Considering that tourism is a key export for many economies around the world, this result is good news as it provides foreign reserves to destinations, and contributes to job creation in tourism as well as in related economic sectors,” he added.
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY
Jaunt.ca, a division of Torstar, is offering a deal for a great trip to China, priced at $1,789, including $690 in taxes. The deal is hugely impressive in that it includes airfare and seven days in various parts of the country, including wonderful Shanghai and areas used in the filming of the movie Avatar.
- SAVINGS: Save up to $3400 per couple, compared to the cost of booking your air, accommodations, touring and meals separately!
- 9-Day/7-Night Visit China’s ‘Avatar' Tour, including visits to Huangshan - the filming location for the movie Avatar - Thousand Islands, the legendary Silk Factory, Suzhou and more!
- Includes international round-trip airfare from Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary to Shanghai with Air Canada
- Includes transportation via private air conditioned coach, accompaniment of licensed English speaking local tour guides, tours & entrance fees as per the itinerary and more!
- Pricing includes single-entry China Visa (valued at $120) and gratuities for local driver & guide (valued at $120)
- Accommodations for 7-Nights in 4-5-Star Hotels, based on double occupancy. See below for hotels included (or similar).
- Meals include 7 daily breakfasts, 6 lunches & 6 dinners including dinner with a traditional Apsara show
- Visit one of the epic filming locations of the 2009 James Cameron film 'Avatar', the UNESCO World Heritage Site Huangshan
- Discover some of China's most unique places from Hangzhou to Sunzhou
- Shopping time in the immense city of Shanghai
- Valid for travel on October 23, 2013
- Pricing (Rates are per person):
For Other DATES or LAND ONLY option, Call us at 1-855-687-5925.
- Accommodations Included (or similar): Howard Johnson Zhengdi, Shanghai (2 nights); Junrui Baihe Hotel, Tunxi (2 nights); New Century Hotel, Hangzhou (1 night); Nobel Crown Hotel, Wuxi (1 night); Marco Polo Hotel, Suzhou (1 night) and the Majesty Plaza Hotel, Shanghai (1 night)
- Valid passport and visa required for travel from Canada
- Valid passport required for travel from Canada
- This offer is 100% non-refundable at time of booking