Author Archives: Mark eting

Valencia hosts the biggest spring carnival in Spain: Fallas fiesta

2019-03-05

Fallas carnival in Valencia, Spain, is considered such an important tradition that it has become a Unesco World Heritage event (Intangible Cultural Heritage). Party-goers, however, don’t have time to think about Unesco because there are so many happenings in the ancient city center – and if there are no organized events, local people make something up.

Plaza de la Virgen in Valencia during Fallas fiesta

The highlights of the loud, three week long fiesta are fireworks (every day at least once), unofficial street performances by local people, and giant sculptures that roam the streets in the city center until they are burned. A travel guide to Valencia, Spain, covers the fiestas, sights, attractions, food and other essentials of the city.

The events are fun, but perhaps the most interesting thing for a visitor is to explore the alleys and streets of the old city center. It is filled with restaurants and bars, and during Fallas, business is good all day and all of the night.

Every day in the afternoon a massive amount of firecrackers and fireworks are blown into air in the town hall square. The result is plenty of noise and a thick wall of smoke that covers the entire plaza. Yet, it is a popular event. Fortunately, fireworks are organized in evenings as well when it is possible to actually see the lights.
crowds at Plaza de Ayuntamiento during Fallas carnival in Valencia
Giant sculptures appear on the streets in city center on the 16th of March until they are burned on the 19th. The big-headed puppets represent politicians, artists, celebrities or a nasty neighbor.

The main events of Fallas take place from March 15th to 19th, but the festivities start at the end of February. The full program is available here.

The hotels can be packed during Fallas, so reservations have to be made early, or alternatively, consider finding a room in the outskirts of the city. The Metro (underground) network is fairly new and covers a large area (even the city’s main beaches). In the city center, loud street parties can go on all night which may not please everyone. Public transportation, cycling or walking are the recommended transport methods.

The origins of Valencia’s Fallas parties are fires that craftsmen used to burn outside their workshops hundreds of years ago. To feed the fire, they threw in chips of wood along with junk collected from the neighborhood. When rags and a hat were added to the object to be burned, the Ninot figure (giant puppet) was born.

Find out more about the travel guide to Valencia, Spain, here.
an excerpt from travel guidebook Valencia, Spain

This is why Portugal has become such a popular travel destination: 5 arguments

2018-02-26

The differences between north and south, east and west in Portugal are surprisingly big, even though the geographic area of the country is not large. Is it possible to identify reasons for the growth of tourism that apply to all parts of the country? The author of the travel guidebook Algarve, Southern Portugal lists five key reasons for the success of tourism in this southern European country.

Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal

1. Nonuniform cities.
2. Nature and landscapes.
3. Tourism infrastructure.
4. Pleasant climate.
5. Colorful history.

Cities are different from other old cities in Europe

Two largest cities in Portugal, Lisbon and Porto, are old cities and they show their age. There is nothing like these cities in Europe – they are odd, strange, but lovable. The unique Portuguese culture defines the way of life in all communities. Traditions are readily visible in small villages, but city residents also like their cod and coffee. Digital nomads may choose to stay in Lisbon or Porto, or head to the south coast for a less hectic environment. Towns like Faro, Lagos and Albufeira in Algarve draw thousands of people from Nordic countries who spend their winters on the coast.
Faro old town, Algarve, Portugal

Varying landscapes from beaches to mountains

Mountains, hills, and rivers define the inland landscape in Portugal. In central Portugal, large fields dominate the landscape, but in other regions, the sceneries are varying.

Both the west coast and south coast have so many types of beaches and coastlines that they provide endless possibilities, for instance, for hiking and birdwatching. Most visitors spend their time sunbathing and swimming, but beaches near town centers, like in Portimao (Praia da Rocha) and in Albufeira have plenty of activities on the sea as well.

The west coast that faces the Atlantic Ocean is a home for many of the best surf beaches of the world.

Services for tourists

Services for tourists, such as hotels, apartments, restaurants, shopping malls, health services, car rentals, motorhome parks, and tour services have been built relatively recently. Of course, tourism started in Portugal a long time ago, but a big investment in infrastructure has been made later than in other southern European countries. It means that many facilities are modern in Portugal.

In Portugal’s main tourism regions (towns on the south coast of Algarve, Lisbon region and Porto region), everything a traveler needs is readily available. In these areas that have plenty of tourists, English is widely understood. Outside those areas, everyone has to survive in Portuguese.
Surfers in Sagres, Algarve, Portugal.

Coast vs inland, north vs south

The most pleasant climate around the year in Portugal is in the south, Algarve. That is why winter escapees from other parts of Europe have discovered it.

The rule of thumb is that it rains very little in the south, and the amount of rain increases the further north you go. The same with the temperature: south is warmer than north. Inland is another story. For instance, in summer, it is not a pleasant destination for outdoor activities because of excessive heat.

Rich history

The oldest Portuguese towns were established even before the Romans moved in to the territory, but the richest history in Portugal was created by Moors who ruled large regions of Portugal and Spain for hundreds of years. Castles, fortresses and other buildings that they left behind have been restored, and can be visited in many towns.

The rich history is visible in everyday life of Portuguese people. It is easy discover: find a fishing village that still has wooden fishing boats on the beach. Follow how the fishermen work and spend their time in there while other locals hang around in cafes and restaurants.

How come “incredible food” or “friendly people” didn’t make it to the top 5 list? Well, there are good reasons for it that are explained in the book. A travel guide to Algarve, the warm south coast of Portugal is available at bookstores, including Amazon.

The best casino related books for effective casino tips

2017-08-03

If you’ve got a bit of time on your hands during your next trip, then what better way to make it pass quicker than by playing a few fun and simple casino games? Even better than that – you could also spend some time learning a few quick and easy strategies to win at them, too!
book cover images

Easy tips for casino beginners

Whether you’re a fan of Finnish casino games, or just are mildly curious, there are some great resources – online and offline – waiting for you.

One of our favorites is Gambling 102: The Best Strategies for All Casino Games by Michael Shackleford. Whichever casino game you’re looking to play, from baccarat, to sic bo, to slot machines, to video poker and much, much more, this 19-chapter book gives every aspiring player a breakdown of how to play casino games with the best strategy for winning – and the least effort.

We like it for it’s quick, straightforward tips, which are very easy to put into practice.

A cheat sheet for every beginner

Leaving the name aside, the Casino Gambling for Dummies Cheat Sheet is a really great source for people looking for straight-up tips of what to do when playing, and exactly how to do it.

With very specific information (e.g. ‘Play the table with the least number of decks’, in the Blackjack section) and an in-depth tips on managing your bankroll, ensuring you’ll make the right choices (well, most of the time, especially if you’re just starting out!) you’ll be sure to approach any one of your chosen betting sites with confidence, and maybe even win something on the side too.

Something a bit more meaty

If, however, you’re on the lookout for something you can really get your teeth into, then Mensa’s Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways might be what you’re looking for. Written by the folks over at, well, Mensa, they explain that you definitely don’t need to be a genius in order to win at casino gambling. Instead, they outline a few quick, easy tips and strategies for every player. Don’t be put off by their references to mathematical theory; this is a simple read, even if it’s brought to you by America’s cleverest 2%.

Great books for every aspiring gambler

Ultimately, there’s such a wealth of information out there for casino gamblers – whether you’re just dipping your toes in the water or looking for something more strategic. Having a look around online, or even learning through playing some games yourself, is definitely a good way to get started.