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Good things may come in threes, but the most fun is to be had in fours – the exact amount of days we suggest spending at Disneyland Resort in California! To make the most of your 96 hours in ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ (and to take advantage of Excite Holiday’s current promotion which offers a 4-Day Disneyland Resort in California ticket at the price of a 3-Day ticket!) here is everything you need to know about planning the perfect itinerary.

DAY 1: KICK THINGS OFF WITH THE CLASSICS

Fuel for your adventures with ‘Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park’ – a delicious buffet breakfast at the Plaza Inn on Main Street in Disneyland Park. The only thing better than the all-you-can-eat spread of Mickey waffles, French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon and fresh-baked pastries is the chance to share them with the cast of Disney characters who will join you. 

Hunger satiated it’s time to get a little strategic and organise your route around the rides. The perennially popular ones are those which have withstood the test of time and can be found within the park’s five original lands (including Main Street USA). Enter Fantasyland through Sleeping Beauty Castle and once inside float on Dumbo the Flying Elephant, journey down the rabbit hole of Alice in Wonderland or get your heart-rate racing on the Matterhorn Bobsleds (before bringing it right back down with a detour to ‘it’s a small world’). Visit Indiana Jones Adventure in Adventureland, weave your way through the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Frontierland and don’t miss the iconic rollercoaster that is Space Mountain (or any of the original Star Wars attractions) in Tomorrowland. Other unmissable adventures include getting your feet wet at Critter Country’s Splash Mountain, experiencing the Topsy-Turvy, Quirky Worlds of Mickey’s Toontown and joining Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans Square. 

As the sun sets, finish the day at either Frontierland or New Orleans Square and settle in for a night of entertainment with Fantasmic!. This half-hour night-time spectacular features projection, water, fire and fireworks to invite visitors into the mind of Mickey with featurettes from classic films such as Aladdin, The Lion King and Disney’s epic live-action adventure Pirates of the Caribbean – all set to a magical score.

Handy Hint: Make sure you’ve downloaded the Disneyland Resort App before you visit. Once you’re at the Resort, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase Disney MaxPass service via the App which allows you to skip the lines for some of your favourite attractions through the FASTPASS service, as well as capture all your memories with unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads for a day.

DAY 2: ADD A LITTLE ADVENTURE TO THE OCCASION

Make your time in Disneyland Resort in California count by dedicating day two to the thrill-seeking stretch that is Disney California Adventure Park. Enter via Buena Vista Street then visit some of your favourite lands – and the rides contained within. Fans of the Cars movie franchise will love Cars Land where they can enjoy a ride on the Radiator Springs Racers, while aspiring adventurers can learn to fly at Goofy’s Sky School or opt for The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Paradise Gardens Park. Foodies are encouraged to take a Bakery Tour through the charming waterfront destination that is Pacific Wharf or stop for lunch at Smokejumpers Grill in Grizzly Peak. The afternoon is best dedicated to Hollywood Land where you have the chance to meet Frozen’s Anna, Elsa and Olaf or the crew of Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! 

By night, experience World of Color at Paradise Gardens Park. The after-dark spectacle is a breathtaking extravaganza that weaves water fountains, lights, music and perfectly timed pyrotechnics in an impressive ode to all things Disney. And with scenes from a plethora of beloved Disney and Pixar films – both classic and new releases – projected onto a grand fountain spraying 19,000-square-feet of water, it’s a wondrous way to cement Disneyland Resort in California’s status as ‘The Happiest Place on Earth.’

DAY 3: ALL THE NEW (AND NEWISH!) THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Always evolving, Disneyland Resort in California continues to enchant visitors with fresh attractions, openings and offerings every year.  

Among the latest is the brand new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land in Disneyland Park. The themed area is inspired by the Star Wars franchise, and its 14 acres (named one of Time magazine’s ‘World’s Greatest Places 2019’) include rides like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, workshops (such as Droid Depot – where you can assemble a Custom Astromech Droid Unit and Savi’s Workshop – where you can construct your own legendary lightsaber) and experiences certain to transport you to a ‘Galaxy Far, Far Away.’ Impressively big and incredibly immersive you’ll probably spend the better part of the day here. 

Then head back over to Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure Park and the newly launched Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! to join Rocket in a mission to save the other Guardians from the Collector’s Fortress. 

While you’re there, explore the many neighbourhoods of the recently re-imagined Pixar Pier. Stroll along the whimsical boardwalk and watch your favourite Pixar stories and characters come to life, channel your inner Woody at Toy Story Midway Mania!, or take a mad dash alongside the Parr family on the thrilling Incredicoaster. End the day atop the Pixar Pal-A-Round ferris wheel and give yourself a moment to take in the sweeping views of the entire Disneyland Resort in California below you.

DAY 4: SHOW - AND STOMACH - STOPPING!

While there is no shortage of amazing night experiences every evening at Disneyland Resort in California, the Parks are also packed with stage shows best experienced by light. And day four is the time to take a break from the rides and dedicate yourself to enjoying one of these alternative experiences. Performances are often on several times a day so check the daily schedule for up-to-the-minute start times.

Start at Disneyland Park, where the Royal Theatre (an open-air medieval-style tent and charming stage) at Fantasyland sets the perfect backdrop for storytelling and lets you experience new worlds with Disney favourites. Here, dynamic thespian duo Mr Smythe and Mr Jones direct their own version of scenes from Beauty and the Beast or Tangled, and transport viewers to a funny, fantastical version of ‘happily ever after.’ Or head back to the Hyperion Theatre in Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure Park for a 55-minute Broadway-style musical of Frozen. Another option is a stroll through the Downtown Disney District, where you can immerse yourself in mind-blowing stories and discover amazing worlds on virtual-reality walkthrough adventures at The VOID (and stock up on souvenirs from one of the many stores in the area, while you’re there!).

Today is also the perfect time to check out some of the unique eateries and dining (and drinking!) options scattered throughout Disneyland Resort in California. 

Don’t miss the iconically oversized Turkey Legs at Fantasyland’s Edelweiss Snacks, try the Dole Whip soft-serve frozen pineapple at the Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland, hunt down a churro (often available in special themed, limited-edition flavours), tuck into The Monte Cristo (a deep-fried ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese sandwich sprinkled with icing sugar at Cafe Orleans), grab a Cheese Corn Dog at Corn Dog Castle in Disney California Adventure Park’s Paradise Gardens, or indulge in a drink at Oga’s Cantina at the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – served with a side of musical entertainment courtesy of droid DJ R-3X – to keep the good times rolling! 

To finish off your Disneyland Resort adventure, keep an eye out for seasonal fireworks. The schedule varies depending on the time of year and is released 40 days in advance so check the Disneyland app or website for details.

For details please contact your local Mondo Travel Specialist on 0800 110 108 - they have access to all Excite Holiday deals. 

Source: Excite Holidays.

submitted by -- Tony Terrill

Ireland’s ‘brilliantly bohemian’ Galway has been named one of the world’s top cities for travellers in 2020 by Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020 describes Galway as ‘arguably Ireland’s most engaging city’, where ‘brightly painted pubs heave with live music’ and ‘cafes offer front row seats to watch buskers perform’.

The Wild Atlantic Way destination features fourth in the list of top cities for 2020, behind Cairo, Washington DC and Salzburg, and ahead of the likes of Bonn, Vancouver and Dubai.

Galway’s exuberance will be supercharged next year by a string of events marking the region’s role as the 2020 European Capital of Culture. The events will start on 1 February with a week of celebrations in County Galway’s towns and villages, culminating in an opening ceremony in Galway city on Saturday 8 February 2020.

For more information on Galway and Ireland please contact your local Mondo Travel Specialist on 0800 110 108.

Source: Travelinc

submitted by -- Tony Terrill

Ladakh is a unique high altitude region located in the northern part of India and is now one of the newest union territories. Nestled between the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges, Ladakh is known for offering unseen and spellbinding views. The territory is known for the other worldly landscapes, stunning natural beauty, centuries old monasteries, huge valleys, death defying mountain passes and exciting Buddhist culture. The barren and snow clad mountains of Ladakh are certain to take your breath away. It’s a perfect place for nature lovers and true paradise for adventure seekers who love biking, trekking, backpacking and expeditions.

Most of us have dreamt to visit Ladakh once in our lifetime and so do I. It was only this year I was able to fulfill my long cherished desire and thoroughly awe struck by the enormous beauty bestowed upon me of this incredible region.

This widespread region is full of incredible diversity from near barren landscapes to snow capped mountains, from sparsely clad population to buzzing Leh city, from prefect roads to long stretches of rugged pathways. When you think of Ladakh, three things come to our mind – mountains, monasteries and monks. There is much more than what meets the eye or ears. Ladakh is far beyond and it will surprise you at every corner that you visit. The never seen landscapes, changing terrains (and they change within few kilometers), arid land, long swathes of valley, wonderful wildlife and nature preserved to its core are some of the few things that you will find here.

Now let me take you to a virtual journey through Ladakh which I visited this year. Here is my day to day itinerary and experience that I am so happy to share with you.

Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Lake – Leh

Day 01: I arrived at Leh Airport in the morning and was welcomed by my driver Motup who drove me to my Hotel called Nature’s Land Hotel in Leh city. After check-in it was time to get acclimatized till late afternoon. Leh is located at an elevation of 3500 m so it’s important for everyone to take rest on your arrival day and get acclimatized.

After resting for few hours it was time for brief Leh sightseeing. I started with visit to Shanti Stupa. It is a Buddhist white-domed Stupa on a hilltop from where you get stunning aerial view of whole valley.

After that it was time to visit Leh Palace. Leh Palace was built during the 17th century by the ruler King Sengge Namgyal. Its construction is on the same lines as the construction of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. This 9-storey royal edifice is almost in ruins now, but is preserved as a part of Ladakh’s heritage. An example of medieval Tibetan architecture, it has massive walls and wooden balconies. Ancient mural paintings adorn the interiors of this palace and speak of its golden bygone era.

Day 02: This morning I got ready at 0800 hrs and it was time for 06 hours drive to beautiful Nubra valley via Khardung La (highest motorable road in the World at elevation of 5300 m).

The drive was not an easy one. It started snowing when we reached Kardung La and pass was closed for few hours. After waiting for 02 hours luckily weather got cleared and pass was opened. It took 04 hours from Khardun La to reach Nubra valley. On the way I saw some of the most mind blowing views of humongous valleys that seemed like a fairy tale.

I arrived around 1600 hrs and checked into Nubra Boutique Camp located in Hunder village close to Sand dunes. After one hour of rest it was time to visit the famous Sand dunes of Nubra valley and see Double humped Camel. I was lucky to get few pictures with Camels.

Day 03: This early morning I visited Diskit monastery that is located at a hilltop in Diskit village with incredible views of Nubra valley. Diskit Gompa is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra valley. I made sure to spend time inside prayer hall to sit quiet and meditate. I also visited magnificent statue of Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of the future) that is located within the complex.

Later it was time for 07 hours drive to Pangong. The road to Pangong was gorgeous yet dangerous. There were quite a few incidents of landslides and we were lucky to escape it. The drive from Nubra to Pangong was one of the most nerve wracking and hair raising experience I ever had in my life.

On the way I also got a chance to take pictures with Himalayan Marmot. This was really crazy experience as Marmots were really friendly & unperturbed with my close presence.

We continued our drive and reached Pangong around 1800 hrs and check-into Nature’s Nest Camp.

It was unbelievably cold and windy. I decided to have early dinner and rested inside the Camp to keep myself warn and fit.

Day 04: This early morning I spent some peaceful time alone on lakefront and realized the water of Lake Pangong is salty. The crystal clear water of Lake will leave everyone highly impressed with unparallel beauty of the Lake.

Today it was time to return to Leh city via Chang La. It took 06 hours to reach Leh city and on the way I visited Thikse monastery.

Visit to Thikse monastery was certainly one of the highlight of my trip. The monastery is located at an elevation of 3600 m on a hilltop in Thikse village. The multi storey monastery comprises of temples, Assembly Hall, monastic school, nunnery, central courtyard and souvenir shops. I made sure to go to the roof of monastery from where one gets eye catching views of the whole valley. You are bound to see barren and snow capped mountains with oasis of green cover. The views of the valley will leave you totally mesmerized and overwhelmed.

On arrival in Leh city, I checked into Nature’s Land Hotel.

In the late afternoon I decided to see the left over sights of Leh. I visited Gurdwara Patthar Sahib that is located at a distance of 40 kms from Leh and was constructed in 1571 in memory of Guru Nanak to commemorate his visit to this region.

Also visited Magnetic Hill where you will see your car, with its engine turned off, move upwards on a steep slope. It almost sounds unbelievable.

Later visited Sangam where Zanskar River and Indus River merge.

Then I ended my day with visit to local markets and bought few souvenirs.

Day 05: Today it was time to return to Delhi and with a very heavy heart I said goodbye to Ladakh and my friend Motup who told me so many stories that will remain forever in my memory.

For more information on Ladakh and other Himalayan destinations please contact a Mondo Travel Specialist on 0800 110 108. 

Source: Hemant Kaushik, We Must Travel

submitted by -- Tony Terrill