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3 Great Camping and Hiking Locations In Los Angeles

Hiking and camping near los angeles california

From weaving through trails near the Hollywood sign to some outstanding camping options for beginners and veterans, Los Angeles has a lot more going on than chic hangouts and beaches. Consider adding some of these destinations onto your trip itinerary.

Camp by the ocean or the mountains (or both) at Leo Carrillo State Park Campground

Tanning on a beach is only one way to enjoy the L.A. region’s beautiful coasts. Just past Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway, Leo Carrillo State Park Campground sits along the beach but also right beneath the Santa Monica Mountains. This park offers the best of both worlds for the ultimate California camping experience. Campers can enjoy a morning surf or swim before taking a long hike into the cooler air of the mountains during the peak of summer. Although there are a myriad of hiking options, plenty of locals find their way to the Nicholas Flat Trail for a very early-morning jaunt. The sunrise views of the mountains and ocean from the peak are nothing shy of spectacular.
Explorers also come to check out the enigmatic caves, tide pools, and seclusive coves that give the site its unique character. For fishing enthusiasts, Leo Carrillo even has some great options in this department as well, giving outdoors lovers even more incentive to head to Leo Carrillo.
For those who like to ditch the easy, modern-city life and rough it a little, this is the perfect way to experience L.A.’s sprawling pine forests and rugged natural landscapes. Looking down over Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles from the San Gabriel Mountains, Henninger has gorgeous views, campsites for groups both small and large, and a wealth of terrific hiking in the area. You have to hike to the campground (about three miles), which makes it a peaceful oasis unlike the fast-paced atmosphere of L.A. There is one caveat, however. Because there is no running water, campers need to be realistic about whether that’s a problem or not. But for those ready for a little adventure filled with gorgeous views and old-school camping, Henninger Flats is ideal.
Alternative: Only a few minutes from Leo Carrillo, Sycamore Canyon is also about an hour northwest of downtown Los Angeles – when traffic is cooperating – and offers excellent beach camping along with many hiking/biking trails. As a substitute for Henninger Flats, Horse Flats is only a short drive away and does have running water.

Dive into a swimming hole at Malibu Creek State Park

While many pile into the coastal hot spots around Los Angeles, swimming holes have also become favorite gathering places for weekend warriors and anyone looking for a different type of L.A. experience. Up at the Malibu Creek State Park, visitors come for a nice leisurely hike that leads to a natural swimming hole – complete with low-level cliff jumping and plenty of room to splash around in a wide, freshwater basin. Although the Grassland Trail leading to the pool isn’t the most rigorous hikes in L.A., it still shows off northern L.A. County’s rugged terrain and is easy to navigate for families. For movie fans who come to L.A., Malibu Creek State Park has been a popular shooting site for a century, including classics like Planet of the Apes and How Green Was My Valley.

Hermit Falls

While Malibu Creek State Park is about a half-hour drive northwest from downtown L.A. if you get up early enough to miss the traffic, heading northeast will take you to Hermit Falls at the cusp of Angeles National Forest. More adventurous than its Malibu counterpart, Hermit Falls showcases a moderate, heavily forested trail leading to a seclusive waterfall. Though you’ll need to grapple down a rope to get to the basin, it’s a picturesque picnic spot that is particularly beautiful during the spring and early summer, when the waterfall tends to be at its fullest.

Pasadena’s Eaton Canyon

Not to be outdone, Pasadena’s Eaton Canyon also features a plunging waterfall and a refreshing mostly shaded hike that can be the perfect antidote to a busy day in the city. While the waterfall’s basin is great for wading and cooling off beneath the water-carved boulders the area is known for, the hike is also loaded with terrific scenery thanks to the gentle stream that cuts through the heart of the trail. With peaceful refuges all over Los Angeles County, there is no shortage of ways to slip into the Californian wilderness for a day of tranquility that is sure to recharge your batteries.

Go horseback riding and more in Griffith Park

You’re probably more likely to think of Ferraris than horses when L.A. comes to mind, but going horseback riding is an age-old pastime in the area and continues to thrive with visitors for a reason. Though you could just snap a distant photo of the famous Hollywood sign and be on your way, there are also great horseback-riding options that will take you through the famous Hollywood hills just like the original settlers of the area.
During a tour with a local company, you’ll enjoy some of the very best views of downtown L.A. while you travel along the paths of famous Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Because there are very few good viewing spots for the Hollywood sign, a horseback ride also gets you much closer than usual, taking you for an up close and personal glimpse of one of L.A.’s most famous landmarks. But even if you’re indifferent about seeing the sign, the horseback ride offers staggering views of L.A.

Bronson Caves

To complete a trip to Griffith Park, there are all kinds of other opportunities awaiting outdoor lovers. Not only does the park contain a seemingly endless series of great hikes, but you should also get a nice taste of the local plant and wildlife. Mule deer, gray foxes, more than 200 species of bird, and even the occasional mountain lion wander the area. The park is also packed with wildflowers that are particularly beautiful in the springtime. Visitors tend to find their way to the mysterious Bronson Caves, used as the original Bat Cave for the 1960s Batman TV series, along with a long list of famous movies. Though packing into the main Hollywood strip is one way to experience L.A., heading out to the Hollywood hills trails will give you more of a behind-the-scenes look at the area without having to fight the crowds.

A choose your own adventure

The sheer number of things to do in L.A. can be daunting. Although the beauty of Los Angeles is that it’s a state with endless opportunities for relaxation, adventure, and everything in between thanks to its geographic and cultural diversity. As long as you’re mindful of traffic and willing to get up a little early to beat the crowds, L.A.’s many outdoor adventures can be the perfect weekend activity.
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10 Foods You Must Try in San José, Costa Rica

Feast Through San José, Costa Rica

San José is more than just Costa Rica’s political capital. It is the country’s cultural and gastronomic hub. Chefs flock to San José to serve their spin on traditional Costa Rican delicacies. But don’t limit yourself to gourmet restaurants. You can discover some of the city’s best food in simple cafés and food stalls.
Are you ready to explore Costa Rica’s most popular dishes? Let’s go!

Casado

Casado is the traditional Costa Rican lunch. Of course, there are different variations of this meal, but a true casado consists of rice, beans, meat, and a salad. Chefs decide what ingredients to offer, but you will often find casado with chicken, fish or pork.
Casado translates to “married man.” There is some debate about the origin of this name, but it was likely first with hungry laborers who wanted a homemade meal. Casado is similar to traditional meals married men would eat when they came home from work.
You can enjoy casado all over Costa Rica. Small, roadside cafés (sodas) offer the most authentic casado in the country. In San José, head to the Central Market to find traditional, affordable, and delicious casado.

Arreglados

Arreglados are popular meat-filled sandwiches. Instead of bread, arreglados are served on puff-pastry made of Masa (corn flower). Arreglados typically include meat, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mustard. But, like casado, the ingredients of an arreglado depends on the chef’s preferences.
The Central Market is the place to find traditional food in San José. While you are strolling through this market, make sure you visit the Soda Tipica stall. Here you can enjoy a variety of Costa Rican dishes, including arreglados.

Pejibayes

Pejibayes are a tropical fruit that grows on Costa Rican palm trees. The vibrant pejibayes are packed with nutrients. Besides their health benefits, pejibaynes are juicy and delicious. From September-April you can find this popular snack at farmer’s markets, fruit stands, and grocery stores.
Pejibayes are often boiled and served with lime and mayonnaise. This exotic delicacy is also made into cakes, soups, and liquor.
If you are visiting in October, consider taking a day trip from San Jose to Tucurrique. This small town hosts an annual Pejibaye Festival. Enjoy parades, dancing, and treats while you learn more about this unique fruit.

Café

Coffee is synonymous with Costa Rica. There are countless coffee plantations throughout the Central Valley. And in the capital city of San José, the 3rd-wave coffee movement is gaining momentum.
Most San José cafés, like Cafeoteca and Café del Barista, serve brews from the country’s 8 coffee regions. Speak with knowledgeable baristas about the coffee growing, roasting, and brewing process.
Chorreadors are the traditional wooden devices used to brew Costa Rican coffee. Hot water is poured through a cloth filter filled with coffee grounds. Many of the city’s cafés use chorreadors to prepare their coffee.

Chicharrones

Chicharrones are a popular crispy, fried snack. Typically made from pork ribs, this satisfying treat is often eaten with lime, yucca, and rangpur (a citrus fruit).Another essential component of chifrijo are Chicharrones.
You can enjoy chicharrones all year long, but they are heavily associated with holiday celebrations and parties.
If you are visiting during December, take a trip to the Puriscal Chicharrones Fair. This town is about 15 miles outside of San José. Bring your appetite for fried food. In addition to the delicious snacks, this festival offers live music and parades.

Gallo Pinto

The classic Costa Rican breakfast dish, gallo pinto, is traditionally made with rice and beans. But, each chef puts their own spin on this simple dish. You might find this served with onion, celery, eggs, and meat.
You can order gallo pinto all over San José, as it is served in Hotel buffets, soda shops and restaurants. Tortilla y Cafe is one of the city’s most popular spots serving this authentic Costa Rican breakfast.

Arroz con Leche

Arroz con leche translates to “rice with milk.” But this sweet, sticky dessert is more delicious than the simple name suggests.
This rice pudding always contains cinnamon and often includes raisins. You can enjoy this dish warm or cold. This is a popular dessert to make at home, but many San José restaurants also serve this delicious treat.

Chifrijo

Chifrijo is a dish with pork (often chicharrones), pico de gallo, rice, beans, tortillas, and lemon. This is a popular bar snack that is perfect to share with friends.
For an authentic experience, visit La Oveja Negra. This relaxed San José bar offers a wide selection of local beers in addition to traditional snacks, like chifrijo.

Patacones

Patacones, or fried plantains, are a popular food in Costa Rica. Although they may seem simple, these sweet golden rounds are incredibly satisfying.
Plantains are not native to Costa Rica. They were first imported in the 16th century. But this fruit flourished in the tropical Costa Rican climate. Today, most Costa Rican most dishes include some variation of the plantain. Patacones are one of the most popular ways to serve plantains in the country.
These warm, soft plantains perfectly complement beans, meat, and chimichurri. Plus, they won’t be hard to find as restaurants all over San José serve patacones.

Picadillo

Picadillo is a traditional hash-like dish. This meal includes ground meat, tomato, and vegetables over a bed of rice.
The specific ingredients in a picadillo vary by chef and region. Most menus name picadillos after their main vegetable ingredient. Look for the popular chayote picadillo, which typically includes a small green gourd-like vegetable.
Despite what you may have heard, Costa Rican cuisine offers much more than a plate of rice and beans. Costa Ricans have spent hundreds of years perfecting their recipes. Plan a trip to San José and experience these traditional dishes for yourself!

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An Insider’s Guide to Festivals in Germany

You haven’t truly experienced Germany until you’ve taken part in its festivals. While generally known as a reserved culture, its citizens come together annually to celebrate anything from Christmas to midsummer.
Almost every city, town, and county has its own festivals to take part in. Still, over the years, a few of them have won national and international renown. Today, millions of locals listen to classical or rock music, enjoy breathtaking fireworks, or take in the next great movie.
From books to beer, this country knows how to both party and celebrate the arts. Consider this your insider’s guide to festivals in Germany.

1) The Free-Flowing Excess of Oktoberfest

You know Oktoberfest because of its beer, beer tents, and pretzels. And yes, that’s undoubtedly what drives more than 6 million visitors to this festival every year. But what you might not know is that it’s more than just a giant beer celebration.
Germany’s largest Volksfest also boasts parades, open air concerts, and even amusement park rides. Think of it as the world’s largest county fair – with some beer sprinkled in. It’s an unforgettable experience, whether you visit for just a day or make a whole week out of it.

2) The Festive Cheer of Christmas Markets

In a way, the second most famous festivals in Germany are the polar opposite of the first. Where Oktoberfest is a constant party, Christmas markets are solemn, reflective, and calm. Of course, that doesn’t make them any less fun or exciting.
During the holiday season, every town and city has one. Here, you can find countless arts and craft booths, along with good food that represents local specialties. But don’t worry: you will always find booths with the trademark Glühwein, hot mulled wine that keeps you warm.
The first Christmas market was held in 1384. Today, some of Germany’s most famous markets, like the one surrounding the Cologne Cathedral, have thousands of booths and attract millions of visitors each year. If you’re in Germany through the holidays, visiting one near you is an essential tradition.

3) The Astounding Beauty of Rhine in Flames

The Rhine, Europe’s second largest and perhaps its most famous river, is magical enough in its own right. Now, imagine a giant light show that takes place during specific days each summer and just happens to be in its most famous and most picturesque stretch. That’s the Rhine in Flames, a combination between firework displays, Bengal lights, and illuminated steamboats.
Describing it in words is difficult. Even pictures don’t do it justice. Once you see the first fireworks over one of the countless castles along the romantic Rhine, either from a lit boat or the shore, time almost seems to stand still. Don’t make the mistake of trying to capture it with your phone. Instead, soak it in, knowing that you might not ever see this spectacle of a light show again.

4) The Sheer Power of Rock am Ring

As much as Germany is known for its traditions, music festivals also occupy a central place in its cultural playbook. Wacken is the world’s largest metal festival. Flash is among the biggest hip-hop festivals. And yet, none of them are quite as famous or memorable than Rock am Ring.
Held at the famous Nurburgring race track, this music extravaganza combines with the nearby Rock im Park to attract more than 150,000 spectators and music fans from around the world each year. Since U2 and Joe Cocker inaugurated the festival in 1985, headliners have included most of the worlds’ most famous rock bands. Come for the music, stay for the unforgettable atmosphere.

5) The Curious Celebration of Karneval

Yes, Germany has a carnival. No, it’s nothing like the one in Brazil you’re probably think of. Instead, think about the largest 4th of July parades in the U.S., combined with the dress up play and less-than-serious attitude of Halloween. Sprinkle in a bit of Mardi Gras. Then, magnify the result by ten.
By all measures, Karneval (celebrated in the Western cities of Germany) is over the top. That doesn’t make it any less fun. The alcohol flows freely, the jokes are unabashedly political, and the humor gets cruder as the nights go on. Above all, it’s a giant party where the so stereotypical German studiousness sheds for a day and it’s more fun-loving aspects come out.

6) The Memorable Films of the Berlinale

You’ve heard about Cannes. The International Berlin Film Festival might not quite be able to hold up to its most famous counterpart, but it certainly comes close. Every year in February, some of the world’s most famous actors and directors meet to screen, watch, and discuss new films from around the world.
It’s the perfect festival for movie lovers. Tickets to individual films or some of the festival’s most popular events are available for the general public, but sell out quickly. In return, you get to see anything from arthouse films to future blockbusters.

7) The Classic Embrace of the Bayreuther Festspiele

Bayreuth is just the city where it takes place. You might know this event under its more popular (though technically inaccurate) name: the Wagner Festival. Richard Wagner is one of Germany’s most famous classical composers, responsible for operas like the Nibelungenlied and Tristan and Isolde.
Every year, the city of Bayreuth celebrates its most famous son. Wagner himself began to hold his operas as part of a larger event in the 19th century, and residents have carried on that tradition. During a presentation of his music, you begin to realize just how closely Germany is connected with its classical music history.

8) The Countless Pages of the Frankfurt Book Fair

We’re talking about nothing less than the largest book fair in the world. And, like many of the other festivals on this list, its origins reach back far. The first fair occurred in Frankfurt, Main in 1454, in the immediate aftermath of local blacksmith Johannes Gutenberg inventing the printing press.
Today, more than 7,000 exhibitors from more than 100 countries showcase more than 400,000 books, reviewed and (hopefully) purchased by more than 300,000 visitors. Prizes like best book of the year and oddest title of the year predict bestsellers and turn unknown authors into a household name.

Make a Festival Attendance Part of your Next Germany Trip

German culture is as complex as it is profound. You cannot explain the mindset of a German or what it means to be German in one sentence. And yet, through these and many other festivals, you begin to understand their origins, priorities, and passions.
Yes, that means free-flowing beer and parties. But it also means an understanding of history and a thirst for arts and culture. Making a festival attendance part of your next Germany trip means dipping into this deep, complex, and sometimes even contradictory culture. Whether you see fireworks above ancient castles or just want to rock out at a race track, you will find an event that matches your interests and passion as well.
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Traveler’s Guide to Temples and Shrines in Japan

There are many good reasons to visit Japan. This ancient land offers incredible natural beauty, some of the world’s best cuisine, and Tokyo, an ultra-modern metropolis displaying the very latest entertainment and technology. Japan also has a rich history and fascinating religious traditions which can be seen in its numerous shrines and temples. Visiting these places will often take you to some of the country’s most scenic spots such as mountaintops and forests. Let’s look at some of the most impressive shrines and temples in Japan that will help you gain a deeper understanding of this complex Asian country.

Tokyo

Most visitors to Japan will arrive in Tokyo, and you’ll surely want to spend some time exploring this incomparable city. As you take in the urban excitement, however, don’t forget to check out some of the historical sites that can still be found along the bustling streets. Here are some spiritual attractions you should seek out in Tokyo.

Asakusa Sensoji Temple

Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple dates back to the 6th century. It’s also right next to a popular market that sells all types of souvenir and has a wide selection of street food. Tradition has it that immersing yourself in the smoke coming from the temple’s main hall will bring good luck. The temple also has fortune tellers who will read your fortune from sticks.

Meiji-jingu Shrine

This Shinto shrine is in a tranquil park right in the middle of Tokyo, making it the ideal place to relax and take a break from all the noise and bustle of the city. The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji, known for connecting Japan to the West. On Sundays, you can often see traditional Shinto wedding processions. While you’re there, you can also visit Yoyogi Park, the site of the 1964 Olympics.

Kyoto

Kyoto has some of Japan’s oldest and most beautiful shrines and temples.

Heian-jingu Shrine

This shrine is famous for its large red torii, which is the gate to the shrine. When you pass through the gate, you’ll pass through a park that has a couple of interesting museums that are worth visiting as well: The National Museum of Modern Art and the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. It’s best to leave yourself at least a few hours if you want to see the shrine and spend a little time exploring the museums.

Kiyomizudera Temple

Visitors to this mountain temple are immediately in awe of the spectacular views of Kyoto. While it’s impressive in all seasons, one of the best times to come is in the spring when the cherry blossoms bloom. Many people pray for luck in love and romance at Jishu Shrine.

Sanjusangendo Hall

This 12th-century shrine is known best for its 1001 statues of the goddess of mercy, Kannon. It’s also the longest wooden building in Japan.

Other Temples and Shrines Around Japan

Japan has many other areas with significant spiritual destinations, a few of the more popular ones include:

Todai-ji Temple

Constructed in 752 in Nara, Todai-ji is One of the country’s most renowned Buddhist temples. The main hall features a huge statue of Buddha. Also on the property is the Todaiji Museum, a recent addition that has a large collection of Buddhist art. The temple is part of Nara Park, a scenic area that also has several other smaller temples as well as paths for walking.

Ise Jingu Shrine

Often referred to as simply Jingu, this is the most important Shinto shrine in Japan. Located in the city of Ise in the Mie Prefecture, this huge shrine sits in the middle of a forest. It’s dedicated to Amaterasu Omikami, the Shinto sun goddess. A visit to the Jingu shrine can be combined with a trip to Ise-Shima National Park, known for its beautiful coastlines, forests, and wildlife, especially birds, turtles, and marine life.

Shrine Pilgrimages

If you really want to get an in-depth experience of Japan’s rich spiritual traditions you might want to consider a pilgrimage. This gives you a chance to see many shrines and temples. You can do this on your own or look for a tour.
One of the most popular pilgrimages in Japan is the Shikoku Pilgrimage, which covers 88 temples on the island of Shikoku. All of the temples are dedicated to Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism in Japan. You can travel the route by walking, driving, bus, bicycle or train. It usually takes between one and two months to complete the entire pilgrimage. If you have less time, of course, you can cover as many parts of the route you can fit in during your trip.
The Kumano region of the Kii peninsula is another traditional area for pilgrimages. Pilgrims from the Shinto and Buddhist traditions have been traveling this route for over 1,000 years. Although this region encompasses a smaller area than the Shikoku pilgrimage, much of the terrain is mountainous so it helps if you’re physically fit or an have hiking experience. While on the trail, be sure to take the time to enjoy the forests and mountain peaks that surround you.

Tips and Etiquette When Visiting Spiritual Sites

When visiting shrines and temples you have to keep in mind that these are sacred sites that people go to for worship and contemplation.
Remove your shoes– Be sure to remove your shoes before entering a shrine or temple. You’ll see either an area to keep your footwear or observe that people carry their shoes with them.
Wash your hands- Many shrines and temples have an area for handwashing. The general custom is to pick up the ladle with your right hand and pour water into your left hand to wash. If there are other guests you can observe how they wash their hands.
Be aware when entering Torii gates- Torii or shrine gates are sacred to the Japanese people and its customary to bow before entering. Another tradition is to walk to the side as the center of the path is only for the gods.
Observe protocols for prayer- If you want to pray at a temple or shrine, it’s customary to throw in a coin, bow, and light incense.
Respect rules regarding photographs-Some temples allow photography while others don’t. You may be permitted to take photos only in certain areas. Be sure you understand and respect the guidelines before you start snapping photos.
Use common sense and be respectful-In a place where people are praying, it’s polite to keep your voice down and avoid behavior such as eating, drinking alcohol, or smoking even if there’s no sign specifically prohibiting such activities.
Each temple or shrine may have its own rules and etiquette. It’s best to do a little research before entering. In most cases, there will be posted signs in English. If there are other visitors nearby (which will usually be the case), you can look to them for guidance.
You can learn a lot about a country and its people by observing and even participating in its religious ceremonies. Japan is especially incredible when it comes to sacred spots, temples, and shrines. The ones covered in this article are just a small sampling of what you can see. No matter where you travel in Japan, you’re sure to be close to a spiritual spot with a long and rich history. Taking the time to learn about such places will deepen your understanding and appreciation of Japan.
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4 Must-See Destinations in The Great Outdoors of Vancouver

Vancouver, Canada’s gem on the west coast, is filled with lush, natural beauty to explore. From experiences like gliding down green mountains in a gondola to wandering through an exceptional collection of parks, Vancouver is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts that regularly draws patrons from all over the world. If you’re heading to Vancouver, here are four outdoor destinations you won’t want to miss.

Queen Elizabeth Park

A lavish sightseeing paradise, Queen Elizabeth Park offers magnificent views of green forests and colorful flowers along with an epic panoramic glimpse of Vancouver. A light hike takes visitors to a wide overlook featuring the Vancouver cityscape resting beneath the towering North Shore mountains – a pristine view that is a favorite for weddings and postcards. Meanwhile, the rolling green space around the rest of the 52-hectare park (128 acres) provides a blank slate and endless possibilities for visitors.
Among the most popular activities from spring to fall is picnicking, particularly on the north side of the park nearby a grove of Japanese cherry trees that blooms in April. Although there is a designated area with picnic tables and barbecue pits during warmer months, there really isn’t a bad place to have a picnic thanks to the park’s famously immaculate scenery. And if you’re looking for a break from the outdoors, the beloved Bloedel Conservatory is a tropical paradise with more than 100 exotic birds and 500 species of plants, making it one of the focal points of the park anytime of the year.
Although Queen Elizabeth Park is a terrific spot for visitors to the area, it’s also a great place to live like the locals. Guests can try their hand at lawn bowling, disc golf, or play a few sets of tennis at more than a dozen public courts. Fine dining options are also available near the peak of the park overlooking the city, making for an especially memorable night out for romance-seekers. Whether you come to simply wander through the sights, view the city, or work up a sweat with the park’s many different sporting features, Queen Elizabeth Park is a marvel that’s perfect for outdoor lovers of any age or background.

Grouse Mountain

A ski resort by winter and a haven for adventure in the summer, Grouse Mountain exemplifies Vancouver’s most spectacular geographical features no matter the time of the year. While the skiing is sensational, Grouse Mountain really pops when the snow melts and the green valley below springs to life, opening up a wealth of other possibilities for visitors. At the top of the list, the Skylift (gondola) takes riders up 4,100 feet above sea level for a majestic view of forested mountainsides and the pristine Capilano Lake.
For those looking for further adventure, Grouse Mountain is also a quintessential jumping off point. The area offers outstanding mountain biking and hiking along with a spectrum of other activities, from tandem paragliding and zip lining to climbing through the enormous trees on specially-designed pedestrian bridges. There’s even a 100-seat theater at the top of the mountain that screens specialty nature films, perfectly suited for a break after a morning of traversing the region’s hiking and biking trails.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

Whether you’re a flower lover or not, you’ll likely be amazed by the wondrous offerings of VanDusen Botanical Garden, a staple of Vancouver since a defunct golf course was converted in the mid-1970s. Different species of trees and flowers bloom nearly all year long, although VanDusen is exceptionally beautiful during the fall months thanks to the spectacular bursts of blooming hydrangeas, heathers, asters, and more. In the summertime, the garden is coated with strong, sweet-smelling flowers while the spring brings visitors to see the collection of magnolias, cherry blossoms, and plenty of others.
More than just flower viewing, however, VanDusen Botanical Garden has all kinds of events and activities throughout the calendar year. One of the main features is the Elizabethan Maze, transporting visitors back to 16th century England and offering an opportunity to wander through the thick green hedges in search of the exit. Between the fresh air, stunning plant life, and magnificent walkways showcasing the very best of nature, the VanDusen Botanical Garden is an ideal spot to spend a day during a Vancouver holiday.

Stanley Park

Just north of Vancouver’s exquisite West End, Stanley Park is a hallmark of the city and a stunning collaboration between the urban and natural worlds. With multiple beaches, a lengthy waterfront trail, endless scenic points, and plenty of integrated activities, Stanley Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s daydream that has earned its spot as one of the most popular sites in Vancouver.
One of the best ways to enjoy the park is to simply pick up the city’s famous seawall, a pedestrian/bike path that runs along the water all the way from downtown Vancouver, around Stanley Park, and all the way down to Kitsilano Beach. But the portion within Stanley Park is breathtaking, with unforgettable spots like Ferguson Point offering ideal refuges for catching a sunrise or a sunset over the English Bay. The seawall is particularly great for bikers, who can cruise the entire 22 kilometers (14 miles) or take an abbreviated route that loops back through the park past scenic areas like the Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake.
Stanley Park is also an excellent destination for families and travelers who need to keep busy. Third Beach is a large sand beach great for relaxing on a summer day while Second Beach is perfect for young swimmers thanks to its large man-made pool built into the edge of the sand. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Aquarium is well worth the price of admission. The park has gardens, monuments, local wildlife, and much more. Simply put, if you love outdoor activities and you don’t make it to Stanley Park on your trip to Vancouver, you should probably plan a return trip as soon as possible.

Traveling Tips For Vancouver

From May through early September, Vancouver has envious summer weather that is perfect for those looking to stay active. Even at the peak of the season, Vancouver has cool mornings and evenings. The impeccable summer weather means that you’ll have plenty of company at some of the popular locations throughout Vancouver. Although there is an influx of visitors during the peak season, Vancouver’s main outdoor highlights are regularly enjoyed by the locals as well.  It can be better to go during the weekday– when possible – if you’re headed to a place like Grouse Mountain or Queen Elizabeth Park.
Despite some cooler temperatures in the spring and fall, both seasons are still terrific options for experiencing Vancouver. Even in the winter, average-lows are not  usually below freezing in the metro area. Plus, there are new possibilities that appear thanks to the geography of the neighboring regions, where winter sports are sensational.
But the biggest upside of Vancouver is the sheer quantity of great outdoor spots worth checking out. With several places to enjoy Vancouver’s natural beauty, your biggest problem will be choosing what to do next.
 
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The Most Romantic Places in Italy to Take Your Significant Other

Romantic Italy Getaways

A romantic trip consists of relaxing on the coast of Italy and taking in the breathtaking views, tasting new foods, and staying at amazing resorts. There is love in the air at all times, and you will feel it as soon as you arrive. From activities for couples to quiet time spent with just one another, Italy has it all. Before you plan your next romantic getaway, here are some options that you must add to your itinerary.

Venice

Many couples dream of visiting the city of Venice and taking a romantic gondola ride back in time in this gorgeous floating city. Enjoy the stunning architecture that you will see, and view Venetian art from the 14th to 18th century at the Church of the Frari. You can also choose to take a boat ride to the nearby islands for an experience that will live in your memory forever.
Get in tune with one of the world’s most famed lovers, Casanova, as you enjoy wine at Do Spade bar on Calle de Spade, where he met his own lovers near the Rialto Bridge. When evening arrives, enjoy a candlelight dinner by the water at Riviera, a waterfront terrace situated on the Giudecca Canal. The city of Venice is full of romantic Italian history that is perfect for any couple in love.

Capri

Nothing says romance quite like a trip to Capri. You’ll soak up ocean views as you enjoy your time at this picturesque location. Enjoy the ruins of the ancient complex of Villa Jovis, the main residence of Tiberius in Capri. You can take a quaint chairlift ride to the peak of Capri and enjoy the scenery, even catching a glimpse of the entire Bay of Naples. Don’t leave this location without a visit to Grotta Azzurra, a sea cave that contains a blue light that gives the cave a surreal feel. At the end of the day, be sure to enjoy a meal at Villa Margherita, an Italian seafood restaurant where you can have a quiet evening with your significant other while feeling as if you are the only two people in the world.

Lo Smeraldino Amalfi Restaurant

No trip to Amalfi would be complete without a romantic meal at Lo Smeraldino Amalfi Restaurant! You can enjoy seafood like you never before have, along with meat dishes and vegetables to please all tastes. With magnificent views throughout the space, the restaurant features a menu with local flavor. After dinner, spend some time on the terrace overlooking the sea for an experience that will live in your memory for years to come.

Orange Garden

Make time to spend at the Orange Garden in the city of Rome. Walk up the Aventine Hill and along Via di Santa Sabina, where you will find Rome’s “secret keyhole” at the end. This is where the adventure truly begins. Look through the keyhole and see the Knights of Malta’s garden St Peter’s Basilica in perfect view. The Orange Garden, also known as Parco Savello, is surrounded by some of the most magnificent churches in the world. Sit and enjoy the view of the Roman skyline while taking in the aromatic scent of the many orange trees. Or, sit on the terrace over the Tiber River and watch the sunset over St. Peter’s Dome. You’ll get lost in the enchantment of it all!

Ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina

The Ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina is atop a hill on the eastern shores of Sicily. Sitting 250 meters above the Ionian Sea, Taormina is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Greek Theatre dates back to the third century BC and is still used for performances to this day. Sit and take in the views of Mount Etna and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings. On any given day, you are sure to see many couples strolling hand in hand at this romantic destination.

Juliet’s Balcony

For those visiting Verona, this is not a spot to be missed! What says romance better than Juliet’s balcony? You’ll feel as if you are in a fairytale as you see this amazing building that dates back to the 13th century, and is arguably one of the most romantic spots a couple could go.

Florence

The city of Florence is known for main squares and cobblestone streets that are illuminated by soft lamplight. When the time comes to enjoy a meal for two, there are restaurants with a romantic ambiance, such as Verrazzano, where you can look across the table and into the eyes of your loved one. Enjoy stunning views, a rustic environment, and of course, plenty of wine, as you dine at this enchanting spot.

Atrani

The smallest city in all of Italy, Atrani is the perfect place to enjoy a day with the one that you love. In this quaint village, you’ll see mountains as well as medieval watchtowers. Although the town is quiet and intimate, there is still a friendly feel so that everyone feels welcome. Atrani has distinctive architectural features, including Collegiata di Santa Maria Maddalena, established in 1274.
You won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit this breathtaking church with its 16th-century bell tower and overall beauty. On the 22nd of July every year, you’ll see the Festival of Santa Maria Maddalena, a religious precession followed by fireworks on the beach. While in the village, spend some time at the picturesque beaches, with a luxurious feel and unique black sand. At night, you can see the lights of the city reflected in the water, for a view that is truly unmatched.
Italy is a country in which to make everlasting memories. With no shortage of amazing places to stay, see, and dine at, it is quite an experience to explore the country with the one you love.
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Don’t Leave Croatia Without Seeing These Spectacular Places

Croatia provides travelers with some of the best values in Europe. If you’re longing to visit sunny Mediterranean beaches, Croatia is a less crowded and cheaper alternative to Southern France, Italy, and other famous European beach destinations. Croatia, of course, has a lot more than just beaches. It also offers a rich culture with unique architecture, museums, food, and history. If you do plan a trip to Croatia, make sure you don’t leave before visiting the following places.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik encapsulates many of the most impressive features of Croatia. Set on the scenic Dalmatian Coast, it offers spectacular views of the Mediterranean, a beautiful Old Town, and well-preserved churches, buildings, and city walls.

City Gate and Walls

The old city gate and walls are among the highlights of any trip to Croatia. The Pile Gate is the main entrance to the Old City. To reach the gate, you walk over a stone bridge (that was once a drawbridge). Today, the Pile Gate is famous as one of the filming locations for the popular TV series Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan of the show, you can look for many filming locations in Dubrovnik.
Once you enter the gate, you have a good view of the city walls. Dating back to the 10th century, these defensive walls successfully kept invaders out of the city. The walls were strengthened and extended until the 17th century, and many are still in good condition today. The walls, as well as several intact towers, provide some amazing views of the city as well as the Adriatic.

Stradun

Stradun, officially called Placa, is a long (about 1,000 feet) and busy street in Dubrovnik where you’ll find lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants. Many of the street’s limestones date back to the 15th century. Stradun is a strictly pedestrian street, so you don’t have to worry about traffic. Aside from shopping and dining, you can take in some of the city’s historic sights such as the bell tower (actually reconstructed after a devastating earthquake in 1667) and the famous Loggia Square, where you’ll also find one of Dubrovnik’s best-known monuments, Orlando’s Column.
Fort Lovrijenac
Another reoccurring Game of Thrones filming location, Fort Lovrijenac is sometimes called the Gibraltar of Dubrovnik. Once an important point for defending the city, the fortress had multiple cannons surrounding it. Today, it’s frequently used as a venue for performances during Dubrovnik’s annual Summer Festival.

Assumption Cathedral

One of Croatia’s most beautiful churches, The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is a baroque style building full of precious artwork. The church is also known for its relics, including part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. The church dates back to the 6th century, but much of it was rebuilt after earthquakes destroyed much of the original structure.

Zadar

While not as large or well known as Dubrovnik, Zadar has unique charms of its own and should definitely be on your must-see list for Croatia. On the northern Dalmatian coast, this city has beaches, Roman ruins, old churches, and many pedestrian-friendly streets.

Waterfront Promenade

Zadar’s waterfront attracts crowds that gather nightly to watch the incredible sunsets. The central attraction is a solar-powered disc and art installation called Monument to the Sun, created by an artist named Nikola Basic in 2008. This is the perfect place to spend a romantic evening as people often dance on the disc as they watch the sunset. Plans are in the works to make this popular piece interactive so it responds to people’s movements. Close by is another innovative art project, the Sea Organ, which makes sounds that are set off by sea waves.

Zadar Archaeological Museum

This museum, which opened in 1832, is an excellent place to learn about the rich history of Zadar, Dalmatia, and Croatia in general. You can see jewelry, weapons, and pottery dating back to the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras. As you browse collections from the Roman, Byzantine and Medieval periods, you can appreciate the various influences that molded this fascinating region.

Kornati National Park

Nature lovers will want to visit Kornati National Park, which is actually an archipelago off the coast of Zadar. Composed of 147 islands, this protected area is ideal for observing wildlife and exploring ancient Roman settlements. It’s also a prime spot for scuba diving.

Churches in Zadar

This city has several remarkable churches. The Church of St. Donatus, a Byzantine church built in the 12th century, was built on top of a Roman forum. The Church of St. Simeon stores the remains of one of the city’s patron saints in a sarcophagus. The Church of St. Chrysogonus is a Benedictine church known for its well-preserved frescoes from the 13th century.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

While Dubrovnik gives you a glimpse at some of Croatia’s fascinating history, Plitvice Lakes National Park reveals some of the exotic natural beauty of the country’s inland. This beautiful park has forests, waterfalls, lakes, and abundant wildlife. It’s called Plitvice Lakes National Park because of its 16 lakes, renowned for their clear, turquoise waters. The park is also known for its hiking trails, dozens of waterfalls, and spots for white water rafting. One thing you can’t do is swim in the lakes. As tempting as it may be, people aren’t allowed in the water for health and sanitary reasons.

Take a Tour

If you want to see as much as possible, take a guided tour which includes ferry rides and a railroad that operates within the park. Animal lovers will appreciate the park, whose inhabitants include bears, deer, wolves, and many rare species of birds. You could easily spend weeks exploring this region but you should at least resolve to spend a day here. Numerous tours can take you through the park. You can arrange day trips by bus from Zadar. If you prefer to explore it on your own, make sure you make a plan and give yourself enough time. To take a hike around the lakes takes at least four hours.
There are numerous places to stay in and around the park. There’s also a campsite in a town about 10 miles away called Korana. To get to Plitvice Lakes National Park, you’ll have to rent a car or take a bus as trains don’t travel here. The closest stations are Zadar and Zagreb, which are several hours away.
Croatia is an incredibly diverse and beautiful nation. Its cultural influences include the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Byzantine and Austro-Hungarian empires, and even the Mongols. With views of both the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas, and its many old cities and picturesque islands, Croatia is the perfect destination for anyone who appreciates nature, beaches, history, and lots of sun.
 
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The Haunting History Behind Trick or Treating

Every year, millions of American kids go out on the night of October 31st and demand, politely, treats from random strangers. Seems a strange custom, when you think of it that way. But Halloween is deeply ingrained in American culture and on that one night, there’s nothing strange at all about taking candy from a stranger. How did Halloween make its way to America? What were its predecessors? Was candy always given out, and if not what other treats might early celebrants of the holiday receive? And just where did this whole “trick or treat” business come about anyhow? Did anyone outside of the movies ever really trick someone for not giving them candy? Here’s the history behind one of our most mysterious holidays.

Samhain

Samhain was a holiday celebrated on October 31st by the Celtic people around 2000 years ago. The Celts believed that the dead returned to roam the earth on Samhain. On that night, they’d gather outside around large bonfires and pay their respects to the visiting dead. It was a time of remembrance and reconnection to loved ones lost.
Some the Celts were wary that not all of the spirits roaming around that day had the best of intentions. Those people dressed in costumes made of animal skins to scare the less savory spirits away. They often also left food out in the hopes that those spirits would be satisfied and leave them alone. So, they offered treats to avoid the tricks of evil spirits. Is that where “trick or treat” comes from? Perhaps. We’ll explore that further later on.
In later centuries, a game came out of this. Some people would dress up in costumes to look like evil entities, such as demons and ghosts. They would then go around the town and collect the edibles that were put out for the spirits. It’s unlikely that these getups genuinely fooled anyone, so, much like our own Halloween celebrations, it’s likely that both parties were in on the gag. This ritual became known as guising. And so we are already beginning to see the roots of what Halloween would become.

All Souls’ Day

By 1000 AD, Christianity had made its way to Celtic lands. In those days, Christians tried hard to convert the native pagans. Pagan holidays were co-opted by the Church to make the transition easier for converts. For example, Easter was originally a celebration of the pagan fertility goddess Eostre. Hence the fertility symbols of the rabbit and the egg that we still use to decorate for the holiday today. In the case of Easter, Passover was an existing holiday that could be repurposed.
In the case of Samhain, an all-new Holiday formed called All Souls’ Day. Like Samhain, it was a time for honoring the dead. There were still bonfires and costumes, only now poor people would offer to pray for the souls of a wealthier household’s deceased loved ones in exchange for pastries. This practice was called souling.
In some areas, a more secular version appeared. Instead of offering to pray for souls, people would perform dances or sing in exchange for their food items. Put another way, they would perform a trick for their treat. Perhaps this serves as any clue to where “trick or treat” came? It’s doubtful, especially since the modern use of the word trick in the phrase refers more to doing something to the homeowner than for them. If that were the origin, it would make more sense to say “trick for a treat.” Still, it’s fun to think about.

Halloween Arrives in the U.S.

The potato famine of 1846 led many Irish people to flee from their homeland to the United States. They brought Halloween with them. And so the custom of dressing up and asking strangers for food had arrived on American shores. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the holiday became popular outside of the small Irish communities and found its way into mainstream culture. By the 1920s mischievous pranks had become the main Halloween pastime.

Trick or Treating Comes to Life

Trick or treating itself would not become a popular activity until around the 1930s. The first use of the term “trick or treat” comes from 1934. It appeared in an article titled, “Halloween Pranks Keep Police on Hop.” The article states, “young goblins and ghosts, employing modern shakedown methods, successfully worked the ‘trick or treat’ system in all parts of the city.” The pranks of the 1920s became a way of forcing people to give candy. So yes, some people did pull some tricks if they did not receive a treat. That usage of the phrase in the Oregon Journal might well have been the start of the chant from children to their candy distributing neighbors.
We’ve made a few guesses, some more plausible than others, but ultimately, we don’t know the exact origins of “trick or treat.” We can surmise, however, that as the edible treats went from being offered to spirits, to being offered to poor people, then to little children playing dress up. Once Halloween became a holiday game instead of the spiritual observance it once was, the switch to candy was inevitable. Candy is not only cheaper in the quantities required for a modern night of visiting trick or treaters, but it is by far the favored food of children everywhere.
When you take your kids out for their night of goodies this year, think back on the people over a thousand years ago that dressed up like evil entities to get food that was intended for those spirits. In whatever form it takes, humans have been performing this ritual for a very long time. Although some pranksters may have gotten out of hand in the early days of the holiday’s arrival in America, it quickly became the family-friendly holiday that it is today.

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A History Lover’s Guide to Bologna, Italy

Bologna, Italy is a country of rich culture and ancient civilizations. Many localities not just centuries ago, but ages ago – literally. This makes it a history lover’s paradise – with plenty of places to gaze in awe at the majestic structures of years past.

A History In Brief

Bologna, Italy has origins tracing back to the Bronze age. After a population of unknown origin settled the area over three thousand years ago, they slowly began to develop their own culture.
By the Iron age, they were authentically known as the Villanovan Civilization and had greatly influenced the distinct culture you see today – not to mention left behind some of the historical sites you can witness.
As with all other great culture-rich regions, there were outside influences through the years leading to today. The first influence came from the Etruscans around the 6th Century BC. In 350 BC the Celts conquered the area and dubbed it Bologna, meaning “city.”
Two hundred years later the region was conquered by the Romans and officially adopted into what is now modern-day Italy.

Modern Notoriety

The ancient city of Bologna is modernly known as the center of Italian culture and artistic heritage. Both the Caracca and Reni Schools for the arts were founded there.
In 2000 the city was given the title of “European Capital of Culture.” In 2006 it was called a “city of music” by UNESCO.

Must-See Historical Sites

There are numerous examples of well-preserved architecture throughout the city which history lovers will not want to miss.
The amazing thing about ancient buildings, sites, or even artifacts is that they provide a living example of history. It takes the black and white pages of historical text and turns it into something substantial.
A word of warning: it can be very overwhelming for the first-time history traveler. In a good way, of course.
Quadrilatero
A bustling modern world sitting inside this old, compact Roman district. As you walk streets which have stood for centuries, you can peruse market stalls, cafes, and delis. You can find beautifully maintained examples of historic architecture anywhere you look.
Torre Degli Asinelli
Built in 1119, these twin towers are considered the region’s primary tourist attraction. Like the tower of Piza, these towers both lean considerably, thanks to a shifting layer of earth as the towers settled. You can even walk up one tower, although the other has been closed for quite some time because it is far too slanted to be considered safe.
San Colombano Collezione Tagliavini
A restored church with original frescoes and a medieval crypt, this place is a history lover’s paradise. Housed inside the beautiful building is a collection of musical instruments dating back to the early 1500’s. Unlike many other churches, photography is welcome here. You may also luck out and witness one of the unscheduled concerts hosted here.
Basilica di Santo Stefano
There were originally seven interlocking buildings built here, but now only four remain. Each building presents an opportunity to view religiously-themed art housed in historic architecture. The main building, for example, is called the Church of the Crucifix, where Jesus is depicted hanging on the cross while his mother watches. The solemn morbidity of the scene is an accurate depiction of the local religious beliefs.
Basilica di San Petronio
Although construction began over 700 years ago, this church remains unfinished. As it stands, it is the sixth largest church in all of Europe, despite sections of missing façade. One can’t help but wonder just how big the church was meant to be.

Must-Visit Museums

Lamborghini Museum
This unique attraction portrays the history of Italy’s infamous (and much sought after) luxury car company. Among the numerous cars on display, there is an original 350 GT from 1964.
Gelato Museum Carpigiani
Did you know that people ate frozen desserts all the way back to ancient times? No? Then you have to taste test – I mean, visit – this delicious museum. Not only will you learn about the ways people would make and eat frozen desserts, but you’ll also get to eat some yourself!
Museo della Storia di Bologna
This museum is perfect for people of all ages. The last 2,500 years of Bologna history is in a chronological showcase of interactive 3D displays. It brings the region’s history to life.

Must-Eat Indulgences

No trip to a city nicknamed “La Grassa” (AKA “The Fat One”) would be complete without indulging in some of the foods that have historically defined the culture. Some dishes are very local while others are Italian classics born from this region.
Tagliatelle al ragu
Known to the rest of the world as Bolognese, this is the culinary masterpiece which  the region gastronomically famous. The best place to get it? Trattoria Anna Maria. The food is always handmade, using authentic cooking techniques – all overseen by Anna Maria herself.
Seafood Pasta Dishes
Although the region of Bologna is very heavy in meat dishes, seafood has become an integral part of the diet also. Much of this is thanks to a Sicilian influence. Speaking of Sicilians, Da Maro restaurant operates a family of them. You can get a plate of pasta con le sarde or a variety of other seafood dishes – created with locally caught fish!
Tortellini
This is the most famous dish originating from the region, and the best place to get it is in the Trattoria Meloncello. This eatery has been around for over a century (which is how you know the food is good)! If the tortellini in brodo isn’t your thing, the gnocchi comes highly recommended!
Antipasti
Traditional Bologna fare features an array of delicious appetizers before the main course. At Ristorante Alice you can choose a bowl of antipasti filled with locally sourced cured meats, Pecorino cheese, chickpeas, marinated eggplant, and balsamic vinegar.
Between the fantastic historical sites, unique museums, and delicious culinary indulgences Bologna, Italy is a history lover’s paradise. Don’t miss the experience to immerse yourself in the rich culture of the region during your next Italy vacation!
 
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How a Bond Film Inspired The First Day of the Dead Parade

The Day of the Dead is a sacred, ancient tradition in Mexico and throughout Latin America. The annual holiday is known for its costumes and colorful decorations just recently began. If you saw “Spectre,” the latest James Bond film, you might be surprised to learn that the movie makers invented the parade depicted in the film. However, shortly after the film was released, the Mexican government took steps to make the parade a reality. Now it has become a new annual event in Mexico City.

What is the Day of the Dead?

Dia de los Muertos, translated to Day of the Dead, has been celebrated throughout Latin America for several thousand years. You’ve probably seen images of painted skull masks and thought it was similar to Halloween. Although the two traditions appear similar and they occur around the same time of year, their meanings are very different.
The people of Mexico do not view this tradition as spooky or dark. Instead, the holiday is a time for families to express love and reverence toward their deceased ancestors. Although skulls and other death symbols play an important role, the celebrations are full of lively music, dancing and color that uplifts the spirit and celebrates life.
The Day of the Dead is a much older tradition than Halloween. It originated thousands of years ago with the Aztecs and other bygone civilizations that once inhabited Central and South America. In ancient times, these cultures saw death as part of the cycle of life, and they believed that their ancestors returned to the natural world during the time of the rituals.
The tradition combines elements of ancient beliefs and modern Christianity. The ritual takes place on the first two days in November, coinciding with All Saint’s Day, a Catholic religious holiday. The central focus of the holiday are the “ofrendas,” or altars, built in homes and cemeteries to welcome dead ancestors back to the world of the living. The altars are adorned with Marigold flowers and various types of offerings to please the spirits.

How did the movie “Spectre” inspire this new celebration?

The Day of the Dead holiday is traditionally involves small family gatherings in quiet ceremonies, but in recent years, the tradition has taken on a different tone. Because of changing politics and the influence of movies and television, there have been more efforts to liven up the holiday to stimulate industry and attract tourism.
The opening scene of the James Bond film “Spectre” depicts an elaborate parade in Mexico City where everyone is wearing skull masks and death-themed costumes. The scene follows Bond as he tracks down a villain who is using the parade as a distraction. The film, which opened on November 6th, 2016, cost over $250 million to produce and grossed over $880 million at theaters worldwide.
When asked about the motivation behind the parade, Lourdes Berho, CEO of the Mexican Tourism Board, explained that the movie created expectations throughout the world. He also notes how millions of people in 67 countries saw “Spectre.” Potential tourists might be disappointed if they were expecting a spectacular parade during the Day of the Dead holiday.
The Mexican Tourism Board saw this as a way to generate tourism to the country and also to fulfill the desires of the Mexican people for more dazzling celebrations. The tourism board even acquired some of the props used in the movie for the first parade.
Authorities hope the parade could become a large event comparable to the Brazilian Carnival celebration. The famous Carnival festival, which takes place during the Catholic holiday Lent, attracts nearly five million people and over 400,000 tourists from other countries.

The First Day of the Dead Parade

The first ever Day of the Dead parade took place in 2016 on Saturday, October 29th, three days before the holiday. Like the fictional event in the James Bond film, the real parade occurred in Mexico City. It was a large, impressive event with giant floats and costumes similar to the ones in the movie. There were hundreds of performers who put on the show and a crowd of over 100,000 people attended the event.
In 2017, the city put on the parade for the second time, and it was much bigger than the first. There were about 700 performers and a crowd of roughly 300,000 spectators. Many of the attendees wore the traditional costume of the wealthy skeleton lady, La Catrina, dressed in fancy 19th-century garb.

What To Expect This Year

The parade will take place on Saturday, October 27th in Mexico City from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will begin at Estela de Luz and will end at Zocalo Square, traversing a distance of about one mile. The event will be  slightly larger than the two previous ones, with over 800 performers. As before, there will be numerous dancers, giant marionette puppets, and floats.
This year the parade will still have some recognizable elements from the James Bond film. However, the focus will be more on the themes and traditions that are commonplace for Day of the Dead celebrations. For example, the giant balloons and puppets depicting Mexican characters such as Mojigangas, Jose Guadalupe Posada and Catrina.
The parade is not only an idea inspired by Hollywood, it’s part of a larger effort to compete with Halloween. Some traditionalists in Mexico are concerned that Halloween could overshadow the Day of the Dead. Although many families in Mexico continue to enjoy Halloween festivities, the Day of the Dead tradition remains strong.