Tag Archives: lifestyle

Explore Europe – language travel

While winter outside it’s right time to think about summer. Summer means vacation. Vacation means travel. Traveling to some European country seems an option. But Europe is big, diverse place. What are the cities you always wanted to visit? London, Paris, Milan, Barcelona… just to name a few.

What are the things you want to do during vacation? Probably relax, have fun & do something good for yourself. I have found language travel as a great experience to combine option of improving language skills & exploring destination a little bit from locals perspective. Language schools are offering wide variety of courses. Traditional offer varies  from Super-Intensive (30 lessons per week) for rapid progress to semi-intensive (15 lessons) for people who would like to take things a bit easier.

What comes to Europe, there is wide variety of choices. Most common languages spoken in European countries are English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. I would add Russian as well. I’m not really fan of French (sorry for that) but French & Surfing, French & Cooking (French Cuisine) or Bordeaux Wine Course sounds tempting 🙂

Same applies to learning any other language. To learn German you can travel to Germany or pick  Austria as a destinationWith its great natural splendor, elegant cities and rich history, Austria is an extraordinary setting for a German course. Discover spectacular scenery, a wealth of culture and plenty to see and do once your German lessons are finished for the day. Combine language classes with skiing in winter / spring time or explore this lovely country during the summer by hiking, mountain biking or swimming activities.

St.Julians Bay

St. Julians Bay, Malta

I think that this is one of the best ways to learn / improve foreign language skills. Go to the place where language is around you & then pick up the experience as it comes along. Doesnt matter are you a complete beginner, or already have some advance level when language is around you on daily basis, it  greatly speeds up the learning process. I have one example from my experience. I did learn quite a lot of Italian while living in Malta.

For learning English, many people think of Great Britain, but Malta is perfect summer destination for it. Actually, Malta is great place for learning Italian as well. Beginning of June, mid July is time when there are many young & active language students from all over Europe. Classes during the day, beach & summer-fun later on.

What comes to me, than Malta was the place where I learned most of my Italian. I didn’t go to language school ( I was working in Malta for 4 month) but during my stay I improved my very basic Italian to the level that I could understand around 90% of spoken language and could speak Italian  about 70% myself.


Exploring Malta. Boat trip to Comino.

Yes, I was willing to learn but that wasnt my goal. I was using the situation I was in  – shops, beach, gym and even TV at evenings to learn language that was around me. Even more, August is the month of vacation in Italy, and many Italians are going for a vacation to Malta. So I had many Italian children in my classes and it was an  additional motivation for me to learn even more. Yes, I was spending some time with books, but I had fun as well 🙂

But I agree that for learning Italian language, timeless city of Rome, Venice or Milan are great destinations. If Malta is more summer fun, then language courses in Italy offer other kind of experience as well. By picking 1 or 2 week Italian course there are options to combined language lessons with cooking courses, wine tastings and guided tours to vineyards.
Does this sound like a great way of spending a vacation in location of your dreams? 

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Get ready for your vacation

I know it’s winter outside, but it’s right time to start planning for summer activities. If you’ve been wondering about discovering new destinations in your continent or even overseas then now its last time to start preparations. What is the best vacation destination that comes on your mind? What are the things you want to do during vacation – explore new destinations, learn foreign  language or improve your cooking skills?

In creating a dream vacation you can rely on Internet for sure – check on ‘hot’ or popular destinations, book hotels, arrange transportation, make a ticket reservation for some special event, ect. At first we choose destination – a city, a country or even the region. Then we need to decide how much time we’d like to spend there. And of course, important question is finances – how much money‘ we’ would like to spend.

Finding an activity that is perfect for your vacation is just the beginning of the fun. Then comes actual travel planning process – transportation, hotels, attractions to visit, places to see. If going overseas – booking airline tickets 5-6 months ahead is the one of the steps to find best prices for the trip. I know many people rely on ‘last minute’ deals as an opportunity to get good price, but it is not always so. Sometimes you might be lucky to find great ‘last minute’ deal, but often that price is very close to booking price, if made good time in advance. What comes to hotels, many hotels offer special discount for advance bookings.

Dont forget about visas and vaccinations.  Check the terms and regulation for each country you want to go. What comes to the European countries ( or Schengen Area) as long as you are staying less that 3 month in particular country – no special visa is required. In some countries you can buy visa right before entering in some, you need to get it in advance. If your choice is some exotic destination, there might be visa application process by mail.

And then there is one more thing I’d like to mention – a language.  In Europe almost every country has a local language. In big cities there are a lot of people who speak English. In smaller towns it is more difficult to find someone who speaks any foreign language. Some basic words and sentences  from phrase book will be very useful. Invest in good guide-book – besides maps, description of the destination and best attraction, they often have a chapter with essential phrases.

If you wish visiting foreign country for longer period of time some basic local language skills are essential. In this case now it’s right time to take some language course. Spanish, French or German are most popular foreign languages people learn. But if you are interested in visiting eastern Europe – knowledge of Russian language will be more useful. Have you heard about language travel? Think about doing two things at same time – learn foreign language and spend two weeks or even whole summer in destination of your dreams. This is one of the best ways to have quality vacation – learn something new & exploring destination a little bit like locals do.

As I said before – winter soon will be over. Take a moment to think about summer. What are the best things you wanna do during the vacation? Go ahead & see the options!

Hot Travel Destinations in 2011

Have you been wondering how one or other place suddenly become ‘hot destination’? I was but never got more or less reasonable answer. What comes to the nature – there are so many nice & beautiful places in the world. Almost every big city in Europe has some  great architecture and historical sites…

What are the reasons besides the regular travel destinations like New York, Paris or Rome suddenly Prague or Stockholm became popular? It is kind of funny but many people discovered Prague after ‘Mission Impossible’ with Tom Cruise was released or seeing ‘Lords of the Rings’ made many people wonder about New Zealand. The power of images is great and often films are the ones that makes us want to pack and head out to world.

But if  we look at the most popular destinations during last few years, Las Vegas, Cancun and Hawaii remained constants on the ten most popular domestic and international destination. Whether planning for Spring Break or looking ahead to finding the perfect location for your summer vacation, think of Las Vegas as a popular destination filled with great hotel and nightclub experience; Cancun – a place with pristine beaches and varied entertainment; Hawaii has been great vacation destination already but with Aulani Disney Resort opening in August 29 will make it magical destination for all ages.

Last year Stockholm got a lot of attention because of royal wedding. But  this year much more visitors will head to London at the end of April. Prince William and Kate Middleton are to marry at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011. In Britain it will be 4 days of public holidays and big celebrations. Guess how many people from around the world already have booked the tickets to London?

Another hot destination of year 2011 is going to be Australia. Why Australia?  Because Oprah did announce, “We’re going to Australia!” on seasons premiere in September, 2010. Since then this destination has been on the radar of media and travelers for sure. With all the media attention and a $5 million marketing campaign launched by Tourism Australia more and more people will think about going ‘down under’.

P.S. Travelers – get ready for Russia in 2014! Russia is working hard to make winter Olympic Games in Sochi event of the year.

Travel destination – Norway

You know I’ve been in Norway before. At first visited Oslo and  Gjovic few years ago. Then went to Bergen last summer. Norway is the place where after a first visit to it, people wanna return for more. Same has happened to me 🙂

Even more – I have entered the contest NORWAY.YOUR WAY to be part of 10-days journey to explore Norway  all the way from Oslo up to North Cape. There will be 5 winners selected from different countries. Here is my entry video.  Leave your vote on VisitNorway page to support me to be part of this Adventure.

There are few more days to go for this competition. A lot of people are looking forward to hunting for Northern Lights & dog sledging.

Wonderful nature and majestic mountain views are things that make people to fall in love with this country. No wonder National Geographic has put Norway as one of the top travel destinations for 2011.

5 (or more) Movies that Inspire to Travel.

It doesnt matter when or where I saw this movies, after final accords for different reasons there was some kind of inspiration to see the place. I cant say that I like every movie mentioned here, but never the less, I had a thought – That place looks amazing. I wish to go there someday.

Eat Pray Love                        location Italy, India, Bali

Story from ones women’s point you view. I mean every know & them we can associate ourself with Julie. Its kind of nice story how to get over obstacles in our way. But most of all this movie makes  people think about going to Rome & try Italian pizza , visit India or Bali. Movie is kind of long but it’s fun – sit back, marvel at the scienary & the food to walk out of the theatre and book trip to Bali or Italy. …or go to nearest pizza place.

Love Actually                         location London, Portugal

Romantic comedy right for Christmas time. Story line follows the lives of 8 couples in dealing with love in their love life. A little naive but nice, entertaining & heart warming. It starts & ends at Heathrow Airport. But in between l was wondering about London & enjoying landscapes of Portugal. 

Mamma Mia!                           location Greece

LOL – it’s not the greatest movie I’ve seen, but ABBA’s songs with amazing coastal panoramas and small Greek towns made me think about Greece as nice place to visit. Of course all the songs and dances makes impression theatrical but Greece still stars as an alluring and euphoric haven.

Sex and the City                    location New York, Paris, Abu Dhabi

Whatever is the attitude to this TV serial and following movies, this story  shows many places & sides of New York people from around the world wouldn’t know about. Many people like it and find inspirational for exploring Manhattan. Therefore  no surprise that for NY visitors there is ‘Sex and the City’ sightseeing tour. Besides adventures of Carrie and her friends gives short tour to Paris and Abu Dhabi as well.

Sound of Music                      location Austria

Though it is more like children’s movie  – it’s classic. This movie gave me an idea  – this is what Austria is like. Based on true story, it shows beautiful location around Salzburg. Enjoy picturesque Salzburg, with timeless Baroque architecture and the Alps.


Of course there are many more movies that inspire people to visit some place, but is it that they really get you moving?  Many would say, I had to mention The Beach, Amelia, A Good Year or Under the Tuscan Sun. OK – I am. But somehow these movies didn’t make me long for the particular travel destination. What comet to The Beach – somehow it was too pretentious and unbelievable. But last two mentioned seems pretty similar nice movies.

Lost in Translationone more  movie that relates to traveling but somehow I didn’t like it. I kind of didn’t understand it (or didn’t feel like to go into confused minds of Bob &Charlotte). For me it was movie about sum up of the jet lag and culture displacement. But I have to admit – I did  like modern Tokio cityscape.

And last I would mention here is  Map for the Saturday but it’s more like documentary of one trip for me. This movie is great for people just wondering about different travel destinations. The only thing is that pure backpacking for a year (or whole life) is not exactly everybodies dream.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog in  WordPress.com. This is my first post so I’ll introduce with myself:

Hi! I’m Latti and I’m from Latvia. That’s my home country – small country somewhere in Europe 🙂   Since I was a kid I’ve travelled a lot – summer vacations with my parents to Black sea, sport competitions in different cities all over Europe. Later I have worked in different countries like US, Malta, Russia and Ukraine. So from one hand travelling has become kind of passion for me. Because I think the more people have seen, the more they know. I think it’s fascinating – new places, new experiences, new people. It’s hard to say when and where it started – from long years in sports when hotels are your home are much later when I got this feeling that if I want, I can go anywhere…

Therefore now I’m glad I have put these two thinks – knowlegde and experience – together and come up with this project  Handy Travel Agency. Your own HandyTravelAgency. Why handy – because it’s always at your hand when you turn on your computer. Why yours? – It’s your computer 🙂  …and you can plan and organize everything from comfort of your home.