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People groan about layovers, and we can’t help but wonder why. The longer the layover, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to leave the airport and explore! With the inexpensive flights we love often come lengthy layovers—and here are a few of the best layover cities in Europe for making the most of it.

London, England

Pedro Szekely, http://bit.ly/2ckCCIc, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: London | Pedro Szekely, Flickr

Aww, poor you! Do you have a long ol’ layover in London? Just kidding! You’re so lucky—not only is London’s Heathrow a paradise for shoppers (there’s an 11,000 sq ft Harrods inside), but you’re just a 15-minute train ride on the Heathrow Express to central London. What to do with your limited time? Take it from us: Just pick an area and start walking. London is so huge that it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you try to plan too much, but there’s so much to see and do that any direction you pick will yield some serious treasures. A good place to start is the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral; gaze in awe at its ornate golden ceilings before heading across the street to Tate Modern for a dose of contemporary art. Afterwards, you’ve earned a snack, and the place to get it is Borough Market, where the restaurants and shops are open all week and there’s a farmer’s market on the weekends. If you’ve still got some time left, grab a pint at one of the hundreds of neighborhood pubs and just watch the world go by.

Paris, France

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Oui, you can take awhirlwind trip to Paris! Just a 45-minute train ride from Charles de Gaulle Airport will bring you to the massive Châtelet-Les Halles station, where you can store your luggage for a small fee and transfer to any neighborhood you like! Like London, Paris is too sprawling to try to conquer it in less than a day, so pick a single area to wander through and soak up the Parisian lifestyle. We recommend heading to Ile de la Citie, the hopelessly romantic island of Paris, which has the Notre Dame Cathedral at its tip. Drape yourself along the bridges and watch the boats slide by, then wander until you find a cafe (it won’t take long, we promise). Sit down, order a cafe creme, and weigh your options: Sunset boat tour along the Seine? Or postpone your flight indefinitely?

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Moyan Brenn, http://bit.ly/2czKvvi, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: Amsterdam | Moyan Brenn, Flickr

Amsterdam is a fantastic city for long layovers—you’re a 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam Central Station, where you can store your luggage, and hello: This is a seriously fun city, with an active nightlife and interesting museums. If you arrive in the evening, the infamous Red Light District is a quick walk from the station; by day, don’t miss renting a bike and pedaling along the city’s beautiful canals like the locals. Make time to stop for cafes! But keep in mind: When in Amsterdam and inneed of coffee, ask for a cafe—asking for a coffee shop will get you directions to the nearest marijuana shop. And if you only have time to see one major sight, make it the Anne Frank House, the truly moving museum that chronicles one Jewish family’s experience during the Holocaust.

Istanbul, Turkey

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There’s so much shopping and dining just outside your gate in Istanbul that you may never want to leave the airport. That said, even beyond those airstrips, Istanbul is heaven for layovers. Everyone who leaves the airport has to pay a $20 visa fee, but after that, it’s simple to hop on an express bus. Once out of the airport, check it out: You’re in an ancient city, a cross between East and West, and spindly minarets puncture the skyline everywhere you look. Don’t miss sightseeing at the famous Blue Mosque, and check out the Grand Bazaar—it’s as fascinating today as it was centuries ago. Stop to have a drink of raki, Turkey’s anise-flavored national drink, and if there’s time, book a boat tour on the gorgeous Bosphorus river.

Venice, Italy

Gondolas in the canals in Venice. Surely this is the prettiest of the best layover cities.

Photo: Venice | Moyan Brenn, Flickr

If you have a lengthy layover at the Marco Polo Airport (a popular stopping point for travelers going to Asia), by all means, take the opportunity to explore Venice. From the airport, follow the signs for the water bus to central Venice, and hop on! Enjoy the sight of Venice appearing on the waterline, then exit at San Marco square for a jaw-dropping scene: Here is a majestic city plaza (once the largest in Europe!) and an ancient cathedral gorgeous enough to make you cry. Grab a gelato, take a stroll around the square, and enjoy the ambiance—pigeons rise from the crowds in startled flocks, and it seems the whole world has congregated in what was once the most powerful city in Europe and Asia. If you’re feeling posh, treat yourself to a snack at Cafe Florian, reputedly the oldest cafe in Europe, and sit surrounded by Neo-Baroque gilt mirrors and waiters in traditional tuxedos. Afterwards, take a gondola ride to see Venice as it was meant to be seen: from the water.

Madrid, Spain

Игорь М, http://bit.ly/2ckCrMT, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: Types of Madrid | Игорь М, Flickr

A long layover in Madrid is so good we’re jealous. You can store your luggage at Madrid Barajas Airport and hop on an airport transfer shuttle to Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s bustling main square.Visit The Prado Museum for a chance to see one of the world’s finest collections of European art, but really, Madrid is entertaining just to walk through. There are so many tempting places to eat and drink (the Market of San Miguel! stop for tapas and wine at multiple bars!), and so many sites of historic significance—the Royal Palace of Madrid and Plaza de Cibeles among them. Meaning all you need to do is point your feet in a direction and keep moving for an adventure.

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Tagged: City, Flights, International, Tips & advice

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Charlie Bucket was the luckiest kid in the world, to win entrance into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. And his grandpa knew it, too, when he encouraged Charlie to spend that extra dollar for one more candy bar. Candy is magic to most kids, and a select few proprietors around the world remember that feeling of disbelief and excitement that sweeps over a kid in a candy shop, and have translated it into real life. Here are seven of the coolest candy shops in the world, sure to put you in Charlie Bucket’s sweet, sweet shoes.

Dulcería de Celaya — Mexico City

Dulcería means candy shop (or sweet shop) in Spanish. It comes from the word ‘dulce’, which means ‘sweet’, and this shop is just about as sweet as they come. It’s been in business since 1874, and has been honing its sweet selection ever since. The antiquity of the shop’s front and sign will draw you in, and you’ll walk away with a satisfied sweet tooth.

Dylan's Candy Bar

Dylan’s Candy bar on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Ally Marotti.

Dylan’s Candy Bar — Chicago

A vibrant lollipop tree sprouts from the ground of Dylan’s Chicago shop and arches up and over both of its floors full of candy. Dylan Lauren, daughter of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, has clearly found her calling. Patrons can feast their eyes and stomachs on hundreds of candies, from old-fashioned Bazooka bubblegum to freshly crafted gummy bears. There’s ice cream and a cafe, and if the adults get a little sensory overload from all the sounds and colors, there’s a bar to help dull the senses.

Papabubble

Papabubble candy shop in Barrio Gotico in Barcelona. Photo: Masashige Motoe – Flickr.

Papabubble — Barcelona

Papabubble was opened in 2004 and has since expanded to dozens of cities around the world, but it’s best to visit these shops in their home, beautiful Barcelona. There are two shops in the city: Barrio Gotico and Barrio Sarria. You can watch the candy makers at work, using as little sugar as possible to make their confections. The shop started with the goal of resurrecting the authenticity of artisan caramel making, and thousands of visitors from around the world would say they succeeded.

 

Gummy bear

Candy Freaks in Amsterdam has candy for every type of dietary restrictions. Photo: David O’Hare – Flickr.

Candy Freaks — Amsterdam

The display window on this candy store might confuse passersby: There are heads in the window. But they’re not mannequins, they’re candy heads. This store is known for having candy for all dietary restrictions — there are the organic candies, the gluten-free candies, the dairy-friendly candies and the vegan candies — but what really makes it famous are the heads it crafts from the sugary stuff. They’re more art than dessert, and definitely worth checking out.

 

Candylicious

Lollipopshang from the ceiling at Candylicious in Dubai. Photo: Thomas Galvez – Flickr.

Candylicious — Dubai

Imagine a world where canopies of lollipop trees cover the ceiling, and columns are covered in candies. Candylicious opened its shop in a Dubai shopping mall in 2009 and joined the ranks of the world’s largest candy stores at 10,000 square feet. There are 5,000 different types of candies from all over the world.

 

SugarSin — London

Delicious and adorable sweet shops abound in London, but this one takes the cake, no pun intended. In London’s Covent Garden neighborhood, SugarSin has been named one of the most beautiful candy shops in the world by Architectural Digest, so it’s worth seeing, if nothing else. But why not see with your mouth? The place is overflowing with delicious jellies, candy jars and fudge flavors, so don’t miss out.

À l’Étoile d’Or chocolates

Bernachon Chocolates from À l’Étoile d’Or in Paris. Photo: Ricardo – Flickr.

À l’Étoile d’Or — Paris

There’s a chocolatier in Lyon called Bernachon who makes his chocolates starting with the cacao bean. He’s one of the only chocolatiers in the world to so, and his delicacies can only be found in two places: His shop in Lyon, and À l’Étoile d’Or. The quaint little shop, located less than a block from Moulin Rouge, brings together some of France’s best chocolates and sweets for the picking. Chocolate lovers around the world are told to beware of this place — it’s treats are far too tempting to resist.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Family, Food & drink

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Spending so much on a Halloween costume that you have to dip into your travel fund? Now that’s scary. Fortunately, these DIY costume ideas leave plenty of cash for your next wanderlust fix while letting everyone know that travel is your idea of a treat.

Parisian mimeA striped shirt and a beret are all you really need to channel your inner Marcel Marceau. If you want to go all out, add a scarf, white gloves and some pale makeup.

Credit dresscorilynn.com.

Credit dresscorilynn.com.

Venetian gondolier: If you’d rather apply that striped shirt to a costume that doesn’t render you mute for the evening, then try this Italian idea. A straw hat, red sash, red scarf and oar (cardboard if you must) complete the look.

Credit: littlepim.com.

Credit: littlepim.com.

Waldo and Carmen Sandiego: Where in the world is this adventure-seeking couple off to? Anywhere they want. Striped shirt, hat and glasses for him. Red trench coat, yellow scarf and hat for her. Done.

Credit Ashley Baccam.

Credit Ashley Baccam.

Travel bug: Here’s the perfect getup for a witty wanderer. Drape yourself in an old map, and attach pipe cleaners to a headband for homemade antennae. For bonus points, complete the look with a set of store-bought wings.

Credit kianablaire.com.

Credit kianablaire.com.

Pizza rat: There are so many dignified costume ideas around the Big Apple—Statue of Liberty, a firefighter, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But no. This is the year of the pizza rat. Remember that New York City rodent who was caught on video carrying a slice of pizza down the stairs of a subway station? No need to get fancy with the costume. A simple gray sweatsuit, mouse ears and oversized slice of pizza made from poster board will do the trick.

Credit: halloweencostumes.com.

Credit: halloweencostumes.com.

Royal family: The family that dresses up together, stays together all night. To make like Queen Elizabeth, just hit up a thrift store (or your grandma’s closet) for some matronly duds and a matching handbag. For the royal guards, embellish a red jacket, step into some black pants—er, trousers—and for the hat, glue some black fleece to a cardboard tube, and affix with a gold cord. Bloody brilliant.

Credit costume-works.com.

Credit costume-works.com.

Tagged: Holidays, International, New York City, Uncategorized

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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then some landmarks should be downright charmed. If you don’t have the time or money to see the real thing, then opt for one of these faux versions of tourists attractions that are often imitated and nearly duplicated.

 Related: 5 stunning U.S. scenic drives 

Leaning Tower of Pisa replica in Niles, IL

Italy isn’t the only place where you can eat great pizza and take a selfie in front of an off-kilter landmark. At 94 feet tall, this suburban Chicago knockoff stands at about half the size of the actual Italian treasure. Built as a utility tower in 1934, in the late ’90s the tower added a fountain, reflection pool and other upgrades just in time for a visit from its sister city, which is—you guessed it—Pisa, Italy.

Leaning Tower is Pisa replica in Niles, Illinois. Credit Jimmy Thomas/Flickr.

Leaning Tower is Pisa replica in Niles, Illinois. Credit Jimmy Thomas/Flickr.

Trevi Fountain replica in Las Vegas, NV

What happens in Vegas… originally happened in Rome, Italy. Sin City is home to several clones of the Baroque masterpiece. The best-known sits outside Caesars Palace, where you can dine at—wait for it—Trevi Italian Restaurant. There’s also a lesser-known version of the ornate fountain inside the Fendi boutique at Crystals at CityCenter, where the handbags are legit but the fountain is most definitely a knockoff.

Trevi Fountain replica at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Credit Bert Kaufmann/Flickr.

Trevi Fountain replica at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Credit Bert Kaufmann/Flickr.

Statue of Liberty replica in Birmingham, AL

About 2 million tourists flock to Ellis Island each year. Skip the lines and ferry ride by heading south to this bronze duplicate that’s one-fifth the size of the real statue. Like the New York statue, Birmingham’s version of Lady Liberty was made in France and has a continuously burning flame. In 1958, businessman Frank Park Samford commissioned the clone to sit atop the building of his company, Liberty National Life Insurance. Today, the statue stands in Liberty Park.

Statue of Liberty replica in Birmingham, Alabama. Credit Wikipedia.

Statue of Liberty replica in Birmingham, Alabama. Credit Wikipedia.

White House replica in McClean, VA

You can’t buy an election, but you can buy the White House—or at least a private home just outside Washington, DC, that’s modeled after the real thing. The 15,000-square-foot replica has six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, compared to the actual White House’s 55,000 square feet, 16 bedrooms and 35 bathrooms. In 2012, the foreclosured property sold for just $865,000.

Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, TX

Not everything’s bigger in Texas. This iron structure stands at 65 feet tall, compared to the French icon, which boasts a staggering 986 feet. But the Texas version is topped with a giant red cowboy hat, which makes for a kitschy photo op as you stretch your legs along U.S. Highway 82. The Boiler Makers Local #902 in built it there in 1995, more than a century after the French landmark was erected.

Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, Texas. Credit Kevin/Flickr.

Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, Texas. Credit Kevin/Flickr.

Parthenon replica in Nashville, TN

This Southern gem was built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition—which sounds old, until you realize that construction on the actual Parthenon in Greece began in 447 BC. But Nashville’s full-scale replica is more than just a pretty facade; it also houses the city’s art museum.

Parthenon replica in Nashville. Credit Will Powell/Flickr.

Parthenon replica in Nashville. Credit Will Powell/Flickr.

Stonehedge replica in Maryhill, WA

While the purpose behind England’s Stonehenge remain a mystery—altar? astronomical observatory? burial site?—the origins of this knockoff are more certain. In 1918, land developer Sam Hill erected his version of Stonehenge as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of World War 1. The Druids used actual stones, but 5,000 years later, Hill opted for the convenience of reinforced concrete slabs.

Stonehenge replica. Credit Wikipedia.

Stonehenge replica. Credit Wikipedia.

Tagged: International, Las Vegas

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Want to travel to Europe this fall? You can, with cheap flights on Lufthansa.

Imagine strolling along the streets of London, sitting in a Paris cafe or enjoying the art and architecture of Amsterdam. These cheap tickets make it easy to travel to cities throughout Europe. Check out these sample flights:

  • Atlanta to Amsterdam: $693
  • Houston to London: $632
  • New York City to Frankfurt: $456
  • Orlando to Paris: $708

These cheap flights are for travel August 18 through October 26, 2008 and December 12 – 24, 2008. Sample airfares don’t include taxes and some fees. Cheap tickets like these are available for a limited time; the Lufthansa sale ends August 20. So don’t wait. Make your Europe travel plans now.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, Flights, FREE!, International, Limited-time Offers