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Guide to the Medellin Holiday Lights

Posted on December 9, 2017 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

By Rebecca Pittore

From Christmas carols to twinkling lights, to an expectation of snow—or to an escape from it—the happiest time of the year, undoubtedly, is here again. Other cities have put on magnificent winter wonderland displays using white or colored LED lights. One of these cities lies right in South America: the City of Medellin in Colombia.

Medellin is fast becoming one of the most important destinations in South America. The city is home to cultural museums, a thriving nightlife, as well as an innovation and creativity. The city is also home to millions of twinkling lights through out the month of December, creating a colorful holiday show.

“El Alumbrado”, or “The Lighting” as it’s called in English, takes place from December 2 to January 8 this year. Celebrating 50 years of EPM’s magnificent Christmas show, the lights will be on from 6:00pm through midnight. The theme of this year’s spectacular light is “estamos de fiesta” or “we’re celebrating”, with 37 million lights, 50,000 figures, 27 moving structures, 66 LED projections, one hologram, one water show, and one “mapping” feature showing you the history of Medellin’s lights since 1967.

Parque Norte

Located at the metro stop ‘universidad’, this amusement park is the main light show for two straight years now, as the lights filled up the ‘Rio Medellin’ in the past. This is because the city is working on a construction project along the river, so the lights have found a new home. The park offers free admission during the Christmas season; and Individual tickets, on the other hand, are available for purchase for the rides or games. Upon entering the small amusement park, you will be greeted by a 50-foot tall and 127-foot wide Nativity Scene. You can wander through the park’s colored lights and find your way to the lake, where a surprise light show will take place


On Avenida La Playa there will be 17 different light scenes creating a colorful LED roof over the road, spanning almost a half mile from Pablo Tobon Theater to Avenida Oriental. At the end of this colorful drive, you’ll find a 70-foot lit up statue of the Three Kings. The lights continue down to the Avenida Junin. Look out for the giant Christmas tree! The old EPM building, Edificio Miguel de Aguinaga, will be lit up and decorated to look like a giant Christmas tree with green metallic paper and lights spanning the structure. See also the Parque San Antonio, home to Fernando Botero’s famous ‘birds of peace’ statues, and Parque Bolivar, home to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Medellin, to catch the lights, and Parque Aranjuez, near the botanical garden and planetarium, to catch more light displays.


The main parks of every comuna of the city, plus the surrounding corregimientos (villages), and municipalities will feature their own Christmas light display. If you’re in the north of the city, you’ll be able to see the lights at Parque Santo Domingo Savio, and along Calle 107, both of which you’ll catch a glimpse of if you take the metrocable toward Parque Arvi.

In the south of the city, Parque Poblado, home to all the nightlife, restaurants and cafes you need, will put on a light display. Parque Cristo Rey near the domestic airport, Parque Belen, in the Belen neighborhood will also light up, as well as the first park of Laureles, Carrera 70, Estadio Atanasio Girardot, and Parque Floresta in the west of Medellin. This area is similar to El Poblado, but a little bit less touristy, giving you restaurants, cafes, and dancing, with a little more authenticity.

Outside the city, Parque Envigado, Parque Itagui, Parque Sabaneta, and Parque San Antonio de Prado are all filled with colorful displays, as well as local restaurants and bars for you to get to know some less tourist-filled parts of the Medellin Metropolitan Area.

Another park you can’t miss sits above the city atop Cerro Nutibara. This is the 262-foot high hill houses Pueblito Paisa, a replica of a traditional Antioqueno town. Aside from 360 views of the whole city, the site will have its own lights on display. Go late in the afternoon to check out the views while it’s still light out; watch the sky turn orange, pink, and purple as the sun sets over the city of eternal spring. Then stay to watch the lights come to life—both the Christmas lights of Pueblito Paisa and the lights of the sprawling city below you.

Photo: Ivan Eree Jota

Holiday in Japan

Posted on November 8, 2017 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

By Yamin Raj

Japan has a rich cultural heritage, with natural beauty, and a twist of contemporary curiosities, which make it a very interesting country to visit. So, while booking your Japan vacation tour package, make sure you travel less and visit important places of the country!

1. The Sumo Stable

When in Japan, do what the Japanese do! It is really suggested to see and live the culture of the place where you want a vacation. The Arashio Sumo Stable is a place of sport. The colossal sumo wrestlers, the fighting ring, the dripping noise that affects your ear drums, all this is an experience you will remember forever. Be sure to consult the official Japan Sumo Association page for the right location and planning. 

2. Visit the ancient cities of Kyoto

Kyoto is a place full of history. Its architectural wonders possess a great historical landmark. The Zen Buddhist Temple, for example, is one of them. Situated on the banks of a beautiful pond, this temple holds its golden frame having a subtle reflection on the waters.

3. Overnight in a temple

Have you ever spent a night in a temple? Well, this is definitely the highlight of your holiday in Japan. Traveling to Mount Koya gives you the opportunity to walk through the mysterious landscapes of the Okunoin Cemetery and see the multiple temples there. Then you can have an all night rest at a silent temple together with monks.

Book your Japan travel package and have an exciting holiday. Just make sure you get the right one that gets you fulfilled and rewarded. Different holiday packages in Japan help you and your family in your future travels to enjoy your holiday in the country.

Aruba, One Happy Island

Posted on July 25, 2017 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

By Angelique Woudenberg

White beaches, a light-blue sea and sun are what Aruba has to offer mainly. But there are also sights on the island: white-lined Dutch gables in pastel colors, an old Frysian windmill, a lighthouse, lots of cactuses, sand dunes, a wild east coast, and National Park Arikok, which takes up a fifth of the island. And carnival on Aruba is something else.

When I think of Aruba, I see sun, white beaches, a light-blue sea and many tourists. During our nine days on the island, we found out that there is much more to explore. Aruba is only 31 km long and - at its widest point - 9 km wide, but during our trip from north-west to south-east on the island, we have seen different "faces". We also saw that Arubans really love carnival.

Bon Bini Aruba

After a nine-hour flight, we land on Aruba, one of the three leeward islands of the Dutch Antilles. When we leave the arrival hall, we are welcomed by a hot sun and a strong north-eastern trade wind. Bon Bini ("Welcome"). The transfer from the airport Reina Beatrix to Palm Beach takes approximately 25 minutes. The drive takes us through the capital Oranjestad, Eagle Beach and Manchebo Beach to our accommodation in Palm Beach.

Because of the five-hour time difference we have all afternoon and we install ourselves near the swimming pool. In the evening we take the Arubus (public transportation) to Oranjestad, the drive to the bus terminal takes 10 minutes.

Immediately behind the bus terminal and opposite the cruise ship terminal is the Royal Plaza Mall, which we call "Pink Sugar Palace" during the rest of our stay. It is a large, kitschy building, soft-pink, with lots of stores and jewelers which mainly cater to cruise ship passengers. This is cruise season and three times a week one or more cruise ships dock in the port of call which we will see later this week. It gets dark early and increasingly crowded, this Saturday night.

The big carnival parade

The carnival celebrations have started end January, but today the main big parade takes place; it's called the "Gran Marcha." The parade starts at 11 AM near the stadium, and will arrive in Oranjestad by 1 PM. We make sure we're in the capital by 12 PM to find a place in the crowds. We didn't expect that we'd have to wait for one and a half hours in the scorching heat and have to remain on our feet until 6:45 PM.

Finally we hear music in the distance and then it doesn't take long for the parade to arrive. The crowd, we too, are like little children, eagerly awaiting the long-expected parade. It is definitely worth the wait. There are different carnival groups in the parade and all participants wear beautiful costumes, with or without feathers, in bright yellow, shocking pink and other cheerful colors. Some costumes cost over 5000 dollars. At least, that's what we hear.

People are dancing and jumping enthusiastically to the rhythmic live music. It's quite different from carnival as we know it in The Netherlands. The Aruban carnival is a real folk festival. If you're on Aruba you shouldn't miss the parade. Just before sunset the parade ends, we had a great time. All of Aruba is in Oranjestad, so we don't stay and take the bus back to our hotel.

Next day our legs are still tired of standing for such a long time and we spend the day on the beach to recuperate.

Tour of the island


For a tour of the island, we can choose from mountain biking, horse riding, jeep safari or coach. Of course, we could rent a car, but that would have to be a 4WD because only the western part of the island has paved roads. But if we'd have a flat tyre in the "kunuku" (= inland), we wouldn't be able to change it ourselves, so this is not an option. Another reason we prefer an air conditioned coach is that the sun has done its work during the carnival parade. We don't want to get an even worse sun burn.

Our English-speaking guide takes us and a group of Americans from the Old Mill via the rich neighborhoods Malmok and Arashi Beach to the far north-west of Aruba. The Old Mill ("Olde Molen") originally was brought from Frysia in The Netherlands dating back to the 19th century. Around 1960 it was brought to Aruba and over the years housed a museum and a restaurant. Currently it's being renovated so we can't take a look inside, unfortunately.

On the way the guide tells us that all of Aruba's beaches are now public. There are no more private beaches. But that doesn't mean one can swim everywhere. The white sand beaches on the west side are quiet having clear-blue waters. But on the east coast the sea is dark-blue and wild. There are volcanic rocks on east coast beaches. The guide tells us not to swim or dive there. In Eagle Beach and Manchebo Beach on the west coast one can't swim everywhere either, because of dangerous undercurrents, but the beaches are still very pretty.

Before we visit the lighthouse, we take a drive through the mansion village Malmok, where prices for houses with or without swimming pools start at $350,000. The guide tells us that the nearer a house is to the sea, the more expensive. Everyone can buy a house here, he lets us know, in case we're interested. The median income on Aruba is around $14,000. We are surprised to find out that the palm trees here are imported. That’s what our guide says.

We can clearly see that Aruba is not flat, but hilly. In the distance we see a high mountain, Seroe Plat. On the way we'll see several hills and mountains, like the Hooiberg ("Haystack") and Jamanota. The lighthouse was built between 1914 and 1916 and behind it sits the former lighthouse-guard house, which now serves as a restaurant. The sand dunes behind the lighthouse form a sharp contrast with the surrounding barren landscape.

We drive along the golf course Tierra del Sol. The guide tells us that the golf course was designed by an American and that it's an expensive project, because it needs much water. The rain season is from October through March and during the rest of the year it's dry.


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