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Easter Celebrated By Different Cultures

Whether you are planning on staying home for Easter Weekend, or you have decided to take a few extra days off during the Easter holiday to spend time with the kids, different countries and different cultures have individual ways of celebrating Easter Weekend. Although commonly associated with Christianity, Catholicism and the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ, cultures from around the world celebrate the death and rebirth as well as a number of other, related events in their own way.

Verges in Spain

[penguin] easter blogThe Thursday before Easter weekend is known as the night of the ‘dansa de la mort’ in the town of Verges, Spain. The residents dress up in skeletal outfits and re-enact scenes from The Passion while parading through the streets of town, complete with eerie fire torches. The parade starts at Midnight and lasts for three hours until the early morning.

The end of the ‘dansa de la mort’ is signified by terrifyingly designed skeletons carrying boxes of ashes, signifying the death of Christ.

Rome, Italy

Easter celebrations in Rome start on Good Friday, where the Pope will commemorates the ‘Via Crucis’ or ‘Way of the Cross’. At the coliseum a huge cross made of burning torches is burnt, lighting up the sky, while the 14 Stations of the Cross are described in multiple languages for all to hear.

On both Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday mass is held in the evening, and on the Sunday, visitors congregate in St Peter’s Square to be able to receive the Pope’s blessing seen from the church’s balcony. This is known as ‘Urbi et Orbi’ or ‘To the City and to the World’.

Sweden and Finland

[penguin] sweden easter blogEaster time is like a mini Halloween for most of Sweden and various areas of Finland. It was thought that on the Thursday before Easter weekend, witches used to fly to the mountains to congress with Satan. Children would wear rags and old clothes and would go from door to door holding out a copper kettle for treats.

To scare away the ‘witches’ the Swedes would light up large bonfires that would keep evil spirits from entering their homes. Nowadays children still go out ‘trick or treating’ and bonfires and fireworks are set up and let off throughout the town in  keeping with the old traditions.

Whether you need transport in the bustling streets of London, or are looking for a hire car to help you make your way through the roads of Paris, Brussels or even Marrakech, with thousands of companies to choose from, Penguin Car Hire can get hold of a first class hired car to take you where you want to go within minutes.

Towns Less Travelled in Morocco

Whether you are a fan of the sun and the sea, you’re eager about hiking and culture abroad, or you just like relaxing holidays, sometimes it is hard to find a destination without swathes of freckly pale British tourists milling around with giant sun hats and oversized beach bags. The most popular destinations such as Tenerife and Hawaii are often populated by tourists, particularly in the warmer months, so where can you go on holiday without having to weave your way around countless other tourists in order to get the best spot on the beach?

As a country rich in both culture and natural beauty, Morocco is a holiday destination like no other. With a number of exquisite and iconic cities each with their own classic theme, you could spend days wandering the intricate streets of Marrakech or Fez and experiencing the many market stalls and array of delectable dishes the vendors have to offer. Or you could take the plunge and explore nature at its finest, with stunning valleys, stretches of beautiful desert, glorious mountains and spotless beaches, Morocco has something for everyone.

However if you are seeking somewhere rich with culture, without having to make your way through crowds of tourists, there are a few destinations within Morocco that are certainly not to miss!

Essaouira

[penguin]essouira blogPronounced ‘essa-weera’, this is a traditional fishing town with an iconic harbour, fortified walls, and a strange design that would not look out of place in France. Nicknamed the ‘Wind City of Africa’ there is a fierce gale that often deters ‘sun sand and sea’ tourists because it often blows the sand in your face!

However the town has its own iconic beauty; with narrow winding streets filled with the exotic aroma of fish blended with spices and thuya wood from the woodworkers of the medinas. You can hire a car or take a walk down the many alleyways, whichever you prefer. Plus if you happen to visit Essaouira in June, you may be privy to the fantastic annual World Music Festival.

Ouarzazate

[penguin]ouarzazate blogThe name of the city means ‘noiselessly’ and the city has been nicknamed ‘The Door of the Desert’. Ouarzazate is a great location to see some classical Moroccan buildings as well as going on excursions across the Draa Valley and into the desert, if you’re a fan of bewitching sights. Ouarzazate is also a famous film- making location and has been used as a backdrop for many Hollywood films including Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia.

If you love seeing rare gems amongst the desert scenery, you can also book a local tour to see the Oasis Fint. After a tough trek through the rocky desert scenery you will emerge into a beautiful Oasis Valley with palm trees, native wildlife and a winding river through the valley. Perfect.

No trip to Morocco is complete without visiting the huge medinas of Marrakesh, as some of the greatest souvenirs and cultural pieces can be found by shopping around. However if you want to take a step back from the tourist side of Morocco and look through its cultural and natural beauty, Essaouira and Ouarzazate are two great examples of beauty where you least expect it.

 

About the Author

Mike James is a fan of Arab culture and Islamic art and enjoys trips to Morocco several times a year. He is a regular visitor to the souks of Morocco and stays at the Riad El Zohar in Marrakech whenever he can.

Holidaying in the Easter

When it comes to the Easter holidays, although nowadays there is much more diversity when it comes to religion and the meaning of Easter, the Easter holidays are still widely recognised by schools across the country. What this means for your kids is a beautiful fortnight of no school no homework and hopefully some late nights! However what this means for you is two weeks of hastily arranged sleepovers, babysitting arrangements and if you’re lucky, a three or four day weekend to spend with the children.

Although it can be hard many of us choose to keep working throughout the Easter Holidays, even if it means hiring a babysitter to look after your young children during the weekdays. For those with older children it is slightly easier; they have more responsibility, often you can easily trust them to stay home alone without turning the house into a post-war bomb site.

Why not go on holiday then?

The Easter holidays are the perfect opportunity for parents to take some time off to spend with their kids. Sure, trips away may be more expensive during the Easter holidays, but you have a limited amount of time to spend with your children before they grow up and make their own way in the world, so why not make the best of it?

The Mediterranean

[penguin] bournemouth blogWhy not get in some early sunbathing practise? In the UK, the Easter marks the start of spring, where the air becomes slightly less icy and the grass becomes slightly greener.

Unfortunately, spring in the UK also means a lot of April showers and sometimes a Mediterranean getaway can be just what the doctor ordered.

If you are not willing to travel for your sun, you could always wait for a sunny day in the UK and Hire a car to Bournemouth for a cheeky day out at the beach?

Skiing

[penguin] skiing blogIf the sun is not your thing, why not go on a spring skiing holiday? Many ski slopes still keep their courses open in the spring, and as it is known as the ‘late season’ skiing is cheaper than at peak times!

With less people on the slopes both accommodation and course and lift passes are cheaper than if you want to ski in the full throes of winter. Bonus!

Whatever you decide to do for the Easter Holidays, make sure you enjoy it and try to spend at least a little bit of time with the kids. They’re not young forever!

 

Happy Mother’s Day From Penguin

This Sunday, 30th March is Mother’s Day, a day dedicated to those hardworking mums who put up with smelly, messy children for most of their lives. Today is a day that you can use to thank mums all over the world for their hard work, or you can just thank your mum. It can be in any way you want, with a small personal gift, with a weekend away, or just by taking a moment out of your day to spend some quality time with her. Whatever you choose to do, make it special.

Spa Breaks

Very few people don’t enjoy being pampered, and especially if you have endured the stress that being a mother brings, a spa day or two, or even an hour or so, won’t go amiss. Give her the gift of relaxation, where a qualified masseuse works out all her aches and pains accompanied to soothing music and fragrant scents.

Do Something Interesting

[penguin] cafe france blogNot got a run of the mill mum? If she prefers spending her days out and about, why not hire a car in Paris and take her on a tour of the sights? Trips to France are ideal as it is easily reachable by boat, and you can enjoy some quality time with mum while at the same time getting some fresh air. Why not visit the Louvre, or have a look at the Eiffel Tower? You could even take a few moments to have a delicious bagel in one of the many French cafes and simply watch the world go by.

Presents!

Make sure to give your mum at least a card this mother’s day. Even a small token will show her that you have thought of her, and in the end, even a small thing can make a big statement. However be careful to make sure not to get her anything she really doesn’t like, as some mum’s don’t like flowers or trinkets. You should know; she’s your mum!

Enjoy It!

[penguin] gift blogSome people spend far too much time running around, worrying about their daily lives and the stress and fatigue it brings about. Take a step back to relax with your mother, remind her of what she means to you. If you take time out to enjoy the time you spend with her, you may even begin to appreciate her on another level. It is one day a year, so make it count!

Beautiful Lakes in the South of France

The South of France is a beautiful holiday destination to visit in the summer, particularly for those who love stunning beaches, but aren’t that fond of taking long haul flights to the likes of Hawaii and beyond. Some of the best locations to swim in the South of France are, ironically, not by the sea, but are instead by the region’s various rivers and lakes. These beaches may not be sandy, but their isolated locations and lack of tourists along with gorgeous views more than make up for their outward rocky appearance at first. Here at Penguin Car Hire, with fantastic deals and opportunities on hire cars from Boulogne-Sur-Mer to Toulouse, we look at the more beautiful Lakes and rivers, perfect for holidaymakers, located in the south of France.

Lake Bugarach

[penguin]lake bugarach blogA tiny lake just south of the village of Bugarach, located in the shadow of nearby mount Bugarach, this lake is beautifully quaint. Surrounded by rolling hills and with various nature walks through the forests nearby, Lake Bugarach is perfect for holidaymakers who are looking to get more in tune with nature.

Montpeyroux

Located on a hilltop, Montpeyroux is a small village which accurately reflects the quaint and relaxing atmosphere of the countryside. Situated in the picturesque Lidoire Valley, Montpeyroux is located right next to L’Allier River, where you can see the water cascade its way through the rocks of the valley, down tiny waterfalls and running alongside itself in beautiful rivets made over hundreds of years.

Take a homemade picnic and sit on one of the large rocks stranded in the centre of the river, where you can enjoy the quiet sounds of L’Allier flowing by while basking in the beautiful weather of sunny South France.

Frigoulet

[penguin]french lakes guinguette blgoThe river near Frigoulet village has a popular family beach framed by dense forest on one side. The other side often receives visitors on family days out, attracting both local residents and tourists. The beautiful archway bridge across the river is often used as a diving board for local children, but it is not recommended for tourists!

If you fancy a bite to eat, you can always visit a nearby ‘guinguette’. The traditional word for a classical French pub, a guingette can serve small snacks and sandwiches for a very reasonable price.

Whatever your holidaying preferences, take your trip out in style with Penguin Car Hire. With a first class directory offering hire cars from thousands of destinations worldwide, you can be sure with our comprehensive search and booking engine, you will find the very best rate for a holiday hire car.

 

Bucket List Week 4 – Scuba and Sky Diving

A Bucket list can consist of anything, from big events to tiny things that you had never even considered doing before. It can be something as little as trying every flavour of ice cream, to a big event such as completing a marathon. Here at Penguin we believe in travelling the world, visiting fantastic landmarks and enjoying the great sights of the different traditions and cultures worldwide. We’re not saying you have to travel to be happy, but for those of you who love travelling and are looking for some stunning locations and activities to tick off your bucket list, we can give you some ideas.

Skydiving

[penguin]skydive blog

An exhilarating feat, not for the faint hearted. Skydiving sessions happen everywhere in the world, depending on where you live or where you would like to dive. Normally divers on their first go will be accompanied by a professional, who chooses to open up the parachute at the right moment. The freefall portion of the skydive is the most exhilarating, the idea of rushing towards certain death, followed by the relief of the parachute opening – the rush of adrenaline you feel when this happens is often one of the major appealing points of diving.

Plus you get a great view of the surrounding area as you drift back down to safety, so for a truly inspirational view, why not try skydiving in Hawaii, where you can see the whole island laid out in front of you as you fall?

Great Barrier Reef – Australia

 

[penguin]scuba blog

Famous for being the world’s largest coral reef, with over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays, and with a range of diving experiences available depending on your level of diving skill, you can see the great barrier reef up close, no matter how much experience you have with diving!

 

Plus with accommodation suitable for families, couples and singles, the Great Barrier Reef is a great spot to visit for everyone! If you’re in Australia for a week or two, you can also hire a car in Townsville in order to see the local sites, after enjoying the fantastical views of the Great Barrier Reef.

New experiences can be found anywhere, from the ends of the earth to your back garden. Why not look at the rest of our bucket list collection, if you are putting together an ideal bucket list of your own and would like some great inspiration from the best locations worldwide.

National Corn Dog Day and the Super Bowl

Tomorrow Saturday 15th March is National Corn Dog Day! A traditional American fast food snack, the corn dog is commonly associated with large sporting events in America among other popular snacks such as the giant turkey leg, the funnel cake and churros. The Corn dog consists of a hot dog sausage coated in a thick layer of cornmeal or cornflour batter, stuck on a stick and then deep fried until it is a nice golden brown.

[penguin]corn-dog blogCorn dogs were first thought to have been introduced by German Texan sausage makers who applied for dipping, cooking and holding apparatus in conjunction with the deep frying of various foods on a stick. One of these foods was the sausage, and so the Corn Dog was created. The Americans are well known for their intense sporting enthusiasm and it is hard to get into the cheering spirit without a snack or two to keep your energy levels up.

The most famous event of the year for sporty America is normally the Super Bowl; the championship game of the National Football League which was held on February 2 this year. Each Super Bowl is played in a different host stadium, and a total of 22 different stadiums have hosted the Super Bowl so far.

The stadiums are chosen three to five years in advance and it is considered a pretty big honour to be able to host the Super Bowl. Wembley stadium has even occasionally been mentioned as a possible future Super Bowl host stadium, but so far the Super Bowl has not yet been hosted in a region that lacked an NFL franchise.

[penguin]american-football blogThe Stadium that has played host to the Super Bowl the most frequently is the Louisiana/Mercedes-Benz Superdrome, located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hop into a New Orleans hire car to take a look at this iconic stadium while you are on your next holiday to Louisiana.

Will you be taking part by supporting any of these events? Do you follow a particular American Sporting team and are looking for a way to take your patriotism that one step further? Corn Dogs are such a staple when it comes to watching sports in America, even if you’ve never tried one it is good to take the plunge just to see what you could be missing out on.

Beautiful Hotels and Resorts – The Manta Resort

Here at Penguin we love holidays. Who doesn’t love holidays? Holidays are the only way to take a step back from everything, relax and see the sights at a leisurely pace. However a crucial part of the holiday is where you choose to spend it. Some people may enjoy a holiday in the sun with an all-inclusive hotel, allowing for just a little spending money to get you by on market days. Other people will save as much money as possible on the hotel by just going for the basics, and then splashing out on informative tours and trips out.

Whether you are a sunbather or a sight-seer, certain hotels and locations are simply too stunning to pass up and they are guaranteed to make the experience of a lifetime. They may cost a pound or two more than a normal 3 star hotel or all-inclusive holiday package deal, but the memories created by staying in these gorgeous locations are well worth the hefty price tag. 

The Manta Resort

Imagine waking up after a long luxurious nights rest, and rolling over in your bed to see…the sea. The Manta Resort, located in the sunny tropics of Zanzibar is a resort like no other in that it has a specially designed underwater room. The entrance to the room is above sea level, with a beautiful wooden chalet standing atop wooden stilts and the iconic underwater room built underneath which is also anchored to the sea bottom by thick chains.

5956802620_bb66ded10a_zThe bedroom floats four metres below the surface of the sea, where you can take a look out into the murky depths, keeping your eyes out for the beautiful tropical fish that can be seen, right from your bed! Plus the view from the top veranda at night is breathtaking, with the unhindered sight of a million bright stars, where you will honestly feel as if you are miles away on your own private island.

Currently there is only one underwater room available at the Manta Resort in Zanzibar, but there have been plans for extra rooms to be added in the future. Why not splash out for a few nights of pure wonderment as you enjoy the beautiful sights of the deep sea without ever having to get your feet wet!

At Penguin we understand how important reliable transport can be, and that it can make or break your holiday, particularly after a long flight that leaves you wanting to simply flop down onto the hotel bed. We provide an easy to search hired car directory anywhere in the world, simply type in your location and go!

 

50 States Road Trip – Maine

Maine is the most north easternmost state in the province of New England and is well known for its rocky mountains and jagged coastline. With dense forests and awe-inspiring waterfalls, its natural beauty rivals that of countries such as Norway and Scandinavia. The state experiences a range of weathers, from cold and brisk in the winter to fairly warm and humid in the summer.current state

Puffins

There are a number of Puffin nesting places along the coast of Maine, as well as on various smaller islands just off the Maine Coastline, including Western Egg Rock and Seal Island. However by the early 1990’s, these  numbers had dwindled to just a single pair of puffins living south of the Canadian borders.

Atlantic_Puffins,_Scotland

Local lighthouse keepers made efforts to preserve these birds and now there are around 150 pairs of puffins living on the Matinicus Rock Island, and the number is still growing. Take a trip out to the coastline of Maine to catch a glimpse of these beautiful birds.

 

Eartha

Maine is also home to the world’s largest 3D scale model of our revolving earth. A massive 41.5 feet in diameter, it was given the title of the ‘World’s Largest Revolving/Rotating Globe’ by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999 and still holds the title to this day. It took two years to build and represents the Earth as we would see it from space.

Stephen King

The world famous horror, sci-fi and fantasy novelist Stephen King was born and grew up in Scarborough in Maine, and many of his horror novels and short stories revolve around various towns in the state. A special tour guide SK-tours will provide a tour around all the sites in and around the city of Bangor which feature in the author’s many horror stories.

Bangor is better known in the Stephen King world as its fictional name; Derry, and the tour visits up to 30 sites including places where Stephen King used to live and work, as well as various sights and informational spots that inspired him to create various stories. The tour lasts around 3 hours. Alternatively you can always hire a car in Bangor and make your own way around the various sites.

Next Stop

We head south in continuing our road trip to the state of Massachusetts, well known for Cape Cod and the city of Salem, known for its infamous Witch hunts.

50 States Road Trip – New Hampshire

Located in the New England region of the United States, New Hampshire was named after the southern English country of Hampshire and is the 5th smallest of the 50 states of America. As one of the 13 founding states of the original United States of America, New Hampshire’s history is vast and long. However for tourists visiting the state, New Hampshire is more famous for its large ski mountains and recreational activities.

current state

Winter Sports

New Hampshire is well known for its many different winter sports, including skiing, snowmobiling, hiking and mountaineering, as well as its beautiful sea coast. A number of hiking trails are available on its large ski mountains, and fans of snowboarding will find New Hampshire a great place to go to practise in the winter.

Isle of Shoals

White_Island_Light,_Isles_of_Shoals,_NH

Hop aboard for a unique cruise around this cluster of 9 tiny islands located just off the New Hampshire coast. The tiny islands are just picturesque as you cruise around them on a guided tour, plus some of the larger islands such as Star island even have accommodation available for those wishing to live their own isolated paradise for a day or two.

Chutters Candy Store

Who doesn’t love sweets? With the world’s longest candy counter and a huge selection of both traditional sweets and the latest trending flavours, Chutters candy store in Littleton will have anyone feeling like a kid again.

With 112 feet of large glass jars with a huge range of flavours from everyday to   those exotic, limited edition flavours, you’ll find something for everyone in Chutters.

Whale Watching

whale-watch During the warmer months, visitors to New Hampshire and the locals get the exciting opportunity to be able to see various different species of whales as they migrate to the coast of New Hampshire and Maine in order to head out to the major feeding grounds along these coasts. Keep your wits about you as you try to identify Humpback whales, Finback and Minke whales swimming and playing about the water. You can try to see them from the coast or head out on a whale watching tour where you can get closer to the action.

Next Stop

We grab a hired car Maine to head slightly north onto the next state in our 50 states road trip, to the state of Maine, which is the home state of esteemed horror writer Stephen King, where many of his novels and short stories actually take place.