The San Fermín festival celebrates the patron saint of the Spanish region of Navarra. It has become the most internationally renowned fiesta in Spain, with over 1,000,000 people coming to participate!

graffiti on some wall

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Thousands of tourists attend San Fermín every year, with the dangerous running of the Bulls being the highlight for adrenaline junkies willing to be chased by angry bulls.

 

The origin of the fiesta of San Fermín goes back to the Middle Ages and is related to three celebrations: religious ceremonies, trade fairs and bullfights.


English: comparsa Pamplona

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Initially, the fiesta San Fermín was held on October 10th, but in 1591 the people of Pamplona, fed up with the bad weather at that time of year, decided to transfer the fiesta to July so it would coincide with the Fair. 

 


At the beginning it lasted two days and had a pregón (opening speech), musicians, a tournament, theatre and bullfights. Other events were added later, such as fireworks and dances, and the fiesta lasted until July 10th.

 

This Spanish festival was made famous by Ernest Hemingway. His novel "The Sun Also Rises" ("Fiesta"), written in 1926, attracted people from all over the world to come to the fiesta of Pamplona.


 

English: Seconds before the beginning of the S...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


San Fermin kicks off its 2014 celebrations on the 6th of July from 12:00, when the opening of the party is marked by setting off the pyrotechnic chupinazo. 

 

The chupinazo rocket is launched at noon from the city hall balcony to declare the nine-day fiesta, with thousands of people below in the city hall square. 

 

 

 

 

Everybody holds his red handkerchief above his head until the firework is exploded and they then put it around the neck. The fiesta sees thrill-seeking locals and tourists run down the historic streets chased by bulls ahead of a bloody bullfight.

 

Nederlands: Stierenrennen in Pamplona.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The running of the bulls (In Spanish encierro) involves hundreds of people running in front of six bulls and another six steers down an 825-metre (0.51 mile) stretch of narrow streets of a section of the old town of Pamplona. The run ends in the Pamplona's bullring taking a mean time of around 3 minutes where the bulls would be held until the afternoon´s bullfight when they would be killed. Bullruns are held between 7 and 14 July.

 


Sanfermines Vaquillas in Pamplona, Spain.

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



After nine days of partying, the people of Pamplona meet in the Townhall Plaza at midnight on 14 July, singing the traditional mournful notes of the Pobre de Mí ('Poor Me'), in a candlelit ending. The city mayor closes the festival with participants lighting a candle and removing their red handkerchief.






Although it attracts a large number of young tourist partygoers, the San Fermin festival is an annual event steeped in tradition which is enjoyed by all.

 

Sky-tours wishes you a happy and safe San Fermin! :) 

SAN JUAN MIDSUMMER´S NIGHT


The Festival of San Juan is celebrated annually on the 23rd of June, the shortest night of the year. 

Legends, tradition and magical rituals are connected by common elements: 

fire and water

hogueras de san juan_opt_edited.jpg


Every region in Spain has different local traditions, however all of them are related to 
fire and water. 

Fogueres de Sant Joan (Bonfires of Saint John)

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Pagan and Religious tradition meet in this awesome celebration.
During this festival, hogueras de San Juan, or the bonfires of Saint John, are lit in cities all around Spain, especially on the beaches of costal areas. The bonfire preparation is done days in advance, and it's something that Spaniards of all ages take part in, and look forward to. 






It is a night full of Superstition.
If you want to be lucky for the next 12 months you may want to:

Hoguera san juan

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Jump over a bonfire. According to the traditions of the festival, if people jump three times over a bonfire on San Juan's night, they will be cleansed and purified, and their problems burned away.
  • Swim in the ocean after midnight. It´s less dangerous and has the same cleansing and purifying result as jumping over the fire.
  • Prepare perfumed water, which combines the scents of seven plants - including rosemary, roses and laurel. Bathing or washing in this water is another method of purification for the new season.
  • Burn a piece of paper with your lovers name on it.
  • Burn something old and personal to leave behind bad spirits from the past and start a new phase.
  • Fountains and natural water resources become magic and have healing properties. 


Fuegos artificiales hogueras

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)




San Juan's night is full of bonfires, fireworks, music, dancing, sardines and bread.

Other countries such as Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Perú, Bolívia and Cuba celebrate this date influenced by Spaniards, Portuguese and other European immigrants.




Sky-tours wishes you a happy San Juan´s night :) 


Delta Airlines restarts direct flights from New York  to Tuscany, effective June 07. 

Pisa


It will be the only nonstop flight between the beautiful city of Pisa and the Big Apple and it will run until August 31. 

The flight will operate four times weekly throughout the peak summer season, using a 757-200 aircraft with 167 seats in conjunction with Delta's joint venture partner Alitalia.

 


Other seasonal routes Delta is starting this month are: 

JFK-Malaga, Spain : June 06. The flight will initially operate four times weekly in June and will increase to five times weekly in July, using a 757-200 aircraft with 167 seats in conjunction with Delta's joint venture partner Air France KLM.

JFK-Stockholm, Sweden : June 02. The flight will initially operate five times weekly in June and then four times weekly during the remainder of the summer season, using a 757-200 aircraft with 167 seats in conjunction with Delta's joint venture partner Air France KLM. 

JFK-Copenhagen, Denmark : June 02. The flight will initially operate daily during the summer season, using a 757-200 aircraft with 167 seats in conjunction with Delta's joint venture partner Air France KLM.

JFK-Reykjavik, Iceland  : June 05. The flight will initially operate five times weekly, but will be daily from June 12 throughout the summer season, using a 757-200 aircraft with 167 seats in conjunction with Delta's joint venture partner Air France KLM.

English: A Delta Airlines Airbus A330-323E lan...

Photo credit: Wikipedia)







Skytours wishes you a nice flight ! 









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EL CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

ST. JAMES´ WAY

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The w...

Photo credit: Wikipedia


The Way of St. James or St. James's Way (commonly known by its name in Spanish: El Camino de Santiago) is the name of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (northwestern Spain), where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried.

ORIGIN

Legend holds that St. James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.

The Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela.

The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

THE SCALLOP SYMBOL 

Scallop.jpg

The scallop shell, often found on the shores in Galicia, is the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Over the centuries the scallop shell has taken on mythical, metaphorical and practical meanings, even if its relevance may actually derive from the desire of pilgrims to take home a souvenir.

MODERN PILGRIMS

Today, tens of thousands of pilgrims set out each year from popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel as some of their medieval counterparts did, on horseback or by donkey (for example, the British author and humourist Tim Moore). 

Galicia.jpg

In addition to those undertaking a religious pilgrimage, the majority are hikers who walk the route for non-religious reasons: travel, sport, or simply the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land. Also, many consider the experience a spiritual adventure to remove themselves from the bustle of modern life. It serves as a retreat for many modern "pilgrims".

Along the way you will find wonderful landscapes, friendly and welcoming locals, delicious local food and wine...and many other pilgrims who will be happy to share the experience, travel tips and maybe even walking together for a few hours.

 


ACCOMMODATION

In Spain, France, and Portugal, pilgrim's hostels with beds in dormitories dot the common routes, providing overnight accommodation for pilgrims who hold a "credencial". In Spain this type of accommodation is called a "refugio" or "albergue", both of which are similar to youth hostels or hostelries in the French system of  "gîtes d'étape".

Español: Ebro Etxea. Actual albergue para pere...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Staying at pilgrims' hostels usually costs between 6 and 15 euros per night per bed.

Pilgrims are usually limited to one night's accommodation and are expected to leave by eight in the morning to continue their pilgrimage.

CREDENCIAL

Most pilgrims carry a document called the "credencial", purchased for a few euros from a Spanish tourist agency, a church on the route, or from their church back home. 

camino santiago.jpg

The credential is a pass which gives access to inexpensive, sometimes free, overnight accommodation in refugios along the trail. Also known as the "pilgrim's passport", the credential is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town or refugio at which the pilgrim has stayed. It provides pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept, but also serves as proof to the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route.

The stamped credential is also necessary if the pilgrim wants to obtain a compostela, a certificate of completion of the pilgrimage.

THE COMPOSTELA

The compostela is a certificate of accomplishment given to pilgrims on completing the Way. 

To earn the compostela one needs to walk a minimum of 100 km or cycle at least 200 km. Pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela who have walked at least the last 100 km, or cycled 200 km to get there (as indicated on their credencial) are eligible for the Compostela from the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago.

GREAT EXPERIENCE

Regardless of your reasons (religious, spiritual, exercise, self-searching or just for fun) we can assure you that you will not regret the experience and you will want to go back again! J

Santiago.jpg


And if you feel lazy to walk, you can book your plane ticket with Sky-tours.com  to visit the always charming and beautiful Santiago de Compostela! 

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Airbus A330-200

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Turkish Airlines increases  its presence in the Netherlands 

launching a new service from Istanbul to Rotterdam, its 244th international destination.






Rotterdam the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. It has one major university, the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), named after one of the city's famous former inhabitants, Desiderius Erasmus.

The city is currently going through a sort of renaissance, with some urban architecture projects, a night-life, and many summer festivals celebrating the city's multicultural population and identity, such as the Caribbean-inspired "Summer Carnival", the Dance Parade, Rotterdam 666 and the Metropolis pop festival.

Other events include: North Sea Jazz Festival, the largest Jazz festival in Europe, Bavaria City Race, a Formula 1 race inside the city center and a 3 day long maritime extravaganza called the World Port Days celebrating the Port of Rotterdam.


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Garuda Indonesia,  the flag carrier of Indonesia, has joined SkyTeam as its 20th member and second airline from Southeast Asia.

Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-8U3(WL), PK-GMC, i...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Garuda's membership adds Jakarta as an alternative gateway to and from south-east Asia, as well as 40 new destinations to SkyTeam's global network served uniquely by the alliance.

It's a road which the airline must take one step at a time, but his goal is for Garuda "to become one of the best airline in the world."

Signing up with SkyTeam is part of that journey  that "will fortify our position as a global player, and bring Garuda into the global arena (with) global standards", says Garuda Indonesia CEO Emirsyah Satar.  as he enters the final year of a five-year 'Quantum Leap' expansion plan which began in 2009 to add new planes, new routes and improve service.

"Garuda Indonesia is proud to connect SkyTeam's global extensive network to one of the largest economies in south-east Asia via its hubs in Jakarta, Denpasar, Makassar, Medan, Surabaya, and Balikpapan," said Satar.

"Garuda's entry into the alliance will give its customers access to SkyTeam's 1,064 destinations, covering over 90 per cent of the most relevant traffic flows in the world," said Michael Wisbrun, SkyTeam managing director.

"Garuda strengthens our presence throughout the Asia Pacific region for our 588 Million global passengers."

Garuda flies to 64 destinations in 12 countries, including 40 domestic destinations. SkyTeam customers from every continent will benefit from easier access to Indonesia's key business and tourism destinations, facilitated by Garuda's partnerships with alliance members.

SkyTeam

Photo credit: Wikipedia



The airline boosts SkyTeam's presence in Australia with service to Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney; and in Tokyo with flights to both Narita and Haneda airports. Garuda will increase its service to Europe in May this year with a new route between Jakarta and London's Gatwick airport.

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Let´s discover the Galapagos Islands together!

English: Nazca Booby, Sula granti, on Española...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean.


The Galapagos Islands and their surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish and they have a population of approximately 25,000.

Darwin's finches or Galapagos finches. Darwin,...

Darwin, 1845. Journal of researches. Beagle round the world,  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



These fascinating  islands are known for their vast number of endemic species that  were studied by Charles Darwin. 
English: Charles Darwin (1809-1882) in his lat...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.






The Galapagos Islands  are also  well known as one of the worlds top diving destinations.

Diver, Hogfish and Parrotfish, Darwin Island, ...

Hogfish and Parrotfish, Darwin Island. Image taken by Clark Anderson/Aquaimages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


There are 18 main islands (with a land area larger than 1 km2) of the archipelago.

Satellite photo of the Galapagos islands overl...

Satellite photo of the Galapagos islands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Just to name a few:

Bartoleme Island view, Galapagos.

Bartolome Island.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)






Bartolome Island is a volcanic islet just off the east coast of Santiago Island in the Galapagos Islands group. it is one of the "younger" islands in the Galápagos archipelago.

 




English: C. n. darwini (named for Charles Darw...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In Darwin Island (named after Charles Darwin) fur seals, frigates, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, sea lions, whales, marine turtles, and red-footed and Nazca boobies can be seen.



English: Galapagos Penguins and Blue-footed Bo...

Galapagos Penguins and Blue-footed Boobies at Isabela Island, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)










Isabela  Island  is the largest island of the Galapagos. 

English: NASA view of Galapagos Islands, cente...

NASA view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




The island's seahorse shape is the product of the merging of six large volcanoes into a single land mass. On this island, galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, pelicans and Sally Lightfoot crabs abound.


Santa Fe Island hosts a forest of Opuntia cactus, which are the largest of the archipelago. Weathered cliffs provide a refuge for swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropic birds and shear-waters petrels. Santa Fe species of land iguanas are often seen, as well as lava lizards.

English: Plaza Island and cactus, Galapagos Is...

Image taken by Clark Anderson/Aquaimages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)










In 1986, the 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 sq mi.) of ocean surrounding the islands was declared a marine reserve, second in size only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. 






Ready to explore? 
Check out our best Airfares at Sky-tours 


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Are there any set rules when buying a ticket, changing a ticket or getting the best airfare available? Because not all arlines follow the same rules, there are several myths and misunderstandings that exist when it comes to airfares and airline tickets.
Question mark liberalQuestion mark liberalQuestion mark liberal
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Top 10 airfare/airline ticket myths 

1. Last minute means better deals:

350px-La_minute_(315630347)_edited_edited.jpg

Every once in a while you can get a great deal at the last minute. However, usually the best bets are advance purchases and checking out sales that tend to appear most often on Wednesdays. 



2. You can change the name on a ticket:  On some low cost airlines you can change the name on a ticket for a fee, but on most airlines, and especially when international travel is involved, there are no name changes allowed. If in doubt, read the rules before you buy or contact the travel agent/airline you intend to buy your ticket from. 


3. You can book tickets more than a year in advance: Reservation systems are only built to book up to a year in advance. 


4. You can upgrade a ticket to first class for a nominal fee: 

First Class, Singapore Airlines 777-300ER

First Class, Singapore Airlines 777-300ER (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some charter airlines, and low cost airlines may offer this, but don't ask the Iberia agent if you can upgrade your New York to Madrid flight to first class for fifty bucks - the price difference will have a few more 00's in the equation. 

A good option to upgrade may be using your frequent flyer miles ( if you have enough).







5. Airlines will accept tickets from another airline if you are travelling between the same airports: It may seem common sense but in reality is not that simple. To change airlines you need to see if the airline you are booked with has a ticketing agreement with other airlines and if they will endorse your ticket for travel with another airline. A lot less common now that tickets are almost all electronic. 

6. You need to stay over a Saturday night for the best airfare: This is less and less the standard for securing a good price for your ticket. International travel does usually still have a minimum stay requirement but domestically Saturday night is nowadays rarely a requirement. 

7. Airlines will offer discounts or special airfares for bereavement/family emergencies:  Many airlines do offer discounts for this type of travel, but most low cost airlines don´t. The discounts are offered for travel wholly on one airline. You won't be able to travel on several airlines and secure this type of airfare. Many times the benefit of such 
fares is not really the price but the flexibility that they offer. 

8. You always have the choice of booking a one way ticket, instead of a roundtrip: Be careful because some countries may refuse visitors entry  without proof of a roundtrip ticket. 

9. Airlines can change a ticket booked by a travel agency: Unfortunately, this is not always true. The travel agency, whether it be online or in person, owns the file and may have ticket rules that airline reservation agents simply have no access to. Or, you may be booked on more than one airline with specific flight routing that got you the airfare you wanted. 

10. You can change/refund tickets bought through a wholesale outlet or a bucket shop:  Because these tend to be highly discounted tickets, changes or cancellations are rarely permitted. The seats are often bought in bulk from the airlines and the airfares are private and are not accessible to airline reservation agents. 


That´s all for now. We hope it helped to clarify a little bit!

Wherever you go, have a safe and pleasant trip and don´t forget to check out Sky-tours for the best fares !





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5 Tips For Easy Air Travel

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5 Tips For Easy Air Travel

English: Passengers boarding United Airlines j...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There's no denying that it has become more and more difficult to fly without running into snags or problems with the airport or the airlines. Enduring the line at thesecurity check point in some airports is enough to put some passengers in a bad mood. However, despite all of the inconveniences that come with flying, it is a necessity. There are several things that can be done to make flying easier and more hassle free, and all that is involved is a little bit of common sense and planning.


1. Get to the Airport Early 


Arriving at the airport early is a no-brainer, especially when the airlines tell passengers to arrive at least two hours prior to a flight's departure time. However, there are many people who refuse to heed this request, and arrive at the airport just several minutes before a flight is scheduled to leave. If there is a line at the check-in counter or at security, this can create a very stressful situation. Not only may the flight be missed, but a new flight must be booked, and the passengers will probably have to travel stand-by on a later flight with no guarantee of a seat until the very last minute.



2. Take a Morning Flight. 

Leaving on an early flight does not necessarily mean a 4 a.m. flight must be chosen. However, flights that leave first thing in the morning are less likely to be running late, and they are less likely to be affected by weather problems across the country and/or other planes that may be delayed at other airports. Also, if for some reason the first flight of the day is canceled or delayed, there will probably be several other flights throughout the day that, if necessary, can be taken instead.



3. Try Not to Fly During "Rush Hour" 

Airports, like highways, have rush hours. Typically, rush hour in the morning is from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., and in the afternoon from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. These are the hours when airports are the most crowded with people waiting for flights. Crowds mean longer lines at the security check points, more people in the restrooms, more people waiting in restaurant lines, and more people taking up seats in the waiting areas. Flying at a NON-rush hour time of day can alleviate the need to stand in lines and sit with crowds.



4. Try to Take Non-Stop Flights 

Obviously, when a non-stop flight is taken, there is less risk of being delayed. Taking off and landing both take quite a bit of time, so avoiding having to do this twice is recommended. There will always be destinations when a non-stop flight is not available, but there are plenty of cities where non-stop flights are just as common as those that stop. It may even be worth a few extra dollars to book a non-stop flight to avoid an unneeded hassle and the possibility of being delayed.



5. Book Connections with Enough Time 

If a non-stop flight is not available to a desired destination, make sure to schedule enough time in between flights. When airlines book flights, they often have a layover requirement of 30 or 45 minutes between connections. However, this is often not enough time if the original flight arrives late. In order to avoid this stress, try to schedule connecting flights with at least an hour to spare between the arrival time of the first flight and the departure time of the connecting flight.



Get Cheap Airfares to your favorite destinations at Sky-tours

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The Turkish Consulate has advised that the stamp / sticker visa on arrival will be abolished from  April 10, 2014 and completely replaced by the online e-visa application.evisa-tr.gif
Visitors to Turkey from April 11, 2014 will be required to purchase their entry visa via the Turkish Government website www.evisa.gov.tr prior to travel.

Currently, the cost of the e-visa is approx $20 US.
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