Thursday, February 23, 2012

Exciting Easter Vacation Destinations

This week saw the start of Lent, which means it's about 40 days to the Easter Sunday (April 8). The holiday offers a long weekend that many people use for vacation. Whether you're looking for a religious or secular experience, there are plenty of places around the world that you can go to enjoy your Easter weekend.

Tel-Aviv rental's beach. Click photo to see property.
The Holy Land, as Christians refer to it, is always a popular destination for Holy Week and Easter itself. While finding hotels and some rentals in Jerusalem may be difficult, there are other areas of the country you can use as a base. Tel-Aviv, for example, is about an hour away from Jerusalem. You could use it as a base. Plus, it has the advantage of being on the coast.

If Israel and the Holy Land aren’t for you, then consider Rome, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Also, tradition holds that St. Peter was crucified in Rome. During Holy Week, Christians commemorate the last week of Jesus' life, culminating with the celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The week starts off with lively and colorful celebrations on Palm Sunday, when St. Peter's Square comes alive with a sea of green palm fronds. If you plan on attending Saturday night services in St. Peter's Square, be sure to get their hours in advance. Similar to Jerusalem, if you have trouble finding accommodations in Rome itself, consider staying just outside the city and traveling in for festivities.
View of the Collosseum in Rome.
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Spain is another heavily Catholic country. If you stay in Madrid, you can see the resurrection drums procession. Drummers in white robes gather on the city's grand Plaza Mayor Square on Easter Sunday, beating their drums and announcing Christ's resurrection. There are also other celebrations during Semana Santa (Holy Week) that have a more reverent tone, including the Passion of Christ. An advantage to spending Easter in Spain is that temperatures are moderate to warm, meaning you'll likely have great weather for your visit.

Relaxing in the Netherlands.
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If you're looking for more secular celebrations, try the Netherlands. Spring blooms of tulips and daffodils grace the country with color and beauty every spring. You'll find displays of spring flowers throughout the country. Easter Monday is also a holiday in the Netherlands.

Vienna's Easter markets are a great place to find crafts and artistically decorated eggs, food, music and much more. The markets are active in March and April, and there's plenty of entertainment and activities for children. The most famous, and perhaps most romantic, is the Easter market at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna. There's also the Old Vienna Easter market at the Freyung, a lovely square in the old city.

One thing to be aware of--in many countries, Easter Sunday is a significant holiday. Some services, such as public transportation or public buildings, may be limited or not available.