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Here’s Why Portugal Is All Over Your Instagram Feed

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It’s summertime, so we’re deep in vacation mode, with many people getting away from their routines back home. And there’s one destination in Europe where many vacationers have recently been flocking.

If you follow any travel-savvy people (and even just regular friends) on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed they’ve posted stunning photos from Portugal in the last few years, especially during peak summer months.

Mario Fernandes, a co-creator and the editor of GoLisbon (named for Portugal’s capital), told HuffPost he has seen increased interest in traveling to Portugal in the past five years, particularly in the last two or three. Cindy Goldberger, a travel adviser for Hiatus, an agency in Brooklyn, New York, said that she noticed a boost in Portugal trips about three years ago and that she gets more requests to plan people’s visits there every year. According to Reuters, the number of foreign tourists visiting Portugal hit a record for 2017, the same year the country won world’s leading destination at the World Travel Awards.

So what is it about this country that makes it so appealing? Fernandes suggested it’s because Portugal is safe (it was voted the fourth-safest country this year by the Institute for Economics and Peace) and more affordable than many other Western European countries. But prices are increasing, he noted. The country’s frequent sunshine is also attractive to many visitors, and there are plenty of things to do.

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The Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal, is home to “some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches,” according to Mario Fernandes, a co-creator and the editor of GoLisbon.

“It’s usually sunny throughout the year, and temperatures are rarely too cold or too hot,” he said. “[Lisbon is] now seen as one of Europe’s trendiest cities, and word has spread that it’s a very authentic place with unique features, such as the tiled facades, the mosaic sidewalks, the hilltop viewpoints and the nightlife lived on the streets.”

Goldberger noted that many airlines have offered better routes to the country in recent years, making it more accessible. She’s also a fan of the new hotels that have opened, including boutique-style properties and farms that have been converted to hotels.

“You have these really beautiful hotels that have popped up all over Portugal ― luxury and even moderately priced hotels. It’s one of the more affordable destinations in Europe, so that definitely attracts tourists of all types,” she said. “The beauty of Portugal is that there are hotels that have a real sense of place.”

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Visitors staying in Lisbon can take a day trip to Sintra to see the Pena Palace.

Eric Hrubant, the president of Cire Travel, echoed those sentiments about Portugal and noted that travelers can explore a lot in the cities and do a variety of activities even during short trips.

“It’s a small country, yet you have cities with rich history, culture and food, as well as a lot of beach and golfing options,” he said. “In five to 10 days, you can have a vacation or honeymoon that caters to all of your senses and desires.”

Hrubant pointed out that celebrities like Madonna and newlyweds Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander have moved to Portugal, which has put the country on more people’s radar.

Along with the increase in tourism, Fernandes said that Portugal has become “quite popular” on Instagram and other social media platforms, since the country is a “very picturesque and photogenic place.” Larissa D’Sa, a lifestyle and travel vlogger based in Mumbai, India, told HuffPost that Portugal is “one of the most photogenic countries” she has ever visited.

During a trip there in June, she posted several pics from Lisbon and Sintra for her 280,000 Instagram followers.

“Although I visited only two cities, I believe every city in Portugal has a totally different vibe to it, which makes it so rich in culture,” she said.

Asked if she had any tips for travelers heading to Portugal, she suggested planning a trip for at least 10 days because there are so many sights to see.

“Five days is just not enough,” she said. “If time is not a concern, I personally feel even 15 days would be great. Porto should be added to your list too.”

If you’re convinced Portugal deserves the top spot on your travel list, the experts we interviewed have plenty of suggestions for your visit.

Goldberger said there are many day trip destinations to consider from Lisbon, including Cascais, known for its gorgeous beaches, and Sintra, home to stunning palaces and castles. She encouraged travelers to consider the Azores, an autonomous group of Portuguese islands off the coast, which are less than a five-hour flight from Boston.

For your itinerary, Fernandes suggested starting in Lisbon, visiting the Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém.

Raquel Maria Carbonell Pagola / Getty Images

The Tower of Belém attracts many tourists as well. 

Later, head to Sintra, as Goldberger suggested, then to the medieval town of Óbidos and to Porto, the country’s second-largest city, which is known for its port wine. End your trip in the south in the Algarve for “some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches,” he said.

Want more Portugal? Check out more photos below.

Leisa Tyler / Getty Images

The Praça do Comércio is the main square in Lisbon.

DEA / W. BUSS / Getty Images

The Church of St. Roch in Lisbon has a rather plain-looking exterior but a lavishly adorned interior.

AGF / Getty Images

Boca do Inferno, a rock formation near Cascais, translates to “Hell’s mouth” in English.

Leisa Tyler / Getty Images

With bright colors like these in Aljezur, it’s clear why Portugal is a hit on social media.

MyLoupe / Getty Images

Porto is a city known for — you guessed it — its port wine.

ullstein bild / Getty Images

The Convent of Christ in Tomar boasts different styles of European architecture throughout its cloisters.

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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