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Border Control – which country has the most intimidating?

In a recent survey conducted by IXP Visas, they found that the US has the most intimidating border control when it comes to making travellers uncomfortable.

The US topped the list with 22% of the vote, with Dubai (12%) a distant second; participants stated that weapons on show combined with a lack of humour and a stern demeanour made the US border control the most intimidating. The UK came in sixth behind Canada and Mexico.

When asked if they have ever been scared or put on edge at a border control 61% of respondents said yes, although nearly two thirds of those also said that that they felt that a stern demeanour was necessary.

Surprisingly, some respondents also cited that officials’ uniforms also caused them to become intimidated.

1. US – 22%
2. Dubai/UAE – 12%
3. Mexico – 9%
4. Canada – 8%
5. South Korea – 6%
6. UK – 5%
7. Israel – 5%
8. Pakistan – 4%
9. Venezuela –4%
10. Cuba – 3%

Why not tell us your border control stories, the good, the bad and the funny.

Airport Security

Picture: redjar

Halloween holidays

Halloween might not be as big in the UK as it is in the US, but it’s becoming a more popular thing for both kids and adults to indulge in every year. If you really want to scare the kids, or just give yourself a getaway treat for autumn, here are some great ideas for terrifying holidays.

If it’s a quick break you want with the kids, Alton Towers has a ‘Scarefest’ every year. For a small extra price added onto the normal ticket, you will get access to the ‘Scare Mazes’, one within the creepy setting of the Tower itself, filled with zombies and vampires.

If you’ve got a chance to go a little further afield, for the ultimate creepy experience, book yourself a trip to Romania and visit Dracula’s Castle. Once home to Vlad the Impaler, inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, you can take a Halloween tour complete with the true stories themselves.

For another terrifying tale, and to experience all the fun of Halloween in the US, head to Salem in Massachusetts, the town renowned as being home to the original witches who were put to death for ‘witchcraft’. You can visit one of the many museums dedicated to the trials. Or for something less scary, New England’s mountainous regions are known as being some of the most beautiful sights in the world in autumn.

Picture: greger.ravik

Travel at sea on the Disney Magic

A Disney cruise is the perfect way to treat your kids, as well as those kids that are a little more grown up now. There are currently 4 Disney Cruise Line ships, each with a different design, but all full of magic and wonder with something for everyone to enjoy.

The Disney Magic has recently undergone a few changes and is now even better than ever before. It was constructed to be a ‘modern classic’ combining beauty and glamour with sturdiness and family friendly aspects. In October 2013, a whole host of surprises will be unveiled in the remodelled ship.

The big kids will be most excited by the most conspicuous change to the ship: the Aquadunk water slide. It begins with a near vertical drop, before the floor appears to drop out under you as you loop over the edge of the ship in a clear tube. There are watery delights for younger ones at the AquaLab with Huey, Dewey and Louie and their water experiments, including Splash Zone and Twist ‘n’ Spout slide.

After Hours there is a whole host of night time entertainment for the grown-ups, including the Keys piano bar and live music at O’Gills Pub.

Picture: Scott Ableman

Sunshine Deals for Families

Getting away needn’t break the bank, there are some wonderful deals for holidays to get some winter sun so you can escape the dreary UK weather. A good idea for families stuck on a tight budget is a cheap holiday package deal, with all-inclusive accommodation. This enables you to pay up front for many of your holiday costs such as transfers and food and drink.

Popular Winter Sun Destinations Include:

Canary Islands

The Spanish Canary Islands are a great year round destination. Off the coast of Africa these tiny volcanic Islands are popular with many British tourists. Most visited are Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. They benefit from great beaches, (volcanic and sand which is shipped in), great natural sites to see and plenty of food and drink to enjoy.

Egypt

When heading to Egypt for some winter sun, the best place to stay is the popular tourist resort of Sharm el Sheikh. It’s known as one of the best places for diving and snorkelling as well as benefitting from beautiful golden sand beaches and warm waters. The resorts here are still relatively safe and offer a wide selection of shopping, eating and drinking.

Cape Verde

Just off the coast of Africa, the small windswept islands of Cape Verde make a great winter sun holiday, in relative seclusion. The two main islands Sal and Boa Vista have a scattering of hotels, the towns are quiet but there are a number of guided tours available. Many of the hotels are all-inclusive so you really can relax you cares away.

Mexico

Both sides of the Mexican coastline are perfect for a winter holiday, with the best times to travel being November to February for the best weather. On the east coast popular resorts such as Cancun and Playa Del Carmen pull in the tourists with their Americanised hotel chains mixed nicely in with local history. On the West Coast you get to see a different quieter side of Mexico such as Puerto Vallarta.

Florida

You won’t be short of things to see and do in Florida. If the sights in this fun and vibrant city weren’t enough, think fabulous restaurants and great beaches, then how about a couple of days at Disney World Florida and Orlando Universal Studios. Temperatures do cool down over winter, but it’s still scorching for us Brits. It also makes a great destination for a fly drive holiday for a family, which can be quite affordable.

Picture: Colin Bowern

Best nights out in Europe

The end of university exams every year, around May and June, is the time when many people around the world head off on holidays to celebrate the end of the academic year and to party in the sun. If this is something you’re thinking of experiencing for yourself this year, here is a list of some of the best places to go for a night out in Europe.

Barcelona is an up and coming destination for partying. Known for a long time in Spain as the hub of nightlife, it’s only just being recognised by tourists. Head to El Raval and the Gothic Quarter for the best bars and clubs, but make sure not to get there too early; the party doesn’t start around here until about 3am!

This wouldn’t be a list of the best places to go for a night out in Europe without a mention of Ibiza, would it? The party capital of the world, it is brimming with clubs, bars and parties. It is home to the world’s largest club, Privilege which boasts a swimming pool in its centre and is allegedly big enough to house all the other clubs in Ibiza inside it! Other fantastic nights out are the superclubs such as Space, Pacha and Amnesia. Every night offers something different from silent discos, to live music and foam parties – take your pick!

No matter what time of year it is, the party is always raving in Amsterdam. Not necessarily known for its sunny weather, many people head here to spend the nights, and even until noon the next day, partying. Some of the biggest names are Club Up, located in a narrow two storey building which often forms long queues outside where you’ll hear a mixture of underground hip-hop, soul and deep house music and Supperclub, which has a more stylish and refined atmosphere for the young, arty crowd with Amsterdam’s newest and coolest DJs.

Marmaris in Turkey is perfect for a clubbing holiday with friends. There are a huge number of bars and clubs, making it impossible to choose which one to visit first! It is home to the infamous Bar Street where the party spills out onto the streets. Most places are very wallet-friendly, even the Moonlight Cruises which take you out to sea with the music pumping starting at 10 Turkish Lira.

Picture: Roberto Castano

Things to see in Prague

Prague has become a popular tourist attraction over the past decade and offers a range of attractions and sightseeing opportunities for its visitors. As with many other major European cities, Prague has a great transport system which includes both an underground metro system and a tram system which can be used to navigate the city.

The best way of seeing the city is to purchase a Prague Card, which entitles the user free entry to over 50 of Prague’s top tourist attractions and has many other advantages including discounts on walking tours, airport transfers and museums.

Here are our top attractions to see in Prague:

Prague Castle

Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and occupies approximately 70,000 square meters. The castle provides spectacular views of Prague and surrounding areas and the site also contains the St. Vitus Cathedral as well as several museums and palaces. You can also watch the changing of the guard which takes place every hour on the hour.

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge is the most famous bridge in Prague and connects Prague Castle (located in Lesser Town) with the city’s Old Town. Built in 1357, Charles Bridge was the only means of crossing the river Vltava until the mid-1800’s and is 621 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide.
There are over 30 statues along the length of Charles Bridge depicting various saints and patron saints including St. Luthgard and St. John of Nepomuk.

Old Town

Prague’s Old Town is the city’s historic centre and is home to numerous historic buildings and monuments. One of the most famous and most popular is the Astronomical Clock which is the oldest astronomical clock still working in the world.

Infant of Prague

The Infant of Prague aka the Holy Infant of Prague is one of the most famous religious images in the world; the original statue can be found in the Church of Our Lady Victorious situated in Lesser Town.

Picture: Moyan_Brenn

A trip to see the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights, the natural ones that occur and not the famous man made display at Blackpool each year, are predicted to be at their most spectacular in December this year. Scientists at NASA are confidently predicting that our current solar activity will reach a new peak in December and this will allow us to see these phenomena at their best for the next ten years.

 The best possible way to see the Northern Lights it to travel into Canada or into northern Scandinavia, but there are some other ways that they can be viewed and will depend on your budget and the time available. Obviously it would be better to arrange for this to be combined with other activities in what can be sub zero temperatures, but there are plenty of travel companies that cater for this. Also a number of airlines do arrange flights from airports the simply take you to the area and you can view the spectacle from the aircraft. This way the trip will only take in a few hours and will be cheaper.

Of course seeing the “lights” is possible from this country, but it is entirely weather dependant, northern Scotland is an ideal place, although these can be less spectacular and during these periods of maximum activity that we have now, it is possible to see them from southern England.

Picture: dan.kristiansen

Things to consider when booking your summer holiday

Going on holiday can be expensive, especially during the summer, there are a number of important aspects to consider when going on holiday with your family, to make sure you get the best deal possible.

Getting the Best Deal

Because holidays are so expensive, you want to make sure you get the best deal possible. To do this you can use comparison sites, to make sure, for the destination and hotel, you want you get the best possible price. If you like booking through a travel agent, its best getting quotes from a number of different ones in your local area, sometimes you can haggle the price down, even with prices found online.

Transfers

Some holidays such as package holidays come with transfers included, however if your opting for a DIY holiday where flights and hotel are booked separately then you will have to also book your own transfers for when you at the resort. You can find some of the most affordable options on AirportTransfers.co.uk, for destinations all around the world. Making sure this is booked before you go will ensure you the cheapest deal and a lot less hassle.

Currency Exchange

There is a lot of variables in currency exchange, it can change from town to town, shop to shop. You can compare currency exchange rates online and order you currency there. Or you can visit all your local currency exchange places in your local town such as banks, post office, supermarket and travel agent to get the best exchange rate, as the all compete with each other.

Insurance

Before traveling abroad, you should always take out insurance. For standard travel insurance, if you have no pre-existing medical conditions you can use online comparison sites to find the best option for you and your family. It’s also worthwhile, if travelling within the EU to also have an E111 card which entitles you to some form of free national medical care in the country you visit.

Safety

Finally for your own safety its worth reading up on your chosen destination, from recent terrorist activity to violent protests, you could end up having to cancel your holiday or coming home early and this can cost you. It’s also a good idea to read up on cultures and traditions to make sure you don’t end up with any unexpected fines. And finally read up about crime, such as thieves and other types of criminals.

Picture: John Meyer

Top archaeological sites in Greece

Greece is steeped in history and has some of the most iconic historical landmarks in the world. Here is our guide to the best archaeological sites in Greece.

Acropolis of Athens

Overlooking the historic city of Athens, the Acropolis is an ancient citadel dating back to 438BC and is regarded as one of the most important surviving classical buildings in Greece. The 7.4 acre site is situated on a flat-topped rock overlooking the Greek capital and is one of the most iconic landmarks in the country.

The site contains a wide range of ancient buildings and structures including the world famous Parthenon and the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus. The Acropolis of Athens has been under a restoration project since 1975 with many of the fragile buildings receiving new stonework to shore them up for generations to come.

Delphi

The ancient town of Delphi situated along the slope of Mount Parnassus was once a major site for the worship of the Greek god Apollo and was home to Pythia a renowned oracle and priestess at the Temple of Apollo.

The population of the site at Delphi can be traced back to the Neolithic period, but most of the ruins that survive today date back to the 6th century BC.

One of the most impressive sites at Delphi is the ancient theatre which provides visitors with a spectacular view of the ancient city and of the valley below.

Olympia

Situated near the towns of Elis and Pisa, Olympia is the birth place of the Olympic Games which were held every four years from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The ancient city ruins show various sporting facilities including the Olympia Stadium and the Hippodrome (used for chariot racing).

The modern Olympic flame starts its journey in Olympia every 4 years when it is lid in front of the Temple of Hera using sunlight and a parabolic mirror; it then travels to the host city via a torch.

Picture: Wally Argus

A travel guide to Cuba

Cuba has more to offer tourists than you think, from its rich culture and captivating history to its breathe-taking beaches and wonderful scenery, Cuba prides itself on being the most exciting Caribbean island.

Situated just south of Key West in Florida and in between the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, Cuba’s average temperature is 27 degrees, making it a great holiday destination all year round. The best time to visit the island is in the winter months as the weather is generally better and it’s more likely to be dry.

One of the main attractions of Cuba is its 500 miles of coral reefs which are filled with a range of different fish, coral banks and sponge formations. It is well worth a trip out to scuba dive and there are numerous dive sites and ship wrecks to choose from. Other water activities on offer on the island include water skiing, windsurfing and speed boat hire.

Havana is the destination for most tourists as it features a blend of historic and cultural attractions coupled with a lively nightlife. Santiago de Cuba is also popular and both cities are just minutes away from some of Cuba’s most beautiful beaches.

For people who like the outdoors, Valle de Vinales is a great place to visit. This national park provides tourists with spectacular views of the beautiful Cuban landscape overlooking the tobacco crops at the bottom of the valley which are cultivated by traditional agricultural techniques.

Another must see destination is Old Havana where you get to experience the culture, music and food associated with this great country.

Cuba has something for everyone and really must be experienced to be believed.

Picture: flippinyank