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The Historical city of Prague

Prague is a magical holiday destination reminding travellers of the renaissance period. A wonderful mixture of cobbled streets, bridges framed with beautiful wrought iron fences, cathedrals with gold-tipped towers and majestic buildings looking down on flowered plazas are just a few things that entice thousands of tourists to visit this city.

Climate

Prague has a temperate oceanic climate characterised by cold winters with low rainfall, and hot summers with plenty of sunshine. Summer time can sometimes bring violent storms.

Things to do and see

Several operators organise city tours, giving tourists the opportunity to discover the history and culture of this city. While in Prague, holidaymakers can attend festivals such as Prague Spring and Prague Folklore Days, or opt for a river cruise that offers surprising combinations of delicious dinners and great shows.

Travellers have many options in Prague, including sightseeing flights, water sports and relaxing spa treatments at Lakshmi Tantric Massage Temple. Prague also has a variety of restaurants serving traditional dishes centred on chicken and pork, along with delicious desserts and drinks.

Lodging

Travellers can find a variety of lodging options, most of them being located within walking distance of the city centre. Since Prague is one of the most visited capital cities in Europe, accommodation prices can double during summer and winter holiday season. Besides regular accommodation alternatives, including holiday apartments, villas, hostels and hotels, Prague also has a splendid ‘botel’ (boat hotel) renowned for its gorgeous city views.

Transportation

In general, a flight from London to Prague takes up to two hours. Public transportation is very reliable, taking tourists anywhere they want to go inside and outside the city.

PraguePicture: Moyan_Brenn

Dive in to Australia’s ancient wonder – a guide to the Great Barrier Reef

It’s one of the seven wonders of the natural world, larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing visible from space. It is no wonder then that the Great Barrier Reef is a destination for millions of tourists every year.

The marine park runs parallel with the Queensland coast and stretches over 3,000km2. The reef is 65km wide in some parts and has the most vivid coral in the world, making it a scuba diver’s paradise. There are over 400 different kinds of coral on the reef and 1,500 species of tropical fish; it is also home to mussels, sponges, rays and dolphins. There are over 200 different species of birds and approximately 20 types of reptiles living in the park, including sea snakes and turtles.

Hundreds of tour operators and thousands of vessels and aircraft are permitted to operate in the marine park every year as tourists flock to see the stunning fish or the humpback whales that travel miles to reproduce there. The natural beauty of the Great Barrier Reef extends, both under the water and above it and visitors enjoy an experience of the senses as well as learn about the world heritage aspects of the park they are visiting. The Dugong and large Green Sea turtle are just two of the endangered species that inhabit the reef. The marine park was established precisely to protect such creatures from extinction.

Great Barrier Reef, AustraliaPicture: eutrophication&hypoxia

Experience Catalonia

Surrounded by Andorra and France to the north, Aragon to the west, Valencia to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the east, Catalonia has everything a tourist may look for: a mild climate just perfect for an unforgettable holiday; beautiful, ample beaches with fine sand and crystal waters; and the Pyrenees, a beautiful mountain range.

Climate

Catalonia’s climate is very diverse, with a Mediterranean climate affecting the provinces such as Girona, Barcelona and Tarragona located along the Mediterranean coastline; a continental Mediterranean climate characterising the inner part of the region; and an Alpine climate surrounding the Pyrenean peaks and valleys. 

Things to do and see

Catalonia is a semi-autonomous community in Spain with a unique culture easily distinguished from that of other Spanish regions. Besides its cultural heritage, Catalonia offers a wide assortment of water sports, many natural wonders, beautiful monuments and modern attractions that are well worth a visit. A few highlights include the incredible Costa Brava with romantic small coves and steep cliffs, the Golden Coast, the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, aqueducts, an amphitheatre, the birthplace of Salvador Dali, and a few outstanding monuments such as the Tomb of the Scipios, a reminder of the Roman Empire in Tarragona.

Travellers are also invited to try Catalonia’s excellent traditional seafood platters, accompanied by superior wines and famous desserts like the ‘Catalonia Cream’. Additionally, travel agencies operating within this region recommend a variety of wine tours that give tourists the chance to taste some of the best wines in the world, such as Grans Muralles and Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon.

Lodging

With hundreds of hotels, villas, apartments and private holiday rentals, Catalonia can compete against the top holiday destinations in the world. Depending on the area a tourist intends to visit, he or she can opt for an elegant villa on the coastline, a small apartment in the heart of Barcelona, or a luxury hotel with all the amenities needed for a perfect holiday.

Transportation

Catalonia has a vast network of trains, trams, metros, buses, and car and bicycle rental services that allow tourists to explore the entire region. Since a direct flight from London to Barcelona only takes about one hour and forty-five minutes, most British tourists planning to spend their holiday in Catalonia choose this route.

CataloniaPicture: Scott Wylie

Top Tourist Attractions in the USA

As one of the biggest and most culturally diverse countries in the world, The United States of America boasts some of the best tourist attractions in the world, they may not be an old and historic as those in Europe or Egypt, but they are still as stunning.

Natural wonders combine with manmade monuments and structures to form the iconic country we see today, so where should you visit first? Here are our top attractions to visit in the US:

The White House

The White House

Possibly the most recognisable residence in the world, apart from Buckingham Palace in London, the White House is an icon of the United States. Built between 1792 and 1800, the White House is the official residence and principle workplace for the President of the United States (currently Barack Obama).

Since March 2013, White House public tours have been suspended because of federal budget constraints, however if you wish to visit the White House you may be able to do so by contacting your embassy in Washington, DC.

Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas

The number one gambling mecca of the world, Las Vegas is full of glitz and glamour. Nestled neatly in the midst of the Nevada dessert, the city bills itself as ‘The Entertainment Capital of the World’ and rightly so. The casinos are the main draw of Las Vegas, but there is much more to the city than just gambling.

Shopping, fine dining and nightlife are all bigger and better in the city that doesn’t sleep. The Las Vegas Strip is probably the most popular destination in the city, with a multitude of mega-casinos and hotels, theatres and bright lights.

Las Vegas really is one of those places you have to see to be believed and with over 40 million tourists a year you’ll be in good company.

Florida Keys

Florida Keys

For sun, sea and sand there is no better place than the Florida Keys. This 120 mile long chain of tropical islands situated on the East coast of the US is truly breath-taking. As well as a range of activities to take part in including boating, diving and surfing, the Florida Keys is also home to some of the best shopping malls and golf courses in the US.

Whether you want to sit on a beach and relax or do something a bit more adventurous, the Florida Keys has it all.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Located between the state of New York and the province of Ontario, Canada, Niagara Falls is one of the most stunning natural wonders in the world. Consisting of three different falls, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls is a great day out for the whole family.

Prospect Point Park observation tower provides a spectacular view of the falls from its 282 feet advantage point, or if your want to experience the natural wonder from above you can purchase a ride in a helium balloon or helicopter.

Niagara Falls is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the worlds with over 14 million visitors each year.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Spanning between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Suspension Bridge is a triumph of engineering. The bridge is a popular with pedestrians and cyclists and has walkways on each side, but the best way to view the bridge is from afar.

Hawk Hill & Battery Spencer and Kirby Cove are two of the best places to see the bridge in its full glory and offers tourists the perfect vantage point for some spectacular pictures.

Interesting fact: The Golden Gate Bridge was painted its iconic red/orange colour to make it more visible through the thick fog that frequently covers the bay.

Europe or long haul for your ski trip?

This is a question that has people debating long and hard, it is all about the snow conditions on the one hand and accessibility on the other. The long haul advocates will tell you that yes, it take longer to get to the resort, much longer in some cases, but the snow and conditions are far better than anything you get in Europe.

Canada has always been a favourite spot with the British. Take the resorts of Banff, Louise, Sunshine and Mount Norquay.  It is a great all round group of connected resorts for all levels of skier, it has a huge vertical drop for those who like a long run, and the snow is near perfect, described by locals as champagne powder! What about the States, some of the best facilities and snow can be found in places such as Aspen in Colorado, or Breckenridge where you might bump into a few celebs?

Well all very nice say the detractors, but they are all many hours away and to go for a week is really pretty much a non starter. Europe on the other hand has resorts scattered all over the Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites, all within a few hours door to door from here. The snow conditions can be variable, but you are sure to get at least most runs open, even in a bad period; also it is possible to get a snow report and take a quick long weekend, very popular now you can take a snow train from St Pancras and be in the resort overnight or the same day.

It’s an argument that has two sides to the coin and if you can spare two or more weeks holiday in the winter, long haul might be for you, but why not take two separate weeks in Europe at different resorts? There is no winner is there.

Picture: Nick Wadge

Barbados and the Rum Festival

We imagine that there are very few people who do not know that rum comes from the West Indies, Barbados is a prime place and they have a festival to celebrate it, although to be absolutely correct it is called a Food, Wine and Rum festival.

But it is the Rum that Barbadians will shout about and it is here that the first properly commercial rum venture began, dated to 1703, when the Mount Gay distillery was set up in Barbados.  It all goes back to the days of Christopher Columbus who is the one that introduced sugar cane to the West Indies.

In Barbados, which has a strong claim to be the birthplace of rum, the first spirit was made, soon it was discovered by settlers from Europe that the sugar could make them far more money than cotton! Pretty much every plantation had its own still and gallons of the golden nectar became part of the Island’s fabric.

The annual Food Wine and Rum festival is held every November usually towards the end of the month, the 2014 dates are not confirmed but will be shortly. November is also towards the end of the official Atlantic hurricane season. Barbados is fortunate to be positioned at the south end of the Caribbean while hurricanes tend to veer to the north.  Barbados still averages nearly 8 hours of sunshine a day, this is a great time for a tropical getaway.

Picture: foodwinerum.com

Explore Washington State

America is a huge country and it is tremendously diverse, which is one reason and probably a very good one, why few Americans own a passport, America is the world rolled into one! However, most holiday makers’ from this country usually travel to only a couple of destinations when they visit the ”States” and they are Florida and New York, occasionally it can be California. Naturally the ski resorts of Colorado are one of the favourite destinations for a small number of British tourists, but there is a whole lot more to see.

Washington State in the North West corner of America is a beautiful area and can be described as having it all, with temperate rainforests and rugged shores. Unspoilt by mass tourism it still has all that is required for a fantastic holiday destination. You can take in the national parks of Olympic and Mount Rainier, perhaps visit some quiet beaches, take in natural wildlife and swift running rivers sporting salmon.

Seattle has a lot to offer, not the New York kind but nonetheless it is a sophisticated city surrounded by water. Seattle is a compact walking city where you can find great restaurants, downtown and on the waterfront, boat trips, including a replica Mississippi stern wheeler the “Queen of Seattle” with traditional entertainment on board during a two hour cruise through Lake Union.

America is a great holiday destination and perfect for fly drive holidays with good highways and friendly people and direct flights to Seattle are available from London and regional airports.

Picture: Ian Chaplin

Travelling to Klevan, Ukraine

It is likely that you have not heard of Klevan – a small urban settlement situated in Western Ukraine.  This city is located 50 kilometres southeast of Lutsk and 28 kilometres northwest of Rivne.  The Tunnel of Love, which is one of the most notable landmarks of Klevan, is about to turn this city into one of the most romantic holiday destinations in the world.

Landmarks

Since the Tunnel of Love is an attraction not to be missed, describing it is imperative:  Born from the interaction between nature and man, this natural tunnel is actually formed from hundreds of trees, whose branches completely surround a railway line crossing Klevan.  An urban legend says that the dreams of the couples who cross the tunnel holding hands will become reality.

More and more young couples visit this location during spring and summer, when a huge canopy of trees forms a beautiful enclosed arch over the railway track.  Three other attractions in Klevan are the Klevan Castle, Church of the Annunciation and Church of the Nativity.

Climate

Klevan is characterized by a temperate-continental climate, with warm summers, cold winters and occasional rain and storms throughout the year.  The best time to visit this location is from May through August.

Travel and lodging information

A traveller coming from London must book a flight to Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, and then, travel to Klevan by car. The entire journey takes about eight hours.  Upon arrival, you can find a variety of lodging options around this location, including hotels, resorts and holiday apartments.

Picture: iSavoch

Bern travel guide

The historic city centre of Bern has some of the best preserved medieval buildings in Europe, its medieval clock tower, historic sandstone buildings and picturesque surroundings make Bern a fantastic place to visit.

Surrounded on three sides by the Aare River, Bern was founded by Duke Berchtold V in 1191. Local myth states that the duke named the city after the first animal he saw when he was on a nearby hunt; this just so happened to be a bear and the city has had a strange fascination with the animal ever since. The coat of arms for Bern actually has a bear on it!

The Swiss capital is full of excellent restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as plenty of shopping opportunities. The city’s boutiques range from exclusive designer stores to traditional markets most of which are housed in the city’s medieval arcades. The majority of these arcades date back to the 15th century when the city was rebuild after a devastating fire in 1405.

Another interesting characteristic and charm of Bern old city is its fountains. Built in the 16th century as a source of public water, there are over 100 fountains in the city. As the population of Bern grew so did the fountains, with many of them decorated with stories and myths of the city’s past.

Bern is a great base for those who want to travel to the Alps or if you would prefer to stay near the city there is a range of activities for everyone including a trip to the bear park, riding the trams, visiting a museum or go on a pub crawl in a few of Bern’s famous watering holes.

Picture: Martin Abegglen

New York icon reopens

It has a huge significance for millions of Americans whose parents grandparents and maybe themselves passed through it between 1892 and 1954, some 12 million in fact immigrants looking to America for a new life. It was here on the Island that they were processed; they were required to pass a series of medical and legal inspections before they could enter America. It could prove to be nerve wracking and although most were allowed in, 2 percent of those coming to America were turned away at Ellis Island, that translated to over 250,000 people whose hopes and dreams were shattered.

Following on from the devastating problems caused to parts of New York by Hurricane Sandy, flood waters covered nearly all of Ellis Island and three quarters of nearby Liberty Island during last year’s storm which also caused severe damage on the East coast of America, extensive damage was caused to both islands. Ellis Island was forced to close but one year on the icon has reopened its doors to visitors, following extensive repairs to the halls and buildings of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Tourists taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, which reopened to visitors this summer, can also now disembark on Ellis Island, which forms part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

Ellis Island is just one of the very many attractions that the city of New York offers to the tourist and with more airlines flying direct from UK regional airports, the destination is set to become a hotspot for UK visitors, not just for the Christmas shopping experience, but as a holiday destination.

Picture: Sue Waters