Archive for the 'Travel Tips' Category
The motto of the insurance industry should be ‘expect the unexpected’, and whether a traveller is setting off on the trip of a lifetime or just simply popping across the channel for a quick shopping spree, surprises often happen and not all of these are pleasant.
When buying travel insurance, the consumer watchdog, ‘Which’, suggests that cover should include medical expenses for both the injured and also any accompanying family or friends, cover for the cost of an air ambulance; baggage and belongings cover; cancellation fees, should illness mean that flights and reservations have to be adjusted; legal expenses protection; and personal liability, in case damage is caused to a third party in terms of an accident.
Telephone numbers for the British Consulate and also the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) are also a good idea. The Consulate can be remarkably helpful when it comes to dealing with overseas bureaucracy and their officials are fluent linguists.
No one sets off on holiday planning to have an accident, but if a traveller is fully protected then that threat need not turn into a disaster.
If ever a city is a must-see, it is Prague. Even the most oblivious of tourists would enjoy a break walking around such a stunning city. With no knowledge of the history or culture of the city, you could spend days on end entranced by the architecture. Once you understand a little bit more about the history, however, the city become irresistible. There are plenty of cheap Prague hotels on offer, so this really could be a holiday which does not break the bank.
As well as walking through the city, you can relax at a cafe on the bank of the Vltava River. This experience is made even more enjoyable with the realisation that the unique Czech beer is extremely cheap! Many of the attractions are also free, such as the John Lennon Wall. Few cities celebrate graffiti in much the same way as Prague. Whilst the original paintings of Lennon himself have been covered up by years of original artwork, this is an attraction which is constantly changing, and you can even add to it yourself! The Jewish Quarter makes for a more sombre visit, with an overcrowded cemetery and plenty of synagogues, but it makes up an intriguing part of Prague’s history and is very accessible.
Prague Castle, however, is really the city’s main attraction. Home to the Czech crown jewels and the offices of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, it looks like something out of a fairytale and, being the largest castle in the world, is surely worth a visit. King Charles IV also had a bridge named after him, which used to be the only way of travelling from the castle to the town. Credited with making Prague flourish as a city during his reign, his is a fascinating history that you can learn about on one of Prague’s many guided tours.
This year we are seeing the cost of spending abroad fall dramatically, which means holidaying in European resorts has become cheaper, even with the pound performing poorly. Spain and Portugal are the destinations to head to if you want to get more for your buck. Prices have dropped by around 20% in Spain and nearly 15% in Portugal.
So when you’re looking to dine out and enjoy activities whilst you’re on holiday, you will be able to make your money stretch further. Meals, drinks and shopping are reasonably cheaper than in previous years, which will be great news for many families, struggling to budget for their holiday. Research found that your average basket (items you purchase on holiday) is lower than previous on years. The baskets contain 10 items such as coffee, beer, wine, cola, water, sun cream, newspapers, insect repellent, cigarettes and a meal, in the Algarve it is now £46.34, £46.50 on the Costa del Sol and popular holiday destination with British tourists the Costa Blanca it is £47.14. The Costa Blanca was the cheapest place where you could buy a cup of coffee as well.
Benidorm in Costa Blanca attracts thousands of British tourists every year and benefits’ from a wide range of affordable accommodation. Many people are now looking at all inclusive holidays to save themselves money when they go on holiday. The majority of your costs are paid up front, except incidentals. That means all your meals and drinks in your hotel are included in the cost. The rise of people booking all-inclusive holidays is down to people looking to get value for money from their holiday. In Benidorm there are a number of all-inclusive hotels, ranging from two and three stars to five. Affordable hotels such as the Gala Placidia Hotel Benidorm offer a wide range of amenities for guests, so you really don’t have to leave the hotel if you don’t want to.
It’s not just European holidays which people are switching to all-inclusive; destinations such as Mexico, Dominican Republic, Turkey and Egypt are also seeing a surge in all-inclusive bookings. When you book ahead with these holidays you can make some great savings, many package holidays for summer 2013 are being advertised now and we haven’t even got into the full swing of summer 2013.
To find holiday bargains does take time and research is important, whether your looking for a tropical Caribbean holiday or family holidays to Spain, just don’t accept the first offer you come across.
Picture: John Meyer
The history of the ‘blue coast’ is as chequered as most coastal and inland towns and cities in Europe and in common with most, the Romans had a big say in what went on.
The English influence
Before the end of the 19th century the impact of English settlers on Nice was evident; for example, in terms of food and drink. Houses were built by the English, as were churches. However, in 1821-22 the weather was so bad that building had to stop.
Undeterred by the inclement weather, the English Church found the funds to finance a pathway along the seafront, built by previously unemployed residents. The Promenade des Anglais, as it was christened, is still there today in a vastly developed form, with houses and hotels of the most exquisite architecture and lines of palm trees forming an otherwise typically English style promenade. Streets leading off from this thoroughfare and in adjacent areas also have a distinctively English air about them; imagine the best bits of Brighton, but on a grandiose scale.
Whether Nice is approached via the nearby international airport or from the north, via the scenic mountainous route through Grasse, swooping into the town, it is this grand ‘English’ avenue that leaves a lasting impression on tourists.
So much to see
A short journey east along the coast takes travellers through Beaulieu and on to Monaco and Monte Carlo. There is an air of romanticism about Monaco or to give it its official title, the Principality of Monaco, a country in its own right. Apart from the annual conversion of the streets into a Grand Prix circuit, the hilly backdrop of Monaco sits serenely behind the Palace of Monaco, the official private residence of the ruler, Prince Albert. The changing of the palace guard is reminiscent of our own ceremony in London, though slightly less disciplined.
Right in the centre of town visitors will find Casino Square, where the ‘bank was broken’ at the ornate Casino de Monte Carlo.
The Cote d’Azur is truly a classic region of southern France, packed with surprises.
Picture courtesy of WilliamMarlow
With its coral sand beaches, famed ‘Platinum Coast’, civilised games of cricket and nights at the opera, Barbados is the Caribbean island for experiencing luxury. Its colonial past has brought it the finer side of British sports and culture – its golf and polo are among the finest in the world – while its capital, Bridgetown, is a lively city of shops and history. Yet at just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, the beautiful sandy coastline is never far away.
Luxury resort for over 50 years
Exclusive resort Sandy Lane Barbados, on the dazzling west coast of the island, just north of Bridgetown, has been welcoming guests since its opening in 1961, when British politician Ronald Tree decided to create a luxury hotel and golf course on the old Sandy Lane sugar plantation.
When it opened, it was the only upmarket hotel in the entire Caribbean, and its illustrious reputation continued to grow for the next few decades. In the late 1990s, however, major renovations were deemed necessary and the original hotel was torn down and a new modern and thoroughly stylish Sandy Lane Barbados was built in its place. The hotel now boasts three world-class golf courses, the very latest in spa treatments and a brand-new pool.
Feel at home at Sandy Lane Barbados
The most exclusive address in the Caribbean, Sandy Lane Barbados is designed to make you feel like a guest of the family, and personal attention is given in every area. The airy, bright guest rooms and suites are spacious and welcoming and face directly onto the beach.
Sandy Lane Barbados is also known as a luxury golf resort. Its three golf courses, all providing unbeatable views of the Caribbean coastline, are exclusive to resort guests. Heading the list is the world-famous Green Monkey, which was designed by Tom Fazio and carved out of a former stone quarry.
Picture courtesy of ITC Classics
The magical world of the Disney characters is deservedly world famous. With resorts all over the world, this holiday has become almost a rite of passage for our nation’s children. The films are loved by everyone, and this truly is a place where adults and children can have fun at the same time. We all had a childhood, and for most of us, Walt Disney played a huge part.
To not visit Disneyland is considered by some children to constitute deprivation. The rides replicate their favourite films whilst they can listen to their favourite soundtracks all day long. Rides such as Space Mountain, It’s a Small World, and Pirates of the Caribbean are amongst the most popular. Queues can be long and it is really worthwhile taking advantage of the free fast pass system offered in the parks, meaning you can relax and do other things whilst waiting for your allotted ride time. The parades as well are just as enjoyable as the rides. Having your favourite characters saunter past you almost within touching distance is close to surreal, although ironically this is the time at which the rides have the shortest queues. Despite this, the parades are not worth missing.
The Disneyland hotels are impressive, with themed decor and delicious cuisine. They have the advantage, of course, of being perfectly situated around the parks, and offering the opportunity to get the autographs of your favourite characters. Some might consider so much ‘happy-clappy’ cheerfulness a tad tiring, but whilst it is an intense experience, it is one that is truly unforgettable.
Picture courtesy of Express Monorail
Dubbed the “mother road” by John Steinbeck, the famous Route 66 is a string of roads passing through town and country in the US, which originally ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. The route fell into decline when the interstate motorways were built but enthusiasts have worked hard to ensure its place as a tourist attraction that appeals not just to fans of retro American culture but also to sightseers on the lookout for natural beauty.
Route 66 is vast, crossing eight states – and along the route the variety of attractions that each state has to offer ensures that there is something for everyone. If you like big cities Route 66 is ideal, starting and ending in two of the most iconic American cities; if you prefer arid landscapes, the route runs through the picturesque Mojave Desert. There are even curiosities to cater for eccentric tastes; for instance, barbed-wire enthusiasts will marvel at the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, Texas.
As well as the tranquillity of the desert and the hustle and bustle of LA and Chicago, there are myriad other places to see, such as St.Louis, Missouri, famous for jazz music; Flagstaff, Arizona, with its beautiful mountains; and the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
The best way to enjoy Route 66 is, of course, by car. Once you have flown into the States (there are frequent flights from UK airports to both Los Angeles International and Chicago O’Hare airports), rent a car, get on the road, and enjoy all that Route 66 has to offer. A large car with automatic transmission and cruise control will be a boon on those long stretches of asphalt. These are available from a variety of rental companies so be sure to shop around for the best deal before you go.
Picture courtesy of Snugg
Many, upon crossing the border, make a bee-line for Scotland’s capital. However, if you take the time to make a slight detour to explore Dumfries and Galloway you will be well rewarded. In addition to all the splendours the region has to offer, there are a great number of more scenic routes from Dumfries to either Glasgow or Edinburgh than the speedier, but dull A74.
Visitors to the region in July can witness the Guid Nychburris festival. Guid Nychburris, which dates back more than 80 years, commemorates the time, in 1186, when Dumfries became a Royal Burgh. More than 250 horse riders take to the streets from early morning to mark the boundary of the town. The Queen of the South is crowned at the mid-steeple (built in 1708 and once the town prison and toll booth) in the afternoon, and a parade featuring brightly coloured floats, horsemen, pipers and majorettes passes though the town in the early evening.
Another, not to be missed, event and the third reason to visit the area is the annual Dumfries Farm Show. It is held on the first Saturday of August and ranks amongst one of the largest farm shows in the UK. Every farm animal imaginable is represented and visitors can get up close and touch the prize beasts.
If you feel the need for some fine food, or just require a quick pint after a morning’s exertions, there is no more fitting place to visit than The Globe Inn. Established in 1610, it was already steeped in history when Robert Burns frequented it. He described the place as his favourite howff (or haunt), so if it is good enough for Burns… The first Burn’s Supper was held in the Globe in 1819. Burn’s favourite seat still survives and the snug bar remains unchanged. The pub also has a shop dedicated to the great man and visitors can buy gifts such as sweaters, whisky and diaries.
Amsterdam developed from a tiny fishing village along the River Amstel, from which it got its name. From a flourishing commercial centre in the 12th century, the town grew into the thriving metropolis it is today. A melting pot of diverse cultures, Amsterdam exudes a warmth that is sure to make visitors fall in love with it.
You will certainly find the distinctively Dutch features in Amsterdam intriguing. Biking is a very obvious part of the capital’s way of life and this passion for cycling is reflected nationwide, with more than 15,000 km of designated cycle lanes and largely flat terrain offering a real alternative to travelling by car. Additionally, bicycles in Amsterdam outnumber the population of the city and the cars put together.
As a leading producer of flowers in the world, Amsterdam is associated with the tulip flower, which curiously, is not native to the country but was imported to the Netherlands from Turkey.
Much of Amsterdam was reclaimed from the sea, which explains the completely flat nature of the land. The country’s highest point stands at only 323 metres above sea level. Amsterdam stands at about four metres below sea level. A massive 25 percent of the city’s surface is made up of navigable waterways. With 65 miles of ancient canals, Amsterdam is still the most watery city in the world.
Besides walking and cycling, boat cruises around Amsterdam are ideal for sightseeing.
Art and history enthusiasts will love the city for its many museums and art galleries. More than half of the country’s 70 main museums are in Amsterdam, the most famous ones being the Van Gogh and the Anne Frank Museums.
Tenerife is a popular summer holiday destination and there are a number of great deals to be found for holidays this summer. Tenerife, which is one of the Canary Islands, has a number of fantastic resorts, many of which are situated on the south west coast of the island. These are popular with many tourists with many of the small towns bustling over the summer.
Tenerife has both soft golden sand beaches and intriguing black volcanic beaches. There are plenty of water based resorts around the island, it’s a great haven for snorkelling and wind surfing. There are also modern influences throughout the island, however a lot of the traditional charm is also retained. You can choose from the bustling modern beach resorts or the chilled out traditional resorts.
In the south the resorts to head to are; Playa De Las Americas, and Costa Adeje. Both resorts pack a punch when it comes to your holiday needs. And they have plenty to offer, from water sports by the soft golden sand beaches to great places to eat and drink, as well as a great nightlife. There is a wide choice of hotels in both resorts, including family friendly hotels with kids clubs and family entertainment. There are also plenty of apartment’s right in the hustle and bustle for party animal’s.
If you want to experience a quieter Tenerife then don’t worry, Los Silos will be the spot for you. It’s a quiet resort, perfect those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle, but don’t worry with Los Silos holidays you are pretty close to the busier surrounding resorts. So you can get the best of both worlds. Los Silos is at the foot of the Teno Mountains and it is a great area to go and get out and explore. It is also a great choice if you want to experience the real Tenerife away from the modern resorts.
For more details on Tenerife holidays go to Tenerife.co.uk