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Beaches or City Breaks? Barcelona has Both

Torn between a city break and a beach holiday this year? The truth is, if you look carefully you can find special places around the world where you can have the best of both. Take Barcelona, for example. It’s a vibrant city filled with lively central streets, trendy bars and elegant restaurants, yet a short walk from the centre brings you to the soft golden sands of its award winning beaches. How’s that for the perfect combination?

Self catering holidays in Barcelona

There’s always one problem when you book a trip like this – you never know how to pack. Do you bring enough smart casual clothing for strolling through the outdoor markets of the Ramblas, or do you ditch them all in favour of your best beach attire? Our solution is to avoid hotels completely – it’s hard to do your laundry in the bathroom sink – and book a hassle-free self-catering apartment from a company like Owners Direct instead. Your own space means you can take half your wardrobe if you like, and you’ll never head into town looking creased and dishevelled.

Barcelona is one of those places you absolutely have to visit. Take in your surroundings on a walk through the city, where the unusual modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudi is on display for all to see. The Sagrada Familia is undoubtedly his most famous work, and Gaudi spent so many years labouring on this project – 40 in total, to be exact – that he was rewarded with his own resting place in the nave of the church. When it’s time to dine, treat yourself to a visit at La Pepita, one of the city’s iconic bars. It’s famous for its gin cocktails, and their house Vermouth is particularly inspired (and heady), but their Tapas menu is equally as good, with fabulous spicy potato chunks and fried squid on the menu, next to devil eggs with shrimp, crunchy croquettes and fluffy Spanish Omelettes.

Self catering holidays in Barcelona

To take a break from the big city, head to one of the four main beach areas that run along the coast. Barceloneta Beach is usually heaving with sun worshipers, kite surfers and swimmers. Along one side you’ll find little hut bars dotted here and there, serving ice cold drinks and snacks – just enough to keep hunger at bay mid-afternoon. There’s plenty of accommodation along the promenade, but these ocean-front hotels usually command high prices for their guest rooms – yet another reason why self-catering holiday rental apartments in Barcelona are a welcome choice. Choose carefully and you’re bound to find some within walking distance of the beach.

Self catering holidays in Barcelona

Wondering when to visit? We reckon September is a good time to go. You can catch the end of the school holidays if you have kids to worry about, or miss them completely if you don’t, and the temperatures are still hot without being stifling. Not only that, but the Festes de la Merce comes to town, a week-long extravaganza celebrating the life of the city’s patron saint. You’ll be thrilled by fireworks displays, entertained with concerts and amused by street shows. Not to mention stuffed with all the food and drink events that seem to pop up all over the place.

Even if you aren’t convinced, we certainly are. It looks like a short self-catering break in Barcelona has just sailed onto our horizon. Hola!

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Australia Day Celebrations: January 26th…Every Year

So, what will you be doing on January 26th? We know what we’ll be doing. We’ll be tooting those colourful trumpets you get at kids birthday parties, wearing silly hats, and blowing out quite a few candles on a great big cake, because January 26th is our editor’s birthday and we’ll be having a party. It’ll be quite a celebration, but probably not as big as the party going on down under, because around 9.5 thousand miles away, an entire country will be going berserk as they celebrate a birth of a different kind – Australia Day, arguably the biggest festivity our Commonwealth friends enjoy every year.

Sydney Harbour Australia Day

Australia Day is a celebration of the original landing of British Naval ships, a date that marks that moment a small fleet sailed for the first time into Sydney Cove, New South Wales back in 1788. It signalled a new age for the once isolated island, and since then Australia has grown into a profitable nation, with a rich culture, unique history, and world-famous beaches. Its people are friendly and warm, and nowhere will you get a better welcome in the Southern Hemisphere than this iconic island. Australia Day celebrations are designed to recognize native culture and its indigenous people, as well as celebrate the hundreds of thousands of settlers who continue to colonize its sun-drenched shores. Events can take many forms, from the ostentatious, to the downright crazy, and they happen all over the world as Australians everywhere get ready to party.

Here in the UK, London joins in on the action. Head to Camden Town where the trendiest urban bars whip up some mid-winter BBQ heat, test your mettle with some realistic kangaroo boxing, and crack open an Aussie beer or two. Over the ‘pond’ in the USA, (where everything is bigger and better than on our reserved European shores) they don’t celebrate Australia Day. Why? They celebrate Australia Week, of course. A seven day extravaganza of the best Australian wines, all-day reruns of celebrity hunk (sorry, chef) Curtis Stone at work, and gala dinners to show off their strong tourism links with our Australian cousins.

Curtis Stone Australia Day

In Japan, the annual celebration is marked by a high profile black tie ball, led by Tokyo’s Australian Society. A four course gourmet dinner with all Australian produce, and copious amounts of imported wine mark the occasion. It’s all for a good cause too, because the proceeds go directly to local charities. In fact, the Japanese enjoy this event so much, they hold another one in April under the guise of Australia Day in Spring. Ah well, any excuse for a good knees up, we say.

But let’s be honest, if you’re going to join in the festivities of Australia’s favourite annual festival, there’s only one place to do it. In iconic Sydney Harbour, where those wooden ships sailed in so many years ago. These days, there are more than just a few boats. A symphony of lights and music illuminates the skies over Cockle Bay and Darling Harbour, fireworks crackle overhead in a dazzling spectacle of kaleidoscopic colour, and enormous outdoor stages host performers from around the world. And that’s not all, because the run up to this main event sees the streets taken over by a 10k, fun time for kids at a garish carnival display, outdoor public BBQs, and our favourite – the WugulOra Ceremony – where Aboriginal and Australian flags are hoisted aloft on the poles at Sydney Harbour.

Australia Day Flotilla at Sydney

Sound too good to miss? We think so too. So, while we’re contenting ourselves with some homemade fudge cake and a glass of sparkling apple juice or two (we might even get crazy and dress in red, white and blue), why don’t you think about hitting the Sydney coastline to really get in on the Australia Day action. A little bird tells us that Emirates can fly you there direct, so there’s no excuse for hanging around here. Go catch some winter sun, and don’t forget to tell us what you get up to while you’re there.

Where to Find Your Winter Sun, 2014

It’s that time of year again. The depressing cold has begun to set in, the rain is sheeting over the damp streets, and we’d all far rather stay tucked up in bed than head to work every dreary morning. But it doesn’t have to be like this, you know. No, really, it doesn’t, because when else are you going to appreciate some winter sun more than getting away from the cold British weather. And we know just where to go too, because thanks to this fab little infographic from Expedia, we don’t have to strain our grey matter to find the perfect destination. So, Sydney….or London? Sydney…or London? Can’t decide? Then read on to find out why you should be heading Down Under early next year…

Where to do for winter sun in 2014. Sydney Australia

Stop Your Tan From Fading: An Easy Guide

Well, that’s it…the summer is well and truly over for most of us. Loungers are put away, the beaches are deserted, and our bikini’s have found their way back to our bottom drawers till next year. For those of us who aren’t getting away this winter, clinging to the remnants of our summer tan is the next best thing. Not sure how to make your tan last for longer? Have a look at this fab infographic from our friends over at Hayes and Jarvis for some great tips.

How to make your tan last

So there you have it, the best way to keep your tan healthy and glowing for longer. We might not manage to stay golden brown for a whole year, but another few weeks can’t be bad! Of course, if you do fancy a winter getaway, why not have a browse and see where you’d like to go?

Camping on Loch Lomond: What you need to know

Wild camping in Scotland is very much accepted. In fact, for many people it’s a way of life, a hobby or a favourite pastime. From Loch Lomond to Loch Eck, people have been making their way north for years in search of a quiet sport, excellent views, and total freedom. The reason it’s so popular north of the border is because there’s no law of trespass in Scotland. In effect you can camp (almost) anywhere that falls into the category of being wild. It’s actually quite a privilege, and one I tend to forget when I camp elsewhere (I once mistakenly camped on farmland on the wrong side of the English border. There weren’t any crops or livestock to disturb, but that didn’t stop me getting thrown off the hill at the barrel-end of a shotgun by an irate farmer. I always double check my bearings anytime I walk near the border now…..)

Camping on Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is without doubt one of the most popular camping destinations for travellers heading to the west of Scotland. It’s scenic without being terribly remote, warmer than you’re likely to get in the true Highlands, and easy to access by public transport as well as car. And with plenty of quiet laybys and gravelly patches of beach, you don’t have to travel far to find somewhere that’s perfect for pitching a tent.

While camping on the west banks and on the islands in the heart of the Loch is unrestricted by legislation regarding location, heading to the east is a whole different story, with a camping ban that’s legally enforceable and regularly policed. Pitch a tent in the wrong place here and you’ll end up in trouble. The camping restrictions are clearly marked around the area of Balmaha and Rowardennan, and although the only camping allowed in this area is in designated sites that you need to pay for, you can camp further northwards along the West Highland Way without problem.

Camping on Loch Lomond

The camping ban has caused all sorts of outcry from hikers and campers heading here. It’s seen as a breach of people’s right to camp where they please. But people who find fault with this ban are missing one vital point – the right of access for wild campers, really means the spot you pick to knock in your tent pegs has got to be wild, right? The middle of sleepy Balmaha, or on someone’s doorstep in Rowardennan, doesn’t really fall into that category.

There have been attempts made to have the camping ban introduced in the village of Luss on the west of the loch, but so far the National Parks authority has resisted appealing for the change – and frankly, I can’t see why. The village doesn’t deserve to be descended upon in such boisterous fashion every summertime, particularly not where there’s a perfectly good purpose-built campsite right on its doorstep. The Luss Pools are the reason most people visit, that and the fact that they like to be within walking distance of a pub – but again, that sort of defeats the point of going wild.

To understand your rights when you go camping on Loch Lomond, make sure you’ve read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. It’s a simple and easy-to-understand guide to what you can and can’t do, which land you can cross, and reasons you’re allowed to be there.

All of the above said, there are some fabulous places that I recommend for camping on Loch Lomond. The islands have some excellent spots to choose from, and there are nooks and crannies (that’s a good Scottish phrase by the way) the whole way up both shorelines. If you want some suggestions for places to pitch your tent in this part of Scotland, drop me and email and I’ll let you in on a few secrets. Also, check out our partner site at Short Breaks and Holidays in Scotland where you can request free itineraries for your holidays in Scotland.

Santorini: Home of the Luxury Holiday

Dan Perdomo, travel blogger, explains why he fell in love with Santorini and gives his recommendations for luxury hotels and places to eat…

When I need to get away from the world, Greece is my go-to place to enjoy a relaxing holiday. What’s not to love? The summer months sees temperatures peak in the mid thirties. In 2013, 393 of its beaches received the Blue Flag seal of approval; a testament to the cleanliness and quality of facilities. The authentic Mediterranean flavours never fail to delight my taste buds.  Even just writing about Greece makes me feel relaxed! I thought I found true luxury in Elounda, Crete – that was before finding it in Santorini this summer.

Mystique Hotel Santorini

I’m not sure why, but all the things I love about Greece that I listed above was, I don’t know, turned up to eleven. The sand was softer, the sea was bluer and the food was the best I’ve ever eaten in my life. Simply put, Santorini holidays are all about spoiling yourself rotten and over indulgence.

I think a lot of it was due to the picturesque nature of the island – pictures just don’t do it justice. I don’t think there is anyone in the world who wouldn’t fall in love with the Santorini view. Having lived in busy cities all my life with no beach or water in sight, lying on the golden sands of White Beach and staring out at that dazzling blue sea clears my head – nothing else exists. I highly recommended this beach if you’re looking for tranquillity as some of the other beaches like the famous Red Beach were extremely busy.

But this view or feeling isn’t anything compared to watching the sun setting over the sea. I had heard before that Santorini is the best place to watch a sunset, but I wanted to reserve judgement until I saw it with my own eyes. I’m now one of those who believe this too. Spending an hour watching the caldera and Aegean Sea slowly glow orange was unlike anything else I’ve seen. I recommend having dinner at Kastro Restaurant with this in full view too – they serve authentic Mediterranean dishes!

One of the hardest decisions whilst booking my holiday was choosing a hotel in Santorini. They have so many luxury 5 star boutique hotels that are out of this world. After much deliberation I chose Mystique, a Luxury Collection Hotel. Perched high upon the cliffs, it has that beautiful and authentic white-washed exterior throughout which is synonymous with Santorini. What attracted me to this hotel was the infinity swimming pool, the spa and butler service meaning I didn’t have a tense bone in my body by the end of the week. Oh, did I mention the hotel has a secret wine cave?

When I managed to tear myself away from the hotel, I indulged in some shopping therapy. I had heard of a place nicknamed Gold Street, the main street in Thira, which takes its name from the number of jewellery stores there. There seemed to be an infinite number which explains why it’s one of the biggest gold markets in Greece. Some of the local handmade jewellery was beautiful and unique as too were the handicrafts and art on display.

A week in Santorini is just what the doctor should order for those feeling stressed and worn out. Those who live in Santorini must be the most laid back people in the world!

Go Inland: Freshwater Diving in Malawi

When you think of holidaying in Africa, Malawi might not be the first place that springs to mind. As one of Africa’s poorest nations, it doesn’t generally feature in most travel providers’ destination lists, losing out to better known Kenya and Zimbabwe for nature and adventure, and South Africa for culture and sunny beachside vacations. So, you might be surprised to learn that it does, in fact, offer some exclusive and outstanding holidays that you can’t find elsewhere. And one of its unique attractions is diving, because Lake Malawi – running down its eastern border with Mozambique and Tanzania, is one of the world’s favourite freshwater diving locations.

Diving on Lake Malawi

Reaching almost 360 miles long and 50 miles wide, the lake is the ninth largest body of freshwater in the world. It is home to an impressive number of dive sites, unusual species of fish and marine life, and became a natural reserve in 2011. Divers flock here from around the world – at least, those who know about this unique location do – holidaying in Malawi itself or visiting the lake from diving holidays on Africa’s eastern coastline. In fact, it’s so special it’s been featured on television in a nature series hosted by David Attenborough and written about in countless numbers of diving related books.

Bakers Oven is one of the lake’s most popular dive sites, boasting shoals of Cichlids (bright, tropical coloured fish) all year round. At its deepest point is sits at 15m below the water line and extends into a rocky cavern which gives it its name. Divers can swim through various tunnels and crevices to explore the formation, meeting some unusual reef inhabitants among the granite boulders.

Diving on Lake Malawi

The Wreck is the aptly named 30m deep dive to a scuttled vessel, where a 15 long steel hull extends along the lake bed, providing a welcome home to huge numbers of beautifully coloured fish. Although its depth means it’s only suitable for experienced divers, it’s an easy wreck dive to enjoy, with a safe hull and easy access points giving first-time deep divers the chance to really explore a sunken ship.

For something a little different, The Canyon and Zimbabwe Rock are two unusual and challenging dives that require a little more experience than most. With long crevices, deep drop offs and multi-rock formations with swim-through’s to explore, these are two dive sites that let you enjoy all the best aspects of scuba diving contain in one location. The abundance of fish here is impressive, and research scientists with an interest in Cichlids use these sites for their research on their habitat and environment.

To keep in touch with all the latest news from Malawi, including where to dive and what’s happening in this unique country, many dive operators have their own websites with regular updates on trips and adventures on the Lake. If you’re a certified scuba diver with space in your passport for another stamp, and room for a few more logs in your dive book, check out the fabulous adventures you could be having on a visit to the world’s most unique freshwater diving destination, Lake Malawi.

Discovering Malawi: Africa’s Hidden Gem

Malawi might be one of the world most under-developed countries, but when it comes to tourism, it’s certainly stepping up its game. Sitting towards the south east coast of Africa, landlocked and surrounded by countries already enjoying an economic boost thanks to their influx of western visitors, this tiny little country already has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites to its name and another seven waiting for approval. Its three major National Parks are also a source of interest for tourists, offering the sort of safari tours and trekking opportunities many African countries are already famous for.

Leopard in Malawi

The Niyika National Park is by far one of the most popular and frequently visited destinations, boasting a series of dramatic waterfalls, vast Serengeti-style savannahs and twisting rivers that dry to dusty riverbeds when the rains are gone. Safari tours are popular in this part of the country, where leopards can be seen at their highest numbers in the world. Other remarkable creatures often spotted include the wattled crane and the red-winged francolin, both rarely seen anywhere else. Getting to Niyika involves a long drive from the nearest major town at Mzuzu – two and a half hours or so over bumpy, unsurfaced roads – but the park does boast its own grassy landing strip for fly-in safaris.

It’s the sort of landscape where animals reign, and humans are most definitely not top of the food chain, so if you do plan to visit, it’s best to take an experienced guide or join an organised tour. There’s a choice of transportation method, from conventional 4×4 vehicles, to horseback riding across the plains, and the hardiest adventurer can always attempt to cover the isolated 1250 square mile region on foot. When the rains are falling you might be lucky enough to spot wild orchids, and there are over 200 species found here, as well as herds of grazing zebra, elephants and buffalo. Keep your eyes peeled for smaller creatures from warthogs to bushpigs, darting through the brush.

Niyika National Park has seen a real influx in tourism since it was added to the UNESCO tentative list just over a decade ago, and the increased economy has not only benefitted the park itself, but also the local communities that rely on it for their own survival. Money generated from by tourists has directly resulted in developments to local communities, although the country is still behind its neighbours in terms of economic and social growth.

Zebra safari in Malawi

If walking amongst the wild residents of this unique African country doesn’t appeal to you, head for the Mulanje Mountain Biosphere Reserve for a natural attraction of a different kind. Hugging the slopes of Mulanje Mountain, the forests, high plateau basins and unique rock formations are quite an attraction of their own. Its height means it attracts the rains, bringing much needed water to the plains below. Local people still attach magical importance to this area, believing that the mountain is sacred and a gift from the Gods. Rite and ceremonies are still performed on its slopes today, whenever villagers are in need of rain or healing, or are lacking in food.

Malawi might not feature highly on most travellers bucket lists, but if you’re the sort of adventurer who wants to discover the last bastion of early civilisation, where iPads and technology are out and the natural environment is the focal point of community life, then this unique country, with its wild plains and under-developed communities, should be on your list of places to explore.

The Edinburgh Festival: 2013 Predictions

Visiting the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

This year’s Edinburgh Festival is approaching fast. The internationally acclaimed Fringe Festival is already in its 66th edition, and this year it will be held between the 2nd and the 26th of August at different venues throughout the Scottish capital. The Fringe is the perfect excuse to visit this magical city, which offers visitors plenty of opportunities to shop, eat out, discover its surrounding natural landscape, and visit its fascinating museums and galleries. edinburgh fringe festival 2013 visit If you are planning to attend this year’s edition of the Edinburgh Festival, you may want to consider that accommodation gets filled quickly around the festival dates. It is recommended that you stay near the heart of the action in the centre of the city, in one of the best hotels for the Edinburgh Festival, and get ready to discover the fantastic city of Edinburgh. Whether you are visiting the Fringe Festival for a couple of days or for the whole month, planning your visit and deciding on which shows you want to attend is the single best thing you can do. According to the organisers, this year there will be more than 2,400 events on offer during the festival, including cabaret performances, children’s shows, comedy, theatre plays, dance, exhibitions, concerts, opera, musicals, and many more. With so many shows to see, you can save cash with an all-inclusive holiday deal, so that you don’t need to worry about anything else other than enjoying your time in the city. edinburgh fringe festival 2013 visit what's on To help you with your booking decisions, here’s a list of the shows that have the most potential to become hits.

The List

The List is a touching theatre play directed by Muriel Romanes, who in 2011 won the Best Director title at the CATS Awards. The play describes the story of a woman trying to adapt to a new way of life in rural Quebec, and it deals with the subjects of loyalty, friendship, and isolation. The List will be performed at the Summerhall.

Gym Party

Also at the Summerhall there’s Gym Party, a show that is as funny and brilliant as the company that performs it. Made in China sold out all tickets at last year’s festival, so their new play is definitely one to watch out for!

Where the White Stops

This show has high chances of becoming a total hit at this year’s festival. Where the White Stops has already won the IdeasTap Underbelly Award, and critics have praised the perfect combination of music and storytelling, without forgetting that the play touches on subjects that are easy to identify with; like thirst for adventure and fear of stepping into the unknown. You can catch this show at the Antler theatre.

Making News

If you are in for some comedy spiced with a good dose of irony, Making News is the show to watch. The play is a critical look at the Saville Enquiry and the circumstances that surrounded it, so it ticks all the boxes from controversial to witty and well-written. This play will be performed at the Pleasance Courtyard.

For more ideas on things to do in Edinburgh, click here.

Truckfest Scotland: A Great Day Out

Trucks, trucks, trucks. Then a few motocross bikes, and more trucks, trucks, trucks. It can only mean one thing! Truckfest Scotland is back in town.

Every year the biggest, brightest and noisiest machines make their way to the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston to delight crowds of spectators who all have one thing in common – a love of big rigs with engines. It’s a mechanical extravaganza filled with displays of new models of trucks, provided by some of the biggest names in British hauling. And let’s not forget all those entertaining shows in the main arena too.

truckfest scotland royal highland centre ingliston

This year’s highlights will see Lisa Kelly and Alex Deborgski from popular TV show Ice Road Truckers go head to head in a truck-off with Matt Ekins, Ashley Maddox and Mick Leech of Scottish trucking company, Eddie Stobarts. The Stobart’s big screen, known affectionately as Teletubby, will be sitting pride of place over the main arena, making sure even the youngest Truckfest visitors get a good view.

Other highlights include the chance – for the first time – to ride in a monster truck as Mudzerella shows off its moves, and then there’s some freestyle motocross action for visitors who still think that the most fun comes on two wheels.

Truckfest Scotland is an excellent family day out, with two days of mayhem, loud engines and big wheels to enjoy. Finish the school holidays in style with a weekend pass to the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston and get a bird’s eye view of the action.

Truckfest Scotland 2013 Dates:

3rd and 4th August 2013

Important Info:

Buying your tickets in advance lets you take advantage of a discount on sales. To pick up your tickets, visit Truckfest online at www.truckfestscotland.co.uk or telephone 0844 854 0064 twenty-four hours.

Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston Directions:

The attached Google Map shows the location of the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston. Use the zoom feature to get an overall view.

Keeping Your Children Safe on Holiday with Child ID Safety Bands

Travelling with children can be stressful enough with all that extra packing you need to do, not to mention the inevitable series of toilet breaks and the gradual onset of boredom that often comes with trips away. So, when you add in the extra stress that comes with keeping your children safe on holiday, family trips away begin to look less appealing. We love anything that helps us keep them safe a little bit easier, and child ID safety bands are the answer.

Win child safety ID bands

By keeping your children safe on holiday, we’re talking about not losing them, often a difficult task if you’re travelling with over-excited, sugar-filled youngsters. Airports become playgrounds, cruise ships become adventure-lands and there’s no stopping them on long esplanades where there’s plenty of space to run. So it’s clear that where you go on holiday has a real impact on how relaxed you are as a parent. Navigating public events, visiting crowded beaches and even strolling through shopping malls are outings that come fraught with danger. And it’s tiring work too – keeping your children safe means constantly knowing where they are and what they’re doing.

 

We’re parents too, here at Candidtraveller, and we’ll admit that we’ve taken some unusual precautions to make sure we can always see our kids when we’re on holiday. Many of our ideas haven’t been met with enthusiasm from the youngest members of our families. They’ve been subjected to wearing the most unfashionable clothing available, because flower print neon T-shirts can be spotted a mile off! We’ve tied helium balloons to their backpacks as a visual aid, and even slung whistles around their necks (although these were quickly removed when they became little more than annoying toys). But no matter how much care you take, kids are fast little things. If they decide to wander off not even the most watchful parent can spot them every time.

Win child safety ID bands

So what do you do if the unthinkable happens and your child disappears into the thronging crowds at a packed theme park? Apart from shout and scream, cry a lot, and generally feel utterly miserable until they’re found again? The problem we face is that small children don’t know how to find us. Very often, they don’t remember our phone numbers, and if a stranger asks them what their parents are called so they can make a tannoy announcement, ‘mummy and daddy’ isn’t the most helpful answer. But we’ve cracked it with a discovery that last year – as we went to one crowded sporting event after another – helped allay all our fears.

A search on the internet brought up this fabulous little company (www.theidbandco.com) who sell ID wrist bands for kids (as well as adults and a whole lot more). Cue a little panic buying on our part, and before you knew it our kids were sporting brightly coloured wrist bands with a list of contact information inside. It may not be the same as tying our wayward children to a long piece of string, but these bands certainly give us confidence that if they do manage to give us the slip in busy places, a simple wave of their wrists at any respectable adult will have our phones ringing in no time. Sure, they won’t stop determined children getting lost in the first place, but that little bit more peace of mind makes it easier for paranoid parents to relax.

We love these Child ID Safety Bands so much that they’ve become our ‘must-pack’ item whenever we go away. And our new friends at www.theidbandco.com have kindly offered to give some away to Candidtraveller.com readers over the next few months.

If you’d like the chance to win one of these fabulous child ID safety bands, perfect for keeping your children safe on holiday, then check out our prize draw competition page here for all the terms and conditions. And don’t forget to visit their website at www.theidbandco.com to have a look, because if you’re one of the lucky winners, they’ll let you choose your favourite colour too!

Happy (and safe) holidays….

Win Child ID Safety Bands with Candidtraveller and the ID Band Company

Competition: Win a set of two Child ID Safety bands in a colour of your choice. 

Our fabulous friends over at the ID Band Co have agreed to send three lucky winners a couple of fabulous child ID safety bands. These super cool bands are one of our favourite travel products here at Candidtraveller. We use them on our kids, take them travelling with us, and even wear them around the office so we know who we are! They come in a variety of bright colours and have a handy little insert for keeping essential safety info nice and secure. Write down your name and mobile number and strap it to your child’s wrist next time you’re out in busy public places. We all try to keep our kids safe – especially when we’re travelling abroad – but if the unthinkable happens and your child does get lost, the authorities can use your contact information to reunite you quickly.

Win child safety ID bands

Not only are these Child ID Safety Bands a brilliant safety idea, but they look great too. With fussy kids of our own, even getting them to wear a hat can be a chore – but we had no problem with these! You can find our review right here.

For details about entering the competition, as well as terms and conditions, read on. Everything you need to know is below. In the meantime, why not head over to the ID Band Co website to check out their other great products.

Win child safety ID bands

 

Win Child ID Safety Bands with Candidtraveller and the ID Band Company


How to enter:

To enter the competition, simply click on these links to visit Candidtraveller and the ID Band Company FaceBook pages and ‘like’ them both.

One winner will be drawn at random on 31st July, 31st August and 30th September from entrants who have ‘liked’ BOTH pages.

For extra chances to win:

  • Share the competition post on the Candidtraveller Facebook page with your friends
  • Tell us where you’ll use the bands if you win.

Closing Date:

30th September 2013 at 12:00hrs GMT

Terms and Conditions:

1. The Child ID Safety Band competition (the “Competition”) is open to worldwide applicants. 2. The Competition is not open to employees or agencies of either Candidtraveller or the ID Band Company, its group companies, their family members or anyone else connected to the Competition. 3. Entry into the Competition is acceptance of these Terms and Conditions. 4. To enter the Competition, ‘like’ the Candidtraveller and ID Band Company Facebook pages.   5. Entries on behalf of another person will not be accepted and joint submissions are not allowed. 6. No responsibility is taken for entries that are lost, delayed, misdirected or incomplete or cannot be delivered or entered for any technical or other reason. Proof of delivery of the entry is not proof of receipt. 7. The Competition closes at 12.00pm on 30th September 2013, with preceding draws taking place 12.00pm 31st July and 12.00pm 31st August. Entries received after the closing date will not be processed. 8. The winner will be chosen at random from the entries submitted correctly.  The judges’ decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. 9. The winner from each draw will receive two Child Safety ID bands as shown in the picture above. They will be allowed to choose the colours from the selection on the ID Band Company website. No alternatives will be offered. 10. Winners will receive their prize by normal post, not by courier. The ID Band Company cannot accept liability for items in the hands of the delivery service. 11. Entrants under the age of 18 must have parental consent to enter. 12. Winners will be notified by Facebook message. Winners will be required to provide their details within 15 working days of confirmation of their win. Failure to provide accurate contact details within that time may result in their win being voided.

Babymooning in Marienbad

Fiona Galloway: Editor

For excited parents-to-be, or those whose precious bundles of joy have just arrived, life has probably taken on a whole new persona. Gone are the late nights socializing in five-star restaurants or the long weekends in luxury hotels, and sleeping in the next day is a decidedly distant memory – for a while at least. Tired, emotional and unquestionably frayed, when it comes to babies our need to relax has never been greater. That’s why the concept of ‘babymooning’, originally a celebrity trend, has really caught on with couples looking for a last chance getaway to relax, and when it comes to child-free holidays, spa vacations in Europe are the perfect antidote to baby blues.

mariendbad4

The key to a successful babymoon is ‘location’. Forget hiking the Alps or tackling the Moroccan souks when you’re starting a family because this is a time for tranquility and relaxation. And when it comes to taking the pace of life down a peg or two, the impossibly beautiful spa town of Marienbad (or Mariánské Lázně in its native tongue) is hard to beat.

Nestling in a valley that was once little more than a vast forest and gurgling wells, this 200 year old town in the Czech Republic sits in the heart of the Bohemian Spa Triangle, a tract of land once occupied by the Roman Empire. From street to street here, spring water bubbles to the surface ready to be sipped from sidewalk drinking fountains or used for bathing within the walls of eons-old spa baths. Its popularity as a romantic, therapeutic and exclusive vacation destination means it’s not short of a luxury hotel or two, a fact that’s been attracting the rich and famous – from European nobility, to famous composers and writers – for centuries.

The town is filled with renaissance buildings, narrow streets and secretive nooks and crannies, but undoubtedly one of Marienbad’s best features is its endless parks, which create an alluring green patchwork of landscaped tree-filled spaces across the town. All of them are home to at least one natural spring, and on sunny summer days – and the weather here in the Czech Republic often averages in the mid 20°s – these esplanades are where the locals flock to with picnics and deckchairs, and where drinking water is literally on tap. Grab your lunch from one of the bohemian cafes on Hlavní třída (the main street) and choose a shady spot to relax in and watch the world go by, or head to the Art Cafe on Ruská where al-fresco dining on the terrace is a lovely way to take in the atmosphere.

marienbad 3

The best way to see Marienbad is on foot, but when you’re expecting a baby, pounding the streets might not be all that appealing. In this quaint Czech town, horse-drawn carriages are the answer. They clatter around the central esplanade, stopping at the main parks and circling the famous Singing Fountain, an ornate structure that shoots streams of water six feet in the air in time to music by Chopin, Mozart and Bach. It’s a lovely spectacle at night, with soft lighting at night creating a wonderfully romantic ambience.

Energetic babymooners can pass the time wandering through the elaborate, wrought iron spa colonnade, shopping in pretty boutiques and hunting out the many mineral fountains hidden along the route. The nearby Boheminium Park is a must-visit attraction, with miniature replicas of Marienbad’s most interesting and famous buildings hidden along the trails. It’s a leisurely way to pass an afternoon, and beats trekking through the surrounding countryside to see the real 17th Century Kynzvart Chateau or indomitable Loket Castle, with baby or bump in tow.

But of course, babymooning holidays are all about being pampered, and Marienbad doesn’t just offer picturesque scenery and delightful architecture to look at. Every corner turned through the labyrinthine streets and pathways of this charming hamlet reveals another fabulous spa hotel with a tempting range of treatments to ease away aches and pains.

We suggest heading straight for Hotel Nove Lazne in the north of the town, a wonderful luxury hotel where marble-columned Roman baths and an exquisitely designed Italian Neo-Renaissance casino make it the place to stay in bohemian Marienbad. This beautiful hotel was a favorite of King Edward VII of England and remains the hotel of choice in the area – not least because of its heritage and architecture, but because it’s got a wellness centre that’s truly fit for royalty.

Do you suffer from late-pregnancy swollen ankles? A treatment with natural dry carbon gas is the very thing for inflammation. Mud wraps, thermal waters, and mineral treatments are a specialty here, alongside traditional massages and hot stone treatments that are guaranteed to ease tired and suffering limbs. Relaxing in the opulent private spa, with plunge pools and outsized Jacuzzis is the perfect antidote to pregnancy pains, and a fabulous way to indulge in a little ‘you’ time.

Getting to Marienbad is delightfully easy, with the international airport at Prague just an hour and a half away. Car hire is a great option – there’s so much to see in the region – but there’s a direct train running every two hours from Prague’s main railway station, making babymooning Eastern-European style a breeze.

Best Credit Cards to Take on Holiday

A credit card is a must have when you go away on your next vacation. It’s the perfect safety net if you’re met with any unexpected holiday expenses and find that you haven’t purchased enough currency in advance, as well as being essential when it comes to charging luxury hotel rooms or hiring a car abroad. But before you go, make sure that the credit card you have is suitable for foreign use. Many credit card companies will charge you huge fees for taking cash out of foreign ATM’s and most also charge you a transaction fee for every purchase you make using it. It’s near-impossible to find a card which doesn’t charge you at all for using it abroad, but still, there are some which are much more foreign-friendly than others.  

If you do find one that doesn’t charge for foreign transactions, make sure you check the exchange rate before you go away; they can be subject to change meaning they might actually work out more expensive. In the run up to our holidays this year, we’ve checked out some of the best UK credit card deals available, helping you narrow down the most expensive options. Happy holidaying….

Credit cards

HALIFAX CLARITY CREDIT CARD

This card offers the benefit of not charging any fees on cash withdrawals of foreign currency from ATMs whilst abroad, but there is a rate of at least 12.9% interest charged even if the amount is repaid in full straight away. But this still works out to be quite a good deal, at roughly £1 per month per £100 withdrawn it is actually significantly cheaper than many foreign bureaus de change. And the best thing about this rate is that it applies worldwide, so you are not restricted to the countries in which you can actually make use of it. It’s a brilliant card to have if you are a regular traveller and visit many different places.

As an added bonus, if you already have a Halifax Reward current account and you apply for their clarity credit card, you will receive £5 every month that you spend over £300 on your credit card, either in the UK or overseas. But make sure that you repay in full each month otherwise the £5 will not go very far in paying off the interest you accumulate.

SAGA PLATINUM CREDIT CARD

This is a great card and offers many of the same benefits as the Halifax Clarity. It is, however, only available to people aged over 50. Its offers of no transaction fees on payments and cash withdrawals are also only available in Europe. But it’s a great card to have if you fit the brief. The card also offers you discounts within the SAGA group and only charges you 11.9% APR as opposed to Halifax’s 12.9%. SAGA’s card is a visa and so should be accepted by all major retailers, even overseas.

POST OFFICE CLASSIC MASTERCARD

This card offers you no transaction fees at all when used in Europe, and just 1% anywhere else in the world. It does charge a somewhat hefty 19.9% APR on repayments though. A much larger amount than the SAGA or the Halifax Clarity. But, instead of the standard month you get a full 3 months interest-free before this 19.9% rate starts to apply. The post office has the added benefit of not charging any commission on currency when exchanged. So the rates offered when paying abroad should be much better than those available on either of the other two cards. There is no age restriction on this credit card, it can be used all over the world and is, again, a MasterCard so you should have no problems with it being accepted wherever you go.

Whichever credit card you prefer, don’t let money worries get you down on your next luxury holiday abroad.

RV Vacations: A Beginner’s Guide to the USA

RV vacations are an increasingly popular choice of holiday for many Americans. Using a trailer rather than a hotel is fun for all of the family and offers some surprising benefits. Travelling to your destination with your very own home in tow is a great way to save money and bring home comforts along with you. Avoiding public transport also means that you can bring your own sports gear and you can quickly move elsewhere if you don’t like your neighbours. You get to use your own sheets, eat your own food and there are no restrictions on luggage allowances or the amount of stops that you make. The road is your oyster.

American Bullet RV

Where to Go

North America is a vast continent with an almost impenetrable number of tourist attractions. It’s also conveniently home to a great many RV parks that come in all shapes and sizes. Among the best are Mill Creek Ranch in Canton in Texas, Yosemite National Park RV Parks in California and River’s Edge RV Park in Fairbank Alaska. The entertainment on offer at these RV hot spots ranges from visiting enormous Texan flea markets, to panning for gold in Yosemite. Or you can watch the natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights and visit the reindeer at River’s Edge.

What to Bring

What you decide to bring with you largely depends on what you plan to do during your trip. If you’re heading to the Floridian beachside then you’ll need considerably less than a trip to a northern National Park. A trailer dolly will keep your trailer as mobile as possible. Spare tent parts are essential if you are going to set up camp outside of your trailer for a substantial amount of time. Cleaning and cooking products will also come in handy if you’re going to be making your own food and vacationing on an extended trip.

Cooking equipment

Make sure that you get the best meals possible by packing the right cooking equipment, as well as bringing non-perishable food items. Sharp knives, a chopping board, seasoning, plates, pans and cutlery are all essentials for self-catering. Napkins, washing-up liquid and cleaning sponges will also go a long way when you’re out in the wilderness. Some camping stores supply gas camping stoves, which are an excellent way to cook breakfast. A small and cheap BBQ should also last you for the duration of your trip and gives you the opportunity to make smores.

Food Items

Food items that will last include pasta, rice, canned food, biscuits, chips and bread. Most candy, crackers, eggs, fresh fruit and cheeses also keep well outside of the fridge. But these should be kept at relatively cool temperatures and consumed as early as possible. MRE army-style rations may seem like a slightly extreme option, but some are very tasty and they last for years. You can make your meat and vegetables last longer by freezing it before you depart and storing it in a cooler packed with ice. Once you have exposed your meat to normal temperatures, you should cook it and either eat or refrigerate as soon as possible it to avoid bacterial contamination.

Conclusion

As affordable vacations become increasingly hard to come by, more people are turning to RV trips for their precious holiday time. There’s nothing quite like an American road trip for a great family and friends bonding experience. You’ll definitely be surprised at the amount on offer from the USA’s huge pick of RV parks once you have a look online. With your own bed, home cooking and whole of America on offer, it’s tough to go wrong. Just remember to pack the right equipment, plan ahead and settle for nothing less than the best. RV vacations really are the way to go.

For more luxury travel ideas check our our hotel reviews here.

Val d’Isere: An Insider’s Guide

As a ski destination Val d’Isere is hard to beat. The resort boasts a massive ski area with an excellent snow record and varied enough terrain to keep everyone – from beginners to experts – grinning all week, authentic mountain restaurants and a rocking après-ski scene for party-lovers. Its traditional resort atmosphere and old town make it a more charming alternative to its purpose built cousin, Tignes, yet skiers benefit from the connections between the two resorts, which amount to the extensive Espace Killy ski area.

To provide you with a true insider’s guide we’ve recruited the help of Charlie Balfour, who has the lovely day job of leading Mark Warner guests out onto the slopes, picking the best runs and lunch stops through the week and recommending the best après-ski spots for continuing the fun off the slopes.

Val dIsereOn the Slopes

For beginners

The nursery slope in the centre of town is a good place to start but beware it’s a little steep at the top. For your first real run off the nursery slopes try the Madeleine green run on Solaise and progress to Genepy, Borsat and Mont Blanc, which are all rolling green runs with no nearby intermediate runs that might attract faster skiers. As the resort has a reputation for under classifying runs and exposure to the elements can change the terrain to what you’d expect on a blue or even red run, always ask your chalet host or instructor for tips on where to go on the day. From most sections beginners are often best to take a lift back down to the valley. For any beginners we highly recommend taking some lessons with a local ski school.

For intermediates

To get your ski-legs on the first day head up the Glacier Express to warm up on the blue runs of Leissieres and Plan Milet. For nice long runs that push intermediate skiers but have flat sections for recovery head to Piste L or Mangard. For an exciting red run have fun experimenting with different routes down the long tree-lined run of Germain Mattis to Le Lasisinant.

For experts

Marmottons and Arcelle offer a little of everything, some un-groomed sections, moguls, wide motorways and some steeper sections.

For thrill-seekers Piste S is open to the elements and unpisted and the Face run provides the added pressure of onlookers from the Gondola and town below.

Off-piste, Val has some hidden gems that only seasoned pros know about so it’s worth hiring a guide for a day.

For snowboarders

Val d’Isere is not considered a hard-core resort for snowboarders but has great terrain for freeriders. Beginners will enjoy the easier slopes and lack of draglifts. As usual watch out for flat areas, including a long flat on Santons, where boarders will end up scooting.

Tip: For a spine tingling view jump on the Cascade Chairlift on Glacier de Pissaillas.

Lunch on the mountain

A great place to stop for a satisfying lunch is La Barillon at the bottom of La Daille gondola. L’Edelweiss above the hamlet of Le Fornet serves Savoyard specialties in a picturesque alpine building slightly off the beaten track. If you have non-skiers in your group try L’Arolay for great food and easy access on foot.

If you’re on a budget try the central Bellvard Mountain Restaurant for self-service with great views or stock up for a picnic at La Tartine, a friendly bakery in resort next to the ticket office and Saloon Bar.

Tip: To re-live the highlights of your day’s skiing sip your last vin chaud at the cosy Rosé Blanche.

In Resort

Dinner

For hearty local dishes La Corniche is a charming Savoyard restaurant in the centre of the old town, or if you’re planning to splash out it’s hard to beat La Grande Ouse for a first class gourmet menu and fantastic setting. For more modest but still delicious grub choose from a wide selection of burgers at Moris Pub or try the sociable spot, Le Lodge, for pizzas and fondue.

Tip: Carnivores make sure you order at least one Pierrade during your stay. There is something deeply satisfying about watching your meat cook after a day on the slopes.

Après-ski

For buzzing apres-ski, Foulie Douce is considered the place to go. The Chalet also has a great atmosphere and for a fun happy hour Café Face offers beat the clock drinks and live music.

If you’re in search of a younger crowd Doudoune plays a mixture of music and has an entertaining ‘21 club’ on the 21st of every month when it blasts out classics from the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Tip: Before you head to the bar, re-energise with a swim and sauna at the Centra Aquasportif or for a mid-week treat book a massage at Bonne Sante.

Charlie Balfour is based at Chalet Moris in Val’d Isere, where he leads groups of mixed ability skiers (from intermediates upwards) for Mark Warner.  Mark Warner has led the way in activity holidays for over 30 years. Specialising in family holidays, Mark Warner packages provide superb childcare with kids clubs for all ages and free evening crèche service.

 

For more luxury travel ideas check our our hotel reviews here.

Top 7 Things You Can’t Afford to Miss in South Africa

Travel and tours in South Africa are big business, from their wildlife to their eclectic culture. Here we’ve listed some of our favourite luxury travel locations in the country to help you plan your next trip to Africa’s most southerly country.

Bo-Kaap (Cape Town)

Cape Town’s most colorful quarter is also steeped in history. It was formerly known as the Malay Quarter, and hosts the Nurul Islam Mosque which dates back to the mid 19th century. Walk the cobble stone streets, peruse the shops, and make sure you check out the Bo-Kaap Museum, the oldest standing original house in the quarter. It was built way back in the eighteenth century and is a testament to the Muslim heritage of the area.

Bo-Kaap 

Robben Island (Cape Town)

Robben Island is the location where Nelson Mandela served his time as a political prisoner in the blank. Therefore it is an important historical landmark and a must see sight for anyone visiting South Africa. Catch a ferry from the city and take a guided tour through this World Heritage Site.

Table Mountain (Cape Town)

Table Mountain, which is featured in South Africa’s national flag, is an important natural formation for South African culture. This top destination is accessible by a multitude of options, but by far the most popular are hiking and cable car. Taking the latter offers breathtaking views of the city. Once you reach the top of Table Mountain you can explore the many wonders, both natural and man-made, that the plateau has to offer.

Table Mountain

Gold Reef City (Johannesburg)

This theme park located in Johannesburg is a family friendly destination sure to please everyone in your party. It’s location on top of an old gold mine makes it a historical experience as well as a thrilling one. Many of the rides are mining themed, such as the apt but frighteningly named Miner’s Revenge. Make sure you try the Tower of Terror, which offers riders the opportunity to experience a positive G force of 6.3 Gs.

Also of note is the Anaconda, which is the tallest inverted roller coaster in Africa. Gold Reef City also hosts a 4D movie theater, which features 3D and motion effects, as well as a wealth of hotels and restaurants. It’s truly an all inclusive experience.

MonteCasino (Johannesburg)

This bustling district in Johannesburg is the perfect destination for a little afternoon fun. In addition to housing- you guessed it- a casino, the MonteCasino complex boasts an impressive theatre (the Teatro), as well as numerous shops. The Teatro is a newer addition to the MonteCasino complex, and it hosts numerous high profile shows each year. Recently the smash hit The Lion King was performed at MonteCasino. Finally, at the complex you can enjoy a ride in a hot air balloon called the “Jozi Eye”.

Voortrekker Monument (Pretoria)

If you have any interest in apartheid politics, then this monument in Pretoria is for you. The granite structure, which is 130 feet every way around, sits on a hilltop south of Pretoria. It’s dedicated to the Voortrekkers who left the cape in the early to mid eighteen hundreds.

In 2011 it was named a World Heritage Site. This unique structure has many influences, with some saying it resembles such European monuments as France’s Dome des Invalides, while others cannot deny its German roots. One of the most striking features of the monument must be the aperture at the top of the dome. At noon this hole shows the sun as a tiny dot in the center of the ceiling, a clear reference to ancient Egyptian practices.

Game Drive (Kruger National Park)

Here’s your opportunity to get up close and personal with the big five safari animals. A game drive is the best way to experience wildlife in South Africa. While you can choose to go on a self guided driving tour, it’s best to have a guide. One of the advantages of taking these tours is your guide can communicate with his peers all over the park, and be alerted at a moment’s notice to the location of exotic wildlife.

There are also night tours available, which are a truly unique experience. On a night tour of Kruger National Park you can view nocturnal animals not usually available, such as leopards stalking their prey or perched lazily in trees. Some other animals you can expect to see on a game drive include African elephants, Vervet monkeys, and zebras.

Author Bio – This article is a guest post by Dillon Michaelson who works for InsanelyCheapFlights.com. Make sure you visit their website for some exclusive offers and deals on cheap tickets, car rentals, vacation packages etc.

For other great ideas about luxury travel in Africa, check out our hotel reviews here.

Seeing London on a Budget

There are some cities around the world which are perhaps worth seeing if you have the time, the money and the energy. There are one or two, however, which should be, to put it mildly, must-visits. One of those is undoubtedly London, the capital of the UK and perhaps the most iconic capital on the whole planet. It’s a great place to travel and tour, with tons of luxury hotels to stay in and lots of 5 star restaurants to experience.

Many people have so far missed out on the delights of London purely because they were put off by the cost, but it’s important to remember there are ways to keep the spending to a minimum without harming the overall pleasure of the experience. Here are four useful tips that will help you see the city without having to spend a fortune in the process.

Invest in an Oyster Card

Taxis are generally expensive in London, so the best option is to traverse the city by bus and tube, both of which are very affordable. To make even more savings, you should buy an Oyster Card, which covers travel on buses, overground and underground railways, trams, and the Docklands Light Railway. As well as saving you money, it will also mean you no longer have to queue up for tickets every time you travel. There is so much to see and do in London, and public transport is always the cheapest option.

Shop around for accommodation

Many of the hotels in London are extremely expensive, but there are plenty of bargains to be found as well. The best options are to use the web to find the cheaper accommodation deals, and to be prepared to stay outside the centre of the city if necessary. Thanks to the transport infrastructure, you can be in the heart of the metropolis in no time, so if it’s less expensive to stay in suburbs such as Putney, St John’s Wood and Chiswick, that’s what you should do.

Avoid the expensive eateries

Many of London’s restaurants are costly, but not all of them. If you’re prepared to look around before deciding where to eat you can find some wonderful bargains. In a bid to entice diners, many places offer special deals if you’re prepared to accept a restricted menu, or if you’re happy to eat during less busy hours such as before 7pm. In the UK, restaurants display their prices in the window, so you can make an informed choice without having to set foot inside.

Look for discounted attractions

London is home to a vast number of tourist landmarks, many of which are free, but there are some attractions which require an entry fee. While the budget traveller may not be able to afford all of them, he or she will want to see as many as possible. By checking online in the months leading up to the trip, it might be possible to find discounts and special offers that can be used to keep the spending down.

David Showell was born and brought up in London, and is always keen to travel on a budget. He works for www.carhiredirect.co.uk.

For other great ideas about luxury travel in Europe, check out our hotel reviews here.

Four Tips for a Successful Golfing Vacation

Even in the midst of difficult economic times, the popularity of golfing holidays has not waned. It seems golfers still need to get their annual fix of a luxury vacation with a group of friends, and although they may have to search a little harder for good deals, they are not prepared to forego their little extravagance altogether. Plus, with golfing holidays available all over the planet, you can go travel wherever you want and still find a green or two to enjoy.

There are many factors to take into consideration when organising a golf trip. If things go wrong, they can soon escalate into major problems, and the chances are that particular groups of golfers will not travel together again. Here are four tips to make sure your next holiday gets off on the right foot and stays there.

The right mix of people

On a normal vacation, if people don’t get along they can wander off to different attractions and take part in other activities. On a golf trip this isn’t an option, so the organiser needs to put a little thought into who should be invited. If there are one or two individuals who are likely to be difficult for everyone else to get along with, it might be a good idea to omit them from the passenger list. The last thing you need is everyone going home early because of a succession of petty arguments.

Keep a close eye on the calendar

Many inexperienced organisers make the mistake of booking a trip in a very hot country right in the heart of the summer. Playing golf in a warm climate is one of life’s great pleasures, but when the temperature is more than a hundred degrees it can become too stiflingly hot to play. Those months either side of the warmest ones will be preferable. If you must travel when the sun’s at its hottest, be sure to choose tee-off times that avoid the very middle of the day.

Play a few different courses

Many destinations, such as the Algarve in Portugal and the Costa Blanca in Spain, offer a variety of courses to visiting players, but there are some locations which may only have one course nearby. To get the best from the whole experience, it’s a good idea to play at more than one venue. Therefore, do a little homework before booking, just to make sure there is some variety available.

Food, glorious food

By the time they’ve played eighteen holes of golf, players will be eagerly anticipating a few cold drinks and a good meal. Therefore, once you’ve chosen a destination it would be useful to investigate the local restaurant scene. The best options are eateries which offer a range of local and international cuisine and, given the energy that golfers have already used up, sizable portions!

David Showell is from the UK and is a keen golfer. He works for http://www.comparecarrentals.co.uk.

For other great ideas about luxury travel in Europe, check out our hotel reviews here.

Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands are one of the most desirable archipelagos in Europe; the most notable islands in the chain are Mallorca, Minorca and Ibiza. The capital of the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca, is a beautiful Mediterranean destination with ideal weather, picturesque sights and a vibrant nightlife, no to mention some outstanding luxury hotels and 5 star restaurants the specialise in fresh seafood and local cuisine. The city can  be found in the south west of Mallorca, in the popular Bay of Palma, which is home to some of the island’s most famed beaches, including Playa de Palma. Palma has been a popular destination since the 50’s and is now the bustling cultural and commercial hub of Mallorca.

The city has a strong Mediterranean vibe; from streets packed with activity and entertainment to alluring cafes promoting lazy afternoons. The Old Town showcases the most authentic elements of Palma; the labyrinth of alleyways present a myriad of sights, squares where you can grab a refreshing beer and tapas bars emanating mouth-watering smells. If there’s just one sight that you see on a travel tour of this island, it should be La Seu Cathedral; it is literally unmissable as it stands proud, rising above the city. Located right on the waterfront it is a magnificent building to behold. The backstreets behind Born, heading towards Placa Cort, are solely for pedestrians and are well worth walking around during the day. It’s also a great place to grab a beer from one of the many bars with outdoor seating and partake in the great Mediterranean past time of people watching.

Palma has come in to prominence in recent times through its notorious nightlife. With its new found reputation it was put on the map as a top stag weekend city and its streets, riddled with bars and clubs, have quickly elevated it to one of the most favoured Spanish destinations. A wild stag do in Ibiza has long been the most popular choice for people seeking sun, sea and parties; however, Mallorca offers a great deal more, because on top of being a great destination for clubbing it’s also home to plenty of contemporary shops, bars and cafes, and a nightlife devoid of inhibitions.

Whilst maintaining its charm and quaintness through the labyrinth of quiet, narrow streets which roll through the Old Town, the seaside promenade boasts some of the most exciting establishments, presenting an exciting array of options for any weekend. It has a comprehensive selection of restaurants, bars and clubs making it an ideal evening destination.

This outpost of hedonism boasts an abundance of night time activities in an awesome setting. Surrounded by sun, sea and sand, the inhibitions of the locals and tourists alike are particularly free-spirited; everyone has a great attitude and are hell-bent on having a fun time – the epitome of an epic Spanish night out. Palma boasts an exciting nightlife scene; one of the most popular areas with the locals is Sa Llotja, its venues are often bursting at the seams with energy and people. When Sa Llotja shuts down at the end of the night, it’s common for everyone to pile across to Passeig Maritim to carry on the party until the small hours.

For other great ideas about luxury travel in Europe, check out our hotel reviews here.

UK Car Insurance Laws Every Traveller Should Know

Many people who are travelling to the United Kingdom find one of the biggest challenges is renting a car. They don’t even consider that they may need to buy car insurance. Parliament passed laws requiring drivers to be insured over 80 years ago and the Department for Transport has been following them strictly ever since. Make sure you understand the travel insurance requirements before you start driving in the UK.

What Are the Requirements for Car Insurance in the UK?

The travel insurance laws in the United Kingdom are similar to those in the United States and the rest of Europe. All vehicles you are driving must be insured unless you have applied for a statutory off road notification.  Insurance must cover damage to property or injuries to other people. Always carry documents to prove that your insurance meets these requirements.

Does My Insurance Policy at Home Cover this Requirement?

In most cases, the auto insurance policy you hold in your home country will not provide coverage overseas. However, most large auto insurance policies will allow you to extend your policy to cover you when you are driving abroad.  Speak with your auto insurance provider to see if your policy already provides the coverage you need.

You might already be covered when driving overseas, but you will most likely need to speak you’re your agent about extend your policy. These agents will either speak with a representative in the country you are visiting or work with a third party agency that can help you get the coverage you are looking for. Your insurance provider will provide you with all the documents you need to get the coverage you are looking for. Make sure you have these documents before you leave or provide a shipping address that they can be sent to.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

The minimum penalty for driving without insurance is a fine of 100 pounds. Many people aren’t that lucky. Some police departments will double the fine to make sure you understand how seriously they take uninsured drivers in their jurisdiction. Your vehicle can be repossessed or even destroyed. You may also be called to court and forced to pay a fine of 1,000 pounds or more. A court may also place a ban on anyone caught driving without insurance. The ban will typically be a month or more. Courts don’t usually place a ban on a driver if this was the first time they were caught without insurance. However, driving without insurance can make matters significantly worse if you have been found guilty of other offenses such as speeding or driving while intoxicated.

Make Sure You Always Drive With the Proper Insurance

You probably know that you need to drive with insurance in your own country. The basic requirements for car insurance are fairly uniform throughout the developed world. Make sure you understand the legal requirements for insurance before you visit the United Kingdom and don’t get caught driving without it.  But remember, most hire companies will provide you with insurance as part of the hire agreement. It#s up to you to make sure that it covers everything you need.

Kalen Smith writes travel and auto advice. He is a freelancer with http://www.williamsoncadillac.com.

For great ideas about luxury travel in Europe, check out our hotel reviews here.

Comfort and style: Guarantees with Business Car Hire

So you’re still debating whether you take your own motor to the conference or invest in a hire car?

Well, there’s arguments for both of course. In your own car, you know how it feels to drive; its nuances and personality, if you will. You also know where things are, what radio station you like and whereabouts you like to store your personal items (mints, phone and so on). You’ll also know how hard you can push it and how many miles to the gallon you’ll get out of it.

In a hire car though; well, that’s the unknown. How will it drive? How far will I get on a tank. Where will I put my mints?!

Without actually knowing these questions, it’s probably safer to work out just what guarantees you will have when renting a car for business use.

Comfort

Okay. While this might be a subjective statement to make, near enough anyone who provides business car hire is really just trying to make sure you have a comfortable and luxurious ride.

This could be leather-bound seats. It could be the silky-smooth grip of the steering wheel. It could even just be the fact that it comes with air conditioning. Whichever it is, a key part of having a business car is to not only look, but feel business-like. Car lenders know the last thing anyone in business wants is to be crippled by their motor and covered in sweat patches because their car let them down.

Style

Alongside comfort inevitably comes style. Business-types, well, like to look the business. Shallow as it may be, style plays a bit part in being taken seriously. Taking pride in one’s appearance shows a level of commitment beyond (Parker) fountain-pen and paper.

Plus, if you look the part, then no doubt you’ll feel the part.

Author Bio:

Jim Evans is fanatic about cars and has tried his hands on various segments of four wheelers for a significant number of years. Sports car thrills him most, though recently he is busy researching on business car hire. To know about his latest information gathered, visit http://www.ssdhire.co.uk/business-hire.html

See Scotland by Car

Scotland is a clean and unspoiled region with a lot of historical sites as well as outstanding natural beauty. There are prehistoric stone circles, burial chambers and standing stones as well as Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age ruins. Scotland is also famous for its spectacular castles starting with Edinburgh Castle. One of the best ways to visit all the wonder and beauty of Scotland is by renting a car and driving. Visitors can stop when they please or drive through the night. They can spend several days or just a few hours whenever they feel like it.

One drive that passes near several castles begins in Aberdeen. Visitors travel south on the A90/92 to Stonehaven to see Dunnottar Castle. It is perched high on a cliff overlooking the North Sea with a dramatic location that both Cromwell and Wallace wanted. Franco Zeffirelli used this castle as the setting for his 1991 Hamlet.

From Stonehaven, go north on the A957 to Crathes Castle. Just five more miles east on A93 is Banchory and Drum Castle. Crathes Castle is straight out of a fairy tale and visitors wouldn’t be surprised to see unicorn grazing. There are trails for exploring the magical surrounding woodlands. The castle has spiral staircases to rooms with famous Jacobean painting on the ceilings. There is a ghost, the Green Lady, who may make an appearance.Drum Castle has a 13th century tower as well as a Jacobean mansion with Victorian additions. The furniture and paintings are worth the trip and there are also trails through woodlands and an exceptional rose garden. Just 15 miles further north on the B977 is Castle Fraser. It has an amazing Great Hall with stunning paintings and furniture. There are also walks and gardens as well as a children’s adventure playground.Another road trip through Scotland visits the famous distilleries. Begin in Speyside at the Glenlivet Distillery in Banffshire. They give guided tours and tiny tastes of their 18-years-old, Nadurra or The Glenlivet 12.

The designated driver can continue 13 miles north to Knockandu for a visit to the Cardhu Distillery. This is the only distillery pioneered by a woman. They also offer tours and tastes. Nine more miles takes travellers to Dufftown considered the heart of the Speyside whisky region. The Speyside Cooperage is there. It is the only working cooperage in the UK. They are creating whisky barrels according to the ancient traditions including using the ancient tools. Visitors can try to make their own small casks.

Scotland is famous for a lot of things, not the least of which is literature and art. Begin the next tour in Edinburgh, the capital and the first UNESCO City of Literature in the world. See manuscripts form Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson in the Writers’ Museum near the Royal Mile. There is a lot more to see in Edinburgh as well as other cities around Scotland and they are close enough to make a great city road tour.

From Dundee visitors can take a day in Edinburgh or visit the largest National Park in the UK. Stirling is one of the gateways to the Highlands with the spectacular scenery of the lochs and mountains. Travellers enjoy Scotland by rental car on the National Tourist Routes to see all the sites up close and personal.

This post was crafted by the travel writers over at Skedaddle Car Hire
 

Important Facts about the island of Majorca

How to say it

There has always been some confusion as to what the real name is for this island.

Is it Majorca or Mallorca?

Although both spellings are correct, Mallorca is the Spanish/Catalan version and is pronounced ‘Mah-york-a’ which is the correct way.

Majorca on the other hand is the English version and is sometimes pronounced ‘Mah-jork-a’, although this sounds incorrect in the contextual sense.

Scenery

Majorca is one of the most favoured of all the Balearic Islands with its combination of stunning scenery, rolling hills, picturesque coves and delightful beaches.

With the diversity of natural beauty found on the island, it comes as no surprise that its popularity as a tourist destination has kept on growing over many years, giving visitors a taste a Mediterranean paradise.

History of Invasion and Occupation

Like many islands in the Mediterranean, Majorca attracted many a conqueror, invader, settler and tourist who all contributed to its rich history and culture that we have today.

It flourished during the Roman occupation around 123BC which had the greatest impact on the islands social patterns.

This occupation was overturned by the Byzantine Empire in 534 which consequently allowed Christianity to flourish on the island.

Nearly 400 years later, when the Moors conquered the island, they greatly improved the agriculture and local industry but for most Majorcans, history didn’t really begin until the 13th century when the Catalans took the island from the Moors hence the reason why the official language is Catalan.

Cuisine

Traditional food is the best kept secret of the indigenes and is derived from that of Catalonia. Most dishes adopt a sweet and savoury taste combination, with pork being a very popular ingredient.

A must to try is Langosta a la parrilla which is the local spiny lobster dish. Infused with aromatic herbs and spices, it is usually eaten with a delicious local mayonnaise.
Make sure you also try the ensaimada, a yeast bun that’s baked in an unusual spiral shift, and which perfectly complements a strong Spanish coffee.

Places to visit

Palma, the capital, is etched in history with its cathedral, monuments and old cobbled streets, transporting visitors to a bygone era that truly mesmerises.

A trip to the town of Manacor will give you the opportunity to experience how cultured pearls are made at one of the several pearl factories on the island.

Other tourist attractions include thrilling water slides and tropical parks that are aimed at the whole family with both adults and children being catered for.

Other places include the leather factories of Inca and the many boutiques and shops around Palma for the shopaholics among you.

The beaches in Majorca are kept very clean and are of a very good safety standard so it is normally safe to swim unless the local authority states otherwise.

Climate

Being a Balearic island, Majorca has a typical Mediterranean climate of hot summer days and very mild winters.

The peak summer months are July and August which boasts of nearly 12 hours of sunshine with the winter months becoming chilly with the weather remaining mild and bright on most days.

Majorca unlike Tenerife, is not a year round tourist spot so make sure you plan your trip according to your expectations.

Roundup

Majorca should be on your ‘to visit’ list if it’s not already on there and being known as the youthful island, it may even afford you the elixir that has proved so elusive.

The author

Peter writes for the Tenerife Forum blog and has a keen interest on Spanish islands.

Top 10 Beaches in the World

The world is blessed with some amazing beaches. From north to south, there are tiny rocky coves sheltered by towering cliffs and incredible swathes of sweeping sand. From islands to towns, from tropical paradises to cities, from sparkly silver, through gold of every hue to volcanic black sand, the diversity is incredible. Here are 10 top beaches of the world:

 

Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, USA

One of Hawaii’s most beloved nature preserves, the beautiful horseshoe-shaped Hanauma bay represents the floor of an ancient volcanic crater.  A scant 10 miles from Waikiki, Hanauma stands above the rest, with its calm lagoons which make it a haven for snorkelers, swimmers and indeed, local marine life.

Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

South of Cape Town, Boulders beach is protected by an outcrop of grassy dunes.  The beach itself mixes white sand with large, pillow-shaped boulders.  One of the world’s most distinct beaches, Boulders attracts nature lovers the world over and is famous for being home to African penguins.

 Grumari Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

While Ipanema may have been immortalized in the 1960s bossa nova classic, Rio de Janeiro lays claim to several spectacular beaches.  Away from the crowds in an environmentally protected area, Grumari Beach is Rio’s best kept secret.  Bordered by striking mountains and bounded by wild vegetation, Grumari’s soft fine sand and gentle waves feel a world apart from the crowds of Ipanema.

Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia

Australia’s most photographed beach is a sight to behold.  Nowhere else in the world does aqua blue contrast so starkly and beautifully with white sands than in Whitehaven.  Tidal shifts along the along the 7km beach create swirls of colors unique to the region, making it one of the top must-see destinations in Queensland.

 Arambol Beach, Goa, India

Making a swift transition from humble fishing village to world-class beach, Arambol is the jewel of Goa.  Here on this broad crescent of soft sand there is a mix of beach chairs, a few remaining fishermen and the odd cow or two.  Arambol’s laid-back atmosphere along with its natural beauty creates a magnetic pull that has been attracting more and more visitors each year.

 Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia

The Perhentian Islands represent the quintessential tropical beach paradise.  Here, the sand crumbles underneath your feet like powder and palm trees jut out from the sand in perfect postcard image form.  Featuring a year-round temperate climate and warm, crystal clear waters, Kecil is true paradise on Earth.

Las Islas Cíes, Galicia, Spain

Once squarely in pirate territory, Las Islas Cíes is a remarkable place near Spain’s northern border with Portugal.  The area is only open to visitors in the summer and features two crescent-shaped pristine beaches with clear turquoise waters.

Nungwi, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Sitting on Zanzibar’s northern tip, Nungwi offers an almost surreal landscape.  Its shallow sloping beach is a sight to behold as are the small fishing villages that still dot the region.  Nungwi is home to some of the finest sand in the world which when combined with the warm equatorial waters of Zanzibar, create a first-class beach experience.

Matira Beach, Bora Bora, Tahiti

Nicknamed the “Romantic Island”, Bora Bora is home to some of the most beautiful spots on earth.  Matira Beach is the island’s crown jewel.  Protected by a thin strip of land, Matira is nestled in a lagoon creating incredibly calm and clear waters which lap at your feet.

Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles

The granite boulders which burst through the soft pink sand of Anse Source d’Argent is one of the region’s most distinctive features.  Creating an even more dramatic scene, the flat sandy beach is protected by walls of palm tree-covered granite cliffs from behind, making it feel like the most secluded place in the world.  Largely protected by a reef, the waves entering this stunning beach are calm and relaxing.

Seattle: Microbreweries Put to the Test

Last month I was at an industry conference in Seattle. It was my first trip to the Emerald city, and I was not disappointed. The one drawback I have ever heard about Seattle the often crummy weather, but three of the four days we were there, there wasn’t as much as a cloud in sky, and the cool sea breeze made for a perfect climate. Being a big fan of beer, I went into the trip excited to try out all of the microbrews that the city had to offer. Some, I really liked. Others, not so much. Below is my list of the best and worst Seattle beers (based on exhaustive research…).

The Best: Pike Kilt Lifter from The Pike Brewing Company

Those who are not into the more bitter taste of ales will not be a fan of this one. I for one could not get enough! This is a high gravity beer (6.5% alcohol by volume) is a hefty brew with a beautiful ruby color and a bitter, crisp finish. Enjoy one or two of pints at the Pike Brewery near the heart of the city on on 1st and Pike.

Runner-up: Hefeweizen from Pyramid Breweries

I am not typically a fan of wheat beers, or any beers that are served with fruit for that matter, but this unfiltered wheat from Pyramid breweries just about changed my mind. Like most Bavarian style wheat’s, The Hefeweizen is a lighter brew, and goes great with a steaming bowl of chowder.

The Worst:The Pike Stout

In my humble opinion, a beer should not taste like a Starbucks energy shot, and to me, this one did. Please take my opinion with a grain of salt, as I am very particular about my beer, but this one I could have done without. It is a high gravity Stout (7% ABV) and will fill you up by the time you’re half way through. Unless the heavy, rich, malty style lager is your thing, I would steer clear of this one.

Runner-up: Bosun’s Black Porter from Maritime Brewery

Even though the name is derived in quite a creative manner, this brew was far too smoky, malty, and heavy for my taste. With that kind of make-up I would at least expect it to pack a punch, but the ABV is only 5.2% , which simply isn’t high enough to make up for the downright strange flavor. Agree? Disagree? Please comment below!

Written by the Marketing team at McCormick & Murphy, Denver Car Accident Attorneys.

Traveling to the Limits: Places to Go where You can See it All

Growing up you may have had dreams of traveling to a far off land. As an adult, why not make those dreams a reality? Traveling to a faraway place can give you that feeling back, the feeling where the world’s chaos didn’t matter and you are free to dream. Here are some inspiring places to visit and help you renew that feeling of wonder.

Big Sur, California, United States

The California coastline is known for its breathtakingly scenic views. If you want stunning landscapes and open space, spend time around the Big Sur region. Between the jagged coast and rippling waves, you will have the opportunity to overlook a true marvel of nature. Those who like to go for a drive to clear their mind will really love this place – you can zip around winding Rt. 1 while taking in the view.

Green Lake, Austria

At the base of the Hochschwab Mountains in Tragoess, Austria, sits a lake so unique and beautiful you cannot help but be inspired. During the winter, you can find a park in this spot. It is decorated with all the trappings of a well-maintained rural getaway – trees, benches, and walking paths.

Once the heat of summer melts away the snow and ice from the mountains, that all changes. Crystal clear water from the mountains trickles down and creates a lake about 10 meters deep. Strap on some diving gear for the amazing experience of seeing a functional park submerged in beautifully transparent water.

Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States

The Grand Canyon is one of the natural wonders of the world for good reason – one look at it strikes most with awe and wonder. Its size is amazing. Measuring in at 277 miles long, 4 to 18 miles wide, and over a mile deep, it is difficult not to marvel in its vastness.

What makes it more unique is its magnificent color palette. While other canyons throughout the world may stretch longer or go steeper, few present the same combination of shades that light up against the sun. It also offers visitors plenty of lookout points, so you are sure to find a spot with a view that captures your imagination.

Black Sand Beach, Vík, Iceland

Located in the southernmost village in Iceland, the black sand beach at Vík is a surreal combination of starkly-colored sand and rippling waves. You can almost sense the presence of sailors of the past as you stand on the black basalt sand near the stormy sea. The surrounding rock formations are captivating, too; they have that unearthly quality that characterizes much of Iceland’s famous landscape. Last but not least, bird lovers are in for a treat – puffin colonies live around this part of the country.

Milford Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Tucked away in one of the most effortlessly beautiful countries in the world, Milford Track offers a one-of-a-kind trek through nature to anyone who wants to get away from the grind. Hikers can expect to see staggering mountains, countless winding rivers, and waterfalls. Hiking activity is moderated pretty strictly during the summer months, which is between October and April in New Zealand, so if you want to check out this scenic spot, you need to make reservations several months in advance. Many hikers would agree it is well worth the wait.

You don’t have abandon feelings of wonder once you hit adulthood. Get away from your stifling routine and explore pockets of the world that can fill you with child-like inspiration all over again.

Author Bio:

Guest post contributed by Carla Gregson, freelance travel writer. She enjoys writing articles about her travel experiences and sharing them on various online travel publications.

Things to Do in Cornwall, England

If you are traveling to Cornwall, England, this year, do you know what you will do when you reach your destination? There are many opportunities awaiting you in this lovely location, so it pays to plan ahead and have an idea of your itinerary before arriving in Cornwall.

Visit Land’s End

Land’s End is unparalleled when it comes to natural beauty and peaceful surroundings. You can walk along the coast and watch the seabirds frolic in the surf. You may even get the chance to glimpse a seal or dolphin in the waves. There are free events for the entire family to enjoy, such as fireworks displays on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the months of July and August. At this time, restaurants and shops stay open later, and live music can also be enjoyed. If you would like some exercise, you might decide to take a leisurely stroll along beautiful trails offering breathtaking views of the countryside.Land’s End Hotel is located on the top of a cliff and it provides ideal family accommodation.

Check Out the Eden Project

The Eden Project, which has actually been referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, is a beautiful garden situated in tropical biomes located in a gigantic crater. Colorful plants abound here, and you will have the opportunity to experience a rainforest, as well as walk among lemon and orange trees like the ones you might find in California. The Roofless Biome occupies 30 acres and houses such plants as hemp and sunflowers.

Tintagel is a Must-See Stop

This lovely location is in North Cornwall right along the Atlantic coastline. Here you will learn about wizards and kings. Tintagel Castle, high on the cliffs, is perfect for a family outing. It is said to be the location where King Arthur was born. You may also want to visit the nearby village to see the old post office and tour quaint cottages that are open all year.

Take the kids to Tencreek Holiday Park

If your children are accompanying you on your vacation, visiting Tencreek Holiday Park will create a wonderful excursion for them. It is located near the seaside town of Looe. Caravan holiday homes that will house from six to eight people are a great way to stay together as a family, and they’re every bit as comfortable as your own home. Even the family dog is welcome. There’s a heated pool on the premises, and you can find plenty of shopping nearby. Castaways Bar provides food and entertainment.

Spend the Day Surfing

Kingsurf Surf School, located in Newquay, gets high marks from tourists for being a great attraction for kids and adults. You can learn to surf regardless of your skill level. Lessons are provided that are just for fun or that cater to more professional tastes.

There are many attractions in Cornwall to be enjoyed by all age groups. You may find yourself running out of time to do and see everything, so make sure you plan ahead and factor in enough time to do the things that appeal to you most.

This is a guest post from Jennifer Lewis, who has spentseveral wonderful vacations in Cornwall. She writes for a site that providesinformation on financial help for female students, such as scholarships for women in physics and free money grants for women.

Canal Boating Holidays in the UK

If you’re looking for a relaxing break then what could be more tranquil than a canal boat holiday in the UK? Hiring a canal boat for a week and being left to work the locks and steer your boat through the UK Inland Waterways can be a liberating and calming experience.

The UK has many canals and navigable rivers; did you know there are more miles of canal in Birmingham than there are in Venice? Birmingham might be substantially larger but the point remains – Britain is full of canals and waterways. They were first used during Roman occupation, and used for irrigation, but the Romans also created additional canals to link rivers together. Canals were an essential part of the Industrial Revolution, as roads at the time were unsuitable for a large volume of traffic. Canal boats were a lot quicker, could carry heavy loads and were safer for the transportation of fragile items.

Today canal boats are primarily used by tourists and holiday-makers looking for a relaxing holiday, cruising on the water at a leisurely pace. Hired canal boats can be surprisingly modern and spacious, and typically come with central heating, a kitchen and a lounge. A guide will usually come to instruct you on operating the boat and educate you about canal etiquette.

Most canals in the UK can accommodate boats that are between 55 and 80 feet long, but some canals are larger, such as New Junction Canal and the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, which can accommodate boats of up to 230 feet in length.

If you’re thinking about hiring a canal boat, there are a number of things to consider. You need to be reasonably fit – two adults can easily handle a narrowboat, but for long journeys you might consider taking more people to spread the work. As the boat cruises along, one person steers the boat while the rest of the crew can soak up the scenery or even walk alongside the boat on the towpath. At locks, one person should stay on-board the boat to steer while another works the lock mechanism.

Canal boating holidays are growing in popularity, and are no longer the preserve of boaters and nautical types. They are becoming particularly popular with husbands-to-be who are looking for a more relaxing stag-do. Boats can be hired and tuition about locks provided, so you can navigate your own way around the country.

Alan Cairns writes on a number of subjects including outboard motors and canal boat holidays on behalf of http://www.outboardmotorsforsale.co.uk/

Diving in Anguilla

Anguilla is a small but fantastic island in the Caribbean. The friendly people, whose love of the sea is instantly visible, seem to spend more time on or in the water than on dry land. The national sport is sailing but you don’t have to travel too far without finding amazing dive sites. The island has the Atlantic on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other, so you can find an array of different reefs, wrecks and sea life while enjoying the clear turquoise waters. With around 20 great dive sites, 5 easily accessible wrecks and a host of reefs this island is a divers paradise.

Angel Reef is aptly named due to its large concentration of Angel fish. This however, is not the only company you will have here as it is a playground for various stingrays, turtles, lobsters, snappers, and some healthy looking barracuda. With a 4m/12ft sea whip and several large sea fans there is plenty to explore and the reef ranges from 1ft to a hefty 65ft deep in places.

Shoal Bay Reef is probably the most popular reef on the island and the beach has various luxury resorts offering direct access to the reef.  Its popularity is not without reason The Shoal Bay plateau is in 15/18 ft of water and leads towards a 45 degree drop-off at 25 ft. After this point it drops off from around 30 ft at its Eastern end to 85 ft on its Western end. Its sandy bottom is home to an assortment of Stingray, Lobster, Crayfish and some amazing Eels which are all well worth a look.

For the more experienced diver it is well worth a visit to The Steps or Dog Island. The Steps is located at Little Scrub and goes down an array of ledges which step from 40 ft to over 90 ft. This site also offers some fun boulders and crevices to explore and you can see a selection of bigger fish such as Tiger Sharks, Lemon Sharks and Nurse Sharks. Dog Island is also home to various types of sharks, large tuna and other big fish and although this site is harder to access (due to access being dependent on the weather) it is worth setting aside some time for. Dog Island has a formidable 90ft sheer wall dive which is simply mind-blowing.

If you prefer to do wreck diving then there is also an abundance of natural and purpose built wreck diving sites. My favourite has to be the Commerce Wreck as the wreck sits bolt upright in 80 ft of water. What was an undamaged wreck when it sunk has been weathered by years of storms and the mangled yet complete wreck has an unnatural and unsettling feeling making the dive all the more exciting. If you venture to the base you can see a glut of giant lobsters (some as big as 30 pounds). The wreck seemed to have generated interest with some larger fish and it is not uncommon so see Atlantic Spadefish, Hog fish and Goat fish.

The largest wreck is the Sarah at over 230 ft long and although it sunk on its side it has been moved and stood upright. The ship has a large opening in the hull which gives you access to various chambers inside. This jaw dropping wreck is covered with opening and closing Oysters and is home to Sergeant Majors, Bluestriped Grunts and Cowfish among others.

So if you find yourself lucky enough to dive in the Caribbean be sure to visit Anguilla and below the water there is so much on offer and above the water there are stunning beaches, fantastic seafood and amazingly friendly people.

About the Author

When not diving Naomi Cambridge enjoys marketing luxury resorts and working on worldwide projects such as Zemi Beach Luxury Caribbean Real Estate. For more information about Naomi and Cardea Consultants vist:http://www.cardeaconsultants.com/

Top Tourist Attractions in Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, the capital of Romania, represents a curious, intriguing mix of oriental and occidental influences, a place where one can admire both old and new architectural styles. It is a city that is chosen by many as their summer time vacation destination, and a couple of weeks spent there will surely help you start to understand and feel its uniqueness.

So, what is there to see in Bucharest?

Well, I should start with the Romanian Athenaeum, a place of great interest for music and concert lovers. Those of you who appreciate architecture will also delight in admiring the building, which is white, elegant and was built in 1888 in a neo-classical style.

A very interesting thing is the manner in which the money that was needed in order to restore the building to its former beauty was gathered a few years ago. Ordinary people were asked to donate one leu (a unit of the Romanian currency) for the Athenaeum, using a small, two verse poem.

The money was collected very fast and the 40 meters high building was restored, resembling an ancient temple. The good news is that the music lovers can listen to most classical masterpieces inside the Athenaeum.

Another prized tourist attraction in Bucharest is The Village Museum, which was created in 1936 and exhibits around 300 types of traditional Romanian houses, windmills, churches, houses that were built on water, etc. Many of these houses are authentic, being brought to Bucharest piece by piece and reassembled there. The museum can be visited all year long and it is positioned near one of the biggest parks in Bucharest, the Herastrau Park.

A lot of tourists coming to Bucharest, if not all of them, decide to visit The Parliament House, a soviet style, huge building that attracts the curiosity and interest of most people coming to Romania. It was built by former communist leader and dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, after he ordered the demolition of numerous houses and churches in order to clear the area. Being the second largest building in the world and competing with the Pentagon building in size, it is no wonder that so many tourists come and wander inside The Parliament House using the help offered by a guide.

The Cismigiu Gardens represent the place where citizens and tourists alike relax and breathe cleaner and fresher air right in the middle of the city. It is the oldest park in Bucharest and the fresh grass, the colored flowers and all the pigeons flying around really help the visitors relax and enjoy nature.

Then there is The Old Court, the most ancient part of the city, which is nowadays rebuilt and a little bit modernized, as many little restaurants and coffee shops have opened there. This is the most crowded place in the city as the evening comes, because people love to chat there, drinking or eating.

In fact, The Old Court is one of the very few places where you can admire the most modern restaurants and the ruins of very old houses sitting side by side. You can visit several old inns and pubs, and you can try some of the tasty, traditional Romanian dishes there. A famous restaurant in the area is Manuc’s Inn, the oldest inn in the region, which was built around 1808 for the merchants that were coming to sell their products in Bucharest. It was in this very building that important historical documents were signed – the 1812 treaty that ended the war between the Russian and the Turks, for example. Today it is an enchanting place that was preserved very well and attracts foreigners like a magnet.

Irina Chirilov, the author of this article, is a blogger for Thrifty Bucuresti Romania, a car rental agency in Europe.

Top 3 Big-City Parks in the U.S.

A family vacation can be a complex thing – how do you find a destination that has activities that everyone in the family – from tots to teens, and including the parents, too – can enjoy. It’s a cinch that a children’s museum is entertaining for youngsters but boring to the teens, and the concert that the teens are excited about have mom and dad’s eyes rolling.

The answer? A big urban park, with activities for everyone. Three large cities in the U.S. offer just that.

1. Central Park, New York City.

Plunked down in the very middle of Manhattan is a huge park that stretches for 2.5 miles, is a half a mile wide, and covers 840 acres.

There are extensive walking, hiking and biking trails that meander through the woods and along open grassy areas, and plenty of open space for spreading out the family’s picnic blanket.

A 20-acre lake is right there for the entire family to enjoy spending a day boating together.

There are 32 children’s playgrounds, and each one offers something just a little different. The park also contains the Central Zoo, a wildlife sanctuary, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, and bridle paths. In the summer there is a swimming pool (that turns into a winter ice skating rink).

Adults in the family will enjoy  “Shakespeare in the Park,” held during the summer in the open-air Delacorte Theater, and is free. Another free entertainment venue is the Central Park Summerstage. Your teens will enjoy the fact that many top musical performers give awesome concerts there.

2. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

This urban park is over a thousand acres, and is three miles long.

In the middle of the park is stunningly beautiful Stow Lake, with the splashing  Huntington Falls waterfall, and a gazebo designed like a pagoda.  Rent a rowboat or a fun paddle boat, pack a picnic, and head out to the center of the lake for lunch on popular Strawberry Island.

Here also is America’s oldest public playground, the Children’s Playground. It is now officially called Koret Children’s Quarter after a recent $3.8 million renovation that includes many new activities from spinning cups to slides, to a 50-foot climbing tower to ziplines. It even sports a classic carousel, built in 1912, with organ music and ornate animals to ride.

Golden Gate Park is also the only park in the country with its very own bison herd. Get up close and personal with these iconic American animals at Buffalo Paddock.

3. Balboa Park, San Diego.

The largest urban park in the U.S., Balboa Park covers over 1200 acres. The land was put aside for a public park by far-thinking city fathers way back in 1835. It is home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues including the Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theater, hiking and biking paths, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

The Model Railroad Museum in the Park will have all ages, including Dad, mesmerized. And there’s a train for the toddlers, too – the Balboa Park Miniature Railroad will take them on a ½ mile ride through several acres of the Park.

Every Sunday during the summer a free concert is presented at the Spreckels Organ. This amazing 1914 pipe organ is one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs, and has been giving free concerts since 1917. The local U.S. Navy Band also gives free summer concerts on this outdoor stage.

These huge urban parks are a budget-friendly way to enjoy a family vacation where every member of the family can have a good time. And another budget-friendly way to have your family vacation in these three cities is by renting a timeshare, which you can typically get for up to 50% less than the cost of downtown city hotels.

Alice Perkins is a timeshare travel blogger for RedWeek.com,the largest online market place for timeshare rentals, where vacationers can find luxury accommodations for less than the cost of a typical hotel room.

The Commonwealth Games 2014 – Take the Opportunity to Explore Glasgow

If you weren’t able to get tickets for the Olympics, why not try your luck at those for the Commonwealth Games in 2014? Between the 23rd July and 3rd August 2014 the games will be held in Glasgow where you will have the opportunity to watch 17 sports, with competitors from 53 Commonwealth countries. Whether you hope to take in the athletics, swimming or gymnastics, the tickets won’t go on sale until 2013. Even if you aren’t successful in getting a ticket, there will be a fantastic atmosphere within the city, with plenty to see and do between watching events.

See the City

Glasgow has some fine architecture, both old and new, and there is no better way to appreciate it than exploring the city on foot. Although you can navigate the streets yourself, joining one of the walking tours is a good way to see many of the unmissable buildings in the city, while you learn more about their history from the knowledgeable guides.

Hit the Shops

After a wander through the city’s streets, turn your attention to the shopping opportunities available in Glasgow. Whether you are after clothing, a special gift or a memento of your stay, you won’t be disappointed, as there are shops to meet all your needs. For department stores and high street names, head to the Buchanan Galleries on Buchanan Street, where there are 80 shops under one roof. The nearby Argyll Arcade is home to 32 jewellers and even if you are just window shopping, stop by to admire the dazzling displays in the shop windows. Anyone seeking a bargain should take a walk to Barras Market in Gallowgate, which is open on Saturdays and Sundays; you never know what you might find. If on the other hand you are looking for designer labels, the Italian Centre on John Street is a good bet and one of the pavement cafes there makes the perfect place to rest your feet over a coffee. Glasgow might be famous for its battered Mars Bars, but you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding somewhere to eat, so whether you want to sample international cuisine or a traditional tea room, there is somewhere to suite every taste.

Go Cultural

Although Edinburgh might be thought of as Scotland’s historic city, that doesn’t mean that Glasgow is lacking in museums, and you’ll certainly have plenty to choose from. A short bus, train or subway ride from the city centre is The People’s Palace, set within Glasgow Green, which tells the story of Glasgow and its people over the last 250 years. While there, stop by the Winter Gardens where you will find exotic palms and plants, marvel at the Doulton Fountain and relax in the surroundings of the largest public green space in Glasgow. If science is more your interest, Glasgow Science Centre has over 300 hands on exhibits, ideal for inquisitive children; it is also home to an IMAX cinema where you can be astounded by films in 2D or 3D on a giant screen. The Science Centre also hosts The Glasgow Tower, the world’s first tower able to turn in a full rotation and at 122m in height allows amazing views not just over the River Clyde, but for 40 miles in all directions.

Active Opportunities

If all the walking hasn’t been enough for you, Pollok Country Park, a mere three miles from the centre of Glasgow, is the perfect place to participate in further activities. Take your own or hire a bike to have a go at one of the three cycle trails that wind through the parks and nearby woodland; graded at different levels of difficulty, there is a trail to suit everyone. There is also a swimming pool and dry ski slope. For family and friends who aren’t so keen on active pursuits, they can enjoy the two art collections housed within the park and the beautiful formal gardens of Pollok House, while you cycle, swim or ski to your heart’s content.

Jenny writes on behalf of luxury medical health insurance and strongly believes in combining travel with activity to lead a healthier, more fulfilled life.

Three of the best mountain biking trails in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona isn’t just a place for mystic hippies to retire and rip off tourists – it’s also one of the most famous and beautiful places to go outdoors. Here are some of the best trails around the area.

Cockscomb Trail

Rating: 4/5

Besides having a great name, this 9.1 mile trail is seven miles west of Sedona below the Mogollon Rim, taking you on a tour of a natural arch, an ancient ruin and plenty of scenic views of red rocks. It’s pretty tame, but your girlfriend will appreciate that there’s nothing scary or dangerous and it can still be quite fun and photogenic.

It’s a bit tricky at the start, but if you can scramble up the top of the Cockscomb spires, you’ll get one of the best views of Sedona around.

Schnebely Hill to Seven Sacred Pools

Rating: 3/5

You can tell why Cortez believed gold was in this area. For the first three miles it’s a big climb up this 13 mile trail, but that’ll warm you up enough to make sure you don’t fall off the edge. That’s the thrill factor, that and the many views. You can view nearly every major named rock along this path, so take your time and enjoy yourself.

Hot Loop

Rating: 3.5/5

If you wanna make this really hot, wait till mid-summer and eat loads of chillies before hopping on your bike and set your tires on fire. Ha ha,just kidding. This loop, which is about ten miles, will really challenge you, filled with plenty of technical, rocky, sandy and other terrains. The downhill at the end weaves you through a rocky “mine field” complete with switchbacks and enough agave to keep you smiling bright all the way down.

Jimmy Kane was born and raised in the Southwest, is an avid traveler and father to his two lovely daughters. He now lives in Florida, where he maintains the website ComcastJacksonville.

Your Ideal Vacation: To Cruise or Not to Cruise

Cruising is a wildly popular form of travel today. Despite the recent trouble with a certain Italian cruise ship tipping over, thousands upon thousands of people continue to file into these huge boats to voyage off to distant tropical islands and all across Europe.

From a logistical standpoint, there is much to like. When you arrive on your departure day, you drop your bags off and simply get on board. Everything else is taken care of. Your mode of transportation, lodging, food, shopping, and recreation are all located in the same place. When you arrive at your destination or a port of call, everything is neatly outlined and presented to you, with a return schedule and a clearly defined set of activities available to you.

So by all means, if your ideal vacation involves total relaxation and lounging around in a carefree environment as food is catered to you and beautiful landscapes pass by in front of you like a live action PowerPoint presentation, then cruising is the option for you. However, if you are the kind of traveler who wants to get out and become involved in the culture and the experience of a vacation destination, then cruises can be the antithesis of a true vacation.

The most important thing to understand about cruises is that the central focus of the trip is the boat itself. While the trip may advertise an exotic destination like Hawaii or the Cayman Islands, the majority of your vacation will take place inside the confines of the ship, and revolve around the cruise liner you’ve chosen, be it Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, or Carnival. You will have ample opportunity to get out and explore the destinations you’ve sailed to, but everything will be seen through the lenses of your cruise ship. For many, this is not an issue, but for those looking for a more authentic, real experience of a vacation destination, it poses problems.

Aside from the point of view issue of the trip, one of the major drawbacks with cruises is the massive crowds you’ll be fighting through throughout the duration. In every port of call, tens of thousands of other camera-wielding tourists will pour out of the same exit ramp as you, all eager to visit the same places, see the same sites, and shop through the same stores. There is no escaping these throngs of people. Excursions, tours, and hikes can offer some respite from the crowds, but every side adventure you take part in will also include two dozen others from your boat.

Another, indirect problem with these ports of call is that the ports themselves are particularly developed with cruise-goers in mind. The places that accept these gargantuan ships are not a real representation of the country, state, or island itself, but an exaggerated version with a heavy emphasis on shopping and keepsakes to remember the trip by. It is not a true reflection of the everyday culture or lifestyle of whatever region you are visiting, which will again be problematic for travelers looking for a true feel for the environment. There is no real option to mingle with the local culture, sample local foods, and assimilate into a way of life different from your own. The culture at a cruise port of call is largely the same as the one you left when you departed.

It can also be easy to misinterpret the size and scope of a cruise ship. These boats are massive floating cities, but in truth, they only have a handful of places to spend time aside from passenger rooms, restaurants, and shops. Much of a cruise ship is like a hotel; long halls and endless rooms with the occasional ice machine or laundry room. Not exactly an endless adventure palace. There are several places to relax, enjoy the scenery, enjoy a swim in the pool, and lounge in a cocktail room, but in a lengthy trip, you’ll soon find yourself in the same places day in and day out. For some, this is exactly the idea; for others, this can be like living in a mad house.

If this kind of rigid, clearly laid out style of vacationing that involves no real stress or fighting with hotel clerks, then a cruise is the right call you for. But if you want to explore on your own terms, at your own pace, and with your own casual agenda, then the better approach would be to fly to your destination, find a suitable hotel, and voyage on your own. By visiting places that are not designed to accept several thousand tourists at a single time, the environments will be less focused on shops selling hats with the location’s name on them, or postcards.

If you have a destination in mind, and want the true, full experience of another country, cruises don’t give you the chance, but if you just want the highlights version in an environment, void of any stress or distractions, then head to the nearest port and book your cruise.

Written by the marketing department for the San Diego accident attorneys at AA Accident Attorneys

Top Attractions in Alicante, Spain

Visitor numbers passing through Alicante airport increase year on year and show no sign of dwindling so it’s clear there’s much to see and do in this sun-drenched region of Alicante, which keeps the tourists coming back. Whether you want art and culture or thrills and adventure, Alicante caters for everyone and you’re sure to find plenty to keep you entertained between topping up your tan on the many beaches. Below are some of the region’s most popular attractions worth visiting.

Santa Barbara Castle

Explorers of all ages will love the ruins of this 10th century fort which was once one of the largest in Europe. The Spanish authorities opened it up to the public in the 60s and added lifts inside the mountain it sits atop for ease of access. There are stunning panoramic views from the lookout tower across Alicante city below and when you’ve tired of investigating the dungeons, palace and church ruins you can take a rest at one of the two cafes on site.
In July and August there are free open air evening concerts in the castle grounds but capacity is limited so get there early.

Archaeological Museum

This fascinating modern museum provides an insight into excavations across the Alicante region and the rest of the country over the years and the many exciting discoveries. Visitors are taken on a journey through time, visiting all the significant eras in history chronologically from prehistory through the Iberians and Romans, right up to the modern age. Well designed and organised, the museum was named European Museum of the Year in 2004.

Santa Maria Church

You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate the beauty of Alicante’s oldest Church, originally built in a Gothic style in the 13th Century and rebuilt with a Baroque facade after a fire in the 15th Century. The marble font in the Chapter House is absolutely huge and has to be seen to be believed.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Housed in the city’s oldest municipal building, this shrine to modern and 20th century art contains works by some of Spain’s most famous artists including Joan Miro, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. The museum also exhibits work from local artist Juana Frances who was one of the original founders of the influential Madrid El Paso group of artists.

Alcoy

Somewhat further afield but well worth the hour drive, this picturesque mountain city is known for its annual festival commemorating the Christian holding of the city against the invading Moors (Fiesta Moros y Cristianos) in 1276. Legend has it that St George (who will be well known to English visitors) appeared to assist the Christians in the battle, subsequently becoming patron saint of the city. The festival takes place over four days in April, when the whole city comes alive to celebrate. However there is much to recommend Alcoy the rest of the year round too, with a quaint little museum detailing the St George legend and history of the fiesta one particular highlight.

Terra Mitica

The throbbing tourist mecca that is Benidorm lies about half an hour up the coast from Alicante and provides the location for the regions best-known theme park. Thrillseekers will love the Titanide rollercoaster and Triton’s Fury boat ride whilst the gentler Puerto de Alejandria boat ride will appeal to those of a more nervous disposition. There are five themed areas of the park based around the ancient civilizations of Greece, Egypt, Iberia, Rome and Mediterranean islands. Open from March to December, Terra Mitica has attractions to suit all ages.

Georgia State Parks You Don’t Want to Miss

If you’re planning a summer getaway to the mountains of Northeast Georgia, there are a few places that are “must-sees”. Wineries, the shops of Helen, and Babyland General Hospital all fall into that category. But to truly appreciate the splendor of Northeast Georgia you don’t want to miss the state parks. Here’s a quick list of the “must see” state parks to visit on your trip.


1. Unicoi State Park – Settlers knew what they were doing when they set up camp in the area that would become Unicoi State Park. Surrounded by majestic mountain scenery and bountiful wildlife, it’s easy to see why this park is one of the most popular in Georgia. Perfect for hiking, biking, paddling, or just relaxing, the Unicoi State Park is truly a natural gift.

2. Smithgall Woods – An angler’s paradise, this park is considered the place for trout fishing. Fisherman will fully appreciate the quiet solitude, bountiful trout running in Dukes Creek, and spectacular scenery of Smithgall. For an added bonus, this state park limits the number of anglers at one time ensuring the best trout fishing experience possible.

3. Hardman Farm – Located just outside of Helen, Ga. Hardman Farm is a must-see for any and all. The property was originally purchased in the 1870s and converted into a working farm that supplied milk to neighboring Atlanta and Gainesville in the 1920s. Come and explore the two story barn, mansion, 20-plus structures, and the absolutely remarkable white gazebo balanced atop a Native American mound. It will be clear quickly why Hardman Farm is considered one of the most recognizable landmarks in Northeast Georgia.

4. Black Rock Mountain State Park – Sick and tired of the summer heat? Then look no further than Black Rock Mountain. Located a whopping 3,640 feet above sea level, it’s the highest of the peaks in Northeast Georgia which also means cooler temperatures. Get ready for amazing 80 mile vistas, hiking trails, and gnarled oaks. A lesser known state park, Black Rock Mountain is the perfect place for a romantic getaway.

One of the best things about state parks is the conservation. Because it’s protected land you can be sure that you’re getting the best natural experience possible. By limiting the number of anglers at Smithgall and restoring Hardman Farm, state parks offer the best in what Northeast Georgia has to offer. So be sure to take time out of your busy schedule to relax and enjoy nature.

White County Chamber of Commerce is proud to promote local organizations and businesses including our Helen hotels and GA state parks.

10 Things You Can’t Miss in the Caribbean

The Caribbean is one of the most popular vacation spots in the world. For good reason too: There’s simply so much you can do there. From natural experiences to cultural experiences to heart pounding adventures, the Caribbean has it all. They’re extremely friendly to foreigners and most tour guides are happy to share their authentic opinions on what it’s like to live in the Caribbean.

What are 10 things you absolutely can’t miss in the Caribbean?

1) Walk in the Clouds

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to walk in the clouds? In Puerto Rico, the Pico Del Toro offers the view of a lifetime. It’s the highest mountain in all the Caribbean. You can enjoy the Pico Del Toro any time of day, but keep in mind that it does get cold. Wear warm clothing that’s water proof, as the precipitation and rain can be drenching.

Pico Del Toro also offers a sunrise that you’ll never forget. The sun’s rays reflect off the clouds in Pico Del Toro to create a dazzling lightshow befitting of this majestic mountain.

2) Take Your Own Sub Underwater

It’s not technically a submarine. It’s called a “Scenic Underwater Bubble,” or SUB for short. Offered by the Nassau SUB Bahamas Adventure Tour, the SUB experience really is like being in the water in a submarine. You get to explore coral reefs, see fish up close and interact with marine life all from the comfort and safety of your bubble.

3) Pet the Sting Rays

In the Grand Cayman, there’s a stretch of sand where stingrays often congregate. Go with a sting ray tour group and you’ll be able to swim with the sting rays, see them up close and even pet them with your hands.

4) Dive With Sharks

Most movies show sharks as scary, malicious creatures. In real life, they’re usually anything but scary. When they see humans, their reaction is often either fear or curiosity – And often both. The Caribbean reef sharks in Nassau’s coral reefs will often watch divers warily as they draw close. Divers get to watch the sharks, while the sharks watch the divers. A truly incredible connection with an underwater creature.

5) The Trinidad Birds

Trinidad is one of the biggest hub spots in the world for migrating birds. You can find all kinds of different bird species here from all around the continent. Spend a day or two just watching birds and you’ll see all the colors of the rainbow on birds’ wings.

6) Go Caving

Go visit one of the many caves in the Caribbean. You’ll get to see all kinds of incredible rock formations, including limestones that seem to glow and magnificent formations of stalagmites. In a particularly dark area of a cave, try shining your flashlight to the ceiling. The way the light reflects back often looks like the night’s sky.

7) Learn to Surf

There aren’t many beaches in the world that are perfect for beginners. In order for a surf spot to work for beginners, the waves need to be slow enough that beginners don’t get discouraged from getting knocked over too often. However, the waves also need to be strong enough that beginners have something to work with. The waves at Barbados offers exactly that: The perfect surfing conditions for the first timer who wants both positive results and a bit of a challenge.

8) Try a Jamaican Zip Line

Take the Jamaican canopy tour for a heart racing experience of nature. You’ll fly through forests, over animals, between trees and laugh the whole way through. You’ll fly about 45 feet in the air wit the whole thing guided by trained professionals.

9) Swim in a Water Fall

The Seven Sisters Falls is a full force gushing waterfall that you can swim under any time of year. It’s a fantastic place to have a water fight, or to go on a hot day to cool off.

10) Swim With Dolphins

The Dolphin Cay allows you to swim with dolphins – With a unique twist. Most dolphin experiences in other parts of the world require you to actually try to paddle and keep up with the dolphin. That’s nearly impossible and most people lose the dolphin after a short period of time. At the Dolphin Cay however, you can use a water scooter to help you swiftly navigate the waters and play with the dolphins in their own turf.

With so many adventures to choose from, there’ll never be a boring moment on your Caribbean adventure.

Author Bio – This article has been written by Dillon Michaelson working for InsanelyCheapFlights. Planning a trip to your favorite destination at ? Visit their travel portal to check out exclusive Jet Blue Promo Code or Spirit Promo Code and save up to $20 on your flights.

Visiting Glasgow During the 2014 Commonwealth Games

With the 2012 London Olympic Games wrapping up soon, the world is already on the lookout for the next big international sporting event. Luckily, it is only a scant two more years until we are graced with swimmers’ bodies on the big screen during primetime coverage at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. After beating out Abuja, Nigeria to host the games, the city of Glasgow in Scotland began gearing up for the influx of tourists and athletes to their stadiums and arenas. Many of their already-existing venues will be used for the games which means that, as tourists, it is fairly easy to map out a plan of attack, especially if you plan ahead.

Due to Glasgow’s size – it’s the biggest city in Scotland – the events are somewhat spread out across multiple neighborhoods, with some events even taking place outside of the city proper. The Opening Ceremonies will be held in the auspicious Celtic Park, the largest football stadium in Scotland, to mark the beginning of the events. From there, the majority of the athletics meets will be held in Hampden Park, the national football stadium of Scotland, located on the south side of the city. Both stadiums are fairly easy to access from the center of the city, so visitors can have the best of the both worlds by staying downtown near the tourist sites and going to events during the day.

All of the indoor sporting events like Wrestling, Judo and Gymnastics will be held in arenas on the western side of the city. The new Scottish Hydro Park will host the Gymnastics tournament as well as the Netball event, while the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center will be home to the Wrestling and Judo matches. In addition to these buildings, Kelvingrove Park will be used for Squash and Table Tennis, but not before undergoing a major renovation to improve the accessibility of the arena. In the east end of the city, not far from Celtic Park, Tollcross Park Aquatics Centre will play home to the many swimming events, while diving will be held just outside the city at the Royal Commonwealth Pool. Even if you cannot get tickets for some of the indoor park events, the marathon and some of the cycling will pass right through the center of the city so everyone should get a chance to see at least one event.

The year 2014 will be a great year for international sporting events with both the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup taking place, so fans should get the jump on everyone else by preparing for their visit now.

Written by the Marketing Department for Los Angeles car accident lawyer, Paul E. Lee

Bed and Breakfasts: The perfect retreat

If you’re ready to enjoy a peaceful getaway, deciding where to stay is one of the most important parts of planning your retreat. A bed and breakfast is a great option to ensure that you will meet friendly, charming hosts and that you will have a unique experience. This is especially true if you are traveling outside the country, as bed and breakfasts offer you the chance to experience the culture and cuisine of an area in a way that is impossible when staying in a resort or large hotel. When you choose a bed and breakfast, you can enjoy feeling at home no matter how far you journey.

Locating Bed and Breakfast Lodgings

The first place to start searching for the ideal bed and breakfast is to search accommodation directories. These directories allow you to compare the features, facilities, and services of several options so you can make a more informed decision. In addition, many directories offer reviews that will give you insight into the quality of the bed and breakfast.

Why Choose a Bed and Breakfast

There are many reasons why a bed and breakfast is preferable to other types of lodgings. For instance, many of these types of establishments are housed in historic or other special buildings. You can find beautiful accommodations in old post offices, schools, government buildings, mansions, villas, and much more. When you spend your visit in a bed and breakfast that has its own unique story and history, your vacation will be much more memorable and special.

Bed and Breakfast establishments are also special because they are owned and run by people who are passionate about their home and region and are eager to provide excellent service and hospitality. Many times, the hosts of these lodgings are more than willing to offer you excellent insider advice about the area, including places to eat, sights to see, shopping destinations, and other things to do that may not be widely known and advertised. In short, this insider information can help you to truly experience an area in the way the locals do, making your vacation a much more personal experience than it would be if you stayed on the common tourist path.

Finally, bed and breakfast facilities are often much cheaper than the rates at larger hotels and resorts, allowing you to have a fantastic vacation without going broke. Bed and breakfasts are typically clean and well-furnished, providing you with a five-star experience at a much better value.

Bed and breakfasts provide you with a one-of-a-kind vacation experience that you will never forget. By taking the time to thoroughly research your options, you can be sure of finding a bed and breakfast that will steal your heart, whether you choose a place that is old or new, historic or modern, or in the city, town, or country. Once you spend a vacation in a bed and breakfast, you will likely enjoy the experience so much more that you will want to repeat it again and again.

Tanni X. is a writer for AspiringNurse.com. If you want a career in heath, this site would be great for you to learn what you need to know.

On your doorstep: Top adventure holidays in the UK

Summer is here and everyone is asking you where you’re heading for the traditional break. But, don’t think that you have to go abroad for your seasonal fun. From sailing to hiking, you have a multitude of possibilities right here on your doorstep. Whether you want a romantic break or a family adventure, it’s all possible right here in the United Kingdom.

Sea Kayaking

An increasingly popular past time across the United Kingdom, and it is an exhilarating adventure to partake with friends and family. It is most popular on the south-west coast where people have been known to pass all sorts of maritime life on their adventures. Some trips see you catching a fish supper, foraging the shore for seaweed and shellfish. Often, you will stop in remote locations to enjoy the beauty of the region. Top tip: Check out Falmouth.

Coast to coast cycle

If you’re up for a major adventure, then this trip which was made famous by Alfred Wainwright as a walk is the perfect answer. You see the beauty of the north as you head from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. It is a five day slog, and one which tens of thousands of people complete – either on foot or on a bike. Hopefully you did orienteering though, because this can be a difficult route to stick to.

Horse riding in the New Forest

Stretching from Hampshire to Dorset, this national park started life as a royal forest in 1079, and the unenclosed pasture and heathland make it the perfect spot for some summer horse riding. A place of natural beauty, the leafy glens and ancient woodland are a joy to explore. With country restaurants and pubs along the way too, this is a relaxing but adventurous break for the whole family.

Sail around the Isles

An adventure and a half, taking on this experience will give you both stunning scenery and a tremendous challenge. Whether you are an experienced or beginner, this is a sailing experience that will remain in memory for all your life. Generally an unhurried trip, it can take as long as 12 weeks but gives you the chance to enjoy a multitude of wildlife, ancient history and the classic Hebrides. Not to mention the white sand and blue waters of New Grimsby Sound in the idyllic Isles of Scilly.

Caving in the Yorkshire Dales

With passages stretching 400 kilometres and 2,000 potholes and caves, this is the United Kingdom’s most loved caving spot. Get a feel for the peace and beauty by going underground with your torch to see the limestone walls, mysterious water and Gaping Gill. The latter is an unmistakable landmark of North Yorkshire which holds the record for England’s tallest unbroken waterfall.

Coasteering

Involving anything from swimming to walking, climbing to scrambling, diving to jumping, coasteering is another increasingly popular adventure holiday in the United Kingdom. High energy is putting it lightly, but it is a great experience for the family – or for the kids at least. Invented in Wales – Pembrokeshire to be precise – you can enjoy the rocky coastline and all it offers with old trainers, a safety helmet and a wetsuit. Adrenalin-fuelled and definitely worth considering this summer.

Hike Snowdon

Many people head to Wales for the 3000 challenge where you conquer 3,000 feet and 15 peaks of Welsh mountainside. But, if that’s a bit of a push, then at least get to Snowdonia National Park this summer. A national nature reserve it is – outside of Scotland – the highest point in Britain. A hillside that was made from volcanoes, getting to the top of 3,560 feet is some achievement.

When you go on these active breaks, make sure that you have travel insurance. While accidents tend to be uncommon, if something does happen you want to make sure that you can make holiday compensation. You can minimise this risk by doing your homework, taking the right gear and equipment and going on a recommended tour.

Images courtesy of Visit Britain

Visiting Berlin: An insider’s guide

It may be true that the first city you think of for an interesting weekend break is not Berlin.  You may think it dour, cold and full of stark historical buildings with little interest to anyone outside of the city itself. Well, the city and its three and a half million inhabitants would be sure to disagree and this is why…

Firstly, it is incredibly easy to get to. Many places across the world fly direct into one of the city’s two airports (though this is due to become one huge airport in the spring of next year!). Budget airlines usually fly into the least busy of the two, but the airport transfers direct into the city are cheap and frequent, so you won’t be missing out on any quality time.

When you arrive in the city and have dropped your stuff off at the hotel, the best thing to do is get straight out there and explore. You can do this on foot (or bike) of course, but if you’re only going for a short break then it’s best to use the excellent public transport. The U-Bahn (the underground railway) is clean, reliable and has regular trains to all corners of the city and the same can be said of the huge bus network. Discount travel cards such as the Berlin Welcome Card are available for those of you who like a bargain or two.

The first thing you’ll notice if you get yourself a guidebook is the number of museums in Berlin; unless you’re looking at a map where you’ll be astounded at the number of bridges crossing the River Spree which flows through the heart of the city. Situated on an island in the middle of the river is Museum Island, which as you can probably imagine is home to not one, but five excellent museums. Covering everything from art, artefacts and architecture, you could spend an entire day wandering around the island and visiting some of the amazing exhibits on show.
Other museums worthy of mention are the excellent (if harrowing) Topography of Terror and the Jewish Museum but the former is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Around the Mitte and Kreuzberg districts, you will find everything you need for a great afternoon of shopping, either for souvenirs or a little something for yourself to wear out in the evening. Plenty of bars and restaurants line the streets and it isn’t all sausages and beer so make sure you try something new. Berlin is home to people from many different ethnic backgrounds so you may be chomping on baba ganoush rather than bratwurst. Don’t forget whilst you’re exploring to keep your eyes open all around you – not for fear of anything bad happening, but just in case you pass a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ attraction such as the excellent Ramones museum or the Solar Bar.

If you want to get away from the bustling city then there are a few parks dotted around the city where you can take the weight off for a little while and explore a bit of greenery. Alternatively, get on one of the many river cruises that will give you a whole new view of the city from the water. Whatever you are looking for, you will generally find a stone’s throw away, so… happy exploring and Spaß haben!  (That’s ‘have fun’ by the way).

Ben Gallivan is a music and travel writer who tries not to stay still for too long and has visited many cities across Europe and the rest of the World. He writes for One80 Hostel in central Berlin.

Traveling This Summer? Check Out These Luxurious Hotspots

We spend every year anxiously awaiting the arrival of summer for two reasons: the return of warm weather and taking time away from everything to travel. Having time to visit friends or family members on the other side of the country could be nice but when you’re forming your annual travel plans you should think about taking a luxury holiday instead. There’s a reason they call them luxury vacations; five star resorts, all inclusive meals from top chefs and amazing spa packages, if you’re looking to relax and be pampered in a style usually reserved for the super wealthy you should head to one of these luxury travel destinations.

The Floating Resort in The Maldives

A nation of islands nestled in the Indian Ocean, The Maldives is considered by many to be one of the most luxurious travel destinations on the planet. If you’re looking for the beauty of the Indian Ocean but want a secret hideaway of your own then the Halaveli Resort is your next travel destination. The resort is situated on its own private island, a series of specs on a clear blue landscape, which provides your own personal sun terrace and swimming areas along with all the other luxurious a six star hotel provides. It’s a twenty minute flight by seaplane or over an hour on a speed boat, so if you travel to this beautiful resort you should be prepared for your relaxing seclusion.

Everything You Need in One Expanding City

The hottest spot for several years running, Dubai is a massive city comprised of some of the world’s largest skyscrapers and most luxurious hotels. This has become a popular travel destination simply so people can brag about having been there. Did you ever think you could ski, go shopping, play a round of golf and then get a massage at a spa all in the same day? Dubai has almost everything you could imagine and they know how to do it in style.

The best part is that Dubai is rapidly expanding, so if you enjoy yourself (and it would be impossible not to) you can make it an annual destination and it will always feel fresh and new. Just make sure you plan your travel in advance, the city is popular year round.

Luxury and Culture in one Travel Destination

Malaysia has become known not only for its lush national parks and unique wildlife, but also for its beautiful beaches and luxury resorts. If you travel to Malaysia you will find yourself in a land where you can explore a contemporary shopping district before riding a cable car up to the top of Mount Mat Cincang, which overlooks the entire island. The main draw of Malaysia for travelers is the mix of this luxury with its culture and heritage, which the country does not shy away from. In Sarawak for example, you’ll find the Cultural Village, where over one hundred people put on daily demonstrations of traditional activities.

If you want to expand your cultural IQ or simply relax and be pampered in style and class you should travel to a luxury destination this summer. There’s no shortage of amazing countries just ready to welcome you into their open arms and treat you like royalty, so when you sit down to decide what you want to do on your vacation, travel to a luxurious hotspot.

This post was written by the team at Seasons in Style, offering a wide selection of luxury holidays at resorts and hotspots around the world. Find them online at www.seasonsinstyle.co.uk

Why a Holiday in Washington, D.C. Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

Washington, D.C. is a great place to visit and spend a couple of days or weeks in. Many political buildings are found in the America’s capital which have appeared in numerous films and television shows. If the budget which a family or solo traveller has who is passing through on their way to neighbouring States is minimal, there are many options to choose from because Washington, D.C. has a considerable number of attractions which cost nothing in order to enjoy.

Seeing Washington, D.C.’s many attractions on a budget

The Lincoln Memorial is open throughout the year. During the summer, Washington, D.C. experiences very high temperatures and there are many months when hardly or no precipitation falls. Seeing this landmark doesn’t cost a penny and it is open throughout the year. Even late at night, the Lincoln Memorial can be experienced. Washington, D.C.  has many museums as well and many of them do not charge admission fees, such as the National Postal Museum, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the National Portrait Gallery. Hosting many exhibitions throughout the year, these and many other fascinating museums are thoroughly entertaining.

Alexandria, VA is very popular as well because of its historical significance. First built in 1749, Alexandria was once a thriving port that played an influential role during the American Civil War. Much of Alexandria has been restored and it now has cobbled streets and churches which will enable any photograph to be cherished. As visiting Alexandria doesn’t cost anything at all, exploring this historic part of Washington, D.C. will be both memorable and cost-effective.

Further helping a budget

When staying in Washington, D.C., there are many hotels to choose from. As with hotels which are in capital cities, the amount of money which is charged for staying in a hotel that’s in Washington, D.C. can cost hundreds of dollars for a single night. However, this isn’t the only type of accommodation which is available. Executive Apartments Inc. (http://www.executiveapartmentsusa.com) offer affordable fully furnished corporate apartments that are very popular with travellers. Situated nearby Washington, D.C. (in Arlington, VA) and very close to major transport links, executive apartments are very comfortable because impressive-looking furniture is found in each. Executive apartments have many amenities as well, such as a fully working kitchen and a washing/drying service. When staying in a hotel, extra money has to be paid to clean clothes or request room service but this doesn’t happen when staying in an executive apartment. This is because a meal can be prepared and clothes can be cleaned and dried whenever guests want to.

Washington, D.C. continues to attract people who want to experience this marvellous city for themselves; staying in an executive apartment is the first choice of many travellers. It doesn’t matter what the reason is for staying in Washington, D.C. because there is much to recommend this wonderful city.

About the author: Russell Hill

Pinterest and the travel industry

When new technology comes along, it often influences our behaviour. It’s effect may be subtle at first, but over time it changes the way vast swathes of the global population live their daily lives.

For example; when the internet came along, we no longer got all of our information from the conventional media. We now had encyclopedic knowledge of thousands of different subjects available at our fingertips.

When the smartphone came along, we no longer had to be sat at a desk or within wi-fi range of a modem to browse the web. We could do it with a few taps and swipes of our fingers.

These innovations have changed the way we shop, contact friends and learn about the world.

Now, the web, and social media in particular, is changing the way we travel. One of the newest social media networks to influence our travel decisions is Pinterest.

So how is Pinterest changing the way we travel?

Where Pinterest differs from other social media, is that it’s primarily a bookmarking service. People are bookmarking what they find interesting to them visually and pinning it to their pin-board. And travel destinations are one of the most common themes for Pinterest users.

Whereas sites like Facebook record where we’ve been, and allows us to share it with our friends. Pinterest allows us to share where we wish to go. It contains our dreams, our aspirations.

Rather than seeing pictures of friends holding a piña colada on a Spanish beach from their holiday last summer, we are seeing where they wish to go this year.

People seeing what their friends plans are, may find that it’s influencing their own travel decisions. There may be a certain “keeping up with the Joneses” factor. But more likely they trust their friends choices and are influenced by them.

This has a lot of potential

The full potential of Pinterest is yet to be explored, being relatively new compared to other social media networks. But it does have a lot to offer.

Although travel destination marketers would be loathed to admit it, once someone has made their choice where they would like to go, there’s relatively little they can do. They may be able to inform, and offer assistance that may help their clients. But selling an alternative destination to a potential customer is very difficult.

There is a key moment where the travel destination is decided in the potential customer’s mind. And after that, marketers have little hope of changing their mind.

But what if Pinterest could help marketers get to their potential customers at that precise moment?

This is where Pinterest has the potential to be a more valuable marketing tool than other social media. Pinterest is made up of things yet to come. Decisions not yet fully formed. The very concept of Pinterest makes it possibly the best tool marketers will ever have.

Although Pinterest has not clearly demonstrated it’s value as a way to drive traffic, it can be a very effective way to steer dreams. And is a very effective arrow for every travel marketer’s quiver.

When selling travel destinations, it’s pretty much all about the visuals (sub heading)

One of the key factors that Pinterest has going for it, is that it’s a very visual form of social media. Taking a quick glance at any pin-board will yield wonderful vibrant images that stick in the mind.

This makes it exceptional for selling travel destinations. Travel destinations are almost entirely sold on their aesthetics, rather than any other reason. It could be an attractive couple walking on a white-sand beach. It could a person swimming in clear blue waters. It could be people drinking on wooden decking to the backdrop of a beautifully lit marina. All of these images grab the viewers’ attention and sell the destination to them.

On other social media networks, and the internet in general. These striking images can sometimes get lost in the background noise. Pinterest displays them prominently for the world to see and admire.

So to sum it up

Pinterest is a bit of an unknown quantity at the moment. We are all still learning how to use it effectively. But as with other forms of technology, it will be the people who embrace it early on that make the most of it. But this much is obvious, by allowing us to take a glimpse at people’s hopes for the future; it gives us both a valuable insight, and an unprecedented opportunity to influence those hopes.

Written by Mike who writes for www.worldwidetravelguide.co.uk

What to Look For When Hiring a Camper Abroad

When you travel abroad, you may want to ease the hassles of seeking and renting lodging, and one of the best ways to do this easily is by hiring a campervan.

There are many different names and categories of campervans. You can get popup trailers to be hauled behind your transportation vehicle. Or if you prefer, a motorhome has its own engine and more space. Motor trailers, RVs, tented 4 x 4s, and campervans are often variations of the theme of self-propelled living areas.

Most campervans will have a living space, a small kitchen and a bed. In addition, the campervan may have a bath and water closet.

If you are unfamiliar with driving a campervan, you may choose a unit with a shorter wheelbase. This will track more like the passenger vehicles you are used to driving. While most campervans are quite maneuverable, some can corner a little easier than others.

The price you pay for a campervan rental will vary according to the season. When you consider hiring a campervan abroad, consider whether or not is holiday season in the country you are visiting, this can affect the amount you pay for your rental.

You’ll also save money when you hire a campervan abroad, because you won’t have the expense of a hotel room. If you fly in to your destination, you can hire a campervan and be spared the amounts of a rental car plus hotel room. Just contact a rental company, and get a free quote. You will not be obligated to hire the RV just because you got a quote.

You can also find directories that outline camper spaces in each country you plan to visit. This will help you to know ahead of time where to find places to park for the night. You can also contact certain venues to find out parking information. For instance, many people follow football and you can contact the venues to reserve parking.

One suggestion when you plan to hire a campervan abroad is to consider flying in to countries that charge less for the rental, then driving to the country you  wish to visit. For instance, many people fly into Spain or France and rent campervans to drive into Germany.

If you want a touch of luxury, you can find campervans that have luxurious bathrooms, hot and cold water, and spacious sleeping areas for up to 12 people. Consider if you’ll have privacy issues – are there accordion doors that you can use to close off dressing areas? Are the draperies around the windows and windshield sufficient to cut out light and render privacy?

Another thing to watch out for when you hire a campervan is make sure that the generator for the van is working properly. Most generators must have oil added to them quite frequently. If you find that the electric generator is difficult to start, make sure it has its full load of oil. This will assure you of electrical power if you are forced to park where there is no electricity.

Author Bio

Josh loves writing and sharing his experiences. He is currently Living in the seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare and works for a company experienced in campervan conversions.

The Six Must-See Landmarks in Scotland

Every year, millions of tourists make tracks to Scotland to see the many hugely impressive landmarks built here, and to soak up the unique culture of this beautiful region. If you’re planning a trip in the near future, here are six of the most impressive landmarks of all.

Old Course, St Andrews

The most famous golf course in the world and a magnet to golfers from all over the globe, the Old Course is located in the centre of this beautiful town. Familiar landmarks include the Swilken Bridge, the Road Hole and of course the iconic clubhouse. Whether you’re a fan of the sport or not, you’ll be blown away by the first sight of the spectacular undulating fairways and large intimidating greens.

Falkirk Wheel

A miracle of engineering that connects two canals, the Falkirk Wheel was officially opened in 2002. As well as providing an important waterway facility for boat users, the structure can also be used by tourists. The Falkirk Wheel Experience gives the general public a chance to enjoy a truly unique trip, and the photo opportunities from the wheel’s highest point are simply too good to miss.

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is, by surface area, the largest lake in the United Kingdom, and has remained a favourite with tourists for many decades. The loch is truly spectacular, and a boat ride on a summer’s afternoon is one of the most pleasant experiences to be had anywhere. Because of the stunning vistas to be enjoyed, a camera is an absolute must-have.

Mull of Kintyre

A location that was immortalised in song by Paul McCartney and Wings in the 1970s, the Mull of Kintyre is truly beautiful. Located on the south-western edge of the Kintyre Peninsula, it’s home to an iconic lighthouse and on a clear day visitors are able to see the stunning Ailsa Craig and the coast of Northern Ireland.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Glasgow has become well-known as a city of culture in recent years, and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has served as a centre-piece that welcomes thousands of visitors every week. Home to a vast collection of local and international artworks, it benefitted from a major refurbishment project a few years ago.

Wallace Monument

Located on top of a hill close to Stirling, the monument commemorates the great Scottish hero William Wallace. The landmark is a poignant reminder of Scotland’s impressive heritage, and was completed in 1869. Wallace was brutally executed in 1305, and was the subject of the popular Mel Gibson movie Braveheart.

David Showell lives in England and is a big fan of all things Scottish. When he isn’t travelling, he’s working for http://www.carrentals.co.uk.

5 Things to Do In Dubai

Let’s face it, tourist destinations have changed drastically over the years. Many places that were once in the forefront of tourist’s ‘most-do’ destinations have now lost their excitement, while other cities have grown out of their shadow to lead the way in tourist numbers. The economic recession which has affected most of the world’s population has also put major drawbacks in those desiring a vacation, and tourist destinations are suffering as a result. Although many cities throughout the world have been strongly influenced by the economic crisis, some have managed to fight back and still draw a respectful amount of visitors annually, and one country which has continued to to hold it’s head up high and welcome excited tourists, is Dubai.

Dubai is an Emirate country located within the UAE, The United Arab Emirates which lies on the southeast coastline of the African continent, on the Persian Gulf.  It has the biggest population of all the Emirate countries and is the second biggest territory, trailing after Abu Dhabi. .

Tourism in Dubai is a strong, booming industry. There are so many different things for a tourist to explore in Dubai that time will simply be insufficient to visit each and every one. Visitors to this remarkable country need to have a clear plan in mind of where they want to go and what they want to do, to have even a small hope of fitting it all in.  Here are some of the best and most popular attractions to visit to help you start your planning off on the right foot.

The Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall is one of the worlds largest shopping centres, and a shining example of the western modernity embraced by the United Arab Emirates. Together with the Mall of the Emirates, it has become a heavenly shopping destination for all those addicted to retail therapy, and having hundreds of different stores on offer makes it a day out in itself. And if it’s brands you’re after, you’ll be guaranteed to find every major international trademark right here.

The Restless Planet

The Restless Planet is located in the City of Arabia, a large theme park designed with the tourist in mind. The Restless Planet is a reconstruction of the well known Jurassic Park, with lifesized flora and fauna, and realistic robotic dinosaurs. It’s a great day out for the kids, but we challenge adults not to marvel at the spectacle as well.

Ski Dubai

Ski Dubai is the largest indoor ski slope in the world, and is one of the only places you’ll find snow in this part of the world. But if your trip to Dubai is all about the sand, leave the snow behind and head back outside to check out the sandboarding.  We kid you not! It’s like surfing down the sand dunes. And when you’re done with that, dune bashing is the next best thing – a competitive take on dune buggy driving.  Whatever next?

The Dubai Dessert Safari

The Dubai dessert safari lasts for approximately half a day and involves driving on the very edge of treacherously formed sand dunes. It takes up a whole lot more adrenalin than that of any roller coaster you’ll ever experience.

At the end of the day, Dubai will always have hundreds of different tourist attractions to choose from. It all comes down to your preference. So, what are you waiting for? Dubai is waiting!

Author Bio: Abbas Hussain, Blogger who talks about the best tourist attractions and coach hire for companies like Plaza Travel.

Why Golf Holidays Are Perfect in Spain

Despite the crippling effects of the worldwide economic recession, golfing holidays remain extremely popular in many parts of the world. The sector is still big business, partly because the target market is a relatively wealthy one, and partly because the necessary facilities, such as hotels, restaurants and golf courses, can all be contained in one complex.

In recent years, Portugal served as perhaps the best golfing destination for trippers, but many visitors have become disillusioned with the perceived high price of green fees and accommodation options. In the meantime, Spain has become increasingly popular with golfers from across Europe; here are some reasons why.

Price

Golfing parties are generally happy to pay a little more for their short breaks, but the cost of going to Portugal has begun to grate with many players. Spanish courses are, on the whole, a little cheaper than those of their near neighbours, and it seems many courses are happy to offer special deals in a bid to attract visitors.

Courses

Spain has had a golf vacation infrastructure for several years now, and is able to offer a wide range of courses to suit all tastes and all budgets. From the municipal tracks that are open to players of all abilities to the high end courses that are favourites with low handicappers who are seeking a tough challenge, there is something for everyone here.

Climate

Portugal and Spain have a similar climate, giving them a distinct advantage over destinations such as Scotland, France and Germany. In Spain, the golf courses that hug the southern coast give players the chance to enjoy their favourite game under clear blue skies and a warm sun throughout the year. The Costa Almeria, for example, enjoys 360 days of sunshine every year.

Accommodation

Spain is the birthplace of the package holiday in Europe, and because of this there is a huge range of options for people seeking hotels and self-catering villas. Many of the more popular golf courses are located close to a range of hotels, so visitors can usually find vacant rooms even during the busier summer months.

Welcome

Restaurant and hotel owners in Spain are known for the warmth of their welcome, and their natural friendliness is one of the reasons why so many tourists, both golfers and non-golfers, return to this paradise on Earth time and time again. Spanish people, especially in the vacation centres, are understandably proud of their country, and are always keen to ensure visitors have a good time.

David Showell is a keen golfer who lives in southern England. He works for a website that offers car hire deals at Glasgow Airport.

Five Majestic UK Photo Opportunities

We all love to travel the world, of course, and to capture some of the more spectacular sights on camera. Every year, millions of British tourists head to exotic climes across Europe, Asia and the Americas in a bid to view the wonders of nature and the many iconic symbols of man-made wonder, but many of them fail to realise that Britain is home to a vast number of superb locations. Here are five of the best UK photo opportunities that should be on everyone’s itinerary.

Durdle Door

Dorset is home to a wide variety of tourist attractions and well-known landmarks, and perhaps none of them are quite as spectacular as Durdle Door. Located on the county’s famous Jurassic Coast close to the beautiful Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door is a limestone arch that spans out to the sea. Recognisable from a number of movies such as Nanny McPhee and Wilde, it’s a breath-taking reminder of the power of Mother Nature.

Iron Bridge

Standing as a tribute to Britain’s impressive engineering past, the famous Iron Bridge spans a gorge in Shropshire. It was the first cast iron bridge to be built anywhere in the world, and was created to simplify the transportation of limestone, clay, iron ore and coal. Completed in 1779, the 60-metre length of the bridge may seem rather modest these days, but in its day it was considered to be perhaps the most important structure of its kind in the world.

Giant’s Causeway

Located in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is one of the most impressive natural landmarks in the world. It consists of more than 40,000 interlocking columns, most of which are hexagonal in shape. The result of a volcanic eruption many millions of years ago, this amazing place has become a hugely popular tourist attraction and one of the most impressive photo opportunities of them all.

London Eye

Of course, not every spectacular sight has to be ancient, and the beautiful London Eye provides a memorable image for photographers, especially at night when the wheel is illuminated. Located on the bank of the River Thames close to the old County Hall building, it was completed in 1999 and offers passengers a chance to see the landmarks of this stunning city from a truly unique perspective.

Stonehenge

A deep and mysterious place that is shrouded in a unique atmosphere, Stonehenge is a world-famous prehistoric monument that attracts thousands of tourists every month. Located close to the main A303 road in Wiltshire, the arrangement of standing stones dates back thousands of years. Although there are several theories on why they were placed there, many modern thinkers believe the site was originally a burial ground.

David Showell lives in the UK and has travelled to many of the country’s most famous landmarks. He works for a company that offers cheap ferry tickets to locals and tourists.

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