Monday, December 17, 2012

Ice Hotels

If you are looking for a true “winter wonderland” experience for the holidays, grab your parkas, cameras, and family members and head over to the nearest ice hotel!

What’s an ice hotel, you might be wondering? Well, it’s pretty simple. They are luxurious igloos, temporarily built as hotels sculpted out of snow, blocks of ice and, in some cases for safety, steel framing. This unique hotel experience lands itself in the category of destination hotels and attracts many travellers who no longer select lodgings solely because they're close to holiday spots. To bring it up a notch, hotels have become destinations to offer their guests an even more accommodating experience. Thankfully to the idea of ice hotels, arctic resorts that used to have to close up for the winter can now happily attract tourists year round.

Reconstructed annually, ice hotels are always updated to the times and offer something new each year. To experience an ice hotel is to step inside a storybook and take in the ice castle view before you. A look inside and you’ll see the lobby of ice sculptures that tower and demand attention. Further in, ice bars with friendly and warm bartenders wait for you to sit down and sip cocktails that fill up ice glassware. Since the temperatures generally range from 17-23 degrees Fahrenheit, there are many warm rooms offered to help keep guests comfortable. For those who brave the cold, the ice hotels also offer many variations of ways to warm their guests including, hot cocoa, fur, plenty of blankets, and even fireplaces.

What makes an ice hotel so special to its guests are the décor. Unlike other hotels, ice hotels create rooms with ice-sculpted furniture, art, and beds with fibre optic lights that create artistic dimension to the otherwise would-be white and clear ice and snow. Many ice hotels invite world known artists to theme various rooms inspired by movies, music, culture, and other artists alike. Some ice hotels even offer the chance to mush your very own dog pack across the hills of snow!

For many of you who are asking yourself, just how does an ice hotel work? The answer lies in the geographical location of the hotel, and not just the temperatures. These ice hotels are located near rivers where workers can freeze the water they draw in and cut the ice into large blocks before building the blocks into the structure of the hotel. It takes about five to six weeks for elaborate ice hotels to be built. As spring rolls around, the hotel melts and waits to be built until winter prevails yet again.

Some people who have stayed in ice hotels describe the experience of waking up after a night in an ice hotel as one of pure happiness while others label it as accomplishment against the harsh temperatures. However, to all travellers it is a destination that provides unforgettable aesthetics, rare architecture, and a winter wonderland memory to last a lifetime.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Five Top Tips For Grown Up Holidays

There comes a time in life when the thought of another long haul flight to a ridiculously hot location to spend time shrivelling on a crowded beach loses its appeal. Maybe it's just part of growing up, maybe you realise the wrinkles develop faster than the tan, but either way beach and bar holidays just don't cut it anymore. There's a big world out there, full of spectacular sights and experiences to explore. So here are some seasonal tips for the seasoned leisure-seeker to get away on a voyage of discovery and culture

Renaissance revealed 

There was a time when no young gentle-person was considered educated until they had taken the Grand Tour. Italy is the cradle of Western civilization, and a visit to Florence makes an ideal spring break. Home to the Medicis, Michelangelo and Dante, this Tuscan city is jammed to the brim with some of the finest artworks ever created. Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus' still hangs in the Uffizi gallery, and the streets are lined with exquisite mediaeval architecture. Stroll amongst the palazzos and piazzas, promenade on the Ponte Vecchio and retrace the glory that was the Renaissance.

Ride of the Valkyries 

Forget the Mediterranean and Caribbean, the cruising world's best kept secrets are the sub-arctic grandeur of Norwegian fjords and the stunning majesty of Iceland, land of ice and fire. Ideally timed to coincide with the equinoxes (late March or September), there is no better way to witness the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights. The spectral lights glimmering over dark water can be breathtaking as swathes of green and red dance across the sky. There is more natural drama on show with calving glaciers and volcanoes spilling streams of magma into steaming seas.

Ancient grandeur 

Follow the shades of Hercule Poirot and Howard Carter on a trip down the Nile and visit the Giza pyramids, Luxor and Karnak to enjoy a taste of antiquity's most spell-binding achievements. The cooler months of the year are October through to April.

Deep ecology 

Fly south for the winter and leave the clouds and cold behind as you head to the coast of Queensland to explore Australia's Great Barrier Reef, one of the most vibrant scenes the world has to offer. Take the plunge with scuba diving lessons and drift through multi-coloured banks of coral swarming with clownfish, Maori Wrasse and sea stars in every shade. Best enjoyed as part of a reef tour, you can cruise the Barrier Reef with local guides and marine biologists for an in-depth experience.

Your own back yard 

If all this globe trotting sounds too exhausting, don't forget the wealth of history, discovery and natural beauty on your own doorstep. From the wild Cornish coast to Neolithic settlements in Orkney, the British Isles are awash with fascinating places to visit. Try pony trekking in the Brecon Beacons, walk the Ridgeway Trail to Avebury or hunt monsters in the dark waters of Loch Ness. And the best of it is, it's there all year round.

Photo by Flickr User Arian Zwegers

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tips for Solo Travelers

Solo travelling or soul searching is often a preferred choice of many globe-trotters. Back packers are seen indulging in it more regularly than package-deal travellers. Travelling alone can be the ultimate experience of self-indulgence. However, taking into the account the perils of such a form of travel like safety concerns and loneliness, a few tips about the same can make the experience a pleasant one.

Photo by Flickr user fortherock

The foremost concern of a single traveller is safety. He is more vulnerable to scam artists than people travelling in a group. Also, he has to deal with the simplest of the health worries on his own with no companion to watch his back. Small tips like knowing the exact distances and modes of commute between airports, stations and the destinations can prevent him from being “taken-on-a-ride”. If travelling alone, avoid travelling in the night and read more about places of visit for issues of safety, if any. A thumb rule is to trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

It is advisable to keep a low profile if you are a lone traveller. Attracting attention by wearing flashy clothes or coming across as an obvious tourist can mean some tricky pickles. A few white lies don’t hurt either. “I have to meet a friend at the station but don’t know the way. Could you help please?” is a safer option than poring over maps.

Being in touch ensures you a sense of belonging when you are travelling alone and peace of mind for your loved ones. Leave them a copy of your itinerary and check in periodically. International texting these days has become dearth cheap. If you are travelling with a pc, making pc to phone calls is another way of getting rid of solitude especially in the evening or during meals.
Solo dining may not be as amusing as it sounds at times. Sitting at a counter seat or at the bar in a restaurant may help.  Sometimes  when traveling we get stressed , tired and fatigue .  We have to remember that part of traveling is exploring new things , like for example if your in Hawaii pamper yourself by going to a resort , sitting by the beach and just taking in all the beauty. Bring a book you don’t mind leaving behind. Writing a journal is also a great way of savouring your travel memories later. It is important to eat well. Have a laid-back coffee or a decadent dessert once in a while. The constant vigilance needed whilst travelling alone can wear you down. 

Lastly, in case you start feeling lonely, you could cut short your ambitious itinerary and kick back for a while. You could even consider joining a group of fellow travellers or spend time in youth hostels where you could end up with some interesting company and activities to do.
A thing to remember always, be it solo or in a group, the sole purpose of travelling should be that experience of gratification at the end of it all! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Weekend Shopping in New York

There are so many reasons to spend a long weekend in New York. If you already know the main tourist attractions of the city, take this opportunity to go shopping in one of the best cities in the world for this activity. Prices are generally lower than in the UK and you'll be spoiled for choice. If you are and addict window shopper, you will certainly reach nirvana in Manhattan. 

One thing that you need to take care about before departing to New York is booking Manchester airport parking. With airport parking, you will save money to spend during your New York shopping spree. 
It is always interesting to go shopping in New York, mainly because, despite the crisis, this city remains the Mecca of shopping. Shops are open every day, usually from 10 am to 20 pm, and even later on Thursday. Moreover, one can find without difficulty many bargains regardless of the time of the year. From electronics, stereo to clothing and beauty products many products often display prices that are genuine deals, especially if you decide to travel to New York on a special day such as The Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, that is the fourth Friday in November). The period after Christmas and New Year’s Eve is also an excellent time to go shopping in New York, as almost everything gets on sale then. 
One can easily draw a map of the shops in Manhattan. The neighbourhoods are somehow specialized in one type of shops, although you can find everything everywhere. Thus, you have Lower Broadway, particularly between 4th St. and Canal St. East, where you will find the best deals for jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. There are also a lot of discount stores in the Lower East Side. For clothing, you will find generally incredible deals in the Garment District, located between 6th and 9th Avenue from 34th to 42th Street. This is the heart of the garment industry in the United States, where one third of all apparel produced in the country is designed and manufactured. 
For an upbeat look, stroll the side of SoHo, in NoLita and Greenwich Village, where you can explore avant-garde designer boutiques, specialized in both fashion and home design. Finally, going back to Midtown and the Upper East Side, 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue are the haunts of upscale boutiques and department stores. If you do not want to spend too much money but still come back home with plenty of things, try the located in New Jersey or the flea markets such as Hell's Kitchen on 39th Street. 
You can also choose to visit some of the malls in the city if you like to find all the stores you need in one place. Two of the best malls a shopping aficionado should not miss are the Manhattan Mall and Pier 17. These are veritable temples of shopping in New York and they will certainly lure you in with their extravagance.

Finding the Perfect Slice in Chicago

Chicago has it all - world-renown architectural heritage, jazz music, theatres and plenty of Chicago hostels and cheap hotels for backpackers. One of the best things about Chicago is its unique pizza. Don’t be mistaken by the title, HostelBookers have researched (yes it means we tried lots of pizza, it was tough but we did it for you) the best Chicago-style deep dish pizza in the city. Never heard of Chicago-style pizza? Well, it’s only for the bravest of eaters, as instead of a thin crust topped with cheese and pepperoni, it’s a crust stacked extremely high with cheese and pepperoni (or anything else). Here’s a quick overview of the best places to find this Chicago wonder.


Special note needs to be given to this Chicago establishment, because it was Uno that first invented the Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Once you sample one of their pizzas, you’ll realize that their experience, which has been fine-tuned since the 1940s, is obvious. You can find locations all over the country, but the original is along the Magnificent Mile. It makes for a great lunchtime spot during a day shopping around. If it’s too packed, head around the corner to another location, that one called Due.

Lou Malnati’s

This reviewer grew up in Chicago’s northern suburbs, and my high school teacher was Rick Malnati himself, son to the late Lou. We had free pizza all the time, and it was excellent. Although Lou Malnati’s was established well after a few other Chicago deep-dish restaurants, Lou knew the business well, and when the first location opened, it opened to great reviews. Today, you can find dozens of locations all over the city.

One of the most famous and indeed one of the best-publicized deep-dish restaurants in Chicago is Giordano’s. They live up to their fame with their quintessential deep dish pizzas and ridiculously varied toppings options. Like the other restaurants listed, there are plenty of other things on the menu, from sandwiches to salads, so you won’t have to worry about taking along family members who aren’t keen on pizza. Although, there’s nothing quite like watching the mozzarella trying to cling to its pie as a slice is being lifted away.

Gino’s East

Gino’s is another Chicago landmark pizzeria. You can find locations all over the place, including in other states. This pizza is excellent, and the toppings are so thick that a single slice might be sufficient. Gino’s is particularly popular for the kids, as graffiti on the wall is allowed—that is, to write about how your visit went.

Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta

A lesser-known restaurant with one location along State Street might interest you more, and this one for good reason. They make a quality pizza for a good price. Pizano’s is an up-and-coming pizza restaurant that, for those not taken by pizza, can go for pasta!

Mangia Roma

Located on Halsted Avenue, Mangia Roma is an Italian restaurant that serves up all of that country’s typical dishes. The deep-dish pizza is excellent, and you should find the courage to tackle it. If you can’t however, this place also offers thin-crust, just don’t let anyone see you!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Getting dizzy in Sirince/Turkey

I just love to ride the Turkish minibuses called dolmus and to find great hotel deals on They depart when they are full, stop when you call out to the driver and cost very little. When I was visiting Selcuk near Epesus I happened to see a dolums which was just about to depart. Destination: Sirinci.On the spur of the moment I decided to go and have a look at this picturesque mountain village. I knew, that the place was famous for its wood carvings and for wine making as well as for the stone houses climbing up steep mountain sides and a tiny bazaar. More than enough to warrant a visit.

My first opportunity to get slightly dizzy happened already on the way there. The ride from Selcuk is only about 10 miles, but boy, what miles. Hairpin bent after hairpin bent with a deep ravine on one side and steep cliffs on the other. One wrong movement by the driver and you go either over the edge or crash into the rocks. None of which was a very enticing prospect, but I’m sure the driver knew his way with his eyes closed because he got us all there without incident. Still, I was happy to get off and catch my breath. Which was indeed needed, because the cobbled streets climb up so steeply that I sometimes wondered how the stone houses kept to the mountain side as if glued on. But they did and they were really lovely to look at. And there they were, tiny winery after tiny winery, with bottles of fruit wine displayed on wood carved racks and the owners sitting beside them inviting visitors inside for tastings. You do so at your own peril because the wine may taste sweet but it certainly has its effect.

Prudently I stopped after one tasting, not particularly liking the sweetness anyway, but the whole atmosphere is like out of a movie. I much preferred to wander the tiny bazaar which offered the usual Turkish artifacts but also some very pretty local wood carvings. The artists whittle away in front of their stalls and you can watch how a face emerges out of a piece of wood. Fascinating to look at. Even more pleasant is that the mountain folk do not believe in the usual verbal assault which so often mar a bazaar visit in Turkey. They will smile at you, perhaps make an inviting gesture with their hand pointing at their wares and that is that. You can browse at your leisure and I found some excellent olive oil soap and smooth body lotion.

The ride back was even more hair raising and for a few moments I wished I had tasted a bit more of the wine, but apart from a cramp in my clenched fists, I returned to Selcuk unharmed and one travel experience richer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

3 Tips for Single Woman Travelers

Below you'll find a series of 5 tips to help make your travels as a single women less stressful, more fun, and all around safer.  Careful preparation and planning can ensure you don't have to worry about any issues while out on the road, and these tips will help you along the way!

Take Care of the Important Documents!
You'll need everything from flight info, to passports, to travel insurance emergency numbers, and storing all of these things can sometimes become a mess.  I recommend buying a comfortable safebelt product with waterproof pouches for you to keep all your necessary documents.

Additionally, be sure to make copies of everything and store them separately somewhere else in your belongings, like in a second bag or main bag. Finally, for some extra precaution, email the scanned docs to yourself to you will have access to them online at anytime!

Keep In Touch!
Keeping in touch with family and friends on the road is essential, not only to you, but to them as well. Chances are you'll be returning one day, and keeping these relationships alive will make that return that much easier.  There are a number of cheap international calling services that allow you to make free calls at any time to your family and friends, and these can help make your trip that much easier.

Bring a Notepad and a Phrasebook!
The Phrasebook might be a given. If you are going to a foreign country and don't speak the language, you will probably need some simple phrases to get around on your day to day adventures.  A phrase book is one of the cheapest solutions to this problem! Additionally, although many backpackers will speak English, this is not always the case, so sometimes a phrasebook can come in handy with other travelers as well!

The notepad might be a little less obvious, but all I'll say here, is that you will need this one, so bring it! You'll be amazed at the end of your trip how many times you needed to quickly write something down.

In Conclusion...
Obviously there are a million and one other tips out there for staying safe while traveling, but these three are a great start and will help you get your planning underway!  Happy Travels!

Sizzle This Summer With HostelBookers

Make the most of the summer, and your money, by booking into one of the fun summer dorms available on this summer. And there are many properties in the HostelBookers summer sale with up to 40% off – so you’ll have all the more money for crazy nights out and alfresco adventures.

Best for taking a dip

SoBe Design Studio in the heart of Miami Beach in Florida has beautiful studios available. Whether you’re on holiday or business with friends, family or colleagues the fully equipped studios are a great choice. You’ve also got the luxury of an onsite swimming pool surrounded by a private patio area. Studios have hardwood floors, a TV and kitchen facilities which include a microwave and a fridge. They’re for 2-3 people and have a double bed and a sofa bed. Stay here and you’ll be just two blocks from Lincoln Road and the clubs and stores of Miami Beach. Private apartments start from €118.62pppn.

Best for cooking your sausages
Stay at the ZIP112 Hostel in New York City and you’ll get an incredible view over the Manhattan skyline from the roof terrace. Located in trendy Williamsburg ZIP112 is in the midst of all the NYC hipster action. You’ll find a kitchen, BBQ area, free breakfast, living room and Wi-Fi around the hostel. If you’re looking for a real break away you’ll also relish the staffs pride in creating a tranquil environment to relax on holiday. Shared dorms start from €51.40pppn and private rooms from €54.57pppn.

Best for lounging outside
Once a monastery, the Villa Saint Exupery Gardens in Nice, France, is now a 5-star hostel with beautiful private gardens. There’s also a bar and restaurant on site where happy hour drinks start from just €1. There are free computers and Wi-Fi and a free legendary breakfast too. If you’re into your sports you’ll be pleased to know they’re all televised on the big screen and you can join in with the fun action tours around the area too. Villa Saint Exupery Gardens has a kitchen and common room and a variety of room formations starting at 

Summer Sale Property! 25% Off
Suly Resort & Spa in Bali, Indonesia, is surrounded by rice fields and is located in the heart of Bali. Suly Resort & Spa supports the activities of the Yayasam Bali Global Charitable Foundation who provide education to underprivileged children. The hotel is a 10-minute free shuttle bus ride from Ubud in the woodcarving district of Bali, visit  expedia to get more information. There are 16 beautifully designed rooms all in the traditional Balinese style. There are beautiful terraces overlooking spectacular gardens filled with butterflies and birds and you can take Balinese dancing lessons on site. Beds start from €18.77pppn.
So which will it be? Whether you want to party hard with 16 new dorm mates or get some privacy in a single private room HostelBookers is sure to have something to suit your budget and requirements. So check them out and have enjoy your summer! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The South Pacific's Best Island Resorts

The South Pacific is a tropical island paradise waiting for you to discover. Providing visitors with the epitome of elegance, luxury and romance, resorts nestled amongst the islands of the South Pacific are bound to exceed even the highest expectations of visitors. Major islands of the South Pacific include Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti. There are a number of ways to reach this topical paradise, including by sea or by air, but however you choose to do so, you will not be disappointed by the calibre of accommodation on offer.

Ultimate Luxury Accommodation

Providing guests with the ultimate luxurious experience, the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort and Spa in Tahiti defies the expectations of all things indulgent. Located on a private island which faces Bora Bora, this resort is the definition of a relaxing getaway. Whether you would like to treat yourself to a five star dining experience overlooking the famous Mount Otemanu, or pamper yourself with one of the many spa treatments available at the resort, you are sure to feel like a king or queen as you create everlasting memories of the perfect holiday.

An Unforgettable Family Holiday

Vanuatu is one of the most popular family holiday destinations in the world, offering visitors a warm and friendly welcome upon every visit. The Iririki Island Resort & Spa, situated on the island of Vanuatu, has been a family favourite for many years. Offering guests over 69 acres of tropical paradise, the resort is just big enough to contain all of that excitement from the kids! A four level cascading pool, a kids club and a fully stocked games room create the perfect atmosphere for a fun and exciting family holiday. Child minding services are available (if parent’s need a little escape of their own!) with a children’s playground and dedicated kid’s activities. Vanuatu has been voted the happiest place in the world for the last two years running, so it is no wonder that the South Pacific has become a popular destination for family holidays.

The Perfect Romantic Escape

Whether you are planning your honeymoon or just want to share the perfect getaway with the one you love, the South Pacific is home to some of the most romantic resorts in the world. Overwater bungalows at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa set the scene for the perfect romantic holiday. This tropical island resort provides spectacular views and scenic outlooks, surrounded by lush rainforest and crystal clear lagoons. Located 10 minutes from Tahiti, the secluded island of Moorea creates an unbeatable, breathtaking atmosphere for your romantic escape. The South Pacific is home to some of the most luxurious island resorts, providing visitors with world class service and five star facilities. This tropical island paradise has become a popular travel destination for couples and families, so instead of wondering what all the fuss is about, indulge your senses and book your next holiday to this perfect getaway today.

3 Reasons You Must See Alaska

Gliding past spectacular glaciers, experiencing untouched wilderness and cruising through the breathtaking scenery of the countryside are some of the best ways to experience all that Alaska has to offer. There are a number of different ways to experience Alaska; however the geography of this beautiful country is the perfect fit for a cruise holiday. Experience the vast range of destinations, the magnificent wildlife parks, the breathtaking sights and the maze of channels and passes as you explore this spectacular destination. Alaska is a must visit tourist destination and a once in a life time experience that you will never forget.

An Abundance of Native American Culture

Alaska is a country inspired by Native American culture with Russian influences. A must do when visiting Alaska, is to explore the abundance of culture that this historical country has on offer. The Anchorage Museum in Alaska is home to over 10, 000 years of history, exploring the formation of mountains and peaks right through to the more current cultural aspects that are influencing Alaska today. Gain a true understanding of the history that created this beautiful nation and why today, Alaska is still one of the most beautifully natural countries in the world.

Unspoiled Wilderness at its most spectacular

The best way to experience the entire uninhabited beauty of Alaska is to take a cruising holiday from Canada or America. Glide past exotic wildlife and keep your eyes peeled for a white-coated Kermode bear on Princess Royal Island, as you cruise past in luxury, aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas. One of the most famous Alaskan cruise ships, the Rhapsody of the Seas is lined with dramatic glass walls to offer the most magnificent views of the breathtaking wilderness of Alaska. The Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Centre has helped to keep this beautiful country a sanctuary for all fauna and flora. The unspoiled wilderness of Alaska has created a beautiful home for some of the most amazing native creatures, such as moose, bears, caribou and wolves, creating a once in a life time experience for visitors.

Take a Step Back in Time

Have you ever dreamed of living through the experience of a gold rush? Alaska is one of the most famous destinations for gold rushes throughout history. Scaling the mountains, gold collectors survived the sometimes treacherous conditions of the Alaskan weather in hopes of finding the ultimate treasure. A number of dedicated sights have been established for tourists to experience the history and gain a better understanding of what like was like during the gold rush of Alaska. Whether you have a genuine love for all things nature, want to experience the culture and history that surround this beautiful country, or simply want to escape with a getaway of luxury, Alaska is the perfect holiday destination for you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Magaluf Nightlife Central

This is a guest post by Charlotte Kay.

Magaluf. Forget stereotypes - I was pleasantly surprised.

Magaluf is party-central and has a Club 18-30s vibe in parts, but letting your hair down is the modern person’s right. The resort is primarily beaches and partying, but I was surprised by the nearby attractions, with history and nature. 

Flying to Son Sant Joan Airport is easy in summer, with regular flights. In times of belt-tightening, it’s good to save as money, and in my experience, a fantastic way to do this by booking airport extras. Airport Parking is something I rarely go without.

You’ll be pleased to know, the transfer to resort is around an hour - sweating without air-con is not one of my favourite pastimes either.

It’s easy to get around, with a reliable bus service and taxis. In the past, I’ve made the mistake of not asking the rough price before getting into the car, don’t make the same mistake! I think a great way of really exploring is to hire a car. There’s plenty to see, with the Caves of Drach not far away

I’d recommend jumping on the bus to Palma for the day, with the stunning gothic-style cathedral its centrepiece. Shopping here is great. If there’s one thing I know about it, it’s shopping, so take my word for it!

Summertime is hot, and I always visit a water-park for a day’s splashing. Aqualand is a huge water-park, popular with families, as well as Marineland, with its dolphin and sea-lion shows. However, a holiday favourite of mine is the boat trip. A good tip is to haggle if there are a few of you, as you may find the vendor will knock a little off the price. An all-inclusive trip is great value, and I love nothing more than sailing around the coastline, soaking up the sun. I find it’s one of the best ways to really see the beauty of the area, with beautiful, secluded coves often missed otherwise.

The shopping scene in Magaluf is tourist-tacky, which I find is best avoided. There is a great market at nearby Andratx, where you’ll find souvenirs - the best place to grab a bargain.

In my experience, you’ll find that clubbers won’t venture into daylight until well after mid-day, so I’d recommend hitting the beach early and enjoying the peace, before it gets crowded. For a quieter beach, Cala Portals Vells is great, and it’s more scenic too. Whatever beach you choose, there’ll be plenty of water-sports, with parasailing one of my favourites. I loved it, and I couldn’t believe the breathtaking view below me. I’d certainly recommend giving it a go.

Night-time. In a word – busy. There’s something for everyone, from karaoke bars, pubs, restaurants to night-clubs open until dawn. Many bars are in competition with one another, so there’s plenty of offers – the buy one, get one free cocktail is always a favourite of mine!

Magaluf isn’t expensive. I often find that arranging your flight, transfer and accommodation separate works out a little cheaper, so I’d suggest investigating that option. A great way to start your holiday refreshed is by booking an airport hotel, with Bristol Airport hotels offering fantastic rates, with plenty of choice. I have stayed at a couple of the Gatwick Hotels and I’d recommend them for convenience and price. One of my personal favourites is The Days Hotel at Gatwick.                                                           

It’s sometimes difficult to leave stereotypes behind when looking at holiday destinations, but I was pleasantly surprised when looking further into Magaluf. Partying is a given, but there’s much more than meets the eye.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Staying Safe in Prague

By Ahmed Ahmed

Prague is a city with a lot to offer. It’s one of Europe’s most popular destinations, welcoming tourists from around the world in search of its historic architecture and lively nightlife. Too bad that the city also has a reputation for petty crime. However, there is no reason to stay away; just be smart. Here’s how to get the best out of Prague without letting its crooks get the better of you. Tips courtesy of holiday apartments.

Avoid the dodgy spots
Photo by Flickr user bartlec
Many of Prague’s main attractions are clustered around the centre of the city. The Old Town (Staré Město) is where you’ll find the Old New Synagogue, Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock. A short walk takes you to the old Jewish Quarter (Josefov), and also to the gorgeous Charles Bridge. Because these areas are known to be tourist hotspots, it’s sensible to visit them during the day, as going there at night might expose you to unwanted attention and would-be pickpockets. Other key spots where you should be on your guard are Wenceslas Square and the main train station, Praha Hlavni Nadrazi.

Don’t let cabbies take you for a ride

It can sometimes seem like Prague’s taxi drivers never got the memo about the city’s rising status as a traveller’s hotspot. Many people complain that they can be grumpy, unhelpful and downright rude. Worst still, there are a fair few who will try to overcharge you outrageously. Always agree on a price before you set off, and make sure the meter is on so you can see if the price you settled on was reasonable or ridiculous. Remember that you’ll save money and see more by walking, so consult your map before jumping into a cab.

Beware of pickpockets

Ah yes – the pickpockets. Like many popular travel destinations, the Czech capital is home to its fair share of light-fingered individuals. The common advice about keeping essential cash and documents in a money belt on your person holds true. Leave any excess cash and non-essential valuables back at your hotel or apartment, and stay vigilant when out and about. Crowded streets, buses and metro trains are favourite haunts for pickpockets, so keep a close eye on your things and hold bags in front of you, to be on the safe side.

Get a fair deal
Photo by Flickr user The Man in Blue
Somewhat confusingly, Prague is a member of the European Union, but its currency remains the Koruna, or Czech Crown. This means that even visitors from inside the Eurozone will have to find a way to swap their cash. But don’t be tempted by anyone who approaches you offering currency exchange; the rates are often poor and you could even end up with false notes. Stick to the bank or, even better, withdraw what you need from the ATMs, of which there are plenty in Prague.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Days Out in Dublin, Ireland

Charlotte writes for Sykes Cottages Ltd. She enjoys visiting lots of places in the UK and Ireland, taking photos and writing about her holidays.

Dublin is situated on the east coast of the Republic of Ireland at the mouth of the River Liffey. It is both the capital of Ireland and the most heavily populated city but it is also has more green space per mile than any other European capital city and makes a fabulous holiday destination. Staying in a holiday cottage in Ireland strikes the perfect balance between busy city life and a good old Irish country welcome. So what do you do when you get there? Here is my guide to what not to miss in Dublin.

Guinness Brewery

The Guinness brewery was founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness and has become synonymous with the city of Dublin. For many years the Guinness factory was both the largest brewery in the world and the biggest employer in Dublin. Nowadays, times have changed and although it isnít the largest brewery in the world, it is still the largest brewer of stout. No visit to Dublin is complete without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, the Guinness themed tourist attraction that maps the story of Guinness in a seven story attraction, shaped cleverly around a pint shaped glass atrium. There is even chance to enjoy a pint of the black stuff on the seventh floor and take in a panoramic view of the city at the same time. Itís worth it just for the view!

Monument of Light

The Monument of light or the ëSpire of Dubliní as it is called locally is a stainless steel, pin-like monument that reaches 121.2 metres into the sky on O'Connell Street in the city centre. It was built as a replacement to Nelson's Pillar that was destroyed by bombing in 1966. It is lovely to visit the spire at dusk when it looks like the top of the pillar is merging into the night sky.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar is the best known area for nightlife in Dublin. The quirky street pattern with little narrow cobbled streets and unique Irish pubs make it a popular hangout for tourists and itís easy to see why.

Book of Kells

The Book of Kells is a lavishly decorated manuscript created around 800 AD by Irish monks. It documents the four Gospels of the New Testament and is regarded as one of Ireland's finest national treasures. It is on permanent display at the Trinity College Library in Dublin.

Kilmainham Gaol

This former prison was built in 1796 and was operational until the 1920ís. Nowadays itís a great place to visit to experience what it was like to be a prisoner and learn about the harsh conditions that prisoners of the past had to face.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Best Places to Find Love in Paris

Paris is often viewed as one of the most romantic cities in the world. So, it is no wonder why so many single women jump on flights to Paris, looking to meet someone special and fall in love. In a city as large as Paris, it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly where to find other hopeful singles. There are a few well known Paris locations that have a great reputation for being prime spots for meeting other singles.

Café Flore

Although pricey and often considered to be a tourist destination, Café Flore is notorious for not only its unique historic background but also for being one of the top sports to meet singles in Paris. Open from 7 am to 2 am, Café Flore offers patrons a trendy locale for dining and mingling. For those seeking a historically old fashioned Parisian Café as the backdrop for a romantic evening or early brunch, Café Flore will not disappoint. It is helpful though to remember that most locals begin dinner at 9 pm. Once dinner begins, the noise level at Café Flore becomes quite loud, so for those wishing to engage in a long, meaningful conversation with that special someone, they may want to leave before the dinner crowd arrives.

Les Deux Magots

Les Deux Magots is a well-known café in Paris’ famed Saint-Germain-des-Pres region. Drawing in the intellectually inclined, Les Deux Magots has been well received in the community as a popular spot for singles and tourists alike. While its historical reputation precedes it, Les Deux Magots offers patrons a unique variety of services in a classy, artistic atmosphere along with five-star cuisine. Paris singles choose Les Deux Magots as a location for meeting fellow singles for many reasons ranging from the trendy interior design to the French ambiance, but one thing is for sure, Les Deux is one of the number one locations for meeting Paris singles. The outdoor seating option at Les Deux Magots is an appealing choice for those wishing to have a more intimate dining experience. The simple sidewalk tables offer an unexpected romantic charm when dining outdoors.

Lo Sushi

Sushi bars are also popular destinations for single women to find love in Paris. Chefs and patrons yelling orders back and forth in sushi restaurants creates a lively environment, making it easy to strike up a conversation with fellow diners. Lo Sushi in Champs-Elysees is one of the top rated sushi restaurants in Paris and popular among local singles. Offering a quieter dining atmosphere than most sushi restaurants, Lo Sushi provides ample opportunities to converse with other restaurant patrons. The trendy interior and intimate seating attracts both locals and tourists. The best spot to chat up a fellow single in Lo Sushi is the bar, which is where most of the restaurant action takes place. For those simply looking to be entertained, the bar is also a great location for quirky exchanges from the sushi chefs and staff, which could be a great spring board for meeting other singles sitting nearby.

Best Tours in Singapore for Single Women

Singapore is an incredibly safe destination for a single woman. Their low crime rate, trustworthy police, and excellent medical facilities make it an excellent choice for the female solo traveler. A great way to get acquainted with Singapore is through a tour. Tours are fantastic for a single woman because it gives them a chance to meet fellow travelers while also getting to experience some of the city. Singapore holidays have many fabulous tours that you can take, but these are just a few of the very best for single women.

Singapore Zoo Night Safari Tour

Singapore Zoo offers a very unique experience for travelers in the form of their Night Safari. It gives single women the chance to see nocturnal animals in their natural habitat while an experienced tour guide offers insights into the creatures. It's difficult to get a good look at nocturnal animals anywhere else, but on the Night Safari tour, it's easy. It's also a great tour to do after dark for single women who want to do some kind of activity at night, but don't want to dine alone. Sentosa Island Tour Sentosa Island is a beautiful tropical island that is easily reached by cable car from the city center. Single women will love this trip, as it's a great chance to relax, see some beautiful views, swim, and lie on the beach. It's a welcome respite from hectic Singapore, and it's an easy day trip. A tour gives single women a great way to meet other travelers and get some inside information on Sentosa Island's many sights and activities.

Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour

These are ubiquitous in every major city for a reason. For a single woman, a hop-on, hop-off bus tour might just be the easiest, most convenient way to see Singapore. The bus picks up and drops off at a variety of interesting sights around the city, making it easy to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time. Plus, the bus always has an informative and educational guide who is a great resource for tips on what not to miss.

Food Tours

Singapore is a very multi-cultural city, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the variety of different cuisines available. A great option for single women who have adventurous taste buds is to go on one of the many food tours available in Singapore. They range from tours focusing on high-end dining to tours that focus on cheap, but delicious Chinese food. For example, The Chinatown Food Tour gives visitors the chance to explore Singapore's excellent Chinatown and all the delicious foods available there, all with the convenience of an experienced, knowledgeable guide.

The Best Party Spots in Bangkok

With its infamous reputation and depictions in movies such as The Hangover 2, Bangkok’s nightlife is known around the world. Bangkok offers everything from the naughty and risqué at Patpong, Nana, and Soi Cowboy, to pubs, live music bars, and trendy clubs. It is truly the nightlife Mecca of South East Asia. However, with such a wide variety of nightlife options it can be difficult to know where to start. Based on personal experience, here are the three best party spots in Bangkok.

Nana Plaza

Of the three main red light areas, Patpong, Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza, Nana Plaza is by far the most exciting. While Patpong and Soi Cowboy are more widely known, they have both been reduced to more carnival, touristy sightseeing areas. For a place to really experience the naughty night life of Bangkok, Nana Plaza is the best choice. Located in Sukhumvit Soi 4, Nana Plaza is a veritable three story sex mall centered on the square shaped plaza. Nana Plaza boasts a variety of open air bars and go-go bars with themes such as Bangkok’s infamous ladyboys, lesbian dominatrix, Japanese school girls etc. With such an exotic and erotic atmosphere Nana Plaza is definitely one of best three party spots in Bangkok!

Q Bar

Along with the more risqué options, Bangkok has a great club and bar scene.  One of the most world renowned clubs in Bangkok is the Q Bar. After 12 years, the Q Bar has set the standard for clubbing in Bangkok.  The Q Bar boasts the largest selection of alcohol in the city along with live DJs and a weekly party schedule. An eclectic crowd frequents the Q Bar with a good mix of Thai, expats and tourists, including several A list celebrities. The upstairs lounge, Q Up, has one of Bangkok’s only open air smoking terraces. Offering a place for cliental to enjoy a cigarette, shisha, or an imported cigar. Q Bar has been featured in magazines and television networks across the world and is the number one clubbing destination in Bangkok. The Q Bar is located near the BTS stop Nana at Sukhumvit Soi 11.

Khao San Road

Internationally recognized from Leonardo Decaprio’s movie The Beach, Khao San makes the list as one of the three best party spots in Bangkok.  Khao San is a short street located in central Bangkok, just north of the Grand Palace and Wat Phrae Kaw. Khao San road is a back packer’s paradise. With cheap hostels, restaurants, and bars, Khao San is an ideal place to party.  It is overflowing with foreigners from around the world and it is never hard to find a good time there. With open air patio bars lining the streets, each competing with one another to offer the cheapest drinks and best specials, it is easy to find a good place to have a few drinks.

With flights to Bangkok becoming more affordable in recent times, it is certainly a destination that I would highly recommend you visit. Indulge in a cultural experience by day and party hard at night, my ideal holiday!

3 Best Activities to do in Noosa

Noosa, Queensland, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. The area is well-known for its pristine landscape. Noosa has an abundance of beaches and wildlife with Noosa hotels situated in the hinterland as well as the beachfront, giving you a number of options whatever your taste. There are no high-rises taking over the amazing picturesque views. The casual atmosphere allows tourists to feel laid-back and in touch with nature while enjoying the actives that Noosa has to offer. From strolling the boardwalk to skydiving, good times await all.

Noosa River and Everglades

Experience a day of natural wonders by taking a long cruise through the Noosa River and Everglades. It is in Cooloola National Park. This is a bird lover's paradise. There are a large number of things to photograph. A barbecue lunch at Harry's Hut in Great Sandy National Park is included with the cruise. A visitor has the choice between fish fillets, steak, sausages or vegetarian. The meal is topped off with a glass of wine. Explore this unspoiled eco system and leave with unforgettable memories of peace and tranquility. It’s a special feeling that you can only find in the Everglades.

Sunset Kayaking

Kayaking on the Noosa River is a joy. During the day, you are able to explore and kayak alongside the dolphins. However, there is a whole other beautiful world to be seen at sunset. Animals are waking up while others are just now resting. The area is full of new sounds that are taking over the landscape. Soak up all the riches of the mangroves and sandbars while exploring the wildlife-filled estuaries. Take a break to splash in the water with fish before continuing on towards the ocean. When the sun sets, the kayak sails rise. Take in the beauty of the sunset, and then cruise back on the Noosa River. This is a wonderful excursion for first timers and families with children. Kayaking is leisurely and makes for a wonderful trip at the end of the day. It can even be a start to a fun filled evening.

Circus Workshop

This is where the magic of making a visitor's dream comes to life. The circus workshop has lessons for juggling, trapeze work and bungee trampolines. Lessons last anywhere from 90 minutes to overnight stays. This is a fun way to learn basic circus skills. While on the bungee trampoline, people learn about confidence and aerial awareness. These skills come in handy if you are moving on to the trapeze. A guest will have a blast learning tricks and flips while bouncing in the air. Juggling school helps teach eye to hand coordination. Guests will have hands-on experience using balls, clubs and devil sticks. It is a great gift to learn to show family and friends. Instructors at the flying trapeze workshop will help with warm-ups. Then, you proceed to the practice bar that is at ground level. A safety belt is fitted and used throughout practice. Lessons include how to swing, take off, knee hang and back flip down to the net. This popular attraction in Noosa must be booked four to six weeks in advance.