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.