Friday, May 24th, 2013
Accommodation is a key part of going on holiday. The choice of where to stay is largely influenced by many factors including the number of people on a trip, as well as the holiday destination. Many people always opt to stay in hotels although there are other options available.
In recent times, serviced apartments have become popular alternatives to hotels. These apartments are often fully furnished and offer all the comforts of home but are run like hotels. They also come with housekeeping staff that see to cleaning and servicing them as needed. Travellers have the option of choosing between multi-bed apartments and individual rentals according to their needs and budget.
Serviced apartments provide a range of benefits over traditional hotel accommodation. Chief amongst these is their affordability. They are a cheaper option for families and for those travelling in large groups as costs can be shared. Since they are designed like modern houses, complete with bedrooms, a kitchen and a living area, they offer more space compared to a hotel room. They not only provide more value for money, but are also ideal for those staying in one place for a long time or for those travelling with children.
The convenience, privacy, independence and flexibility provided by serviced apartments are an added bonus. These apartments come with a fully equipped kitchen, which means that visitors are free to prepare local dishes, saving on eating out at restaurants. Most have a microwave and fridge so leftovers from a previous meal can be warmed up for later use. Additionally, the apartments also have washing machines allowing the occupants to do their own laundry. This is definitely cheaper than hotels where laundry services are often expensive.
Most apartment complexes offer all the trimmings of hotels including a gym, swimming pool and conference centre. This increases their popularity for many people.
Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Once the seat of Viking raiders, Denmark has become a prosperous and modern nation with a rich history and culture.
You cannot visit Denmark without exploring Bornholm, with its historically significant churches and links to the Knights Templar, discovering the nation’s rich Viking heritage through the Viking Ship Museum just a short trip from Copenhagen, and the recreated Viking Village. In Zealand sit the remains of the Trelleborg Viking ring castle and long houses. Jutland also boasts a ring castle ruin and nine recreated farm houses, while Jelling is home to two massive carved ancient rune stones.
Many of the old Viking monuments are listed World Heritage Sites, along with Roskilde Cathedral, the first brick built Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe which has been the final resting place of most Danish kings and queens ever since. Another World Heritage Site is the Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, the famous home of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.
With world class white sandy beaches, it is no wonder that Denmark is such a favoured holiday destination amongst Europeans. Denmark is also rich in amusement parks, such as Copenhagen’s Tivoli, which was an inspiration to Walt Disney as he embarked on creating Disneyland. Copenhagen also boasts the world’s oldest amusement park, Dyrehavsbakken, featuring some of the world’s oldest operational rollercoasters, dating back to 1914 and 1932. Another famous attraction is Legoland in Billund, the largest and oldest of its kind.
Getting around Denmark could not be easier with its Danish State Rail system, offering various tickets and passes, and long distance bus services between Jutland and Copenhagen. Ferries travel to and from the Danish islands. With well-maintained roads everywhere, this is a great place to rent a car if you are staying for a longer visit.
Characterised by mild winters and cool summers, Denmark has a temperate climate with temperatures averaging 0°C in winter and 15°C in summer.
Picture: Benjamin Asmussen
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Cruises attract travellers from all walks of life. The plethora of cruise lines and companies offering different packages and itinerary choices does entail navigating through a lot of information to find really good cruise offers. Use these tips to find the best value for your money.
Talk to the cruise line
Choose your favourite cruise and staterooms and talk to the representative of the cruise line. Provide the relevant details to take advantage of discounts or special deals. Use this information as a starting point.
Check the cruise booking website
Many cruise discount agencies have websites that offer some of the lowest rates available. Large travel sites have good cruise offers especially on late cruises. Most of the discount sites have similar rates and you can book through any one of them. Do watch out for hidden costs or cancellation fees.
Call the travel agent
Opt for the traditional route of booking cruise tickets by dealing with a travel agent. Choose a local agent or try a large national agency. Be direct with the agent and clearly state your requirements.
Book in the wave season
The wave season from January to March is the busiest in terms of cruise bookings with cruise lines making over 30% of their annual sales in this quarter. They entice customers with an array of discounts and special offers. The wave season is the best time to get good offers on cruise holidays.
Place an ad
Certain sites allow travellers to place anonymous cruise wanted ads after registering as a member. Travel agents frequenting such sites will get back with suitable offers.
On receiving several quotations, try and negotiate for a lower price or extras on board the cruise. Remember that independent agents will offer lower rates than cruise lines. Keep negotiating till you find a cruise offer that fits your budget and lets you travel in style.
Picture courtesy of 16g
Thursday, April 11th, 2013
Kyoto, Japan’s former imperial capital, has managed to retain most of its old charm and has evolved into the country’s culture capital. There are numerous parks, temples and other attractions to explore in this vibrant city. Five of them are outlined below:
1. Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavilion). This gold-leaf coated building is a marvellous sight to behold. The pavilion never loses its splendour whether it is snow capped in winter or surrounded by lush greenery in summer. Its lovely gardens are the ideal place to spend a quiet afternoon.
2. Nishiki market. If you love Japanese food, this market will delight you. Stretching for several blocks with over 100 restaurants and shops, Nishiki offers a wide selection of colourful Japanese fruits and vegetables. You can decide to buy the produce or simply taste some of the samples available.
3. Gion. This is definitely the most famous geisha district in Japan. It consists of several traditional Japanese buildings, exclusive restaurants and teahouses. Spend an hour or two wandering around this quaint area and you are likely to glimpse a geisha in her distinctive makeup and colourful kimono.
4. Kiyomizu-dera. This famous Buddhist temple is located in the hills east of Kyoto. Take your time exploring its various shrines or make your way to the Otowa waterfall to make a wish. Who knows, it might just come true.
5. Shijo-dori. Make time to indulge in a little retail therapy at this shopping precinct. Here chic boutiques rub shoulders with traditional Japanese craft shops and you are sure to find something that strikes your fancy.
Picture courtesy of shibuya246
Monday, March 25th, 2013
A traveller looking for the cheapest cruise deals for 2013 would do well to pick a repositioning cruise, where a ship needs to move from one location to another. These cruises are operated by ocean going passenger ships during the spring and autumn seasons – the lean seasons for the cruise industry.
Repositioning cruises or relocation cruises have a one way cruise itinerary traversing two or three continents. These cruise deals are the cheapest offered by a particular ship or cruise line. They are a necessary aspect of cruise operations as cruise lines cannot afford to let their ships sail empty on long journeys.
Cruise destinations and cruise lines
Most relocation cruises offer transoceanic cruises. Top destinations include the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, Australia, Hawaii, Alaska and South America, including the Transatlantic and the Panama Canal.
Some of the cruise lines operating these cruises are the best in the world.
The traveller benefits do not end with low fares. Enjoy activities on board – an evening at the ship’s casino, cocktails by the pool or bars, cheap duty free shopping, lunch and dinner in gourmet restaurants, movies at the theatre or an afternoon at the spa.
The benefits extend off shore – stay at luxury hotels and exclusive resorts in top destinations at cheaper rates.
On the other hand, there are fewer ports of call which means more time spent at sea.
Check cruise line offers and special sailing details. Good travel agents, especially, corporate agent websites can help find the latest cruise deals for a repositioning cruise of your choice.
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
In the summer of 2012 the continuing success of British cycling engulfed the London Olympics and inspired many would-be bikers to pop along to their local cycle store and invest a significant amount of money on lightweight racing machines; the Olympic Spirit had truly manifested itself.
Just how many of these expensive cycles will actually get an outing this year and how many will gather dust in garden sheds and garages remains to be seen and will be a test of the enduring nature of this legacy.
If the reader is one such instant enthusiast, then he or she may be considering just where and when to give their cycle an airing and their legs some exercise.
It does not take much to don cycle shorts, vest and helmet and get out on the country roads. The freedom of taking a cycle ride is a truly liberating experience and could easily become a daily routine.
Organised cycling and cycling training events
If newcomers to the sport have really caught the bug, then taking organised biking holidays in parts of Europe where the weather is more amenable may be worth considering. Such activities are readily available, as a visit to the internet will soon reveal.
The following destinations are just a few of those to be found in France and Spain; Provence Luberon, Normandy, Dordogne, Languedoc, Alsace, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries. Flights, accommodation and transfers from the destination airport are normally included in the price of the package.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
There are many reasons why a British tourist searching for a picturesque spot should visit Charleston, South Carolina. To begin with, Charleston is a beautiful seaport city protected from the swells of the Atlantic Ocean by a few surrounding islands, of which it is the political and cultural centre. It also offers a variety of holiday options, places to visit and things to do.
With its rich interweaving of history, myth and architecture, Charleston is the best holiday destination if you are seeking relaxation in a charming spot. If you love history you can spend several days exploring Civil War and Revolutionary War sites, impressive Cold War and World War II vessels, and a USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. You will also find several historic homes with magnificent antique furnishings.
Another tourist attraction is the traditional Lowcountry cuisine, practiced by many talented chefs and served in a wide range of restaurants. Here you can enjoy the freshest seafood, meats and local produce. You may also like to take advantage of the large number of activities and attractions for families with children including city tours, visits to the zoo, aquarium and botanical garden, and water activities.
The city has a humid subtropical climate, with rainy and hot summers. Winters are mild and short, with occasional rainfalls.
Charleston is served by an international airport, located twelve miles away from the historic downtown. You can reach this city on a plane from London in about eight and a half hours. Various lodging options, such as hotels and holiday rentals, are ready to welcome travellers from all over the world.
Sunday, February 17th, 2013
Sydney is such a wonderful place with so many things to offer worldly travellers. Bounded by the ocean and never short on culture, Sydney is a place of allure and excitement. Whether you just want a place to relax or a place to party, Sydney will exceed your holiday expectations.
Things to do in Sydney
Australia is surrounded by water, making it one of the most popular places in the world to practice water sports. Surfing, diving, and swimming are all among the top things to do in Sydney. You can learn from the best trainers in the world, who will teach you how to ride the waves like a professional. If you wish, you can also venture further out to sea for some deep sea fishing. Try your hand at catching a flounder, shark, or even a marlin on a fishing trip that you will never forget. Even if you catch nothing that day, you will have the opportunity to soak in the beautiful blue ocean and kick back with a few drinks.
Sydney has a young and vibrant nightlife. Whether you are couple travelling from another country, a group of friends on holiday, or a lone business person on a trip, Sydney has an array of nightclubs that come to life at after dark. If you are looking for a more laid-back scene, there are plenty of pubs and little restaurants where you can relax and enjoy a game on the television.
Sunday, February 10th, 2013
The Taj Mahal attracts over 2 million tourists a year and is widely regarded as one of the best examples of Mughal architecture, a style that takes elements of Persian, Islamic, Indian and Ottoman Turkish architecture.
Construction of the Taj Mahal began in approximately 1632 and the structure was completed around 1653. It was named as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the New7Wonders Foundation which includes the Great Wall of China and Colosseum and remains one of the most iconic structures in the world.
The Taj Mahal opens for tourists weekdays between 6am and 7pm except for Fridays which is a prayer day between 12pm and 2pm. Overseas visitors should expect to pay higher prices than Indian citizens for entry to the grounds. Security is a big issue around the Taj Mahal and only five items are allowed in; this includes small video cameras, mobile phones, water in clear containers and small ladies purses.
The Taj Mahal looks impressive from the outside, but it is even more so inside with ornate inlay work and embedded gemstones.
It’s stunning architecture and spectacular gardens makes the Taj Mahal one of the must see structures in the world.
Monday, February 4th, 2013
Self-catering holidays are ideal for families, couples, singles and groups of friends. There are so many types of accommodation to choose from, with a variety of holiday packages to suit all tastes and requirements – and pockets.
Apartments are ideal for city breaks. Rather than being in a hotel room, you have a whole flat – and this includes a kitchen, so you can cook your own food. It is an excellent way of sampling local produce without eating in restaurants. Furthermore, apartments are often situated in parts of the city where the usual tourist hotels are not found – so the holidaymaker gets to see more of the natural life of the city than they might in a holiday resort.
Joining a home exchange site means that you can stay somewhere free of charge – in return, someone else stays at your home for the duration of your holiday. Not only does this cut the overall cost of a holiday; it also means that you have an even richer experience of the local culture.
Cities such as Antwerp and Amsterdam are excellent places for self-catering holidays, and not far from the UK. Because of Eurostar, you do not necessarily have to fly there: simply get on the train at London St Pancras International station and begin a return journey that may actually cost less than the price of a journey within the UK. For those who prefer to travel a bit further, Barcelona and Florence can be reached by plane in a little over two hours.