Category Archives: Travel

WAYS TO SPEND YOUR DAYS IN TURKEY

I’m not sure why I haven’t considered Turkey as a holiday destination before. It has a rich culture, places to take it easy, exquisite food and unique attractions (you would have to visit multiple places to get the same variety of architectural, archaeological, water sports and beach resorts), the regions have a diverse mix of the west and exotic east.   

What I Did

I landed in Turkey and shuttled to Dalaman to a rustic hotel on the west coast. I was a little jetlagged and decided to rather get settled, relaxed and have a look around town before heading on a boat to Kos Island in the morning. And I’m glad I took the time get my head together because going on a tour exhausted and with a headache is “no bueno” oh wait…I’m not at home…it’s “hiç iyi”. In the morning I headed with a group to the Greek Island of Kos to visit the Paleo Pili Byzantine fort and bubble my cares away in the hot springs of the appropriately named, Therma Beach. It was a perfect sunset and a calm ride back to the mainland.

Ephesus

On a bus tour to Ephesus (present-day Selçuk), our group basically ogled and stood dumb-struck looking at over 30 ancient structures such as House of Virgin Mary, the Basilica of St John, The temple of Artemis, brothels, libraries, the Gate of Mazeus, theatres and gymnasiums. It was super sunny so always remember your hat and sunblock.

We then hopped back on the bus and drove to Geyre to explore Aphrodisias (a location where ancients believed the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite – the Romans called her Venus, had her sanctuary). Although the site is sort of half excavated and half protected by the sands, the site still has incredibly preserved ruins and insights into daily life of a long gone civilisation.

I ended my tour by heading to the coast and boarded a Turkish Yacht (a gullet) to cruise the cobalt waters, cool down after my many escapades in the sun on land and for the next few days, relax with new friends, fine wine, traditional teas, coffees and although a little spicy, some of the most flavourful food I have ever had.

How I Got There and Back

Atatürk International Airport is Turkey’s busiest international airport. I made sure to compare prices of flights with all well-known flight centres and agencies to find affordable Dalaman flights, to and from the UK, from Bodrum and Istanbul including Ankara including transit to main cities in Turkey. I had to factor in road travelling costs and accommodation because I wanted most of my budget to be spent on activities.

I’m really glad I didn’t overlook Turkey as a holiday location, I may not have considered it before but I will always include it for the future because I don’t think I even scratched the surface of what Turkey has to offer. I know there’s a saying that the journey is more important than the destination and although this may be true for many travellers, I think the destinations in Turkey make the journey all the more worthwhile.

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Booking the right hotel for you holiday

When we go on holiday one of the most important parts of our trip is the accommodation. Flights are flights, you will only be on the plane for a short time so it doesn’t matter too much about the level of comfort. But for accommodation you know that you will be spending a number of days there resting from an action packed holiday. A good hotel can make or break a holiday, I am sure that we have all had bad experiences with a hotel and remember how it made us have a worse time than we planned.

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The best way to get the best hotel for you and your group is to follow a few simple tips. I followed these tips for my recent search for Marrakech hotels, it meant that I ended up in the perfect place for me and my family. If you have some tips that you don’t see here in my list then please enter them into the comment box below, as a travel community it is great to share those tips that we can’t do without.

The Location

This is very important. You don’t want to be right in the thick of the action where it is noisy and difficult to relax and more do you want to be in a place that is so far away from the sites that you have to spend a long time and a lot of money on transport each day. So look at the map and see where the sites are and choose a hotel in close proximity to them.

Consider your needs

Your needs will depend on the type of holiday you are going on; a family, couples or friends holiday will all have different needs. If for example you are taking your kids with you then it is important to see if the hotel has facilities for children and is family orientated. If you are going with your partner then you need to find a hotel that is quiet and intimate, you don’t want to be in a family resort.

Reviews and opinions

I can’t express enough how important it is to listen to the advice of people that have visited the area that you are staying. I know that it might not be possible to get info from friends or family, so all you have to do is go online and read the reviews from people that have stayed in the hotels you are considering. Listening to the opinions of others will allow you to make the best possible choice!

 

 

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The Dingle Peninsula – one of Ireland’s most beautiful destinations

Once described as the most beautiful place on earth by National Geographic, The Dingle Peninsula is amongst the most stunning, written about, photographed and talked about places in the whole of Ireland. If the dramatic scenery isn’t enough to tempt you into visiting, then there are a few other fine reasons why you should visit Dingle this year.

5 Reasons to consider a trip to Dingle, Ireland this year

1. History & Language

If you want to experience a true piece of Ireland, there is no such better way than visiting Dingle. As one of Ireland’s Government-protected Irish (Gaelic)-speaking areas, called “Gaeltachts,” you’ll be amazed by the beautiful sounds of the Irish language that surround you here. Dingle is also historically rich; there is no other landscape in Western Europe with the density and variety of archaeological monuments as the Dingle Peninsula. Due to the peninsula’s remote location, and lack of specialised agriculture, there is an extraordinary preservation of over 2,000 monuments. Visit Dingle for a chance to see and experience a history that is very much alive.

 

Dingle-Kerry

 

2. Swim with Fungi; Dingle’s own Dolphin

Not many places in the world can claim to host a dolphin the natural way, offering visitors the chance to see these beautiful creatures up close and personal in their natural habitat, but Dingle does! Fungi is a male bottle nose dolphin who has taken up residence in Dingle Harbour, for reasons unknown, but many suspect he too was lured by the harbours beauty. In 1984, Paddy Ferriter, the Dingle Harbour lighthouse keeper, first began watching the lone wild dolphin escort the town’s fishing boats to and from port. He has remained here since, during which time he has become something of a local celebrity. Boat trips run from Dingle to see Fungi, which are fee refundable if he doesn’t show up. Wet suits are also for hire, so it is possible to swim with Fungi.

3. Explore Dingle

With so much beauty and scenery, it’s only right to fully explore the area and there are a few very wonderful ways of doing so. Mount Brandon is the largest mountain in the area and the 9th largest mountain in Ireland and so climbing up here will give you an excellent view point, as well as the chance to appreciate some of Ireland’s finest greenery and unusual flora and fauna.  The town of Dingle is also a must see for all those stopping by, filled with tradition, friendly faces and great nightlife – you’ll be in awe of your surroundings.

Traditional-Shop-Kerry

4) Visit the Dingle Brewery

You don’t have to go all the way to Dublin to experience firsthand brewery craft. Dingle opened its brewery doors in 2011, on an historic site which was formally a creamery. You’ll get the chance to experience this beautiful old building, situated just outside Dingle and enjoy all the brewery has to offer. Fine beer is a strong tradition in Ireland and the Dingle Brewery lives up to that tradition.

5) Visit the Great Blasket Island

A trip to the Dingle Peninsula means you have access to so much more around you. A fine example of this is the Great Blasket Island, another beautiful island close to Dingle. Now uninhabited, this scenic island was once home to some of the finest writers Ireland produced, who told great tales in their own Gaelic language.

Whatever your reasons for visiting Ireland this year, be sure to consider Dingle in Kerry along the way. You won’t be disappointed by the warm and hospitable people and the scenery that draws both Irish people and visitors from around the world year after year.

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Essential Beach Holiday Tips

Going on a beach holiday has to be the highlight of my year, I know that a lot of you will definitely feel the same way! There’s nothing better than booking your holiday, then looking at all of the amazing places you are going to visiting online. You get a great feeling knowing that for a short time you will escape the horrible weather that the UK throws at us each year and be able to soak up some serious sunshine! Nothing beats waking up, sitting on a loverly terrace tucking into a tasty breakfast and then strolling lazily down to the beach for a relaxing day on the beach. The second your bare feet hit the sand you know that you are on holiday, all of those stresses about work and life back home instantly disappear and fade away into the distance. Booking your holiday is the most important part, you should try to book holidays with direct holidays if you want to get sound advice and the best deal possible. Once the first step is out of the way booking your holiday then it is time to get yourself ready for the amazing trip ahead!

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There are some really easy tips that you can follow to ensure that your beach holiday goes ahead without a hitch, it needs to be perfect because you have spent your money and it could be the only time that you get away this year. So, leave nothing to chance and pay attention to these great tips.

Pack Light

Be honest, do you really need all of those clothes that you are planning to pack? Let me answer for you, no you definitely do not! Your are going on a beach holiday where I am sure you will be wearing very little. Of course it’s always nice to have a few nice pieces of clothing so you can dress up and go out for a nice meal but you need to make sure that you bring lots of light clothing. it’s going to be hot so pack a good swimsuit, t-shirts and shorts. On my holidays to Tenerife all I needed was 3 t-shirts and a couple of pairs of shorts, the rest was all left in the suitcase.

Look after yourself

Yes, I know we all love the sun and want to go back with a great tan but you must remember that the sun is not our true friend. It can be dangerous to catch too much sun, so make sure you bring the following; sun crew,, sun glasses, a hat and some light clothing to cover up every now and then when you’re on the beach.

Be Safe

If you are going with children then it is a good idea to go to beaches that have life guards, no matter how careful you are with keeping a close eye on the young ones there could be an occasion when you miss something. Life guards are there as a safety net, only use beaches where they are working. It is also a good sign to show that the beach is safe and suitable for swimming.

Make sure that you check out and book holidays with direct holidays, I can guarantee they will give you the best deal!

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Packing Tips for River Cruises

Cruising is one of the best types of holidays you can go on when you need to kick back, relax and forget all about the stresses of work and life in general. Cruising down one of the most iconic rivers in the world with great facilities on board is one of the best experiences I have had. I have been fortunate enough to go river cruising a couple of times in France, if you haven’t been then you need to do it as soon as possible. Whenever I head off on a relaxing French river cruise I know that it is important to pay close attention to what I am bringing with me. Knowing what to pack can make your holiday so much easier and also make you prepared for any situation you may find yourself in. Here are my top tips to help you prepare for you next cruise.

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What to put in your suitcase

My advice would be to bring some very comfortable clothing, casual clothing is the most suitable for people going on a cruise. Remember that river cruises are not like the going on a cruise liner, so forget about bringing you dinner jacket or flowing ball gown. If you are going to be visiting countries that have a different culture to your home, then do some research about what is appropriate dress – this is especially important if you plan to go to places of worship whilst on an excursion. You want to make sure that you are not turned away from any establishment if you are only going to be onshore for a day. You of course need to think about the fact that you cannot bring too much on the plane with you, keep this in mind when packing. Here is a great list of things to bring with you; walking shoes, smart shoes, small lightweight umbrella, lightweight rain jacket, jumper, sunglasses, sun hat, medicine and anything else you may need to keep you feeling great.

What to bring in you carry on case

Of course the number one thing that you need pack are your passports, credit cards, insurance documents and airline tickets. You should make copies of these documents and keep them separately. You will also need to pack; medication, prescriptions, reading glasses, contact lenses, important documents and papers, camera, memory cards, charger batteries and everything that is valuable that you do not want leave in your room.

 

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‘Best for’ guide to Morocco

Travel Travel Tips

Want to jet off to Morocco, but not sure where to begin? Firstly, find a great bargain holiday to Morocco online, with a company like Bookable Holidays, then then have a look at where you’d like to visit. Morocco is country of contrasts, from the snow-capped Atlas Mountains to the busting souks of Marrakech. It has it all.

Here’s where you should check out:

Best for bohemian travellers: Essaouira


Home to a UNESCO World Heritage listed medina, this Atlantic harbour town has a bohemian feel (Led Zepplin lived here, as did many other hippie icons). It is popular with tourists who want to see a different side of Morocco from the larger, more busy, cities like Marrakech. Explore Bab El Marse port as well as maze-like streets full of treasures and quirky cafes. Don’t miss the fish market for as-fresh-as-you-can-get produce, as well as plenty of restaurants where you can dine on traditional tagines. The long, golden beach is ideal for surfing and afternoon walks.

Best for culture vultures: Marrakech
The fourth-largest city in the country, and undoubtedly the most popular with tourists, Marrakech is the beating heart of Morocco. A treat for the senses, the city is a hub of activity – a snaking maze of streets, colourful souks and pungent street food. One of the most popular spots is Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech’s main square, which is packed with stalls offering snacks and spices, handmade crafts and gifts. Another perusing the stalls, enjoy a tangy mint tea in one of the many restaurants surrounding the square, offering great views of all the activity.

Best for historic sights: Casablanca
Made famous by the 1942 film Casablanca, this city is vibrant and full of life. One of the main sites is the Hassan II mosque, one of the biggest in the world at 200 metres high. The Aïn-Diab coast is also worth a visit, especially at sunset when you can enjoy a sundowner on one of the many terrace cafes and restaurants.

Best for active travellers: Atlas Mountains
Any outdoors-enthusiast should head to the Atlas Mountains, one of the most stunning parts of Morocco in terms of landscape. Its Berber villages, snow-capped mountains and verdant valleys are perfect for walking and hiking. A good base is Ouirgane – a Berber village situated in the High Atlas Mountains, south west of Marrakech – a popular destination and gateway to the Tassa Ouirgane National Park. It has become a very popular base for longer treks to Jbel Toubkal and Amizmiz areas.

Best for beach breaks: Agadir
For those that like sun, sand and sea, Agadir is the most popular seaside resort of Morocco. With more than 300 days of sunshine a year and a 10km beach of golden sand, it’s not hard to see why. After having your fill of sunbathing and surfing, the old kasbah is well worth a visit. It boasts a fantastic view of the bay and port. The new medina, reconstructed from the 1990s onwards by Italian architect Coco Polizzi, is also a big attraction.

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Travelling by train in Europe: Essential Tips

Regardless of how long you plan to travel in Europe, the best way to travel is by train. It is the quickest and most cost effective way to get around on the continent. With great tickets such as the eurail pass on offer, there has never been a better excuse to book your ticket, hop on board a train and visit some of the most fantastic cities in the world. Once you have decided which cities you would like to visit and what you would like to see it’s time to start thinking about all of that travelling you will have to do. Here are some great tips that will help you to prepare for the trip ahead.

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Don’t overpack!

You don’t really need to bring too much with you when you travel, do you? Realistically you can survive with a couple of pairs of trousers, four tops and some underwear. It is a lot easier to travel when you are not weighed down by a heavy bag. Trust me, you will be so thankful that your bag doesn’t weigh a lot when you have to run for a train!

Always charge you gadgets

You cannot guarantee that the train you are travelling on will have power points for you to charge your electronics. So if you want to listen to music, watch a movie or take photos, make sure that everything has enough battery life to last on your journey. If you are traveling in one of the TGV trains you will more than likely have power because they are some of the most modern trains out there.

Bring a snack with you

We all know that when we travel we don’t know if there will be somewhere for us to buy food. So, just incase you get caught short for food on the train always have some emergency snacks with you. It can be a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps, anything to keep the hunger at bay until you reach your destination. You will able to check out the facilities before you leave, but I advise always having something to hand just incase!

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The best places to visit in Greece

Greece is known by everyone as being the place where you can go discover ancient civilisation. If you’re not a history buff then there’s no need to worry because there are plenty of other things that will tickle your fancy; quaint villages, sweeping sandy beaches, amazing food and a great friendly atmosphere. It’s only a short flight from the UK so you should take your holiday as soon as possible and fly out to Greece. Without doubt the place has the best food that I have ever tried, the Mediterranean food is so tasty that you won’t want to go back home and when you do you will find the food nowhere near as good! One thing I should mention is that for the health conscious amongst you please forget any idea of diet that you have, you have to eat as much as possible when you are n Greece. There is no way that you can fly all the way there and indulge in every bit of Greek cuisine that you lay your eyes on, if you though Greek food was good back home then wait until you try the real thing! So now you’re going to be eating lots it’s time to tell you about the best places to visit where you can stroll around and burn off those tasty meals. Here are my favourite places to visit on holidays to Greece.

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Rhodes

This is an easy choice for me, it is one of the most popular places in the country. it is so popular because it is not only steeped in history but it also has some amazing beaches as well. What could be better than exploring historical sites in the morning when the temperature is cool and then lounging on the beach for the rest of the day? This is a must see place.

Mykonos

This place is great if you enjoy heading out for a party at night. It’s such a friendly city and is one of the best islands that Greece has to offer. The city is beautiful, it is filled with white washed buildings and sits on the Aegean Sea. This modern city city is fantastic for anyone that is looking for relaxation mixed with a great night life.

Meteora

If heights are not your thing then it’s probably best to mentally prepare yourself before heading here. The breath taking cliffs are stunning, and on top of them you will find a number of monasteries. I personally don’t like heights, but I am so glad I battle my fear and visited Meteora. If you want to take some of the best photos you will will ever take then you have to head to Meteora.

 

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Climb Every Mountain – the Lasting Effects of The Sound of Music

So hands up, who has the tune to the lyrics ‘climb every mountain, search high and low’ running through their head right now? There are not many of us who have not been to a sing a long of The Sound of Music or who do not know someone who has. It is part and parcel of our culture and astoundingly the reason for 70% of visitors to Salzburg choosing to travel there.

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Bemused Austrians:

Our love affair with the Sound of Music has left many Austrians raising their eyebrows and shaking their heads in a bemused fashion. Indeed you will find that outside of Strazburg not many Austrians have even watched the Sound of Music and do not realise the impact that the film had. It has not however taken long for people in Strazburg itself to understand the affection we have for it and to provide us with a new more intimate way of gorging ourselves on the music and story we are so fond of.

Watch Till You Drop:

Now when you get to Salzburg you have options like the Sound of Music Tours where you will be likely to visit delights like the Mirabell Palace, where you will remember the children of the Von Trapp Family using the steps like a musical scale to sing the song Do-Re-Me and the famous Leopoldskron Palace which was used as the Von Trapp home. If you visit at the right time of year you may also be lucky enough to come across one of the many Sound of Music dinner shows which are run in the city. As if that was not enough you can also book a hotel which will show your favourite film round the clock so you can come in from your show and watch it all again.

Find Yourself a Mountain:

If all of that has left you wanting more, Salzburg is located in such beautiful mountainous countryside that it would be a shame if you did not have a day trip out to enjoy it. Picture yourself now running up the hillside arms outstretched just like Maria. There are many tours and trips that you can take that will add to your Sound of Music experience. As with any break that you want to get the most from, research is key so decide what it is that you are looking for and book it ahead.

I doubt that when the film was made the people responsible would realise the impact and the enjoyment that it would give to countless numbers who have now descended on the picturesque city. It is now one of our favourite things.

Image attributed to FreedDgitalPhotos.net franky242

 

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Experience traditional China: Kunming

China is an extraordinary place, and I think a major part of its appeal among tourists is the fact that there are just so many experiences you can have here. If it’s traditional China you’re keen to discover, the city of Kunming should definitely be high on your to-do list.

All about Kunming

Kunming is the capital of the Yunnan province, which is in south-west China. One of the things I like most about it is that, despite having all the features you’d expect of a modern city (skyscrapers, massive shopping centres and such), it’s also got heaps of more traditional attractions. So, in my opinion there are few places to get a better experience of China’s past and present.

Another thing I like about it is that it somehow feels quite a bit more laid-back than many Chinese cities – something to do with the mild climate, perhaps, or its beautiful green parks.

What to see and do

Of course, no doubt what you’re most interested in is finding out what you can see and do while you’re here. Below, I’ve highlighted three of my favourite attractions, each of which I think has something quite different (and special) to offer. It’s worth bearing these in mind when organising your holiday to China to make sure you get an itinerary that works for you.

Visit the Bamboo Temple

Dating back to the Tang Dynasty, the Bamboo Temple was rebuilt in the 15th century following a fire. It is later restoration work, carried out in the 19th century, that has really helped to put this place on the map though.

You see, back in the 1800s, Chinese sculptor Li Guangxiu helped out with the temple’s restoration, and when he did he created 500 amazing life-size – and incredibly lifelike – figures, including a series of surfing Buddhas riding on things like unicorns and crabs. It’s rumoured he modelled these creations on people he knew, almost like a caricature – and that these people were none too happy about it!

I should probably warn you that tourists aren’t actually allowed into the room with the statues these days – but you can still catch a glimpse of them as you meander around.

Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park is one of the best places to go if you want to relax a little. As well as being a lovely place for walks, it’s also a great place for nature-spotting – especially if you’re planning to travel in November, since this is when the red-beaked seagulls are around.

If birdwatching isn’t your thing, though, people-watching is a popular pastime here too. Alternatively, the roads along the park have a lot to offer too if you fancy something a little more lively, with plenty of shops and cafes located here.

Yunnan Provincial Museum

My final suggestion is Yunnan Provincial Museum, which is a great place to learn more about local early cultures. There are around 50,000 artefacts to peruse, including 7,000 bronze items and 4,000 handicrafts.

While all these are very impressive, I think the highlight for most people is the fossilised humanoid teeth, which are around 1.7 million years old!

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