Avignon: One of France’s Most Beautiful Cities

When you think of France, you might first think of Paris and the Eiffel Tower, then perhaps the French Riviera, countryside or other famous parts of this gorgeous country. But if you haven’t heard of Avignon, then it’s time to learn about one of the most beautiful and lesser-known cities in magical France. It’s an ancient, historical town rich in culture and life, so plan to spend at least a few days here because you really won’t want to leave once you’ve arrived! Avignon is a quick and cheap flight from London and many other European cities, so it’s the perfect destination to visit for a weekend or longer! Here are some great things to see and do in Avignon, France:

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Places (or Squares)

In a French town like Avignon, everything is centered around the “Places”, or what we could call town squares. They are often very picturesque, quaint and filled with lovely shops and cafes to explore. The Place de l’Horloge is a long square lined with terrace cafes, and a gorgeous carousel at one end. Here you can visit a clock tower with the first public clock built in the town. Place du Palais is a different type of square, large and open, and often filled with street performers, making this a great meeting point and entertaining spot to wait! And Place de la Pignotte is shady and tree-lined, lined with gorgeous architecture and churches.

Hiking

Avignon is a great spot to explore the outdoors, as it is surrounded by lush countryside and trails. You can pick up a map at your hotel and head out for the day to take in the scenic outdoors. The hikes around Avignon are generally quite easy so you don’t need to worry about being an expert hiker. And if you’re not into hiking, Avignon is a town easily explored by foot so you can enjoy the outdoors without even leaving the town limits. If you travel in summer, expect warm weather; fall and winter can be chilly so make sure to bring extra layers. Springtime tends to warm up and the surrounding areas brighten up with blossoms.

Dining

When in France, you absolutely must indulge in the local cuisine, as it’s one of the most important parts of the culture here. Starting at the Place de l’Horloge, you can explore the sidewalk cafes and try the local specialties and bakeries offering divine pastries and coffee. Meandering throughout the town, you’ll find all sorts of little restaurants offering fine foods, often with a pleasant outdoor terrace to sit and enjoy the views.

Accommodations

Whatever type of accommodation you prefer, you can surely find it in Avignon. But one of the most lovely ways to enjoy this town is to stay at a local bed and breakfast, where you can stay with locals and enjoy a quaint and cozy room and freshly made breakfast in the morning. Avignon also has a wide variety of hotels to choose from based on budget and style.

The Magic of San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the biggest players in terms of must see American cities and funnily enough – it’s one of the smallest at only 49 square miles. Within that small space, lays an absolutely magnificent city that offers a vast amount to see and do and better yet – it’s all very easy. Compact, easily to commute around and no time constraints – San Francisco is hiving.

It would be very easy to stay in San Francisco and spend weeks covering very little of what the city has to offer. To help make this easier for you if you are planning a trip to ‘The City by The Bay’.

Things to do in San Francisco

 

1. The Golden Gate Bridge

Upon visiting San Francisco – you are not only expected to see the Golden Gate Bridge, you are obliged. One of the most famous bridges in the world – it’s a sight to behold and will amaze even the most experienced travellers. It’s a huge – 1.7 miles long and it’s estimated that 120,000 vehicles drive across it every day. You can also cross the bridge on foot via the pedestrian walkway and for the keen cyclist – bikes are allowed on the western side. And if you don’t fancy travelling across, you should go and see it anyway as it is said to be one of the most photographed attractions on Earth.
San Francisco, CA, USA
Image Source: Rant Lifestyle

2. Alcatraz

Although a bit of a strange tourist sight – this notorious former prison is a popular choice for the historian and curious traveller among you. Located on an Alcatraz Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, this prison was formally home to some of the United States’ most notorious criminals. The prison was closed in the 1960’s and stories about Alcatraz are legendary and a visit to Alcatraz is truly captivating.  Recorded cell-house tours are available, allowing you to experience the entire history from an educational point.  To reach the island, take an Alcatraz Cruises ferry from Pier 43.

Alcatraz IslandImage Source: Protails

3. Sample the Culture

San Francisco is a cultural hub and a visit to San Fran would not be complete without experiencing all this wonderful city has to offer.  Home to internationally recognized symphony, opera and ballet companies – you’ll never be short of a thing or do to do and see.  Museum’s come in abundance – The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Asian Art Museum, the de Young Museum and the Palace of the Legion of Honor. The city is dedicated to the finest of classical and contemporary arts and of course is home to California Academy of Sciences which homes an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof.

 

4. Take a cable ride

One of the best ways to explore the city of San Francisco is by cable car and the city’s cable car system is the world’s last manually operated cable car system.  These cable cars can take you from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf, two of the most popular areas of the city.  They are mainly used by tourists and are an iconic site of the city as they travel along the many famous streets and lanes – many of which have appeared in Hollywood movies down the years.

A-cable-car-San-FranImage Source: Fun Cheap SF

5. Sample the cuisine at Fisherman’s Wharf

The last thing to do when in San Francisco is to make the most of the quality local produce and fine cuisine on offer across the city, none more so than in the many restaurants and cafes of the popular Fisherman’s Wharf.  Pier 39 is another popular area for food lovers among you, but if you want to sample some of the best seafood dishes in the world, then take a walk around Fisherman’s Wharf – you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Fishermans-WharfImage Source: Wikipedia

 

 

Things To Consider Before You Book Your Holiday Hotel

There are those who are happy to go on package holidays where a company takes care of the details, and there are those who prefer to tailor their holidays to their needs. You might find that a package holiday is cheaper than arranging one for yourself, but they all seem to offer the same things in my opinion.

 

If you want to build your own holiday this year, the accommodation must come high up on your list of things to think about, after the travel arrangements. There is much to think about if you are to make the most of your destinations and stay in surroundings that suit you needs and lifestyle. Here are some things you must consider before you book your holiday hotel.

 

Location

There are some beautiful hotels that are miles away from populated areas. You will need to get to it from the airport. Think about the time it will take to get there because the last thing some people need is to spend eight hours on a crowded bus or in the back of a stifling taxi. If the hotel is in an African country, for example, the roads might not be up to much either, so it could be a nightmare journey.

 

Food

See if there are any reviews online that give you a clue about the quality of the food and the range of meals on the menu. If you do not like foreign cuisine, do they provide some dishes from your homeland? It will make for a miserable experience if you spend the holiday in a state of hunger.

 

Accommodation

Research the hotel online to see if the room will meets your needs. You will find a good selection of hotels here. Pay particular attention to the bathrooms. Are they up to the job? The best hotels might have a whirlpool bath where you can relax at the end of a long day of exploration.

Think about the view from the room. Most hotel suites come with patio doors that lead to a deck or balcony. Will yours overlook a construction site, or does it have an idyllic sea view?

Do the rooms have air conditioning? You could be in for some uncomfortable nights if they don’t. Look for the comments of other people online; their recommendation might sway your decision.

 

Facilities

The swimming pool is one of the most important facilities for holiday hotels. It provides a place to relax and cool off under the blazing sun when you have no other commitments. Hotels usually invest much money in a top quality swimming pool, but make sure that there is no maintenance scheduled on your vacation dates. It would be a disaster if they drained the pool just before your arrival.

 

Excursions

Many hotels arrange excursions for their guests, or know of a local company that runs them. They know the best places to visit and often receive preferential treatment at those destinations. Find out what is on offer and pre-book it if there is something you like.

When you are happy, book a hotel and count the days until you jet off for a week or two away from the rat-race. We work hard all year for this short break, so we must plan it well. I hope my advice will serve you well. Have an awesome time!

 

Amazing Ways You Can Save on Holiday Accommodation

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When it comes to holiday accommodation, you’re probably on the lookout for ways in which you can save money. Accommodation can be one of the biggest expenditures that people face whilst on holiday. So it makes sense if you want to make it cheaper. Thankfully there are some proven strategies that you can put into action. These will help to make your holiday accommodation much cheaper.

 

Find a High Quality Company

 

Before you decide on booking affordable accommodation, you must first focus on finding a high quality company. If you do not know how to find such a company, you will struggle in terms of finding excellent budget accommodation. For instance, if you are looking for a great place to stay in Australia, you will need to know how find a company that can provide you with high quality Glenelg accommodation. Once you know how to do this, you can then think about focusing on everything else.

 

Book in Advance

 

One of the best things that you can do in order to make your holiday accommodation cheaper is to book it in advance. If you book accommodation in advance, you will be rewarded for taking action quickly. Of course, this method does not apply to spontaneous methods of travel, and so you can only apply this to holidays booked in advance. Different companies will provide varying discount amounts, in relation to booking ahead of time.

 

Book in Quiet Areas

 

You can also reduce your accommodation costs by booking locations that are in quiet regions. When you choose to do things this way, you avoid the cost that comes with staying in areas that are of high demand.

 

To make the most out of this method, you will need to educate yourself about some of the surrounding areas in order to find out which one is best. The easiest way to do this is through the internet. You can take out some time to read what people are saying about the nearby regions and use their opinions to guide your decisions.

 

Go During The Less Busy Periods

 

The other option you have when it comes to booking accommodation that is going to be cheap is to book during the less busy periods. If you choose to book a holiday during the summer months, you might find yourself paying too much for accommodation. However, if you book during the winter months, when fewer tourists are present, you will be able to benefit from the lower prices. The prices tend to be lower because of reduced demand. Due to weaker demand, companies will be more willing to reduce their accommodation costs in order to lure potential customers.

 

Astounding Accommodation?

 

Finding affordable accommodation whilst on holiday is not the easiest of things to do. The task can be made easier, however, with the help of a few clever tactics. Such tactics might mean you book during the quieter times, or maybe just in quieter locations. In any case, you should now know what to do in order to obtain cheap accommodation. Your only challenge now is having some restraint as you do not want to spend all of your saved money on souvenirs!

Royal Vegas – Monthly Giveaways

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Some of the ways to win monthly prices are based on a 16-gigabyte iPod on a 7 day cruise in the Caribbean. Depending on the tournament, the prize opportunities come to the players, not only on a monthly basis, but also from week to week. This means, there are chances to win during the month and at the end of the month. But it gets even better because the monthly giveaways continue so that players collect their players from month to month, and it points to an ongoing tournament. This qualifies them not only for multiple entries for the monthly drawing, but also increases their level of eligibility and move up to qualify for even better prices.

Royal Vegas Casino is for people who designed the go. The monthly freebies are structured so that even if you are traveling, whether on holiday or as part of your business, you can continue to play and rack player points, and continue to be entitled to the weekly and monthly prize draws. Unlike many online casinos, you need to qualify from a short list of their games to play to win a prize, play now at royal vegas your favorite games. To earn include all your play time and money player points that increase your chances of winning.

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.

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!

 

 

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.

Getting back to nature in Newcastle

It might seem odd to suggest getting back to nature in a big city like Newcastle, but it’s not so strange when you consider that it’s just a stone’s throw from the coast. So, it’s actually the perfect destination if you fancy combining culture and seaside fun on your next family holiday.

It’s the seaside aspect we’ll be talking about today, especially as the local coastline is not only dotted with lovely little seaside towns, but also Blue Flag beaches, traditional fish and chip shops and plenty of family-friendly attractions. Here are some of our favourite things to do when popping to the coast for a day, while you can find out more about local attractions and where to stay at NewcastleGateshead.

Visit the lighthouses

The local coastline is home to some fantastic lighthouses that are great fun for families to visit. Souter Lighthouse, with its classic red and white striped design, is definitely among the best, not least because it was actually the first lighthouse in the world to be designed and built for electric power. Having opened in 1871, it is no longer operational, but it’s still one of the coastline’s icons.

Alternatively (or as well!), you could head to St Mary’s Lighthouse and Island, which you’ll find at Whitley Bay. This lighthouse guided ships to shore for just under a century, finally closing in 1984. Today, one of its main attractions for visitors is the fact that you can climb all the way to the top – and trust us, doing so will give you some outstanding views of the coast. You just need to be prepared to tackle 137 steps!

What we also like about coming here is that there’s plenty else to enjoy alongside the lighthouse. You see, it’s surrounded by a nature reserve, which the kids are bound to love exploring – there are rock pools, a beach, wetland habitats and more. There’s also a little shop where you can pick up toys and souvenirs for the children to take home.

Head to the aquarium

While you might assume that the coastline’s only really a good place to visit when the sun is out, that’s actually not the case. When the wind’s howling, for instance, the beaches can be dramatic settings for walks (we’ll talk more about beaches in a moment), while there are plenty of indoor attractions too.

Among the best is the Blue Reef Aquarium, which is on Tynemouth’s Grand Parade. Come here and you can see everything from cute harbour seals to even monkeys – not being a marine creature, the latter is bound to be a particular surprise! Daring kids will love seeing species like black tip reef sharks, while the rockpool encounters will give them the chance to get up close to weird and wonderful creatures.

Hit the beach

The great thing about the coastline near Newcastle is that it’s home to lots of Blue Flag beaches. Stretches of sand with this award are known for being clean and safe, which makes them perfect for families.

Tynemouth Longsands is one of the beaches with Blue Flag status, and it has everything from pretty dunes and cliffs to a charming cafe right on the beach. King Edward’s Bay, meanwhile, is a lovely little beach that’s actually located below the fantastic Tynemouth Priory and Castle. Combining trips to both is a great basis for a day out, especially when the sun is shining!

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!