31 January 2013

Underground Travel

Going underground around the world!


On January 9th of this year, the London Underground celebrated its 150th anniversary! In 1863, the world’s first underground journey took place between Paddington and Farringdon on the old Metropolitan Railway, where steam trains pulled rickety wooden carriages lit by gas-lamps, and was hailed as an engineering success.




Transport technology has moved on somewhat since those days with electricity replacing steam and gas. There are even plans to introduce wi-fi and air-conditioned carriages on the Tube!

Here the Times takes a look at how othercities around the world fare.

 

Athens, Greece


The Athens underground system may be one of the more ‘modern’ systems in Europe but is in fact an archaeological treasure. When construction began in the early 1990s, around 50,000 artefacts were discovered, making this the single most important excavation ever conducted in Athens! Some stations even exhibit finds exactly in the place they were found. You can now view the Roman baths at Syntagma station and the remains of ancient graves at Acropolis station making this an ideal way to explore this historical city.

 

Stockholm, Sweden


Stockholm loves visitors and has a great metro system that makes travelling around the capital really convenient. And if you love art, you’re in luck since most of the capital’s metro stations feature artworks by over 150 artists. A day spent travelling on the metro will reveal sculptures, paintings, mosaics and inscriptions galore! You even have the option to have a guided tour of four or five stations with a Metro expert. It’s fun and an inexpensive way to explore the city, art and culture of Stockholm!

 

New York City, USA


The Big Apple’s subway system is, by far, one of the most elaborate in the world with 24 routes serving close to 500 stations and it runs 24 hours a day! Running efficiently and with air conditioned cars, it operates right through this vibrant city so you will have no problem visiting the famous sites of the Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue, Central Park and the bright lights of Times Square! It’s somewhat global in its reach too, running through various diverse parts including the Greek neighbourhood of Astoria, the borough of Queens and Canal Street - the heart of Chinatown! NYC is a great city to travel to all year around and with great value transport, it’s well worth a visit!

 

Singapore


Singapore’s railway system, known as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), spans the entire city-state and is one of the world’s most modern, despite being the second oldest in Southeast Asia. With just over 100 stations, it’s used by commuters and thousands of visitors alike to get around Singapore quickly. It’s best to buy an EZ link card (like a smartcard) from any MRT station in advance of your journeys. Then take in a leisurely stroll in the botanical gardens and visit Clarke Quay in the evening, it’s a pleasurable ride and the easiest way to get about this impressively clean city!

 

Budapest, Hungary


Budapest is a lovely European city and its underground railway system is a fast, efficient and great way to explore the Hungarian capital. Consisting of just 3 lines (with a fourth to open in 2014), the metro helps move around thousands of tourists each year. Line 1 is particularly recommended since at almost every stop there is a cultural highlight! Most of the city’s sights can be visited by metro - so whether it’s the Opera House or St. Stephen’s Basilica you are visiting, hop on the train and explore.

27 January 2013

Visit Dublin

Top 3 Attractions in the heart of Dublin

 

We all know Dublin as the cosmopolitan capital of the Republic of Ireland but how many of us have taken the opportunity to visit? You don’t have to succumb to the post-festive blues that are so common around this time of the year – why not take the time to book a city break in the capital and spend quality time with loved ones in a city that offers sightseeing and attractions galore?



Take a look at some of the Travelodge hotels in the area if you’re after an affordable no-frills hotel. Check out the Dublin Rathmines hotel for reasonably priced accommodation that puts you within easy access of the action. 


Dublin Castle


Since its foundation in the 13th century, Dublin Castle has continued to be of paramount importance in both the history and development of Dublin. With the site containing two museums, 2 cafes and gardens to explore, there is plenty to be getting on with, but if you want to see more, you can have a guided tour of the State Apartments – tickets are available from the Apartments in the Upper Castle Yard.

The Guinness Storehouse


Whether you have an affinity for this creamy pint or you need a splash of blackcurrant to take the edge of it, the Guinness Storehouse is one of the most common attractions in the city. As Ireland’s number one visitor attraction, the attractions takes you into the history of the brewery, with a modern and contemporary twist.
Seven floors provide insight into the story of the Guinness brand, including the Gravity bar which not only provides a perfect pint but offers panoramic views of the city to enjoy while drinking it. 


Temple Bar TradFest


Running between the 22nd and the 27th January, this amazing traditional music festival is jam-packed with Irish folk music, craic and dancing. Over two hundred free events are planned in 17 venues across the city, giving you the opportunity to take part or just sit back and listen. 

Enjoy a visit to Dublin this winter and sample some of the history, music and the nation’s favourite drink. Book a hotel to make the most of your city break.

22 January 2013

Japan in April

Japan's Finest - A Travel Itinerary for the Land of the Rising Sun

Japan’s culture, history and stunning natural beauty make it one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. With so much to do, it is often difficult to fit everything you’d like to do in your itinerary, and you leave without experiencing the iconic Japanese attractions you dreamed of seeing. There’s good news, however: this itinerary has been especially designed so that you get to experience what everyone should when visiting Japan. The hard work’s been done, and all you have to do now is buy your airfares, sit back, and enjoy yourself. Ganbatte!

8th – 11th April: Tokyo

On April 1st, you’ll arrive at Narita International Airport, Tokyo. Tokyo showcases Japan’s modernity and luxury – a city that will excite all your senses with its stunning views and bright lights, its bustling city sounds, and foods with tastes and smells that will leave you in a state of wondrous amazement. There are a million things to do in Tokyo, something for every type of person. Visit Tokyo Tower, go shopping in Ginza, and visit as many restaurants, clubs and bars as you can possibly manage. Enjoy the contemporary Japan in whatever way pleases you.

8th – 11th April: Niseko

Before travelling south, you should travel north to experience the seasons, whether summer or winter, have uniquely different things on offer. Experience the exhilarating skiing experience in winter or water rafting in summer. The resort offers a multitude of things for young and old to do such as golfing, bathing in hot springs and appreciating nature.


12th – 13th April: Matsumoto

If you haven’t encountered cherry blossom viewing festivals, or hanami,on the way to Matsumoto, then you can stop at this city and spend a day under the sakura trees that rain pink blossoms with the slightest breeze. During this time, the cherry blossoms should be in full bloom, and you’ll be able to appreciate them at their most beautiful. Also, make sure to stop by Matsumoto Castle, a 400 year old fortress that is open to the public and showcases an array of ancient weapons.

14th – 15th April: Takayama

Travelling south towards Kyoto, your final destination, you’ll encounter the ancient town of Takayama. You’ll arrive just in time to witness the Takayama Matsuri, one of the three most beautiful festivals in Japan. From morning to evening, beautifully ornate traditional floats are paraded throughout the town. The evening festival is the highlight however, and hundreds of thousands of people gather to celebrate.

16th – 17th April: Gero

The onsen (hot springs) of Gero are a must on any Japanese tour. These hot spring baths will melt your troubles away and any stress, worries or weariness that the trip or life has burdened you with will quickly dissipate in these heavenly waters. Spend a day to relax and enjoy another of Japan’s iconic natural wonders.

18th – 22nd April: Kyoto

Kyoto gives unique insight into Japan’s history and culture. This ancient city is a window to the prestige and wonder of medieval Japan. Once the capital of a great empire, the castles, museums, towers and shrines this city proudly displays are monuments to an old but not forgotten civilization. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kyoto is superbly breathtaking and no trip to Japan would be complete without visiting this ancient city.

On the journey from Tokyo to Kyoto, you’ll experience the Japanese urban and rural lifestyles. The cultural wealth and natural serenity of this country makes it popular with many tourists. If you can fit in a visit to Mt Fuji, then you can add majesty to the already extensive descriptive words used to describe your memorable trip.


 Adrian Rodriguez is a freelance writer and university student who is obsessed with the Japanese culture and natural vistas. His Niseko holiday has been his most memorable yet.

Clubs and Lounges of Modern New York

Whether you are visiting New York City for a few days or have been living in its streets for your entire life, there is always something new to discover and enjoy. Clubs and lounges abound in Manhattan, offering a variety of experiences – for everyone from those who want to sit back alone, sipping a drink and listening to the music, to those looking to socialize, party, or perhaps pick up a date for an interesting evening.



There are hundreds of locations to choose from, ensuring an endless variety of enjoyment for the enterprising seeker after nightlife. However, five of the standout clubs and lounges in New York include:
  • The Beatrice Inn is a favored spot for those hoping to catch a glimpse of a visiting celebrity, since many famous people frequent the location while visiting New York City, including the ill-fated Heath Ledger of “Dark Knight” fame. Reservations are required and the dress code and general atmosphere are casual business. The steak house food on offer is excellent though naturally expensive, with bills of up to $50 per person being typical. The Beatrice is found at 285 West 12th Street.
  • For those who enjoy a highly varied mix of music and who despise dress codes, and who don't mind mingling with the Bohemian artistic set, the Lit Lounge at 93 Second Avenue offers a very different experience from the Beatrice Inn. Prices are lower and the atmosphere is even more relaxed. The spacious basement is the venue for musical offerings from everywhere – ranging from New York's local music scene to exciting selections from around the planet. The site's brick architecture, rusted iron, and candlelight give it a highly distinctive feel also, capturing the mystery of the city's past, present, and future.
  • Those athirst for a dash of comedy with their drinks need seek no further than the Upright Citizens Brigade East (UCB East). Both variety shows and improvisational comedy are featured on the UCB's stage at 153 East 3rd Street nightly, year round, for the enjoyment of patrons. Ticket prices are low and after-show drinks at the bar are moderately priced, providing a thrifty but fulfilling evening of laughs and liquid refreshment.
  • Sophisticated rooftop entertainment is available at the Salon de Ning, an elegant terrace cocktail lounge found at 700 5th Avenue, atop the Peninsula Hotel. China, Morocco, Paris, and Venice are just a few of the major influences on the d├ęcor and ambiance of this high end nightclub location. Though the dress code is casual, reservations must be made at least two weeks in advance, and are naturally subject to availability constraints. The lounge opens at 5:00 PM, slightly later than some other rooftop lounges.
  •  The XVI Lounge, found on the 16th floor at 251 West 48th Street, offers great views over Midtown Manhattan and Hudson River sunsets, while the mood turns more festive later in the evening as the DJs crank the music louder and the crowd grows thicker and more boisterous. The Lounge offers surprisingly comfortable armchair seating with a whiff of late 18th century, combined with modern flourishes and a pleasantly welcoming staff.

William D. wrote this article on New York City Bars because he loves to go to bars and write about how wonderful they are.

21 January 2013

The Only Apps You Will Need For Your Trip!

When planning a trip anywhere it is always best to be prepared. With technology these days everyone seems to have a smart phone of some kind. The great thing about that is you can install certain apps to your phone that can help you along the way on your trip no matter where you are going. 





 

There are several ones that is a must have when travelling. First off, when you are traveling to a different country it is best to have a currency converter. This is something you will definitely need so you know how much money it is going to cost you with their currency to make sure you already have a heads up on the difference of dollars in different countries. It will help you with the troublesome task when you want to change coins.

The next app that is vital for you to have if you are traveling outside of your country is the Google translate. This has various languages that can help you translate from your language to the language everyone is speaking. It is nice to try a few different phases before you actually get to the country. IT will definitely be one of your most vital tools!

Packing Pro is a very great app because it helps you keep track of what all you need to pack for your trip. It will help to make sure that you did not forget anything that you may need. I don’t know how many times I have been on a trip and then realized I have forgotten something. It is quite irritating because it is always something important.

Trip it is one of the most used apps because it has many great qualities to it. It helps you keep track of flight information it will help you with hotel vouchers and even car rentals. A great perk about this app is it alerts you when any of your traveling plans change. It even lets you know the weather of where you’re going so you know what to expect when you get there. Thousands of people are using this app every day.

If you are traveling outside of the country one thing you may worry about is roaming charges on your phone. Well there is no need to worry about that if you download the app Viber. This will allow you to send and receive free calls and texts to whoever else has this app no matter where they are in the world.

All of these apps will help you in more ways than one when it comes to you traveling. No matter if the trip is a big one or small one they will help. By having these apps, the stress of the travel planning is taken care of so that leaves you all the time to enjoy yourself on your trip.

This guest blog was brought to you by foreign and euro coin exchange Cash4Coins who provide simple, open and honest service and are trusted by individuals, national charities, banks,


Considering A Cruise Holiday?

Float Away, Far Far Away


When you're looking for a fabulous getaway, perhaps the holiday of a lifetime, the chances are you will come across a cruise holiday at some point or other. And let's face it, when it comes to finding the holiday of a lifetime, a cruise won't be too far off the mark. Take your pick from a whole world of destinations, taking in a spectacular array of itineraries ranging from voyages to the Caribbean and the glorious Florida Keys, to the stunning Aegean and Ionian seas around Greece, or perhaps the magnificent Norwegian Fjords.




Finding a Great Cruise Deal


Of course, such holidays don't necessarily come cheap. So for many of us, the chance to enjoy a memorable cruise holiday is one that must be carefully planned to arrive within a strict budget - and most of the time that means hunting for cruise deals.

Last minute cruises are a great money-saver. Just like package holidays, cruise getaways will often come down in price in the last few weeks leading up to the departure date. This is to enable the cruise operator to sell off those last few holidays prior to the departure date - after all it's better to sell the cabins at cost rather than let them go empty.

For customers this represents an excellent opportunity to snap up a bargain. You'll get exactly the same holiday as advertised previously, except a little cheaper. Of course availability is limited and you'll need to be on the ball to grab the cruise that best suits your holiday wish-list, so be vigilant, and also be prepared to jet off in just a week or two's time!

If you're after a longer itinerary, or if you fancy jetting off to faraway shores like the Caribbean, it may be better to plan your holiday and book well in advance. There are various early bird deals on offer for cruise holidays departing next year or even further ahead, so if the likes of Grandeur Of The Seas cruises has tickled your fancy, get online or go to your local travel agent to see what kind of incentives they can offer you to book early.

18 January 2013

Malta Tourism Soars to New Heights

The sunny holiday destination of Malta is a little island with big appeal – that’s according to the latest festive season tourism statistics. Malta Tourism Minister, Dr Mario de Marco, has hailed 2012 as the nation’s best year ever for international tourism.


Challenges and Opportunities

Speaking about the growth of the tourism industry over the past five years, the Minister stated; “Since 2007, we have had to face an international financial and economic meltdown… SARS, volcanic eruptions and armed conflict in North Africa. Such adverse conditions have shown that this industry is not for the faint hearted”. He went on to say that the industry does however adapt quickly to change, and that the challenges faced over the years have also presented new opportunities for growth. The results, of course, speak for themselves.

Record Results

Dr de Marco revealed that 2012 saw new records set in the Maltese tourism industry – namely a record number of nights spent in Malta, and a record level of expenditure by tourists. An estimated 1440 000 tourists visited Malta during the year, spending more than 12.5 million bed nights in the country’s hotels and villas, and spending more than €1.3 billion in total.

The Last Five Years

Compared to statistics from 2007, these figures point to a massive increase – specifically, 200 000 more tourists, 1.5 million more bed nights and €272 million more in tourist expenditure. This is good news for the Maltese nation as a whole; tourism plays a major role in the country’s economy, creating jobs and generating income for many local businesses and families.

Steps to Success

The Minister attributes the success of Malta’s tourism industry to years of hard work and sound policies. Over the past five years, Maltese officials have strategically approached numerous airlines with the aim of making Malta a more accessible holiday destination; this has seen the number of direct routes to Malta by air grow steadily from 57 to 81.

The Maltese Government has also worked hard to promote investment in the country’s tourism industry, attracting more interest from the private sector than ever before. Improvements to Malta’s infrastructure and visitor attractions have also helped to generate more tourism and repeat visits.
“Working in this industry has been a privilege for me” says Dr Mario de Marco. He predicts that 2013 will be another successful year for “all those whole carve a living from this truly ‘people to people’ industry”.


Nicky Warner is a London-based blogger and an avid traveller; she can’t wait to spend a well-deserved break at one of the fine St Julians hotels in Malta.

Enjoy Limassol

Limassol is not only a place for ancient ruins and beaches. It offers more fun that you could ever expect and here are some of those things that would most definitely make your tour more exciting.

Ocean Front Walk

Others may not find it too exciting, but the beauty of the ocean, the sky, and the sun is enough to make this walk extraordinarily fun. Grab the hand of your special someone and it becomes too magical to forget. Moreover, you are given this moment for free without any cost, except for a little souvenir that may catch your eye during your long walks.


Adventure Park Sayious

Packed with Drift Go-Karting, Paintball, and Archery; this place in Limassol is one of the best places to visit if you are looking for adventure. It is suitable for all ages and could be shared with anyone in the family. The staff will make your stay equally fun and comfortable, so do include it in your choice of get-away given the chance to visit Cyprus.

City of Art Craft Market

Both men and women would be appreciative of the collage, jewelry, pottery, clothes, and paintings displayed at the creative market every second Saturday of the month. It is the perfect place to visit if you wish to take home beautiful souvenir items to your family and friends.

Picnic All Year Round

Thanks to the beautiful climate of Limassol, the opportunity to enjoy a picnic any time of the year is always possible. Do come prepared with a bottle of locally produced wine and traditional Cypriot goodies and take it with you on a hike in the Troodos Mountains. It will certainly make your day extra special, especially after seeing century old trees still towering high in the woods.

The Limassol Carnival

It is not everyday that you will be greeted with people on the streets enjoying a celebration. Enjoy lots of singing, dancing, parades, performances, and exhibitions. This happens every February, so do book your travel tickets early to guarantee a room for this much-awaited festivity in the region. Do include a Limassol car hire too, because you may not find too many public transportations on public holidays, which includes the Limassol Carnival.

Winery Tour

This is perfect for those with quite a handsome of money to spend. You could either join a group on a scheduled wine tour, or do a private exploration of the winery as given permission for the owner. Nevertheless, this could only be made possible if you have your own car to take you to these places.


Karl Shaine is an event planner in Cyprus. He assists groups with their outdoor tours and coordinates with Cyprus car rental companies to guarantee a fun and enjoyable vacation.

Discovering Australia's Hidden Tourist Treasures

Almost every country that has a thriving tourism industry is still able to have certain locations and areas that remain unspoiled by commercialism. These places that local residents want to keep quiet about are often those that best reflect what particular countries are all about. Considering the size of the country, much of Australia has already been discovered and is well-known by tourist operators and holidaymakers around the world.

We managed to find a few beautiful places that remain off the radar, however. Be sure to visit them quickly, as once the secret is out they will start to be overrun.

Bay of Fires, Tasmania

Tasmania has long been a poor cousin to the rest of the Australian states when it comes to tourism. Overlooking this island, however, is a crime that you should ensure you aren’t guilty of committing. While the weather might not be as warm or predictable as the mainland, the landscape is perhaps the best in the entire country.



Our recommendation is to try the Bay of Fires walk, which will take you around the north-eastern tip of the island in around four days, offering you the chance to camp or stay in beautiful wooden lodges.

Esperance

The beaches in and around the Western Australian town of Esperance are among the very best in the entire world, let alone Australia. Esperance is actually relatively well-known, it’s just that being in a remote location 9-hours away from Perth, not many people see it as a must visit spot.

There is no doubt that they are missing out, however, on the myriad of turquoise shallow waters and perfect white beaches as well as the lakes and nature reserves that populate the area. Esperance is definitely an experience worth heading off the beaten track for.

Broken Hill

The small village of Broken Hill is in the remote north-western portion of New South Wales. Tourists can either venture here themselves via campervan, car, or train, or head out on a specially organised trip with the areas’ postman, who delivers the mail, food, and other essential supplies to this true outback outpost.
While it doesn’t sound like there is a lot going on, the village has a rich mining history and there is much to explore, while nature trails and reservoirs are also situated close by.

Sydney’s Beaches

How can these be a hidden treasure, you ask? Well, the problem with Sydney is that all the tourists head to Bondi beach and think they have seen everything.

For a more secluded haunt away from the crowds at the popular areas, try out Palm or Bronte beach, both of which feature beautiful clear waters and golden dunes tucked neatly away from the stresses of city life.


This article was written by Transfercar. Transfercar is an online relocation service providing cheap, but usually free, campervan and car hire in Australia.

The Heart and Soul of Italy

Carol Atkins has been traveling the globe for much of her life. She loves of all types of travel adventures including island hopping, hiking, cruising and being lazy on the beach :). She loved every minute of her tour of Italy which she writes about here and can’t wait to go back! Follow her on twitter @atkins_carol



My friend Janie and I had often spoken about visiting Italy – really experience it – for years. We finally decided to take the plunge and chose a luxury tour of Italy that would give us that “once in a lifetime” adventure we were looking for. The trip was exquisite, and the following experiences we encountered really stood out:

Tour Rome by Car


Janie and I had a blast being chauffeured around Rome in a vintage Fiat 500. We saw all of the sights including the Coliseum and the Vatican, and more ornate buildings and fountains than I could count. There really is no better way to see Rome!

Alpine train ride


We rode the ”little blue train” from Stresa to Locarno to enjoy Alpine scenery, watching out the window in amazement as the train chugged past quaint scenes of dense forest, deep ravines, meadows blanketed with flowers, and pretty little villages tucked into the hillside.

Gondola ride through Venice


Not only were we treated to ride aboard an Italian gondola, we visited a factory where these quintessential Venetian boats are constructed. Each gondola is made up of 280 intricate parts pieced together from 8 different kinds of wood into a complicated, yet romantically eye-pleasing design.

Wine tasting


In both Valpolicella and Chianti we were treated to wine tastings. First we were offered a sip of Recioto, a tasty, sweet red wine that has been produced since ancient Roman times, and quickly followed by various other blends and varietals that had us almost feeling like true wine connoisseurs.

Driving a Ferrari.


Our visit to the production line at the Lamborghini factory and a tour of the Ferrari Museum to see vintage designs were certainly highlights of our trip, but nothing could compare to the experience of climbing into a Ferrari next to a Formula One race car driver for a lap around the track!

Janie and I agree that our experiences in Italy were everything we could ever have dreamed they would be. This is one trip we’ll be talking about for a very long time to come.


03 January 2013

Exploring Manchester's Chinatown

The ties between Manchester and China have always been particularly strong. The rebuilding of the city's industries after World War Two spurred a massive influx of immigration from China in the late 1940s. In fact, Manchester now hosts the largest Chinese population in Europe, and as the second largest Chinatown in the United Kingdom after London, Manchester’s Chinatown has plenty to offer visitors: Chinese, as well as Japanese, Nepalese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai food.

Atmosphere


The iconic archway on Faulkner Street was completed in 1987 as a gift from the Chinese people. It’s currently the only such arch in Europe, and even more decorative than the one in San Francisco, with its design in ceramic, lacquer, paint and gold leaf. Pedestrians can also relax in the ornamental gardens flanking the gate after a day spent shopping in one of Chinatown’s many giftshops, supermarkets or medicine shops. In the 1970s, one could even visit a local Hong Kong government office.







Dining


Manchester’s first Chinese restaurant was the Ping Hong in Mosley Street, which opened 1948. By the 1960s, the rapid growth of the Chinese population had expanded this number to 16. From there, the area has been a centre of Chinese cuisine in the city. Szechuan restaurants Red Chilli and Red N Hot come highly recommended by Manchester’s foodie scene.




For those with a sweet tooth, Ho’s Bakery on 46 Faulkner Street bakes up some brilliant egg tarts and cream buns. The Yang Sing is also worth a look, as the purported “best Chinese restaurant in Europe”.


Cultural Events
 

The Chinese Arts Centre, established in 1986 by a group of British Chinese artists, celebrates Chinese culture in British media. The centre expanded into travelling exhibitions in 1999, and since then has put on shows throughout Europe in partnership with other organisations.





Chinese New Year in particular is a good time of year to visit Manchester’s Chinatown. The neighbourhood celebrates in style, including fireworks, displays, acrobats and dancers, and of course plenty of great food. There’s also a parade featuring a 175ft paper dragon weaving its way from Albert Square to Chinatown, which attracted 70,000 onlookers in 2012.

For those wanting to explore this unique part of the city, Chinatown is just a short walk away from a number of Metrolink stations, including Mosley Street, Piccadilly Cardens and St. Peter’s Square. There are a number of hotels in Manchester close by, making it a great area for out of towners to check out too.


Catherine Halsey writes for a digital marketing agency on a range of subjects. This article links back to http://www.premierinn.com/en/manchester-hotels.html

Coaches Golden Days

It is said that coaches golden days happened sometime in the 1950s. Back then, travelling by train was quite expensive, and travelling by coach was considerably less expensive; it was also much more flexible. For many people it was the coach that gave them their first taste of freedom, and it was the only way in which they could venture out of their own market town.



As a result coach operators put on many new routes to popular holiday destinations such as Blackpool, Skegness, Brighton, and Margate. Many of those trips would include organised sing-songs of favourite tunes; various comfort breaks; and an obligatory brief stop at a pub, necessary for lubricating the vocal chords.
Mystery tours were also very popular. On a mystery tour nobody knew where they were heading; they just got on the coach and expected to have fun, and often their expectations were exceeded.  Really it didn’t matter where they ended up as the enjoyment was in the journey rather than the destination.


Naturally certain destinations were also important and journeys were not restricted to England. Coach trips abroad became popular too, giving many people their first taste of venturing outside Britain, though many found it to be quite a cultural shock; all that foreign food and posh hotels.


Also back then coaches were very different from those we know today. Certainly they were considerably less comfortable, but they also tended to be far more colourful. Every operator would have its own livery and it tended to be quite striking. Many of the operators included alluded to the colour of their coaches in their brand names.


The coaches of the South Down Coach Company were a beatific grass green colour; the coaches of East Kent were a vivid dark red; and Thames Valley coaches were a lighter shade of red. Coach stations were a veritable rainbow of colours which would disperse as the different operators set off in their different directions.


Coach travel in the 1950s brought with it a new freedom that followed the austere times endured during the war and in the early years after it. It was the time following end of the boom in rail transport and preceding the availability of air transport for ordinary people. Coaches were really the People’s transport. Bus travel was fine for travelling locally, but coach travel provided a new dimension. Coaches would set off in convoys from grimy smog laden towns and cities and head for fresh pastures, bracing sea airs and foreign shores.




This is a guest post by Claire Chat a new Londoner, travel passionate and animal lover. If you want Claire to write you specific content, you can find email her here or contact her on Twitter (Claire_Chat).

02 January 2013

Visiting Cairo

Over nine million people reside in Cairo, Egypt’s fulcrum and a city steeped in masses of history and cultural significance. As one of the most renowned destinations in the world there are never-ending streams of visitors wanting to experience the place for themselves. If indeed you are one of these people, no matter how long you are intending to stay for, then you will surely find it a big help to know of the following tips.

Clothing

The clothes you wear in Muslim countries can be a source of problems if you dress in a way that is seen to be inappropriate or even disrespectful. Women who visit Cairo and Egypt as a whole should cover themselves up as much as possible although it is fine to wear t-shirts and suchlike in areas where there are other tourists for example. Men can wear t-shirts and longer shorts (three-quarter length) generally but should probably keep the typical kind of shorts for use in resorts as opposed to other areas of Cairo.

Do not feel obliged to tip

Although there are many places across the world where it is considered a part of the culture to tip this is not necessarily the general practice in Egypt. There are a great deal of restaurants in Cairo that incorporate the amount you would be expected to tip into the bill itself so do not feel as if you are required to add to this. A good way to measure things like this is by observing how the locals interact with each other. For example, if the locals do not hold out their hand to ask for money from other locals when out and about then you should not expect to have to pay for such pleasantries as luggage handling either.

Tone down public displays of affection

As with the issue of clothing there can be offence caused by certain behaviour in Egypt, including the way affection is displayed in public places. Kissing and suchlike may be commonplace in a lot of countries but in Egypt you should certainly tone it down, and even avoid it as much as possible.

Crossing in Cairo

Crossing the road in Cairo is a whole different proposition to the UK for example. Looking at local people and how they cross is a good guide but never run across the street. Keep your eyes peeled for a safe gap between one vehicle and the next and make your move the moment the first one passes you.


Article written by Martin Rawson, he always bags a bargain when searching for cheap nile cruises.

Plzen and Pilsner Beer – A Danube River Cruise Favorite!


We were touring the Czech Republic, on our way to Prague, which I was really excited to see, a side trip on our Danube River cruise. The guide said we were going to stop in Plzen (Pilsen), a small town that was the home of Pilsner beer. It actually didn’t sound very interesting to me – boy, was I wrong!

First I discovered that Plzen was the center of a great skiing area. I remembered the Winter Olympics in Kitzbuhel and how thrilling it was, with Franz Klammer attacking the mountain for the Gold Medal. What a moment and now I was near the spot. How cool was that? The small and quaint city just got more significant, and as we walked around, I fell in love with the beauty and freshness of the small Alpine city. It was easy to find the Plzen brewery – the complex of buildings was huge, and was easily spotted. It seemed like every corner had a pub, and it quickly became apparent that locals really enjoy their brew. 


 
I don’t drink much beer, so I thought it would be nice to just visit the Brewing Museum, housed in a building that had supplied the local brewers with malt in the middle ages. I had toured the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado when we were in the area for a ski trip, and thought I had an idea about what a brewery would be like. But to see the pilsner history, the long tradition of beer, on display in a house from the 15th century – I quickly realized that the Czech Republic had a much longer history with beer than we did in the States. We got to visit the malt house and see what they called the malt floor, where the soaking and germination of the grain took place. Then we saw a malt kiln – an oven which stopped the grain germination process at the proper moment. 
 
Evidently the brewing process was really complex, and I was surprised by how interesting the exhibits were. The collection of beer bottles from different Czech breweries was a fun visual moment. We didn’t have time on our tour stop, but they told us that there was a labyrinth of passageways, cellars and wells from the 14th century that ran under the town. Plzen beer history was turning out to be a lot more fascinating than I had imagined.

I found out that the most famous beer in the town was Pilsner Urquell, known for clear, golden lagers that sounded like the claims of the Coors brewers – light and fresh. As we stopped off in the Pilsner Urquell Brewery I found out there was time to tour the underground brewery cellars after all. The guide kept us on course so I never felt like we were lost, but I saw so many low lit side tunnels that I got the feel of how extensive these cellars really were.

Then came a very unexpected and special moment. My grandfather fought in World War II with George Patton’s army. He never said much about it, but I had seen the movies and read books about the war. I found out that every five years Plzen celebrates the liberation of the city by Patton’s 3rd army. They still honor the liberation - all this time later. Then I saw the plaque – in gold lettering “Thank You America!” and underneath it described how on May 6, 1945 the city was liberated by the U.S. Army. It brought tears to my eyes. I’d like to get Poppy to talk about it all, but at 87, I wondered if that would happen after all these years of not talking about the war. I’d like to know if he was part of that liberating force. I suspected he was. I knew I would bring my children back to Plzen to see this.

That’s how Plzen blossomed from a stop to find out about local beer, to become one of my most intensely personal and memorable destinations on our Danube River cruise experience.

Carol Atkins has been traveling the globe for much of her life. She loves of all types of travel adventures including island hopping, hiking, cruising and being lazy on the beach :). She writes about her favorite places to stay and visit with her family. Her most recent trip, a Danube River cruise was so exciting! Follow her on twitter @atkins_carol