Travel with a mate http://www.travelwithamate.com Travel advice, destinations and reviews from a family of travel addicts. Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:46:25 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 What should you do when you visit Hampshire with your family? http://www.travelwithamate.com/visit-hampshire-family/ Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:36:37 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31084 Located on the south coast of UK, Hampshire is an ideal place to spend quality time and fun-filled holiday with your family. Once you reach there, you would find a plethora of activities to indulge in and several things to do with your family in Hampshire. You are sure to have a memorable travel experience ...

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Located on the south coast of UK, Hampshire is an ideal place to spend quality time and fun-filled holiday with your family. Once you reach there, you would find a plethora of activities to indulge in and several things to do with your family in Hampshire. You are sure to have a memorable travel experience in Hampshire since there is the entire wealth of attractions, events for your family members, pubs, restaurants, beaches, amusement parks, museums, range of outstanding hotels, cottages and campsites. If you and your family members are adventure seekers, you may enjoy water sports activities like fishing, golfing, horse riding, etc. If you are a Shopaholic, there are many shopping destinations here.

Discover a line of Hampshire coasts and beaches

The nature reserves, the beautiful country parks, plenty of open spaces in the Solent coastline of Hampshire offers a welcome retreat for the nature lovers and walkers. If you wish for a day out on the beaches or by the seaside, you may check out Beachlands on the Hampshire’s Hayling Island. Here you may swim and paddle through. To enjoy a dramatic view of the Solent, do check out the Historic Hurst Castle. If you wish for a child friendly and cleaner beache, do head for Hayling Island to enjoy water sports activities.

Discovering the charm and immense beauty of The New Forest

The New Forest is the very charming destination that almost permits you to step back in time. Covering the area of 566sq kilometres, it has unspoilt woodlands, river valleys and heathlands. You will spot plenty of animals and birds here, including the cattle, ponies, deer. One can enjoy horse riding, walking and cycling here. Some of the local attractions include National Motor Museum, Exbury Gardens, Breamore House and Museum. The New Forest is again a green destination.

Weekly and monthly events

You can be the part of weekly or regular town markets in the New Milton, Hythe, Hampshire farmer’s Market. The New Forest Show has been taking place in July that includes the most tempting food hall to sample sweets, chutneys, ice creams, fish dishes, jam and meats.

The chief family attractions in Hampshire

There are many family attractions in Hampshire and numerous places which you can explore with your family. You can watch the marine life, visit the country parks, and nature reserves. In fact, the country parks offer an exciting range of activities for kids. Most of the historic sites and museums here feature interactive exhibits, cinemas, country’s theme parks, swimming pools to keep the kids entertained. If you want your kids to get closer to the wonders of this natural world, visit the Marwell Zoo. Then, Paulton Theme Park is again a wonderful place where you meet Peppa Pig. Beaulieu is again a home to the National Motor Museum.

Basing House in Hampshire is again an interesting place where you may discover several stories. It is a historical site which is must to visit. The place offers choices in accommodation like lavish to medium range hotels, cottages, villas and condominiums.

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Hiring a car while travelling http://www.travelwithamate.com/hiring-car-travelling/ Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:57:52 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31077 Every year millions of us head abroad on holiday and many of us decide to hire a car while we’re there. After all, it’s the perfect way to add even more freedom to a time when we’ll be relaxing and enjoying ourselves, as well as being the best way to visit attractions that are a ...

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Every year millions of us head abroad on holiday and many of us decide to hire a car while we’re there. After all, it’s the perfect way to add even more freedom to a time when we’ll be relaxing and enjoying ourselves, as well as being the best way to visit attractions that are a little off the beaten track, not to mention secret and secluded beaches. Of course you can opt to take the organised trips that many holiday reps are all too keen to promote but these are expensive, especially if you’re travelling as a family, and they also mean that you need to fit in with their schedule, not yours.

Car hire firms offer such a wide range of vehicles from compact minis up to large people carriers so there’s bound to be the right one for you and a little searching around online will find the most competitive prices. Incidentally, it is a far better idea to make sure that you do book your car in advance rather than taking your chances and trying to arrange it on your arrival. The prices will be much higher and they may not even have any cars available, especially at peak times of the year.

It may also be that there’s a type of car that you’ve always wanted to drive and by booking in advance you can be sure that you’ll secure that particular make and model. To get the very best value from your car hire there are certain things to consider wherever you’re travelling. For example most rental companies will point out that there is a very high excess, often as much as £1,000, on their own insurance which means that you could be faced with hefty bill if you do have a scrape. They therefore offer you additional insurance to cover the excess but it’s invariably very expensive. It’s far better to arrange your own before you go with a reputable insurer. For even better value you can even arrange annual cover which is ideal if you’re planning more than one trip each year.

You’ll also be given the option of paying for a full tank of fuel when you collect the car or of returning it with a full tank. Most people agree that it’s better to take the former option for a couple of reasons. The first is that finding a petrol station near to your drop-off point at the end of your holiday’s not always easy, especially if you’re pressed for time. The second is that if the hire company does need to fill up the car they will charge way over the going rate for the fuel and probably add a refuelling cost as well.

Two other things to consider are children’s car seats and sat nav. Both are expensive if you add them to your car rental so it’s best to take your own if possible. Today there are even a number of sat nav apps that let you download maps for free onto your phone and most airlines will let you take children’s car seats as hold luggage.

So while there are lots of things to think about if you’re going to hire a car it’s undoubtedly a good idea if you want to enjoy real freedom on your holiday. It just takes a little planning ahead and you’ll be ready to hit the road.

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What to invest in before you head off travelling http://www.travelwithamate.com/invest-head-off-travelling/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:53:41 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31058 Once you have the flights booked, your accommodation strategized, and a vague idea of itinerary, it’s time to start thinking about your luggage and what you will need to take with you. Of course, all of us want to save our spends for the actual adventure, but there are some things that are worth spending ...

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Once you have the flights booked, your accommodation strategized, and a vague idea of itinerary, it’s time to start thinking about your luggage and what you will need to take with you. Of course, all of us want to save our spends for the actual adventure, but there are some things that are worth spending decent money on beforehand to ensure you have a fantastic and safe trip, whilst also being sturdy enough to use time and again. The obvious thing here is to get a decent backpack and learn to pack it well, but what special items can you fill it with to make your trip comfortable, safe and fun?

Sturdy footwear

Never underestimate the importance of good footwear when you are off travelling. Believe me, I have tried climbing a volcano in Reefs, and it is not an experience I am keen to repeat or recommend. There are several brands who specialise in creating hybrid comfortable and stylish footwear that can withstand walking tours and still look good at night. Whilst some things in life are worth being economical with, it is definitely worth spending on securing your feet, they are going to get a good workout on your travels!

 

Bum Bag

Where you’re going to keep your cash and how to look after it are two of the most important considerations. There might be times when you’ll need to carry large amounts of money on you, where you’re heading into jungles, deserts or wilderness. For these times, getting a decent bum bag will serve you well. Skate Hut have some funky designs, including the ‘slim’ range., which can be concealed easily and won’t alter your silhouette.

Music 

Some of the most exciting events in our lives can be defined and recalled by the music that accompanied them. Whenever I hear a certain song, I am immediately on the long surfing beach at San Juan Del Sur, on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. Deciding what music to take, and how to listen to it, will mean that you are in control of the soundtrack to your memories. Create some beachy playlists, ones for relaxing and ones for motivation prior to going, when you already have a good internet connection. If you are a sociable music listener, consider getting a wireless speaker to cast your music into the shared areas at hostels and whilst out on the beach.

Travel towel

One of the most space saving and time saving items you can possibly get into your suitcase; a travel towel is a real lifesaver. Made of thin and fast drying cotton, it also packs down, leaving more room in your suitcase for clothes (or rum, take your pick!)

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Reasons to visit Boston in 2017 http://www.travelwithamate.com/reasons-to-visit-boston-in-2017/ Tue, 14 Feb 2017 14:50:35 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31046 There are great cities of the world perfect for a short break or even a week long exploration. Boston is definitely on that list and is a city of many faces with colourful history and culture worth seeing. Plenty of amazing places to eat, to party, to learn and to stay. So lets dive in to ...

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There are great cities of the world perfect for a short break or even a week long exploration. Boston is definitely on that list and is a city of many faces with colourful history and culture worth seeing. Plenty of amazing places to eat, to party, to learn and to stay. So lets dive in to some of the best reasons to visit in 2017.

Summer in the city

Summer in Boston is beautiful. With tree lined streets of gorgeous brownstone houses its a pleasure to meander through the residential areas and enjoy the greenery that fills this city. There’s also plenty of parks, my favourite being Boston Common right in the city centre. Its a very walkable city so the summer time is without doubt the best time to visit. Renting a bicycle is a great idea if you want to see more quickly and cheaply. Not to mention the great exercise you’ll get. Autumn is also a great time to visit as the many trees turn the streets a bright shade of orange. Remember to bring your camera!

Historical architecture

With so much history around every corner its no surprise that Boston is filled with fantastic buildings worth checking out too. The city was founded back in 1630 and is full of beautiful Georgian style houses very close to the city centre. The Library is by far my favourite building and well worth taking a look inside too as the splendour doesn’t stop at the front door. There’s some iconic buildings nestled within the modern skyscrapers of the central business district, all an easy walk from central hotels. Also worth checking out the Italian North End and Beacon Hill too for some elaborate architecture.

Baseball!

Home to the Boston Red Sox, a team founded back in 1901. The city’s famous baseball team has Fenway Park as its home, one of the most famous and iconic baseball stadiums in America. Its also very easy to get to from central Boston. A must when you’re in town. The cheapest tickets are around $52 with some of the best views in the stadium at around $95. Its not often you get to catch a baseball game so why not take the opportunity in Boston! Check out boston.redsox.mlb.com for more info.

Important to know

As with all of America right now, International travellers under the new Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will require approval of ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) which can easily be done online. Its the law that all international travellers have this so don’t head off to Boston without yours! Its very easy to sort your ESTA so don’t worry.

I also recommend getting a local tourist SIM card for your phone at the airport if you have time. Walking around the city is made all the easier with maps so if you can use your smartphone’s data connection you’ll have no problem finding all the sights you want to see. It also means you can make the most of Uber cabs which will make getting around cheap and easy.

Getting to Boston

Being on the East coast of America, flight times from Europe are quick and painless. Just 6 hours from the UK with many flights leaving daily. You can fly from all major airports in the UK including Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester. With so many airlines flying West there’s plenty of competition to drive prices down. Once you’ve landed in Boston just jump in a yellow cab and head for the city centre. You’ll find plenty of very well located hotels within easy walk of all the sights. Its a very walkable city so you can tick off many of the tourist attractions on foot or if you’re feeling lazy the public buses make life very easy.

 

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5 considerations you should make before driving abroad http://www.travelwithamate.com/5-considerations-make-driving-abroad/ Tue, 14 Feb 2017 11:02:32 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31042 Sometimes, relying on tour companies and public transport is simply not enough if you want to see and do all the things on your holiday itinerary. For the destinations that are harder to reach or not on the typical travel company’s agenda, driving yourself is the only sensible option. Whether you are using your own ...

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Sometimes, relying on tour companies and public transport is simply not enough if you want to see and do all the things on your holiday itinerary. For the destinations that are harder to reach or not on the typical travel company’s agenda, driving yourself is the only sensible option.

Whether you are using your own vehicle or renting a car, driving abroad can present its own challenges which can be difficult to adjust to, especially if you have never done it before. There are a few considerations that you need to make when planning your trip to ensure you have a safe and smooth journey. Let’s take a closer look.

Get ready to drive on ‘the other side’

To us Brits, driving on ‘the other side’ means sticking to the right-hand lane, as opposed to the left side that we are used to in the UK. Unless you have a private road, there’s nowhere that you can really practice back in the UK, so it really is a case of learning as you go. The experience can be disconcerting at first but, by taking a patient approach, you’ll soon get used to it.

Take things slowly and remain calm and focused — getting agitated will only make you more prone to making mistakes. Remind yourself of your surroundings at every left-hand turn and roundabout to make sure you are ready to do things slightly differently. You should also try to stay parallel to central road markings, as this will ensure you don’t find yourself drifting into a more familiar position.

Prepare your vehicle

If you are taking your own vehicle on a touring trip, you should take the time to carry out some essential checks before you set off — it’s easier to get them sorted in the UK than when you are on the road elsewhere. The AA recommend that you carry out these quick checks weekly, so it would be wise to run through them ahead of your trip. And, if you are aware of any major maintenance that needs to take place, taking your car to the garage should become a priority.

Be aware of any local laws

Though most countries in Europe have fairly similar driving laws, it’s worth being aware of local regulations that might trip you up. Whether it is the no speed limit autobahns in Germany or the need to carry a breathalyser in France, there are some differences that you need to know to stay on the right side of the law. You should also be aware of the legal requirements for driving abroad, which can be viewed here on the government’s website.

Even if you have driven in a particular country before, it’s important to review the rules, as they can change at any time. Take, for example, the fairly recent Spanish speed limits and penalties that came into force in 2014 — detailed in this article from Lookers. If you have driven in Spain before, you might be unaware of these changes and be caught out, which would be completely avoidable with a bit of research.

Plan in advance for difficult driving conditions

Depending on your destination, you may be faced with some difficult conditions that require advanced driving techniques to handle. This can be especially true if you are heading to a rural or mountainous region, where roads might be in poorer condition, there may be more of an incline, or you could experience unforeseen obstacles in your path. You should be aware of as many potential dangers as possible before you leave, and read up on how you should deal with particular hazards. You will also need to make sure your vehicle is equipped with the right kit should you break down, as help might be further away than in a more populated area — a travel kit, such as this one from Screwfix, will ensure you are prepared.

Check your insurance and breakdown cover

Though your breakdown cover and insurance might cover you throughout the UK, it’s worth double-checking each of your policies before you embark for new shores. Many insurance policies will include a third party when overseas, but there may be an extra charge for receiving the same coverage as you get at home. For breakdowns, it is possible to take out cover for a single trip if you don’t want to upgrade your whole policy or don’t have any in the first place — you can find out more about this and get a quote on Moneysupermarket.com.

Take these five considerations into account before your next driving trip abroad and you can be confident you are well prepared. 

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5 essentials for your beach holiday capsule wardrobe http://www.travelwithamate.com/5-essentials-beach-holiday-capsule-wardrobe/ Mon, 13 Feb 2017 17:26:48 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31034 We’ve all been there — it’s the morning of your flight and you find yourself hauling a suitcase that you already know is over the weight limit. You tried to keep your choice of clothes nice and simple, but you ended up packing everything anyway. Being indecisive can cost you at the check-in counter, where ...

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We’ve all been there — it’s the morning of your flight and you find yourself hauling a suitcase that you already know is over the weight limit. You tried to keep your choice of clothes nice and simple, but you ended up packing everything anyway. Being indecisive can cost you at the check-in counter, where you will find yourself paying for every extra kilo. If only there was a way to successfully pick the perfect items for your trip away.

The good news is that you can easily achieve a more economical packing regime by mastering the art of building a capsule wardrobe. By putting in some time to carefully plan your clothing, you can bring along everything you need, and leave the kitchen sink at home. Read on to discover our five essential picks for luggage-friendly packing.

A relaxed midi dress

Bring along a relaxed midi dress, such as this Isabel De Pedro bird print number from Jules B, as it’s something you can wear to and from the beach, at lunch, or even out for dinner in the evening. The dress has a tie-knot and open back, which makes it perfect for days when the sun is shining.

A beach-worthy tunic dress

With a tunic dress, you can wear it casually through the day, and you double it up as a beach cover-up when you want to relax. This stripe print tunic dress from Asda George has an attractive striped pattern, vintage style sleeves, and a self-tie belt for cinching it in at the waist. It’s a stylish choice that won’t break the bank.

A flattering swimsuit

A beach holiday wardrobe wouldn’t be complete without at least one swimsuit for when you’relounging around on the shore or splashing through the waves. Plus, they don’t take up an awful lot of space in your suitcase, so you might even be able to bring along a few choices. We like this Seafolly Optic Wave Deep Swimsuit from Surfdome, which is very flattering and has an attractive geometric pattern.

A pair of flexible flip-flops

Flip-flops really are the flexible footwear of the holiday season — they can be worn to the beach, round the pool, out for a casual lunch, or just around the apartment. As you will be wearing them quite often, comfort is key, and they don’t come comfier than those from Havianas, the original Brazilian brand. These Slim Animals print flip-flops are durable as well as funky, fall apart on the second day of your holiday.

A pair of stylish sunglasses

Like swimwear and flip-flops, a pair of sunglasses is essential for a beach holiday, and the more stylish the better. These luxurious Italia Independent I-I MOD 0807 COMBO sunglasses are incredibly well made, with a frame of plastic and steel. They’re also very on-trend, with a combination of angular and rounded lines creating a shape that stands out from the more generic crowd.

Pack the five essentials listed in this article and you will be well on your way to building a capsule wardrobe that won’t leave you paying for any unexpected luggage weight. Bon voyage!

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How to see the world on a budget http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-see-the-world-on-a-budget/ Tue, 07 Feb 2017 10:39:20 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31018 Most people want to see as much of the world as possible, but it doesn’t always seem financially viable. However, if you put in the necessary research and plan well, country-hopping could be more affordable than you could ever imagine. In this article, we outline some ways in which you can see more of the ...

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Most people want to see as much of the world as possible, but it doesn’t always seem financially viable. However, if you put in the necessary research and plan well, country-hopping could be more affordable than you could ever imagine.

In this article, we outline some ways in which you can see more of the world on a budget. So, read on to find out more.

Choose your destinations carefully

When you’re planning a holiday on a budget, you need to think carefully about your destination. While it can be tempting to visit well-known and popular cities like London, New York or Paris, you’ll struggle to enjoy them properly if money is tight. So, it’s wise to opt for somewhere that’s more affordable but just as exciting — trust us, those places exist!

According to Skyscanner’s list of the cheapest holiday destinations for 2017, the likes of Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic and Budapest are all beautiful locations that you can easily enjoy for a fraction of the price of the cities we mentioned above.

Consider alternative modes of transport

Holidaymakers’ largest expenses tend to be travel and accommodation, so cutting costs in this area could save you a lot of money. But, this doesn’t mean you have to endure budget bus trips and hostel stays.

The River Cruise Line, for example, offers river cruises around some of Europe’s most famous waterways. These cruises offer both travel and accommodation in one and take passengers to the heart of various cities peppered across the continent. So, they’re a great alternative option when you’re looking to book a holiday on a budget.

Choose your food and drink wisely

If you’re trying to make your trip as affordable as possible, you probably don’t want to take a huge amount of spending money with you. So, to ensure you don’t break the bank, you should carefully select where you’re going to eat and drink.

Opting for street food whenever possible will not only save you money, but also give you an authentic taste of the local cuisine. Plus, low prices certainly don’t mean low quality, and you’ll likely find yourself paying fast food prices for some very impressive meals.

If you’ll be new to this way of eating, The Guardian has a great guide to the world’s best street food that’s worth a read before you set off on your travels.

Invest in city passes

If you do decide to visit a large city and want to see everything it has to offer, it’s usually worth investing in a city pass. These are offered by New York, Paris and London among others and, while they can seem expensive at first, they give you access to these cities’ biggest attractions and often allow you to use public transport systems. So, if you like to fill your holidays with sightseeing, they’re definitely worth it.

Hopefully you’re now feeling much more confident about organising your next holiday on a budget. Travelling can seem impossible when money is tight, but that’s not the case. You simply need to follow these tips to get the most out of the funds you do have.

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A visit to the Guildhall art gallery & amphitheatre in London http://www.travelwithamate.com/visit-guildhall-art-gallery-amphitheatre-london/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:10:29 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31008 The foundation of London was laid by the Romans in about AD 50. The city grew swiftly during their reign as one of the most important Roman settlements in the province, on account of trade that flourished because of the River Thames. There were several large public buildings constructed by the Romans at the time. ...

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The foundation of London was laid by the Romans in about AD 50. The city grew swiftly during their reign as one of the most important Roman settlements in the province, on account of trade that flourished because of the River Thames. There were several large public buildings constructed by the Romans at the time. One of the most striking of these is the Roman amphitheatre in the city. It was initially made of wood and later partially rebuilt in stone and tile during the early part of the second century. It is these remains that can be seen by visitors to the basement of the Guildhall Art Gallery.

If you are a history buff and keen to learn more about the history of Britain, a trip to London is a must! While in London it is best to stay in a hotel in the centre of the city. If you visit it during the winter months there are a number of great London hotel deals to choose from.

Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London

The benefit of staying at any accommodation in Paddington or the hotels near Moorgate is that they are well connected to all parts of London. Plus you are a stone’s throw away from the best shopping and entertainment venues and attractions in the area.

If you are staying at The Montcalm Brewery Hotel on Chiswell Street London you will be a short distance from the Guildhall Art Gallery & Amphitheatre, which is a wonderful place to explore. It offers visitors an opportunity to visit an archaeological site and view authentic Roman relics and artefacts. These sessions are conducted by a professional archaeologist, who gives a detailed introduction to London in Roman times, the topography as it existed at that time and life during that ancient period. There is a stunning art collection of more than 400 years, with art works by prominent Victorian artists, and the remains of the amphitheatre. The gallery also organises exhibitions and other events on a regular basis.

The Guildhall Art Gallery was founded in 1886 with the purpose of creating ‘a Collection of Art Treasures worthy of the capital city’. However, the actual building was completely destroyed in an air raid during World War II. It was during restoration work carried out in 1988, when it was in the process of being restored on its original site that archaeologists found the relics of London’s Roman Amphitheatre. The building was constructed in a way to include the underground ruins and opened to the public in 1999.

Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman London’s Amphitheatre is a fabulous place to spend an afternoon exploring on a trip to the city. Apart from the fantastic art works the artefacts and relics of the Roman amphitheatre is what draws visitors to the place. Visitors to the Guildhall Art Gallery get a free entry on Fridays and also a free tour (if they want). Although it is always best to opt for the guided tour of the place. It is the best way to learn about the history of the place as the accompanying professional guide is a treasure trove of information and history about the artwork and the Roman ruins to be found here. The tour lasts for about 40 minutes and is well worth joining!

Guildhall Art Gallery

The tour offers a great opportunity to see some of the best exhibits of the permanent collection, along with the amphitheatre. The art gallery has more than 4000 pieces of art as part of its collection. As a norm there are about 250 on display at a time.

There is the famous painting by William Miller which shows the Swearing in of the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Nathaniel Newham. It is a painting that tells a vivid story with a number of characters that form part of the scene. And it becomes all the more interesting with the expert commentary of the guide, who apart from his extensive knowledge, explains the details in a most interesting manner.

One of the most impressive and massive artworks is the piece done by John Singleton Copley, which is ‘The Siege of Gibraltar’. It took the artist 8 long years to complete. It is artfully done and is based on an actual battle that happened in Gibraltar on 13 September, 1782. It draws and captivates the attention of all who visit the gallery. You could stand and admire it in detail after the tour is over.

Other prominent paintings that are worth viewing in the gallery are Ninth of November, The Last Evening, My First Sermon, The Waterworks at London Bridge on Fire 1779, The Story of Smithfield Market Exhibition and Entrance to the Fleet River among other fine pieces of art. Even if you are not too much of an art lover, you will leave the place with a new sense of appreciation for art as a powerful medium to convey a message.

Then a visit to the Roman Amphitheatre, which is the only of its kind in the city and within the gallery, is an amazing experience. While there is not much in terms of remains of the original building itself, just a few sections of the wall and other relics, it is the use of digital technology that makes it a life like experience. The gallery management has made optimal use of modern technology to enhance the experience of visitors to such a level, as to envision what the actual 7000 seat building must have looked like at the time it was built. A visit to the Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman London’s Amphitheatre, is definitely a must to have on your trip to London.

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Tourist attractions near Buckingham Palace http://www.travelwithamate.com/tourist-attractions-near-buckingham-palace/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:09:31 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31000 London houses probably the largest number of tourist attractions in the UK. The city has an enormous number of places to explore both in terms of landmarks and of historical significance. All of this makes it a very attractive tourist destination to spend a holiday in. While London is a lovely city to spend a ...

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London houses probably the largest number of tourist attractions in the UK. The city has an enormous number of places to explore both in terms of landmarks and of historical significance. All of this makes it a very attractive tourist destination to spend a holiday in.

While London is a lovely city to spend a holiday in at any time of the year, the tourist off-season is a good time to drop in for those who have a limited budget. That is when the Central London hotels special offers are available, which are a great way to save on accommodation.

A good place to stay in the heart of the city is the Paddington Court Executive Rooms, which apart from being moderately priced offer the best in facilities and comfort. Another benefit is its location that offers convenient access to the numerous attractions in the centre of London. These include top attractions like:

Clarence House

Behind two black imposing gates are visible two soldiers of the Queens Guard that guard the entrance to Clarence House. It was built in the early 19th century for the Duke of Clarence and its architect was John Nash. Clarence House has been the residence of members of the royal family with it being home to the Queen Mother for past half a century. Now it is the official residence of the Prince of Wales and his spouse. The house is only accessible to the public for one month every year, when the prince and his wife are away for the holidays.

St. James’s Palace

The construction of the palace began in 1531 and it was completed in 1536. It was commissioned by Henry VIII who made it his home with Anne Boleyn in 1533. Since then it has served as home to several British monarch’s including Queen Mary I, King Charles II, Queen Elizabeth II and James II among many others.  The Royal Chapel at St. James’s Palace served as the venue for the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840 and also served as the location for the christening of Prince George, son of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2012.

Now the palace primarily serves a different purpose with the offices of the Royal Collection Department being located here. It is also used by the Accession Council that meet here to officially announce a new monarch after the demise of the previous monarch. Its state rooms are also used to welcome guests on state visits. It also serves as the Household Office for Prince William and Prince Harry, even though neither stay here. It could be safe to say that St. James’s Palace is the work place of the Royal Family.

St James Palace in Pall Mall

Trafalgar Square

It was built to commemorate the famous naval victory of Admiral Horatio Nelson over the combined naval armada of the French and the Spanish. It is the most famous Square in London and has been as a site for celebrations as well as protests all through the years. It also hosts numerous events through the year like opera and ballet shows and even showing American football games. Along with Nelson’s statue other statues of battle scenes along with King George IV are to be seen here. Only the statue in the northwest corner changes regularly. It is part of the Fourth Plinth project for which the works of different artists are chosen to be displayed here temporarily for a certain period. To the north is the National Gallery with the South African embassy in the east and the Canadian embassy to the west.

Street view of Trafalgar Square

Admiralty Arch

These form part of a ceremonial entrance to Buckingham Palace. They were commissioned to be built by King Edward VII during the early 20th century. The centre arch is only used for ceremonial occasions with the remaining two arches that flank it used to allow traffic to pass. The presence of the arches is the reason why the Mall Road is red in colour and not the traditional black. This is because the Mall Road is symbolic of a red carpet that is used to welcome guests up to Buckingham Palace.

St. James’s Park

It initially was the site of a leper hospital during medieval times. In the 1500s it was used as a hunting site by King Henry VIII and stayed in the hands of the Royal Family till the late 1700s. It was King Charles II who decided to allow the public to gain access to St. James’s Park in the 1660’s. It was decided to be used to keep the King’s exotic collection of rare birds at the park. Even now there is a family of pelicans in the park that are descendants of the original birds. It is charming place to relax, have a picnic or even to feed the birds here. The swans in the area are owned by the Queen. St. James’s Park is out of the most scenic and beautiful of all of the city’s Royal Parks.

Westminster Abbey

It occupies a prominent position as probably the most recognised and famous churches on the planet. It is built on a site that has served as a place of worship for about 14 centuries.  The Abbey that is built of stones dates back to the last 10 centuries with additions in the 11th, 15th and also in the Victorian era forming part of it. Westminster Abbey has a strong link to the Royal Family. In fact the Abbey was built upon instructions from King Edward the Confessor, who was monarch of England in the 1100s. It has also played host to royal weddings including that of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip and recently that of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It is the coronation venue of all the monarchs of Britain (except two) and also the place where most of the monarchs lie buried.  It also contains the tombs of prominent British public figures of the likes of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Sir Laurence Olivier to name just a few of the luminaries laid to rest here.

Westminster Abbey

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Places to go Ice Skating in London http://www.travelwithamate.com/places-go-ice-skating-london/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:00:51 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30982 If the idea of going ice skating in the shadow of one of London’s most famous landmarks makes you excited then read on, because we have some great choices of places you can go ice skating in the capital.  Many of these ice skating rinks are pop-up rinks, staying open only over the winter period, ...

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If the idea of going ice skating in the shadow of one of London’s most famous landmarks makes you excited then read on, because we have some great choices of places you can go ice skating in the capital.  Many of these ice skating rinks are pop-up rinks, staying open only over the winter period, but they tend to be an annual thing so even if you have missed it for now they will re-open later in 2017 with specific dates and locations being released closer to the time.

The Natural History Museum

One of the most famous museums in the city, the ice rink here will re-open again in October 2017 and will no doubt be as popular as ever.  Grab your skates and spin on the ice with this iconic landmark building just behind you and a giant, 40 foot Christmas tree towering over the ice.  Not to mention the twinkling fairy lights and decorations which serve to make this a very festive experience all round.  After you have enjoyed some ice skating, make sure you head into the museum where you can enjoy some hot chocolate or mulled wine as you thaw out and warm up again in the café which overlooks the East Lawn of the museum and the ice rink.

Natural History Museum

Alexandra Palace

It is possible to enjoy ice skating at this iconic building in the city all year round and it is even possible to take lessons here as well if you want to gain some confidence on the ice.  Alexandra Palace is located in North London and offers a range of special events too such as ‘Vanilla Ice on Ice’.  There is an Ice Café and an Ice Disco which takes place each Saturday evening with the resident DJ.

Canary Wharf

For a truly stunning ice skating experience, you have to try out the LUMINOCITY ice skating at Canary Wharf.  Open until the end of February 2017, this rink is illuminated with LED lights which have been placed all around the rink but also underneath the ice as well.  This ice rink is under cover which means you can skate whatever the weather but thanks to the clear roof, you can feel as though you are still outside and skate as you admire the towering modern skyscrapers which make up this part of the city.  It’s the perfect option if you are taking advantage of one of the late winter London hotels special offers and want to enjoy a last minute winter activity before spring arrives in the city.

Lee Valley Ice Centre

For year-round skating, the Lee Valley Ice Centre is the perfect option.  It is open to the public most days of the week with skating aids available for younger children who aren’t as steady on the ice as they would like to be and want to gain some confidence.  There are also disco sessions on a Friday and a Saturday, between 8.30pm and 10.30pm with disco music, disco lights and lots of opportunities for disco dancing as well.

Somerset House

Just 15 minutes from The Marble Arch by Montcalm London, the ice skating rink at Somerset House is considered to be one of the best in the city and probably has a lot to do with the beautiful backdrop provided by this neoclassical house.  Set in the Courtyard of Somerset House, this ice skating rink is open throughout the day and well into the evening with a full range of entertainment with live music from top international DJs.  There is also a food and drink lodge which is placed rink-side and in 2016 there was a Fortnum & Mason Christmas pop-up shop to be explored as well which may well make a reappearance in 2017.

Somerset House

The Tower of London

This iconic landmark has been home to an ice skating rink each winter for a number of years and 2017 looks to be no different.  Although the ice skating rink is open throughout the day, it is certainly worth trying to visit once dusk has fallen to see the side of this 1,000 year old Palace illuminated with snowflakes creating a very romantic and wintery setting.  This last year also saw the addition of a pop-up bar and lounge: Eis Haus, which was made entirely of ice and filled with ice sculptures.  For those who didn’t fancy the cold there was also the Dip-Dunk Lodge which served warming food and drink and overlooked the ice skating rink.

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park

One of the city’s biggest winter events, Winter Wonderland arrives in Hyde Park each November and brings a plethora of exciting activities including a fun fair, a world of ice sculptures, plenty of pop-up lodges and chalets where you can pick up trinkets, food and drink, a Ferris wheel and, of course, an ice skating rink.  The ice skating rink here is the biggest open-air ice skating rink in the country and it is well worth a visit if you want to take to the ice and be surrounded by one of the most festive atmosphere’s you can find in London at this time.

Winter Wonderland

Queens Ice and Bowl

In Bayswater there is also Queens Ice and Bowl, an indoor ice rink and bowling alley which has a rich history; it first opened in 1932, it remains the only permanent ice rink in the heart of London and it was the first venue to be used by the BBC for televised skating.  There is a giant 9,000 square foot ice rink and the venue recently underwent a conversion to restore the original period roof beams to their former glory.  There are plenty of other ways to stay entertained here as well once you’ve enjoyed some skating: ten bowling alleys, a diner, a regular programme of events featuring live music, classic arcade games, and a pop-up cinema are just some of the options available for a night (or day) spent at Queens.

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Interesting Things To Do In Winter In London http://www.travelwithamate.com/interesting-things-winter-london/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 14:52:38 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30983 London is a great place to visit all year round. The city offers visitors a plethora of options in terms of sightseeing, shopping and entertainment all year round. The benefit of travelling to the city in the winter is that it is less crowded and there are great discounts and deals available at that time ...

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London is a great place to visit all year round. The city offers visitors a plethora of options in terms of sightseeing, shopping and entertainment all year round. The benefit of travelling to the city in the winter is that it is less crowded and there are great discounts and deals available at that time of the year.

It is always a good idea to stay in the heart of the city, like at any Lancaster Gate hotel in London. The biggest benefit of staying in a central spot is good transport connectivity as well as the easy access to shopping and entertainment venues in the city.

A good choice would be the Park Grand London Lancaster Gate Hotel conveniently located and reasonably priced. Just a few of the many interesting things to do and places to visit at winter in London are:

Take a tour of the city’s haunted pubs:

While there is a raft of walking tours to all the tourist spots and historic landmarks in the city, winter is the perfect time to set out on a tour of the haunted pubs to be found in London. London has an ancient history of more than 2000 years, and like any other old city it has its fair share of dark and macabre happenings. If you enjoy the thrill of exploring the unknown and are stout-hearted enough to attempt it, a tour of the haunted pubs in London is a thrilling experience. Just ensure you are well wrapped up for the cold when dusk approaches, as the tours take place when night approaches.

Shop for Christmas:

If you are in London in the festive season the there is nothing quite as exciting as hopping for Christmas. With areas like Oxford Street and Regent Street among other great shopping spots, shopping in the festive season under the lovely lights is a surreal experience. And if you get lucky you also might be able to snag a great deal or two.

Visit the Christmas market in Covent Garden:

Another great spot to visit in the run-up to Christmas is the excellent Christmas Market in Covent Garden. At that part of the year it houses a massive silver reindeer and the market is famous for its gift options and wonderful handicrafts. And another bonus of shopping at Covent Garden is that some of the trendiest stores are to be found in close proximity to the area.

Christmas market

Attend a West End show:

One of the best things about watching a West End shows after Christmas is that it does not only offer an opportunity to escape the freezing temperatures but also the ticket prices of these shows are far cheaper. This is because there are relatively fewer visitors and tourists in London as a consequence of which there is less demand for theatre tickets. So make the most of this opportunity and enjoy some of the best West End shows at deeply discounted prices.

London's west end

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Finding Italy In London http://www.travelwithamate.com/finding-italy-london/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 14:39:47 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30981 Whether you are an Italian national considering a move to England or simply someone who appreciates the Italian culture and way of life and want to discover more of that in London, there are a number of ways you can connect with Italy whilst in the city.  With more than 200,000 Italian nationals registered as ...

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Whether you are an Italian national considering a move to England or simply someone who appreciates the Italian culture and way of life and want to discover more of that in London, there are a number of ways you can connect with Italy whilst in the city.  With more than 200,000 Italian nationals registered as residents in London, and a history of emigration from Italy to London which goes back as far as the early 19th century, it is clear that there is something about London who draws people from all over the world and there is evidence of different cultures all across London, including an Italian influence.

From world class restaurants to hand made gelato, social events for Italian expats to London boroughs, if you want a little slice of the Italian life then here are some of the places you can find that in London:-

Gelaterias

Undoubtedly something that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime, once you have experienced true Italian gelato you will spoiled for anything less than the best.  Gelato literally means ‘ice cream’ in Italian and there are a number of authentic gelaterias dotted all across London which would be perfect if you fancy a taste of some real, often hand-made, Italian ice cream. Gelaterias such as Gelatorino, Morelli’s and Lick are setting new standards with their gelato with ingenious and creative flavours from savoury to super sweet and just about everything else in between.  The mark of a good gelateria (in our opinion) is one where the ingredients are sourced fresh every day and the gelato is hand stirred for true creamy perfection.

Restaurants

There are Italian restaurants in almost every town and city across the UK and it is certainly a type of food which keeps us coming back again, and again though it can be hard to know which of these are authentic and which are not. Our top tip if you are looking for an Italian restaurant in London is to avoid the touristy spots and any restaurant which looks like it might be a part of a chain and instead head to a quieter area and find an independent restaurant. Establishments such as Fiddie’s Italian Kitchen, TortelliniCup and Fat Lorenzo’s Kitchen are considered some of the best London restaurants for Italian food and all make great options with many serving food throughout the day from breakfast right through to late evening. There are, however, hundreds of Italian restaurants to choose from in London so wherever you are staying, or wherever you happen to be when you decide to grab a bite to eat, if it’s Italian cuisine you are craving then you won’t have to look too hard to find a decent restaurant.

Restaurants

Italian Expats

If you are an Italian National living in London and you want to connect with other expats from back home then you will be pleased to know that there are a number of networks which allow you to find local events and hangouts which allow you to meet fellow Italians.  These networks also often run forums where you can ask any questions you might have and gain answers from more experienced expats or find out important information such as your right to work, how to get around the city and so on. Whether you are just finding your feet in a new city or you are just contemplating a move over, these networks can be invaluable mines of information as well as allowing you to meet with other people in a similar situation to yourself which may help you settle faster or eliminate feelings of homesickness.

The Italian Gardens

A slightly looser connection to Italy but perfect if you are staying at the Grand Royale Hotel Hyde Park London as it is just a short distance away; the Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens is a 150 year old ornamental garden which was created as a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria.  The gardens consist of four main water basins, with rosettes carved from Carrara marble and Portland stone. The Italian Gardens are a Grade II listed site and make the perfect place to escape for a few hours, either to lose yourself in a good book, enjoy a break from sightseeing or find a quiet spot for a picnic.  Interestingly, the Italian Gardens have also been used in a number of movies including Wimbledon and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

Little Venice

Located in North London, Little Venice is a beautiful and picturesque part of the city which is so named because of its connection to London’s canals and waterways.  Much like the real Venice which is surrounded by a complex system of canals, so Little Venice in London is situated at the point where the Grand Union and Regent’s Canal meet. A lovely neighbourhood has cropped up here and Little Venice is home to some wonderful waterside pubs, cafes and restaurants.  It is possible to walk along the canal paths from Little Venice into other parts of London and in particular the walk which takes you through North London towards Regent’s Park and Camden Town is a particular favourite.  You can also hire barges or be part of a barge cruise going up the canals if you fancy a relaxing afternoon on the water as well.  Although Little Venice’s only connection to Italy is its name it is still a lovely place to explore in London and to find a hidden gem of a neighbourhood with lots to offer visitors.

St Peter’s Italian Church

Located in Holborn, St Peter’s Italian Church is a basilica style church which was built in 1863 at the request of Saint Vincent Pallotti (and is still under the control of the Pallotine Order) for the growing number of Italian immigrants who were settling in the area at the time.  It continues to be a main gathering venue for the Italian community in Clerkenwell and is part of the annual processione which is held each summer.

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Discover Medieval London http://www.travelwithamate.com/discover-medieval-london/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 14:26:55 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30973 London’s history is one of the many reasons that millions of tourists descend each year on the city.  Some of its most famous landmarks, including the Tower of London, London Bridge and Westminster Palace were all constructed during the period known as ‘Medieval Britain’.  Although there still remains some evidence of earlier periods in London’s ...

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London’s history is one of the many reasons that millions of tourists descend each year on the city.  Some of its most famous landmarks, including the Tower of London, London Bridge and Westminster Palace were all constructed during the period known as ‘Medieval Britain’.  Although there still remains some evidence of earlier periods in London’s history, such as the remains of a Roman wall in the garden of the Barbican and a stretch of wall close to the Museum of London known, aptly, as London Wall.  Alongside these early parts of London’s history and the towering Medieval landmarks, there are also remnants of Medieval London which aren’t as frequented by tourists but which are still worth checking out if you are interested in the city’s rich history, and you know where to look:-

The Temple Church

One of the oldest remaining churches in London, the Temple Church can be found just a short distance from the River Thames.  This 12th century church was built by the Knights Templar and is said to have been their English headquarters.  During the 13th century it served as the royal treasury, and it suffered significant damage during the Second World War with many parts having to be rebuilt and restored.  One of the most recognisable features of the church is the round shape, a design feature which was commonly used by the Knights Templar when building churches.

Temple Church located at London

The River Fleet

The River Fleet is one of a number of London’s waterways which are known as ‘The Lost Rivers’; subterranean sources of water which were used as early as Roman times and which enabled the city to thrive and grow through trade.  As the city grew, however, so did the population and along with this there was an increase in pollution and waste which had a huge impact on the city’s rivers.  The River Fleet was one of these and large parts of it were eventually bricked over; however it is still possible to head down to Blackfriars Bridge and see where the River Fleet feeds into the River Thames.

Crossbones Graveyard

Just a short walk from one of the most iconic modern buildings in the city, a symbol of the wealth and power of London, lies an area which was once one of the poorest and most violent parts of the city.  It is this South London area, just minutes from the likes of The Shard and Southwark Cathedral which is home to the Crossbones Graveyard.  It is said that the Crossbones Graveyard was primarily the final resting place for the ‘outcasts’ of the city, namely women who were thought to have been working in the sex trade and many of the bodies were simply dumped here, rather than being offered a proper Christian burial. It is thought that as many as 15,000 paupers had been left to rest here when it closed in the 1850s.  Nowadays the Graveyard is marked by red railings on which people have tied colourful scraps of fabric and ribbon, to mark the sad way in which many of London’s poorest people were treated on their deaths.

crossbones Graveyard

Clink Prison

Known as ‘the prison that gave its name to all others’ the Clink Prison was once one of the most notorious prisons in England as well as being the country’s oldest.  There is now a museum on the former site of the prison, which is located in the heart of Southwark, once one of the roughest and most volatile parts of the city.  Sitting just on the other side of the River Thames to the City of London, it was where Londoners went to get alternative forms of entertainment; of course London is still at the forefront of nightlife and entertainment but the clubs in Shoreditch, for example, are likely to be a much safer place to spend the evening than this part of the city once was.  The museum offers an insight into the history of the prison through interactive and educational exhibits and activities and is well worth a trip if you are visiting other Medieval landmarks in the area.

Clink museum london

St Olave Hart Street

Situated between the City of London and Whitechapel, making it easy to reach if you are staying at the M by Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City Hotel, Saint Olaves is a rare example of a medieval church which survived the Great Fire of London in 1666.  Although parts of it were damaged during the Second World War, the majority of the church you see today is the original building.  This church has a rich and potentially intriguing history; it is thought to have been built on the site where King Olaf II of Norway rallied his troops to drive the Vikings from London, it was built next to the home of Francis Walsingham, master spy of  Queen Elizabeth I during the 16th century, and it is claimed that it was often used as a meeting place under cover of coming to worship at the church; it is also said that two of Queen Elizabeth’s spies are buried in the church and finally, it is the resting place of Samuel Pepys.

Medieval London

The Strand

Although much changed in the present day, The Strand was where the most prestigious houses in London were located; with a great view of the River Thames it was ideal for getting around London and many of the city’s most prominent religious figures had homes in this part of the city.  Perhaps the most significant home on this stretch was Savoy Palace; home to Edward III.  Unfortunately, it was burned to the ground during the late 1300s; the Savoy Hotel now sits on the original site of the Savoy Palace, it is still worth walking along this part of the city and imagining how it must have looked back in Medieval Britain when there was such wealth for the upper classes of the country.

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Events Not To Miss In London This Winter http://www.travelwithamate.com/events-not-miss-london-winter/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 13:43:48 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30956 London is both in the literal and metaphorical senses, a real cool place to visit during the winter. It is a time when the crowds are less and you can enjoy travelling to the many events and programs that are organised at venues all over the city. Whether it is enjoying an evening at the ...

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London is both in the literal and metaphorical senses, a real cool place to visit during the winter. It is a time when the crowds are less and you can enjoy travelling to the many events and programs that are organised at venues all over the city. Whether it is enjoying an evening at the cinema or attending a yoga class, there are plenty of things to keep you occupied.

And it is the season when you get the best hotel deals in London. With a fall in the number of hotel bookings during the winter, most of the hotels including some of the top luxury hotels offer their best prices and special discounted rates.

If you plan to spend a holiday in the city make the most of this opportunity and book your accommodation at Park Grand Paddington Court Hotel London.  You will get to stay in a luxurious ambience, with the best of facilities, top notch customer service all at a very reasonable cost. And since you would be staying in Central London, you could visit the many events organised at this part of the year. Some of the events not to miss this winter include:

Try yoga at St. Stephen’s:

Winter is the time to stay warm and what better way than through attending yoga classes. While there are various yoga classes held all over the city, a limited number of them are for free. One such free yoga class is open to all people ranging from professionals to amateur yoga enthusiasts. There are mats provided and no advance booking is needed. Once the class is over coffee and tea will also be served to the participants, which will leave them feeling pretty warm and cheerful. The sessions are held early in the mornings and the venue is St Stephen’s Church located in Westminster.

Yoga Class

Drop in at the Winter Film Club:

If you are a movie buff then a visit to the Electric Theatre is definitely recommended. Its famous Rooftop Cinema Club is stepping indoors for a change this winter. That mean Peckham’s trendy albeit dilapidated Electric Theatre will undergo a complete transformation, with plush upholstery and great cocktails. A great place to visit and enjoy some of the best Christmas classics on screen!

Enjoy the Potted Panto:

This winter Potted Panto arrives back to the West End. After Harry Potter and the Potted Pirates, the trio of Clarkson, Turner and Hurst arrive back with a bang in Potted Panto. See them make a crazy dash through the panto favourites with funny costumes, role-swapping and cheap props that support their wacky knockabout style of storytelling. A very engaging and enjoyable way to see the artists as overgrown kids in a game, who make the rules in their performance, as they go along!

Try Yoga Glow:

Well yoga seems to be the in-thing that is for sure! It is popping up all over London at venues across the city. One such place is Yoga Glow held at Walthamstow where classes take place under colourful neon lights. It is the Vinyasa style of yoga and there also is an exhibition at the venue of Chris Bracey’s personal creations. Plus enjoy cake and tea after the sessions!

Attend the Risograph printing workshop:

There is a growing demand for risograph printing and you can learn about the finer points of this art in Shoreditch at the Liberia bookshop. There you will get an opportunity to try your hand at this unique style by printing fifteen A3 prints in two different colours. The materials are provided by the shop and you could even order for a chilled beer or two! You however need to book your spot in advance.

Enjoy the Magical Lantern Festival:

One of the most popular Chinese lantern festivals in London will be back at Chiswick House for the second year in 2017. With more than 50 Chinese lantern creations to admire and a massive fire rooster it is a great way to usher in the Chinese New Year.

Lantern Festival

Go to the Queens Ice and Bowl rink:

If you are the sporting type head out to the reopening of the Queens Ice and Bowl rink to try your hand at skating or bowling, followed by a sumptuous dinner. It is the only ice rink in the city that is permanent. It has been since the 1930, and recently underwent extensive renovation and refurbishment. This includes 17 bowling lanes and a spanking new ice rink, along with a pop-up eating joint from the pro of pop-ups in London, Jimmy Garcia.

Ice Rink

Enjoy the Society of Imaginary Friends Soiree:

It is a soiree with a difference that is a family-friendly show. It offers a platform to musicians, poets, comedians etc. to exhibit their latest artistic creations and materials. There also will be numerous short films that will be shown throughout the performance, along with DJs who will spin tracks between the programs. Later they will continue their musical soiree after the performances are over into the wee hours. Drinks and food can be bought from the bar and restaurant.

Drop in at the Canary Wharf Ice Rink:

On the subject of ice rinks, the rink at the financial district of Canary Wharf is surrounded by an impressive skyline of majestic skyscrapers that dominate the vista. And the facilities and additions at the ice rink complement its majestic surroundings. The theme chosen for this year is Luminocity. For this there are more than 8000 Led lights that are installed beneath the ice and will bathe skaters in warm colours. For those who would prefer to skip the skating rink there is a heated outdoor viewing platform and seasonal drinks will be served by the bar. So you could choose to either be a part of the action on the rink or be a part of the audience and enjoy watching the skaters hone their skills.

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5 Beautiful Walks Close to London http://www.travelwithamate.com/5-beautiful-walks-close-london/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 12:12:47 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30957 Although London is a fantastic city to visit and explore, it can sometimes feel a little claustrophobic, especially if you are someone who isn’t used to the metropolitan city life.  But regardless of whether you find the city too much or you just fancy breaking up the city skyline with something a little more picturesque ...

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Although London is a fantastic city to visit and explore, it can sometimes feel a little claustrophobic, especially if you are someone who isn’t used to the metropolitan city life.  But regardless of whether you find the city too much or you just fancy breaking up the city skyline with something a little more picturesque there are, luckily, some truly beautiful places to escape and enjoy a walk just a short distance from the Central London area.

It doesn’t matter whether you only want to stroll for an hour or you want to dedicate an entire day to exploring the countryside, grab your wellies and your waterproof coat and head to one of these places, all accessible from the heart of the city:-

Hackney Marshes Walk

There are a number of fantastic walks to be enjoyed in the Hackney area but one particularly worth exploring is the walk around Hackney Marshes.  This is a circular walk which takes you through the marshes and some of the adjacent open spaces with a few additional changes you can make to extend the walk or keep it short and sweet.  This walk will take you through Wick Woodland; an area of the marshes which is a lower level than the rest because nothing was dumped here after the Second World War.  It is now an area rich with mature trees, birds and plant life and it is managed by the local community.  The Hackney Marshes walk will also take you past Spitalfields Fruit and Veg market and an adventure playground which may be useful for families who may want to enjoy this walk.  The full circular walk is just short of 5 miles.

Pluckley Circular

Located in Kent, the Pluckley Circular starting point is just 20 minutes from London and involves a gentle walk through the quaint orchards and past towering ancient oak trees.  There are a few variations you can make to the walk, either to make it slightly hillier or keep to flatter ground but the general walk is around 7.2 miles long.  If this seems like too far then try to bear in mind that there are some fantastic village pubs along the way so you can make regular pit stops for a pint (or two) as you go.

The Thames Path

A walk which can be picked up from right in London; perfect if you are staying at The Montcalm London Marble Arch Hotel is the Thames Path.  This is a path which follows the entire 184 miles of the River Thames and whilst we aren’t suggesting that you try and walk the entire distance, there are various points at which the trail can be picked up and appreciated.  The Thames Path starts at the source of the River Thames in the Cotswolds and passes through several rural counties before it reaches London.  Along the way you can discover historic towns, rich wildlife, country pubs and quaint villages and pretty much all of the trail is fully accessible, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.  You could catch public transport out of London and pick up the trail an hour or so from London before making your way back to one of the luxury hotels London or you could start in Central London and make your way as far as you feel comfortable before turning around and making your way back again.

Thames Path

Richmond Park and Ham House

Richmond Park is one of the eight royal parks in London but it is often overlooked in favour of those closer to the heart of the city.  However, Richmond Park and the surrounding area have a lot to offer those who want to escape the urban sprawl of London.  Richmond Park itself is home to freely roaming Red and Fallow Deer, the Isabella Plantation which is a tranquil ornamental woodland garden, and King Henry’s Mound which, on a clear day, offers you the chance to see right across the city of London to landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral.  Leaving the park you will find yourself in the wonderful village of Ham, and if you feel up the walk, it’s about 20 minutes from the edge of the park near Pembroke House to Ham House; a 7th century house which sits on the banks of the River Thames and is owned by the National Trust.  It is said to be one of the rarest properties in Europe as much of the original 17th century furnishings and fittings remain.

Richmond Park

The Jubilee Greenway

Another walk which you can start from Central London is the Jubilee Greenway; a 37 mile walk which takes you around some of the major sights in London including Kensington Palace, Greenwich Park and HMS Belfast.  However, picking up just one short stretch of the Jubilee Greenway from Little Venice to Camden Town can be a very relaxed and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.  Little Venice is located where the Grand Union Canal and Regents Canal meet and a lovely area has cropped up with quaint waterside pubs and restaurants.  If you follow the canal path you will eventually pass through to Camden with its wonderful and eclectic market which is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or two.  This walk will also take you past Regent’s Park which is home to the ZSL London Zoo and Primrose Hill which could be a pleasant diversion and offers stunning (and free) views across the whole of the city on a clear day.  You can find a number of different sections of the Jubilee Greenway on the Transport for London website and if you wanted to complete the whole route then keep an eye out for the distinctive pavement slabs which mark the various points of this Royal walking route.  As the walk was made to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee, she unveiled the one outside Buckingham Palace in 2012.

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Different transport options in London http://www.travelwithamate.com/different-transport-options-london/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 11:18:53 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30955 Spending a holiday in the city of London is always a memorable experience. With countless sights and both modern and medieval tourist attractions on offer, people of all age groups can have a whale of a time in this historic capital of the United Kingdom.  And there are awesome deals to be had on both ...

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Spending a holiday in the city of London is always a memorable experience. With countless sights and both modern and medieval tourist attractions on offer, people of all age groups can have a whale of a time in this historic capital of the United Kingdom.  And there are awesome deals to be had on both travel and accommodation if you travel to the city in the tourist off-season.

Choosing the right location to stay is important to enjoy a terrific holiday in the city. It is always a good idea to stay in the heart of the city with the 4 Star hotels in Paddington London a much sought after location.

There are numerous fine hotels in the area like the Park Grand London Hyde Park Hotel that offers the finest in luxury and facilities, at an affordable cost.  And apart from being close to the many attractions in Central London it also offers a wide variety of public modes of transport to commute to other parts of the suburbs and even beyond.

London is renowned for its well developed public transport system and you will never fall sort of travel options to choose from while in London. Some of the best modes of public transport in the city include:

The Tube

The London Underground or the Tube as it is popularly known is the oldest underground rail system in operation in the world. With almost 300 stations you can be sure of not being too distant from the Tube. And there are a variety of fare options to choose from, so you can pick one which will be best suited for your travel during your stay in the city. Subject to your travel requirements you could opt for a Travelcard or a pre-paid Oyster Visitor Card. The trips you make around London will depend on the travel zone and distance you travel. While Oyster Cards are the best option you need to decide what would be most economical for you to use during your sojourn in London.

And familiarise yourself with the London Tube map. You need to have a fairly good idea of the layout so that you can travel conveniently and without any hassle to the different destinations you need to visit. London is divided into 6 travel zones with Central London in Zone 1 and the rest of the zones spreading concentrically as you move away from the centre of the city. The further you move away from Central London the higher will be the travel fare. You could choose to download the London Tube app or even get a free paper map at any of the Tube Stations.

Red Bus & Santander Cycles

Buses

While the Underground is definitely an asset, it is not necessarily always the best or only option to consider. Using the Tube may not always be the most convenient and it can also pose a challenge for those travelling with kids. An effective alternative is the urban bus network that the city of London offers its residents and visitors. It is one of the biggest bus networks of its kind and is great way to travel and sightsee around the city. Of the many scenic routes no’s 9 &15 are described as heritage routes, as they cover numerous city landmarks along the trip. These two routes are perfect for first time visitors to London. Payment on the London bus is either through Oyster Visitors Card or Travelcards, as cash travel has been discontinued on the bus network.  To ensure you have a smooth hassle free journey plan your trip well in advance.  Riding the buses is a far cheaper alternative than taking a trip on the Tube network. The only downside is that you will have heavy traffic to content with! 

Overground

While travel on the Overground is similar to the Tube the primary difference is that it is obviously above the ground. The Overground is fairly new mode of travel in the city as it only came into existence in 2007. This was done as to compensate for the lack of Tube connectivity to certain parts of the city and beyond. The tickets have similar fares like the Tube and are also zone-based.  As a norm you do not have swipe or touch your payment card, if you change from the Overground to the Tube (if they are within the same fare zone) though there are some stations where you may need to.   The logo for the Overgound is similar to the Tube with only the title and colour of the circle different.  

DLR (Docklands Light Railway)

The London Docklands Railways (DLR) is an automated rail system that is specifically used for travel in the docklands area of the city. This lies in the south east and east of the city. The predominant difference between the Tube and the Overground is that this system is entirely automated. The fair pricing is similar to the Tube and the Overground and follows the same fare zone policy. It is preferably recommended to swipe or touch in and out at the beginning and end of each trip.

Docklands Light Railway

Rail Services

Apart from the mentioned railway options, the city also has an actual suburban railway network that connects the suburbs to the centre of the city. There also are trains like the Eurostar Rail that travel to countries in Europe. The three major airports of London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are also serviced by the rail network.

Tram

These cater to visitors and travellers in the South of London, from Wimbledon to Croydon and further to Beckenham. It is called the London Tramlink and consists of 17 miles of track and has four lines. It follows a fixed price per trip and you only need to touch once at the start of the trip.

Apart from these popular modes of transport there is the Emirates Air Line cable car service, river boats, the iconic black cabs or taxis and the London Cycle Hire scheme etc.

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What to pack for a lads’ holiday http://www.travelwithamate.com/pack-lads-holiday/ Thu, 02 Feb 2017 16:56:15 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30947 You’ll make some of the best memories of your life on holiday with your friends. But, in the pre-departure excitement, it’s easy to forget to pack some of the essentials. You might think that a suitcase full of your favourite trainers and some fancy-dress costumes will serve you perfectly well. But, once you get to ...

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You’ll make some of the best memories of your life on holiday with your friends. But, in the pre-departure excitement, it’s easy to forget to pack some of the essentials. You might think that a suitcase full of your favourite trainers and some fancy-dress costumes will serve you perfectly well. But, once you get to your destination, you’ll have to face the fact that it just won’t be enough. So, to help you have the best time possible and avoid having any holiday disasters, we’ve put together a list of things you’ll need on a lads’ holiday.

Your EHIC card

EHIC cardsIf your holiday destination is in Europe, you should ensure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card to take with you. This might not seem particularly exciting but, if you do end up needing any kind of medical attention while you’re abroad, you’ll be glad to have it.

The EHIC gives you access to state-provided health care while on holiday in another European Economic Area or Switzerland. Any treatment that is medically necessary should be provided on the same basis as it would to a resident of that country. Usually this will be at a reduced cost, or will often be free.

You can apply for or renew your card free of charge using the EHIC online application form.

Personalised T-shirts

No lads’ holiday is complete without a set of (somewhat embarrassing) personalised T-shirts. These should make it clear that you’re all part of the same group and, ideally, have all of your inevitably ridiculous nicknames emblazoned across them.

It can be difficult to come up with decent T-shirt designs on your own, though, so it’s wise to order them from a company like the printwear specialist Custom Planet. They have a selection of custom T-shirts that you can have printed with anything you fancy, as well as stag do tops that have recognisable designs that you can tweak to suit your party.

Toiletries

toiletriesThey say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and nobody knows this as well as someone who’s forgotten to take everyday essentials like their toothbrush and shower gel on holiday. So, be sure to put together a wash bag of essentials that you can throw in your suitcase with ease.

This should contain things like your razor, shaving gel, toothpaste, shampoo, and any hair products you use on a daily basis.

A wireless speaker

If you want to be known as the life and soul of the party while you’re away, you’ll have to play DJ wherever you go. So, to ensure you can make great use of your finely crafted playlists everywhere from your hotel room to the beach, invest in a wireless speaker that will connect to your smartphone using Bluetooth.

There are so many on the market, which can make it difficult to choose the most appropriate product. But, fortunately, BritishSounds.co.uk has put together a list of the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers for 2017, which will make the decision process much simpler for you.

To have the best time away possible, you need to ensure you’re well prepared. If you pack all of these items alongside the more obvious things like your clothes, passport and suncream, you’ll avoid having a holiday disaster and be able to make some fantastic memories with your friends.

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BuyaTimeshare.com Review: Our Website Browsing Experience http://www.travelwithamate.com/buyatimeshare-com-review-website-browsing-experience/ Thu, 02 Feb 2017 10:30:28 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30930 Have you considered renting a timeshare when going on holiday? It’s an economical choice and, literally, a home away from home. You’re probably more likely to extend my visit when I’m not confined to a hotel room. In a timeshare, people traveling together are more likely to go home still friends. With separate kitchen facilities, ...

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Have you considered renting a timeshare when going on holiday? It’s an economical choice and, literally, a home away from home. You’re probably more likely to extend my visit when I’m not confined to a hotel room. In a timeshare, people traveling together are more likely to go home still friends. With separate kitchen facilities, living room, and bedrooms, you won’t be bumping into each other or annoying one another if some want to sleep and some want to watch television.

So if you’re open to timeshare rentals and maybe even buying, where will you start looking? On the Internet, of course! Where else can we get so much information in such little time? Plus you get to browse at leisure by yourself—until you want help. I was recently invited to review the website BuyaTimeshare.com which is one of the first websites dedicated to buying, selling and renting timeshares. I expect that it will also be one of the most experienced. Lets find out.

First Impressions

They really do count. I feel that I’m in good hands as soon as I see BuyaTimeshare.com‘s home page. It’s what every home page should be. It is crisp and clean, informative and very pleasing to the eye. In a matter of seconds, I can see everything I need. The first thing I saw was a delightful surprise: the phone number right at the top of the page. If that sounds like an odd thing to be delighted about, try finding a phone number on some websites for online companies—difficult to impossible. There is also a form to submit if you need additional information and a real-time Support Agent ready to “Chat Now.” They make sure that visitors to the site can easily request, and receive, whatever help they may need.   

Homepage

The buttons on the top menu bar are clearly marked and add up to an “Everything You Want to Know about Timeshares.” The Help button explains the whole deal about timeshares. Certainly very welcome information for me and would be even more welcome for anyone who is considering converting that holiday into a “dry run” for buying a unit. Under “Timeshare Help” is “How Timeshare Calendars Work” with a clear, detailed explanation of the rather “mysterious” system of rental weeks that are designated 1 through 52 rather than, say, January 1 through December 31. 

On the top menu bar, there is a Timeshare Info button, and there you learn “timeshare speak,” the esoteric jargon of the timeshare business. Also under that button is the Timeshare Calendar with the weeks translated into sequential numbers for 2017 through 2020. 

TimeShare 4 Featured Home Page

The Timeshare Directory button reveals the most commonly visited locations for easy access if that’s where you want to go or you can go to locations by city, state or country if you’re still deciding. 

I’m going to start with the other option, the Search field. Five of my cousins and I, from the UK, US and Argentina, are getting together for a mini-family reunion. We’re thinking of meeting in the Bahamas, so I’ll see what’s available. 

Renting a timeshare in the Bahamas

When I enter “Bahamas” into the Search field, I get 20  properties and a brief, but helpful, overview of the Bahamas, including restaurants and, interestingly, how to find children friendly resorts. As I was browsing around the website I saw overviews for other locations that included the most convenient and/or least expensive route to get there. I’d say that’s an “above and beyond” feature. 

TimeShare Refine by Bahamas

I refined the search for timeshares that are available to rent and ones with three bedrooms. I’m then down to two properties. There is a “Timeshares to Rent” button for each property, and then I see that, within those two properties, there are multiple units for rent. 

Most units have 10 photographs of the exterior, interior and the unit itself. Oddly, a few do not include photos of the unit. I’m going to have to pass on any of those. I always want to see what our accommodations will actually be like. But that’s a problem with the owner not the website. A Google map at the bottom of the page pinpoints exactly where the property is, which is also something definitely required for any confident order.

One problem with this section is that after I looked at the units at one property, I could not get back to the page that showed the two properties that fit my specifications. I ended up back on the page with 20 properties and had to refine the search again. Not a big deal, perhaps, but an unnecessary step, and I’m sure easily remedied.

Also for each property there is a “Make an Offer” button which is great if you want to negotiate the rental price (and you should want to do that!). What I wanted was a way to contact the owner and ask some questions. Maybe, for those units without the photos I need, the owner could provide some? I didn’t see a form for that and yet from everything I understood, I am able to contact the owner. Clicking on “Make an Offer” showed me an enquiry form. Not the easiest thing to find but got there in the end.

Last minute deals

Clicking on the “Rental Timeshare” button on the top menu I was able to find some great last minute deals. One nice thing I noticed is that some of the “last minutes” are more than six weeks away, which is a really generous amount of time to get a deal! These rentals are handled by a BuyaTimeshare partner called “Gateway Timeshare Resales”. The weeks are already confirmed as available but worth noting you will need to speak with a Gateway representative rather than a rep and the owner. 

TimeShare last minute rental

Other countries

The majority of timeshares featured on BuyaTimeshare.com are in the United States (48 out of the 50 states), the islands of the Caribbean and Mexico. However, the properties are spread around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Spain and the UK. There are fewer options in those places, but it’s still worth checking them out. You could find a great deal! 

Conclusion

I enjoyed this website. It provides so much information, probably because it’s been around long enough to have a good grasp of what people want to know, especially the “timeshare speak,” additional information about the locations and “inside info” on ways to get to the location. There are a few unusual user interactions but nothing drastic that will have you running and screaming from the site. I’ll be going back to this website, and I’m sure the cousins will also want to see it! I suspect you will find it extremely helpful in finding your holiday rental, whether you want an expansive penthouse or a cozy nest. Check out BuyaTimeshare.com for yourself.

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Travelling on a budget? It can be done! http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-travel-on-budget/ Wed, 01 Feb 2017 14:35:27 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30925 Most of us love to travel. Travelling is a form of leisure that offers pleasure, unknown places and generally just a new form of comfort. The biggest problem is having the time and/or resources to go on a trip. Today we’d like to touch on the budget part of hitting the road. Many people seem ...

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Most of us love to travel. Travelling is a form of leisure that offers pleasure, unknown places and generally just a new form of comfort. The biggest problem is having the time and/or resources to go on a trip. Today we’d like to touch on the budget part of hitting the road. Many people seem to think that taking trips has to be an extremely expensive undertaking. While it is true that spending money is usually inevitable, you can still travel on a tight budget. Below we’ll list some of our favourite tips to use whilst touring about.

Location, time and form of transportation are the first topics to discuss. Many of you know these things already so we’ll keep it brief. An exotic location in high-season is going to cost a ridiculous amount of money, no matter how you want to get there. Travelling during low-season reduces your costs of transportation significantly.

Forex

If a foreign currency is going to be used, we advise you to check the rates on this currency a few months prior to taking off. Try to wait for a favourable exchange-rating course and take advantage of it. This saves you a lot more money than you might think. On top of that, always try to exchange your money at a local and trustworthy bank or exchange agency. Doing it abroad leaves you vulnerable to being ripped off.

Traveller passes

Museum/traveller passes are your friend! Plan out your trip beforehand, take advantage of several beneficial deals that museums and other touristic hot spots offer. Some hot spots offer a bundled traveller pass (seeing multiple touristic locations in 1 day at a reduced price), so be on the lookout for those!

Accommodation

Finding hotels or another form of accommodation can also be aggravating. There are many options to choose from, so to make your task easier we can recommend you a service that’s always among the best in terms of price/quality rating.Priceline offers excellent deals on both accommodation and flights. Often times they’ll have a bundle for these to save you even more money. Next to that, you can also use coupons or promo codes to get further discounts. We truly recommend checking this service out, it has proven to be very reliable for us in the past.

Transportation

Next up, transport in the location of preference. Looking for ways of transportation without getting ripped off is always a hassle. Once again, we’d like to offer a simply recommendation. Budget Rent a Car has been around for a few decades now and is easily the most trustworthy company when trying to rent a car. Whether for long-distance or short-term purposes, the Budget Rent a Car services are suitable for every situation. The rates are fairly generous, but most importantly their customer service is top notch. Renting a car with this company will save you a lot of research work and headaches. Once again, be on the lookout for Budget rent a car promo codes and coupons to get an even better deal. Needless to mention, you are still required to consult expert advise from professional travel companies such as Priceline.

There are a lot of things you can do to make your travelling be more expense-free. Committing to research before departing is key. Furthermore, we advise you to take a look at our recommendations to save yourself from going through some of that extensive searching. Safe travels!

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Useful Android Apps for Skiing and Snowboarding http://www.travelwithamate.com/useful-android-apps-skiing-snowboarding/ Tue, 31 Jan 2017 13:57:27 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30918 If you live anywhere near a mountain and a cold climate, there’s a good chance that you or someone you know loves to hit the slopes whenever they can. And whether you ski or snowboard, there are plenty of places across the country where you can get your snow fix. With today’s mobile devices, why ...

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If you live anywhere near a mountain and a cold climate, there’s a good chance that you or someone you know loves to hit the slopes whenever they can. And whether you ski or snowboard, there are plenty of places across the country where you can get your snow fix.

With today’s mobile devices, why not take advantage of the technology and use a few mobile apps to help make your ski adventures easier to plan and more adventurous? There are tons of apps out there that can help anyone have more fun once the flakes start flying Here are a few apps that may be just the thing you need to make you skiing and snowboarding time more enjoyable.

Weather Live Free

If you want to get out on the slopes, then you need to know if the conditions are right: there’s nothing worse than waking up on the day you expect to ski to find a sudden hot spell has turned the snow into slush.

This app will help keep you in the know when it comes to the weather. Along with the standard weather information like temperature, “feels like” temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind speed and direction, Weather Live Free gives you a seven-day outlook so you can plan ahead anytime during the week. There’s also an up-to-the-minute weather radar so you can keep an eye on those fronts that may signal great snow.

You can enable the apps widget as well, so you can get all the information you want right on your home screen. You can click here to find out more about this informative app.

Ski Tracks

Whether you ski cross country or downhill, or prefer the fun of snowboarding, there’s a great chance you’d like to know everything you can about your favorite runs.

This app can give you all of the information about your runs you need. If you have it enabled during your runs, it will collect pertinent statistics like the total distance of the run, the altitude and your speed. You can then analyze your statistics and find common threads between them so you can see what types of runs you prefer or are best at.

Ski Tracks does use contour lines on its maps, so it may take some getting used to. Once you understand, though, it’s a great way to keep track of your run stats.

Mammut Safety App

This app, designed by Swiss mountaineers, is designed to help you avoid on of the most dangerous skiing risks of all: avalanches.

The app will notify you if you are in areas of avalanche risk, and will give you pointers on how to avoid getting caught and what to do if you are caught in an avalanche. In case of emergency, it will also use the GPS in your phone to contact rescue workers and give them your location.

Next time you hit the slopes, try using one of these apps.

Maisie Finch has worked in the travel industry for a number of years, working in both hot climates and cold. She writes about travel in her online articles.

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