Travel with a mate http://www.travelwithamate.com Travel advice, destinations and reviews from a family of travel addicts. Mon, 16 Jan 2017 09:40:33 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Why You May Never Return From a Holiday to the Yucatan Peninsula http://www.travelwithamate.com/may-never-return-holiday-yucatan-peninsula/ Fri, 23 Dec 2016 10:12:30 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30814 In terms of heaven on earth, the Yucatan Peninsula has always been one of the most special destinations for the Holiday Taxis team. This is arguably the very same reason why ancient civilisations such as the Mayans had called this spot home for centuries. Boasting amazingly warm waters, a tropical environment and a booming property ...

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In terms of heaven on earth, the Yucatan Peninsula has always been one of the most special destinations for the Holiday Taxis team. This is arguably the very same reason why ancient civilisations such as the Mayans had called this spot home for centuries. Boasting amazingly warm waters, a tropical environment and a booming property market, the Yucatan Peninsula is visited by countless tourists each and every season. So, what are a handful of the attractions that you can expect to enjoy and why might you never wish to leave once you arrive?

A Safe and Secure Environment

It is first important to point out that unlike other areas within Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula is not affected by crime and other issues which have plagued the country in recent times. There are two reasons for this observation. First, it is located quite far from the northern cities that are known for violence. Secondly, the government appreciates that this spot is a true paradise. It has therefore spent a great deal of money making certain that tourists and citizens alike remain safe at all times.

Beaches Galore

The Yucatan Peninsula is famed as offering stretches of coastline that appear as if they were painted by an artist. Some examples here include Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Cancun itself. Millions of visitors flock to these shores every year and due to the notably calm waters, these locations are particularly popular for families. It is also worth noting that a significant amount of investment has taken place all along the coast. High-rise luxury hotels, a host of quality restaurants and a vivid nightlife all tend to define the beaches here. The majority of businesses are fluent in English and nearly every desire can be catered to.

Beaches in Yucatan

A Burgeoning Property Market

It should come as no great surprise that the entire region has also become famous for its growing property market. This is due in no small part to the fact that the prices here are incredibly amenable when compared to other locations associated with such an amazing climate. Major estate agencies such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s are therefore quite interested in snatching up the most sought-after locations.

Having said this, there are many other properties which can be found at reasonable prices for the average investor. Many of these are located only a stone’s throw away from the coast, so the appeal to the buyer is understandable. A growing number of individuals are choosing such locations as holiday homes or as long-term investment options.

Currency Exchange Rates

Anyone potentially interested in a property here will obviously be concerned with how the peso (the Mexican currency) is performing alongside the pound, the euro and the dollar. Most are pleased to learn that the peso is extremely undervalued and currently, it is one of the worst performing currencies in 2016. While the verdict is still out in regards to 2017 levels, investors can remain confident that they will enjoy extremely amenable exchange rates well into the future.

Living History

All investment issues aside, it is a well-known fact that the Yucatan Peninsula has always been known for its rich history and ancient ruins. Examples such as the stepped pyramid at Chichen Itza, the ruins of Kabah and the timeless city of Tulum are only three locations which require a first-hand experience to appreciate their beauty.

chichen itza

Whether arriving here for the weather, the investment opportunities or the sheer history, the Yucatan Peninsula is indeed a paradise brought down to earth. So, it is clear to see why you may never want to leave!

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Reasons to ditch the hotel this holiday season http://www.travelwithamate.com/reasons-ditch-hotel-holiday-season/ Thu, 22 Dec 2016 14:12:42 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30808   Staying in a hotel whiletravelling is a usual practice, but if you wish to save money and enjoy more comfortable accommodation, you have to look for other options. To enjoy more free space, luxury, you need to ditch a hotel for vacation rental. A vacation rental is far more affordable and budget friendly. The ...

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Staying in a hotel whiletravelling is a usual practice, but if you wish to save money and enjoy more comfortable accommodation, you have to look for other options. To enjoy more free space, luxury, you need to ditch a hotel for vacation rental. A vacation rental is far more affordable and budget friendly. The experience it offers is similar to that of a hotel, but the pricing is a lot more reasonable. With the vacation rental, you will enjoy a lot of perks.

Ditch the hotel when you need separate rooms for kids

Vacation rental appeals to anyone more than hotel simply because they can have a separate room for kids. There are many rental misconceptions, which we believe in, but now its time to check out the perks of vacation rental.Everyone is sure to get a wonderful night’s sleep in the vacation rental when booking a hotel just implies having one single room. In the singular room of the hotel you have to cram everyone. On the other hand, when you book two hotels, it will be like breaking your bank. But then, booking a house with extra rooms is just like enjoying more space at cheaper rates.

Holiday homes

Ditch the hotel to avoid getting crammed

Kids are always desperate to move around the hotel corridors just to expend their surplus energy. But, this cannot be allowed in the hotel. You can ditch the hotel and book a vacation rental or a villa to let loose your kids. They will have more space to run and play and will not be cooped in a single room.

A villa or cottage offers more privacy

If you are looking forward to a family vacation and wish for more privacy, you should go for a cottage or villa. When you book a vacation rental, you need not bear with noisy guests who may start making noise at 2am also. There is even no need to look for seats or scramble between the seats at the breakfast restaurant. Since you are looking to relax and enjoy quality moments with friends or family, you have to ditch the hotel.

Cooking at home

Enjoy those cooking sessions

In the hotel, there is not much scope to enjoy. Vacation rental gives you the chance to cook your own meals. There is the convenience of having your own kitchen. Whether it is breakfast or lunch or dinner, everything will be at your fingertips. Preparing the food for your family will be breeze easy and budget friendly.

Stay like a local

If you wish to get the very essence and experience of the destination, you need to ditch the hotel. When you book a villa, you can explore the neighbourhood much better and check out the beach areas, shopping destinations. So, ditch the hotel this holiday season and opt for a good alternate.

Holiday like a local

Now, say ‘Good bye’ to the carbon-copy and sterile hotel rooms by choosing a space that suits your personality. You are sure to have a unique experience and create great memories. You can also stay for longer periods by choosing among villa, a cottage or a vacation home.

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Quick tips on planning a holiday in 2017 http://www.travelwithamate.com/quick-tips-planning-holiday-2017/ Tue, 20 Dec 2016 10:35:58 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30797 Planning a holiday can be tricky; here are four tips to making the booking process a little less daunting. 1. Work out where you’re going Whatever you’re looking to get out of your break, there’s a destination for you out there somewhere. Want to go somewhere relaxing? Try one of the numerous Caribbean Islands. Fancy ...

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Planning a holiday can be tricky; here are four tips to making the booking process a little less daunting.

1. Work out where you’re going

Whatever you’re looking to get out of your break, there’s a destination for you out there somewhere. Want to go somewhere relaxing? Try one of the numerous Caribbean Islands. Fancy something a bit more adventurous? Consider a trek through South America. For a week of non-stop partying, have a look at breaks to Ibiza or Marbella. Once you’ve decided where you’re jetting off to, do some research and make sure you’re up-to-speed with any need-to-know tourist information; for some countries (such as America) you’ll need to apply for and be in possession of a visa before you’re permitted to fly. If you’re planning on visiting a number of different destinations (for example, as part of a tour of Europe), it’s worth having an idea of where and when you’re going to go before you set off.

Where to go on holiday in 2017?

2. Save up!

Save upOnce you know where you’re going, you’ll be able to work out how much you’ll need to save up in order to pay for it. The cost of your journey will depend entirely on what you want to get out of it; a back-packing and sight-seeing holiday is going to be much cheaper than a stay in a five-star luxury hotel in Barbados. If you’re planning on going self-catering, you’ll also need to do a bit of research into how much a meal at a local restaurant typically costs to make sure you have enough spending money to keep yourself well fed during your travels. You’ll also need to factor in additional costs such as travel insurance and an emergency fund just in case the unthinkable happens.

 

3. Get it booked

Once you’ve got the cash, you’ll have to book your holiday. How you do this is entirely up to you. There are plenty of travel companies out there who’ll be more than happy to book everything for you in one go – including your flights, any required transfers and your accommodation throughout your stay – as a package deal but this tends to cost significantly more than organising everything yourself individually. Shopping around and booking flights, transfers and accommodation separately often works out much cheaper than doing it in one go through an agent. If you are planning on taking charge of your own booking, though, you’ll need to have a pretty solid understanding of the layout of your chosen destination; the last thing you want to end up doing is booking a flight to one part of the island when your hotel is on the opposite side!

4. Start packing

Once you’ve all the important stuff sorted, it’s time to start packing. Chances are you’ll need at least a few bits of new clothing for your holiday. Typical travel essentials include t-shirts, a good hoody or sweatshirt, a pair of joggers from places like Jacamo for the flights to and from your destination and for relaxing around the hotel. Swim-shorts are usually always a must-have, as is sun-scream and insect repellent.

Packing tips

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Top Locations for the Perfect Family Holiday  http://www.travelwithamate.com/top-locations-perfect-family-holiday/ Mon, 19 Dec 2016 16:58:32 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30789 Are you considering booking your family holiday? Well, while you could go back to the same place you always go to, wouldn’t it be fun to try something different? To help make this a little easier for you, we’ve narrowed it down to three locations to take inspiration from. That includes one location that’s close ...

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Are you considering booking your family holiday? Well, while you could go back to the same place you always go to, wouldn’t it be fun to try something different?

To help make this a little easier for you, we’ve narrowed it down to three locations to take inspiration from. That includes one location that’s close to home, one that’s further afield, and one that you probably hadn’t even considered for a family holiday (yet works perfectly!) Take a look below and see if you can picture you and your little ones holidaying in these places…

Majorca, Spain

A tried and tested favourite of scores of British holidaymakers, Spain should be top of your list of places to consider. Head over between early spring and the end of autumn if you want to be pretty much guaranteed warm weather, and consider the fact that there are scores of safe, clean beaches for the kids to play on too.

Majorca Spain

Also, Spain is a short haul destination, making it practical for friends and family holidaying together; the quick flight into mainland Europe makes it the perfect option while travelling with babies and older people alike. So, check out the Costa Del Sol, Lanzarote or Majorca if you think Spain might work for you. Majorca is a good option if your priority is finding somewhere warm and safe for kids to play from dusk till dawn without compromising on comfort and sophistication for the adults. Do a bit of research to find a deal in your budget if Majorca takes your fancy, and be sure to pick a hotel with a pool: the kids will be in and out of it all day!

Orlando, United States

If you want to go a bit further afield (but don’t fancy getting off the beaten track), why not take the kids to Orlando, Florida? This US destination is bursting with fun attractions for kids of all ages, including Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld. The theme parks will keep the kids occupied all day, and with so much adrenaline and exercise they’re bound to sleep soundly while the grown ups enjoy a bit of time to themselves in the evening.

Walt Disney World Orlando

If Orlando is a contender for you, make sure the kids have well-fitting, comfortable shoes as they’ll be doing a lot of walking. Also, if you are going to take the kids to Walt Disney World (wouldn’t it be a shame to miss it while you’re over there?), consider buying FastPass+ tickets so your family can skip the queues on some rides… it might just stop those wearisome temper tantrums, making the added expense worth every penny.

Ko Chang, Thailand

Finally, if your family are a little more adventurous (or you want to expand their horizons a little), why not head to Thailand? It’s a long haul destination that feels more novel than sticking to Europe or America, yet offers everything you want for a family holiday: beaches, wildlife, sunshine and even bustling markets.

Koh Chang Thailand

Chiang Mai is popular with families, and if beaches are a top priority for you, consider staying in Ko Chang. The shallow seas on the eastern side of the country are perfect for young children, and it’s not far from the jungle too – a perfect day trip for families who fancy trading their walks in the forest for something more exotic! Keep your eyes peeled for monkeys and elephants and remember to pack your camera.

A long-haul holiday like this is a great way of making long-lasting memories together as a family, and it doesn’t have to be too expensive either. While the flights might cost a little more than heading to Europe, the cost of accommodation, transport and food when you’re there is often very cheap. That means that Thailand is a destination that many families can afford if they’re willing to go the extra mile.

Of course, these ideas are just here to give you a little bit of inspiration. There are so many more destinations to consider, so the main thing is to ensure you book your holiday through a reputable company after comparing all the best deals. Do your research and enjoy!

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7 Perfect Locations for a Romantic Ski Weekend Getaway http://www.travelwithamate.com/7-perfect-locations-romantic-ski-weekend-getaway/ Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:17:35 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30778 Are you daydreaming about a romantic vacation for you and your partner? Ski(p) – hehe, pun intended –  the thought of a tropical island and get ready for some serious fun in the snow. It might sound intriguing to some, but there is nothing more cozy and exciting than spending your holiday in a lovely ski ...

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Are you daydreaming about a romantic vacation for you and your partner? Ski(p) – hehe, pun intended –  the thought of a tropical island and get ready for some serious fun in the snow. It might sound intriguing to some, but there is nothing more cozy and exciting than spending your holiday in a lovely ski resort. The snow, the playfulness and the long, warm nights can make for one of the best romantic times you can spend with your partner. Here is a list of the most exquisite locations for the perfect romantic ski weekend getaway.

Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria

Meet the largest ski slope in Austria, the unique human-made gem in the Kitzbuhel Alps! Saalbach Hinterglemm, which was upgraded and improved in 2014, is famous nowadays for its excellent lift systems.

Sure, you will have a difficult time remembering and pronouncing the name, but you can rest assured that the experience will be unforgettable.  Not to mention that you will enjoy the 270-kilometres slopes waiting for you and your partner to be discovered.

Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria

Whether you are a beginner attempting to do your first swings or a seasoned skier, you will love Saalbach Hinterglemm’ perfectly prepared slopes. You will also have a great time, reconnecting with Mother Nature and your loved one. Maybe it’s the cool, fresh air or maybe it’s the fairytale view you can enjoy with your partner that will fill your heart with joy.

Lech, Austria

Another great location in Austria to have a romantic, exclusive vacation is Lech. With an elevation level of maximum 1,450 meters above the sea level, this picturesque part of Austria is just spilling over with natural beauty and peacefulness. More than that, it also includes an exclusive list of royal names and Hollywood A-listers.

Lech

The remoteness of this ski resort and its old farming village charm make Lech a great choice for a romantic getaway. But, don’t worry. You won’t feel isolated here. Innsbruck is just a quick drive away, so you can hit this gorgeous town whenever you get tired of skiing.

If you want to learn more about this picture-perfect ski destination, check out this full guide.

Chamonix, France

It could be argued that France is one of the most romantic countries on the planet. The Eifel tower, the chic Parisian cafes, and the trendy Cote d’Azur have surely contributed to its fame. But, allow me to present to you a face of France most people don’t know about: the Alps.

chamonix skiing

France is an internationally renowned ski destination, and Chamonix is, by far, one of its best locations. The great facilities and the beauty of the place have been attracting Hollywood A-lister like George Clooney and royals such as Prince William and Kate Middleton, to name just a few.

So what makes Chamonix such a wonderful choice, besides the fact that you might share a chairlift with George Clooney? Here are just a few highlights pointed out by iGOSKI.co.uk

  • Fabulous natural setting. More than 90% of its slopes are above 2000 meters, so skiing here is a fabulous experience.
  • Beginner, intermediate or expert. Regardless of your level, Chamonix has got you covered with a wide variety of ski slopes.
  • Great ski schools: If you and your partner are new to skiing, then you will love being a student at the local ski schools.
  • Great resort attractions: The numerous attractions that the resort holds, from great cafes and restaurant to romantic dinners, will make your evenings charming and memorable. Simply put, everything here is vibrant and full of life.

Alpe d’Huez

 

At less than three-hour drive from Chamonix, there’s another ski resort famed for its impressive facilities and amazing natural surrounding: Alpe d’Huez.

The slopes here are suited for both experts and beginners. They go down to 1,100 meters and up to 3,300 meters. Thanks to the glacier, there’s enough snow from early December until late April.

alpe dhuez skiing

But, what you will love most about this skiing destination is the perfect sunny weather and the breathtaking view of the Pic Blank. It’s not for nothing that they call Alpe d’Huez the “Sunshine Island.”

If France is the answer for your romantic ski dream vacation, make sure you also check out this guide for an unforgettable ski trip in the Alps.

Girdwood, Alaska

Alaska is renowned worldwide for its amazing landscapes and natural settings. It’s also one of the best destinations for a romantic ski getaway. Girdwood stands out as Alaska’s premier ski town, located at around 40 miles from the international airport of Anchorage.

Probably the most remarkable resort in town is the charming Alyeska Resort. According to National Geographic, the best time to be here is in March, when you can get an average of 12 hours of daylight.

Alaska ski options

 What else is great about Girdwood?? 

  • Half of the mountain is wide-open alpine, so you’ll get to enjoy more of an authentic Alps experience rather than what you would typically get in an American resort. You will love skiing down on Girdwood’s classic ski run, famous for the great ski thrill that it provides.
  • Crowds are off limits here, so you will surely get to feel that much-desired peacefulness and intimacy with your partner.
  1. Banff Lake Louise Ski Resorts

Located in the heart of the breathtaking Banff National Park, this is one of the premiere ski resorts in the world. Famous for its pristine beauty and a national symbol for Canada’s love and care of nature, Banff Lake Louise is a natural gemstone.

With a resort to accommodate each different ski level, you will surely find the right one between Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village. Banff has a light, fluffy powder that guarantees the greatest ski experience.

The best of all resorts is probably Mt. Norquay, famous for its history as an Olympic and World Cup training ground. It’s also a great family-friendly resort that provides easy access to the town of Banff where you can enjoy numerous attractions and some delicious Canadian cuisine.

The best thing about Banff? You can mix skiing with hiking to discover the amazing UNESCO World Heritage national park.

Gstaad, Switzerland

Gstaad must be the most eclectic, fascinating ski resort you can ever find. With a charming mix of traditional – that the few locals strive to keep as authentic as ever – and class, this is one of many celebrities favorite corner.

According to The Guardian, affordability and luxury are not antonyms in Gstaad. As unbelievable as it might sound, you can enjoy high-class conditions on a very convenient budget.

Where to ski this season?

The interesting traditions and local souvenirs make for some perfect memories of your romantic holiday. Not to mention, of course, the amazing ski facilities that Gstaad offers, transforming winter sports in unique experiences.

Deciding what destination to choose for your romantic ski getaway may seem like an impossible task. All these locations are outstanding. Regardless of what you choose, one thing is certain: skiing is one of the best winter activities to keep your romance hot.

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Make the most of your time in London http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-make-the-most-of-london/ Tue, 29 Nov 2016 16:42:44 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30765 Lots of emphasis is put on weekend breaks to London; how to make the most out of your time when you only have 48 hours in which to see the best the city has to offer, what to do if you are only stopping off in London on a flying visit and so on.  But ...

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Lots of emphasis is put on weekend breaks to London; how to make the most out of your time when you only have 48 hours in which to see the best the city has to offer, what to do if you are only stopping off in London on a flying visit and so on.  But London is actually well suited to those looking for longer breaks as well.  There is so much to see and do here that even with a week to spend in the city, you will find that you easily fill your itinerary and you may still find yourself having to cut down on the list of things you want to experience whilst in London.

Make a Plan

First things first, to really make the most out of your time in London, no matter how long or short your trip might be, you need to make a plan.  Think about and research the attractions you want to visit, the ones which are non-negotiable and the ones which you would just like to see if time allows.  Once you have your list you can start to budget how much visiting each of these attractions will cost you, and how long you would ideally like to spend exploring each one.  For each major attraction in London such as the Tower of London, Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum and so on, you could easily spend an entire day wandering around if you felt so inclined but most people don’t have the luxury of so much time.  Half a day or three to four hours is usually sufficient to see the majority of what an attraction has to offer.

Natural History Museum

Get an Overview

One of the best ways of getting a feel for the city is to take an open-bus tour and this could easily be the first thing you do when you arrive in London.  It gives you the chance to see some of the major sights and landmarks in London from the comfort of a bus, many have in-audio services which offer unique and interesting facts about the city, and you will get a basic grasp of the layout of the city so that if you wanted to come back in the following days to explore an attraction further, then you shouldn’t have too much difficulty.  This is especially key if you have perhaps made use of the one the London hotel special offers and you are perhaps not as centrally located as you might have wanted to be.

Plan Downtime

Exploring a city can be a pretty full on experience so make sure that you don’t try and pack too much into your trip but leave some time to relax as well.  This might simply be spending an hour or two chilling out in your luxury room at the M by Montcalm Tech City Hotel or it might be something practical like booking into one of London’s day spas for a treatment.  If you are visiting on a budge then a great way to enjoy some downtime is to head to one of London’s many picturesque gardens and parks.  For a large city, London has some of the best gardens, parks, nature reserves and woodlands and they are wonderful places to take a walk and enjoy some fresh air.  You could head out of the city to places such as Richmond Park, Lee Valley or Lavender Pond Nature Park.

Gardens in London

Alternatively you could stay close to the heart of the city and explore places such as St Dunstan in the East, Kensington Gardens or the Chelsea Physic Garden.

See a Show

Many people come to London to either explore attractions and landmarks or to see a show; the great thing about if you come to the city for longer is that you can factor in time to do both.  London’s West End is home to some world-class productions and theatres, any of which would make a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours.  You might have a particular show in mind that you would love to see or you might be happy just to turn up on the day and see what is available; either way we are almost certain you will not be disappointed with your decision.

London shows to see

Tickets are available to purchase online or there are a number of shops and booths dotted around Leicester Square which you can pop into to purchase tickets for upcoming performances.

After Hours Exploring

If you have a little bit of time on your hands and after visiting the city mid-week then here is a handy tip for avoiding the masses of tourists; lots of London’s museums and art galleries offer late night openings midweek or on a Friday evening which make the perfect time to visit.  You won’t get many tourists heading to these late night openings meaning you can take your time and explore without the hassle of competing with hundreds of people all trying to see the same thing at the same time.  Often the museums and galleries also host talks and events during the evening which can really enhance your experience so it’s always worth looking online to see whether there is anything taking place during the time of your trip as well.

Go Further

Another great thing about having more than just two days in the city is that it gives you the chance to head away from the centrally located attractions and see what London has to offer further afield.  Some of the city’s best attractions are actually those located in Greater London and not in the heart of the city but they are often overlooked by tourists.  Likewise there are many excellent day trips which can be taken from London such as to Brighton, the Cotswolds, Oxford and even Paris if you felt so inclined.  Don’t feel limited to stay within the confines of the city, there is so much that is worth exploring in the surrounding area too.

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How To Get Directly to London http://www.travelwithamate.com/get-directly-london/ Tue, 29 Nov 2016 16:33:49 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30764 London is one of the major capital cities in the world and millions of tourists flock to the city every year to experience its nightlife, shopping opportunities and historical monuments. If you’re flying in from elsewhere in the world, Heathrow airport is a great place to land because, not only are there many hotels near ...

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London is one of the major capital cities in the world and millions of tourists flock to the city every year to experience its nightlife, shopping opportunities and historical monuments.

If you’re flying in from elsewhere in the world, Heathrow airport is a great place to land because, not only are there many hotels near London Heathrow to stay, but it has direct links to the city. This guide shows how easy it is to get from 8th best airport in the world to the city for you to get their with minimal stress and a lot of ease.

Car

Heathrow offers a variety of parking options to suit your needs; there is a business parking options purely for business travellers who are in need of a quick parking and easy transfer service, a Meet & Greet service where you are welcomed at the designated spot by one of the dedicated staff and your car is parked for you while you check in for your flight, and a Valet parking service.

London valet car service

The valet service allows you to drive your car to the valet drop-off points where your car is parked for you while you check in. On your arrival back to the airport, your car will be waiting for you so you can just put your luggage in and drive away with minimal fuss and effort. If you are arriving into a different terminal, an advanced arrangement can see your car ready and waiting for you outside your arrival terminal instead, all beautifully cleaned inside and out if you opt for the Car Care service too.

Some of these services will need to be booked in advance, so if you choose to drive your car to the airport, take a look at the different options and book prior to your travels to take advantage of the great deals.

Train

If a train is your transport of choice then there are several different routes you can take to get to Heathrow. The first is to travel Paddington station where the fastest train to Heathrow airport departs every 15 minutes and takes a mere 15 minutes to Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and 18-20 minutes for Terminals 4 and 5. It is also equipped with free tv, air-conditioning and a lovely First Class carriage which includes bigger seats, tables and complimentary reading materials.

London trains

By tube, the journey will take just under an hour and the trains are incredibly frequent. All Terminal stations, 1 through to 5, are situated in Travelcard Zone 6 and are all accessible via the Piccadilly line, which is the most direct and cost-effective way to travel to the airport on the tube.

Oyster Card

London Oyster CardThe Oyster card is an essential requirement for any London traveller as it can cover your entire journey throughout London on one little smart card. It can be loaded with pay as you go credit and Travelcards and can be used on many of London’s transport systems such as the Tube, bus, London Overground and DLR services. A Visitor Oyster card can be purchased before you leave home and can be topped up for your travels to Heathrow and back and cover any stops in between as well as saving you money with special discounts.

Bus

If the thought of having to travel through London yourself fills you with fear, then the bus service is for you. National Express service is the largest coach operator in the UK and provides a frequent service to and from destinations all over Britain including Wales, Bristol, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted airports. The coaches call in Terminals 1 through to 5 and are equipped with all of the modern touches that will make your trip comfortable and stress-free.

London Bus

Heathrow is the hub for travellers and, with great accessibility, getting there will be completely stress-free which is the perfect way to start your holidays.

Stay minutes away from the City and the Airport

Heathrow offers a range of Hotel and Parking Packages which allows you to stay overnight and use of their Long Stay car parks with free transfers to any of the terminals via shuttle bus. There are a wide selection of hotels to choose from, some that are in the airport itself or ones that are situated a few miles away so that you can experience the peace and tranquility of outer city life. The price of the package includes overnight accommodation, overnight parking at the hotel and parking at the Long Stay car park that is closest to your terminal; this means that hotel transfers are not needed and you can remain stress free and save time on the day of your departure.

heathrow t5

Just 5 miles from Heathrow airport lies the Best Western Plus Park Grand London Heathrow, a modernised hotel that is perfectly placed between London and the airport, allowing easy access and an escape from busy London life and the noise of constant air traffic. It has an impressive 124 comfortable and contemporary rooms, a bar, a restaurant, free high speed internet and a gym to delight and make each customer feel welcome for them to enjoy their pre holiday evening.

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How to do London on a Budget http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-do-london-on-a-budget/ Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:30:19 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30757 Like any major European city, London can be an expensive place to visit unless you have a few handy insider tips up your sleeve and know how to save those pennies.  Certainly if you are planning a high-end, luxury break then there are plenty of ways to spend money and indulge yourself but equally, if ...

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Like any major European city, London can be an expensive place to visit unless you have a few handy insider tips up your sleeve and know how to save those pennies.  Certainly if you are planning a high-end, luxury break then there are plenty of ways to spend money and indulge yourself but equally, if you want to plan a city break but don’t have that much money to spare then you needn’t rule London out either.  The vast majority of the city’s 8 million residents aren’t rolling around in cash, so how do they live day to day?

Here are some simple tips for ways to save money when in London:-

Public transport isn’t always the answer

Lots of guides to getting around London will tell you that London has a fantastic and comprehensive public transport network which is very easy to navigate and use to get around the city.  This is absolutely spot on but, at the same time, many of London’s best attractions are actually situated within walking distance of one another making it possible to save money on a tube journey by simply using your feet!  It might seem convenient to hop on and off the tube but if money is tight then consider downloading a map to your smart phone (or picking up a paper one from one of the many souvenir booths in the city) and plotting out your day on foot instead.  With more than 40 tube stations situated within less than 500 metres of one or more other tube stations, save those public transport fares for when they really matter.

But when it is…buy an Oyster Card

London Oyster CardIf you have mapped out your journey and the attractions you want to see and using public transport just isn’t something that you can avoid then make sure you save money any way you can.  One of the best ways of doing this is to invest in a Visitors’ Oyster Card.  An Oyster Card is simply a prepaid smart card which you scan when you pass through a tube station or board a bus; it tends to work out as more cost-effective than just buying a standard ticket because you are offered the cheapest fare available at the time of travel.  In addition to this, the card is capped so once you have spent the maximum amount (around £8), you won’t be charged for any further journeys that day.

Eat on the cheap

Eating out is something you can’t really avoid when you are on a city break but there are plenty of cheaper options from early diner deals at the restaurants in West End London to the food stalls which crop up at the popular street markets.  There are also supermarkets dotted all across London and these often run meal deals where you can buy a pre-packaged sandwich, a snack and a drink for a reasonable price too.  If the weather is nice then there are lots of parks and open spaces where you can head with your purchases to enjoy a picnic; as long as it isn’t raining the parks of London are actually a very picturesque place to go in all seasons with something to see and do regardless of whether the sun is shining or not so that is always an option to consider as well.

Eat cheap in London at markets

Head online

If you know that there is a specific attraction you want to visit and it is paid entry (although make sure that you check out all the free attractions which London boasts) then the best way of saving money on the entry price is to book online and in advance.  Many of the major attractions offer discounts of up to 30% for tickets booked ahead of time and prices are usually inflated quite significantly for anyone turning up at the attraction wanting to buy a ticket.  If you are planning your trip quite a while ahead of time then you could even spread the cost of these paid entry attractions out over a period of time to help absorb the costs.

Be adventurous

Even if you are staying somewhere central such as The Piccadilly London West End hotels that doesn’t mean that you need to confine all of your explorations to the heart of London.  London is a vast city and it has attractions all over the Greater London area which are well worth investigating.  Often the prices for these attractions (if they aren’t free) is cheaper than those in the heart of the city as prices aren’t at such a premium the further out of Central London you head.  Don’t be afraid to hop on a train and see where you end up; London has some lovely suburbs which often aren’t as frequented by tourists as those areas in Central London such as the City of London.

Mix it up

We’ve already briefly touched on the many free attractions which London has but for those truly travelling on a budget then we feel it is worth mentioning again.  London has a wide range of attractions which are completely free for members of the public and it pays to mix a fair few of these into your sightseeing itinerary to ease the cost of visiting the city.  From the museums and art galleries to the historical landmarks, the festivals and free events which are often held by the larger attractions; there are really plenty of ways to enjoy the very best that the city has to offer without spending a penny.  If you are interested in discovering free events taking place then head to online forums and local suggestion sites; you can often find out about local events if you are willing to engage in a little bit of digging online for the information first.  The locals are going to be fountains of knowledge so forums and travel websites are usually a good place to start your search.

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A Little Bit of Italy in London http://www.travelwithamate.com/little-bit-italy-london/ Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:23:09 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30751 For centuries London has been a popular city for people from all over the world to settle and at the current count there are over 200,000 Italian nationals registered as residents in London.  We know from historical records however that the people of Italy have been emigrating to London from as early as the 19th ...

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For centuries London has been a popular city for people from all over the world to settle and at the current count there are over 200,000 Italian nationals registered as residents in London.  We know from historical records however that the people of Italy have been emigrating to London from as early as the 19th century however, and there are little slices of Italian influence evident all across the city from the restaurants and gelaterias to the names of some of the most well known parts of London itself.

Whether you are a fan of Italian food and looking for the best restaurants in the city or you simply want to enjoy a little bit of the Italian culture, we have put together a list of real treats for you to choose from:-

Restaurants

There are hundreds of restaurants which bear some form of Italian influence in London so knowing where to head if you want a truly authentic Italian dish can be difficult.  Although chain restaurants are often more easily recognisable and prominent in touristy areas, try to avoid these if you can and instead head to one of the independent restaurants open in the city.  Some of the best Italian restaurants include the likes of:-

  • TortelliniCup: an excellent option if you want Italian food to go, TortelliniCup have a kiosk in the O2 shopping centre and they offer classic Italian dishes such as tortellini, gramigna and vanilla balls to take away.
  • Fiddie’s Italian Kitchen: This is a real must if you want your restaurant environment to be cosy and intimate and your Italian food to be cooked straight from the heart.  All food served here is freshly made to order and is 100% authentic Italian cuisine.  If you are staying at the Montcalm hotel Chiswell Street then you haven’t got too far to travel either, just half an hour by public transport.

Montcalm hotel Chiswell Street

  • Fat Lorenzo’s Kitchen & Bar: Located in Fiztrovia, Fat Lorenzo’s is all about the Italian influenced food served in a no-frills environment.  This is less about the grandeur and more about the feeling of a good home cooked meal.  They serve a whole range of dishes from breakfast pancakes to ice cream cocktails, and just about everything else in between.

Gelaterias

Gelato may simply be the word for ice cream in Italian but it’s actually so much more than that too.  Once you have tasted true Italian gelato you will be truly spoiled for anything else and that’s why you need to only head to one of the best gelaterias in the city if you have a hankering for the real article.

Gelaterias in London

  • Gelatorino: Located in a gorgeous café near to the Royal Opera House, the gelato here is freshly churned every single day and is kept and served in the traditional Italian manner.  Everything about Gelatorino is old-school and it works absolutely fine for this brilliant gelateria; from the traditional method to the traditional flavours, this café gets it spot on, every time.
  • Morelli’s: Morelli’s is a family business and has been run by the same family for four generations.  It’s even claimed that Mario Morelli (great-grandfather) brough the cappuccino to Britain although we don’t know that there is any hard-evidence of this.  Gelato is served in cones to go or you can eat in if you order one of their delightful sundaes; think lashings of whipped cream, swizzle sticks and more wafer than you can ever hope to eat.
  • Lick: this Soho based gelateria offers a heady selection of gelato and sorbet served in cones and tubs.  Ingredients are 100% fresh, and 100% authentic with traditional Sicilian flavours coming through.  All orders are made to go but Soho is such a vibrant area that you can grab your gelato and wander the streets enjoying and soaking up your eclectic surroundings.

Italian Gardens

If you are staying at the Montcalm at the Brewery and heading into Central London then find an excuse to visit Kensington Gardens and the Italian Gardens contained therein.  This 150 year old ornamental garden was created as a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria and the layout of the Italian Gardens here is very reminiscent of the gardens Prince Albert himself created at the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.  The gardens consist of four main water basins, each with central rosettes carved from Carrara marble and Portland stone.  The gardens are full of elaborately and intricately carved pieces from the dolphin to the Swan’s breast.  The Italian Gardens are considered to be a Grade II listed site and have actually also been used in a number of popular movies including Wimbledon and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

little venice London

Little Venice is an area in North London which is named because of its connection to London’s waterway system, much like the real Venice is surrounded by a complex system of canals, so Little Venice is home to a number of beautiful canals and waterways.  The hub of Little Venice is considered to be the point where the Grand Union and Regent’s canals meet and a lovely neighbourhood with quaint waterside cafes, traditional inns and lovely restaurants has cropped up here.  You can hire your own canal barge if you want to try your hand at navigating the waters, follow Regent’s Canal as it leads you through North London to the Docklands, passing the likes of Regent’s Park, ZSL London Zoo and Camden Town, or simply soak up the picturesque and peaceful atmosphere which can be found here.  Little Venice is also the place to head if you want to discover some independent or fringe theatre and boasts a number of popular venues including the Canal Café Theatre and Sheldon Square’s amphitheatre.  Although perhaps this area is less Italian-inspired than you might hope, if the weather is nice you might even be able to convince yourself that you are indeed cruising up the canal in Venice and not in the heart of London.

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6 unique stops on a North Carolina road trip http://www.travelwithamate.com/6-unique-stops-north-carolina-road-trip/ Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:13:05 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30724 Ella Buchan is a freelance travel writer with 12 years of experience. Based between London and Paso Robles, California, she can often be found seeking out local dining spots and/or drinking wine with llamas. Her time in North Carolina was part of the #DriveUS1 campaign with Captivate, road-tripping all the way down US Route 1 ...

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Ella Buchan is a freelance travel writer with 12 years of experience. Based between London and Paso Robles, California, she can often be found seeking out local dining spots and/or drinking wine with llamas.

Her time in North Carolina was part of the #DriveUS1 campaign with Captivate, road-tripping all the way down US Route 1 from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida.

 

Where in the world can you go from sipping wine with baby llamas to hanging out in cool college cities by the coast? Rich in culture, history and offbeat experiences, the delights of North Carolina are best explored on a road trip.

Here’s my pick of stops that take in natural beauty, tempting food and charming towns of this varied east coast state – with some quirky surprises thrown in.

JOLO Winery

In the shadow of misty Pilot Mountain, the wineries of Yadkin Valley certainly have an aesthetic advantage. They also produce some world-class vintages, like the Pilot Fog at JOLO Winery & Vineyards, just off the US-52 and not far from the border with Virginia.

JOLO Winery

From America’s oldest native grape, Cynthiana or Norton, this velvety red has notes of jammy fruit, warm spices and chocolate.

That isn’t the only reason to visit. There’s also the adorable lilac cottage, known as the ‘Newlywed Chateau’. With silky-soft bed linens, a terrace overlooking the forest and a weathervane shaped like a wine bottle, it also proved luxurious lodgings for this solo traveller.

Ella and JW

Chief the Weimaraner (or ‘wine-maraner’, as owners JW and Kristen Ray joke) only adds to the charm.

Divine Llama Vineyards

Head 20 minutes south down the US-52 for more wine and a chance to hang out with baby llamas at Divine Llama Vineyards. And adult llamas – around 60 of the camelids roam, groan and watch visitors here with curious, spidery-lashed eyes.

Ella nd Llamas

One three-week-old tottered right up to me for a closer look. Perhaps she thought I was after her wine. And with blends (named after the llamas) like In a Heartbeat, half merlot and half cabernet franc, her suspicions proved correct.

A herd of Llamas

Check out the skeins of llama wool and T-shirts with the winery’s fab logo, in the style of a vintage transport poster.

Winston-Salem

Half an hour south, Winston-Salem is a charming blend of old and new. A vibrant arts and culinary scene has sprouted from its Moravian roots – the protestant missionaries settled here 250 years ago.

Old Salem Tavern

Try the Moravian chicken pie at The Tavern in Old Salem before exploring original Moravian buildings and gardens of Old Salem. Don’t miss the sloping Miksch Gardens, planted with crops early Moravian settlers grew, and Winkler Bakery. The latter has been concocting gossamer-thin cookies and rich sugar cakes since 1800.

reynolda

Reynolda House is a world-class American art museum with exquisite community gardens in the former home of tobacco baron RJ Reynolds.

I rounded off my visit with a nightcap at Tate’s Craft Cocktails, where the bartenders mix a mean Old Fashioned.

The Historic Brookstown Inn, an elegantly converted 1837 cotton mill, has enormous rooms with original wooden beams and high ceilings, with free wine and cheese in the lobby every evening.

Fearrington Village

Around 90 minutes southeast, Fearrington is a charming English-style village with a Relais & Châteaux inn, restaurant and shops located on a historic farm. Belted Galloway cows, or ‘Belties’, and monochrome fainting goats graze the pastures, while hotel guests are served afternoon tea with delicate cakes, finger sandwiches and the property’s own house-blend brews in The Fearrington House Restaurant.

Afternoon Tea

Cute Chapel Hill is a 15-minute drive away. At North Carolina Botanical Garden, butterflies flutter around grounds dotted with whimsical sculptures.

grounds fearrington

Another 20-minute drive brings you to Durham, a university town now served by direct flights from the UK. Explore the 9,000 acres around Duke University Campus, stop for a brownie sundae cake at The Parlour and sample local craft beers at Fullsteam Brewery.

Raleigh

Drive 45 minutes east to downtown Raleigh. A free bus, the R-Line, does a 20-minute lap around the city’s districts. Feel like Charlie at Videri Chocolate Factory, taste traditional North Carolina BBQ at The Pit and gawp at the selection of brews at Raleigh Beer Garden.

Raleigh beer garden

With 378 taps, this pub holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest number of brews on draft.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa, a 15-minute drive from downtown, is a sanctuary with plush beds, farm-to-table restaurant, serene spa and grounds that waft with the scent of hibiscus.

Umstead state park

Credit: VisitNC.com

The hotel has free bikes for guests’ use. Pedal the short distance to enter Umstead State Park, gloriously green all year round and popping with florets of pale gold and russet in autumn.

Wilmington

Two hours on the I-40 takes you to Wilmington, a coastal college city close to the border with South Carolina. This southern belle is blessed with natural beauty – but is too chilled out to shout about it.

Blockade Runner’s Surf to Sound Academy offers sailing lessons, kayak adventures and stand-up paddle tours through the marshes.

Credit: visit-nc.com

Credit: visit-nc.com

Don’t miss sunset over the ivory sands of Wrightsville Beach, just across the causeway. The sky swirls like candy floss before deepening to fiery burnt orange.

Wrightsville beach at sunset

credit: visit-nc.com

Discover more North Carolina at www.visitnc.com and www.visittheusa.com/state/north-carolina.

Thank you to Hertz

A big thank you to Hertz Car Hire for supporting this amazing road trip. A week’s hire in February (pick up and return to Portland Maine Int) starts from £200. Hertz has over 3000 locations across the USA. If you want to know more check out www.hertz.co.uk.

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Best adventure holidays with friends http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-adventure-holidays-friends/ Sat, 19 Nov 2016 09:41:57 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30716 Travelling together and experiencing new places is one of the most rewarding ways to strengthen friendships and create lifelong memories with your best mates. Pursuing a more adventurous getaway gives you the opportunity to challenge each other and create some healthy competition too!  Here are some fantastic adventure holidays ideal for spending with friends… Walking ...

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Travelling together and experiencing new places is one of the most rewarding ways to strengthen friendships and create lifelong memories with your best mates. Pursuing a more adventurous getaway gives you the opportunity to challenge each other and create some healthy competition too!  Here are some fantastic adventure holidays ideal for spending with friends…

Walking the Great Wall of China!

While the full 21,000 kilometres is well beyond even the most ambitious holiday trekker – this marvel of engineering presents plenty of challenging hiking opportunities, and is ideal for small groups, or larger groups of up to 16 travellers.

Walking the great wall of China

The most well known and easily accessible route is the ten day circuitous Beijing to Beijing tour, which includes guided tours of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Enjoy local cuisine and culture, stay in comfortable accommodation and maybe stretch your tired legs with a Tai chi lesson or two! Taking advantage of this more popular route means that you don’t have to worry about luggage transfers and can simply enjoy the experience with your buddies!

Wildlife adventures in Africa

Hot air balloon safari in the Masai Mara. Home to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, notable for the massive great migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and elephants each year, Kenya offers some of the most unspoilt African wilderness available to explore. From hot air ballooning, walking safaris and awesome photo opportunities, this beautiful part of the world is sure to delight any group of travelling companions – and what could be a better end to the day than sundowners and a game drive with your best mates? And if you thought you couldn’t hit the beach on a safari holiday – think again! Kenya also boasts plenty of excellent beaches where activities like surfing, water boarding and wind surfing abound too!

Balloon safari

If you’re looking for a little more luxury, hiring out the manor house at Samara Game Reserve in the Western Cape of South Africa is the ultimate experience for a group looking to explore Africa in real style – and we mean style! Included with the manor are your own private game ranger, chef and butler, and a daily programme tailor-made to your specific wishes! Famous for their cheetah and rhino conservation programs, this beautiful reserve was the first to introduce wild cheetah back into their native habitat here for the first time in 125 years, which makes supporting the work of this special resort a completely guilt-free indulgence!

Arctic adventures

It literally doesn’t get further off the beaten trail than the icy Arctic Circle – and if you’re looking for the experience of a lifetime, this adventure will definitely take you and your companions out of your comfort zone!

Norway Fjords

Whether it’s taking in the greatest light show on Earth – the mysterious Aurora Borealis –from the Fjords of Norway, or observing beluga whales from the world class observation site on Somerset Island in Nunavut, Canada – this harshly beautiful landscape can be explored by ship, or spent in relatively comfortable lodges. Meeting with indigenous Inuit tribes, observing wild polar bears, whales, walruses and arctic foxes are all opportunities which only this rugged territory has to offer.

Artic polar bears

It’s a wide, wonderful world out there – and it’s one best shared with friends!

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8 of the best airlines in the world http://www.travelwithamate.com/8-best-airlines-world/ Tue, 08 Nov 2016 16:43:13 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30699 Everybody loves to complain about flights and budget airlines with tons of people and no space, but many people around the globe can confirm that there are some airlines which would make any air travel more pleasant and less stressful. The recently held survey with more than 300 thousand people rated 7394 hotels, 606 cities, ...

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Everybody loves to complain about flights and budget airlines with tons of people and no space, but many people around the globe can confirm that there are some airlines which would make any air travel more pleasant and less stressful.

The recently held survey with more than 300 thousand people rated 7394 hotels, 606 cities, 500 cruise ships and 236 islands. Among other things, people also vote for airlines. So here are the top eight air companies that according to travelers views are currently the world’s best.

Korean Air

South Korea’s national carrier offering direct or connecting flights between the various places all around the continent. A couple of years ago this company became famous for one incident. The chief executive officer’s daughter got angry for not correctly supplied macadamia nuts, forcing to fire the head of the economic department of the airlines.

Virgin Atlantic

virgin-atlantic-new-plane-vaa-12313

Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited is officially United Kingdom’s airline company, owned by eccentric Richard Branson’s Virgin Group companies group and Singapore Airlines Company as well.

Virgin Australia

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Probably one of the best Austrian Airlines, which organizes trips by air from Australian airports around the world. It also, as the name suggest, belongs to the Virgin Group and can be proud of many routes all over the globe.

All Nippon Airways Co. or ANA

ANA

It is Japan’s largest airline company, founded in 1957 and is still operating profitably. It also pampers their travelers with one of the best quality of service in this business and therefore truly loved by all travelers as well.

Qatar Airways

qatar airways

Luxury synonymous – “Qatar Airways” is the largest airline of Qatar. Plane seats, service and the overall quality of the flight are considered being one of the most comfortable and best and all that comes with a pretty big price range. However, all that money will be worth spending since traveling with these airlines is indeed an experience on its own.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand

This national airline operates 21 domestic and 30 international flight routes to 16 countries around the world. It is mostly possible that if you will ever be flying to the New Zealand, you will be taking a plane from this company as well.

Emirates Airlines

Emirates

If you have never flown with this airline’s aircraft, that means that you have never traveled as in a fairy tale. This United Arab Emirates airline, which is a part of the international aviation holding called “The Emirates Group ,“ offers its customers only the highest class flights. So, no wonder that such a trip is not tiring at all, but on the contrary – provides a unique experience you will hardly ever forget.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines Limited is the national Singapore airline, in which everything is worked with similar principles as in Singapore itself: the most important thing here is quality. No wonder that thousands of people who ever traveled with these airlines gave the first place in the ranking of the best airlines in the world.

Singapore Airlines

The title of “the best” airlines means a lot of good things – you will be amazed from the moment you step on the aircraft to the moment you leave, but all that also mean that you might need to work with your travel budget too. Luckily, even these luxurious airlines provide their customers a chance to save on plane tickets – flight coupons for Hotwire is just one of the great savings example. Book your flights and rediscover the joy of traveling!

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Finding a fantastic hotel when heading to the Kensington London http://www.travelwithamate.com/finding-fantastic-hotel-heading-kensington-london/ Fri, 28 Oct 2016 09:32:53 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30692 London is a superb place to visit for its attractions, sights, shopping and its exquisite dining venues. Taking a trip to a capital city is a fun prospect and an exciting part is finding the right hotel to book. It’s important to find the best accommodation as that’s where travellers will spend a lot of ...

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London is a superb place to visit for its attractions, sights, shopping and its exquisite dining venues. Taking a trip to a capital city is a fun prospect and an exciting part is finding the right hotel to book. It’s important to find the best accommodation as that’s where travellers will spend a lot of their time when on holiday. By finding wonderful lodgings it means that tourists can be happy in the knowledge they are coming home to a relaxing destination. Staying in London it’s important to find the correct hotel, but also firstly to discover the most appropriate location. Staying centrally and close to transport stops is vital to a successful holiday.

The area of Kensington is an amazing destination to head to when visiting London. There are many reasons for this including that it’s just a very pretty place to stay. There is a lovely high street with a range of brand name shops and department stores for retail enthusiasts. The gorgeous Kensington Palace is based in this area with its beautiful gardens, as well as Hyde Park that is a stunning green space to visit for a picnic or play a sport. The area also has the popular Royal Albert Hall and the famous Kensington Museum Quarter. This section offers the Natural History Museum and Science Museum ideal for a day out with the family.

paddington station

Travellers will appreciate the many tube stations here including High Street Kensington, Gloucester Road and Earls Court. Nearby is Paddington Station that offers the fast Heathrow Express to the airport, or alternatively travellers can use the Piccadilly Line to get to Heathrow through the underground. Kensington is just a convenient area to head to for a holiday in London. This district is also great for travellers who can easily venture into the business sector of the City. There are many amazing restaurants and cafes in the area that foodies will get very excited about, as well as plenty of vibrant bars, clubs and pubs.

Park Grand

A top destination to reside when heading to this part of London is the Park Grand London Kensington hotel that is a gorgeous four-star boutique residence. The large rooms and suites are stunning and contain modern amenities such as Wi-Fi internet and a flatscreen television. The air-conditioned living spaces have en-suite bathrooms with a hairdryer. This luxury hotel is very appealing to travellers because even though it’s based in a fairly busy area, the residence is found in a very quiet road. It is perfect for tourists when heading to all the famous London attractions and is definitely one of the best hotels near Earls Court.

Where to have meetings in London

It is ideal for meetings and conferences with rooms that can host either event with the help of the excellent conference team staff members. The on-site restaurant is fantastic and has a delicious English and continental breakfast on offer. There is also a bar that is a wonderful place to relax with fellow travellers whether for work or socially. The residence also offers a mouth-watering traditional English afternoon tea that can be taken with champagne. Visitors in the capital need to find a superb hotel like this that is close to the centre and transport. This brilliant residence in Kensington is the right choice for first-time and seasoned tourists.

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The best lesser known art galleries found in the vibrant area of central London  http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-lesser-known-art-galleries-found-vibrant-area-central-london/ Fri, 28 Oct 2016 09:21:08 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30686 Many capital cities in the world offer incredible art galleries, and London is top of the list for providing some of the best cultural institutions. Travellers should venture to the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Modern when they visit the city. Many travellers want to stick to the tourist trail but they should try ...

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Many capital cities in the world offer incredible art galleries, and London is top of the list for providing some of the best cultural institutions. Travellers should venture to the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Modern when they visit the city. Many travellers want to stick to the tourist trail but they should try something a little different to discover the city’s arts gems. There are many destinations found in the centre of London that are well worth visiting with something unique to offer. The Cabinet Gallery in Old Street is a great example with amazing modern art and shows that are well-curated offering something very different.

Cabinet Gallery

Another popular destination is The Old Police Station that is an abandoned building in the Deptford area of south London. There are DIY spaces here for artists to create their work in the shipping containers in the courtyard and the tiled cells inside. There are amazing regular cultural evenings held on the last Friday of every month where cultural types gather to have a drink and discuss art. The Viktor Wynd Fine Art venue is in Hackney, and has many unusual pieces including skulls, shells and taxidermy. The excellent art work is found on the first-floor gallery and many visitors will adore this unique curiosity shop.

Art galleries of London

To get to these amazing art destinations tourists will want to stay in the centre of the capital. A superb accommodation to book into is the London City Suites by Montcalm in Chiswell Street that has beautiful rooms and suites with many modern facilities such as Wi-Fi internet. There is also a telephone and LCD television, as well as spacious en-suite bathrooms with rain showers and lavish toiletries. This residence offers the best hotel suites in London that are furnished to the highest standard with comfortable beds that guarantee a great night’s sleep. Tourists will be very happy to stay at this accommodation as they get to use the fitness centre and spa in the residence’s sister property that is very close by.

tourist

There is an old tradition of London gallerists using their own houses to showcase art work. This is something Danielle Arnaud does at her beautiful Georgian townhouse in Kennington. Tourists will love heading around her stunning property in south London that has elegant rooms with fantastic exhibitions. The Crypt Gallery is something very special that is found beneath St Pancras Church. The crypt was used to bury Londoners after death between 1822 and 1854, but now is host to a programme of modern art exhibitions. This destination is simply amazing for the art, and tourists will love the underground arches and alcoves.

This art gallery in the Bloomsbury area also has a popular annual alternative Christmas grotto for travellers to enjoy in December. The Banner Repeater art gallery is located on platform one of Hackney Downs station. It is visited frequently by residents in the area, and ideal for those who are heading to the transport stop. The gallery was founded by Ami Clarke in 2009 and focuses on displays of text-based works and printed materials. There are many talks and events on at this wonderful art gallery that is ideal for culture enthusiasts.

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Best Family Day Out On South Bank http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-family-day-south-bank/ Fri, 28 Oct 2016 08:57:51 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30680 The city of London is perfect for tourists who are travelling with a family as there are always plenty of places for them to visit. One of the best areas to venture to for entertainment is the South Bank that is just a vibrant place, which is fun to wander through in the day and ...

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The city of London is perfect for tourists who are travelling with a family as there are always plenty of places for them to visit. One of the best areas to venture to for entertainment is the South Bank that is just a vibrant place, which is fun to wander through in the day and night. It is instantly a wonderful destination for young ones as there is so much going on to capture their attention. There are major venues to head here that can sometimes take up an entire morning or afternoon. Tourists can take a trip to the impressive Sea Life London Aquarium, which offers around 500 species of underwater creatures and its fantastic Shark Walk.

london dungeon

The London Dungeon is a superb attraction that will really engage both adults and children with its rather ghastly tales of deaths at this destination. The incredible actors will bring the venue to life with its first-class shows and there are also excellent rides. The Southbank Centre is a slightly calmer affair, but just as captivating and informative. This amazing arts venue has dance, music and literature events on that will include many activities. This is one of the most popular destinations in the country for culture and the arts. It’s very easy to see why it has produced such loyalty from its visitors as it delivers many brilliant occasions.

south bank London

Travellers want the best experience when they choose an accommodation and they can find this by booking into the Shaftesbury London Hyde Park International hotel. This residence is amazing and includes wonderful rooms with modern amenities including complimentary Wi-Fi internet. This residence offers some of the best hotel deals in London , and tourists will feel happy in the knowledge they have chosen the right place to stay. The lodgings are based near Bayswater tube station allowing tourists to easily travel around the city. Its large rooms are furnished well with calming pastel shades making guests feel right at home.

tate modern

Culture fans can also venture up the Thames River to the fascinating Tate Modern that offers great art and sculpture, as well as a range of activities for young ones. There is also a dedicated Family Zone that is a very inspiring part of the gallery ideal for children to learn about art. There are numerous shopping destinations to visit in London, but tourists should try out the delights of the bustling Borough Market. This magnificent place is perfect for travellers who are foodies and want to try out something new. The traders at this market often provide free samples to visitors, so people heading here should look out for that.

A fun place for tourists to head is the superb HMS Belfast vessel that’s based on the River Thames. It offers the unique chance to get on board and learn about the running of the huge ship. There are nine decks to see where visitors can take a seat in the Captain’s Chair or head to the Operations Room. Travellers will enjoy the flag deck as it provides panoramic views of the city. This is a very educational visit that allows young ones and adults to learn about this Second World War cruiser, and how it’s run in its boiler and engine rooms.

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San Antonio, Ibiza Highlights http://www.travelwithamate.com/san-antonio-ibiza-highlights-reasons-to-visit/ Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:45:47 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30672 The name Ibiza is iconic and synonymous with memorable, luxurious and fun-filled trips. Most popular with Europeans, the destination is arguably the most famous of the Spanish Balearic Islands, and welcomes hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers every year. The island remains a busy tourist destination from January all the way through to December thanks to ...

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The name Ibiza is iconic and synonymous with memorable, luxurious and fun-filled trips. Most popular with Europeans, the destination is arguably the most famous of the Spanish Balearic Islands, and welcomes hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers every year. The island remains a busy tourist destination from January all the way through to December thanks to its wonderful warm climate all year round. If you are considering Ibiza as your next holiday destination but need advice on exactly where to stay, then allow us to make a case for San Antonio.

San Antonio Ibiza

Arguably San Antonio’s biggest selling point is its stunning, crystal clear water beaches that stretch across its shores. Visitors can test their limits on the warm Mediterranean Sea by engaging in extreme sports like jet skiing and jet boating, but of course those who enjoy a more relaxed time on the coast can lounge on the beach and relax in the heat of the Spanish sun. Other popular activities in the area include banana boating, biking, scooter and quad bike hire, and go-karting, which offer tourists an opportunity to mix holiday fun with the glorious scenery of the island.

What else does San Antonio have to offer?

It’s a must for anyone interested in the clubbing scene, something Ibiza is famous for. The town contains two of the island’s ‘superclubs’, as well as many other clubs and bars. Nightlife is certainly lively here! But there are also many cafés if you’re looking for somewhere quieter to take refreshments. There are also many more relaxed ways to spend your time if you’re not into clubbing. Don’t miss a stroll around the old town, the street markets, historic churches and the Maritime Museum. You can even get away from the crowds altogether and enjoy walks and trails in the area. If you time your visit right, you might also be lucky enough to catch one of the local festivals, such as the one commemorating Nuestra Señora del Carmen, the patron saint of fishermen (16 July).

Festivals in Ibiza

When it comes to selecting accommodation in San Antonio, the area boasts a wide variety of options that covers all budgets and preferences. You’ll find luxury five star hotels with private stretches of beach, boutique hotels, and budget accommodation. Those who prefer more private and intimate accommodation can search out villas and apartments for rent. The two best areas for accommodation options are San Antonio Centro, as the name suggest, in the centre, or San Antonio Bahia.

San Antonio Centro

As with most destinations in Spain, food and good eating is an important part of the culture in San Antonio. Tapas bars and restaurants both in the centre and along the coast offer an array of amazing dishes using local pork, lamb and chicken, as well as, of course, plenty of seafood and fish caught the very same day. Ibiza is also very well known for Flaó eivissenc, a delicious tart that is made out of goat’s and sheep’s cheese.

Flaó eivissenc

Have fun and be sure to book your San Antonio airport transfer with Holiday Taxis!

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10 famous people that found love online http://www.travelwithamate.com/10-famous-people-love-online-dating/ Sat, 22 Oct 2016 09:02:15 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30805 All is fair to find your true love especially now when Christmas is tapping our doors. If you still hesitate whether to log on free dating sites or not, read on this post about 10 famous people who, like ordinary folks, stepped in the virtual dating world to find a good friend, a soulmate or ...

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All is fair to find your true love especially now when Christmas is tapping our doors. If you still hesitate whether to log on free dating sites or not, read on this post about 10 famous people who, like ordinary folks, stepped in the virtual dating world to find a good friend, a soulmate or a love affair at a certain point. Hopefully, they will serve as an example and help with the final decision.

Martha Stewart

The successful American businesswoman and television personality takes time out of her busy schedule to log in the dating site. She believes that technology can improve the quality of our lives. So, she created her profile under the nickname ‘thegoodlonglife’ in the hopes of making her dating part of life brighter.

Jamie Anderson

This American snowboarder who can boast not only her sport achievements but also handsome looks had fun with her fellow female athletes on the dating sites. They liked to play matchmakers. Nevertheless, it did not prevent her from winning the gold medal in 2014.

Carrie Ann Inaba

In this case the dating site fulfilled its direst obligation, meaning found a partner for the famous American dancer, choreograph and actress. Her fiancé Jessy Sloan asked to marry him on the stage. Carrie answered ‘Yes’, though some time later they broke up.

Jenny McCarthy

It is hard to believe that a model whose carrier started from posing nude for ‘Playboy’ magazine went online to find a match. Nevertheless, it really is. She used to be online on dating sites before her marriage.

Ronda Rousey

Ronda Jean Rousey, number 2 Female Bantamweight Fighter in the world, did not ignore the virtual dating world and try to take chances. She used the name Brynn Campbell on Tinder, but that did not work. Ronda blames her fame for failed dating experience.

Mariah Carey

After the divorce with her husband Nick Cannon Maria resorted to a matchmaking site. That time she released her new single named ‘Infinity’. The singer wanted to support all single women by her song and inspire them to use all opportunities including dating sites to find their true love.

Orlando Bloom

Orlando decided not to seek assistance from dating sites and just created his profile on Facebook. He hoped it would help him date women without revealing who he really is. All that is left to do is to guess whether his plan was successful.

Patti Stanger

You can’t say Patricia is the cobbler wearing the worst shoes. She hosted her own matchmaking reality series for seven seasons and found her boyfriend on an online dating. Besides, she tried four different sites to find the one she looked for. Her efforts were rewarded by meeting online David Krausse.

Adele

The British singer experienced a painful breakup. And maybe online dating sites partially helped her to go through that difficult period. Though, considering the fact that Adele did not even post her profile picture, she drew inspiration from music mainly.

Lindsay Lohan

Going to the cyberspace to find a partner may take a sudden turn as happened to Lindsay Lohan. On Tinder she ran into her brother Michael. Lindsey shared the snapshot of his profile without delay.

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What visa do I need to travel in the USA? http://www.travelwithamate.com/what-visa-america-usa/ Fri, 14 Oct 2016 08:07:10 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=25250 If you’ve ever been to the USA for tourism or work you’ll know that border control is extremely tight. The United States has some of the strictest rules when it comes to entry in to the country and the joys of visas will no doubt be something you’ll have to contend with if you’re planning ...

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If you’ve ever been to the USA for tourism or work you’ll know that border control is extremely tight. The United States has some of the strictest rules when it comes to entry in to the country and the joys of visas will no doubt be something you’ll have to contend with if you’re planning extended travel or work there. So here’s a little guide to help you get your head around the fun that is US visas.

What is a visa?

USA travel visa guideFirstly a little background on what visas are. A visa entitles the holder to travel to the United States and apply for admission to enter the country. The visa is issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and technically does not guarantee they will grant you entry in to the country. When you arrive at the airport the staff at border control will check your visa to make sure its genuine and valid. You need a visa even if you’re a tourist although for some countries this is easy to obtain. There are many other types of visas depending on how long you’re staying, who you’re visiting and if you’re working in the country.

I’m going for a week or two, do I need a visa?

This depends on what country you are a citizen of. The USA now has a system called the “Visa Waiver Program” which allows people from certain countries easy entry as long as your passport is valid. You can obtain this online via an application ESTA form. Here’s a list of countries that are eligible. Is yours on the list?

  • United Kingdom
  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium,
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Chile
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

You may be able to get a US entry waiver if you think a past record might hold you back at the border.  Just expect a bit of a grilling when you’re at border control as the staff there like to be thorough.

US Visa Waiver Program

Long term travel visa

B2 extended visaWith such a vast and varied country to explore you may want to to travel around the USA for longer than a standard tourist visa will allow (90 days). You can get a extended travel visa called a B2 Tourist visa which allows up to 6 months of travel within the USA. It is also possible to extend the B2 visa up to 1 year too so that epic road trip you were thinking of is entirely possible. The B2 visa does not allow you to work or conduct any business and you can expect a lot of questions when you arrive about your plans during your extended stay. You may also be asked to prove you have enough funds to for the duration of your trip so I advise printing out some savings  account statements and making sure you have at least theoretically enough money to stay for a few months and afford a journey home. You’re not expected to have enough money to last the full visa length but a clear plan of how you will be funding your travels is always a smart thing to travel with.

Visiting the US Embassy

US EmbassyIts worth noting that if you entered the USA under the Visa Waiver program you can’t apply to extend your stay while you’re in the country. You must return to your country of origin in order to extend. You’ll need to visit the US Embassy in your country and apply for the B2 visa there. As the USA is very strict on immigration you will likely have to make an appointment to be interviewed at the embassy about your travel plans. Expect to spend the day waiting at the Embassy, usually around 3 hours.

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The best travel apps for exploring cities http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-travel-apps-exploring-cities/ Thu, 13 Oct 2016 18:48:50 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30662   There are endless travel-related apps for both Android and iOS that smartphone and tablet users can enjoy. However whilst most of them like to offer one-stop shop type solutions for your travel requirements, combining several different things under one app, more often than not these apps don’t really help you when it comes to ...

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There are endless travel-related apps for both Android and iOS that smartphone and tablet users can enjoy. However whilst most of them like to offer one-stop shop type solutions for your travel requirements, combining several different things under one app, more often than not these apps don’t really help you when it comes to the more practical side of city exploration.

When you’re wandering around a new city most of us want to be able to find landmarks and other popular hotspots in the area.

Thankfully there are apps like these that can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Packing Pro

Packing ProBefore you’ve even headed out the door on your travels the one biggest pain in the neck is having to worry about making sure you’ve packed everything you’ll need on your trip.

There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at your destination and realising you’ve forgotten something crucial like a phone charger or your sun cream. Most items you should be able to replace when you arrive however with apps like Packing Pro you can ensure that nothing is left behind. The app helps you plan for your trip by setting up to-do lists and lists of must-have items which you can tick off as you go.

Sit or Squat

Sit or squat appThere’s nothing more frustrating than having to wander around an area you’re not remotely familiar with trying to locate the nearest toilet. It’s something that is especially difficult when there’s the added complexity of a potential language barrier.

Now with a few taps of your Sit or Squat app you’ll be able to swiftly locate all the free toilet facilities nearby. Hilariously the app also includes photos and comments on each of the restrooms ensuring that you pick the best location for your potty break.

Owners direct holiday rentals

Direct holiday rentals appThe Owners Direct app is an extremely useful app for those looking to pre-book their accommodation before they take their trip. There are plenty of similar apps on the market but the OD app boasts over 1 million different types of rental available to its users that includes private home rentals, houses, hotels, bed and breakfasts, apartments, condos and more. This wide ranging selection spans across the globe over 190 different countries and so you’re bound to come across something near you.

Skype

Whilst taking a once in a lifetime trip or travelling around for weeks on end may be an exciting prospect to some, for others it can also mean plenty of moments feeling homesick.

If you have an iPhone you can always video chat with those back home using built-in features like FaceTime but for those who don’t you can always turn to Skype.

The Skype app will allow you to keep in touch with loved ones through voice and video chat wherever you can pick up Wi-Fi. Skype to Skype calls are absolutely free over a wireless network and even if you’re not on Wi-Fi an international call is merely a couple of cents per minute which is significantly lower than most standard mobile tariffs.

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Winter warmer holiday ideas http://www.travelwithamate.com/winter-warmer-holiday-ideas/ Thu, 13 Oct 2016 10:52:30 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30636 You’ve been daydreaming about getting away from it all. Maybe because you’ve been cooped up inside for too long. Maybe because the job is humdrum. Maybe you just need a change of scene. Maybe because it’s Thursday. Any reason is a good reason. Or maybe it didn’t even occur to you until this very minute ...

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You’ve been daydreaming about getting away from it all. Maybe because you’ve been cooped up inside for too long. Maybe because the job is humdrum. Maybe you just need a change of scene. Maybe because it’s Thursday. Any reason is a good reason. Or maybe it didn’t even occur to you until this very minute that you need a break. There are a countless number of places to choose from, as you know. Let us help you narrow it down. We’ve selected four trips that we’ve found especially effective in shaking off those winter doldrums.

Belfast Christmas Market

Right there in the middle of Belfast is a Christmas wonderland, open from 19th November to 22nd December.

Christmas markets

Put on your most festive Christmas jumper and wander among the hundreds of stalls brimming with delights while listening to carolers sing on the steps of City Hall. Enjoy Belgian chocolates, French tarts, German sausages, and Spanish palella without setting foot outside the UK. Try an exotic burger made from alligator, impala, kangaroo, or wild boar. Have a Belly Buster Baguette with all the trimmings at the Welsh Hog Roast stand.

But it’s not all about food. You can have a brew at the Merry Monk beer hall or at Lavery’s Irish Bar  with live music all day. If you can pull yourself away, you’ll find stalls with unique gifts, fine clothing, and Christmas decorations from all across Europe.

The Belfast Market is the place to be to get you in the Christmas spirit. Even Santa takes time out from his chores at the North Pole to be there every day!

Aviemore

In the Highlands of Scotland, in the midst of The Cairngorms, is the village of Aviemore, where you will have a magical winter break in your own log cabin, chalet, or cottage.

Aviemore

For those who are adventurous, there is skiing, snowboarding, or climbing the cliffs of Lochnagar and Creag an Dubh Loch. For those who are more reflective, there is stunning scenery at every turn. For those who are simply tired, there is the tranquility and quiet of the cabin with the snow glistening outside your window. You might even sight that rare treasure, a frost flower!

In the village, you can  browse through shops that specialize in unique gifts, works by local artists, clothes, sweets, and fresh, locally produced food, then stop in one of the fine restaurants or cafes. You can be as busy as you want—or as lazy.

At the end of the day, whether busy or lazy, curl up in front of the log fire or wood burner and enjoy the aroma and richness of a steaming cup of Gourmesso Coffee from www.gourmesso.co.uk.

Wales Coast Path

This trip is especially appealing to those who have been confined to an office for far too long. You can explore the Welsh coastline up close and personal along the many paths already mapped out for you—walks ranging from 0.8 km to 23 km.

 

North Wales

One of the easier paths is the North Wales Coast and Dee Estuary. You can stroll along the promenade between Prestatyn and Conwy and enjoy the seafront towns along the way. This is a path for the whole family, including those in pushchairs or wheelchairs.

There are two paths mapped out for you for the Gower to Swansea Walk. One is between 3.2 – 7.25 km, and the other between 8.25 – 12.9 km. Along the Gower Peninsula, which was chosen as the UK’s first “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,” the natural wonders include wild moors, limestone cliffs, and the famous golden beaches. In the picturesque seaside town of Swansea, you’ll have breathtaking views of Swansea Bay.

Wales coast

 

The remote northern sections of the Pembrokeshire path are challenging, for the experienced and hardy only. Climb up steep cliffs for dramatic views of Skomer Island and St. David’s Head. Tread the rocky landscape of heather and bracken of Ricketts Head to reach a towering cliff that seems to exist in isolation. At Haroldstone Chins Rocks, rich green lichen grow profusely on the cliff face, a testament to the clean and pure air you’ll breathe.

Costa del Sol

If what you really need is a respite from the cold, a three-hour flight will land you on Costa del Sol, “Coast of the Sun,” in Andalusia.

Costa del sol

The sunny days (they alone a welcome respite) allow you enjoy glorious beaches, quaint towns,  historic architecture, and, if you feel lucky, a casino. Along the beach, you can stroll the promenade with its boutiques and cafes—it’s the place to meet and greet.

Restaurants offer the best in native cuisine, a fusion of Spanish, Jewish, and Arabic traditions, with seafood the specialty.

If you want to take a longer break from the UK winter and fancy more of an adventure, drive. You can wander off the main route and explore whatever paths entice you along the way. There are brilliant accommodations: luxurious hotels, some housed in historic monasteries, manor houses, and palaces. Plus you have the advantages not afforded by flying: the flexibility to change your plans and the freedom to take as much luggage as you want.

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