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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts from August, 2008

ABI: Medical expenses cover important for travelling outside western Europe

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Getting cover for medical bills is important The further holidaymakers travel outside Western Europe, the more important medical expenses cover is, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said.

Malcolm Tarling, a spokesperson for the organisation, explained that different countries present different risks.

"The further afield you travel – ie outside Western Europe – the more important medical expenses cover is, for example especially if travelling to Africa and Asia," he said.

Mr Tarling added: "And of course, with the danger of very expensive medical bills, having adequate medical expenses cover is vital when travelling to USA."

According to figures from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, between April 2006 and March 2007 approximately 8,300 Britons needed assistance in the USA, around 6,700 passports were lost in Spain, while 600 Britons were hospitalised in Greece.

Mr Tarling concluded: "In some parts of the world – especially major cities – travellers may be particuarly vulnerable to criminals, such as pickpockets, so having insurance to cover possessions is important."

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.

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Jess celebrates 2 years with isango!

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We held a small do last week to celebrate Jess’s two years with isango! Fearless in Biz Dev, she also nearly brought the ceiling down with her enthusiastic champagne popping technique.

Jess celebrates with champagne

Of course, the prospect of a little bubbly on a Thursday afternoon has got the rest of the isango! team thinking of other causes célèbres to announce: a sunny afternoon, a British Olympic medal, an upcoming bank holiday!

Some of us will be off to Edinburgh, Norway, Hastings, and the rest will simply enjoy an extra day to cook, drink wine, and enjoy the Notting Hill Carnival.

Where will you go and what will you do? Let us know!

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Diving breaks near Sharm al Sheikh

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The diving spots in Sharm al Sheikh are said to be some of the best in the world If you”re going on holiday to Sharm al Sheikh, you must try diving in the beautiful Ras Mahommed National Park which is just 30km away.

Located at the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula, where the Gulf of Aqaba meets the Gulf of Suez, the diving sites at Ras Mohammed are said to be some of the best in the world.

So it”s definitely worth having a try no matter whether you are a seasoned veteran or a complete novice.

If you prefer to keep your feet dry, however, then there is no doubt that you will be amazed by the wild beauty of the beaches, the surrounding desert, the wildlife inhabiting it, as well as the different types of plants that grow here, including the ancient mangrove trees.

Due to its position, strong currents prevail throughout the year here which makes the waters around it very rich in nutrients.

This attracts huge numbers of schools of pelagic and reef fish, somewhere in the range of 1,000 different species.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.

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Italy prepares for Ancient Rome theme park

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The theme park doesn''t fit in with Rome''s character, say critics Italy is planning a new Disneyland-style theme park depicting Ancient Rome.

Mauro Cutrufo, the deputy mayor of the capital, said: "Our model is EuroDisney in Paris."

Attractions in the park would be based on life both in republican Rome, which ended with the murder of Julius Caesar and civil war, as well as the power and might of the Roman Empire.

Rides through a replica of the Colosseum would be offered, where visitors could watch gladiators fight each other or wild animals, as the Emperor looks on.

However, the plans have been criticised as being incompatible with Rome”s character.

Claudio Mancini, head of tourism for the Lazio region added that the theme park was unsuited to the city”s urban preservation plan.

"I say no to Americanisation," he said, adding that "1,000 acres is no small amount."

Tourism to Rome is down by five per cent this summer, mainly due to the credit crunch and the strong euro.

Rome – Visit some of the ancient landmarks such as the Colosseum or tour the opulent Vatican.
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Have a laugh in Cape Town

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Enjoy a fortnight of comedy in Cape TownThe Cape Town International Comedy Festival will run from September 7th to 21st.

Now in its 12th year, the festival once again incorporates a number of unique features – with six separate programmes there is something to cater for everyone”s taste.

As usual the festival takes place in the Main Arena at the Baxter Concert Hall, while a special-edition Danger Zone (used for controversial, adult-themed or rude humour) runs concurrently at the Baxter Theatre.

New this year is the launch of an exciting comedy competition programme that includes stand-up contests and Air Guitar play-offs.

In addition, a host of the world”s top street performers will once again amaze and amuse Capetonians as well as visitors to the city at the V+A Waterfront.

"For those of you not familiar with the festival, I hope that a look at this year”s line-up of national and international talent will convince you to give it a try," urges the Mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille.

"It is the best opportunity you will get to lighten up your winter with some good laughs."

Cape Town – From the wine route to the game parks there is so much to see and do in Cape Town.

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ABTA: Check FCO website before going to Beijing

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There will be extra security during the GamesThose who are travelling to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games must make sure to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website, the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) has said.

Sean Tipton, spokesperson for the Abta, said that checking for the latest travel advice before going was "essential".

The latest FCO advice for those travelling to Beijing is that since there will be extra security measure in place during the Games, visitors may be subject to ”stop and search” procedures, especially in the areas close to the Olympic events.

In addition, the FCO advises that your passport should be valid for at least six months when you enter China, and all foreign nationals need to obtain a visa in advance from the Chinese Embassy.

The Beijing Olympic Games started on August 8th and will run until August 24th.

Meanwhile, the Paralympic Games run from September 6th to 17th.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.
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Long Night of the Museums in Berlin

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00am On the night of August 30th, visitors to Berlin museums will be able to see exhibitions well into the wee hours as part of the 2008 Long Night of Museums.

Access to exhibitions across a selection of venues will be granted from 18:00 to 2:00.

More than 100 museums are set to take part in the event, which runs twice a year in January and August.

Visitors can purchase one ticket for the evening, which provides them with access to every museum taking part.

This year”s theme is Castles, Parks and Gardens, meaning that participating venues are required to showcase collections and exhibitions in keeping with the topic.

In addition to the permanent exhibitions, various institutions offer concerts, readings, dance and theatre shows, special tours and exotic menus to see visitors through to the early hours.

The organisers add that due to the variety of Berlin”s museums and the collections they have to offer, tourists and non-German speakers can enjoy the Long Night of Museums just as much as locals.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.

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Cyprus ”one of the most popular” tourist destinations in the world

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Cyprus'' history dates back to 7000 BCCyprus has always had a good reputation and over time the country has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, not just Europe, it has been claimed.

Marios Christodolou, a spokesperson for Love Cyprus, said that the country "is getting more and more popular as it is undergoing increasing development for tourism and special interest tourism".

He added that the island boasts 52 blue flag beaches and people visit for activities like golf, diving, nature trails, cycling and much more.

In addition, Mr Christodolou said that hotels "are of high quality catering for families, couples, party-goers and the business traveller and delegates".

According to Kypros.net, visitors enjoy driving up to Cyprus” pine-forested mountains along the southern vineyards.

Also popular are tours of the many archaeological excavations in the coutry which have laid bare ancient settlements, rich burial sites, beautiful mosaics and pottery – some of which that date back to the seventh millennia BC.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.
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Brit tourists ”getting better” at complaining

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The Abta says it is good to complain, but greviances are sometimes ridiculousBritish tourists are getting better at complaining and standing up for themselves on holiday, but some are taking it a step too far, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta).

An Abta spokesperson told the Times: "We should complain more, [because if] you don”t complain, the tour operator doesn”t get the chance to put things right", adding that some complaints were getting "ridiculous".

The newspaper lists a series of comical, often bizarre, complaints that British travellers have made in various places.

For instance, a holidaymaker in St Kitts demanded to move to another hotel after saying that she "could hear the sea waves breaking on the shore", while a customer at the Malmaison hotel in Birmingham claimed that the night-lights in his room made him think "the walk-in wardrobe was the loo".

The article concluded with an anecdote about an angry British traveller telling a waiter in Meribel in France that he should treat his customers as kings – "le client est roi" – to which the waiter replied: "But don”t you know what we did to our kings?"

Special Interest – Nightlife – From an extravagant meal to an eerie ghost walk – plenty of things to keep you entertained after the sun goes down.
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Edinburgh Fringe: Avoid the Royal Mile Madness

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“It’s so cool to be at the Fringe with a show that I’m not embarrassed about,” explained a vivacious, young college student as he ‘fliered’ me on the ‘Royal Mile’ during the opening weekend of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Edinburgh is chaos right now. I can’t imagine being a local resident, attempting to go about a daily routine. Forget it! The ‘Royal Mile’ (which is actually a series of seven streets that connect the Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood House) is swarming with enthusiastic performers and tourists at all hours of the day. Look left, and there’s a group of buskers, clowning to a semi circle of families; listen right, and it’s a booming chorus of actors, belting catchy show tunes; stand still, and three producers will simultaneously attempt to shove fliers in your face about X show, with X Y and Z special effects, which is going to have rave reviews— really, they promise!

There are hundreds of shows of all genres—from morning Shakespeare to midnight stand up—playing in venues across Edinburgh throughout the month of August. Lots of rubbish, but also, some fabulous gems. How to sift through the madness? How to know which is the best of the 3 versions of Little Shop of Horrors? Or which of the 2 performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream has the best ‘Puck’? How to gauge whether the musicals with the most off-putting, controversial titles (examples: Kiddy-Fiddler On The Roof and The Great American Trailer Park Musical) are as well-written and composed as their eager participants claim?

I wish I could offer you a full-proof formula.

The truth is, even if you research the reviews thoroughly, you are still bound to encounter some time waster shows. The best way to find some performances that will suit your tastes is really to ask around once you’ve arrived. If you, like me, loathe the idea of plodding down a jam packed pedestrian street full of makeshift stages, noisy kids, irritated parents, and over-excited marketing reps, I suggest pre-booking a few shows online—ones that you are pretty much certain you will enjoy—before heading up (exs: stand up by a well-known comedian, performance of a play by your favourite writer, a street dance show with rave reviews, etc.). Book two or three shows for your first day, leaving plenty of time in between each show. This will allow you time to investigate…i.e. ask fellow audience members what they’ve seen, loved and hated. Find out whether Kiddy-Fiddler on the Roof is suitable for your 10 year old son (- no!) or is as hilarious as the adverts claim (-yes!). Stumble across a young writer, who claims that his new drama—playing at a nearby venue in 30 minutes—is even better than his 2007 sell-out production, and take a chance.

And lastly, if you’ve got the energy, hit up the local bars for a few late night (…and early morning) pints. Everything stays open until 5am, and you are bound to find out about some great shows (and creperies…and kebab stands…). But whatever you do, avoid the Royal Mile!

Links:

Guided Tour of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Fringe Official Website

Fringe Reviews

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