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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 October, 2008

Glasgow is the UK”s finest

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Glasgow is the top city in the United Kingdom for tourists, it has emerged.

The largest city in Scotland, Glasgow was adjudged to be one of the world”s best destinations, ranked on a par with Chicago, Mexico City and Lisbon and as the best the UK has to offer.

The newly-published Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2009 guide sets out to repudiate any misconceptions visitors may have about the city.

"Forget about castles, kilts, bagpipes and tartan," it declares, "you come for the cocktails, cuisine and designer chic (plus the legendary native wit)".

The guide said the ranking came as a result of the city”s "worldwide reputation for tourism, big events, shopping and having a good time" as being the reason for its inclusion.

Glasgow has rich cultural heritage to be proud of. World-renowned artist and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of Glasgow”s most famous sons and was influential in the development of the European Art Nouveau movement at the turn of the 20th century.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18833128-ADNFCR

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Glasgow is the UK”s finest

0

Glasgow is the top city in the United Kingdom for tourists, it has emerged.

The largest city in Scotland, Glasgow was adjudged to be one of the world”s best destinations, ranked on a par with Chicago, Mexico City and Lisbon and as the best the UK has to offer.

The newly-published Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2009 guide sets out to repudiate any misconceptions visitors may have about the city.

"Forget about castles, kilts, bagpipes and tartan," it declares, "you come for the cocktails, cuisine and designer chic (plus the legendary native wit)".

The guide said the ranking came as a result of the city”s "worldwide reputation for tourism, big events, shopping and having a good time" as being the reason for its inclusion.

Glasgow has rich cultural heritage to be proud of. World-renowned artist and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of Glasgow”s most famous sons and was influential in the development of the European Art Nouveau movement at the turn of the 20th century.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18833128-ADNFCR

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Fancy Dress and Party Shops in London

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It took me two years of living in the UK to fully realize the meaning—and cultural significance—of ‘fancy dress’.Until very recently, I had always envisioned (in my mind) this term’s literal definition: formal attire worn to special or high profile social events. For young ladies, this would entail short, flouncy party dresses held up by wide, umpire waist belts and accented with ridiculously high heels/an elaborately teased hairstyle.

Boy was I wrong! Unless, of course, the ‘fancy dress’ theme du jour is ‘overpriced Mayfair club’.

Fancy dress parties, I have come to understand, can entail almost anything imaginable—from superheroes, to secretaries, to Sponge Bobs, to Scary Spices—and are hugely popular social events, year round.It’s no wonder that my two (English) flatmates jumped at the opportunity to host a Halloween party, instead of a housewarming party, at our new London flat. “Ooooh, fancy dress! Yes, let’s!”The signature American Halloween traditions—pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, haunted houses, glow-in-the-dark skeleton decorations, spooky costumes, etc.—most of my British pals could take ‘em or leave ‘em. But given an opportunity to dress in costume, they will rise to the challenge—and go all out.Whether you are an American living abroad or a fancy dress-loving Brit, chances are, with Halloween less than two weeks away, you’ve pondered a few costume ideas…and scoped out different Halloween celebration options. You may even be hosting your own fancy dress party! Have you decided on a costume? Found the right decorations? You don’t have much time…Lucky for you, I’ve done some homework.Yesterday, I set out to find some of the best costume and party decoration shops in London. I came across a few gems and will be searching for more next week, so get excited!Fancy Dress and Party Decoration shops in London, Part 1.Carnival95 Hammersmith RoadLondonW14 0QHUpon entry, this place seems like a claustrophobic wig and accessory factory, with rows and rows of colourful synthetic hairdos, beards, and even sideburns lined up floor to ceiling…columns of feather boas, masks, hats, beads, gloves, you name it!

Fancy dress feather boas

fancy dress halloween wigs

I was disappointed, however, to see no full costumes (much less a beach tourist or a pumpkin getup—the options that I am considering this year) and was just about to leave when I saw a sign about the shop’s Costume Hire Policy.What costumes? Where?

The sweet saleswoman (who spoke very little English—I suggest going in with a clear idea of what you need!) then led me to the back of the store, through a narrow doorway and into an even more claustrophobic room, which was overflowing with…costumes! Medieval princes, Greek goddesses, Cabaret dancers, Native American warriors…definitely something for everyone. I was officially overwhelmed.

Indian Warrior Costume

Fairy princess fancy dress costumes

You must enter Carnival with a clear focus and plenty of time/patience. There are hundreds of costume options, all arranged by theme, but there is only one changing ‘area’ amidst the chaos in the back—you may have to temporarily abandon your modesty…Non Stop Party Shop214-216 Kensington High StreetLondonW8 7RGThis franchise has shops throughout London and the South East, including one one Kensington High Street, which I had the pleasure of visiting yesterday. It was definitely a huge contrast from Carnival—while they do carry costumes, their specialty is party decorations/favours, which they tailor to all occasions. They currently have an impressive range of Halloween Party decorations, some of which I found to be highly amusing:

bloody halloween decorations

They also carry a fairly large selection of affordable, ‘bagged’ costumes in their basement:

Indian costume fancy dress

(Sorry – I couldn’t help myself, but is this costume model for real??)Definitely stop here if you need something quick/simple…or if you are looking for some humorous decorations…or if you just want to check out the above costume in person.

‘Stay tuned’ for Chapter 2: East London (which actually ended up being about costume shops in CENTRAL London)

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Culture comes alive at Cape Town festival

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As the northern hemisphere gears up for the chills of midwinter, its easy to forget that elsewhere in the world people are enjoying less inclement weather.

Every year over the first weekend of December, the Observatory suburb of Cape Town enjoys OBZfestival, a spectacular street event that heralds the coming summer.

A diverse range of cultures are covered, with live music, film screenings, local crafts, food, street art and plenty to keep younger guests interested too.

With many musical genres including hip-hop, ska, funk, reggae, soul and rock all catered for around the different music venues, South Africa”s up and coming talents are given a chance to shine. Jazz fans won”t be found wanting either, with a rich and varied programme providing something for everyone.

Anyone who”s been to the festival in its history will attest to how diverse and eclectic a crowd it attracts. In a country with such a troubled history, many have looked to events such as OBZfestival as providing some much-needed unity for so many in a country once troubled by deep social divides.

Cape Town is home to 3.5 million people and is the most popular tourist destination in the whole of South Africa.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18832454-ADNFCR

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Prague set to be in fine song this Christmas

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In spite of its now firmly-established reputation for British stag parties sullying its picturesque cobbled streets, Prague still has endless amounts to offer as a city break destinations.

Anyone that has visited Prague will attest to just how beautiful a city it is and there can be few times of the year when it is more enchanting than at Christmas.

From November 28th – 30th, the first advent weekend of the holy season, the city of Prague hosts the 18th annual International Festival of Advent & Christmas Music. Choirs from all over the world will compete for its coveted prize, aiming to display their prowess in recanting much loved examples of festive song.

Named after the Czech classical music luminary, the Petr Eben Award is granted to the choir who best interprets a piece of the composer”s music, should they choose to do so.

There are also a number non-competitive performances taking place all over the city in such venues as the Christmas market in the Andel region and in churches in many other districts.

The captivating architecture and culture of Prague provides the perfect backdrop to such a wonderfully atmospheric occasion – surely one not to be missed this winter.

Prague was founded sometime in the ninth century and is currently home to just over one million people. Prague Castle is widely acknowledged as being the largest surviving ancient castle in the world.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18832441-ADNFCR

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Chocolate lovers find their own little piece of heaven

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Chocolate lovers will delighted to learn of Salon du Chocolat, a hugely popular event dedicated to all things chocolatey, from October 29th to November 2nd.

The fair, at Paris” Porte de Versailles, gives fans the opportunity to indulge in countless types and varieties of chocolate from all over the world, as well as learn about the art behind the making of chocolate.

Of course, children are catered for here just as much as adults, with the Chocoland area keeping youngsters amused with face-painting and other activities.

After Paris, the show continues on it world tour, visiting New York, Moscow, Tokyo and ending its run on Valentine”s Day (when more than plenty of chocolate will be devoured, no doubt) with joint events in Koyto, Nagoya and Sapporo.

Chocolate is thought to have been consumed as a drink for centuries, with the earliest cultivation having been traced back to more than a thousand years BC.

It first appeared in Europe following the Spanish conquests in the Americas, which allowed the trading of previously unavailable cocoa beans from the area.

Paris – Enjoy the view from the Eiffel Tower or see the Mona Lisa in the "city of light".ADNFCR-1652-ID-18829880-ADNFCR

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The world”s ice climbers sharpen their crampons

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The small town of Bozeman, Montana will once again host the annual Ice Festival, as the world”s finest ice climbers share their love of the sport with the public from December 5th-7th.

From the novice to the seasoned pro, the festival promises something for everyone: masterclasses, equipment demos and beginner”s sessions aimed at getting new blood into this fascinating activity.

Safety is a big feature of the event, with a series of talks on ensuring that the sport is done in a safe and controlled manner.

The day before the festival, the Hyalite Ice Breaker will see ten of the world”s best climbers compete against one another as they attempt to cover as much vertical terrain as possible in a gruelling test of skill, strength and speed.

The event is held in Bozeman due to its position on the doorstep of the continent”s most intense venue for ice climbing: Hyalite Canyon.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18828845-ADNFCR

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The world”s ice climbers sharpen their crampons

0

The small town of Bozeman, Montana will once again host the annual Ice Festival, as the world”s finest ice climbers share their love of the sport with the public from December 5th-7th.

From the novice to the seasoned pro, the festival promises something for everyone: masterclasses, equipment demos and beginner”s sessions aimed at getting new blood into this fascinating activity.

Safety is a big feature of the event, with a series of talks on ensuring that the sport is done in a safe and controlled manner.

The day before the festival, the Hyalite Ice Breaker will see ten of the world”s best climbers compete against one another as they attempt to cover as much vertical terrain as possible in a gruelling test of skill, strength and speed.

The event is held in Bozeman due to its position on the doorstep of the continent”s most intense venue for ice climbing: Hyalite Canyon.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18828845-ADNFCR

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The world”s ice climbers sharpen their crampons

0

The small town of Bozeman, Montana will once again host the annual Ice Festival, as the world”s finest ice climbers share their love of the sport with the public from December 5th-7th.

From the novice to the seasoned pro, the festival promises something for everyone: masterclasses, equipment demos and beginner”s sessions aimed at getting new blood into this fascinating activity.

Safety is a big feature of the event, with a series of talks on ensuring that the sport is done in a safe and controlled manner.

The day before the festival, the Hyalite Ice Breaker will see ten of the world”s best climbers compete against one another as they attempt to cover as much vertical terrain as possible in a gruelling test of skill, strength and speed.

The event is held in Bozeman due to its position on the doorstep of the continent”s most intense venue for ice climbing: Hyalite Canyon.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18828845-ADNFCR

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The world”s ice climbers sharpen their crampons

0

The small town of Bozeman, Montana will once again host the annual Ice Festival, as the world”s finest ice climbers share their love of the sport with the public from December 5th-7th.

From the novice to the seasoned pro, the festival promises something for everyone: masterclasses, equipment demos and beginner”s sessions aimed at getting new blood into this fascinating activity.

Safety is a big feature of the event, with a series of talks on ensuring that the sport is done in a safe and controlled manner.

The day before the festival, the Hyalite Ice Breaker will see ten of the world”s best climbers compete against one another as they attempt to cover as much vertical terrain as possible in a gruelling test of skill, strength and speed.

The event is held in Bozeman due to its position on the doorstep of the continent”s most intense venue for ice climbing: Hyalite Canyon.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18828845-ADNFCR

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