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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 April, 2009

Rome to host Letterature

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People taking Rome tours in late May and early June this year will be in the city as it hosts Letterature, its international literature festival.

This event is traditionally held from mid-May to mid-June in the Basilica di Massenzio in the Italian capital.

While entrance is free, visitors still have to present a token to get in which, according to events website whatsonwhen.com, can be picked up at the box office at Via dei Fori Imperiali.

The festival sees successful authors from all over the world visit Rome to present and discuss their work, including pieces that have been produced specifically for the event.

In past years, the cultural celebration has included participation by the likes of Nick Hornby, Jeffery Deaver, VS Naipaul, Gore Vidal and Salman Rushdie.

Visitors will take part in various talks and readings, many of which will be accompanied by live music.

Rome boasts many other attractions and institutions that will interest people who want to take in some culture and history, including the Capitoline and Villa Borghese museums.

Rome – Visit some of the ancient landmarks such as the Colosseum or tour the opulent Vatican.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19131500-ADNFCR

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Spain dominates World’s Best Restaurants list

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Travellers taking tours of Barcelona and other Spanish destinations this year may be tempted to visit some of the destinations that feature on this year’s San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Spain dominated the 2009 survey, boasting four of the ten establishments that received the best reviews from more than 800 chefs, critics and industry experts around the world.

At the top of the list is El Bulli in Roses on the Costa Brava, which was named the world’s best restaurant for the fourth year in a row.

Mugaritz and Arzak, both of which are located in the town of San Sebastian on Spain’s north coast, were ranked fourth and eighth respectively, while El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, not far from Barcelona, was fifth.

France was also fairly well represented in the list, with Paris’ Pierre Gagnaire and Bras in Laguiole both appearing in the top ten.

Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Berkshire retained the second place that it achieved last year in the 2009 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, while the United States was represented by New York’s Per Se in sixth place and Chicago’s Alinea in tenth.

Special Interest – Nightlife – From an extravagant meal to an eerie ghost walk – plenty of things to keep you entertained after the sun goes down.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19131259-ADNFCR

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Slow Down London!

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This month, the city of London will host the ten-day Slow Down London a “Living Life in Real Time” festival for busy city dwellers. Running April 24th through May 4th, the festival focuses on taking a break from the pressures of city living (something we college students already excel at) and relaxing. The program encourages Londoners to “explore slow music and arts, to try meditation and yoga, to sample slow food and crafts, to discover ‘slow travel’ in our own city, to debate ideas about time and pace, and to find our own ways to challenge the cult of speed and to appreciate the world around us.” And with ranging from “Wine and Words,” a poetry and vino session at Foyles to free guided tours at the National Portrait Gallery, or discounted yoga and meditation sessions, just about everyone can find a reason to relax next week.

Richard Whitaker

Richard Whitaker

Even if you’re not into the events, there is no better way to tour the city then to walk around by foot, get inspired by Slow Down London and take some time out of your busy day and EXPLORE! Take your sandwich to the park, or find a new restaurant in your neighbourhood. Now that the weather outside is no longer frightful, no more excuses! continue reading

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Stunning Architecture in Spain

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   sagrada2

Looming over Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882 and is nowhere near completion. The giant spires and grandeur are the design of Anton Gaudi who began construction of the gothic church. As a privately funded venture tourists can become sponsors of the church by paying for a tour of the finished sections come 2010.
   While much of Barcelona is in the gothic style some parts differ greatly. More of Gaudi’s work, and that of his rivals, can be seen in the Paseo de Gracia. Gaudi’s re-visitation of a 19th century home shows off some of his best work as the Batlo House. Immediatly next door, his rival, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, created the Amatlles House using a cubical design. A stroll further down the lane lands visitors at Lleo Morera House designed by Domenech I Montaner. This art nouveau approach to architecture adds a third perspective to the Spanish style.

continue reading

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A Walk on the “Wilde” Side Indeed: Hotspots of Literary History

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Oscar Wilde - janetmck and mukund76

Oscar Wilde - janetmck and mukund76

All of this travelling has given us all a little wanderlust (aka the desire to travel our already small savings away). Europe is packed with history than we’ll ever be able to see in just three short months, but with some great tour guides and a little organization, we’re hoping to cram as much of it in as possible! Since we’re here to study literature and culture, and Dublin was just the first stop on the journey, I can’t wait to check out these other top writing-geek destinations soon:

London: Well, this one’s a bit obvious I suppose, I am living in Kensington and heading to the theatre every week to see a play for class, but for those of you not already enrolled in a literary adventure, London’s blue circle plaques make it easy. Placed outside the doors of London sites, the plaques serve as a guide to the more famous happenings within many an ordinary-looking building). London has been home to many of the most famous authors of all time: Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Keats, J.M. Barrie, and of course Shakespeare are just a few of the city’s most recognizable names. I can’t wait to search out the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, check out Oscar Wilde’s house in Chelsea, and see Romeo and Juliet at the Globe Theatre…luckily the blue-badge guided Literary London Tour will make it even easier! continue reading

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Check out the World Twenty20 tournament in London

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Sports fans will be booking their London tours this year to coincide with the World Twenty20 cricket tournament, which will be held from June 5th to 21st.

The competition will come to four cricket grounds across England – Lord’s and The Oval in London, Trent Bridge in Nottinghamshire and Taunton in Somerset.

Both men’s and women’s sides representing countries including England, Australia, India, South Africa and the West Indies are due to participate in the competition this year.

Twenty20 cricket, a form of the sport first introduced in England in 2003, sees each team playing a single innings with a maximum of 20 overs, a format that adds an extra element of speed and excitement to the game.

Most matches only last about two-and-a-half hours, meaning that visitors to Twenty20 tournament days will often get the chance to see two games involving four different teams.

Lord’s will be the venue for the semi-final and final rounds of both the men’s and women’s tournaments.

India are the reigning World Twenty20 champions, having beaten Pakistan in the 2007 final in South Africa.

London – Ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London or take a day out of the city to see Stonehenge.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19129664-ADNFCR

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Get into modern sculpture in Venice

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Travellers will be able to add even more culture to their tours of Venice this summer by paying a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection to see an exhibition of modern sculpture.

Robert Rauschenberg: Gluts will be open at the prestigious art gallery in the Dorsoduro area of Venice from May 30th to September 20th.

The exhibition will feature approximately 40 sculptures known as Gluts that Rauschenberg, a prominent American artist, created between the years of 1986 and 1995.

To construct the wall reliefs and free-standing sculptures, Rauschenberg assembled various pieces of metal that he had collected, such as petrol station signs, car components and industrial parts.

The artist’s Gluts period was one of the latter stages of a career that had previously seen him interested in technology-based art and the use of materials including cardboard, paper and fabric.

Art lovers planning Venice tours this year will also be able to visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection to see a display of futurist art that includes pieces by Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla and others.

Venice – Fall in love all over again on a Gondola ride on the Grand Canal and lose yourself in the grand St Mark’s Square.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19129076-ADNFCR

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Sunshine ‘a priority’ for many Brits

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Tours in Barcelona, Rome and other sun-soaked destinations could prove a popular option this spring with many British travellers looking to take a break to enjoy some warm weather.

Travel add-ons company Holiday Extras released the results of a survey which showed that 48 per cent of British people want to visit a destination that offers guaranteed sunshine this spring.

Nearly one in three (31 per cent) respondents to the poll said they would be willing to travel overseas this year despite the weakness of the pound, although a fifth (21 per cent) would be happy to stay in the UK.

Some 18 per cent of the people surveyed would brave the exchange rate and visit mainland Europe, while 13 per cent said they would consider a long-haul getaway to destination such as Hong Kong and Sydney.

Mike Whiting of Holiday Extras said: "I’m not surprised that so many people want guaranteed sunshine this spring and while some people will certainly be choosing to holiday closer to home, tourism abroad is still high on the agenda for most."

According to another study released by the travel add-ons company recently, 54 per cent of British people would be happy to go away on holiday with their mothers.

Barcelona – Wonderful Gaudi architecture and a cosmopolitan atmosphere have made Barcelona Spain’s most popular city.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19128858-ADNFCR

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The Singapore Flyer “Towers” Above the Eye

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I’ve been in London for nearly three weeks and I’m finally ready to dig into some of the more touristy adventures that the city has to offer! But as I’m preparing to board the world-famous London Eye, I find out that its already been beaten! That’s right, London’s not the only place to import tons upon tons of steel and glass in order to reconstruct a huge, spinning wheel that flies (slowly) skyward…sure, I’ll stand in the winding queue of tourists waiting for an unbelievable view of the city, and, sure, it will be beautiful and majestic, but what about its rival? The Eye is unbelievably tall, but the Singapore Flyer, pardon my pun, just flies a little higher.

The Singapore Flyer

I must admit that ever since watching Anthony Bourdain’s episode on Singapore, I’ve been dying to go! Yes, I just admitted to loving both the Travel Channel and Anthony Bourdain, but don’t knock ’til you’ve tried..er…watched it! Bourdain does an amazing job of discovering the local cultural and culinary hot-spots of each city he visits, and Singapore’s no exception. Not only does the Republic of Singapore provide a rich combination of Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian cuisines, but also a huge variety of tours, activities, and sites to keep even the pickiest tourist (like myself) entertained! continue reading

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Hollywood Movies with isango! – Slumdog Millionaire Experience and Mumbai Sightseeing Tour

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Mumbai Slumdog Millionaire Sightseeing TourShining like glow worms in the darkness of this year’s world recession are heart warming tales of hope and triumph. One of the brightest is perhaps the story of movie Slumdog Millionaire, the low budget Indie with no major stars that stormed the Oscars and carried off no less than eight coveted awards. And as we all now know, this film, which stunned everyone by its unlikely success, is a story of outside chance – the boy from the hovels of Mumbai who routed his enemies and found his lady love by winning a TV quiz show.

And Slumdog Millionaire’s grand slam is likely to have all sorts of knock-on effects. According to industry pundits, Mumbai – the pulsating city where the movie is set – may have a tourist boom this year despite the economic gloom.

If you loved the movie and can make the trip, you must go too. It’s well worth it. With sensations and surprises around every corner, Mumbai provides the kind of full-on experience that makes you feel truly alive. continue reading

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