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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 in ‘Family, Kids & Senior Travelers’

Come to Cape Town

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Cape Town is arguably Africa’s most popular tourist destination, for good reason. Cape Town provides the best of both worlds, by combining the convenience of city living coupled with magnificent views of nature. Here are some activities that you must put on your Cape Town itinerary:
shark
1. Shark Cage Dive
Come face-to-face with one of the world’s most notorious predators, the Great White Shark, on a Shark Cage Diving Tour. If you prefer to keep some distance between you and the sharks, enjoy the experience via boat. You’ll see a variety of sea life from penguins to seals.

2. Whale-Watching
If you don’t like sharks, why not try a more-friendly Whale Watching Tour? The tour will take you to the seaside town of Hermanus, a world-famous whale watching destination. There’s no need to bring your binoculars, as the whales come to within twenty metres of the shore!
penguins
3. Cape Peninsula Tour
Explore the natural beauty of Cape Town and its surrounding area, on this comprehensive tour. See rare and endangered flora at Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and the adorable penguin colonies at Boulders Beach.

4. Cape Town Township Tour
Get to know Cape Town through the eyes of a local on this informative cultural tour. You will visit a range of areas from the oldest township of Langa to the colourful streets of Bo Kaap. Try some local delicacies, learn about the impact of apartheid and see the work of traditional craftsmen.

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Cape Town Winelands Tour
What could be better than sampling delicious wines surrounded by spectacular scenery? You will visit some of the best wine estates in Cape Town and partake in expert-led tasting sessions. Plus there are many opportunities to explore the towns and estates.

And if you fancy a Shark Dive in Cape Town, vote for it in the isango! Travel experience poll and you’ll be entered to win a brand new iPad and other amazing weekly giveaways.

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Explore Amsterdam

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Amsterdam is a city of dichotomies. Where else will you find coffee shops selling marijuana situated next to ancient churches? The city’s varied culture means there is an attraction guaranteed to pique the interests of every traveller. From the enlightening to the leisurely, here are the top things to do in Amsterdam:

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1. Canal Cruise

Amsterdam is connected by a series of canals, so one of the fastest (and most scenic!) ways to orientate yourself with the city is to go on a canal cruise. Relax aboard a guided tour and discover hidden treasures including houseboats and the splendid architecture of the many bridges. You’ll see there is a reason why Amsterdam is called “The Venice of the North.

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2. Red Light District tour

There is no other place comparable to Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. A tour of the district allows you to see past the often overwhelming spectacle of half-dressed girls and cannabis-shops aplenty and understand the history of the district. Informative, educational and amusing, a Red Light District tour will give you insight on a key aspect of Amsterdam’s culture.

3. Anne Frank’s House

Whether you have read Anne’s diary or not, when you walk in the same spots the Frank family spent years hiding from the Nazis, you just begin to comprehend their situation. Visiting Anne Frank’s House is a very emotional and eye-opening experience but one that you absolutely must do. At Otto Frank’s request, the house was left unfurnished after the Nazis raided it and the windows remain blacked out, offering you a glimpse of how they lived.

4. Bike Tour

Amsterdam’s preferred mode of transportation always amuses car-reliant travellers. (Have you seen a multi-storey bike parking lot before?) With the narrow streets and everything in close proximity, bikes are the quickest method of travel. Experience the city through the eyes of a local and go on a bike tour. Nervous about pedalling around a foreign city? Don’t worry as there are special bike lanes and lights and you’re more likely to come across fellow cyclists than cars. And of course, don’t forget to wear your helmet!

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5. Keukenhof

If you fancy a quick day trip out of the heart of the city, visit the picturesque Keukenhof gardens. There is a reason it is one of the most popular gardens in the world with its immaculate flower displays that literally go on for miles. (It is the largest flower bulb park in the world after all!) Every year a staggering seven million flower bulbs are planted in accordance to a specific theme. Time is of the essence as the garden is only open from about March to May because of the flowering season.

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Experiencing St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

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Experiencing St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, giving you a great chance to get away for the weekend and experience an authentic St. Patrick’s Day, and other fantastic adventures that only Ireland has to offer.

1.) Cut Loose the Irish Way

The St. Patrick’s Day Festival:

The St. Patrick’s Day Fesitval is a great way to experience authentic Irish culture on such a special holiday. The festival takes place in Dublin and is known to last for around four days (this year it begins Friday March 16 and ends Monday March 19).

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Some of the world’s best street performers and musicians can be found on Dublin’s streets during these four days. Also be on the look out for some great free concerts, with local and international bands, along with great theatre performances and even a Russian spectacular show.

The Guinness Brewery & Storehouse:

Another great way to celebrate Ireland and its fantastic pub culture is to partake in the Guinness Brewery & Storehouse experience, home to Ireland’s most beloved beer- the Guinness Draught. The brewery, located in Dublin since 1759, is a key contributor to Guinness’s 2 billion dollar a year revenue. The tour includes several floors to experience the history behind Guinness, with even a glass pint-shaped atrium tribute to the Guinness “black stuff”. Tours of the brewery usually finish up at the Gravity Bar, a bar with a 360 degree panoramic view of Dublin situated atop the famed storehouse.

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2.) Get Your Irish Knowledge On!

Although you may know the origin and story of St. Patrick’s Day, other cultural and historical tales from Ireland are important and interesting ways to enhance your trip. There are many castles, monuments and sites to be seen that hold signifigant value to the Irish people, but the Tomb of Newgrange is certainly one of the coolest.

The Tomb of Newgrange:

The Tomb of Newgrange is one of the oldest historical sites in the world, dating back before Stonehenge and even the pyramids of Giza. Although called a tomb, there’s still no official account for what the site was used for, although many believe it was connected with burial rituals and the Winter Solstice. What IS known about the historical structure is that it dates all the way back to the Neolithic period and is considered Ireland’s greatest national monument.

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The tomb resembles a giant mound with alternate layers of stones and grass to make up the outter structure of the building. The tomb has three small rooms, which all connect to the one main room. Rock slabs line the walls of the tomb, along with a slab centered in the middle of the room, which the bones of the deceased are believed to be laid. The Neolithic abstract art of carved swirls and shapes only add to the mysterious beauty of the tomb.

3.) Find the Beauty of Ireland

Part of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is by embracing the Irish culture and the beauty of Ireland. No better place can this be achieved than Ireland’s coast, which offers several mesmerizing landmarks and sites that will surely enhance and enrich your trip. Beautiful hills, valleys and look out points scatter the 120 mile long route known as the Causeway Coastal. Although the route has many stops, the most famous of them defintely belongs to the Giant Causeway.

The Giant Causeway:

Located in Northern Ireland in Antrim County The Giant Causeway is the biggest tourist attraction in all of Ireland. The Giant Causeway is primarily known for its basalt stepping stones and 40,000 chimney stack columns which slowly descend into the sea, giving it the title of the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. The Causeway was created some 50 million years ago, when the Antrim coast was subjected to intense volcanic activity.

Many legends surround the Causeway, with the most popular focusing on the Irish warrior Finn McCool, who outwit and frightened his enemy Benandonner, who fled from McCool and destroyed the Causeway in his flight. The Giant Causeway can be seen as a jump off point for a truly exciting road trip all along Ireland’s coast, with many more memorable stops on the way.

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The Glens of Antrim

The nine Glens of Atrim is more inland than the Giant Causeway, but is defintely worth the ride. The nine Glens of Atrim is named after the nine lords from the 13th century and is a prime example of beautiful green rolling hills and lush flowers that call Ireland home.

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Soaking up winter sun in the Canary Islands

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Chilly foggy weather, shorter days, looming dark evenings – just plain cold and depressing! Could we all do with a bit of sunshine this winter to get us through until spring; and what better place for a family holiday than the Canary Islands to do just that! It is close to the UK, meaning low-cost travel; and for guaranteed heat where rain is rare during winter and where temperatures range between 20 and 30 degrees, it is a no-brainer. The Canaries can also provide you with that sought-after summer tan in January.

Costa Teguise, Canary Islands

Costa Teguise

With a whole lot of beaches to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect location from the choice of beaches the Canary Islands have to offer. Miles of golden sands are the greatest attraction of Fuerteventura, while the beaches at Costa Teguise in Lanzarote are man-made and are a firm favourite for the windsurfing community. If naturist/nudist type of beaches is your thing, Tenerife’s Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Granadilla beaches are for you. However, if you are like me looking for less-visited and quiet islands, the islands of La Palma or La Gomera are ones to check out for!

Of course, some of the islands have more than just beaches. You can’t miss the Teide National Park in Tenerife, the highest peak in Spain. Or, you can take the family to the Camel Safari and Oasis Animal Park near Costa Calma in Fuerteventura. There are just simply loads of other things you can do on the Canary Islands; beaches, nature, wildlife, nightlife, restaurants, culture, activities and many more – you have it all here. My only regret is I didn’t have enough time!

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Win A Family Ticket to The Dungeon!

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This October, half-term in the UK will end with the Halloween weekend (Halloween being the 31st of Oct which falls on a Monday this year, we’re expecting most celebrations to happen the weekend before.)

jack-at-the-london-dungeonTop of the scary things to do in London must be the London Dungeon. The attraction shows you 1000 years of the capital’s most gory history and presents you with three thrilling rides, one of which opened this year: the Vengeance 5D laser ride! Educational and fun, the Dungeon will entertain the whole family.

Celebrate Halloween in London at the London Dungeon with the amazing show of Stingy Jack

Jack was a clever but lazy and gambling man. When it was time for Jack to die, the Devil tried to collect his soul but Jack managed to trick him twice. The third time the Devil didn’t even bother to show up and Jack was sent to Heaven.

At the pearly gates, St Peter refused to let Jack in because he had never done a selfless act in his life.  So Jack knocked on the gates of Hell but the Devil was still annoyed with him and so refused to let him in. The Devil threw a coal in a hollow pumpkin (or turnip, depending on which version you read.) for Jack to use as a lantern and send him on his way.

Thus Jack (O’Lantern) roams the dark on Halloween as he has nowhere to go.

So all Halloween period (15-31st Oct 2011) be aware while you make your way around the Dungeon as Jack can pop up anytime…

We have been given a family ticket* that admit two adults and two children to the attraction – all you have to do is answer this question:

Q: Halloween is officially celebrated on which date?

Send us the answer in an email to competition@isango.com with HALLOWEEN in the subject line. Competition closes 9pm Sunday 23rd of October – Winner will be chosen at random.

* tickets will be send out by supplier – ticket valid until the 31st of Mar 2012 for the Dungeon in all six locations.
Picture credit: www.the-dungeons.co.uk

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Ideas for half term

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If you are a parent wondering whether the children hadn’t just started school: it is indeed not long until October half term starts again. Luckily, there is no need to panic – here are a few half term ideas to keep the kids and you entertained.

forestExplore Nature
Weather permitting, take the kids out to the woods. The Woodland Trust has a handy site where you can find the nearest woods to you. The site is full of ideas like den-building and forest foraging. The Woodland Trust also supplies a variety idea packs with activity sheets, puzzles and games that they can email to you for free.

Capital time
If you decide to visit London during half term, you can skip the line at the London Zoo when you pre-book the tickets. This half-term London Zoo has a Halloween theme. For “Boo in the Zoo” London Zoo will open a brand new bat cave, tells spooky stories in teepees and the kids get creative in the Zoo’s Animal Adventure exhibit.

matilda_the_musical-1-200-200-85-cropNo visit to London would be complete without a visit to the West End: treat the children to tickets for Matilda the Musical. The Royal Shakespeare Company production opened last year in Stratford upon Avon to raving reviews. The classic Roald Dahl story about the clever Matilda who discovers she has magical powers, is filled with cheeky songs by comedian Tim Minchin and is a spectacular show for children of all ages.

For those who are looking for to spend the half term week in Europe:

nemo-adam-rebekahAmsterdam
Amsterdam can indeed be appropriate for children: the Anne Frank house has special child friendly displays to explain the historical significance of the place. Little scientists will love the NEMO museum in Amsterdam, where they are forbidden NOT to touch anything: all is there for them to explore. Visit the famous Vondelpark and perch in the cafe Groot Melk huis that organises special kids craft sessions for €5 per child on Wednesday and Saturdays.

Berlin
jewishmemorialberlin_6462_5Germany’s capital of Berlin is full of history, once containing the Berlin Wall, symbol of the Cold War. See what remained of the Wall, the so-called Eastside Gallery covered with paintings and graffiti, visiting the Reichstag will give you a beautiful view of the city but you can also explore the Berlin on segway.

Paris
You can visit the Eiffel tower and even go ‘backstage’ and get tickets for the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, and children will love the Paris Story: a multi-media presentation about Paris’ history.
disneyland_paris_2846For a real treat take the kids to Disneyland Paris for a day. You get picked up from your Paris hotel for a day full of fun and rides among your favourite Disney friends.

Theme parks in Florida
If you are looking for some sun and entertainment further away: we have tickets for Disney World Orlando in Florida. You also have the option visit one of the other theme parks like Universal Studios or Sea World.

Photocredits: Flickr NEMO Amsterdam – Rebekah gmela; Forest – Felixion

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The Thames Festival

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tower-of-london_london_4107_5If you are around in London this weekend, make sure to visit the Mayor Thames Festival. This free (!) festival is London largest outdoor arts festival with all kinds of activities dotted around the river Thames. Every year the Thames Festival attracts 800.000 visitors.

The festival is accessible for all ages, the festival committee has commissioned new work: a mixture of music, dance and various forms of street arts.

Performances
Look out for performances by Dionne Bromfield (goddaughter of the late Amy Winehouse),  a variety of DJs on the Lady Luck Jive Stage, the BFI’s vintage mobile cinema and displays of Korean Taekwondo and Argentinean tango.
The Thames area is divided in four different zones spreading from Westminster Bridge (Zone 1) to Tower Bridge and beyond (Zone 4) Each Zone has its own colour and performances will be easier to find with the map that will be handed out during the weekend or which you can find on the official website.

St Katherine Docks will have its annual displays of vintage boats and retro fashion. Southwark Bridge will be closed to traffic and transformed into the Feast on the Bridge; it will home to the many foodstalls cooking up a treat. There will also be craft stalls whose helpful owners will encourage you and the kids to get stuck in yourselves. Last year, there was a home made flower-hat contest and children of all ages made their own corn-dolls.

Sunday evening the Illuminated Night Carnival will take place and brings together over 2000 dancers, drummers and masqueraders.  The Thames Festival will close with the traditional Fireworks Finale.

Tips:

  • Bring an umbrella on Sunday as rain is forecasted.
  • Check if there are any planned Tube closures on the Transport for London website.
  • Can’t make it to London this weekend: plan a Thames tour to discover the capital in your own time.

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Paris Vacation Apartment Rentals – Advantages for Family Vacations

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Nowadays, a wide selection of vacation accommodation options for family holidays are available. No longer are families obligated to pile into small hotel rooms, or pay astronomic prices for suites. Paris, especially, offers an enormous selection of vacation rental apartments ranging from comfortable studios to large luxurious lofts that are perfect for family vacations. Whatever size or price range, you will find a vacation apartment that suits your family’s needs. If you are thinking about renting a vacation apartment in Paris for your next family holiday here are some advantages:

Cost effective Renting a vacation apartment is one of the most cost-effective options for family holiday accommodations. In Paris, where hotel prices are extremely high, prices for vacation apartments are generally less expensive than booking multiple hotel rooms. In addition, the amount of additional space that you get with an apartment compared to the price paid makes this type of stay much more economical. Plus, all vacation apartments have fully equipped kitchens, so savings from cooking some meals at home can also be factored into overall cost savings.

Comfort Vacation apartments are more comfortable for families than other accommodation options. Even if you rent a studio, the size of the space is generally larger than an average hotel room in Paris, or any other big city. In some apartments, children often have their own bed, or even room. There is always a dining area and, as mentioned above,fully equipped kitchens where you can make homemade meals. Vacation apartments include all the comforts of home.

Practical Families with small children must consider their special needs when looking at holiday accommodations. Vacation apartments offer practical solutions to meet these needs such as a calm place to have naps without the worry of housekeeping knocking on the door or to prepare special meals that only mom can make! In addition, a kitchen offers the freedom for midnight feedings and an apartment provides space for playing.

As you can see, vacation apartment rentals are one of the most practical and cost-effective accommodation options for families traveling to Paris.

About the author

Donna has lived in Paris for over ten years and has traveled extensively throughout the world with her family. She recommends booking a vacation apartment for your next trip to Paris.

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Book it like Beckham

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David and Victoria Beckham have welcomed daughter Harper Seven to their family! Beckham’s baby-name nicely complements their sons’ who have already being christened Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz.

Now his daughter has arrived, David might want to give his wife some mother-daughter quality time and take his boys out for a break.

What better city to entertain the children than our capital London. There are plenty of things to do in London that will keep the kids busy and smiling. For all the fathers (and mothers!) who are looking for some ideas in the capital this summer, we have compiled a list of things to do:

Many free museums in London offer special activities for children and families. National History Museum has plenty of impressive interactive displays from dinosaurs to an earthquake room that children will love. Same goes for the Science Museum next door where they have opened a special Space Exhibition for the summer. The Tate Modern on the Southbank offers Summer Holiday sessions with games and map-making on Thursdays and Fridays for children and an accompanying adult.

If the summer weather holds there are outdoor activities plenty in London. The Diana Memorial Playground in Hyde Park has a Peter Pan theme with a pirate boat to climb, teepees to explore and a sensorial trail. Kew Gardens have complemented their Climbers and Creepers an interactive botanical playground with a brand new outdoor Treehouse Towers playground.

No visit to London is complete without a visit to the West End and there are a variety of theatre shows suitable for children. Take your kids on a London theatre break for memories that will last a lifetime:

Energetic children will be mesmerised by the by this show’s power and creativity of STOMP. Performers have used everything from bin-lids and pipes to even kitchen sinks to create rhythms to dance, move and grove on.

War Horse is an epic theatre production with astonishing puppetry and a story that will appeal to everyone in the family. When the First World War starts and horse Joey is sold to the cavalry, his young boss Albert goes on a journey to find him.

Superhero fans will love Batman Live at the O2 Arena. Gotham City will come alive with stunts, aerial acrobatics and theatrical illusions. Batman and Robin will have to take on his enemies Catwoman, Two-Face and of course his nemesis The Joker.

Contrary to popular believe, London is a family-friendly city. The capital has a lot of entertainment to offer to children of all ages so you can make the most of your summer holiday.

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London Theatre land for Children

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It is July and the weather is horrible. Most parents will already be despairing at the thought of the nearing summer holidays. Pouring rain outside, bored children inside and you have got the ingredients for a six-week nightmare!

There is a simple way to keep the children entertained: take them on a break to the capital. London has a plethora of activities just for children. A fun-filled London theatre break with packages starting from just £48pp, doesn’t have to break the bank. A matinee or evening experiencing the thrill of live-theatre will guaranteed give the whole family something to smile about and remember for a long time.

We have made things even easier with some suggestions for children in London theatre land:

Have tea with a Tiger

See the classic story of The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr come to life against a backdrop of beautifully drawn sets. When Sophie and her mummy sit down to have tea at the table, the doorbell rings. Who could it possibly be? Imagine their surprise when a real stripy tiger joins them for tea! Your little ones will love this sweet show filled with songs and theatrical magic. The show is suitable for children 3 years and up.

Sweet Treats

Closeby the small shop of Hope and Greenwood on Russell street looks like a quirky version of the old- fashioned sweetshop. These self-proclaimed purveyors or splendid confectionary will have something the whole family! Glass jars and bowls filled with boiled sweets, gummies, bonbons and the like will bring out the child in everyone. You can buy prettily pre-packed and gift wrapped sweet treats or pick and mix yourself at the counter.

Swing with Shrek

Everyone favourite ogre now has his own musical! Shrek and his talkative sidekick Donkey set off to rescue Princess Fiona played by Amanda Holden. This musical has true theatrical magic as all the fairytale characters, including a 25ft dragon, will be making an appearance on stage. Even the evil but very short Lord Farquaad will have you laugh out loud.

Lion King

Based on the Disney film, Lion King the musical will be a live-experience you’ll never forget. When lion prince Simba’s father dies in an accident, his mean uncle Scar makes Simba take the blame and the young cub flees from his pride. Years later the pride is starving and they all look for a miracle return of the prince. The mix of music, songs, dance and the spectacular puppetry is breath-taking and will transport you straight to the African savannah.

Good Ol’ Fashioned Fun

In the heart of theatreland, on the first floor of Covent Garden Market, you can find Benjamin Pollocks Toyshop. It is a small shop but it specialises in theatre models and traditional ‘old-fashioned’ toys. Marvel at the detail with which the theatre models are made from simple ones to techinal ones. You can even buy matchbox theatres to recreate your favourite musicals or make up your own stories at home! From pretty little tea-sets and miniature toolkits to toys for pocket money prices: everyone will love this shop.

Don’t despair, get booking and give the children a summer to remember!

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