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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 ‘Isango’

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014 – Nothing Shy About It

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Born out of rejection and anarchic in style and content, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is off and running madly this year.  Beginning on the 1st of August, the Fringe Festival, self-styled ‘the greatest show on earth’ has once again brought a vast array of talent and shows to Edinburgh like so many moths to the bright stage bulbs.

This year the show is bigger than ever.  The Fringe will give audiences a choice of 3,193 productions from 47 countries, and 49,497 performances in 299 venues.  That once again reaffirms Fringe’s status as the largest arts festival in the world – and this year it got bigger.  Whatever your taste in the arts, you are bound to find something suitable for your taste buds and maybe more!  You will see stuff that you will probably not see anywhere else.

Edinburgh Castle

The Fringe will have you feeling you are spinning round at the end of a bungee cord.  The festival is one huge dizzying array of shows and events that pop up at you from every corner, pub and even a former veterinary hospital.  Conventional theatres and venues are still the place to get your art thrills.  New venues have been opened to accommodate the increased entries, such as the La Belle Angèle on Cowgate and the Famous Spiegeltent will be located in St Andrew’s Square, alongside Stand in the Square, and a brand new open air stage.

However, the Festival is also taking theatre to the streets as well.  You will find pianists plink-plonking in the middle of the street; brightly colour-costumed acrobats cartwheel past you; Brazilian dancers sashay and swivel past and are soon lost in the whole seemingly chaotic jamboree.

The Festival Fringe has no selection process and is open for anyone to present any type of work.  That is a great recipe for off-the-wall, quirky performances and eclectic shows showcasing the vision of the performers from all across the world.  Many are amateurs, many trying to break into the big time and some are big names too.  They include Dame Diana Rigg, Jeremy Paxman, Glen Matlock, Clive Anderson, Pamela Stephenson, Nancy Dell’olio and actress Anne Archer, playing Jane Fonda.. It’s great for them too – they can network and meet theatre movers and shakers, cross-pollinate ideas and have fun at the same time.

As the Fringe goes merrily into its second week, some awards have already been presented.  The Scotsman Fringe First round winners were announced.  There are two more rounds to be announced.  The 2014 Fringe Sustainable Practice Award winners have also been named.

The organisers say that more than 60% of the shows are either comedy or theatre with circus and physical theatre growing categories that are popular with audiences.  There are shows about Scottish independence, the 100th anniversary of the World War One and even the Commonwealth Games.

It is difficult to choose and decide what to see but some shows have become standout.  These are KlangHaus, Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, Zulu Ballet and The War (an examination of the psychological effects of World War I, the disturbing living sculptures of Exhibit B).

Regardless of the categories, there are an endless array of events, performances and spectacles to experience and enjoy, and most certainly expand your artistic horizons.

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Prague: City Guide

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Prague: the capital city of the proud and friendly Czech people, a starling city that blends Old World and contemporary culture, the birthplace of the Bohemian lifestyle, and home to some of the most unique foods, drinks, and architectural spectacles in Europe. The question is often “Why not visit Prague” rather than the trivial “Why visit” because whether you are visiting the city for a day or seven, you are probably headed to your soon-to-be favorite city in the region (if not continent).

Maybe you have a visit to Prague planned or are currently deciding where to spend your next few days off. Well, let our experiences help you see what needs to be seen and make your decision a bit easier! Here are the five absolutely essential places you need to visit and things you need to try.

Old Town

Tyn Church Prague

If you’ve seen a picture of Prague, chances are it was taken in Old Town Square. With notable sights around the square like Old Town Hall Tower & Astronomical Clock, Tyn Church and St. Nicholas Church, this historical center of Prague has a lot to offer to visitors. The square is also filled with restaurants, pubs, and people at any time of the day, with smaller roads extending out into some other sights and smaller shops. The Astronomical Clock, though known for its unspectacular clock show involving wooden saints emerging from the tour at the top of each hour, has numerous other beauties in its build and design, as do all of the structures that border Old Town square.

Beer & Cuisine

beef goulash Prague

The Czechs regard their locally produced beers as a national treasure. The most popular beer in Prague is Gambrinus, but other very popular bears include Kozel’s Medium, a pale lager, and Pilsner Urquell, a favorite with the locals. Because of this focus on and love of beer and its craft, Prague is home to a number of bars that specialize in beer, offering a huge variety or a carefully chosen selection of top-notch brews. The same passion exhibited by the Czech people can be said the same for how they feel towards their native dishes. While the foods in Prague are unlike any other food in other regions of the world, the Czech people show excellence in the food that they consider local. Foods like beef goulash with dumplings (Hovezi gulas s knedlikem) and rolled up pastries called Trdelnik will have visitors discovering delicious meals they couldn’t even imagine.

Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square Prague

The contemporary version of the Old Town square is the Wenceslas square, which is only a short 5 minute walk away from Old Town. This very popular and modern part of Prague is lined with world-famous clothing brand stores, numerous restaurants, and other smaller shops. At the end of the square is the marvelous National Museum of Prague, which won’t be open to the public for another few years. Wenceslas Square is the perfect place for any traveler wanting the feel of a big city while also wanting to see the architecture that Eastern Europe is known for. Grab a coffee, sit in one of the many seating areas around the square, and enjoy your day surrounded by a lively crowd of locals and travelers alike!

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge Prague

If you appreciate the pure beauty of rivers or the unchanging expressions of statues, then Charles Bridge is another must-see location. Crossing the Vltava River, the bridge supports thousands of people each day crossing over from both sides of Prague. The bridge itself has numerous statues with either religious or historical significance, and between those statues are many street vendors selling anything from souvenirs to caricature drawings. The bridge leads out on both sides to popular areas filled with shops and little eateries. If you enjoy the music of the iconic British rock band, The Beatles, the famed John Lennon Wall in Prague is located near the entrance of the bridge.

Prague Castle

Prague Castle

The final must-see location in Prague is one that you actually can see virtually from anywhere in Prague, that is, the Prague Castle. Though somewhat of a walk from the other popular Prague locations listed, the castle is by far the most spectacular. At the center of the royal compound sits St. Vitus’s Cathedral with towers that scrape the sky and architecture that takes your breath away. Also in the compound are the royal Paradise Gardens and Palace where you can take in more regal marvels. The castle sits atop a hill that overlooks Prague, which is both the reasons why it can be seen from almost everywhere in the city and why it provides visitors with the most spectacular view of the city. You cannot visit Prague without taking a stroll through the castle grounds!

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isango! launches ‘Paris Magic Moments’

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Disneyland® Paris comprises of two fantastic parks – Disneyland Parks and Walt Disney Studios. A visit is a double treat filled with plenty of magical choice.  That however, can raise several issues.  What to do and how to get the most and best out of your visit.

Those vexing decisions can now be left in the very capable hands of Paris Magic Moments, isango’s newest website.

Paris Magic Moments, launched in the UK on 30th June 2014, is run by a travel team solely focused on, and dedicated to, Disneyland Paris.  The company has a Specialists Sales Team that will advise you on the lowest prices and the most competitive deals to suit your budget.

PMM

Open seven days a week and supported by a high-speed and hi-tech online booking system, Paris Magic Moments makes sure that you get those much-desired discounts and special offers that will add to your enjoyment and the overall ©Disney experience.

Unlike other travel and tourism booking organisations, Paris Magic Moments is a preferred partner of Disneyland Paris.  This means that PMM can bundle a wide range of options with Disney’s offerings and choices that you won’t otherwise have access to.  You can buy products and ticket packages, normally offered only by Disney Hotels, even if you are staying at Disney Partner/Affiliated Hotels.

Paris Magic Moments caters only to the UK market so travel and transport is geared to getting you to and from London and Paris.  The choices are really terrific as you can avail of options that include the Eurostar Passenger or the Eurotunnel Car Train or the P&O Ferries.

Paris Magic Moments’ service goes beyond just arranging your tickets.  They sort out another travel related bother – luggage.  This service is part of the Disney Express and saves you the hassle of moving your luggage onto the train, into the hotel and when you leave, the reverse process.  Now you simply check in on the train at the station, get your tickets and room keys while your luggage is taken to the hotel and the same applies when you leave Disneyland.

PMM’s offerings don’t stop at the door, so to speak.  They provide valuable budget savings on meals too.  There are a whole bouquet of meal plans and add-ons.  Guests staying at Disney or Partner hotels get vouchers for meals within Disney Resort.  Then there are the super thrills of enjoying the high-octane Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Dinner Show as well as meals at Cafe Mickey.

To give you a change of scene and pace so that you can round out your vacation, Paris Magic Moments offers Paris Day Trips.

Using the expertise and services of Paris Magic Moments will ensure that both you and the kids revel in the excitement and magic and the very best of Disneyworld® Paris.

Book your Disneyland Paris holiday now at www.parismagicmoments.co.uk

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Iceland: Travel Guide

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Iceland: where landscapes teem with hot springs and geysers, where wildlife is as interesting as in many equatorial regions, and where modern cities and captivating natural scenery meet. It is also arguably the country with most misleading name on the planet (although it may be a toss-up with Greenland). It appears the folk tale that Iceland was named as such to keep people from invading its beautiful landscapes reigns somewhat true, as far as those landscapes are concerned.

Anyone who has visited Iceland is likely to say that their trip is highly ranked in a list of all their travels, and there is no better time to go than in the summer when temperatures vary between 8°C at night and 15°C during the daytime! We’ve outlined five of the most spectacular places to visit and things to do in Iceland this summer:

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Blog

Hit the ground running as soon as you arrive in Iceland with a relaxing spa getaway at the Blue Lagoon! Sink into the reviving waters while wisps of steam dance on the surface, unwind under a soothing waterfall, or choose from a range of luxurious spa treatments. You can travel to the Blue Lagoon from the airport or from your hotel. There is no better way to combat the discomforts that come with international travel (jet lag, uncomfortable plane rides) than to soak your stresses away in Iceland’s famed geothermal hot springs at the Blue Lagoon Spa.

Golden Circle

Another must-do in Iceland is venturing along the Golden Circle rated as Iceland’s top attraction! This ever-popular sightseeing route showcases some of the most dramatic natural features of the ‘Land of Ice and Fire’ as well as important historic sites. Witness the majesty of Gullfoss waterfall and visit the geothermal areas of Geysir and Strokkur, where geysers and hot springs span across the landscape.

If you so desire (and we recommend it), you can even do Iceland in a Nutshell for a day on a visit to both the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle!

Whale Watching

Whale Watching Blog

Although originally the only wildlife on land native to Iceland was the arctic fox, that is not the case with the sea life that fills the waters surrounding Iceland. Iceland whale watching is an incredibly popular pick for things to do while in this island country. Take an unforgettable boat ride on Faxaflói Bay and see whales, dolphins, and porpoises in their natural environment with a Whale Watching Tour, followed by a trip to the Blue Lagoon, because it is that good.

Reykjavik

What trip to any country is complete without a tour of its capital city? Iceland is no exception. Reykjavík city, also known, as “smoky bay”, is the world’s northernmost capital and is full of life at any time of the year! In order to get the most out of the city, we recommend taking the Reykjavik Sightseeing Tour. This tour is a detailed and comprehensive introduction to Reykjavik’s past and present and includes visits to the main landmarks.

Landmannalauger

Landmannalaugar blog

Lastly, explore the thrilling Wonders of Landmannalaugar on your trip to Iceland. Even in a country known worldwide for its beautiful scenery, the landscapes of Landmannalaugar are in a class of their own with the waterfalls, warm natural pools, and active volcanoes dotting the landscapes. Whether you are an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or a combination of the two, this is the tour for you!

Although Iceland is a fantastic country to visit year-round, there is no doubting that the weather in the summer provides a more pleasant atmosphere to enjoy all of the beauties offered to visitors by the natural landscapes that cover Iceland. Get going!

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Greece – An Enchanting Palette

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Greece is like a painter’s palette with (to my mind) two primary colours – astounding natural beauty and four thousand years of history. Mix and blend these two and you get an incredible rainbow of idyllic landscapes, a sophisticated yet languorous culture, artistic and architectural treasures, superb food, great wines and a warm friendly people.

Greece is the oldest tourist destination and has been since before the rise of Rome. It still remains one of the world’s most popular travel destinations.

Natural Features

Broadly speaking Greece consists of the mountainous mainland and thousands of islands.

The Mainland

Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous. Mytikas (9,570 feet) is the highest peak and also the location of the mythical Mount Olympus – home of the Greek Gods. The northern mainland portion is defined by majestic mountains and abundant forests. The central and southern region has vast distinctive wine-producing valleys and olive orchards. Not commonly known is that Greece has some of the best skiing slopes in Europe. The rugged landscape also offers great hiking and rafting opportunities.

The Islands

If ever the colour blue was considered an invention, then the waters around its islands would surely be the place it was created. At last count, there were between 1,200 and 6,000 islands in the Greek archipelagos. The number depends on how you describe an island because many are just rocks thrusting straight out of the water. That aside, 227 of the isles are inhabited with Crete being the largest followed by Euboea, Rhodes and Lesbos.

The Greek islands comprise of seven groupings – the Peloponnese, the Argo-Saronic Islands, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the East and North Aegean, the Sporades and Évvia, the Ionian Islands – and Crete. Whatever their location or size, the islands are epitomized by clear blue waters, dazzling white sandy beaches and idyllic villages.

The Cities

Greek cities are widely disparate. Each one is uniquely different from the other. Athens, sophisticated, modern yet firmly rooted in its magnificent past. The mother of western civilization, it is a treasure house. The Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus are still its dominant landmarks.

Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest metropolis, in the north, is crammed with Byzantine monuments while elegant Corfu is reminiscent of Venice. Rhodes is renowned for the Colossus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The city is now home to the best preserved medieval town in Europe, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Culture

Four millennia of history and legend have made Greece a delectable melting pot. Starting from the Minoans, Romans, Arabs, Latin Crusaders, Venetians, Slavs, Albanians and the Turks, all have left their mark, and almost every town or village has a link to the past. The Greek experience is also about food, which is fresh, uncomplicated, simple and fulfilling just like the warm, genuine and welcoming people.

Festivals

Greece may not be as famous as some other countries for festivals but happily you will never lack one on your visit. Greek festivals are religious based and the largest one is Easter, which does not coincide with the rest of the Christian world. The Good Friday, Saturday night vigil, climaxed by a glorious midnight mass is memorable for the beautiful and moving rituals. If you find yourself in a small town or village the people will warmly include you in the days of feasting and celebration that follow.

Another reason for festivities (paniyíria) is when towns or villages celebrate the local patron saint. There is plenty of music, dancing and drinking that accompany these celebrations. With 330 in the Greek saintly pantheon, the chances of you getting to participate or witness such a happy event are really good.

Weather

Even with the weather, the Gods played favourites and gave Greece the balmiest and gentlest of climates. When exploring the islands, the best time to visit Greece is from mid-to-late May up to the end of August. Though, it is still excellent during September. May is perhaps the best time to visit the Peloponnese and Cyclades islands but the waters will be rather cool.

The northern mountains are usually covered with snow by early November and lasts till May. The long winter makes for great snow sports and skiing conditions.

Off season travel services and facilities are reduced but fear not for you will find at least a couple of hotels and taverns open in any but the smallest town.

Greece will surprise and you are bound to discover something terrific in this land of incredible historic sites, gorgeous beaches and imposing mountains.

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What’s New On isango! In July

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With things picking up nicely on the travel front, now that summer is well and truly here, isango! has introduced some really interesting activities and tours to make your vacation outstanding.

Thames Jetboat Cruise

Thames Jet

When you are done with seeing the sights around London you can get your rush on by getting on a Jetboat and zooming on the Thames a la James Bond.  Up tempo music blasting out of the sound system will accompany you as the boat skims across the Thames.  You will get a unique perspective of London as you roar past The Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.  At 35 knots not only will your hair be flying, so will your heart.

Oxford & Downton Abbey Tour

Downton Abbey1

A visit to Oxford, the world’s second oldest university is a must.  The “city of dreaming spires” is famed for its academic excellence.  Oxford is also celebrated for the architecture of its beautiful buildings.  There are examples of every English architectural period dating back to the Saxons.

The added flavour to this tour is a trip to a Downton Abbey filming locations.  For Downton Abbey addicts, there is an exciting visit to the village and the elegant home used as the fictional Grantham House that features so prominently in the Christmas Special of the TV-series.

Barcelona On A Segway

Barcelona Segway

You are going to love this!  Barcelona is a large city and many of its iconic sites are quite spread out.  So to save you from tramping around in the warm Barcelona sun, now you can zip around on a soundless, smooth-running Segway.  The tour is designed for small intimate groups.  You can visit some of the instantly recognizable landmarks of this wonderful city.  Some highlights of the tour include the Arc Triomf, Passeig Luis Companys, the wonderful park and zoo of La Ciutadella Parc and the statue of Christopher Columbus.

Dubai Aquarium And Underwater Zoo

Dubai underwater zoo n aquarium

In the heart of Dubai, you will find a fascinating and interactive underwater world.  The Dubai Aquarium is located in the centre of Dubai Mall, the world’s largest.  There is a 48 metre long tunnel that runs under the aquarium and gives you a view of the wonderful aquatic creatures swimming all around.

The Underwater Zoo is marvelously designed so that you can interact with creatures as diverse as Otters and Penguins.  You can also observe, up close, such exotic ones as Piranhas and Scorpions and Giant Camel Spiders.  The zoo is divided into different ecological zones that give you a perspective of the creatures’ habitats.

The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil – Vegas Show

Beatles

The Mirage, Las Vegas has custom built a theater for this show.  The unforgettable music and lyrics of the legendary Fab Four is combined by the incredible acrobatics and interpretive freestyle dance of the Cirque du Soleil.  Using over 6,000 speakers and 24 digital projectors, the show is a powerful experience and entertainment at its very best.

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4 Fine Wine Producing Regions of Italy

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Wine drinking in Italy is an essential way of life. One of the world’s oldest wine producing countries, Italy also produces the largest volume and widest variety of universally popular wines in the world. That status rests squarely on its quality and diversity.

While proof is always in the tasting, here are our picks from among, literally, hundreds of varieties.

Piedmont
This red wine is a product of the wine growing Piedmont region. Beautiful Turin is its capital. Pliny the Elder praised the superb quality of wine produced here. In Italian, nebbia means “fog.” Grape harvesting happens in mid to late October in the foggy season. It could also be because the grape develops a milky covering.

Piedmont

Nebbiolo is a light red wine, highly tannic and famously “tar and rose” scented. It requires several years of aging and is often blended to reduce the strong tannins. The grape does not grow well in other wine growing areas; it requires good drainage and a long growing sub-Alpine climate. These, among other requirements, make the region’s wines unique and a star in Italy’s wine heritage.

Chianti
Chianti comes from the lovely central Italian region of Tuscany. Its vineyards and olive groves with scattered stone villages are iconic of the Italian landscape.

Produced since the 13th century, Chianti is Italy’s most famous wine. It is forever associated with the “Chianti Mountains” and villages near Florence. Today the Chianti wine making region covers the provinces of Prato, Florence, Arezzo, Pistoia, Pisa and Siena.

Chianti

Chianti has gone through many changes in its recipe. The wine we know today is the creation of Barone Ricasoli in the late 19th century. The characteristics of the wine are its red, black and cherry colour; mint, spice floral, nutty, various wild herbs aromas and mellow tannins. Generally speaking Chianti is any Sangiovese-based wine and has three very broad classes – classico, superior and super Tuscans. The minimum aging period for Chianti is four months with some prized classes aged up to 38 months.

Trentino
Trentino-Alto Adige is a wine-producing province in north Italy, with the Dolomite Mountains as a backdrop. The mountains and other geographical features provide a climate ideal for good quality grapes producing dry and sparkling wines and popular reds.

grapes

Trentino produces plenty of grappa, a traditional home-made Italian drink. It is derived from the left-over seeds and skins used to make wine. However, it is most famous for several other wine varieties.

The two regions produce wines that reflect its dual German-Italian heritage. Alto-Adige produces Italy’s finest white wines. Here Muller-Thurgau, Rieslings Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Lagrein, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris dominate. Two native red grapes – Teroldego Rotoliano and Marzemino – are the source for two of Italy’s most famous red wines: Carbernet/Merlot and Trentino Rosso.

Frascati
A mere 25 kms south of Rome in the Lazio region is the ancient, red-tiled roof hamlet of Frascati. This town and its surrounding volcanic-soil hills are forever bound to Rome and the rope is wine! Archaeological research shows wine was produced here as far back as 500 BC – and earlier! The soil is porous, well-drained and rich in potassium. That combination produces large harvests and quantities of wine, all of which has been eagerly lapped up by ordinary Romans, emperors and popes.

Frascati

Frascati is probably the most famous Italian wine. It is a dry and white wine that comes in two forms – still and sparkling. Two blends form the core of Frascati wines – Trebbiano and Malvasia. The Malvasia is fruity and citrus flavoured while the Trebbiano has a flowery aroma without much flavour. Frascati is inexpensive, which has made it a very popular tavern and cafe tipple.

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5 Fantastic Pop Culture Tours Of London

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With iconic sights like the Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, travelers visiting London often pack their entire trips with popular sights before they even arrive. But London isn’t just the city of unflinching guards, crown jewels, and enormous clock towers. It is the city of dueling wizards, dwindling aristocracy, and names and faces that the public will always be interested in. London is a city of pop culture, and it offers travelers a chance to interact with the stories and people they know and love through its numerous London attraction tours.

Harry Potter

Arguably the most popular of London’s pop culture attractions is its handful of Harry Potter tours. There are two different tours that allow both long-time and new fans to experience the magic that is the world of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter

Visit the bridge destroyed by death eaters in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, see the famed Platform 9 & ¾, and discover numerous other notable locations along the way on a tour of London. See the magic that lies hidden in plain sight all around London! Participants can take the Harry Potter Walking Tour of London or the Harry Potter Bus Tour of London.

On the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour, visitors can go behind scenes to view sets, props, and costumes from the record-breaking Harry Potter movies. There’s nothing quite as surreal for a fan of the series as seeing the Great Hall, Dumbledore?s office, the Ministry of Magic, and more. This Harry Potter tour includes transportation by coach to and from London.

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

The Oxford and Downton Abbey Film Locations Tour is a must-do for fans of the hit period drama series Downton Abbey. Not only will you be able to see the iconic sights from the series, but you will also explore some of the most beautiful parts of UK. This tour from London takes you on a picturesque journey to Oxford, Bampton Village, where most of the outdoor scenes have been shot, and Basildon Park, where you will see Grantham House from the Downton Abbey Christmas Special episode. This Downton Abbey tour will satisfy even the most dedicated of fans.

Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper

If you are looking for a thrill while in London, embark on the chilling Ghosts of London and Jack the Ripper Tour. This tour is great for both London locals and incoming travelers. You will get goose-bumps when you see London’s most ghostly places, visit a haunted London pub, and see where Jack the Ripper murdered his victims. After this tour, you can consider yourself bravest of all your friends, and share your chilling and exciting stories with whomever you’d like. There is no better thrilling London tour!

Celebrities of London

Sherlock

Celebrity experts and novices alike agree that London is the place to be in Europe to spot and learn about the famed and noteworthy. Where else could you tour Abbey Road, see the Sherlock Holmes museum, see celebrity homes, and take stunning pictures of film sights? Only in London! Visit the capital’s greatest celebrity homes, famous film locations, music landmarks, superstar hangouts, tourist attractions, and much more on this Celebrity Tour of London.

Doctor Who

Doctor Who

Allons-y and experience the fantastic Doctor Who Walking Tour of London. Discover over 15 locations from the show that help recount the series’ past 50 years. Follow in the Doctor’s footsteps across London, a city that he visits again and again to either save it from villains like the Daleks and Cybermen or visit any of his companions. The tour has a strong focus on the classical series before the recent reboot and is a great way to relive the days of the past or learn about the history of the series and how it grew from its beginnings to today.

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4 Unusual Things To Do In Paris

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The usual path for most visitors to Paris is the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, with the Louvre, the Champs Élysées and the Eiffel Tower in between. While these are must-see and iconic sights there are other subtle and intriguing ways to see and experience the City of Lights. Such as…

Taking a Horse and Carriage Ride through Paris
It’s an absolutely regal experience! You feel like royalty riding in the beautiful polished open wooden carriage driven by a top-hatted, liveried guide handling the reins. The sound of the horse’s hooves clip-clopping along the streets of central Paris; people stopping to wave and photograph you along the way will transport you to a different world.

Horse Carriage Tour in Paris

That world is filled with the wonderful landmarks like the imposing Eiffel Tower and the grand and wonderful bridges of Pont Alexandre III and Pont de l’Alma. As you traverse the Avenue Montaigne and slowly ride past the Petit and Grand Palais’ and through the Champs de Mars you cannot help but feel a special affection for Paris!

The romanticism is heightened with a warm blanket covering your knees and a glass of bubbly champagne in your hand.

Taking a Wine Tasting Tour
Wine and Paris go together like bread and butter. Taking a wine tasting tour through this city combines two wonderful experiences – wine and unseen Paris. You will get an intimate feel that most visitors miss. Paris’ many bistros date back a long, long time and some of them are iconic. These traditional drinking and social gathering places with their tiled floors, wooden chairs, and old black and white photos on the wall will give a strong taste of what the real Paris is like.

Wine tasting

You lose your sense of time in the atmosphere in these surroundings. You almost feel history being played out when you walk past the Pantheon, or the 12th century Church of Saint Medard or the Church of Sainte Geneviève and its lovely stained glass windows. The wine and history are a heady combination!

Taking a Revolutionary Tour – Vive la Republic!
Paris, we all know, witnessed the creation of the modern ideal of government by the people. The birthing of these revolutionary concepts was long, often violent and bloody but led to significant and permanent changes in the world.

As you walk past the monuments and sites associated with the revolutionary period and the establishment of the Republics you cannot help but imagine those terrifying nights. The imposing Hotel Les Invalides, ransacked by the revolutionaries for guns and ammunition, which they then used to storm the Bastille, a symbol of oppression. The Conciergerie, Tuileries Palace and the Place de la Concorde will forever be connected with the beheadings of Marie Antointte, King Louis XVII and more than 2,000 others.

Paris at night

The most important site of all, of course, is the Assemblée Nationale, where the revolutionary parliament first held their deliberations and governed France.

Shopping For Antiques
You cannot come to Paris and leave without mementoes of your visit. Sadly most people end up buying cheap knock-offs of Eiffel Tower replicas and other touristy knick-knacks. What you should really do is check out the marvellous flea markets around Paris. The largest and most famous flea market in the world is the Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. It is also the world’s largest antique market.

Antiques

They are a shoppers’ and collectors’ paradise. You are very likely to pick up great bargains in antique furniture, art, decorative pieces, architectural elements, porcelain, vintage clothing, jewellery, bizarre items or anything else you can imagine. Or a treasure!

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5 Popular Backpacking Destinations For 2014

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With summer 2014 arriving to most of the globe it is time to pull out the knapsack, check the atlas and plan where in the world you will be spending your vacation.

We present to you, our picks for the top 5 destinations for backpacking around the world-

India
India is a really huge country.  With the world’s largest rail system and a vast road network (sometimes bumpy), getting around is not too difficult.  Accommodation, food and transportation are inexpensive.  Choosing where to go is a challenge.  You have the spectacular sandy beaches of Goa and Kerala; the sky scraping, snow-capped Himalayas; the thick forests of Central India and the Ghats; the deserts of Rajasthan and Ladakh.  The ancient cities of Delhi, Varanasi and Puri along with the forts and palaces of Rajasthan will vie for your attention.

Backpacking in India

India has a history and tradition of backpacking going back to the flower power era of the 1960s.

Thailand
Thailand is an exotic and exciting place to explore, especially for the novice backpacker.  On offer are hundreds of miles of pristine sand beaches, lush jungles populated with dazzling creatures, amazingly friendly and helpful locals and fantastic food.  The country’s culture has survived the onslaught of tourism and modernity.  There are still many quiet places where you can chill.  The place is crammed with amazing temples and exciting markets.  Transportation is cheap and the street food very safe.

The country is a well-trodden backpacker destination.  Backpacking Thailand is relatively easy, still inexpensive with amazing deals on offer – just bargain.  It also has a legendary nightlife.

Australia
Australia offers fantastic beauty and adventure.  It’s a very large (we’re talking continent-sized here) country and travel can be a challenge but worth the effort.  The geography ranges from the vast trackless outback, to the incredible Great Barrier Reef.  You can snowboard and ski within a few hours of a sun-kissed sandy beach.  There are strangely named picturesque small towns and very modern and fascinating cities.  You can trek through ancient rainforests or camel-trek the arid and startling Northern Territory.

Australia has a very competitive and inexpensive budget accommodation market where you can get good deals.  The rail network is not extensive and generally hugs the coast.  The best way to get around the country is by road but be prepared for long rides because most journeys take 10 to 20 hours.  You can save a lot of money by buying bus passes.

Indonesia
Indonesia is comprised of thousands of islands, most of which are uninhabited.  It is a really huge country and you will have to pick what all you wish to see. Most of the population is concentrated on Java and around the capital, Jakarta.   Once you get away from Jakarta you will find yourself in vast jungles, with ancient temples, mysterious lakes and hot springs.  There are lively and fiery volcanoes, stunning beaches and some of the best surfing.  The cities of Bogor, Bandung and Yogyakarta have to be visited to be believed.  Then of course, there is Bali and its gorgeous Hindu culture.

Backpacking

Travel is relatively inexpensive but can be a challenge.  The warm, friendly and hospitable people, the food and fantastic countryside will more than compensate for any difficulties you may have.

Brazil
This huge country is a wonder world filled with amazing sights.  It is blessed with naturally varied and rich landscape with thousands of miles of beaches and humungous tracts of rainforests fed by great rivers including the mighty Amazon.  This vast land has incredibly diverse climatic and cultural conditions.  The vibrant hedonistic cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador are legendary for their party atmosphere and nightlife.

The main mode of getting around Brazil is by bus.  The buses are generally excellent and services frequent and good.

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