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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’

Traveller Tip: Santorini-Greece

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Some people just live a magical life… Shivi Singh is currently travelling the world and has given us the following report from her 11th stop: Santorini.santorini-by-shivi-singh

Santorini is magical, it has spectacular views, romantic spots, fun recreational spots, it has history and adventure, its all in one, you can not get bored there! We went on a sail boat tour to see the volcano and the hot springs which we swam in; that was interesting because that’s the volcano that split the islands up of Santorini and is still active today.

santorini-3Santorini gets very touristy in summer. The people are friendly and you can never get lost or be short of information. Everyone is willing to help. I loved Santorini I would come back any day! The views all around the islands are just indescribable magical, the views up on the cliffs are beautiful and the sunsets in Oia are a dream.santorini-2

The other side of the islands has beaches and each beach has its own beauty: there is a black sand beach and a red beach, which has red rocks surrounding it. They are coloured that way because of the volcanic rocks and formations. Lastly, there is a white beach which has white pebbles instead of sand.

In short, Santorini is magnificent and a must see for all age groups!

Visit Shivi’s Santorini and take in all the splendour of the island with a cruise in the Santorini sunset.

Shivi receives an isango! gift-voucher for her tip – For a chance to receive a voucher, send us your Travel Tip at competition@isango.com with Travel Tip in the subject line.

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Famous people vs. famous places

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Has your child gone to school this week and brought back friends with exotic names? Recently it seemed a trend among celebs to name their children after places, think David and Victoria’s son Brooklyn or Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger’s daughter Ireland, and Brad and Angie’s gorgeous Zahara. (Yes, we know the desert starts with an S – still.)
However recent these fashion-names may seem, we reckon there are more grown-ups who share their name with a place or city.  Did you know that Elizabeth ( in New Jersey), Helena ( Montana) and Charlotte (in North Carolina) are names of cities too? They say your name influences your personality so see if these celebrities have something in common with their name-sakes.

Victoria Beckham vs. Victoria (Australia)
victoria2Victoria Beckham, mother-of-four, former Spice Girl turned designer and married to one of the most eligible man in football. She once tongue in cheek said: “I like a man who can be a real friend, has a good sense of humor, a good pair of shoes and a healthy gold card.

Victoria is also the smallest, most densely populated state of Australia. Historically people travelled there to dig for gold and hoped for a fortune. Nowadays the state still has rugged landscape, scenic coastline but also modern thriving cities. Melbourne is the most popular and a tour will shows any visitor array of restaurants, culture and entertainment.

Florence and the Machine vs.
Florence (Italy)
florence2Florence Welsh is the front-woman of this Grammy nominated band with hits like Rabbit Heart and You’ve Got The Love.  Florence’s mother is a Harvard-educated professor of Renaissance studies.

Florence in Italy calls itself the birthplace of the Renaissance. Its entire city centre is acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Famous sites are the Galleria dell’ Academia and the Uffizi Gallery where a multitude of Renaissance paintings and sculptures are displayed.

Paris Hilton vs. Paris (France)paris2
Paris Hilton is great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton of the Hilton hotel chain. Fashionista, reality tv star and business woman, this lady might have inherited wealth, in June this year Variety dubbed the heiress The Billion Dollar Entrepreneur with more than 4.1 million Twitter followers and nose for what products consumers want.

Paris France, is a classy classic city: the city of love has always been a home for fashionistas. What is not to love about Paris. From Montmartre, Versailles and the Louvre, the capital city of France offers a plethora of culture and entertainment.Treat yourselves with dinner during lovely cruise on the Seine and afterwards enjoy some cheeky entertainment with tickets for The Moulin Rouge.

Orlando Bloom vs Orlando (US)orlando2
Orlando Bloom rolled straight from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama into one of the biggest cinematic trilogies: playing Legolas in the Lord of The Rings. Since then the actor’s been in hot demand and took on another trilogy this time as Will Turner in Disney’s Pirates of the Carribean.

The city Orlando is situated in central Florida and the fifth largest city of the state.  It’s almost synonym with the theme parks that are build here: Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando® Resort, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. These parks ensure children will have the time of their lives in the sunny state but it can all add up, so find a good deal and get the best Orlando tickets.

Photo credits Flickr: Victoria- Friskytuna/Mark Sombillo; Florence- JessicaSarahS/ Kevin Poh; Paris- Alex CD/Moyan Brenn; Orlando Schneewante/LOT

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Traveller Tip: The Forum in Rome

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rome-august-2011-154I went to Rome last week and The Forum was so amazing – was just like actually being in Ancient Rome.  There is an amazing view as you enter through Arch of Titus – it just leaves you standing in awe.  Although the buildings are ruins,  the site is so much more than a few bricks on the ground: it fees like you can actually see where the Roman’s lived.  It is astonishing how all this has survived. It feels like the ancient Romans just left it one day:  you almost expect to see a Roman walking through, just going about their day!  It is great just to sit and imagine what it was like. There is not much written information, so to visit with (an audio) guide is good: they will tell you the stories as you wonder around. – Victoria Badger

Discover the Forum in Rome for yourself and skip the queues by booking a tour in Rome ahead.

Victoria receives an isango! gift-voucher for her tip – For a chance to receive a voucher, send us your Travel Tip at competition@isango.com with Travel Tip in the subject line.

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The Secret Bike Tour

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Last week Team isango!’s  Guiomar went on a bike tour through London. She survived (hoorah!) and here is her report…

Guiomar and sister
“Taking advantage of the good weather in London that Friday, we decided to go a bike tour. The guide recommended us to take the afternoon-tour, the one called: Secret Bike Tour. It was a really great choice! We rode the bikes mostly around East London, in a group of six people plus the guide. At first you think that maybe it is hard to ride a bike around a big city like London, but the truth is that London is a well-prepared city with bike lanes and the drivers are accustomed to bicycles.

We started our tour towards the City of London, where we could listen to stories about the Bank of England or the shopping centre close to it nowadays. For example: there are so many rooms on the ground floor of the Bank of England, that if you put them one on top of the other forming a tower it could be one of the highest buildings in England.
gherkin

Continuing our way, we could visit The Leadenhall Market where Harry Potter did his shopping in the famous movies. We passed through the Bangladesh Area, Jack the Ripper mystery birth quarter (or not- as you will discover) and Bridget Jones’ home… After a 15minute rest, we returned to the riverside. We discovered secret canals, even the one where a James Bond persecution was filmed!

london-eyeOne of the greatest highlights was visiting Borough Market: London’s oldest food market. It was a real pleasure to pass through it by bike, smelling and delighting in all what is sold there. We crossed the Tower Bridge, City Hall, the London Eye and Shakespeare’s Globe. We could see where the old theatre was placed at first, before the great fire that destroyed it: there is an old wall of the ancient theatre remaining.

the-guideAfter four nice hours of tour, we arrived to our final destination, the ‘Banksy Tunnel’ on Leake Street, where you can have a free Graffiti Class every Saturday morning! In conclusion, we had a really great time: we found the stories told by Chris, our excellent guide, very interesting. In fact, I have already recommended all of my friends to do this tour! It’s a really good way to get to know London and not only see the typical touristic attractions.”

lady-on-bikegrafittiFor an alternative way to discover London, go on  The Secret Bike Tour that Guiomar enjoyed.

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Sunny European Get Aways.

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It’s official as Metro reported that UK’s summer 2011 is the coldest since 1998. The Met Office has concluded that the average temperature this summer was a mere 14C .  The report called the British summer ‘somewhat pitiful’… Hmmm, we can think of a stronger synonym or two for this appalling weather! So search for the sun elsewhere as September is looming and summer is officially at an end. Here are our suggestions to get your portion of Vitamine D in Europe.

by Flickr - Moyan Brenn

Rome, Italy. Temperature: 29C

Friends have recently returned from Rome describing it as epic but hot! (Perhaps this should be: epic and hot.) In any case Rome does tick the sun box as well as all the culture boxes. You can see ruins of the old Roman Empire, the Coliseum, the Forum and Palatine Hill. Admire the riches of the Baroque movement in Bernini’s architectural work at the Piazza San Pietro, his sculptures and a mix of both the Fountain of the Four Rivers at the Piazza Navona. Book for the Vatican and skip the line: walk through the Papal post and its surroundings and view the world famous works of painter Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel.

by Flick- Justin Knabb.

Cote d’Azur, south France. Temperature: 25C

Madonna was spotted jet skiing there and the French Riviera has always had it’s attraction for celebrities as Cannes, where the famous film festival is held, is conveniently located there. One of the most popular destinations is Nice, the capital of the Cote d’Azur.  It has 15 private and 22 well-kept public beaches for you to lie on and top up that tan.Speaking of which, you could also visit the seaside resort of  St Tropez. We offer a wine-tasting tour from Nice, we bring you to the lovely village of Port Grimaud and St Tropez. On the way back you make a stop for a wine tasting session. Sun, beach and wine: who could wish for more?

by Flickr - Wendjie Zhang

Seville, Spain. Temperature: 25C

How do you think the Seville oranges get their colour?  Seville in southern Spain is the crown of Andelucia. Relax, while walking through the city admiring the architecture. Their famous Gothic Cathedral was a former mosque and the largest Gothic building in Europe. After some sightseeing, enjoy some local tapas and visit a flamenco show in the evening all while on tour in Seville.

Photos by Flickr: Rome by Moyan Brenn/ Nice by Justin Knabb/ Seville by Wendjie Zhang

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Win Prizes With Your Traveltips!

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screen-shot-2011-08-25-at-153948

Where in the world did you…

…eat the most scrumptious pancakes?
…admire the most gorgeous view?
…have the most thrilling ride?
…discover the best place to swim?
…drink the tastiest pint?

screen-shot-2011-08-25-at-150116Tell us what places we cannot miss and send an email (if you can send us a picture!) to competition@isango.com with TRAVEL TIP in the subject line.

Prizes will be given for the best tips and we will place them on our blog.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

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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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Elvis Presley’s Graceland

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BE048005It’s been 34 years after Elvis Presley’s death but fans still hold candlelight vigils at the gates of his Graceland mansion to remember The King.

Elvis was born 1935, in Tupelo Mississippi to his parents Vernon and Gladys Presley. His twin-brother Jesse was still born and Elvis would remain an only child. In 1954 he signed up with Sun Records in Memphis, a label owned by Sam Phillips and deemed the birthplace of rock ‘n’roll. Self-taught producer Philips has a knack for spotting talent: he’d also sign the likes of Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. A picture of the four jamming in 1956 would later be printed as “The Million Dollar Quartet.” The unique event has recently inspired a jukebox musical Million Dollar Quartet that was sold out on Broadway and a hit in the London West End.

A mere two years after his first recording Elvis had transferred to the bigger label RCA and was on his way to become a world-star. He sold over a billion records, earned 14 Grammy nominations and acted in 33 movies.

In 1967, after an eight year courtship, Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu. Exactly nine months later their daughter Lisa Marie was born. Elvis and Priscilla in Germany when he drafted for the US Army. Remarkably this would be the only time Elvis would travel outside of the USA, despite his worldwide success.

elvis_graceland

On the eve of the 34th of anniversary of her father’s death Lisa Marie released a statement, in which she announced a new exhibition at Graceland in Spring 2012 “Elvis Through His Daughter’s Eyes”.

Elvis might have left the building but his legacy still lives on.

Discover the undisputed birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and visit Graceland and other Memphis music attractions with an audiotour and discount.

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Day Trippers – Oxford

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team-isango-oxfordIt was another sunny weekend and Team isango! went to Oxford for the day. Oxford university is world-famous, its alumni include Nobel Prize winners(e.g. Sir John Eccles) politicians (e.g PM David Cameron and former PM Tony Blair), well-known actors ( e.g. Hugh Grant and Rosamund Pike) authors (e.g Michael Palin) and the list goes on.
christchurchOne of the largest colleges of the university is Christ Church College. The college’s big hall was used for filming some scenes of the  Harry Potter franchise and you can visit the building Mon-Sat 9am- 5.30pm and Sun 2pm-5.30pm. Tickets in peak season £7.50, concessions £6.

screen-shot-2011-08-15-at-153439The city with its historic buildings is a bustling town with plenty of shops, theatres and museums to keep tourists and residents entertained.  Team isango! visited the Ashmolean museum of art and archaeology. Opening times are Tues – Sunday 10am – 6pm, Bank Holiday Monday 10am – 6pm, admission is free.

greenery-oxfordOxford also has a lot of open spaces where you can lie on the grass and look at people punt on the Cherwell or the Thames.

We had fun and we hope you enjoy the pictures!

statue-with-bag

Oxford was more touristic than I thought. The main street is full of shops and people! There were street artists and the music bands all over, which was nice too. Visiting the city is very good ’cause it is not so big and you can easily see everything. Just take a tourist map and the fun can start. The old style of the buildings make the city look like it’s from a fairy tale. It was a very nice trip! – Claudio

A visit to Oxford is an easy day out from London – if you are in a rush: take a day tour from London and see Windsor, Oxford and Stonehenge in one day.

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Europe Budget Travel Tips

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At a time of year when people are hunting for cheap flights to Europe and cringing when they see the high cost of airfare, it’s tempting to cut way back on a travel itinerary simply because of the cost. If you’re not so put off by the price of a ticket to skip your trip altogether, however, does it really make sense to get all the way to Europe only to severely limit yourself?

Europe Budget Travel

European guidebook guru Rick Steves often says that it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands on a trip but then skimp on things like the guidebook you bring, but I think the same can be said of the activities you take part in while you’re traveling, too. No, it’s not cheap to fly to Europe during the high season, and that’s especially true this year – but so long as you’re making the commitment to go, the least you can do is spend enough money so that you enjoy your trip.

The good news is that it doesn’t take a trust fund-sized fortune to enjoy a trip to Europe. There are, to be sure, less-costly places in the world to visit, but if you’ve got to see Europe there’s just no replacement. Some European destinations are cheaper than others, however – your money will go further in (for instance) Portugal or Croatia than in France or England. Even within certain countries, there are regions that are cheaper, too. In Italy, for example, the southern half of the country is often significantly cheaper than the northern half – unless it’s August and you’re vying for space on the crowded beaches.

Another area for money-saving throughout Europe is transportation. If you’re traveling in a group, you may be better off sharing the costs of a rental car. If you’ve got more time than the typical two weeks, you could save a bundle with a pass for a European coach tour. If you’re sticking to one country, find out the most common method the locals use for getting around, because that’s often the best value for your money. Going back to the Italian example, the trains have long been one of the best ways to get around the country – and although it used to be much cheaper if you bought city-to-city ticket as you traveled, you can actually save money with an Italian rail pass if your trip includes primarily high-speed trains these days. It’s a big up-front cost, but it could save you quite a bit.

Europe budgeted travel

Once you’ve settled on a destination and mapped out how you’ll save on your trip, consider picking one “splurge” activity. Perhaps it’s a lavish meal, or a hiking tour, or a guided tour of a city – whatever appeals to you most. Choosing one splurge during an otherwise frugal trip is a great way to keep from feeling like you’re skimping too much.

About the Author: Jessica Spiegel is a Portland-based travel writer for BootsnAll Travel, where she’s the resident Italy expert. She has a ridiculous fondness for Venice, and although her list of the top 10 things to do in Venice doesn’t include a gondola ride, she’d love to learn to do the traditional Venetian stand-up style of rowing instead (all the while hoping she didn’t end up in the lagoon).

photos, top to bottom, by zoetnet, Meis Beeder

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