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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 ‘Sightseeing & Culture’

Brits ‘looking for cheap and cheerful holidays’

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British consumers will be looking for "cheap and cheerful" holiday tours this year as cost becomes the main factor in people’s travel choices, according to a new survey.

Some 16 per cent of the respondents to a poll by American Express said that affordability will be their main consideration as they plan their holiday activities for 2009.

More than one in ten (13 per cent) said that the fall in value of the pound against the euro will prompt them to consider destinations outside the continent this year.

For 11 per cent of the people surveyed, good weather was the priority as a result of the freezing temperatures that Britain has endured this winter.

American Express spokesman Chris Rolland said: "Clearly Britons are feeling the strain in the UK at the moment – finances are stretched, jobs are scarce and morale is low. People are understandably keen to get away on a much-needed holiday."

A report released by the Association of British Travel Agents and the Foreign Office at the end of 2008 predicted that destinations such as Egypt, Turkey and Mexico could be popular this year as holidaymakers venture outside the eurozone.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19056595-ADNFCR

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Jack the Ripper Tour in London: a great dark, cold and rainy night

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When is the perfect time to go on a Jack the Ripper tour in London? In a dark, cold, awfully rainy night, of course! This is the extreme weather we found when trying out the Jack the Ripper tour by Premium Tours, on Sunday evening. The tour started perfectly on time at 5.40 pm at the Grosvenor Victoria Hotel. We were a total of 8 people – not a small number considering the season and especially the rain! We know that during summer the group can grow as big as 40.jack the ripper tour spitafields

As usual, it’s the guide who makes the quality of the tour. We were lucky: Derrick, our guide (not the inspector! ;) was quite perfect: a perfectly radiophonic voice, low-pitched and clear, a good rhythm, a vivid narration full of macabre and scary details, and some always-working jokes. Besides that, he was attentive to the group needs, careful not to leave us too much out in the rain and adjusting the walking tour accordingly. continue reading

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There is more than the Louvre – other 20 Paris museums

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Paris is a world capital of culture and history so it’s normal to find a wealth of museums there. But if you think Paris museum, you’ll immediately think Louvre. True. What an amazing place: unmissable. But for once, let’s spread the word about everything else. If you have time for a second museum, you’re facing a very tough choice.

We have shortlisted here 20 other Paris museums that we believe are worth checking out (there are actually more than 100 museums in Paris). Many Paris museums are named after their founder or after the street where they are located, so you can’t just guess from the name…

Note: the Paris Sightseeing Pass grants free access to many Paris museums, and it grants “skip the line” privilege.

ART AND HISTORY MUSEUMS

Orangerie museum – Located in the Louvre gardens, this Paris museum exposes masterpieces from Renoir, Cezanne, Picasso, Monet and Matisse.  A modern display area was opened in 2006 to illuminate the paintings with natural light (yet indoor).

Musée d’Orsay – Mostly focused on 19th century, this Paris museum hosts impressionist painting and photography. The building itself (a former train station) is an immense glass hall worth the visit.

Centre Pompidou – probably the 2nd most recognizable building in Paris after the Eiffel tower, this museum of modern and contemporary arts is an artwork in itself. Boasts the largest modern art collection in Europe, with (as we write) 62229 works from Kandinsky, Giacometti, Man Ray, Chagall, Matisse, Picasso and 5528 other artists.

Picasso museum – Dedicated to the Spanish master, this Paris museum displays a large collection of paintings, sculptures and other forms of creativity from all periods of Picasso’s life.

Musée Rodin- This Paris museum is entirely focused on the life and work of Auguste Rodin, a French sculptor mostly known abroad for “The Thinker” and “The Kiss” statues. The museum has one of the most romantic gardens where the sculptures are displayed.

Palais de Tokyo- Nothing to do with Japan a part the name, this is a creative art lab for contemporary artists finding new ways of expression while mixing gendres and techniques. Always different artists on display, as well as special events and an uber-cool bar and restaurant.

Carnavalet museum – This Paris museum displays furniture from the Renaissance and other key periods of Paris’s history. Not to miss: the keys of the Bastille fortress symbol of the French Revolution of 1789.

Cité de la Musique – Extensive display of anything that has ever been built to produce music and sound, this is an interactive exhibition often enriched by concerts, musical shows for children and live workshops.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MUSEUMS

Arts et Métiers museum- Literally, “the museum of arts and works” is an amazing collection of scientific and industrial discoveries. From early airplanes and cars, to the very own tools used by the first chemist (Lavoisier and all), to the first personal computer and memories, the first Baudot telegraph, Bell’s telephone, watches, photography, raw materials… all hosted in a magnificent monastery from the 11th century. This Paris museum is dubbed “the Louvre of science”.

Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle – This place is so well known in Paris that it’s just nicknamed “The Museum”. Its roots date back to 350 years ago when monks started collecting and studying plants and animals of all species. Today, thousands of stuffed specimen are assembled in a majestic display telling the story of animal evolution. Unknown to most tourists, the world’s oldest animal park – or zoo – is still in operation here, ask for the “Ménagerie”.

Palais de la Decouverte – More than a museum this is an interactive exhibition center focused on scientific education. New themes and topics are continuously addressed through conferences and real scientific experiences being run on site.

WORLD CULTURE MUSEUMS

Musée du Quai Branly – The name doesn’t mean anything else than its address, but this is the latest addition to the “big” Paris museums. Opened in 2006, it is dedicated to ancestral arts from Oceania, Africa, Asia and Americas. Next door to the Eiffel Tower.

Institut du Monde Arabe -Also known as “IMA”, this organization is dedicated to Arabian cultures and has been setup in cooperation between France and 22 Arabian countries. Around a museum spanning history from pre-islamic to arabian-muslim civilizations, there are temporary exhibition, movies, language centers, and an immense library.

Musée Guimet – The museum of Asian arts, displays artworks from south-east Asia, China, Korea, Japan and India.

SPECIAL INTEREST MUSEUMS

Opera Museum- Not well known, located within the Opera Garnier, this Paris museum displays sceneries, costumes, booklets and jewelry used in opera performances, same dating back to 300 years ago.

Cinematheque- This movie library is home to 40000 movies and a nice collections of memorabilia costumes and sceneries. But the highlight is the building itself – a Gehry new-classical-cubist building reworked to fit 4 movie theaters.

Immigration museum – Quite an unusual idea, this museum is a place made to remember the life of immigrants across centuries. It is a showcase of hope, dream, courage, creativity and sorrow.

Galerie des Gobelins – Formerly the manufacturer of France’s royal tapestries, it has now turned into a museum displaying antique tapestries and furnitures. A must if you’re into tapestries.

Musée du fumeur- The smokers’s museum… a surprising Paris museum where you can find, unsurprisingly, cigarettes, cigars, pipes and other smoking gadgets.

Musée Galliera -The fashion museum, displaying haute couture and accessories from the most famous French fashion designers. The themes and collections change very often to prevent fabrics deterioration.

As mentioned, there are so many other museums in Paris. Which ones do you suggest as worth mentioning in our future post for the next 20 museums?

Daniele

[This post has been syndicated from the isango! Travel Blog]

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History, Humour and Horrors at the London Bridge Experience

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I’m a real scaredy cat – the one who hid behind the sofa during Dr Who and still buries her head in a cushion when creepy music comes on TV. So, when my grandson Josh said he wanted to visit the London Bridge Experience for his 13th birthday, my heart sank.

The London Bridge Experience is a new attraction but I’d heard it involved a trip into medieval burial grounds and a fair dollop of horror. But a birthday promise is a promise and off we went. “Bet you scream,” said my husband, who still bears scars from the time I dug my fingers into his arm during ‘Jurassic Park’. continue reading

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A feast of art in Mallorca

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A stunning collection of art is currently the subject of an exhibition in the CCA Andratx in Mallorca.

The Art Foundation Mallorca Collection has kicked off the season in the CCA and will run until March 1st.

Curators involved in the project include Barry Schwabsky and Friederike Nymphius, as well as Patricia Asbaek, who is also the director of the Kunsthalle.

The three have attempted to make the Art Foundation Mallorca one of the top collections in the world, pooling their knowledge and skills to bring in a host of contemporary art from across the world.

This collection now has a real eclectic flavour, with both established and upcoming artists represented in abundance.

Some of the artists involved include Jim Drain, Gerold Miller, Markus Oehlen and Carsten Fock, and with more than 50 works there may well be the need for a return visit.

In terms of disciplines, photography, ceramics and sculpture will all be featured.

Why not book the La Granja on your own tour in advance?
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Picasso comes alive in Barcelona

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The legendary 20th century artist Pablo Picasso spent much of his life in the city of Barcelona and indeed much of his earliest work is displayed in the city’s Museu Picasso.

However, a special event is currently running at the museum, called Living Things: Figures and Still Life in Picasso.

This exhibition focuses on how the artist created relationships between figures and objects, and uses around 60 of his pieces to display this.

Works on show at Living Things include everything from sketches to paintings and drawings to engravings.

Picasso’s family moved to Barcelona when he was a teenager in the late 19th century and thought of the city as his real home, according to some biographers.

In the early part of the last century, he mainly divided his time between the Catalan city and Paris, and it was in Mougins, France that he died on April 8th 1973.

During his lifetime, Picasso created thousands of works, with some estimates placing the number around 50,000.

Why not book the Montserrat & Cavas Trail tour before you travel?
ADNFCR-1652-ID-19000743-ADNFCR

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Holy Week on Mallorca

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Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is one of the most important and widely-practiced holy festivals in the country of Spain, including on the island of Mallorca.

During this week in March, the events surrounding the passion of the Christ are recalled.

Palm Sunday marks the start of the week, when people flock to the island’s churches to be blessed with palms and olive branches.

However, in the evening, this solemn and centuries-old practice gives way to colourful parades marching through the streets, as people celebrate Holy Week.

Then, on Maundy Thursday, a more sombre procession occurs, named La Sang.

During this time, the crucified Jesus Christ is represented and is carried through the streets, in an effort to symbolise what the time of Easter and the religion of Christianity mean.

Visitors to Mallorca during this time will have an excellent chance to see a traditional festival, as well as what Mallorca is really like away from the tourist areas.

Why not book the Caves of Drach (South) tour in advance?
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The passion of Barcelona at the Nou Camp

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The people of Barcelona have a love of football and the city’s biggest club is on course to break all sorts of records this season.

With the front three pairing of Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry, Barcelona have swept all before them and are on course to score more points in a Spanish season than any team before them.

However, the Champions League is seen by many as the biggest prize in club football and French side Lyon stand in Barcelona’s way in the last-16 stage of the competition.

Lyon have dominated French football for the best part of a decade but few would bet on them to upset the Barcelona steamroller.

The first leg is played in France but the second, deciding fixture will be in Barcelona’s awe-inspiring Nou Camp on March 11th at 19:45 GMT.

This is an excellent chance to not only see some of the best football on the planet, but also to sample native Barcelonans at their most passionate.

Why not book the Bus Turistic – Ticket in advance?
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Classical music comes to the Canaries

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Holidaymakers who want to escape somewhere warm but with a heavy splash of high-brow culture should consider the Canary Islands this winter.

The Canary Islands Music Festival, running until February 16th, brings together some of the finest classical music in the world.

Each concert takes place in both the Tenerife Auditorium in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Los Palmas’ Auditorio Alfredo Kraus on Gran Canaria.

Some of the highlights include Christoph Eschenbach and the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Schubert symphonies on January 29th and 31st, while Michael Gielen along with the Baden Baden and Freiburg SWR Orchestra will tackle Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4 on January 28th and 31st.

Other big names which will be performing include Santa Cecilia Orchestra from Rome and Martha Argerich playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto Number 1.

The Canary Islands Music Festival began in 1985, the 300th anniversary of Bach, Handel and Scarlatti’s birth.

Over the past 25 years it has grown in popularity and is now looked forward to by both performers and spectators.

Why not book the Survival Tour in advance?
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18982817-ADNFCR

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“Where the hell is Matt” is not a hoax

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Er…? OK, for everyone’s background, Matt Harding is a guy who admits being much better at travelling rather than coding video games. He’s been traveling around the world for a few years and, everytime, shooting short videos of himself dancing in front of landmark attractions such as the Eiffel Tower or the Lion of Singapore, from Rome to Delhi, San Francisco or Sydney and hundreds of other cities.

The videos are fun and inspiring for anyone who likes travel and cultures. They can easily be found on YouTube or Google. The latest version from 2008 is an “innovation” as Matt has been inviting locals to dance with him. continue reading

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