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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’

Long Night of the Museums in Berlin

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00am On the night of August 30th, visitors to Berlin museums will be able to see exhibitions well into the wee hours as part of the 2008 Long Night of Museums.

Access to exhibitions across a selection of venues will be granted from 18:00 to 2:00.

More than 100 museums are set to take part in the event, which runs twice a year in January and August.

Visitors can purchase one ticket for the evening, which provides them with access to every museum taking part.

This year”s theme is Castles, Parks and Gardens, meaning that participating venues are required to showcase collections and exhibitions in keeping with the topic.

In addition to the permanent exhibitions, various institutions offer concerts, readings, dance and theatre shows, special tours and exotic menus to see visitors through to the early hours.

The organisers add that due to the variety of Berlin”s museums and the collections they have to offer, tourists and non-German speakers can enjoy the Long Night of Museums just as much as locals.

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

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Cyprus ”one of the most popular” tourist destinations in the world

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Cyprus'' history dates back to 7000 BCCyprus has always had a good reputation and over time the country has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, not just Europe, it has been claimed.

Marios Christodolou, a spokesperson for Love Cyprus, said that the country "is getting more and more popular as it is undergoing increasing development for tourism and special interest tourism".

He added that the island boasts 52 blue flag beaches and people visit for activities like golf, diving, nature trails, cycling and much more.

In addition, Mr Christodolou said that hotels "are of high quality catering for families, couples, party-goers and the business traveller and delegates".

According to Kypros.net, visitors enjoy driving up to Cyprus” pine-forested mountains along the southern vineyards.

Also popular are tours of the many archaeological excavations in the coutry which have laid bare ancient settlements, rich burial sites, beautiful mosaics and pottery – some of which that date back to the seventh millennia BC.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.
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Brit tourists ”getting better” at complaining

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The Abta says it is good to complain, but greviances are sometimes ridiculousBritish tourists are getting better at complaining and standing up for themselves on holiday, but some are taking it a step too far, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta).

An Abta spokesperson told the Times: "We should complain more, [because if] you don”t complain, the tour operator doesn”t get the chance to put things right", adding that some complaints were getting "ridiculous".

The newspaper lists a series of comical, often bizarre, complaints that British travellers have made in various places.

For instance, a holidaymaker in St Kitts demanded to move to another hotel after saying that she "could hear the sea waves breaking on the shore", while a customer at the Malmaison hotel in Birmingham claimed that the night-lights in his room made him think "the walk-in wardrobe was the loo".

The article concluded with an anecdote about an angry British traveller telling a waiter in Meribel in France that he should treat his customers as kings – "le client est roi" – to which the waiter replied: "But don”t you know what we did to our kings?"

Special Interest – Nightlife – From an extravagant meal to an eerie ghost walk – plenty of things to keep you entertained after the sun goes down.
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Edinburgh Fringe: Avoid the Royal Mile Madness

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“It’s so cool to be at the Fringe with a show that I’m not embarrassed about,” explained a vivacious, young college student as he ‘fliered’ me on the ‘Royal Mile’ during the opening weekend of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Edinburgh is chaos right now. I can’t imagine being a local resident, attempting to go about a daily routine. Forget it! The ‘Royal Mile’ (which is actually a series of seven streets that connect the Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood House) is swarming with enthusiastic performers and tourists at all hours of the day. Look left, and there’s a group of buskers, clowning to a semi circle of families; listen right, and it’s a booming chorus of actors, belting catchy show tunes; stand still, and three producers will simultaneously attempt to shove fliers in your face about X show, with X Y and Z special effects, which is going to have rave reviews— really, they promise!

There are hundreds of shows of all genres—from morning Shakespeare to midnight stand up—playing in venues across Edinburgh throughout the month of August. Lots of rubbish, but also, some fabulous gems. How to sift through the madness? How to know which is the best of the 3 versions of Little Shop of Horrors? Or which of the 2 performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream has the best ‘Puck’? How to gauge whether the musicals with the most off-putting, controversial titles (examples: Kiddy-Fiddler On The Roof and The Great American Trailer Park Musical) are as well-written and composed as their eager participants claim?

I wish I could offer you a full-proof formula.

The truth is, even if you research the reviews thoroughly, you are still bound to encounter some time waster shows. The best way to find some performances that will suit your tastes is really to ask around once you’ve arrived. If you, like me, loathe the idea of plodding down a jam packed pedestrian street full of makeshift stages, noisy kids, irritated parents, and over-excited marketing reps, I suggest pre-booking a few shows online—ones that you are pretty much certain you will enjoy—before heading up (exs: stand up by a well-known comedian, performance of a play by your favourite writer, a street dance show with rave reviews, etc.). Book two or three shows for your first day, leaving plenty of time in between each show. This will allow you time to investigate…i.e. ask fellow audience members what they’ve seen, loved and hated. Find out whether Kiddy-Fiddler on the Roof is suitable for your 10 year old son (- no!) or is as hilarious as the adverts claim (-yes!). Stumble across a young writer, who claims that his new drama—playing at a nearby venue in 30 minutes—is even better than his 2007 sell-out production, and take a chance.

And lastly, if you’ve got the energy, hit up the local bars for a few late night (…and early morning) pints. Everything stays open until 5am, and you are bound to find out about some great shows (and creperies…and kebab stands…). But whatever you do, avoid the Royal Mile!

Links:

Guided Tour of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Fringe Official Website

Fringe Reviews

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Phones, credit cards biggest holiday grumbles for Brits

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Hidden charge incurred by using credit cards abroad irk Brits the mostHidden charges for using credit and debit cards or mobile phones abroad top the list of holiday irritants for Britons, a new survey by Post Office Travel Services has revealed.

The study also found that six out of ten biggest holiday grumbles were related to the cost of exchanging money abroad, the pressure to leave tips even when service is poor, and the feeling that tourists get charged exorbitantly high rates.

Helen Warburton, Post Office head of travel said: "Our research showed that UK tourists are particularly irritated by the high charges for using mobile phones abroad and for using credit and debit cards to get cash abroad or make purchases."

She advised: "Keep the phone for emergencies, turn the answer machine facility off to avoid expensive incoming calls and get holiday cash in advance, without paying commission or incurring high ATM charges."

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.
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People feel holidays are ”non-negotiable”

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Demand for air travel in June increased at the slowest rate since 2003People are continuing to take holidays this summer, despite the credit crunch, because they feel that holidays are "non-negotiable", one industry expert has suggested.

Tom Hall, travel editor of the Lonely Plant series of destination guide books, said that the "savvy traveller … can still travel cheaply".

He added: "People are increasingly aware that if you want real value when you are in your destination you need to get outside of the euro zone and that can mean mid-haul or long-haul.

"I think people are aware that there is real value available there."

According to a report by the International Air Travel Association (IATA), world passenger numbers were up by 3.8 per cent in June compared to a year ago.

However, this was the slowest growth in air travel demand since the SARS crisis in 2003.

"With consumer and business confidence falling and sky-high oil prices, the situation will get a lot worse," said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and chief executive of IATA.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.
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Go to Mount Sinai from Sharm al-Sheikh

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Walk up the mountain to watch an incredible sunriseMount Sinai, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments, is just a three-hour drive from Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt.

Moses is mentioned to have been here once in the Qu”ran, while the Bible says he has been here twice (the first time meeting his wife Zippora and receiving his mission, the second time leading the Israelites to the Promised Land and receiving the Ten Commandments).

Mount Sinai is also the location of the Burning Bush, the Monks” Garden and the Ossuary (Monastery of St. Catherine), a Greek Orthodox monastery founded in the 6th century, and one of the longest-running monasteries in the world.

Walking up this mountain is an unforgettable experience – visitors can decide whether to do so early in the morning, around midday, or late at night.

The last option is the most recommended – and the most popular amongst tourists – because the sun rising over Sinai is a fantastic view that will never be forgotten.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.
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2.6 million visitors to Vietnam this year

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There than been a ten per cent increase in visitors since last year More than 2.6 million international travellers have visited Vietnam in the first seven months of this year, it has been announced.

Official statistics show that this is a 10.6 per cent rise year-on-year, local news agency VNA reported.

Foreign tourists to the country mainly came from Thailand, the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, China, France, Singapore and Malaysia.

According to Lonely Planet, most visitors to Vietnam are enthralled by the beauty of the country.

For instance, the Red River Delta in the north, the Mekong Delta in the south and almost the entire coastal strip are a patchwork of brilliant green rice paddies tended by women in conical hats.

There are some spectacular beaches along the coast, the travel guide says, while inland there are soaring mountains, some of which are cloaked by dense, misty forests.

For those who prefer urban settings, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are popular destinations.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.
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Ferry travel a good idea for kids

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Ferry travel is less restricting It is a good idea to travel with children on a ferry when going on a holiday, one industry expert has suggested.

Although air and ferry travel are both exciting for children, "the bonus of travelling by ferry is that it is a lot less restricting", Lucy Ace, managing director of Take the Family said.

She added: "You can walk around stretching your legs and getting rid of some of that built up energy.

"On some routes you can take cabins or join in with onboard entertainment, all of which help to make the whole experience much less stressful."

Last year, Shipping Times revealed that there was an Easter holiday boom for ferry travel from Dover Ferry Port, as more than 235,000 passengers passed through the Port of Dover over the four days of the Easter holiday weekend in 2007.

This was seven per cent more than the 2006 holiday weekend, according to figures released by Dover Harbour Board.

Family – Theme Parks – Treat the family to a day at one of the Disney resorts or to a splashing day out at a Spanish waterpark.
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Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization

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The museum has more than 5,000 Islamic objects on display Situated in the historical heart of Sharjah on the Majarrah waterfront, the Museum of Islamic Civilization houses more than five thousand exquisite Islamic artefacts from all over the Muslim world.

The Islamic Faith Gallery has on display precious Qur”an and other religious manuscripts as well as architectural models and an interesting series of historical photographs of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mekkah al-Mukarramah.

On exhibit in the Science and Innovation Gallery are the remarkable achievements of scientists from across the Muslim world and their ground-breaking contributions to disciplines as diverse as astronomy, medicine, geography, natural sciences and architecture.

Meanwhile, the entire first floor of the museum is devoted to Islamic Art.

On display here are paintings which date from the early Islamic period, leading all the way to modern times.

Enjoy works from all over the Muslim world and learn about the artistic achievements of its calligraphers and artisans.

The museum is open from 8:00 to 20:00, Sundays to Thursdays.

On Friday, it is open from 16:00 to 20:00.

Tickets cost 5Dhs (70p) for adults, while a family ticket is 10Dhs (£1.40).

There is no admission charge for children.

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