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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’

Socotra Archipelago: An unknown land

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The inhabitants of Socotra speak an unwritten tongue that pre-dates ArabicUNESCO has listed Socotra Archipelago in Yemen as a World Heritage Site, giving Yemen the largest number of cultural and natural heritage sites in Arabia.

The remote and isolated Socotra Archipelago consists of four islands and two rocky islets near the Gulf of Aden.

Although it appeared in the Travels of Marco Polo, few people today visit or even know of this forgotten land.

Its rich biodiversity makes it unique, as 37 per cent of Socotra”s 825 plants do not occur naturally anywhere else in the world.

With 192 bird species, 253 species of coral, 730 species of costal fish and 300 species of crab and lobster, Socotra is the naturalist”s paradise.

Separated from the Horn of Africa around 20 million years ago, Socotra”s long cultural and natural isolation has made it a unique and enchanting destination.

The locals are of Indian, Arabian and Somali origins. They follow the Islamic faith, and speak Soqotri, an unwritten tongue that pre-dates Arabic.

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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Britons looking for cheaper holiday options

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Air travel is one of the first things people cut back onThe credit crunch is seeing British holidaymakers look for cheaper alternatives this summer rather than forgoing holidays altogether, The Air Transport Users Council (ATUC) has said.

James Fremantle, ATUC industry affairs manager, said that “it looks as if people are just downgrading their holidays”.

He added: “I think air travel is one of the first things people do cut back on, particularly when there is a recession … [people] are still going away, but downgrading from certain holidays to cheaper package holidays.”

Mr Fremantle”s comments come after a new report by National Express East Coast Trains claimed that one in five Britons have chosen not to travel by plane this summer.

The top contributing factors to this include the threat of lost luggage (28 per cent), add-on charges (27 per cent) and check-in delays (24 per cent).

As a result, more than a third of travellers have decided to holiday in the UK this summer.

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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Survey reveals where Brits want to go before ”kicking the bucket”

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The Grand Canyon was number one A new survey reveals where exactly in the world Britons want to travel to before they ”kick the bucket”.

The number one response was the Grand Canyon, followed by the Pyramids in Giza and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Two Canadian destinations came in at number four and five – Niagara Falls and the Canadian Rockies. These were followed by the Great Wall of China. Numbers seven to ten were cities – New York, Sydney, Rome and Venice.

Women were more interested in visiting the Pyramids (44 per cent) compared to men (38 per cent).

Women were also more interested than men in visiting cities for romantic breaks, while men who were keen on going further a field to more exotic locations including Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and Sydney.

The survey was conducted to coincide with the release of the film The Bucket List where the two characters in the film learn they are terminally ill and decide to make the most of the time they have on racing car driving, sky diving, climbing the Pyramids, a lion safari in Africa and a trip to the Taj Mahal.

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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Cape Town is designated a ”must see” city

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Cape Town has wowed visitors for centuries Cape Town has achieved a continental first by becoming the first city in Africa to feature in the National Geographic Traveler Magazine”s Places of a Lifetime website.

Showcasing 50 of the world’s top destinations, National Geographic”s Places of a Lifetime website lists the top destinations in the world that no self respecting traveller should miss.

National Geographic asks: "What”s not to love about Cape Town?"

It then adds: "From iconic Table Mountain, several hundred million years in the making, to the hip watering holes of Camps Bay, South Africa”s ”Mother City” is the brightest light in the reborn rainbow nation."

Cape Town”s attractions don”t seem to have missed Manchester United either.

The Premiership champions are sending a top team down to the city this weekend to take part in the 2008 Vodacom Challenge.

Rooney, Teves, Giggs et al will take on the local Kaiser Chiefs in the opening fixture of this year”s tournament at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday, July 19th.

Cape Town – From the wine route to the game parks there is so much to see and do in Cape Town.
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Cape Town is designated a ”must see” city

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Cape Town has wowed visitors for centuries Cape Town has achieved a continental first by becoming the first city in Africa to feature in the National Geographic Traveler Magazine”s Places of a Lifetime website.

Showcasing 50 of the world’s top destinations, National Geographic”s Places of a Lifetime website lists the top destinations in the world that no self respecting traveller should miss.

National Geographic asks: "What”s not to love about Cape Town?"

It then adds: "From iconic Table Mountain, several hundred million years in the making, to the hip watering holes of Camps Bay, South Africa”s ”Mother City” is the brightest light in the reborn rainbow nation."

Cape Town”s attractions don”t seem to have missed Manchester United either.

The Premiership champions are sending a top team down to the city this weekend to take part in the 2008 Vodacom Challenge.

Rooney, Teves, Giggs et al will take on the local Kaiser Chiefs in the opening fixture of this year”s tournament at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday, July 19th.

Cape Town – From the wine route to the game parks there is so much to see and do in Cape Town.
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37% of Brits are ‘disorganised’ packers

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Many travellers say they just 'throw it all in and hope for the best'More than a third of British holidaymakers could be much more organised when it comes to packing, with 37 per cent of respondents in a Post Office survey admitting to being messy or disorganised packers.

The survey also found that nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of people said they regularly pack too much and take an outfit for every occasion, while 12 per cent confessed to "throwing it all in and hoping for the best’.

Meanwhile, a third said they are often unsure of luggage restrictions before they set off on their holiday and nearly half (45 per cent) admitted to being unfamiliar with rules relating to liquids and food.

Helen Warburton, head of travel services at the Post Office, said: "The way we travel has changed in recent years. Rising security concerns mixed with increased charges for checking hold luggage has created a sense of confusion. Packing is no small part of that."

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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Bangkok best city in the world

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The Thai capital has deposed Florence as the best city in the worldBangkok has been named as ‘the world’s best city’ in a new online poll.

The Thai capital has moved up two places since last year’s Travel and Leisure magazine’s annual ‘World’s Best’ survey, deposing 2007′s winner, Florence.

The rest of the top five were made up by Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Sydney and Florence.

The results were compiled from votes by the magazine’s subscribers in an internet poll which took place between January and March.

Commenting on the results, Nancy Novograd, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, said: “Nature and adventure were clearly a draw in the selections.”

Meanwhile, the editor of Luxury Travel magazine has said that Bangkok is throwing off its backpacker image and is becoming popular with all kinds of travellers, from honeymooners to baby boomers.

Alyson Cook said that visitors are attracted to Thailand because of “the combination of a wonderful beach holiday in places like Koh Samui [and] the opportunity to travel up into places like Chiang Mai”.

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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Cape Town Fashion Week

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Cape Town Fashion Week is Africa's largest couture eventFrom August 13th to 16th, Cape Town Fashion Week will take place at the International Convention Centre in the city.

Now in its fifth year, Africa’s largest gathering of fashion talent will showcase new collections and trends.

Paul Jackson, chief executive of African Fashion International (owners of the event) said that the Fashion Week “will present some of the nation’s most gifted fashion designers as they reveal their latest collections for the upcoming spring/summer season”.

Since its launch in 2003, the event has grown into one of the premier “new world” fashion weeks, attracting major fashion magazines and trade professionals, and providing an international platform for established and up-and-coming designers from across Africa.

In contrast to traditional fashion shows, which are strictly trade events, Cape Town Fashion Week is open to the public and offers special seminars and introductory courses for those interested in a career within the industry as well lovers of couture.

Cape Town – From the wine route to the game parks there is so much to see and do in Cape Town.
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UNESCO names three new heritage sites in Italy

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There are now 43 heritage sites in ItalyMantova, Sabbioneta and the Retica Railway have been named new World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, bringing the total number in Italy to a staggering 43 sites.

Mantova and Sabbioneta were given heritage site status because they are "extraordinary examples of Renaissance architecture and city planning".

Mantova was the former capital of the Gonzaga family who ruled the province for almost 400 years. During their reign, they kept some of the most important artists of the time at their court and were avid collectors of art.

Meanwhile, Sabbioneta, which is in the same province, is known for its historic Jewish ghetto and particularly for its Hebrew printing-press. Its period of prosperity and artistic patronage was under Duke Vespasiano Gonzaga who died in 1591.

The third site, the Retica Railway, crosses the Alps between Italy and Switzerland through the Bernina Pass and is one of the most scenic railways in Europe, running over railway viaducts of breathtaking height.

Rome – Visit some of the ancient landmarks such as the Colosseum or tour the opulent Vatican.
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More parents taking children abroad

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Two-thirds of under-threes have been abroad at least onceOne in four babies under six months have been taken on a foreign holiday by their parents at least four times, according to new research.

A survey by insurance.co.uk found that 60 per cent of toddlers under the age of three have already been abroad on holiday at least once, while 30 per cent had been overseas three times.

Meanwhile, children under 11 had travelled just as far in their lifetimes as people over the age of 60.

Steve Grainger, head of insurance.co.uk, said: "Now that government rules about term-time holidays have become so much stricter, families with school age children are restricted to travelling during the more expensive, school holiday period.

"New parents are aware that they will not be able to benefit from cheap kids go free, term-time deals and are making the most of extended maternity leave."

Mr Grainger also recommended that families travelling with young children "might need to pay more attention to the value of [travel insurance] cover they take out".

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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