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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’

Dubai may become world’s next fashion capital

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Isla Moda will stage fashion showsOne of the world’s leading fashion designers has said that Dubai could become the potential fashion capital of the world.

Karl Lagerfield has signed up with Dubai Infinity Holdings (DIH) to help design Isla Moda – Fashion Island – which is to include haute couture boutiques, villas and a 250-room luxury hotel with themed rooms.

The fashion icon said: “Dubai is a fashion bud on the verge of blossoming into the next fashion hub of the world … Isla Moda has tremendous potential to be the style icon of the future and I intend on driving the island to high style stardom.”

Isla Moda will also stage fashion shows and act as a meeting place for the fashion industry’s top names.

Samira Abdulrazzak, chief executive of DIH, said: “This is a very important phase in the development and begins a new chapter for fashion in Dubai.”

Dubai – A true modern metropolis Dubai boasts a fine range of tourist facilities including the refined Burj al Arab hotel.
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Thailand’s backpacker image ‘outdated’

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Thailand is attracting a lot of honeymoonersThailand’s reputation for being a backpacker destination is "outdated", according to the editor of Luxury Travel Magazine.

Alyson Cook said:"Thailand has become a popular destination – particularly with the honeymoon market."

She added: "The boutique hotel market is a growing aspect of what they have to offer in that part of Asia … They have also perfected the spa side of the market and that, increasingly, is very high on the luxury travellers’ list; a decent spa is almost a pre-requisite."

According to the Kuoni Long Haul Report 2008, Thailand was the second most popular long-haul destination for British holidaymakers in 2007, coming second to the Maldives.

The report also found that boutique luxury continues to boom, and that holidays offering a very personal experience of a distant destination are growing in popularity.

Ms Cook said people can enjoy "wonderful" beach holidays in places like Koh Samui, as well as have the opportunity to travel up into places like Chiang Mai.

Relaxation and Romance – Wining and Dining – Dine in some unforgettable settings including the Eiffel Tower and in the shadow of the New York skyline.
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Turkey knocks Spain off as top tourist destination

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Turkey's history goes back thousands of yearsTurkey has replaced Spain as the number one destination for travellers, according to The Co-operative Travel.

Director of retail distribution Trevor Davis said the strength of the euro against the pound was a key reason for the change.

A report by Turespana, the Spanish tourist board, also said there would be a "progressive fall in the classic package holiday and the 14-day holiday".

Mr Davis said: "Bookings from people looking for cheap summer sun have traditionally ensured that Spain was the leading holiday destination. However this year they are finding the high euro and a shortage of availability means the normal late deals aren’t available.

"Turkey has benefited most from this trend and we’re seeing 30 per cent growth in bookings for holidays across all parts of the country."

Turkey’s history goes back thousands of years and the country is one of the oldest continually inhabited regions in the world due to its location at the intersection of Asia and Europe.

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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STA Travel: Insurance is a must for activity holidays

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One in ten Britons wrongly believe that all travel insurance policies cover adventurous activities Travel insurance is "undoubtedly the wisest purchase" travellers can make when going on an activity holiday, STA Travel has said.

A spokeswoman for the company said that insurance may seem like an unnecessary extra cost, but it is a must "in case case you lose your belongings or need medical attention".

She advised: "You should ensure the travel insurance you take out covers all the countries you plan to travel to and any activities you plan to participate in."

Recent research by esure shows that one in ten Britons wrongly believe that all travel insurance policies cover adventurous activities as standard.

Worryingly, 15 per cent admitted that they would go ahead and make a booking even if they knew the activity wasn’t covered under their travel insurance.

Mike Pickard, head of travel insurance at esure, said: "With a surge in the popularity of, and access to, more adventurous sports and activities at holiday resorts across the globe, it’s crucial for holidaymakers to take out travel insurance and check they’re covered before they try out the likes of white water rafting in Australia or shark-feeding in the Bahamas. Get injured and the medical bills could turn a paradise trip into a nightmare."

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.

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Ibiza offers ‘tranquility and escapism’

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Ibiza has a quaint charmIbiza may have a reputation of being a party island, but holidaymakers should not be put off from visiting as there are "two sides" to the island, the Spanish Property Owners Guild (SPOG) has claimed.

Paul Bradley, spokesman for SPOG, said that Ibiza "appeals to those seeking tranquility and escapism".

He added: "Fortunately, it is the binge drinking [and] clubbing scene that is dying and not the artisan quiet way of rustic living that the island is famous for, along with quiet coves, lovely water and great sailing opportunities hopping round the islands."

Mr Bradley said Ibiza has a "quaint charm" for families who go there to spend time together.

Ibiza is one of the four main Balearic Islands which are located between Spain (to which they belong) and the North African coast.

The other three main islands are, in order of size, Mallorca (also known as Majorca), Menorca (often spelt Minorca), and Formentera.

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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Balloon in Paris tests air quality, becomes tourist attraction

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At 150 metres above ground, visitors can enjoy beautiful views of ParisA hot air balloon tethered above Paris is providing information about air quality, as well as becoming a tourist attraction.

Floating at 150 metres above the ground, the balloon scans the air for harmful contaminants like nitrogen dioxide. It changes colour using an easy-to-understand coding, with a spectrum ranging from red for high levels of pollution to orange for polluted, yellow for moderate, light green for clean and green for very clean air.

Tethered in the Parc Andre Citroen, in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, the balloon can also lift up to 30 passengers at a time to enjoy great views over the French capital.

Manufactured by Aerophile of France, the balloon is filled with some 6,000 cubic metres of helium and attached to the ground with a movable cable controlled by a hydroelectric winch.

The balloon is visible from more than 20 kilometres away and offers fantastic views over the city.

Paris – Enjoy the view from the Eiffel Tower or see the Mona Lisa in the "city of light".
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New Acropolis museum in Athens

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The Parthenon marbles will soon have a new homeA new museum to house the world-famous Parthenon marbles is being built in the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens.

The museum, which has been planned for three decades and has cost the Greek government more than £100 million to build, will at last provide a permanent home for one of the greatest treasures of the world, safe from the city’s corrosive, polluted air.

It will display sections of the marbles that remain in Athens, as well as plaster copies of the friezes that have controversially been on display in the British Museum in London since the 19th century.

They were sent to London by Lord Elgin, the British Ambassador, who hired a team of workers to hack away at the monument as the Parthenon was under attack by looters.

Taking many of its finest sculptures and large chunks of the marble frieze that lined the inside rim, Elgin shipped the treasures back to England and then sold them to the British Museum for £35,000.

The opening date for the New Acropolis Museum is yet to be fixed, but is likely to be in October or November. At present, the ground floor is open from 10am to noon daily.

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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Holidays are Brits’ number one priority

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Britons say that a holiday is more important than anything elseBritons consider holidays to be the most important factor for their happiness new research has revealed.

A Kayak.co.uk poll of more than 1,000 adults found that 90 per cent of respondents said taking at least one holiday a year is one of the five most important factors that contribute to their overall happiness.

In contrast, 73 per cent said owning their own home was important, 63 per cent listed being in a relationship as one of their five main issues while just 42 per cent named starting a family.

Meanwhile, more than a third of those questioned said they would ditch dining out and shopping for clothes and household goods to afford their holiday.

Annie Wilson, business development director of Kayak.co.uk, said: "As a nation, we’ve always been much more likely to explore the four corners of the earth than to buy the latest flat screen TV.

"There’s just something intoxicating to us about being somewhere else – whether it’s visiting a familiar hideaway or checking off a personal list of ‘must sees’."

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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Dubai Atlantis set to open on time

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Dubai's new hotel might rival Burj Al Arab The long-awaited Atlantis hotel and entertainment complex is right on schedule to open on September 24, according to reports.

Located at the head of The Palm Jumeirah, with sweeping views both out to the Gulf and down the spine of the Palm back to Dubai, the development is valued at around $1.5 billion (£7.25 billion), Gulf News said.

Atlantis has 1,539 rooms spread between the East and West towers. There are a total of 150 suites, including two presidential suites and 35 regal suites. Average prices start at around $454 (£227) per night.

The connecting bridge between the two towers is the 924-square metre Bridge Suite, which costs a massive $25,000 (£12,600) per night and is still under construction.

There are also 17 food and beverage outlets and around 23 boutique shops, and a waterpark which houses 28 dolphins brought to Dubai from the Solomon Islands.

Jim Boocher, president of development at Kerzner International, the managers of Atlantis, told Gulf News that the difference between the complex and other hotels is that it can be considered a "destination hotel", rather than simply an accommodation provider.

Dubai – A true modern metropolis Dubai boasts a fine range of tourist facilities including the refined Burj al Arab hotel.
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Belfast Bap Festival

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The festival has several walking toursRunning from July 7th to 10th, the Belfast Bap Festival is in memory of liberal and reformer Bernard ‘Barney’ Hughes, Master Baker, famous for feeding the city’s people with his loaves during the famine.

Events at Belfast’s newest festival include walking tour of Friars Bush Cemetery on July 8th, where people can visit the graves of Barney Hughes and his wife among others.

That evening the best of Belfast’s Irish folk musicians perform at a traditional Irish music session.

On July 9th there is another walking tour, this time of Belfast City Centre where people can see the many of the sites associated with Barney Hughes.

A special concert featuring the songs, stories and poems of Old Belfast with Jane Cassidy and Maurice Leyden takes place that evening.

All music performances take place at the John Hewitt.

During the festival a special menu will be available, while Hilden Brewery will produce a very special one-off beer, made from the same ingredients of the first Belfast Bap.

Seniors – Historic Tours – From the Roman Empire to the second world war, these tours bring world history to life.
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