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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 ‘Things to do in Europe’

Croatia holiday ”good value for money”

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More than 7,000 Brits visited Croatia between January and MarchA holiday to Croatia may be the best thing to do as the credit crunch hits wallets, as the country offers "good value for money", a spokesperson for Charisma PR has said.

The agency, which works on behalf of the Croatia Tourism Board, believes that the former Yugoslav nation "is very reasonable because it is outside the eurozone, so it”s still good value for money because the pound is not particularly strong against the euro at the moment".

In addition, the spokesperson said, visitors will enjoy Croatia because "the countryside is very beautiful and the beaches and the water are very clean".

According to official statistics, there were nearly 600,000 tourists in Croatia between January and March 2008 – up 14 per cent compared to the same period in 2007.

The number of foreign tourists increased by 30 per cent to 285,688 in the first quarter of 2008 and there were a little more than 7,000 tourists from the UK.

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-18708300-ADNFCR

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Croatia holiday ”good value for money”

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More than 7,000 Brits visited Croatia between January and MarchA holiday to Croatia may be the best thing to do as the credit crunch hits wallets, as the country offers "good value for money", a spokesperson for Charisma PR has said.

The agency, which works on behalf of the Croatia Tourism Board, believes that the former Yugoslav nation "is very reasonable because it is outside the eurozone, so it”s still good value for money because the pound is not particularly strong against the euro at the moment".

In addition, the spokesperson said, visitors will enjoy Croatia because "the countryside is very beautiful and the beaches and the water are very clean".

According to official statistics, there were nearly 600,000 tourists in Croatia between January and March 2008 – up 14 per cent compared to the same period in 2007.

The number of foreign tourists increased by 30 per cent to 285,688 in the first quarter of 2008 and there were a little more than 7,000 tourists from the UK.

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-18708300-ADNFCR

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Croatia holiday ”good value for money”

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More than 7,000 Brits visited Croatia between January and MarchA holiday to Croatia may be the best thing to do as the credit crunch hits wallets, as the country offers "good value for money", a spokesperson for Charisma PR has said.

The agency, which works on behalf of the Croatia Tourism Board, believes that the former Yugoslav nation "is very reasonable because it is outside the eurozone, so it”s still good value for money because the pound is not particularly strong against the euro at the moment".

In addition, the spokesperson said, visitors will enjoy Croatia because "the countryside is very beautiful and the beaches and the water are very clean".

According to official statistics, there were nearly 600,000 tourists in Croatia between January and March 2008 – up 14 per cent compared to the same period in 2007.

The number of foreign tourists increased by 30 per cent to 285,688 in the first quarter of 2008 and there were a little more than 7,000 tourists from the UK.

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-18708300-ADNFCR

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Massage on a gondola

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The massage lasts 40 minutesIt”s the ultimate luxury.

As celebrations continue for its 50th anniversary year, the Hotel Cipriani has announced that is offering massages on a gondola in Venice.

In perfectly natural synergy, the gently rocking of the gondola and the talented hands of a masseuse induce a profound sense of calm, allowing the mind and body to effortlessly drift into a natural state of relaxation that washes away every ounce of stress.

A mat that has been specially designed to embrace the shape of the gondola cradles the body during this massage, which places special focus on the back, shoulders, neck, and face.

This special 40-minute body treatment ends with a foot massage and the opportunity to relax in the hotel”s fragrant and shaded garden with a cooling iced tea.

A special place for the gondola massage has been created in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon.

The Hotel Cipriani Gondola Massage is priced from €270 (£240).

Venice – Fall in love all over again on a Gondola ride on the Grand Canal and lose yourself in the grand St Marks Square.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18706610-ADNFCR

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Buckingham Palace to open to public

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The Palace was originally a townhouse belonging to the Duke of BuckinghamBuckingham Palace is set to open to the public on July 29th.

Visitors to London will be able to see the official residence of the British monarch until September 29th.

The palace has served as the official London residence of Britain”s sovereigns since 1837.

It evolved from a town house that was owned from the beginning of the eighteenth century by the Dukes of Buckingham.

Today it is the Queen”s official residence, with 775 rooms.

Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by the Queen, areas of Buckingham Palace are opened to visitors every summer.

Make sure to visit the State Rooms which are lavishly furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection.

Here you can see paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude, sculpture by Canova and Chantrey, exquisite examples of Sevres porcelain, as well as some of the finest English and French furniture in the world.

London – Ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London or take a day out the city to see Stonehenge.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18700060-ADNFCR

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Transform Your Dream Holiday into Reality…

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It’s FAMILY TIME!

We’ve gotten some fantastic Perfect Holiday contest entries so far—do keep ‘em coming!

And, after further perusing your travel whims and fantasies, I’ve discovered that many of you dream not simply about secluded, romantic getaways as discussed in a previous blog: you want to get your entire families on board. What a task…

I know it seems difficult to fathom actually leading your family on an Arctic fishing trip…or guiding them through a bustling north African market. So many things to worry about: the cost, transportation logistics, and accommodation… your daughter’s current vegetarian phase…your son’s incredibly fair skin…your mother’s bouts with vertigo…

But have you ever actually tried to translate one of your visions of paradise into a real-life family holiday? Why not give it a try? Just cast all of the logistical details aside for a moment, and focus on the actual on-the-ground experiences that you desire: you can do this by first compiling a concrete, feasible list of tours and activities.

To assist you in this process, I have pasted some descriptive and imaginative Perfect Holiday contest entries below, responding with some suggestions.

1. Debbie’s Arctic Adventure:

“I’d take the family to Iceland for the most exhilarating holiday ever. We’d go whale watching in Husavik where humpbacks, minke, orcas, sperm whales white-nosed dolphins and harbour porpoises leap in the waters of the North Atlantic. We could go snowmobiling on the Solheimajokull glacier. We’d visit spouting geysers, bubbling mud baths and bizarre rock formations and bubbling lava flows in the Golden Circle. I want to tee off at 3am in the Arctic Open where amateurs and professional golfers compete through the night under a spectacular orange night sky. My kids could swim in the sea at the geothermally heated beach at Nautholsvik Bay, and I could ease my bad back in the pure, mineral-rich geothermal waters of the blue lagoon, a bright blue pool in the middle of a lava field which is world renowned for it’s healing properties. On September 20th is the Summer Solstice, the apex of a month of 24 hour daylight when the country celebrates the magic of the midnight sun. (Of course they also experience an equivalent month of darkness so everyone makes the most of the spectacle and parties through the night.)”

Debbie, thanks so much for that insightful description of Iceland! There are plenty of structured, guided tours of these places that you could sign up for to keep your family happy and busy—most of them from Reykjavik. I suggest checking out the following:

1. The Golden Circle Tour

2. Excursion to Snæfellsjökull National Park (Snæfellsjökull Glacier).

3. Blue Lagoon Experience, Reykjavik.

Good luck, Debbie!

2. Karen’s Paradise:

“My perfect holiday is landing in a place where the views and the heat take your breath away from the moment you arrive. I stay in a place where the walls are white, the floors terracotta and the flowers, red. I throw cases on the bed, take out all I need and head out to the pool. I smooth sunscreen on my son and watch, smiling, while he plays and explores and squeals excitedly over the lizards he finds. I lie with my eyes closed behind my sunglasses, sipping a chilled cocktail while the sun makes my skin tingle. My little boy calls from the pool, so I get up, walk to the edge, take a breath and dive into ice cold, ice blue water that in that second makes me feel more exhilarated than I have ever felt before. Later, we visit hot, exotic, noisy markets and walk round, holding hands, buying fabulous things we’ve never seen before. We visit a restaurant and eat delicious, local seafood with velvety wines from a table that faces the ocean as the sun sets. Beautiful people in traditional dress play music and dance while night draws in on the first day of our holiday…”

Well, Karen, this could be a number of places! A few destinations come to mind…have you ever considered visiting the Strait of Gibraltar? You could stay on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain to get your dose of sun, sand and relaxation… and take an excursion to Tangier, Morocco for the ultimate, colourful and cultural experience.

Some organised tours that your son might enjoy:

Kayaking Excursion in Nerja (Costa del Sol, Spain)

5-Day Morocco Sightseeing Tour from Costa Del Sol (from Spain to Morocco)

Strait of Gibraltar and Tangier Sightseeing Tour (Daytrip from Spain to Morocco)

Thanks again, Debbie and Karen!

May your holiday wishes come true!

Happy planning!

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Dublin’s attractions offer best value for money

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Dublin’s top family attractions are the least expensive in the world, according to a new survey by The Sunday Telegraph.

The newspaper examined prices charged by nine of the most popular tourist attractions in major cities around the world as well as the cost of an open-top bus ride.

In Dublin, a family of four would pay only €226 (£180) if they wanted to take part in all ten activities, compared with £549.30 in London.

Frank Magee, chief executive of Dublin Tourism said he was “thrilled” with the results of the survey.

“Dublin has a vast array of attractions all of which offer a truly authentic Dublin experience to the visitor at very affordable prices,” he said.

Mr. Magee also noted that there were many free attractions and events in the Irish capital.

“The National Museums of Ireland are a shining example of great-quality attractions which are free to visit.

“These, along with the many free events and initiatives such as Dublin”s eco-cabs, prove that you don”t have to spend a fortune to enjoy Dublin.”

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-18697803-ADNFCR

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West End shows should ”definitely” be on tourists” schedule

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There were more that 13.5 million visitors to the West End last yearVisitors to London should make sure that West End shows are “definitely … on the schedule”, one industry expert has said.

Ian Rumgay, European communications manager at TripAdvisor, said that BBC musical shows have “popularised [the West End] right across the board and particularly for the younger audience”.

However, he added that the appeal of the shows attracts visitors regardless of how old they are.

“The West End has something for everyone of all ages,” Mr Rumgay said.

Earlier this month, figures from the annual report of The Society of London revealed that more than 13.5 million people attended West End shows in 2007, an increase of 10.4 per cent compared to the year before.

Meanwhile, the final of the BBC TV show ”How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” attracted viewing figures of 7.7 million for its final in 2006 and the follow-up, ”Any Dream Will Do”, peaked with 7.6 million viewers.

Mr Rumgay said that going to the West End does not have to be an expensive activity as “you can get some good deals if you shop around, look on the internet, auction sites and last minute offers”.

London – Ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London or take a day out the city to see Stonehenge.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18695310-ADNFCR

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Measles risk in Italy, take precautions before holiday

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The outbreak is strongest in northern ItalyBritons face a risk of contracting measles in Europe this summer, with the outbreak strongest in northern Italy.

While most adult travellers are not at risk, some 15 per cent of British children have not been immunised against the disease because of unproven fears over the side effects of the combined vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), the Times reported.

NHS Direct has advised holidaymakers who are going overseas this summer to be “prepared” before they go on holiday.

Jacqui Jedrzejewski, NHS Direct National Mental Health Children’s Services and Caldicott Lead, said: “If you are taking a holiday abroad it is important that you plan ahead and visit your GP surgery or health centre and ask about immunisations that you may need to have prior to leaving.”

Similarly, EU advice for those travelling to Lombardy, Piedmont, the Veneto and Tuscany this summer is “to ensure that their immunisations are up-to-date before leaving home”.

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.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18693363-ADNFCR

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Snacking banned at monuments in Rome

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People caught snacking near monuments will have to pay a £40 fineRome City Hall has banned snacking near its famous monuments in the city”s historical centre, according to reports.

A £40 fine will be slapped on those who violate the ban which runs until the end of October, the Associated Press said.

Officials told the news agency they want to preserve artistic treasures and decorum in a city that has millions of visitors every year.

The ordinance also bans the homeless from making makeshift beds and people loitering around at night, as they are “often drunk [and] not only leave all manner of litter on public grounds and in the fountains, but also disturb the peace”.

Rome is the latest Italian city to take steps to protect its historical sites.

Venice banned picnics in public places and bare torsos in St. Mark”s Square, while Florence is clamping down on men who wash the windshields of cars for payment.

Rome – Visit some of the ancient landmarks such as the Colosseum or tour the opulent Vatican.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18689405-ADNFCR

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