Thursday, 31 December 2015

Thinking of next year's holiday? . . .

WHY not Barbados … 

Sea Symphony  is a luxury six-bedroom villa that can be rented exclusively from 2 to 6 bedrooms (rental remains exclusive). 

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Cyprus: Island in the sun

Cyprus, North and South – The third largest island in the Mediterranean, the Republic of Cyprus is partitioned into two main parts, the northern sector – 36% of the land area – having been invaded by Turkey in 1974 and administered illegally by the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus since then; an administration recognized only by Turkey. There are no direct flights from Europe to Northern Cyprus; all flights go via Turkey. The Green Line – the de facto boundary separating the northern and southern sectors of Cyprus – has seven crossing points, at which tourists staying in the Greek part can enter the Turkish-occupied sector freely. The information in this guide is exclusively about Southern Cyprus, which is in the Commonwealth and the European Union, and is the island’s main tourist region.


Rock of Aphrodite – A stack of rocks standing proud off the south-west coast of Cyprus, the UNESCO-listed Rock of Aphrodite is one of the island’s best-known landmarks and a popular side trip from nearby Paphos. Guarding the coastline since ancient times, Aphrodite’s Rock (also known as the Rock of the Greek) is more than just a geological wonder. The sacred rock takes its name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty who is said to have to have risen from the ocean at this spot. It’s part of the Aphrodite Cultural Route, with visitors taking the walking trail from the neighbouring Kokkali beach or a boat trip along the coast. One of the most popular pastimes is swimming around the rock, an easy feat thanks to the mostly calm waters. Circling the rock is alleged to bestow beauty and fertility on those swimmers who complete the loop.

Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church – Regarded as one of the most beautiful churches on the island, the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church (now the Agia Kryiaki Church) has elaborate ancient floor mosaics, parts of which have been preserved and form a colourful addition to the medieval church. Built on the site of a Byzantine basilica in Paphos, the church dates back to the 13th-century and forms the centerpiece of number of historic ruins and relics.

Yeroskipou (Geroskipou) – Once famous for its gardens dedicated to Aphrodite, the village of Yeroskipou is best known for its production of Loukoumia, also known as Turkish delight. Other highlights are the 11th century Church of Agia Paraskevi, celebrated for its medieval paintings and icons, a folk art museum; and the nearby Luna Park amusement park. The village is four miles south-east of Paphos. 

St Paul’s Pillar – In the grounds of the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church, St. Paul’s Pillar is one of Cyprus’ most important sites of pilgrimage, dating back to the early days of Christianity. Legend has it that St. Paul arrived in Paphos in 45 AD and was punished by the Romans for preaching Christianity, receiving 39 lashes while tied to the pillar. But Paul succeeded in converting Roman Governor Sergius Paulus to Christianity, making Cyprus one of the world’s first Christian territories. 

Paphos Archaeological Park – An open-air museum stretching along the coastal cliffs west of Paphos harbour, the UNESCO-listed site is home to some of island’s most impressive historic ruins, including monuments dating from prehistoric times. Most of the ruins date back to the late Roman period, with highlights including the Asklipion, a hospital and temple dedicated to the God of Medicine; a 2nd century Agora; the remains of a Byzantine castle; the Odeon amphitheater that’s a venue theatre and music performances during the summer months; and four Roman villas, the highlight of which is the largest, the House of Dionysos. The restored mosaics depict Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, returning from India on a chariot drawn by two panthers.

Coral Bay is a long, sandy beach for sunbathers, surfers, and scuba divers, and close to restaurants and bars.

The Aphrodite Water Park in Paphos has 26 water slides. It’s open from early May until October 31.

Polis – 30-minutes from the town of Paphos – is a small, quiet tourist resort at the north-west end of the island of Cyprus, at the centre of Chrysochous Bay and on the edge of the Akamas nature reserve. Its port – Latchi – is famed for fish restaurants, sea-sports, and boat rides up to Akamas. Α walk along the nearby nature trails provides panoramic views of the bay. Polis is rated as the best destination for nature lovers and those keen on active holidays, such as hiking, cycling, horse riding, and golf.

Ayia Napa is the island’s Party Central, renowned for its clubs, bars, restaurants … and 14 beaches, all of which have European Union blue flags.

The Cape Greko National Park is a ten-minute drive from Ayia Napa. With cliffs, caves, woods, and clear water, it’s popular with photographers, and with newly-married couples who want wedding photos taken there.

Kykkos Monastery – The richest and most lavish of the monasteries of Cyprus is on a mountain peak north-west of Troodos. It was founded between the end of the 11th century and the beginning of the 12th, but nothing remains of the original structure. The first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, served here as a novice. The monastery produces a variety of alcoholic drinks and holds religious fairs on September 8 and August 15.

Limassol Zoo – The island’s only zoo is on Limassol’s coastal road, and has birds, lions, tigers, bears, panthers, zebras, and monkeys, plus a natural history museum and an educational centre which screens wildlife and nature films.

Limassol’s beaches – Limassol has the longest coastline of all the cities and beach resorts in Cyprus. These are some of its most popular beaches: Lady's Mile; Kourion; and Flo Cafe Beach Cove.

Larnaca is the island's third-largest town, and claims to be its oldest ‘living city’, with a continuous history going back more than 6,000 years. It has six museums, an artist’s quarter, a marina and a fort. Nearby is the village of Lefkara, famous for lace making.

Nicosia is approximately at the centre of the island, and is the world’s only remaining divided capital city. It’s surrounded by a massive 16th century fortress, which houses museums, ancient churches, medieval buildings and monuments, plus shops, cafes, and tavernas. A must-see is the Omeriye Hamam is a Turkish bath in Nicosia's old town, restored and operating again in its 14th century premises.

Classic Motorcycle Museum – A collection of more than 150 machines from between 1914 and 1983.

Cyprus for divers – Most dive sites are a few minutes boat journey and there are a number of shore dives available. Diving is most popular in the south around Ayia-Napa and Paphos, while Larnaca has the wreck Zenobia, one of the world’s wreck dives. For more pristine dive sites, go to the north-west tip of the island around the Akamas Peninsula. There are artefacts such as Roman pottery on the seabed, but taking them is strictly forbidden. Nitrox is available at some dive centres, and there are decompression chambers at Larnaca Makarion General Hospital and the UK’s RAF base of Akrotiri.

Tee off! – All four 18-hole golf courses in the southern (Greek) part of the island are within easy reach of Paphos. The Aphrodite Hills course in the hills above Paphos is challenging, and the Elea Golf Club course was designed by Nick Faldo.

Cyprus for cyclists – The island is a popular holiday destination for serious cyclists. It has pine forest trails, mule paths, challenging single tracks, mountain roads, smooth dirt roads, and flat coast roads and paths.


Carnival time!
– Around late February or early March (the dates are movable, depending on the date of the Greek Orthodox Easter) there are ten days of carnival, with feasts, fancy-dress parties, and parades. Carnival is celebrated in every town and village, but Limassol has the liveliest and most entertaining events.


Limassol Wine Festival
– It happens in the city’s Municipal Gardens along the sea-front near the old town. Founded in 1961 to promote the island’s wines it’s the largest of Cyprus festivals. There’s music, dancing, food and, of course, almost unlimited wine.
Pafos Aphrodite Opera Festival – Held in September – a month after the Ancient Greek drama festival – in front of the city’s medieval castle, it’s is one of the highlights of Cyprus's cultural calendar, providing opera lovers with three days of love, passion, and tragedy under the stars.

Troodos Mountains – The highest peak is 6,500ft and is snow-covered in the winter. A cool alternative in the summer to the heat of the coast, the Troodos range has four main walking trails: Atalante goes round Mount Olympus; Persephone leads to a spectacular viewpoint; Kalidonia leads to the Caledonian Waterfalls; and Artemis encircles the Chionistra summit. Some of the mountain trails lead to monasteries or painted Byzantine churches, ten of which have been put on the UNESCO World Heritage List for their wall frescoes and unique architecture. Birdwatchers might spot the rare and protected eagle and the griffon vulture.

Airports – Southern Cyprus has two international airports, at Larnaca and Paphos. Flights from Britain are provided by Aegean Airlines, British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Monarch, Norwegian, Thomas Cook, and Thomson Airlines. Britain has two military air bases on the island.

The weather
– Cyprus has an intense Mediterranean climate of hot dry summers starting in mid-May and lasting until mid-September, and rainy, mild winters from November to mid-March. Spring and autumn are short intervals in between. With almost year-round clear skies and sunshine, daylight length ranges from 9.8 hours in December to 14.5 hours in June.

On the road – Cyprus drives on the left, but speed limits are given in kilometres per hour, not miles.

Accommodation options include 5-star, beachside hotels, hotel apartments, self-catering villas with pools, and family-run rural guest houses. The Cyprus Agro-tourism Programme promotes the restoration of traditional rural houses that can be rented by independent holidaymakers in search of a distinctly Cypriot atmosphere at a modest cost.





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Picture Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/52502780@N06/8676852299">ships from above</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)

Top stag and hen locations of 2015 revealed

THE UK’S stag and hen party company Last Night of Freedom has revealed 2015’s most popular goodbye to singledom celebrations. 

For the men, Prague is the top spot for the third year running. Newcastle came in at second place, followed by Riga. Other destinations that made it into the top ten were Barcelona, Amsterdam, Krakow, and Budapest. Women had slightly different ideas as how to spend their last weekend of freedom, with Newcastle this time claiming the top spot, followed by Dublin and Marbella. Barcelona, Edinburgh, and London also made it to the top ten hen locations for 2015.

This year’s stag parties were more likely to travel abroad than the hens, with only three out of the top ten stag destinations being UK-based: Newcastle, Bournemouth, and Nottingham. Three out of the ten of the most popular hen do locations were overseas.

Says Matt Mavir at Last Night of Freedom: ‘Choosing to go abroad to celebrate a hen or stag weekend around 15 years ago was almost unheard of. These days, particularly for stag parties, you’re much more likely to leave the country than visit a UK city. There are many contributing factors to this trend, including more affordable flights and accessibility to European countries. However, I think it’s the ritual of leaving the UK to celebrate the last few days of single life that is particularly appealing. It seems to bring a sense of real freedom, and with that comes a whole new level of enjoyment.’
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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10533549@N08/4888582339">Effie</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license), http://www.flickr.com/photos/13422316@N00/3769744890">Stag off the A897 Helmsdale to Melvich</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Air France starts Glasgow-Paris route

Air France will launch a daily flight to Glasgow from Paris-Charles de Gaulle in March.

‘The launch of flights to Glasgow next summer highlights our desire to serve growth markets,’ says Frédéric Gagey, chairman and CEO of Air France. ‘These new flights from Paris will expand our offer to Scotland, a region with a strong appeal, both from an economic and a tourist point of view.’

The service complements the four daily frequencies operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines between Glasgow and the Amsterdam-Schiphol hub.


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Take-off for Australia's first aerial adventure park

AUSTRALIA’S first aerial adventure park – inspired by a British Army aerial assault training course –has opened in #Adelaide. 

The #MegaAdventure #AerialPark at West Beach in the Adelaide Shores precinct features an 85ft-high structure called SkyMate with 50 crossings.

MegaAdventure managing director Alex Blyth said it was the first structure of its kind to launch in Australia. ‘The idea developed while I was working in the British Army as an instructor using aerial assault courses to train recruits. I thought it would be great fun to give people the same kind of dynamic challenge in a totally safe and accessible environment.’

The world-first mega structure aims to provide an unparalleled aerial experience to create the ultimate public ‘playground’ for all ages and has the capacity to hold an additional 70 crossings.

Other offerings at MegaAdventure include a bungee trampoline, and the SkyWalk, which allows access to the top viewing deck of the SkyMate.

The company operates MegaZip Adventure Park on Sentosa Island, Singapore, which has been open for six years and has more than 120,000 guests annually.


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Picture Credit: Adelaide's updated montage by Ashton 29 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Get Go Holiday now …

‘UNIQUE’ is a much over-used adjective these days, but it’s the right word to describe Go Holiday magazine. It’s the only travel and tourism magazine in Britain – and possibly on the planet – that’s focused on the growing self-catering sector worldwide … everything from cottages in Cumbria and Cornwall to apartments and villas in Florida to the Med.


It features travel and tourism news, and expert location reports showcasing the best of holiday regions and vacation attractions throughout Britain – where the self-catering sector is conservatively estimated to account for 7.6% of all holiday visits and 12.9% of all tourism revenue – and globally.

Readers can make holiday bookings directly with property owners or their specialist rental agents. Properties – cottages, houses, apartments and villas – are advertised in Go Holiday by owners or letting agencies. E-mailing or ’phoning the owner direct means you'll be in contact with someone who knows the property and the locality well.

The self-catering sector is expanding, and it’s not difficult to see why; the advantages of a cottage or villa break have rarely been more obvious and attractive. They are in many cases less expensive than hotel stays, so they save you money that can be spent on the treats that make a get-away even more enjoyable or, in these tougher economic times, just saved. And they offer the flexibility, freedom and privacy that many hotels can’t provide – you eat when you want to, and many villas in Florida and southern Europe offer the luxury of your own private pool.

Go Holiday is your passport to this holiday heaven, and the latest issue is out now, with location reports about …
  • South Devon
  • Lincolnshire 
  • Shropshire 
  • Guernsey 
  • Yorkshire 
  • Kent’s castles and beaches 
  • Pembrokeshire 
  • Ulster’s NW coast 
  • The Canary Islands, as shot by movie makers 
  • Cyprus – day-trips from Paphos 
  • Benidorm 
  • Best Greek beaches 
  • Tobago 
  • 24 Hours in Florence



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UK outbound travel worth £28.3 billion annually

THE outbound travel sector is worth £28.3 billion a year to the UK economy, says the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).  

Its study, carried out by the Centre for Economics Business Research, found that this figure was equivalent to 1.8% of the UK’s gross domestic product. Outbound travel supports 214,000 jobs directly and 435,000 in the wider economy. This represents a greater UK employment contribution than the country’s postal and courier industries, and those involved in the manufacture of food products and electrical equipment.

The report says that holidaymakers spend in excess of £34 billion in the UK before they go abroad, highlighting the economic contribution outbound tourism makes to the UK economy.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive said: ‘Outbound travel is a key part of the UK’s vibrant tourism mix and has enormous potential for growth. MPs and the government must ensure that we have in place the right policy and tax framework to allow the UK’s tourism mix to reach its full potential in the years ahead.’


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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Up in the air . . .

FLYBE is reported to have sought permission to operate regular commercial flights from RAF Northolt, the West London airfield usually reserved for government and military flights, and executive jets. The regional carrier has applied to Britain’s Ministry of Defence for clearance to fly twice a day to five cities.

EASYJET is stepping up services from Scotland next year by adding an eighth aircraft to its base at Edinburgh airport. New routes to Vienna and Venice will operate from the Scottish capital while Glasgow will gain a connection to Marseille.

BRISTOL is to become WOW Air's second UK departure point for flights to Iceland and North America. Tickets for flights beginning in May are now on sale from £39 to Reykjavik, Iceland, and £99 to the USA and Canada. Flights will depart Bristol Airport for the airline's hub in Reykjavik on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Passengers travelling through will then have a short stop-over before continuing on to one of the airline's North American destinations – Boston, Washington D.C., Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.


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Brighton, Liverpool tipped for tourism



ENGLAND and Portugal dominate Trip Advisor’s list of top ten European holiday destinations ‘on the rise’. Brighton and Liverpool are tipped, as are Porto and, on the Portuguese island of Madeira, Funchal.

Top ten …
  • Porto, Portugal 
  • Moscow, Russia 
  • Brighton, England 
  • Liverpool, England 
  • Granada, Spain 
  • Funchal, Portugal 
  • Oia (Santorini), Greece 
  • Krakow, Poland 
  • Valencia, Spain 
  • Cologne, Germany  

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Picture Credit: Brighton Beach and Pier by Christine Matthews. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Tee Off in Lisbon!

LISBON'S golf sector is looking ahead to 2016, with a series of high-profile national and international tournaments. 


86th Portuguese International Amateur Championship
January-February 2016
Featuring an elegant clubhouse surrounded by a pine forest, #EstorilGolf is one of the oldest courses in Portugal, originally founded in 1929. The course hosts the annual Portuguese International Amateur Championships, which in 2016 will take place between January 27-30 (women) and February 10-13 (men).

Orizonte Lisbon Golf Trophy
February 22-26
This international amateur golf event was launched in 2015 to showcase some of Lisbon's best courses to UK and European golfers. It involves a friendly competition across two handicap categories, bringing together six well-established golf courses.

5th Oitavos Classic
February 25-28
This tournament is at the 18-hole Oitavos Dunes, considered one of the best links courses in the world. Open to amateur golfers, the maximum tournament handicap will be 28 for men and women.

Many of the #Lisbon #Golf Coast's courses are within or close to five-star hotels and resorts.

Direct flights to Lisbon operate from London, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Bristol with TAP Portugal, British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair.

www.visitlisboa.com


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/43037303@N00/4862737889">The Golfer</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license) 

VisitEngland Rose Award . . . Four for Devon

FOUR Devon establishments have been honoured with a VisitEngland Rose Award this year.   

They are the Beera Farmhouse in Milton Abbot, Tavistock; Higher Wiscombe cottages in Southleigh; The Somerville Hotel in Torquay; and Tor Cottage in Chillaton.

Designed to showcase establishments that provide the warmest of welcomes, one hundred awards were given out to winners across England.

Victoria Hatfield, chairwoman of Visit Devon, said: ‘The VisitEngland Rose Award is a tremendous accolade for any establishment and for #Devon to be honoured with four very worthy winners is a fantastic achievement for these businesses and for the county. Once again, Devon proves we have fantastic tourist accommodation which is recognized on a national level and is among the finest in the country.’


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Monday, 28 December 2015

Greek tourism leaders welcome airports privatization

A DEAL to privatize 14 regional airports in #Greece has been welcomed by the country’s tourism industry.

The Greek government has signed a deal transferring control of the airports – which handle up to 22 million passengers a year – to Frankfurt Airport operator Fraport and Greek private contractor Copelouzos. The airports include Mykonos, Kos, Santorini, Kefalonia, Samos, Thessaloniki, Corfu, Rhodes, and Chania (Crete).

Fraport and its Greek partner have pledged to invest €330 million (£242 million) by 2020 to upgrade the airports.


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Ice cold in Lapland

Elephant in the room by Anna Sofia Maag
Photo Credit Asaf Kliger
THE ORIGINAL ICEHOTEL in Swedish #Lapland has opened its reindeer-clad doors to guests for the winter season. The amount of snow used to create the hotel’s 55 rooms, church, and bar would be enough to make 700 million snowballs, with its chandeliers alone being made from 1,000 ice crystals. Highlights of the 19 individually-designed ice suites include a life-sized elephant, a 1970s love capsule, a herd of jumping sheep, and an undulating cairn forest. 

Guests can expect two new experiences: a traditional Swedish sauna with an invigorating ice plunge, and a winter wilderness survival course. Also new for this season is ICEHOTEL’s first ever ice beer (Torne Islager), made with melted ice from the nearby Torne River, renowned for its purity.

Exclusive direct flights between Heathrow and #ICEHOTEL (landing in Kiruna after a 3.5 hour flight) are operated by Discover the World and run until late March, with three-night breaks priced from £988pp.

In the village of Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland – 124 miles north of the Arctic Circle – the temperature at ICEHOTEL can drop to -5C/23F. Guests are kept warm with reindeer skins. Adjacent to the ice hotel are buildings that have warm rooms, dressing rooms, saunas, luggage storage, relaxation areas, and restaurants. This part of the hotel is open year-round.

Love Capsule by Luc Voisin and Mathieu Brison
Photo Credit Asaf Kliger
 
www.discover-the-world.co.uk/icehotel

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Picture Credit: www.discover-the-world.co.uk/icehotel

Florida leads world’s top 10 attractions league


ONLINE ticket specialist for attractions around the world, AttractionTix.co.uk, rates Universal Studios in Orlando as the planet’s most popular attraction.

Disneyland Paris has jumped to the second most popular attraction in the world, and two English attractions – the Tower of London and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! London – come in at seventh and ninth.

Top 10 global attractions of 2015:

1. Universal Studios – Orlando, Florida

2. Disneyland Paris – France

3. Walt Disney World Resort – Orlando

4. Siam Park – Tenerife

5. Discovery Cove – Orlando

6. PortAventura – Salou, Spain

7. Tower of London, England

8. Kennedy Space Centre – Merritt Island, Florida

9. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! London, England

10. Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida


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UK is Dubai’s third-largest tourist market; Almost 1m Brits visited the Gulf destination in 2015

The UK is now the third largest source market for international tourism to Dubai, according to statistics published by Dubai Tourism.  

They show that more than 11.7 million international overnight visitors arrived in Dubai during the first 10 months of 2015 – an 8.3% (900,000) increase compared to the same period in 2014. The increase in numbers matches the 7% rise in hotel room supply over the same period.

Asia showed the largest growth, with a 54% and 32% increase in international overnight visitors from the Philippines and China respectively, but Britain and Germany also saw double-digit growth (12% and 11% respectively). Almost one million UK holidaymakers took a break in Dubai. Western European visitors contributed 20% to the total number of visitors.

Ian Scott, director UK & Ireland Dubai Tourism, said: ‘It is great to see the UK market growing at such a rate as Dubai continues to broaden its appeal to everyone, from families to couples, thanks to its diverse offering and we look forward to continue driving this in 2016.’


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Sunday, 27 December 2015

London by sunset


The London Helicopter Company is launching a series of sunset tours from early January 2016.

For the first time – and for six weeks only – company will be taking to the #London skies as the sun goes down, giving passengers a bird’s eye view of some of the city’s iconic sights and bright lights coming to life as the evening draws in.

The tours begin on January 8 and are available on a Friday or Saturday until February 13. In early January, the dusk flights will depart at approximately 4pm for a 4.12pm sunset, pushing back each week until February 13, when the flight will depart at approximately 5pm for a 5.11pm sunset.

The London Sights tour at sunset costs £1,000 for six people and takes passengers from Battersea to the London Wetland Centre in Barnes and then east to Canary Wharf, with highlights along the way including Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe, London’s bridges, the financial district, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and The Shard..

The London Max tour at sunset costs £1,500 for six people and gives longer in the air, taking passengers from Battersea out west to the Son House past Tw Ickenham and then back east as far as Thames Barrier.

www.thelondonhelicopter.com


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A second Colossus for Rhodes?

Rhodes harbour then
ARCHITECTS have produced a plan to build a new Colossus of #Rhodes, the original having been by brought down by an earthquake that struck the ancient Greek island port more than 2,000 years ago. The new Colossus would be five times larger than the original.,. or one-and-a- half times the size of New York’s Statue of Liberty. 

Straddling the two outer piers of the harbour and facing the Aegean, it will clutch a beacon in its raised right hand which will be visible not only to passing ships, but as far as the Turkish coast, 35 miles away. Ships would sail between the statue’s legs. 

Costing €250 million (£183 million), the statue will rise more than 443ft above the harbour. The project’s promoters estimate that the Colossus, which will house a library, shops, and a museum, will generate an annual income of €35 million (£25.6 million).

The statue’s skin would be made of solar panels, providing power for the lighthouse and the facilities inside.

Rhodes port now

It is hoped that the plans for the statue – which have been announced against the backdrop of the Greek financial meltdown – will be seen as a sign of the country’s determination to emerge from its continuing economic crisis.



‘We want to show that #Greece can get back on its feet again; that it has the power and people to do so, and that the economy here can recover,’ Aris A. Pallas, the project’s head architect, told The Times in London. ‘We’re not out to replicate the ancient Colossus. We want to revive the symbolism it imbued, pooling human and financial resources together from across the globe, making it an emblem of globalization while reviving the historical and cultural significance traditionally attached to the Colossus of Rhodes.’

One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun Helios, built in 280 BC to celebrate Rhodes’ victory over the ruler of Cyprus. It was one of the tallest statues of the ancient world, at approximately 98 feet. It was destroyed when Rhodes was hit by an earthquake in 226 BC. In 654 AD, Saracens ransacked the island and sold the statue’s relics.


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West Country escapes

WEST COUNTRY COTTAGES’ 2016 brochure features approximately 130 self-catering holiday homes in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, and Hampshire’s New Forest. Sleeping two to 11 guests, they range from romantic retreats to converted barns and large family houses. More than 50 welcome pets. 

Highlights include two holiday homes, Quakers and Chaffinch, converted from ancient barns on a former Quaker farm and meeting place near the unspoilt village of Membury in East Devon. Quakers is attached to the Grade II listed farmhouse, which has its origins in the 14th century. Chaffinch is a ground floor retreat for two. Dogs welcome at both.

Tucked away in a hamlet just over a mile from Chagford in the heart of Devon’s Dartmoor, thatched and detached Thorn Cottage – which sleeps six – has woodland and moorland walks all around.  Dogs are welcome here, too.

The agency has several holiday homes welcoming more than one dog. Among them is Bramble Barn, converted from a three-bay cart shed at Longcross, a mile from the Dorset town of Shaftsbury. Sleeping four plus two dogs, the cottage has been built from local Shaftesbury green stone and Gillingham brick, and has views over the ancient woodland of Duncliffe Hill and Blackmore Vale.

For a free copy of #WestCountry Cottages 2016 brochure, go to www.westcountrycottages.co.uk.  


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Travel award for Madeira

#PORTUGAL’S Madeira Islands have been named the planet’s leading island destination in the 2015 World Travel Awards, beating off competition from 
Bali, Barbados, Crete, Jamaica, and the Maldives.

‘Our archipelago´s main asset,’ says Eduardo Jesus, regional secretary for Economy, Tourism and Culture, ‘is its exuberant nature. #Madeira is gold!’

Madeira is an archipelago comprising four islands off the north-west coast of Africa. Popular outdoor pursuits include hiking, golf, surfing, and scuba diving.

One of the main events of the year is the Madeira Flower Festival (April 7-13), which attracts thousands of visitors from all around the world.


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Picture Credit: Flower horses during the Flower Festival, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal by Paul Mannix - originally posted to Flickr as Flower horses during the Flower Festival, Funchal, Maderia, Portugal. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

Saturday, 26 December 2015

United States-Cuba to restore scheduled flights

SCHEDULED AIR LINKS between the #US and #Cuba are to be restored. It is hoped the deal agreed by the two governments could jumpstart economic relations between the countries, paving the way for Americans to visit the island on a daily basis.

American airlines will now negotiations with the Cuban government over commercial flight routes and schedules.

United Airlines said: ‘We congratulate the United States and Cuban governments on reaching this historic arrangement, which will strengthen ties and economic development between the two countries.

‘We look forward to offering service between our global gateways and Cuba as soon as we have approval to do so.’

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Top cities for shopping

EXPEDIA has compiled a list of the world’s top 25 travel destinations for shopping.

Based on data that includes blogger recommendations, visitor numbers, value for money, and friendliness.

The top four in the list are New York, Berlin, Los Angeles, and London, while Edinburgh comes in No.20

The complete list is:
  1. New York 
  2. Berlin
  3. Los Angeles 
  4. London 
  5. Kuala Lumpur 
  6. Tokyo
  7. Singapore 
  8. Istanbul 
  9. Paris 
  10. Madrid 
  11. Sao Paulo 
  12. Bangkok 
  13. San Francisco
  14. Dubai 
  15. Milan 
  16. Rome 
  17. Hong Kong 
  18. Seoul 
  19. Marrakech 
  20. Edinburgh 
  21. Melbourne 
  22. Vienna 
  23. Cape Town 
  24. Amsterdam
  25. Bucharest 

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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48411817@N04/11327286036">2013 Holiday Train - Midway Station</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)

Bahamas top spot for weddings

The #Bahamas have been named 2015 Leading Wedding Destination at the World Travel Awards. 

‘We in The Bahamas know our islands present an idyllic setting for destination weddings, so it is an honour to see such recognition from a prestigious organization such as the World Travel Awards,” says Ellison “Tommy” Thompson, deputy director general at the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

On the Bahamas couples can marry on one island and honeymoon on another, have a ceremony underwater, or have dolphins in attendance, says the ministry. For accommodation, there are large resorts, private villas, and small guest houses.


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Island on the move




THE Aegean #island of #Chios is to get a 5-star, 700-room resort complete with a museum and an educational institute. It will also have a holiday apartment block, thalassotherapy and conference centres, a paleontological theme park, and a yacht marina.

Under a deal approved by the Greek government, the developers will offer two scholarships to Greek university honours students, internships in the hospitality sector for young people, and contribute to the operating costs of a charitable organization within the municipality of Chios.


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13513171@N05/9721250056">Port of Chios</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas one and all . . .




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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38745062@N02/4185056004">A Country Christmas - 1913 Vintage Xmas card Illustration</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)

Devon expects Christmas tourism boost


VISIT DEVON estimates visitors will spend £104million in the county over the #Christmas period, with more than 180,000 people expected to visit for an overnight stay and 1.4 million visiting for the day.

‘With restrictions on parents taking their children out of school during term time, which is having a negative impact on tourism across the year, Christmas holidays are more important than they used to be,’ says Victoria Hatfield, chairwoman of Visit Devon. ‘Historically, Christmas was not one of the main tourist seasons for #Devon, but it’s now a very important holiday during a traditionally quiet period.

‘More people visiting Devon during the quieter periods would result in more tourism businesses remaining open, providing year round employment. So it’s crucial we encourage this welcome seasonal tourism boost and market Devon as a fantastic place to visit at Christmas – and all year round.’


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When in India

EXPERIENCE TRAVEL GROUP gives its list of ten must-do experiences 
in #India … 

Stay in a remote fort – The only thing better than visiting a fort is being able to live in one. There are many forts to choose from – arguably the best being Ramathra and Bhainsrorgarh.

Heritage Homestay – Travellers can get a real feel for the culture of Rajasthan, and hear colourful tales of the region’s rich history straight from the local people, with Experience Travel Groups’ heritage homestays. One of the best can be found at the Dera Mandara in Jaipur, where guests can also learn how to home-cook traditional curry.

Rajasthan Classics – Rajasthan is India’s most culturally vibrant state, with a history that dates back thousands of years. Also known as the land of kings, it has numerous majestic forts, palaces, wildlife sanctuaries, and national parks.

Satpura National Park – One of India’s least visited national parks, Satpura is unique in offering visitors opportunities to choose how they explore the reserve – by jeep, on foot, canoe, kayak, or elephant. Satpura has tigers, leopards, bisons, and wild boars.

Glenburn Tea Estate – In the Himalayan foothills, the estate’s hotel provides views of the third tallest mountain in the world, Kanchenjunga.

Neeleshwar Hermitage – On the less frequented coast of Northern Kerala, this is a destination for rejuvenating body and spirit. Travellers can relax at the hotel’s Ayurveda spa, meditate, or learn yoga.

Camping in national parks – Camping is one of the best ways to experience forests and nature reserves. One of the very best campsites is Shergarh in the Kanha Tiger Reserve, where the owners have exceptional knowledge of the area.

Maheshwar – On the banks of the Narmada River, Maheshwar is a 4,000-year-old town in India’s most central state, Madhya Pradesh. A highlight is the Ahilya Fort, which was turned into a hotel in 2000.  The town is buzzing with people praying, doing yoga, sages chanting, and children swimming in the river.

Trekking in Uttarakhand – Uttarakhand is renowned as one of India’s prime destinations for Himalayan adventures, trekking, and white-water rafting, but tourists seeking a more tranquil experience can make a spiritual journey to Rishikesh, the town famously visited by The Beatles in the 1960s.

The Taj Mahal – The world-famous symbol of love stands on the banks of the Yamuna River. The purity of the white marble, the precious gemstones, and location make it one of the iconic tourist attractions in the world.  The luxury The Oberoi Amarvilas hotel has unrivalled views of the Taj.

www.experiencetravelgroup.com




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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/95012188@N02/14506125260">Sani Festival, Zanskar valley, India</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license), http://www.flickr.com/photos/11124467@N02/14979169620">Ghastoli</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)