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July 2009

What To Do In The UK – August

Posted July 31, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Notting_Hill_Carnival Festival season is still in full swing this month, so there’s plenty going on for music-lovers. And even if you don’t fancy standing in a muddy field with screaming teenagers, the lengthy daylight hours mean there’s still lots to do all over the country. Take advantage of the last few weeks of warm weather and spend it outdoors.

August – BBC Proms, London

The BBC Proms are still on, so if you haven’t had time to go, there’s still more than a month for you to catch up. Ticket prices start from £5, and you’ll be welcome whether you’re dressed up or down. Events this month include Multiple Pianos Day – a showcase for music written for two or more pianos. There are also several family events taking place, so you can get stuck into making music (or noise) as a family!

August 7th – 8th – Great British Beer Festival, London

If you’re more comfortable chugging ale in a pub then listening to a chorale in a park, then head on over to Earl’s Court. This beer lovers’ festival features over 400 beers (as well as ales, ciders, lagers, bitters and stouts). There will also be a special bar dedicated to serving gluten-free, vegan, organic and coeliac-friendly brews. Tickets cost £8 a day or £23 for the whole festival, with concessions available for CAMRA members.

Aug 14th – September 6th – Edinburgh International Festival
One of the most wellknown festivals around, the Edinburgh International Festival is back again this year. You’ll be spoilt for choice this year, as it offers more than 100 events to choose from during its 3 week run. The Fringe Festival runs alongside it, and is a great chance to catch many up-and-coming performers before they get famous. Ticket prices vary according to events.

Aug 30th – 31st – Notting Hill Carnival, London

This free street carnival has had a colourful past, and still offers a big bang to end your summer. Children’s Day is on Sunday, and is generally less crowded and noisy. You’ll be able to have a better view of the procession then. The main event takes place on Monday, with plenty of colourfully costumed performers and raucous music all day. If you’re still up for more partying after that, snap on a sequinned bra and head to one of several after parties in nearby venues.

(Photo: jaunted.com)

City Breaks In Rome – Rome Hotels

Posted July 27, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Il-gelato-di-san-crispino-1 They say all roads lead to Rome, so why not take a trip to the Eternal City this summer? The Mediterranean climate allows you to enjoy the outdoors without worrying too much about the weather. With so much to see and so, you’ll want to spend as much time outside as possible. And if the humidity gets to you, then cool off by indulging in a gelato or three!

Stay
Hotel des Artistes – Just a quick walk from Termini Station, this hotel has a variety of rooms to suit most budgets. Plush 3-star rooms are available on the upper levels, and backpackers will be pleased to learn that they’ve not been left out – the hotel has dorm rooms available on the lower floors.
On a sunny morning, enjoy your breakfast on the leafy rooftop terrace while looking out at splendid views of the city. Room rates start from around £25 per person.

See
Catacomb di San Sebastiano -  Should the summer heat get too much, then retreat underground for a tour of this catacomb dedicated to Saint Sebastian. The saint was buried here in the 3rd century after being martyred. The tunnels feature mosaics and frescoes, some dating from as early as the 2nd century. Tickets cost about £6 for adults, with concessions available.

Eat
San Crispino Gelateria – When you need something cold and sweet to beat the heat, then head straight to San Crispino’s, where they take gelato very seriously. Critics have constantly heaped accolades upon this gelateria, so why not find out for yourself if it lives up to the hype? All their gelato is lovingly made from scratch, with an emphasis on using fresh, seasonal ingredients. This commitment is evident when you taste the rich, creamy gelato – much thicker than what you’re probably used to. The crema di limone is a highly recommended classic.

Check here for flights to Rome.


(Photo: lostateminor.com)

City Breaks In Venice - Venice Hotels

Posted July 24, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Burano_+Venice_+Italy A visit to the legendary City of Bridges is a must before it makes good on its threat to sink under the waters.  As it’s a no car zone, you’ll be able to spend many pleasant hours strolling through the beautiful city and exploring at your own pace. But with so much to look at, your feet are sure to get tired, so simply hop into one of the many gondolas or water taxis and let them take you under Venice’s many famous bridges.

Stay
Foscari Palace – If your budget allows it, splash out for a room in this historical building. The terrace rooms overlook the famous Grand Canal, providing a great backdrop for your various photo-ops. Start your day off with a full buffet breakfast spread from the kitchen. You’ll be able to pick from a wide choice including juicy fresh fruits, deliciously buttery pastries, and scrumptious cakes – a far cry from the insipid ‘Continental’ breakfast offerings at most hotels. Room rates start at around £250.

See
Murano Island– Hope into a gondola and take a trip over to Murano to see a first hand demonstration of the art of glassblowing. Not all factories are open to the public, but the V.I.A factory offers free demonstrations. You may not be a fan of Murano’s stereotypically gaudy baubles, but there’s something strangely transfixing about watching molten sand getting transformed into colourful goblets and paperweights. There are also a couple of museums on the island, both dedicated to Venetian glassmaking, of course.

Eat
Osteria Ai Assassini – Located near the Opera House, this osteria serves traditional Venetian cuisine in an informal atmosphere. Try their 'frittura de pesce' or fried seafood plate –juicy battered calamari, prawns and clams deep-fried till the coating is crunchy. If seafood isn’t your thing, go on a Monday or Tuesday and sample some of their meat dishes. You may prefer a hearty plate of 'saltimbocca alla Veneziana' (meat cooked with prosciutto) or a plate of 'bollito misto e salse' (boiled meats served with a selection of sauces) instead.


Check here for flights to Venice

(Photo: nature.wallpaperme.com)

City Breaks In Paris – Paris Hotels

Posted July 21, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Laduree The City of Lights is the perfect choice for those of you looking to escape for a short, romantic getaway. However, with so much on offer, you’re likely to want to extend your stay there to explore the French capital’s many nooks and crannies. From high art at the Louvre to low prices at a flea market, you’ll find something to suit your taste in this beautiful city.

Stay
Hotel Keppler – This elegant boutique hotel near the Champs Elysee is pet-friendly –owners are invited to bring their furry babies along when checking in. The animal theme is reflected in their eclectic décor, featuring plenty of animal prints and sculptures splashed liberally around. If your preference is for hotels with minimal, neutral décor, the Hotel Keppler may be a shock to your system. Each room is decked out in a stunning and unique combination of colours and prints – sometimes complementary, sometimes clashing, but certainly never beige. Room rates start at around £250.

Eat
Laduree – Indulge your tastebuds at this most Parisian of tearooms on the Champs Elysee. You’ll want to try their famed macaroons, of course, but it’s hard to choose just one when they all look so delicious. The little jewel-toned cakes are made each morning in their ‘laboratory’, and Laduree’s bakers create a new flavour for each season. Of course, there are plenty of other tasty treats on offer too should macaroons not be your cup of tea. Why not order a divinely flaky millefeuille with rum-flavoured cream, or a ‘religieuse’ flavoured with rose petals? You may need a new set of teeth after this, but it would’ve been well worth it.

Shop
Les Puces des Saint-Ouen – The world’s largest antiques market at Porte de Clignancourt is a must-see for any visitor. Even if you’re not into antiques, it’s a great opportunity for people watching, as the whole world seems to be crammed into this tiny part of Paris during peak periods. If you are a serious bargain hunter, then get there as early as possible, as the flea market becomes so crowded after noon that it may be hard for you to move about. When you get hungry after all that haggling, grab yourself a crepe from one of the many stands dotted around the place.

Check here for flights to Paris.

(Photo: londonsouthernbelle.typepad.com)

City Breaks In Dusseldorf – Dusseldorf Hotels

Posted July 16, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Illumina-schloss_dyck2 If you’re looking to get away for a break but can’t do without the comforts of city life, then why not head for Dusseldorf? This bustling city on the Rhine is an economic and cultural centre, and with events galore, you’ll never have a dull moment during your trip. Whether you appreciate a good beer or a pretty frock, you’ll find something to suit your taste in this bustling city.

Stay
Stage 47 Hotel – Less than 10 minutes away from the Konigsalle strip, this stage-themed hotel makes for a memorable stay with its eclectic décor and luxurious rooms. With only 27 rooms in this boutique hotel, you won’t feel like you’re jostling for elbow space with other guests. The rooms are larger than you’d expect – maisonette suites have separate dining and living spaces. Prices start from around £95.

Eat

Fuschen – The draw at this crowded brewery in the Aldstadt is undoubtedly its Altbier – a clean, crisp ‘old style’ beer. If the thought of beer before noon doesn’t make your stomach churn, then order up a tasty glass of Alt to go with your breakfast – a plate filled with liverwurst, ham, bier wurst, raw pork, cheese and some bread. Of course, there are other breakfast options available too if you can’t face so much meat so early in the day. For lunch or dinner, the Altbier also goes well with typically German fare like pork knuckles, or bacon with mashed potatoes.

See
Schloss Dyck – A glimpse at this beautiful moated castle will convince you that you’ve wandered onto the pages of a fairytale. The castle has been here since 1094, although it underwent extensive rebuilding in the 17th century. These days, you can spend a pleasant afternoon exploring the extensive gardens, and find out about the history of the castle from the Siftung Schloss Dyck foundation. There are also occasional markets and concerts within the castle grounds. Entrance tickets cost about £5, with concessions available.

Check here for flights to Dusseldorf.

City Breaks In Singapore – Singapore Hotels

Posted July 14, 2009 by BookingBuddy

3598242386_3a28a53b11 With many airlines now offering cheap flights to Singapore, why not take advantage of the low fares and hop on a plane to the Lion City? Its equatorial location means you’ll enjoy excellent tropical weather all year round. And even though it’s a bustling cityscape with skyscrapers galore, you’ll still be able to escape to secluded spots around the island for if you need some peace and quiet. The country is also a well-known gastronomic hotspot; so make sure you take some time out to feast in a hawker centre.

Stay
Sentosa Resort And Spa – Make your way over to this resort hotel on an island off the mainland if you’re looking to relax. The name ‘Sentosa’ stands for peace and tranquillity in Malay, and you’ll find plenty of that here. Whether you’re spending some time relaxing in the rejuvenating mud pools or working out in the Seven Eden Wellness Centre, you’re sure to emerge from the resort feeling good about yourself. Rooms start from about £100 per night.

See
The Night Safari – Experience one of the most unique zoos in the world, where the gates open when most other zoos shut theirs. You’ll be able to come face-to-face with rhinos, hyenas and giraffes on a tram ride that takes you through eight geographical zones simulating the animals’ natural habitat. If you’re the adventurous type, then take a walk through the three trails. Be dwarfed by century-old giant trees on the Forest Giants Trail, or come up close with large wild animals on the Fishing Cat and Leopard Trails. Tickets cost about £10 for adults, with concessions available.

Eat
Lau Pa Sat Food Centre – This Victorian structure in the city centre houses a bustling hawker centre with multiple stores under its filigreed cast-iron roof. With a wide variety of delicious local food on offer, you’ll be hard pressed picking just one dish to try. Why not spend a couple of hours in there stuffing your face? Tuck into succulent chilli crab, or a bowl of creamy, spicy laksa. Don’t leave without ordering the country’s ‘national dish’ chicken rice – boiled chicken served with fragrant rice – simple yet unbelievably tasty. Most dishes range between £1 - £2.

Check here for flights to Singapore

(Photo: myseveralworlds.com)

City Breaks In Barcelona – Barcelona Hotels

Posted July 10, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Barcelona_sunset Whether you’re looking for a short weekend getaway or a longer holiday, Barcelona has lots to offer you. The city is famous for the fantastical buildings of Antoni Gaudi, but the Gothic quarter also offers a wealth of lesser-known, yet no less beautiful architectural creatures. If all you’re looking for is a relaxing break, then simply head to its nearby beaches where you can lie back and work on that tan.

Stay
Gran Hotel Torre Catalunya – Located right in the centre of town, this hotel has the added advantage of being only a minute away from the main train station, with lots of public transport nearby. For a fantastic view of Barcelona, head up to the hotel’s restaurant on the 23rd floor – the food’s not too shabby either. If you need to relax, pop into the spa and try a therapeutic hydro-massage. Rooms start at around £90 per night.

Play
Parc Guell – No visit to Barcelona is complete without a visit to at least of one Gaudi’s  creations. However, if you don’t feel like spending a nice sunny day inside a building, then why not spend it in this park? You’ll think you’ve stepped into a wonderland as a multicoloured dragon fountain greets you at the entrance. The rest of the park is filled with Gaudi’s whimsical, seemingly outlandish designs. Walk up to the large cross at the top of the park for a panoramic view of the whole city. Take a rest and have a seat on the long serpentine bench at the main terrace – said to be inspired by the imprint of buttocks in wet clay. Entrance to the park is free.

Eat
Quimet y Quimet – This tavern has been open for over a century, and is still run by the same family that started it (the titular Quimets). The wall behind the bar is filled floor to ceiling with canned and bottled goods, and the selection of tapas served seems almost limitless. The adventurous gastronomes among you may opt for a taste of the tou dels tillers (cheese stuffed with trout roe and truffles). Or you could just try the classic dishes such as potato croquettes, tortillas, and empanadas – simple food all cooked to perfection. Tapas start from around £2.


Check here for flights to Barcelona

(Photo: stare.ca)

City Break In Dubai – Dubai Hotels

Posted July 7, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Dubai_gold_souq For an over-the-top experience, take a trip to Dubai. Almost everything in this city on the Persian Gulf is a hymn to excess. Whether it's the biggest, the largest or the most expensive, they can all be found here.

Sleep

Four Points Sheraton – Your budget may not stretch to the 7-star Burj Al Arab, but this hotel in downtown area of Bur Dubai more than makes up for it. The Four Points is only minutes away from the world famous Old souk – the perfect distance to travel if you’re lugging back bags filled with plenty of shopping. With room prices starting at around £65 per night, you’ll be sure to have plenty of dough left over for shopping.

Shop
Souks – No visit to Dubai is complete without a trip to at least one of the souks. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a lot of fun to just go and soak in the atmosphere of the noise and crowds. Take a pair of sunnies with you if you’re planning to go to the Gold souk, as the bling is sure to dazzle you. Make sure you choose the right time to go, since many stalls take a break at midday and only open again at around 4 o’clock.

See
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary – It may not seem like it, but Dubai’s location is the perfect spot for many migratory birds to stop and feed. The sanctuary is also home to small mammals, fish and crustaceans. The calm and peaceful atmosphere in here disguises the fact that this reserve is only minutes from the centre of town. Camp out in one of the three birding hides and watch a myriad of birds go about their business. Entrance to the sanctuary is free.


Check here for flights to Dubai

(Photo: riazu.files.wordpress.com)

City Break In Jersey - Jersey Hotels

Posted July 3, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Jersey_walking_holidays If you feel like getting away for a bit but don’t want to spend hours travelling, then why not try Jersey? The French-named streets, unspoilt scenery and laidback surroundings will undoubtedly make you feel like you’re a world away from the hassles of the working week. With so much to do on the little island, you’re sure to have a great trip with your family.

Stay
Merton Hotel – Situated a little off the main stretch of St. Helier, this hotel is great for a family getaway. Make sure you visit the hotel’s very own Aquadome – a huge indoor leisure club with water slides, cascade fountains, a Flowrider wave pool and a steam room. With the temperature at a constant 27 degrees, you’ll feel like you’re on a subtropical holiday even if it’s grey skies outside. Rates start at around £70 per person during the summer season.

See
Jersey War Tunnels – Set aside a couple of hours to wander through these historic tunnels which were used by German soldiers during German occupation of Jersey. There is a genuine, working version of the Enigma Machine on display – a fascinating piece of history even if you’re not a cryptography buff. It played a vital part in the outcome of the Second World War. Once you’ve left the gloomy tunnels, visit the sunny, peaceful Garden of Contemplation where you can through plaques engraved with facts about the Occupation. Entrance to the Tunnels are £10.50 for adults, and concessions are available.

Eat

Salty Dog Bistro – You can’t have an island getaway without having a seafood feast, so head to this stylish little restaurant right on St. Aubin’s harbour  to get your fill. For a taste of some wonderfully fresh local produce, order from their a la carte menu. What about starting with a bowl of fresh local mussels, before moving on to a ‘Reef and Beef’ – beef paired with hand dived scallops and king prawns?   

Check here for flights to Jersey

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