Posted September 29, 2009 by BookingBuddy
This month, the temperature is dropping and the leaves are changing into beautiful jewel hues of red, orange and brown. The days may be getting shorter, but that’s no reason to stay indoors and mope. After all, there are plenty of fun events happening around the country in October. The end of the month also marks the end of British Summer Time, so remember to set your clocks back an hour to enjoy another hour of sleep. Throughout October – Devon Celebration of Food, Devon
This month-long food festival aims to celebrate and showcase the best of the county’s menus. Events include a ‘food safari’ aimed at getting people to visit farms, apple and pumpkin picking events and a Ready, Steady, Cook!-style competition. The festival has also organised an ‘Eat Out for £10’ promotion with top restaurants across the county, so customers can treat themselves to a great meal.
4th October – Diwali on the Square, London
The Hindu festival of lights brightens up Trafalgar Square on the first Sunday of October.
A host of exciting bands are lined up to perform, and you can expect anything from Bollywood songs to urban street dance. The fountain in the square will be lit up with beautifully crafted floating lanterns. The evening will end with a short session of chanting and devotional music.
11th October – World Conker Championships, Northamptonshire
Armed with only a nut and a bit of string, competitors from all over descend on a little corner of Northamptonshire to battle for supremacy today. The competition started in 1965 in Aston village green, and has since become so popular that this year’s event has been moved to a larger venue in order to accommodate everyone. Although it may seem like a childish game, entrants in the competition will have to adhere to a strict set of rules, and there are even two stewards and an umpire involved in deciding the winner. The Championships also aims to raise money for various charities.
31st October – Halloween, across the UK
This holiday is quickly gaining popularity around the UK, and is always a favourite with children. It’s a chance to relieve your childhood and dress up as scary creatures, and indulge in tons of candy. If you’re more health-conscious, then try bobbing for apples or carving a pumpkin Jack-o’-lantern instead. Don’t forget to keep a large bowl of sweets handy for trick or treating children, least you find the exterior of your house covered with miles of toilet paper.
Posted September 24, 2009 by BookingBuddy
Prevent yourself from getting a case of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) by taking a trip to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. With up to 300 days of sunshine and wonderfully balmy weather, a holiday on the Italian island will help you forget the grey days back home. The island has been inhabited since Neolithic times, and has some remarkably well preserved prehistoric sites dotted around. Its geographical separation from the Italian mainland has allowed the Sardinians to preserve their distinctive culture. See
Su Nuraxi – Sardinia is well known for its many prehistoric nuraghes
– towering megalithic structures that date back to before 1000BC. Su Nuraxi is one of the best-preserved examples, and is currently a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. While the complex is fairly inaccessible without a car, several companies do offer daily guided tours to the site. The nuraghe itself is situated on a plateau, providing visitors with a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. The complex also offers visitors a tantalising glimpse into life during the Bronze and Iron Ages.Stay Grand Relais Dei Nuraghi
– Located on the northeastern coast of Sardinia, this hotel is the perfect setting for a beach holiday. Many rooms have wonderful views of the beach and clear azure waters of the Gulf of Arzachena, only 200 feet away. Several suites have their own private swimming pools, and the hotel has another fully equipped pool for days when it’s too chilly to take a dip in the sea. Room rates start from around £215. Eat
La Ghinghetta – This seafood restaurant in a quaint little seaside village has consistently been named as one of the island’s best places to eat. While the menu isn’t cheap, the food is stunningly fresh and tasty. Like most Sardinian food, La Ghinghetta’s meals are simply prepared, to let the taste of the seafood shine through. One of the most popular dishes is the seafood tartar – your choice of fish or prawn served raw, with quail’s eggs. Other recommended dishes include the creamy lobster terrine, and spaghetti with a tuna sauce.
Check here for flights to Sardinia.
Posted September 22, 2009 by BookingBuddy
Want a romantic getaway but think Paris is too much of a cliché? Why not head over to Prague instead? Straddling both banks of the Vltava River, the ancient city has beautiful bridges, fairytale castles and commanding cathedrals galore. Artists have always been drawn to this picturesque city, and the wide range of well preserved historic buildings provide visitors with many photo opportunities. StayArcadia Residence
– This charming family-run hotel is only a stone’s throw from the busy tourist hub of the Old Town, yet still manages to maintain an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. All apartments are decorated in a warm, homely manner, with beautiful wooden furniture and walls painted in cheery colours. Guests are provided with a complimentary breakfast that is delivered straight to your room, saving you the hassle of rushing for the last slice of toast at a breakfast buffet. Rooms start from around £95. See
Zizkov Television Tower – Rising about the rest of the skyline, this unique tower looks like a prop from a science-fiction movie. Several ‘babies’ can be seen crawling up the outside of the tower – sculptures by the artist David Cerny that have proven surprisingly popular. The tower itself boasts an observation deck, perfect for panoramic views over the city. And if you’ve got a stomach for heights, then head to the restaurant for a mile-high meal. Eat
Restaurace Florian – You may want to loosen your belt before tucking into your meal at this restaurant. Meat lovers will rub their hands in glee while being served massive portions of traditional Czech cuisine. While there are some vegetarian offerings here, they are less than satisfactory. Order the grandly named ‘Medley Plate of the Lord Mayor’ for an introduction to hearty, meaty Czech food – smoked and roast meats, sausages, two kinds of dumplings, and some sauerkraut. Room left for dessert? Perhaps some fruit-filled dumplings will help satisfy your sweet tooth.
Check here for flights to Prague.
Posted September 18, 2009 by BookingBuddy
There’s a lot more to Newcastle than Brown Ale and football. Formerly an industrialised city, Newcastle upon Tyne has undergone revitalization in the last few years, and is now a cosmopolitan city teeming with visitors. The historic city still retains its medieval layout in many parts, with many pedestrian-only streets. Spend a few hours wandering through the city, and you’ll be able to see many dramatic, modern structures side-by-side with centuries-old buildings. See
The Castle – Newcastle is named after this stone structure that was first put up in the 9th century. Made up of Castle Keep and the Black Gate, visitors do not have to travel far to view these ancient buildings, as they are situated in the centre of the city. For a really spooky experience, get a ticket for the Ghost Walk tour (between 7pm and 8.30pm) and meet the castle’s resident poltergeists. For a less hair-raising visit, go in the day, and enjoy a stunning view of the River Tyne from the top of the Castle. Tickets cost £4 for adults, and £2.50 for students and senior citizens.StayKensington Aparthotel
– Located in the leafy suburb of Jesmond, and only five minutes away from the city centre, these 23 apartments provide a luxurious retreat for visitors. Rooms are stylishly decorated, featuring gorgeously patterned wallpaper, tasteful framed pictures, and divinely soft bedding. The addition of a kitchen and living room in every apartment makes it a great choice of accommodation for families or larger groups travelling together. Apartment rates start from around £100.
Grainger Market – Step into this beautiful old market, and take a trip to the past. Unlike the shiny, fluorescent-bathed shopping centres of today, this 175-year-old indoor market is a treasure trove of unexpected delights. Pay a visit to the last Marks and Spencer’s Penny Bazaar, the world’s smallest branch of the famous high street stall, still boasting its beautifully painted original signage from 1895. If you’re feeling peckish, head on over to Sarah’s Tuck-in, where almost everything is fried, and indulge in some goodies. You may want to skip a visit to the Weigh House after that though, where you pay 20p to step on a pair of huge scales while attendants note down your weight on a slip of paper.
Check here for flights to Newcastle.
Posted September 15, 2009 by BookingBuddy
For a holiday filled with excitement, take a trip to the city that never sleeps. The Big Apple is a shopaholic’s dream, with shops offering everything from haute couture to one of a kind second-hand finds. New York is also a vibrant cultural centre, with Broadway plays, art exhibitions and concerts on every night of the week. This cosmopolitan city boasts a varied range of cuisines –from little known Central Asian dishes to the ever popular burger, you’ll find something to suit your tastebuds. StayAffinia Dumont
– This hotel’s Midtown location is perfect for those of you who love to be in the thick the action. It’s just a few blocks away from that famous New York landmark, the Empire State Building. The hotel has a focus on fitness and rejuvenation, and offers guests a Fitness Concierge, who will probably come in handy when you’ve overindulged. Guests can choose from a Dream Pillow Menu of six different pillows, for a sound sleep after a heavy day of looking at the sights. Room rates start at around £150.Play
FAO Schwarz – Kids of all enjoy will enjoy a visit to New York City’s oldest toy store. Entering the store is akin to stepping into a childhood dream where toys come to life. Be surrounded by larger than life stuffed animals and life-sized dolls, and view the giant floor piano Tom Hanks played on in the movie Big
. Need a break? Pay a visit to the in store ice-cream parlour and choose your favourite flavours. Eat
Shake Shack – This burger stand in Madison Square Park has become a culinary institution since opening its shutters in 2004. Burgers are not the only items on the menu – customers get to choose from four different styles of hot dogs, as well as freshly squeezed lemonade and frozen custards. Those with a big appetite may want to tackle the Shack Stack – a cheeseburger and ‘shroomburger tower topped with the famous Shack Sauce. And if you need something to wash it all down, why not go for the Concrete Jungle? It’s a gut busting mix of thick, creamy frozen vanilla custard, mixed with hot fudge, peanut butter, and bananas.
Check here for flights to New York
Posted September 11, 2009 by BookingBuddy
London may have a reputation as a grey, rainy city, but the city’s vibrant, cosmopolitan culture more than makes up for the lack of sun. One of the largest and busiest cities in the world, you’ll never get bored here as there’s always a multitude of things to see and do. Should you need a break from the madness, simply retreat to one of the many scenic parks dotted around the city, and enjoy the peace. See
Regent’s Canal – Take a walk (or cycle) along this 200 year old canal for a chance to see a different side of London, away from the madding crowd and tourist buses. The canal cuts through a substantial east-west swathe of the city, and offers many lovely spots for picnicking. You’ll discover plenty of hidden places as the canal wends its way behind the London Zoo, through Camden Town, and on eastwards through Islington, before ending at the Limehouse Cut as it flows into the Thames. StayThe Sumner Hotel
– Accommodation in Central London can be prohibitively expensive, so this elegant little townhouse hotel just off Marble Arch comes as a delightful surprise. Rooms are tastefully decorated in calming, neutral colours, and are pleasantly quiet despite being only 5 minutes away from bustling Oxford Street. The Sumner also provides its guests with a fantastic complimentary buffet breakfast, although you’ll have to be an early riser to take advantage off it. But with so much to do in London, why would you want to sleep in anyway? Rates start at around £130 for a room.
HK Diner – For a quick, cheap but delicious meal, head to this busy restaurant on Wardour Street in Soho. Despite the abundance of competing Chinese restaurants in nearby Chinatown, this place is always crowded, and often sports a queue outside. Like its name suggests, it mostly serves typical Hong Kong style dishes. Start with an order of roast duck, its dark, crispy skin glistening with juices under the harsh fluorescent lights. The clay pot dishes are highly popular – a heap of vegetables, meat or seafood served on steaming rice in a big clay vessel.
Check here for flights to London
Posted September 8, 2009 by BookingBuddy
Often referred to as the cultural capital of Poland, Krakow is full of activities for any visitor. Situated on the scenic banks of the Vistula River, this historic city has a beautiful Old Town (Stare Miasto) that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Krakow’s location in the south of Poland provides it with a lovely temperate climate that is perfect for sightseeing, although be sure to wrap up if you’re visiting in winter, as it often snows during that period.See
Market Square (Rynek Glowny) – This beautifully preserved square dates back to the 13th century, and is the largest market square in Europe. The gigantic Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) is situated in the middle of the square, although you’re more likely to find kitschy souvenirs in there these days. Lining the Square are loads of chic little cafes and restaurants, where you can rest your feet and people-watch while sampling Polish delicacies. Stay Hotel Columbus
– Located close to the picturesque Vistula River and only a short walk from the Market Square, the Columbus is a small and peaceful hotel in a bustling city. With only 24 rooms, guests can relax in comfort and retreat to their rooms to recover from the busy streets right outside. Fill up on their generous complimentary breakfast spread in the morning, and it’ll give you enough energy to power around for most of the day. Room rates start at around £100.Eat
Wierzynek – One of the oldest restaurants in Krakow, this classy restaurant in the Old Town serves up hearty, traditional Polish cuisine in an elegant setting. The carnivores among you might like the steak tartar – raw beef mixed with eggs and various spices. Be sure to order some traditional Polish dumplings (peirogi) too – plump, tasty morsels stuffed with meat and mushrooms that are guaranteed to have you loosening your belts afterwards.
Check here for flights to Krakow
. (Photo: traveltokrakow.com)
Posted September 4, 2009 by BookingBuddy
As the temperature starts falling, a quick escape to the sun-drenched port of Malaga is sure to reinvigorate you and lift your spirits. The Spanish city is perched on the aptly named Costa del Sol and boasts a sweltering Mediterranean climate for a large portion of the year. Whether you choose to simply lounge around on the beach, or venture around exploring the historic buildings, you’re sure to have no end of fun in this laidback city.See
Castillo de Gibralfaro – Sited on a hilltop by the city, this beautiful 14th century castle provides spectacular views overlooking parts of the city and the Mediterranean Sea. The Castillo has played a vital role in the city’s history, playing host to both Muslim and Catholic rulers over the last several hundred years. Although most parts have fallen into ruin, there are some remarkably well-preserved areas that help provide an insight into castle life over the last few centuries. Entry to the castle is free.Stay Room Mate Lola
– Lola may be a small hotel, but it’s definitely big on service. Centrally located, most places of interest are only minutes away, and it is a quick 5-minute stroll to the beach. Start your day off with the complimentary buffet breakfast, open till midday so the late-risers don’t have to worry about missing out. Rooms are a far cry from the standard beige décor of most chain hotels, with walls painted in candy pink stripes, lilac panels and lime green panels. The lobby resembles the set from a 60s’ science-fiction movie – think gleaming all white furniture and lots of mirrors. Rates start at around £80.Eat
Bodega El Pimpi – Head on over to this bustling restaurant for good wine and excellent food in a casual setting. The quirky décor includes vintage posters of flamenco dancers, and wine barrels signed by famous Malaguenos such as Antonio Banderas. Soak in the lively atmosphere of the tavern while sharing plates of tapas and enjoying a good bottle of wine. The menu changes regularly, so as to take advantage of the best produce of the season. The cured meats and seafood dishes come highly recommended.
Check here for flights to Malaga.
Posted September 1, 2009 by BookingBuddy
Birmingham has a reputation as a dull, grey city but a quick trip there will quickly dispel that misconception. Visitors will find much to entertain themselves with, both within and without the famous Bull Ring. This bustling West Midlands city is a great place to walk around in, and features gorgeous Georgian and Victorian buildings nestling beside stunning space-age architecture. Play
Cadbury World – You may not have won one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets, but you can still take a tour through a chocolate factory. Cadbury World’s fourteen zones take visitors through the process of chocolate making, as well as sharing the history of the Cadbury business. Chocoholics of all ages will enjoy this experience immensely. Tickets cost £10.10 for children and £13.45 for adults, with concessions available.StayNitenite
– This hotel offers small but perfectly formed rooms in the city centre. And if you’re worried that such low prices mean you’ll be staying in a tiny windowless cell, fear not! The rooms feature all the mod cons you’d expect in a hotel three times the price, with a few more extras thrown in for free! There are 42” plasma screens in the rooms, and guests are offered a range of complimentary movies to watch on those huge screens. The hotel also has its own restaurant – Saint Beni – that serves up freshly prepared meals every day of the week. Room rates start from under £60.Shop
Selfridges – This branch of the high-end department store is housed in a suitably show-stopping silver building beside the Bull Ring, and has become a tourist attraction in its own right. There’s plenty of high fashion on offer, and once you and your wallet are tired from the spending spree, head on over to the food hall to recharge your batteries. There’s a large selection of cosmopolitan cuisine to choose from – from donuts to sushi.
Check here for flights to Birmingham