Posted February 25, 2010 by BookingBuddy
The beautiful harbour city of Sydney is famous for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but step away from the beaches and you will discover many other attractions. It is a bustling, cosmopolitan city, with a thriving cultural scene and great shopping. With a huge percentage of immigrants living in the Harbour City, it also boast some of the best cuisine around – you’ll find gorgeously fresh seafood at a fraction of the price, and eat well at little-known restaurants that are easily on par with Michelin-starred establishments in Europe.
Rozelle Markets – Make your way to this weekend market in the unassuming suburb of Rozelle to net yourself some truly unique bargains. Each Saturday and Sunday, this school parking lot gets transformed into a lively venue with up to 100 stalls selling all sorts of new and used bric-a-brac. You may also find students from the art school nearby selling their artworks – spend some time browsing, and you may pick up a piece by the next Picasso, for less than £5! You’ll find a rotating line-up of musicians to provide a soundtrack to your shopping, and when you’re hungry, pick up a snack from the food stalls dotted around. You’ll find all sorts of tantalising items – Japanese pizza, Turkish pancakes, satay chicken rolls, and more.
Freshwater Beach – Bondi Beach may be the glamourous sister, but this quiet little stretch of beach is far more enjoyable, and much less crowded with lobster-red tourists. Freshwater Beach - or ‘Freshie’ – is almost hidden away on at the Northern end of Manly Beach, but those who take the time to get there will be rewarded with almost the whole beach to themselves. It’s known as the place where Olympic surfer Duke Kahanamoku demonstrated his skills to spectators – the event is commemorated with a life-sized bronze statue of ‘The Duke’ on his board. Swimmers can choose to take a dip in the ocean (as long as they stay between the flags!) or splash around in the rock pool at one end of the beach.
Intercontinental Sydney – This branch of the Intercontinental has a wonderful location beside Sydney Harbour, mere minutes from the city centre. The huge windows in the rooms let in plenty of natural light, and provide guests with wonderful panoramic views of the city’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Visit the Café Opera on the first level to taste some of the fresh dishes available, or step out and eat at any of the multitude of restaurants on the hotel’s doorstep.
Check here for cheap flights to Sydney.
Posted February 24, 2010 by BookingBuddy
You can uncross your fingers and say a fond farewell to dreams of a free first-class upgrade the next time you’re checking in. The good old days of airlines having spare first class seats to give away for free may soon be nothing more than a nostalgic memory.
Australian carrier Qantas has just announced that they will be axing their first class seats, in the wake of a 72% decrease in profits. According to CEO Alan Joyce, more passengers are opting for business class seats these days, where they feel they can get much more value for their money. Their announcement comes just a few days after short-haul carrier CityJet’s announcement that they are replacing their business class seats with a cheaper class that they are calling ‘Premium Economy’.
Does this spell the beginning of the end for more expensive seat classes on planes? If you’re worried that you may never get the chance to fly in luxury, fret not, at least for the time being. Qantas haven’t got rid of all their first class seats yet – they are still available on twelve Airbus 380s flying major routes, for now.
Posted February 23, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Mozart’s hometown is a firm favourite on many tourists’ itineraries, and there are several good reasons for it. With its many baroque buildings and carefully maintained gardens, the city is pretty as a picture, and can at times seem like it came straight off a film set. Movie buffs among you may recognise some of landmarks from The Sound of Music
. Be sure to take some time out to sample some of the city’s food, and make room for dessert – the city is renowned for its variety of sweets and delicacies.See
The Sound of Music Tour – Book yourself on a Sound of Music
tour for a kitschy yet fun way to see the city’s sights. The extensive tour takes you around many of the original locations used in the movie. Hardcore fans can dress up as the Von Trapps or other characters and re-enact various scenes throughout the tour. Dance around the fountain in the Mirabell Palace and sing Do-Re-Mi
, or pretend you’re a young Julie Andrews and walk through the Archbishop’s Residence while singing I Have Confidence
. The tour also takes you to the Salzkammergut Lake District, with its fairytale castles and chocolate box towns. StayNH Salzburg City
– The clean, almost minimalist interior of this hotel is a stark contrast to the baroque architecture of most of the city. Visitors to Salzburg will find its city centre location very convenient. It is just a short walk to the famed Mirabell Gardens, and not much further to most other attractions. The rooms are large and modern, in keeping with the theme of the hotel. Room rates start at about £100. Eat
Café Sacher – Indulge your sweet tooth at this old-fashioned coffeehouse on the banks of the Salzach. This little café, located in the Hotel Sacher, is perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of the Sachertorte – a delightfully dense chocolate cake. The café also serves other pastries, all made fresh in the bakery, but it is the Sachertorte that most people come here for. If you feel like you need something more substantial then dessert, ask for the small menu of hot and cold dishes. The Hotel also boasts a confectionery, where guests can’t get enough of the Sachertorte can get it delivered to them at home.
Check here for cheap flights to Salzburg
Posted February 18, 2010 by BookingBuddy
The advent of low-cost, no-frill airlines has seen the demise of many an unappetising inflight meal. While most passengers are happy to go without food on a short-haul flight, some people’s bellies do start complaining on longer flights. It’s not a great idea to starve yourself during a longer journey, so you’ll probably need to eat at some point. However, instead of opting for the unhealthy snacks many airlines offer, why not pack your own healthy and delicious inflight meal instead? Here are some important points to keep in mind when packing your inflight picnic.
See-through containers - Pack your food in transparent plastic containers - like the kind you get from takeaways - so it’s much easier for security staff to see what you’ve brought with you. This way, you won’t need to spend much time opening up all the containers, then repacking them into your bags again.
No liquids - Bring an empty water-bottle with you, and fill it up once you’ve passed the security checkpoints, to save the hassle and expense of having to throw away a full bottle, and then buying a new one. Try to avoid bringing dips with you, as they may be thrown away too, and soups are a definite no-no!
Finger food - Bring along hassle-free food that can be easily eaten straight from the container. Baby carrots, pre-cut fruits (e.g apples or pears), grapes, rice crackers, nuts and granola bars are all healthy, yet fuss free, and you’re left with hardly any mess to clean up after the meal. Sandwiches are great too - cut them into halves or quarters to make it easier for little hands. Cutting your food into bite-sizes pieces also mean you won’t need any cutlery.
No smell - Be considerate to your fellow passengers – after all, you’ll need to share a very tight space with them for the next several hours. Try to refrain from packing foods that may smell strongly or linger in the air for ages. So, no garlic or blue cheese, and try to pop a couple of breath mints after your meal so you won’t smell like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Do you have other tips on how to pack food for flights? If so, we’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment!
Posted February 17, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Pisa is famous for its Leaning Tower, but there’s a whole lot more to this ancient city then dysfunctional architecture. You’ll be able to spend several pleasant days simply strolling through this little city and looking at all the beautifully preserved medieval buildings. However, despite the old buildings, Pisa feels like a vibrant young city, due to the presence of thousands of students who attend the University of Pisa.Play
Segway Pisa Tour – Exploring a new city on foot can be really tiring, and you’ll miss out on plenty of sights if you’re zipping around in a car. But Italy Segway Tours offers a fun compromise – visitors get to explore the city on a Segway! You’ll be accompanied by a professional guide, who will take you on a three-hour tour around the city’s attractions while balanced on this electric, scooter-like device. See
Orto Botanico di Pisa – Visit this lush green garden if you feel like to escape from the crush of other tourists. The oldest university botanical garden in Europe, this surprisingly tranquil garden is right in the middle of the city, only a few minutes from the famous Leaning Tower. You’ll find a large collection of herb gardens, greenhouses, ponds and university buildings on its grounds. The old botany institute is also worth a look, if only for its quirky seashell-covered façade. StayHotel Relais dell’Orologio
– This luxurious little hotel is conveniently located a stone’s throw from the Leaning Tower and other sights – perfect for those of you who are eager to start exploring the city. Housed in a 14th-century building, many of the rooms still retain bits of their original features, such as little niches in the walls and exposed wooden beams set into the ceiling. The hotel’s garden restaurant is a romantic spot for a candle-lit dinner in the summer; it moves into the attic over the winter months to take advantage of the roaring fireplace. Room rates start from about £60.
Check here for cheap flights to Pisa.
Posted February 16, 2010 by BookingBuddy
It’s not often that you can claim to have experienced the best of both worlds, but a trip to Istanbul may just give you the chance to do so. This magnificent city straddles Europe and Asia, with the turquoise waters of the mighty Bosphorus cutting through it. Its position made it one of the most important cities in the ancient world, and consequently, Istanbul has become a cultural melting pot. You’ll find youngsters in jeans and t-shirts walking through the centuries old streets, and old men in traditional garb waiting for their coffees in Starbucks. With such a wealth of attractions hidden throughout this huge city, it can be hard for a visitor to know where to look, so we’re here with a few suggestions.
Topkapi Palace – The former residence of the Ottoman Sultans is a sprawling museum complex these days. There are a maze of courtyards and passageways, and it may take you quite a few hours to complete your visit. Many of the buildings have been restored to their former glory, and you’ll have a tantalising glimpse in to the luxurious lifestyle of the various royals that have lived in the Palace.
Ferman Hotel – This relatively new hotel is probably not the right place for those who prefer their rooms in neutral colours. Each room is opulently decorated, with luxurious brocade fabrics and a rich gold-toned colour scheme, an ode to the living quarters of the Ottoman Sultans. It is conveniently located within easy reach of most of the city’s ‘must-see’ sights, and a stone’s throw away from the blue waters of the Bosphorus. There is a wonderful rooftop terrace restaurant, with views over the Old City, and a dining hall where breakfast is served daily. Room rates start from about £80 a night.
Ciya Sofrasi – This little restaurant on the Asian side of the city is a treasure chest of Turkish cuisine. Its owner and chef, Musa Dagdeviren, is an intrepid collector of traditional recipes from all over the country. The menu is in Turkish, so if you have no Turkish friends and can’t speak the language, then be adventurous and point at it with your eyes closed and hope for the best. You may end up with some tasty surprises, such as galya, a lamb stew with chestnuts and quinces, or a bowl of ezo gelin, a spicy, savoury lentil soup.
Check here for cheap flights to Istanbul.
Posted February 11, 2010 by BookingBuddy
The city of Cairo conjures up evocative images of ancient citadels, bustling markets and the mysterious Sphinx, sitting silently as a witness to history. While many visit Cairo as a gateway to viewing the famous pyramids at Giza, the sprawling city itself offers many attractions to the curious visitor. This ancient city has been at the crossroads of many cultures, and is, to this day, a busy cosmopolitan city.
Talisman Hotel de Charme – Downtown Cairo can be fairly hectic, but Talisman Hotel helps provide a welcome respite from all that traffic just outside their front door. The hotel is an oasis of calm, with its lush carpeted interior adding to the peaceful atmosphere. All rooms are decorated in stylish, vibrant colours, and the corridors resemble an art gallery, with a profusion of tasteful artefacts lining the ochre walls. Room rates start at around £110.
Khan el-Khalili – It’s possible to while away several hours exploring this huge 14th century souk. Careful shoppers will be able to find great bargains on anything from gold, to fabrics and even electronic gadgets, but it’s also a great place to just mingle with the locals. Several coffeehouses can be found in the souk, they make great spots for people watching, and serve up strong Arabic coffee as well as shisha. There are also street food vendors dotted throughout the place, so you can eat as you shop.
Naguib Mahfouz Coffee Shop – Hidden in the heart of the massive Khan el-Khalili, this air-conditioned café offers harried visitors an opportunity to get away from the crowds and just relax. Named after Egypt’s Nobel-prize winning writer, the café is rather lavishly down up, with shiny brass fittings and rugs strewn around. Quench your thirst with a fresh lime soda, or be adventurous and try one of the uniquely Egyptian concoctions such as karkady, a pleasingly tangy, ruby-hued hibiscus infusion.
Check here for cheap flights to Cairo.
Posted February 10, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Valentine’s Day is catching up with us with the unstoppable force of a runaway train, and if you haven’t been organised enough to plan anything for your loved one, then good luck to you. But fret now, we’re here to offer up some last minute suggestions for you stragglers – and your partner won’t even need to know that you only got your act together less than 24 hours before.
Sweets for your sweetheart – Forgo the tackily wrapped chocolate gift boxes and go for some romantically coloured macarons instead. The famous French patisserie Laduree has two branches in London, both supplying salivating customers with copious amounts of their airy jewel-coloured confections. Delight your sweetheart with a carefully wrapped box of sweet nothings nestled in pastel tissue, wrapped up in pistachio-hued boxes. It’s much cheaper than jewellery, and just as fulfilling.
Picnic in the park – If you’re lucky enough to have some February sunshine on Sunday, then make the most of it with a picnic in the park. There are gorgeous parks all over the country, and at this time of year, you’re likely to have most of it to yourself. Wrap up in warm woollens, get a waterproof sheet, and pack a delicious lunch, with plenty of champagne to warm the both of you up.
Surprise hotel breaks – You don’t need to go away to have a romantic hotel break. Many websites offer cheap last-minute deals on hotels, and you can always find some in your very own city. Blindfold your lover and whisk them to your chosen destination in a taxi or hired limousine. Order room service and dine in the hotel’s restaurant to seal the illusion that you’ve really gone away on holiday, even if you’re only 20 minutes from home. The best thing about a hotel stay in your own city? You won’t need to face a long, arduous journey home the next day!
Posted February 9, 2010 by BookingBuddy
The imminent arrival of spring seems like the perfect time for a visit to the Emerald Isle. The beautiful city of Newry makes an ideal spot for a family break, as there’s something for everyone. Its wonderful streets are full of historic buildings, and it has a reputation as one of the best shopping cities in Northern Ireland.
Canal Court Hotel – This luxurious four-star hotel overlooks Newry’s scenic canal, and is just a quick hop to the city’s well-known shopping districts. The impressive façade hides a multitude of equally impressive rooms – even the standard rooms are delightfully spacious and beautifully decorated. The Serenity Spa makes a wonderful retreat for guests who need to unwind after a long day traipsing around the city. Room rates start at about £150.
Newry Canal – This mid-18th century canal still sees lots of traffic along its length, but these days, it is more likely to come from picnicking families and eager cyclists then barges ferrying goods around. The canal has not been used commercially since the 1930s, and wildlife has since reclaimed much of it. The broad towpath is now part of the National Cycle Network, and the sturdy granite locks are still in great condition.
The Quays – Newry is renowned for its fantastic shopping, so why not pay a visit to one of the most popular shopping destinations in the city while you’re there? There’s a rather large cinema on the premises for those of you who prefer not to walk around spending money all day. The sheer multitude of shops in the complex can make a person rather hungry, so thank goodness there are also several cafes and restaurants onsite for when you need some fuel.
Check here for Newry travel information
Posted February 4, 2010 by BookingBuddy
With many airlines offering cheap flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, why not book yourself a ticket there to escape the last days of winter? This former port is now famous for its stunning underwater scenery and warm, crystal clear waters, making it a popular destination for scuba divers.
Hilton Sharm el-Sheikh Fayrouz Resort – This family-friendly branch of the Hilton offers great value for money, and a wonderful location smack in the middle of Na’ama Bay. The resort’s private beach leads into the turquoise waters of the Red Sea – perfect for exploring its famed coral reefs. Diving novices can benefit from world-class instructors at the Gold Palm Dive Centre, or pay a visit to the watersports centre and lark about in a kayak. The hotel also offers guests a wide range of dining choices, with several bars and restaurants on-site. Rates start from about £90.
Sharm el-Maya – The original old town of Sharm rests in a picturesque natural harbour about 15 minutes away from the more popular Na’ama Bay. While not as developed as Na’ama, it is a great place for a scenic stroll around, with a pretty, sandy beach and plenty of cute little boats resting in the harbour. The market here also offers lower prices than many of the shops at the more popular areas of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Kan Zaman Restaurant – You’ll be treated to great food as well as unforgettable hospitality at this Bedouin-styled restaurant. The inside is laid out like a Bedouin settlement, with guests resting on large, comfortable cushions while enjoying their meal. Most items on the menu are perfect for sharing, with dishes ranging from pasta and fresh seafood, to mouth-watering platters of grilled meat.
Check here for Sharm el-Sheikh travel information.