Posted March 31, 2010 by BookingBuddy
summer in Rio de Janeiro! The aptly-named ‘Marvellous City’ has everything you
need for a great holiday – beautiful people, gorgeous beaches, and fantastic
architecture, all set within a lush, mountainous landscape. Should the heat get
too hot to handle, then head over to one of the famous beaches to cool off.
Even a first-time visitor to Rio will find facets of it familiar – the beaches
have been immortalised in song, and the city itself has featured in many films.
– Will you meet ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ while lounging on the golden sands of
this world famous beach? It’s highly likely, as the beautiful young hipsters of
the city love to strut their stuff on this long stretch of golden sand. After a
laidback day here soaking up the sun and watching the world go by, then, once
the sun sets, explore the various bars and restaurants lining the streets
behind the beach.
– Step away from the crowded streets of Rio and take a break in this large,
opulent tea-room. The decor hasn’t changed much since it first opened for
business in 1894 – diners savour their snacks and drinks surrounded by huge
mirrors in ornate frames, under a spectacular stained glass canopy. There are
two long, gleaming counters, filled with sweet and savoury pastries, sandwiches
and salads. Quench your thirst with some of the freshly-squeezed juices
available – acai berry juice is a local specialty. Head upstairs to the dining
room if you want a bigger meal. The feijoada (stewed black beans and pork, with
crispy pork rinds on top) comes highly
recommended by many diners.
Teresa – This former colonial mansion has been restored to its former grandeur,
and is now a luxurious hotel in the lovely, quiet neighbourhood of Santa
Teresa. Natural materials are used to give a very modern, yet rustic touch to
the interiors. The hotel’s hilltop location provides guests with wonderful
views of the city below, with some suites boasting uninterrupted views of the
iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. Room rates start at about £345.
Check here for Rio de Janeiro travel information.
Posted March 25, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Step out with a spring in your step now that spring has sprung and the sun is peaking out! After the austerity of recent months, April is a great time to start enjoying yourself. With lots of chocolate bunnies and eggs, and tasty hot cross buns on sale, this is a great time to start indulging your sweet tooth. So pack a picnic, bring along a blanket and have fun outdoors this month!
April 3rd – Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race, London
The two universities take their traditional rivalry out of the lecture halls and onto the Thames in this annual competition between the two institutions. The boat race starts at Putney Bridge and follows the course of the river, before ending north of Chiswick Bridge. Test your knowledge of rowing terms and see if you can differentiate between the cox and the stroke.
April 10th – The Grand National, Liverpool
This venerable sporting institution is bound to be a feast for the eyes, and I’m not just talking about the horses. Attendees get dressed up in their best outfits and sip on champagne while cheering on their favourites during this popular horse race at Aintree. The race is also televised on BBC1, so you will be able to catch it even if you can’t make it to Liverpool.
April 25th – London Marathon, London
Work off those Easter treats by taking part in this marathon through London. The race starts near Greenwich Park, and eventually ends up at The Mall. If you’re one of those who would prefer to observe the action rather than taking part in it, you can view the race from several strategic locations, the most popular spots being the starting and finishing lines.
Posted March 23, 2010 by BookingBuddy
If the mere mention of Zurich brings images of cuckoo clocks and chocolates to mind, then maybe it’s time you took a trip to the Swiss capital. This city is ringed by beautiful green hills, which make for an easy outdoor escape on weekends. Shimmering skyscrapers abound in this busy city, but move deeper into the centre and you’ll be able to explore Zurich’s old town, which looks especially pretty when lit up at night. Take some time out for a good meal, and enjoy the city’s cuisine, which has been inspired by its neighbouring countries.
Roman Baths – Step back in time and into the footsteps of Zurich’s Roman rulers at these ancient Baths. Originally built so Roman soldiers could enjoy a relaxing soak after a long trek through the Alps, these baths were only rediscovered in the mid-1980s. You won’t be able to actually splash around in them these days, but a trip there is worth it just to marvel at the structure’s beauty and history.
Alden Hotel Splugenschloss – Spoil yourself at this luxurious, five-star boutique hotel. All 22 rooms in this hotel are very spacious, and feature clean, modern designs contrasted with warm wooden furniture and quirky little artefacts, such as a grandfather clock in one of the suites. The hotel is in the centre of Zurich, but its location on a quiet side street means you won’t need to worry about noise disturbing your sweet dreams. There is a very elegant restaurant on the premises, serving Italian-inspired cuisine. Room rates start at around £500.
Restaurant Swiss Chuchi – Discover the delights of Swiss cuisine at this cosy, wood-panelled restaurant in the Hotel Adler. You’ll be able to find lots of sausage or pasta based dishes on the menu, but the popular dishes here seemed to be diary based. The raclettes and fondues are said to be the best in Zurich, and with so many versions available, you may just have to try it all.
Check here for cheap flights to Zurich.
Posted March 22, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Germany’s oldest city feels surprisingly modern these days. Make your way down the very streets that Romans walked on over 2000 years ago, and gaze skywards at the towering, ultramodern buildings scattered around the city. Pop into a restaurant and get a taste of Kolsch, the city’s own beer, or try some of Kohn’s special dishes.
Fragrance Museum Farina-Haus – There are many fragrances around these days with the name Eau de Cologne, but the original version can still be found right here. Visitors to the Farina-Haus will be able to see the different bottles used to display the perfume, notes left by Giovanni Maria Farina (the perfume’s original maker), and get a glimpse into the process of perfume production. The museum also conducts a special tour, with an actor dressed up as Giovanni Farina leading guests around.
Hotel Coellner Hof – This décor in this hotel may be a little dated, but its great central location is sure to win guests over. The rooms are mostly laid out in 1970s shades of avocado and brown, but they are spacious and very comfortable, with large fluffy pillows and crisp bed linen. The huge spread at the buffet breakfast give you a great start to the day – eggs, bread, cold cuts, smoked salmon and other delicious goodies are laid out in a pile for you to enjoy. Room rates start at around £60, and include breakfast.
Haxenhaus Zum Rheingarten– Housed in an 800-year-old building, this restaurant offers guests a taste of hearty Cologne fare. Those of you with a large appetite will be pleased to find out that most sausages are served in metre and half-metre portions – an archaic style of measurement left over from much older days. You’ll also find lots of pork and pork knuckles on the menu, served up in different styles and topped by a variety of sauces.
Check here for cheap flights to Cologne.
Posted March 18, 2010 by BookingBuddy
A statue of the Little Mermaid greets visitors to Copenhagen’s waterfront, while gastronomic treats await hungry diners at every turn. Pack a picnic of smorrebrod (open-faced sandwiches) and enjoy it in one of the lush green parks around the city, or brave the cold water and go for a dip in one of the Harbour Baths around the city’s harbour. And if you’re really brave, you may even want to go for a ride on one of the oldest roller coasters in the world!
Tivoli Gardens – Tivoli Gardens may be one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, but it continues to thrill new generations of kids (young and old) every day. The park’s wooden roller coaster Rutsjebanen is probably the world’s oldest roller coaster still in operation. Daredevils may also want to have a ride on Himmelskibet, the tallest carousel in the world. There are also less scary rides for those of you who can live without the adrenalin rush – the Dragon Boats and Vintage Cars seem rather popular with younger children.
Hotel Alexandra – It’s almost impossible to find a design-orientated hotel that also manages to feel like a home away from home, but the Hotel Alexandra does it perfectly. Located a stone’s throw from the Tivoli Gardens, this hotel is a mini-museum of Danish designs. The lobby features a display of doll-sized Arne Jacobsen chairs, and the rooms are decorated with Danish furniture and art from the 1930s – 1960s. Room rates start from around £170.
Ida Davidsen – If you’re one of those people who take ages to decide what to order, you may end up spending months in this cosy restaurant. Ida Davidsen currently offers over 200 tasty options for their open-faced sandwiches. If you need help choosing, just go with the flow and order the most popular choice, a ‘Victor Borge’ – salmon, lumpfish roe, crayfish tails, Greenland shrimp, lime and dill mayonnaise. The menu features several other sandwiches named after Danish celebrities, and the takeaway service lets you chomp on a famous person in the privacy of your own home.
Check here for cheap flights to Copenhagen.
Posted March 17, 2010 by BookingBuddy
It’s time to put your best green foot forward and celebrate with a brew as St. Patrick’s Day rolls around once again. While green may be the traditional colour for this day, it’s not the most appetising colour for a pint of beer (and just think what all that food colouring is doing to your insides). Treat yourself to some real Irish beer instead, either at a pub, or better still, visit the brewery to try a pint straight from the tap.
Guinness – This thick, foamy stout is possibly the most famous beer to flow from Dublin. The original brewery at St. James’s Gate has been pumping out countless pints of the stuff since 1759, and is still going strong to this day. Fans of the beer can also take a peek into the manufacturing process at the Storehouse, a seven-story museum dedicated to Guinness.
Smithwick’s – Marketed as “ Ireland’s Oldest Ale”, this red ale comes from the scenic city of Kilkenny. The brewery – St. Francis Abbey Brewery – stands on the ruins of a Franciscan abbey, and records show that monks have been producing ale on the site since the 14th century. This year marks the 300th anniversary of the Smithwick’s brand, and the brewery is planning some events to celebrate the momentous birthday.
Murphy’s Irish Stout – This sweet, milky stout comes from picturesque County Cork, and although it may not be as famous as Guinness, it certainly has its fair share of fans. Murphy’s also sponsors ‘Little Big Nights Out’, with lots of free gigs, festivals and delicious food in various venues around Cork.
Posted March 16, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Explore the great outdoors without leaving the comforts of city life in Oslo. With the majestic Oslofjord literally on its doorstep, Norway’s capital city can boast some of the most stunning surroundings you’re likely to encounter. Explore the pleasant, cobbled city streets with their brightly painted buildings, or just spend a warm sunny day having a picnic in one of the many green parks. Get a taste of traditional Norwegian dishes before you leave – you’re unlikely to find moose and reindeer in the menus of your local takeaways back home.
Nobel Peace Centre – Located in a former train station in the city centre, this museum showcases the history of the Nobel Prize and often holds exhibitions on the lives and activities of its winners. Guided tours are available in Norwegian or English, but need to be booked in advance. The centre is very child-friendly, and feature many games and activities specially designed for younger visitors.
Lorry – This rather crowded restaurant serves up a feast for the eyes as well as for your tastebuds. The décor is unusual, to say the least, with stuffed giraffes and bears taking pride of place among lots of paintings and sculptures. Oslo’s cultural elites are known to hang out here for a few nibbles. The food is modern with a slight Norwegian twist, featuring lots of seafood and meat. Try the reindeer burgers with lingonberries if you’re after unusual, otherwise, there’s lots of safer options like the Caesar salad or club sandwich.
Scandic Byporten – It may be a chain hotel, but the convenient location makes it popular with many visitors. The Scandic is right in the city centre, practically hugging the central train station. The rooms themselves are very clean and unfussy, yet very comfortable. The bar has a surprisingly cosy atmosphere, with wooden beams and candlelight tables. You get a free breakfast thrown in, with tasty Fairtrade coffee and a huge range of food at the buffet. Room rates start at about £150, and include breakfast.
Check here for cheap flights to Oslo
Posted March 11, 2010 by BookingBuddy
s You may not expect it, but Munich is one of the most romantic cities around. What else would you expect from a city that has “Munchen mag Dich (Munich Loves You)” as its motto? Combine that with fairytale castles, crystal clear lakes, towering churches, and scenic villages, and you have all you need for a romantic break with a loved one. Don’t forget to sample some Bavarian beer at one of the city’s famous Bierkellers, where you’re served huge pitchers of beer by buxom waitresses.
Nymphenburg Palace – This sprawling palace and its surrounding gardens used to be the summer residence of the Bavarian rulers. Explore the beautifully manicured park, with splashing fountains and hidden pavilions. The Badenburg pavilion boasts the first heated, indoor pool in Europe, and features ornate Chinese wallpapers in some rooms. The Amalienburg pavilion is an excessive, rococo creation, with a circular hall of mirrors decked out in gilt and blue.
Anna Hotel – You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve mistakenly walked into an art gallery when you enter this hotel. Drawings, paintings and sculptures are displayed all over the hotel and in the rooms, and the restaurant boasts a unique and very colourful lighting scheme. The hotel offers a complimentary mini-bar and breakfast buffet, and is located in the heart of the city. Room rates start at about £150, and include breakfast.
Paulaner Brauhaus – Eat and drink to your heart’s content at this popular old brewery. The building’s interior is filled with a gleaming maze of copper pipes and barrels, serving beer fresh from the tap. Don’t miss out on the edibles here as well – the menu features typically Bavarian meals that compliment the liquid nectar flowing out of the taps. Try classics such as potato soup, pork knuckles, or a wiener schnitzel – hearty and delicious, and you don’t have to be a beer aficionado to enjoy them!
Check here for cheap flights to Munich.
Posted March 10, 2010 by BookingBuddy
You've probably given your mum endless headaches over the years, but with Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, why not show her how much you appreciate her? Stay away from the tried and tested (but boring) carnations and cards, and treat her to something she’d really enjoy instead.
Relax at a spa – To reward her for all her hard work, why not pamper her by treating her to a massage at a spa? Her tension will be kneaded out, and she’ll get to enjoy wonderfully scented hot oils and creams. Many places also offer luxurious treats such as champagne and cakes to make the experience as memorably indulgent as possible.
Theatrical treat – Maybe your mum loves a good musical or a little bit of heart-tugging melodrama? Then get her some tickets to the theatre and let her take the weight off her feet for a couple of hours in her favourite fantastic. Whether it’s singing along to 50’s pop in Hairspray, tripping the light fantastic in Dirty Dancing, or marvelling at the multiple ways you can use a bin in Stomp, there’s sure to be something your mum will enjoy.
Eat out – Let your mum take a break from the kitchen and treat her to a lavish restaurant meal. Many places are offering Mother’s Day deals this weekend, so take her out for some champagne and oysters – and you won’t even need to do the dishes when it’s all finished! Some hotels are also offering deals on afternoon tea, so bring mama along and let her indulge in towers of cakes, scones and canapés.
Posted March 9, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Colourful neighbourhoods, flower-lined streets and delightfully cool weather make San Francisco a great holiday destination. Frisco’s various landmarks – Alcatraz, Haight Ashbury, the Golden Gate Bridge - have all found fame in popular culture. Explore this hilly city on foot and discover the nooks and crannies favoured by locals, or hope onto one of the city’s famous cable car system and visit its many attractions.
Franciscan Crab Restaurant – Housed in a neon-lit building on Fisherman’s Wharf, this huge restaurant serves up spectacular views with your order of tasty seafood. Despite being a ‘crab restaurant’, it actually serves up a rather extensive list of seafood, coupled with some meat and pasta dishes for those not so keen on the fruits of the sea. The Dungeness crab is the star of the show – it comes in four different serving sizes – but other seafood dishes are just as enticing.
Hearst Castle – William Randolph Hearst’s massive mansion has now been turned into a house museum. The complex is a Mediterranean-inspired wonderland filled with grand pools, sculpted gardens, and cool walkways connecting the buildings. There are five different tours around the site – visitors will get to explore different aspects of the Castle on each tour. There is also a popular evening tour, with actors dressed up in 1930s outfits to simulate the Castle’s heyday.
Hotel Monaco San Francisco – Located a heartbeat away from bustling Union Square, this luxurious hotel stands out from the crowd of chain hotels in San Francisco with its romantic, style and attention to detail. Guests will enjoy the glamourous, yet highly individual touches in the rooms – canopy beds, eclectic furnishings, and vibrant textiles help make your stay a memorable experience. Pet owners will be glad to discover the Hotel Monaco is very pet-friendly, providing pet beds and toys for your furry friend’s enjoyment. Room rates start at £130.
Check here for cheap flights to San Francisco.