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June 2010

Breaks In Lyon – Lyon Hotels

Posted June 30, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Lyon  Head over to Lyons anytime you feel like you need a short break. This French city is steeped in history, and you’re likely to stumble over impressive Roman ruins and fairytale castles without even trying. Gastronomes are likely to head straight for the many bouchons to sample the city’s famous cuisine – hearty dishes of coq au vin, pot au feu, and thick cuts of charcuterie. Art and history buffs are also spoilt for choice here – there are museums galore, including one dedicated to the Lumiere Brothers, as well as several history museums.


Stay

Hotel du Simplon – Set in a quiet residential street, this hotel has plenty of peace and quiet, but is also conveniently located near the main train station, so you’ll be in your room resting in no time at all! The interior and rooms emanate a comforting, homely feel, with cheerful paintings and knick-knacks decorating the walls and surfaces. The breakfast selection is simple – breads, coffee/tea, jams – but it’s more than enough start your day on the right track. Room rates start from £55.


Eat

Chabert de Fils – Sample Lyon’s famous cuisine at this cosy bouchon. Chabert de Fils serves up hearty comfort food that reminds you of home – if you had a cheerful Lyonnaise grandmother. Enjoy great helpings of creamy lamb stew, meaty sausages, or fresh crusty bread served with tangy cheeses and thick butter.


See

Institut Lumiere – Cinema buffs will enjoy their pilgrimage to this museum dedicated to the Lumiere brothers, often credited with inventing moving images. The museum itself is located in the brothers’ house, where they sort their first film Sortie d’Usine. The museum offers visitors a guided tour which takes them around the villa and winds up in the warehouse that functioned as the very first film set in history. . You’ll be able to learn about the evolution of cinema, and view the Lumieres’ films in the basement.


Check here for Lyon travel information


(Photo: vanderbilt.edu)

Breaks In Helsinki – Helsinki Hotels

Posted June 29, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Helsinki_central  If the summer heat is proving too hot to handle, then why not take a break in Finland’s Capital of Cool? Helsinki’s wide, clean streets and low-lying buildings make it unique from many other big cities around the world. Visit in summer to make the most of it – the long days and bright nights mean you’ll be able to fit a whole lot of fun in. The long cold winters have contributed to the city’s thriving cultural scene. Many bands –including kitschy Eurovision winners Lordi - and acclaimed designers proudly call the city home. If the cold gets to you, spend some time in a sauna – it’s a popular way to warm up!

 

Play

Rastila Saunas – Take your family here to indulge in the quintessential Finnish experience. This popular camping site has several saunas which can be rented out by the hour (with a two hour minimum). Those of you with a thick hide can immerse yourself in icy seawater before dashing to the heated saunas for a warm up. Your rental includes the use of the showers, barbeque pits, dressing rooms, as well as a fireplace. There is also a restaurant and a range of accommodation options on site of you wish to spend some time away from the city.

 

Stay

Hotel Linna – You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale world as soon as you step through the doors of Hotel Linna. The imposing hotel looks like it came straight out of a storybook, with high vaulted ceilings, wide staircases and huge roaring fireplace. The rooms provide a welcome contrast to the exterior’s countryside-chic, with plain modern furniture and embellished surfaces. Room rates start from £75.

 

See

Suomenlinna – The imposing fortress of Suomenlinna is a popular spot for visitors to Helsinki. A former military base, the fortress – spread over six islands near Helsinki – is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are also over 900 residents living and working on the islands. Pack a picnic and catch a ferry to the islands, and spend an enjoyable day touring the museums, or visiting the artists’ studios dotted around the place. The theatre on Suomenlinna also puts on popular plays during the summer. 


Check here for cheap flights to Helsinki.


(Photo: edu.helsinki.fi)

There IS Such A Thing As A Free Lunch With Air Advertainment

Posted June 24, 2010 by BookingBuddy

SnackWhoever it was that said ‘’There’s no such thing as a free lunch’’ probably foresaw the rise of the low-cost carriers. Paying for an in-flight meal or snack is now something that most airline passengers are used to. Thus, you’re likely to be suspicious when you learn some short-haul passengers in the United States have been treated to an increasingly rare sight – a free in-flight meal! 

‘’What’s the catch?’’ I hear you wonder. Well, the catch, if it can be called that, is that the boxes containing those meals are emblazoned with advertisements. This is the brainchild of Air Advertainment, a company which aims to link up brands and airlines. Brands that take part in the programme sponsor snacks or meals for passengers in exchange for advertising space. The companies’ logos and advertisements are printed onto the snack boxes, and flight attendants also let passengers know which company sponsored their meal.

It seems like a win-win situation for all parties – the companies are assured of a captive audience (you can’t get up and make a cup of tea to avoid the ads) and passengers get free food.  So, my question is - how long will it be before we see it spreading over here? The Air Advertainment programme is currently confined to a limited number of routes in the US, and there are no mentions of expanding it outside the US at the moment. However, I’m eagerly awaiting the day when I won’t have to pay £3 for a bar of limp chocolate, even if I have to put up with a few garish ads to get it. 


(Photo: savvysugar.com)

Breaks In Liverpool – Liverpool Hotels

Posted June 23, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Liverpool_albert-dock4  The Beatles may have been one of its most famous products, but there’s a lot more to Liverpool than mop-topped pop idols. The city is well known for its thriving art and music culture, and a vibrant nightlife.  Museums such as the Tate Liverpool often hold popular exhibitions, and there are nightclubs open every night. Its years as a strategic port city means it has a large multicultural population, with a bustling Chinatown, as well as mosques, synagogues and temples. A well-known shopaholics’ paradise, there are huge shopping complexes such as Liverpool ONE as well as smaller boutiques, so be prepared to burn a sizeable hole in your wallet.

 

Stay

Malmaison Liverpool – If you’d like to take in all that Liverpool has to offer while you’re there, then this is the hotel for you. It’s centrally located on Princes Dock, and is a short walk to many shopping centres. Large windows provide spectacular views over the docks and the city, and let in lots of light. The two suites in the hotel are named The Kop and The Toffee Shop, as a tribute to Liverpool and Everton Football Clubs respectively. Room rates start from £95.

 

See

The Beatles Story – The Beatles are arguably Liverpool’s most famous export, so a trip to The Beatles Story is a must for any music fan. You’ll be able to learn about the history of the famous band, and view special exhibitions focusing on its members. Visitors can also enjoy the Fab4D, and experience The Beatles via groundbreaking computer technology.

 

Eat

The London Carriage Works – This restaurant has been winning awards left, right and centre, so why don’t you make a reservation and find out if all the hype is worth it? The bright, airy dining space complements the food here – mostly modern fare, with an emphasis on the best produce from around the Northwest. The cheese platters are great for sharing, and showcase cheeses from Cheshire, Nottinghamshire and Lancashire. There are also plenty of old favourites such as fish and chips, roast beef, and Eton Mess.


Check here for cheap flights to Liverpool

(Photo: aboutliverpool.com)

Breaks In Funchal – Funchal Hotels

Posted June 22, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Funchal  There’s no need to go far if you’re craving some sun, sand and sea, but can’t bear crowded beaches. Funchal, on the island of Madeira, has blissfully warm weather and beautiful scenery, but is still relatively peaceful. Enjoy a spot scuba-diving or whale-watching in its warm seas, or spend your time surfing the waves. Landlubbers can enjoy hikes in the lush green hills on the island, or wander through the town’s centuries-old streets.

 Stay

Quintinha Sao Joao – Set in the midst of lush gardens, this is a wonderful retreat for those of you seeking some peace and quiet. However, it is also conveniently located close to Funchal’s centre and the Old Town. The rooms are very spacious, with separate living and sleeping areas. The furnishings are decorated with traditional Madeiran touches, with beautiful embroidery covering the sheets. The hotel operates a courtesy bus twice a day, ferrying guests to the town centre and back. Room rates start from £80.

 

See

Volcanism Centre - Walk into the heart of a volcano and see what makes it tick! The Volcanism Centre in nearby Sao Vicente aims to educate visitors on what makes a volcano tick. The centre also includes the Sao Vicente Caves, a series of lava tubes formed over 400 000 years ago. Visitors can explore parts of the caves by way of a 700 metre long walkway.

 

Eat                                                             

Casa Madeirense – Casa Madeirense serves up tasty, traditional Madeiran cuisine within its slightly kitschy confines. Seafood fans can choose their meal from the huge tanks taking up one side of the restaurant, or simply order from the menu. Try a hearty fish stew, or go for a mixed, grilled seafood platter. There is also juicy stone-cooked beef, or tasty, smoky espetadas, a kebab-like dish of skewered chunks of meat. 


Check here for cheap flights to Funchal.


(Photo: nrgtravel.com)

Breaks In Naples – Naples Hotels

Posted June 17, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Naples  Naples is famous for its gobsmacking cuisine, but there’s more to this coastal town than the food. A search for the perfect pizza will take you through Naples’ piazzas, and you’re likely to chance upon towering cathedrals and fairytale castles. History plans can take a day trip out to the legendary town of Pompeii, buried in ash and lava after Mount Vesuvius erupted centuries ago. The Capodimonte Royal Woods are a great spot for a picnic, and you can pop in to the Palace of Capodimonte for some gorgeous artworks and porcelain pieces.

 

Eat

Pizzeria Di Matteo – Hidden among all the other pizzerias on the Via di Tribunali is this gem of a pizza place. There are only four or five ovens in this tiny restaurant, with the rest of the space filled by roaring ovens and a counter filled with fresh rounds of pizzas. The line snaking out the door and down the street attests to the popularity of this place. Join the line, and get your Margherita as a takeaway.

 

Stay

Decumani Hotel de Charme – Located in the centre of Naples, the Decumani Hotel feels like a home away from home – if your home happens to look like a grand 18th century mansion. The hotel’s friendly staff provide a memorably warm welcome. The rooms are elegant and spacious, maintaining a touch of old-fashioned luxury while managing to feel up to date. Room rates start from £100.

 

See

Pompeii – A trip to the ancient city of Pompeii is both a fascinating and eerie experience. The town is completely deserted, while many of the original buildings and paved streets are still preserved in near-perfect condition. The cone of Mount Vesuvius towers over the ruined town as a reminder of what happened to the once thriving city. Pompeii can be reached by the Circumvesuviana train, which stops at the site, or by bus or taxi from the present day town of Pompei. 


Check here for cheap flights to Naples.


(Photo: globalfoot.org)

Swap Your Inflight Film For A PSP

Posted June 16, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Inflight  Inflight entertainment doesn’t always live up to its name. There are only so many Friends or Sex and the City repeats you can watch before you feel like ripping off that little 4 inch screen and hurling it at a screaming child.

Think of that as the bad old days of air travel. It seems like inflight entertainment just got a touch more, well, entertaining. Thomas Cook Airlines have saved you the trouble of ripping out that little screen, and doing it themselves. The company is in the process of replacing their entertainment systems with Playstation PSPs. The handheld devices will be rented out to passengers at a cost of £7.50.

They’re not the only ones – easyJet and US carrier Frontier Airlines have both hopped on the bandwagon, and are also offering PSPS for hire too. It will cost £7.50 to hire a device from both these companies too. Going one step further is Australian low-cost carrier Jetstar, who have recently announced plans to hire out iPads on their flights, at a cost of AUS$10. The devices will feature a range of pre-loaded books and films for passengers to choose from.


(Photo: unixer.de)

Breaks In Vancouver – Vancouver Hotels

Posted June 15, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Vancouver1  Vancouver often tops polls as one of the best cities to live in. One reason could be its pleasant, temperate climate, which is generally warmer than other chilly Canadian cities. This coastal city has some very lovely beaches, and is ringed by spectacular mountains, so you won’t have to go far to soak in some sun, or enjoy the greenery. There is a large Chinatown, as well as a Little Italy, the Punjabi Market, and even Greektown – all of them a result of the city’s large immigrant population. So eat your heart out in a tiny family-run restaurant, or head out for some fine dining. If you’re a shopaholic, then you’re in the right city. From high-end labels to hole-in-the-wall vintage shops, it’s all here!

 

See

Stanley Park – This sprawling park on the tip of downtown Vancouver is a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike, and for good reason. The park features some very lovely beaches, and the lakes are great spots to cool off in during hot summers. Vancouver Aquarium, the largest aquarium in Canada, is located within the park, and is filled with over 70 000 animals. You can also simply walk through the park and enjoy its scenic views and large variety of plants, some of them planted over 100 years ago.

 

Stay

L’Hermitage Hotel – Downtown Vancouver is right outside your doorstep at this luxurious hotel. L’Hermitage offers guests a choice of studio rooms and suites, as well as large ‘home’ style rooms, with fully equipped kitchens and living rooms. Some rooms also feature a fireplace, to warm up those chilly Canadian nights, or a balcony so you can take in the city’s skyline. Dog lovers will be delighted to learn the hotel has a canine resident named ‘Hippo’ who hangs out in the lobby. L’Hermitage also provides pet-friendly services, such doggie bowls with food and water, and a dog-walker to take you beloved canine out for a jaunt. Room rates start from around £150.

 

Eat

Bluewater Cafe – This elegant dining room serves up the best of Vancouver’s underwater bounty. There is an a la carte menu, as well as a raw bar, and tanks teeming with live crustaceans, all waiting to be plucked out and cooked. There are some beef and pork dishes, but the main event is undoubtedly the seafood. If you want to enjoy them in their purest form, choose from the short but enticing ‘Seafood on Ice’ menu. Depending on your choice, you get one to three platters packed full of juicy oysters, prawns, mussels, lobsters and crab.


Check here for cheap flights to Vancouver.


(Photo: canadiangateway.com)


Breaks In Tokyo – Tokyo Hotels

Posted June 10, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Tokyo  The thriving metropolis of Tokyo is a favourite holiday destination for many, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a city of contrasts – the huge city is one of the most populated centres in the world, yet there are many tranquil pockets of greenery to be found everywhere. Seek out the latest fashion or technology in the popular shopping districts of Shinjuku and Harajuku, or discover Tokyo’s history in historic centres such as Asakusa and Ueno. Before you leave, remember to spend some time sampling Tokyo’s cuisine. The sushi is justifiably famous, but there are all sorts of less well-known snacks and dishes to try out too!

 

See

Ghibli Museum – Studio Ghibli has charmed the young and old alike with their whimsical, heart-warming films, so a visit to this museum is a must if you’re a fan. The museum was designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself, and features both permanent exhibitions, and a series of special shows dedicated to animated films. Fans of Ghibli’s movies will recognise the large, plush toy ‘catbus’, and the giant robot soldier from Laputa, Castle In The Sky. Tickets to the museum can be purchased from Lawsons convenience stores around Tokyo.   

 

Eat

Daiwa Sushi – You may think it’s insane to queue for an hour (at 4.30am, no less) for some sushi, but the sacrifice will be worth it when you receive your sushi. Daiwa Sushi in Tsukiji Market, Tokyo’s famous fish and seafood market, so the fish is as fresh as it gets. Opt for the omakase (chef’s choice) and feast on the fruits of the sea presented to you on little lacquered plates. The selection depends on what’s available that day, so your breakfast may range from razor clams, ruby-red tuna, succulent prawns, sweet grilled eel or fish you may not even know the names of.

 

Stay

Sumisho Hotel – Sumisho Hotel is situated in the centre of this busy city, but you’ll feel like you’re in the serene Japanese countryside once you’ve entered it. The hotel looks and feels like a tradition ryokan, or inn, and has a selection of Western-style rooms, or Japanese-style rooms with futon mattresses. The Japanese-style rooms look traditional, but are equipped with all the latest modcons, and seem very spacious, especially once the futons are rolled away. Relax in the hotel’s baths after a tiring day trekking through the city, or enjoy a sumptuous meal in the attached restaurant. Room rates start from £75. 


Check here for Tokyo travel information.

(Photo: infohostels.com)

Breaks In Tel Aviv – Tel Aviv Hotels

Posted June 9, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Tel-aviv-final-s1  Feeling torn between an exciting city break or a laidback holiday on sundrenched beaches? Why not just fly to Tel Aviv to enjoy it all? Tel Aviv is a relatively young city, but it combines a laidback Mediterranean backdrop, with the exciting cosmopolitan lifestyle usually found in cities such as New York or London. The White City is famous for its range of eclectic building styles, from stark Bauhaus-inspired buildings, to Modernist architecture and gleaming skyscrapers.

Stay

Cinema Hotel – This Bauhaus-style building used to be a movie theatre in its former life, and traces of its cinematic past can still be seen around the hotel. The walls are filled with black and white photographs of actors and scenes from films, and there are beautiful old projectors displayed throughout the place. The hotel also thoughtfully provides guests with complimentary bicycles to explore the city with. Room rates start from £130.

 

See

Jaffa – The ancient city of Jaffa has been now been absorbed into Tel Aviv’s sprawl, but it is still worth paying a visit to this legendary port. These days, the old city is as cosmopolitan as the rest of Tel Aviv, and boasts a collection of mosques and churches. A stroll through its atmospheric alleyways will help provide a glimpse into its past. Visit the Andromeda Rock, where Andromeda was said to be chained as a sacrifice, or make a wish on the Wishing Bridge.

 

Eat

The 11th Floor RestaurantThe 11th Floor, situated on the 11th floor of the Azrieli Centre, offers diners a wonderful panoramic view over Tel Aviv. The menu is almost as sweeping, with offerings that showcase the diversity of cuisines available in this city. Treat yourself to fresh sushi, hearty ribs and steaks, and succulent kebabs. The dessert menu is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth – Belgian waffles, Irish cream savarin flavoured with halva, Pavlovas with rich vanilla ice cream. 


Check here for Tel Aviv travel information.

(Photo: cheapoair.com)

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