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July 2010

What To Do In The UK – August

Posted July 29, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Carnaval  With summer in full swing this month, make sure you spend some time out and about before the weather starts to cool down again. Whether you’re into sports, music, or good food and drinks, you’ll find something to enjoy this month.

 

1st August – Carnaval del Pueblo, Elephant and Castle, London

Brazilian flair comes to London this Sunday, with this annual South American carnival in Burgess Park, near Elephant and Castle. The carnival features a number of themed stages, including a children stage, with performances aimed at the young ones. View the Salsa Dance Championships and vote for your favourites to win. Of course, no carnival is complete without tasty food – enjoy a variety of South American favourites from the various stalls on site.

 

12th – 15th August – Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol

You won’t see the standard helium-filled balloons here, but rather, colourful hot-air balloons. Visitors will be able to enjoy rides in these spectacular balloons, as well as enjoy the sight of the Nightglow, where over 30 balloons glow in time to music.

 

29th – 30th August – Mathew Street Festival, Liverpool

Liverpool is renowned as a highly musical city, and this annual free festival celebrates the city’s love for music. 95 bands from all over the world will perform on its six outdoor stages. Delicious food and drink can be bought from the city’s well-known collection of restaurants, cafes and pubs.


(Photo: bbc.co.uk)



Breaks In Seattle - Seattle Hotels

Posted July 28, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Seattle  Seattle has a reputation for being grey and dreary, but don’t let that unfortunate image put you off! This city in the Pacific Northwest has a thriving art and music culture, with many popular bands over the last 20 years coming from here. Seattle is also well-known for its coffee – ubiquitous coffee chain Starbucks was founded here, but you can also sample the brews from many smaller, independent shops. Beer enthusiasts can also tour the city’s microbreweries, where you’ll find many unique beers. For stunning views over the city, take a ride up to the top of the Space Needle, itself a famous attraction. Enjoy the city from ground level by strolling through its many parks, or even go for an underground tour to catch a glimpse of subterranean city-life.

 

Shop

Pike Place Market – Mingle among the locals here to discover the freshest, most delicious food, as well as grabbing some one of a kind artwork or souvenirs for to bring home. Pike Place Market is over a hundred years old, and remains one of the most popular markets in the city. Hundreds of stalls are distributed over a number of buildings. You’ll find fishmongers, fruits and vegetables, meat, craft stalls, and even a couple of massage stalls. The streets surrounding the stalls are often filled with artists and musicians, so you’re likely to catch a performance while shopping or having a meal. Look out for popular stalwarts like Thomas the Balloon Man, who sells balloons twisted into animal shapes, and often appears in a balloon hat.

 

Stay

The Inn At The Market – This charming boutique hotel places you a stone’s throw from Pike Place Market, and is close to Seattle’s waterfront. Enjoy fantastic views from your room or the hotel’s rooftop terrace – you won’t have to squeeze your way up the Space Needle with the others. The rooms themselves are luxurious in an understated manner, with clean, classic furniture. While you’re there, treat yourself to a meal at its in-house restaurant Campagne, often voted one of the city’s best dining spots. Room rates start from £150.

 

Eat

Boat Street Cafe – This casual, elegant eatery showcases Seattle’s finest produce in a French influenced menu. Choose dishes to share so as to enjoy more variety. Start with some oysters on a half shell, or a pickle plate to whet your appetite. The pate, served with cornichons, Dijon mustard and pickled prunes, is not to be missed. Their crab cakes have a wonderfully satisfying crab to filler ratio, and are served with a hot pepper confit for an unforgettable kick. If seafood is your thing, don’t miss out on the manila clams, served with chorizo, or the succulent Vancouver Island scallops, with spinach and bacon. 


Check here for cheap flights to Seattle.

(Photo: alaska-in-pictures.com)

Breaks In Toronto – Toronto Hotels

Posted July 27, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Toronto-canada  It’s consistently voted one of the world’s most liveable cities, so why not have a holiday there and see for yourself. Toronto is a large, cosmopolitan metropolis, and this diversity can be seen in its various neighbourhoods. The soaring skyscrapers of its business district contrasts with the greenery of its parks, and the cosy, distinctive row houses in Old Toronto. Visit the Distillery District, where industrial buildings dating from the Victorian era have been transformed into cafes, restaurants and boutiques.

 

See

Bata Shoe Museum – You may not be able to walk in Picasso’s footsteps, but you can certainly see the shoes he took those steps in at these museum. The Bata Shoe Museum, as its name suggests, is devoted to the history of the shoe. Picasso’s ponyskin boots are just a couple among many others in the ‘Walk of Fame’ collection. The museum has Marilyn Monroe’s pumps, Elton John’s sky-high monogrammed platforms, and John Lennon’s shiny purple boots, and many more. Exhibitions include a look at footwear from around the world, and the evolution of shoes throughout history.

 

Stay

The Drake Hotel – This former railway hostel is more than just a place to lay your head, it is also a great spot to experience Toronto’s thriving art scene. Enjoy free movie nights, trivia quizzes, musical performances and art exhibitions, without stepping out of the hotel. The hotel’s 19 rooms reflect this artistic spirit – you’ll find unusual paintings and handcrafted furniture, as well high tech amenities such as flatscreen TVs and complimentary Wifi access. The hotel also offers a range of dining options that reflect the city’s diversity. You’ll find an elegant Dining Room reminiscent of a Paris cafe, an avant garde Raw Bar, a casual cafe, as well as a too-cool-for-school Tiki Bar. Room rates start from £120.

 

Eat

St. Lawrence Market – The St. Lawrence Market has provided Toronto with excellent produce for over a century, and these days, also boasts an antiques market on Sundays. But the food’s what you’re here for, so put on some comfy shoes and come with an empty stomach. The North Market is a famers’ market, featuring over 50 stalls overflowing with farm fresh produce all year round. Move on over to the South Market and fill your bags with cheese, sausages, seafood, and more. 


Check here for cheap flights to Toronto.


(Photo: oisa.mcmaster.ca)

Check In With Your Mobile Phone

Posted July 22, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Mobilepass  Checking in at the airport can sometime be a long and tedious process, but American Airlines has now speeded up that process a little. The US carrier has recently offered their customers the option to receive their electronic boarding passes on their mobile phones.

The mobile boarding pass will save their customers the time and effort required to print out their boarding passes on paper. This option was first introduced by AA over two years ago, with up to 41 airports across the US taking part in the scheme.

The mobile boarding pass is currently only available to AA passengers heading for US destinations from Heathrow airport. Passengers who choose this option are also required to have an internet-enabled mobile phone in order to receive their boarding passes. AA’s vice-president of customer technology Andrew Watson also said that this service helped to make air travel slightly more eco-friendly, as passengers would no longer waste paper to print out their passes. 


(Photo: smh.com.au)

Breaks In Shanghai – Shanghai Hotels

Posted July 21, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Shanghai  Discover a refreshing blend of East and West in Shanghai. Undoubtedly the most modern city in China, Shanghai’s skyline easily rivals that of other big cities such as New York, Hong Kong and London. Impressive sights such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Metro help provide the city with a space-age feel. However, hidden among the skyscrapers are little alleyways and shikumen lanes that will take you back to the Shanghai of two hundred years ago. Shopaholics will enjoy spending time (and money!) on Nanjing Road, a pedestrianised stretch filled with shops catering to every budget.

 

Stay

Mansion Hotel – This hotel used to belong to a crime boss in the 1930s, and its decor celebrates this glamorous and insalubrious past. The Mansion is located in the French Concession, with quirky shops and well-known restaurants right outside its doorstep. The dark wood furniture and plush carpets help transport you back to the glamour of ‘old Shanghai’, while a meal at the Rooftop Restaurant provides spectacular views of the modern-day city. Room rates start at £180.

 

Eat

Nanxiang Bun Shop – No trip to Shanghai is complete without a taste of the famous xiaolongbao – steamed soup dumplings – and the most authentic ones are from the Nanxiang Bun Shop. There are now several branches of this restaurant around the world, but the daily, snaking queues outside this branch testifies to its popularity. The pork filled dumplings are probably the most popular, although the crab roe filled ones give them a run for their money too. Avoid serious hungry by biting a small hole in the wrapper first, before savouring the steaming hot broth and then dipping the rest into a tart vinegar sauce.

 

See

Zhujiajiao – This sleepy little town on the outskirts of Shanghai is the Chinese version of Venice. Hire a gondola to take you around the picturesque canals and catch a glimpse of the townsfolk who still live in the Ming dynasty houses along the waterways. Zhujiajiao’s most famous features are the 36 bridges spanning the canals – most are narrow wooden constructions and date from the Ming or Qing dynasties. You’ll also be able to visit a well-preserved Qing dynasty post office, with exhibits of old postcards, and letters written on bamboo. 


Check here for Shanghai travel information.


(Photo: ilearn-culture.com)

Breaks In Mexico City – Mexico City Hotels

Posted July 20, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Mexicocity  For your next break, why not grab a cheap flight to Mexico City? The largest city in Mexico is sometimes referred to as the City of Palaces, due to its large number of beautiful, European-style buildings. These days, the sprawling city is also home to large numbers of skyscrapers and modern air-conditioned shopping centres. Art lovers will delight in a visit to the Palace of Fine Arts, or a trip to the National Palace for a look at Diego Rivera’s stunning mural. All this sightseeing is sure to make your tummy rumble, so take some time out to savour the range of cuisines available in Mexico City. There’s more than just Mexican food over here – you can enjoy French, Italian, Vietnamese, Tibetan and more in this cosmopolitan city.

 

See

Xochimilco - The Xochimilco canals, about 28km from central Mexico City are all that remain of a series of chinampas (floating gardens) that provided the Aztecs with fruits, vegetables and flowers. These days, tourists and locals flock to Lake Xochimilco and hire colourfully painted trajineras (flat-bottomed boats) to take them around these floating gardens, while enjoying a day filled with music and feasting. Head on over to the Island of the Dolls (La Isla de la Munecas) if you’ve got some time to spare. This rather eerie and strange islet is filled with thousands of dolls collected by the late Don Julian, who believed the spirit of a drowned girl kept him company in his isolated home.

 

Eat

Cafe Tacuba – Perhaps one of the most famous restaurants in Mexico City, Cafe Tacuba is filled with both locals and tourists alike. Despite its fame, prices here are still surprisingly reasonable. Come here for a taste of authentic Mexican dishes – tamales, enchiladas, and mole. For a filling meal, order the chile rellenos, with lots of tortillas, rice and beans, then finish it all off with a sweet, creamy flan.

 

Stay

Hotel Del Principado – This hotel is very conveniently located in the city’s Zona Rosa, surrounded by restaurants, museums and theatres. The rooms are comfortable and clean, without unnecessary frills. However, the vibrant bedsheets and paintings help add a dash of colour to the decor. When hunger strikes, simply head down to the hotel’s restaurant to enjoy a delicious mix of Mexican and Spanish dishes, or ask the friendly staff for dining recommendations near the hotel. Room rates start from £35.


Check here for Mexico City travel information.


(Photo: luxuriousmexico.com)

Solar Powered Flight A Success

Posted July 15, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Solarimpulse4  Flying is the fastest method of travelling when you have to cover long distances, but a growing concern for many these days is the negative effect it has on the environment. However, it looks like those concerns may soon become a thing of the past.

Why this optimism? Well, news emerged last week that a little solar-powered plane has spent 26 hours in the air, powered only by the Sun’s energy. The Solar Impulse, piloted by Andre Borschberg, carried 12 000 super-efficient solar cells, which provided the plane with enough power for its flight. The plane soared to heights of nearly 9000 metres, and emerged from dark night skies with enough power for another three hours of flight time.

The team, which includes Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, is understandably elated by this success. According to pilot Borschberg, ‘‘flying by night using solely solar power is a stunning manifestation of the potential that clean technologies offer today to reduce the dependency of our society on fossil fuels.” The Solar Impulse team has announced plans to build a second plane by 2011, which will allow them to traverse them globe by utilising solar-power. 


(Photo: inhabitat.com)

Breaks In Denver – Denver Hotels

Posted July 14, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Denver  Dwarfed by the majestic Rocky Mountains, the bustling city of Denver is the perfect holiday spot for those of you if you’re craving a bit of the outdoors, but don’t want to leave the comforts of city life behind. Nature-lovers should hike through the 500-mile long Durango Trail to fully appreciate Colorado’s breathtaking beauty. Within the city limits, you’ll find an impressive botanic garden, as well as a variety of well-kept parks. Denver is also known for its many sports teams, so take some time out for a game, whether it be baseball, hockey or basketball. Of course, no visit to the Mile High City is complete without a trip to the State Capitol building. Climb up to its 15th step, and you’ll see a tiny brass stud marking the exact point where the city stands one mile above sea level.

 

Stay

Magnolia Hotel Denver – With its convenient location in downtown Denver, the Magnolia is the perfect hotel for those of you wishing to explore the city and enjoy all it has to offer. The rooms feature plush carpeting and thick velvet curtains to help block out the city’s noise and a complimentary bedtime cookie will ensure sweet dreams. The hotel also provides guests with a free breakfast buffet spread, and when you’re ready to start sightseeing, simply hop onto one of the Magnolia’s complimentary shuttle services to make your way downtown. Room rates start from £155.

 

See

Georgetown – If you’d like a trip into Denver’s past, then why not take a daytrip into Georgetown, about 40 miles away from the city. Historic Georgetown functions as a living museum, with over 200 faithfully restored buildings. Stroll through the town’s streets to get a feel of what it was like to live in the American West over 200 years ago, or browse through a selection of antiques at one of the houses which have been converted into shops. Visitors can also hop on to the Georgetown Loop Railroad for a trip around the town while enjoying the spectacular Rockies scenery.

 

Eat

Lola – Enjoy Some of Denver’s best Mexican food in this breezy, casual eatery. The focus is on ‘Coastal Mexican’, with lashings of great tasting seafood. Start with creamy, spicy guacamole, prepared at your table. Your guacamole would taste great with a serving of rock shrimp ceviche, served with juicy grape tomatoes and melons. There is also tasty-sounding brunch menu on weekends, with items such as horchata oatmeal, served in coconut milk with strawberries and pistachios. For something more substantial, why not try the Lola huevos – eggs with four cheese enchiladas – or a Lolaburguesa, their version of a burger, served with sweet potato fries. 


Check here for cheap flights to Denver.


(Photo: rockiesguide.com)

Breaks In Cancun – Cancun Hotels

Posted July 12, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Cancun-mexico-01  Cancun conjures up images of turquoise waters and sundrenched beaches, filled with bronzed bodies having fun. If that sounds mighty agreeable to you right now, why not search for a cheap flight and make your way there for a summer break? Head to the El Rey ruins or explore the Coba and Tulum archaeological sites if you’re up for a bit of history. You can also cool off in a hidden cenote surrounded by rocky walls, or catch a tan on the silvery beaches. 


Stay

The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort – With its cheerful pink and white facade and sweeping views over the ocean, the Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort is certainly the ideal spot for your beach break. Guests enjoy access to the hotel’s private beaches, and the pool overlooks the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. The rooms themselves are spacious, and have ceiling fans to help combat the heat. Room rates start from £120.


See

Coba – Take a step back in time to Coba and explore Mexico’s past. Coba was a large Mayan city which boasted up to 50 000 inhabitants in its heyday. These days, the site contains a number of impressive temple pyramids and features such as ball courts and carved columns. Those of you with good stamina might want to climb to the top of the Nohoch Mul pyramid (standing at over 42 metres) – it is accessible via a set of steep, rather narrow stone steps.

 

Eat

La Habichuela – This restaurant’s magical setting is likely to be just as unforgettable as your meal. Dine out in the beautiful sculpture filled garden, or enjoy your meal in the dining room, surrounded by the owners’ wonderful collection of paintings and objet d’art. Try the famous Cocochibuela – a chunky, savoury curry with lobster and prawns, served in a coconut shell. The rest of the menu features Mexican favourites such as fajitas and enchiladas, and an extensive selection of fresh seafood and fish.


Check here for cheap flights to Cancun.


(Photo: mexico.vg)

Know Your Passenger Rights

Posted July 8, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Passenger rights  The chaos caused by the Icelandic ash cloud may have subsided, but the fallout continues. Thousands of passengers were left stranded, and had to deal with the ordeal of cancelled flights and lost luggage. Through it all, many were also unsure of what sort of compensation (if any) they were entitled to.

 

The ash cloud crisis has also highlighted the fact that many passengers are unclear about their rights, and how they deserve to be treated by transport companies. However, the European Commission has now announced plans to change that with an eye-catching publicity campaign about passenger rights.

 

The EC’s Europe-wide campaign covers 23 languages, and includes a website where passengers can go to check up on their rights. There will also be posters and leaflets in airports throughout Europe. The campaign aims to educate passengers on the treatment they can expect from air and rail companies, and covers vital issues such as lost luggage, cancellations, and delays. The EC also plans to extend these rights to passengers using other forms of transport, such as coaches and ferries.

 

It may be too late now to claim a refund or compensation for your cancelled flight, but why not head on over to the website to have a look anyway? The next time a volcano decides to disrupt your travel plans, at least you’ll know what you can expect from the airlines.

 

(Photo: boardingarea.com)

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