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September 2010

Breaks In Basel – Basel Hotels

Posted September 29, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Basel Basel is often overlooked as a holiday destination in favour of other Swiss cities. However, if you’re willing to spend some time here, you will discover a charming city filled with history and culture. The city centre is small enough to discover on foot, and trams and buses are easily available if you need to give your feet a break. Pick up some freshly baked bread from the Marktplatz, or join a guided tour through the Rathaus (town hall). Other popular sights are the striking Basel Munster, as well as the ruins of the medieval gates that surrounded Basel centuries ago. Basel is well-known for its love of art. There are plenty of museums here for every taste, including a number of art museums, as well as a Puppenhausmuseum for teddy bears, and a Caricature and Cartoon Museum.


The Basler Munster – This imposing Gothic cathedral is one of Basel’s most popular sights. Its huge bulk stands on a hill, towering over the city. The red sandstone cathedral is instantly recognisable, with its soaring towers and colourful roof tiles. Climb up to the top of the north or south tower (Georgesturm and Martinsturm respectively) for wonderful views over the city and the Rhine. Another notable feature is the Galluspforte (Gallus Portal) on the west side, delicately carved with detailed Romanesque figures.



Schweizerhopf Hotel – Exploring Basel is a breeze from your base at the Schweizerhopf Hotel. The hotel is conveniently situated at the Basel SBB railway station, in the centre of the city. The rooms here have beautiful dark wood floors and plenty of light, as well as large flatscreen TVs and internet access. Start your day off with a spread from the buffet breakfast, filled with fresh bread rolls and pastries, smoked salmon, and eggs. Late-risers will appreciate the hotel’s 24-hour continental breakfast, while night-owls can enjoy a drink at the hotel’s bar which is open all day and night. Room rates start from £85.



Restaurant Kunsthalle – This spacious restaurant is split into two parts – a casual ‘Brown’ section with the relaxed atmosphere of a beer hall, and a ‘white’ section for elegant dining. Enjoy spaghetti Bolognese, beef carpaccio, veal escalope, or grilled sole. There are also a variety of sides to choose from, including rosti, rice, noodles, and potatoes cooked in several ways. Round off your meal with some homemade pie, a chocolate mousse, or a slice of St Honore cake.


Check here for cheap flights to Basel.


Breaks In Auckland – Auckland Hotels

Posted September 27, 2010 by BookingBuddy


It takes a while to get to Auckland, but it will be worth the effort when you get there. The largest city in New Zealand has consistently been voted the most liveable city in the world, but it’s also great as a holiday destination.  There’s something to suit everyone - whether you’re an adrenalin junkie, a shopaholic, a gourmand, or you’re just here for a rest. Those of you with a head for heights may want to go for a bridge climb, all over Auckland’s Harbour Bridge. Time to get down? Head to Pier 2 for a bungy jump over Waitama Harbour! Quieter types may prefer to pack a picnic and wander through Auckland’s Botanic Gardens, filled with floral from around the region. Auckland’s multicultural population is reflected in the variety of food available here. Snack on a meat pie, or grab some sushi off a conveyor belt if you’re after some fast food. For more relaxed meals, there’s always a choice of tapas, pho noodles, huge burgers, vegan dinners and much more.



CityLife Auckland – CityLife Auckland is centrally located in Auckland’s business district, making it a great base from which to explore the rest of the city. Choose from a range of spacious apartments and suites that provide a real home away from home atmosphere. Fully equipped kitchens are included in all their suites, so you can cook up a storm with fresh ingredients any time. Other features at the CityLife Auckland include a heated indoor pool, laundry facilities, and an in-house restaurant. Room rates start from 375.



Rangitoto Island – Rangitoto Island is a fairly young (in geological terms, that is) volcanic island just off Auckland’s North Shore. It’s a wonderful spot for hiking, and there are several caves to explore too. There is also a guided tour that takes you around the remaining baches (holiday houses) on the island, and ends with a tasty cream and scone tea. Ferries to Rangitoto Island depart from Auckland’s main ferry terminal.



Kitchen at Hotel De Brett – Head to this bright and breezy restaurant in the Hotel De Brett to sample some contemporary New Zealand dishes, inspired by a range of cultures. The lunch menu features, seafood linguini, panfried halloumi, and a spicy lamb tagine. For dinner, there is a tender duck confit, a plate of quinoa and fresh vegetables, and slow-cooked rump of lamb. 


Check here for cheap flights to Auckland



What To Do In The UK – October

Posted September 24, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Oysters The onset of autumn doesn’t mean you should stay indoors all the time. Relive your childhood by having a spontaneous game of conkers, or go for a stroll and admire the vibrant red and orange shades of falling leaves. Put on a warm coat and a scarf, and enjoy the various events happening this month.

13th – 28th October – London Film Festival, London

Film-lovers can enjoy previews of new works before they are shown to a wider audience, courtesy of the British Film Institute (BFI). The films include experimental works, animations, short films as well as old black and white favourites.


14th – 17th October – Falmouth Oyster Festival, Falmouth

Autumn is a great time for plump, juicy oysters, so head to Falmouth to enjoy this week to enjoy this tasty shellfish. The festival celebrates the start of oyster season, and there will be lots of oysters (as well as other seafood) on offer here. Watch the cooking demonstrations, or enjoy performances of traditional sea shanties, and maybe even take part in the oyster shucking competitions!


24th October – October Plenty, Southbank, London

Celebrate harvest customs in the capital. October Plenty is a free festival which takes place in front of Shakespeare’s Globe on the Southbank. Highlights include an effigy of the Corn Queene, laden down with grains, fruits and vegetables to symbolise the harvest. The procession moves through Borough Market, in order to enjoy seasonal delights on offer there, such as cider, biscuits and soul cakes.




Breaks In Alghero – Alghero Hotels

Posted September 22, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Alghero Have you thought about heading to Alghero the next time you’re considering an Italian holiday? This little town is on the northern tip of Sardinia, and isn’t crowded as hotspots like Rome and Venice, so you’ll be able enjoy a relaxing holiday. Alghero has a balmy climate, and the Marine Reserve here offers some wonderful diving scenery. The impressive Alghero Cathedral shows off a mixture of Catalan-Gothic styles, and has a Neo-Classical portico on its west side.  Other buildings worth seeing include the imposing Torre del Portal, the old city walls, and the Palazzo d’Albis. A wealth of seafood is available in the restaurants and cafes here. There is a Catalan influence to a lot of the food here, but you’ll also be able to find the odd pizza or two if you desire.



Neptune’s Grotto – This stunning cavern lies at the foot of the Cappo Caccia cliffs, and is accessible by boat, or on foot. Try to keep your vertigo in check if you decide to go on foot though – the path to the grotto takes you through a series of perilously narrow steps cut into the cliffside. It’s all worth it once you enter the grotto though. Warm orange lighting helps highlight the spectacular stalactite formations, and gives the lake a glassy smooth appearance, so you may get the impression that you’ve arrived at a magnificent ballroom.



Alghero Resort Country Hotel – Escape to the Alghero Resort Country Hotel to relax and revitalise your senses. The hotel is set in a lush oasis, within a charming 18th century building. It is 3 kilometres from Alghero’s town centre, but that distance is easily handled by renting one of the hotel’s bicycles. The rooms have an airy, bright feel, and with plenty of original fittings such as wooden ceiling beams. Guests can relax with a lesson at the horse-riding centre, or a trip to the spa for a session of pampering. Room rates start from £80.



Mabrouk – It’s easy to miss this unassuming restaurant tucked away in the old streets near the harbour. Seafood lovers will be delighted to discover Mabrouk serves only fish and shellfish – and as much wine or water as you require. The dishes on the set menu depend on what is available that day. You may be able to enjoy some clam linguine, a lobster salad with onions and tomatoes, or even sea urchin if they happen to be in season.   


Check here for Alghero travel information.



Breaks In Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi Hotels

Posted September 21, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Abudhabi Ever wanted to experience life in the richest city in the world? Then book yourself on a flight to Abu Dhabi for a glamourous break! This little slip of land in the United Arab Emirates plays host to the headquarters of many big companies, and houses many spectacular skyscrapers. Many buildings here are very eye-catching, such as the over-the-top facade of the Emirates Palace Hotel. The hotel’s interior is just as ostentatious, featuring suites furnished in marble, with gold fittings all around. There is also a quieter side to the city. The peaceful Qasr al-Hosn is one of the oldest buildings in Abu Dhabi, while Khalifa Park is a great spot to relax and enjoy a picnic. Shoppers might want to keep a close eye on their wallets – Abu Dhabi is famous for its shopping centres. There are many high-end brands to be found here, although bargains can be found in the smaller, independent boutiques and shops too.



The Corniche – Abu Dhabi’s playground is the Corniche, the 7 kilometre long promenade that stretches along the city’s waterfront. Early evening is the best time to stroll along the Corniche, as the evening breezes help cool the city down after a day of baking heat. There are beaches with swimming areas, as well as umbrellas to help shade beachgoers. Thrillseekers can have a go on the go-cart tracks, or you can just sit back and enjoy the performances put on by various groups.



Vision Hotel Apartments – Accommodation can get fairly pricey in Abu Dhabi, but you won’t have to pay through your nose for luxury at this hotel. The Vision Hotel Apartments offers spacious studio-style suites only a short way away from The Corniche. The suites come with kitchenettes, so you can prepare home cooked meals yourself. You can also have meals at the Vision Cafe, which has a wide range of local and international dishes on its menu. Room rates start from about £65.



Al Mina Restaurant - The Al Mina Restaurant is looks out over Dhow Harbour, and offers diners picturesque views, especially when the sun sets in the evenings. Start your meal off with some fragrant tabbouleh, or a plate of stuffed vine leaves. Other dishes of note here include locally caught seafood as well as grilled hammour (grouper). The kebab Sultani comes with tender chunks of mutton, on a bed of spiced saffron rice. 


Check here for Abu Dhabi travel information



Next Flight – Standing Room Only?

Posted September 16, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Skyriderseats Travelling cattle class can get pretty excruciating, even on the best days, but at least you’re not in sardine class yet. However, it looks like the days of airline passengers squeezing together as if they were on a crowded bus could soon become a reality.


The Italian design company Aviointeriors has just unveiled its new ‘Skyrider’ seat at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas conference. Shaped like a saddle, the seat requires passengers to perch at an angle and puts most of their weight on their legs.  The ‘Skyrider’ allows a passenger only 23 inches of legroom, compared to 30 inches on an average economy seat. The company has optimistically compared it to a ride on horseback.


Dominique Menoud, the company’s director general, has tried to reassure potential passengers by reminding us that ‘Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel comfortable in the saddle.’ The new design could be a hit with budget airlines, which will be able to cram more passengers into their planes, by replacing their current seats with these new ones.


I think I’ll just wait for Santa Claus to bring me that pony I asked for. 



Breaks In Cape Town – Cape Town Hotels

Posted September 15, 2010 by BookingBuddy

CapeTown If you feel like escaping to somewhere sunny this winter, why not hop on a flight to Cape Town? Situated on the tip of South Africa, Cape Town enjoys fairly temperate weather all year round. There are miles of shoreline surrounding the city, so you’re sure to find a beach that’s not too crowded. The city is surrounded by a ring of majestic mountains, including the famous flat-topped Table Mountain. It’s is a cosmopolitan, modern city, with several distinctive neighbourhoods. Bo-Kaap, on Signal Hill, stands out with its colourfully painted houses. Boulder’s Beach, near Simon’s Town, plays host to a colony of penguin, and June to November is prime whale-watching season.



Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – Cape Town is surrounded by a unique and diverse variety of flora, so head over to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens if you want to find out more about them. Nestled in the foot of Table Mountain, the Gardens showcase thousands of species of indigenous South African plants. Enjoy a picnic on its rolling green lawns, or explore the hiking trails that wander through different terrains. The greenhouse has a huge display of proteas, as well as a collection of baobab and quiver trees.



Bo-Kaap Kombuis – Try some Cape Malay cuisine in this casual dining room in colourful Bo-Kaap, while enjoying views out to Table Mountain. Most of the dishes here have a strong Malay influence, with lots of curries featuring on the menu. Order some flaky roti to go with the curries – this traditional flatbread soaks up the sauces very well. Denningvleis is a ‘very traditional Malay meal’ with tender chunk of lamb, served with potatoes, rice and steamed vegetables on the side.



Cape Heritage Hotel – Make your trip to Cape Town unforgettable with a stay at the Cape Heritage Hotel. The building is situated on historic Heritage Square, close to restaurants and shops. All 17 rooms in the hotel have been individually decorated, for a truly one-of-a-kind look. Most of the hotel’s furniture and artworks come from local artisans, providing the place with a distinctly Capetonian character.  

Check here for cheap flights to Cape Town.



Breaks In Madrid – Madrid Hotels

Posted September 14, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Madrid1 Craving a short break away from your office desk? Why not book yourself on a flight to Madrid? The Spanish capital is a bustling city, and a hotspot on many tourist itineraries. Immerse yourself in Madrid’s rich culture by visiting some of the many museums and art galleries. Head to the Golden Museum Triangle for the Museo del Prado or the Reina Sofia National Museum. Other museums of note include the National Archaeology Museum and the Museo de America. If you’d rather pick up some artefacts instead of looking at them, then the Sol-Salamanca districts might be just right. The streets here are packed with exclusive boutiques and high street chains. El Corte Ingles is the largest department store in Spain, but if you’re after a bargain, you may want to visit El Rastro, the city’s largest flea market.



Hotel Preciados – This hotel is on Calle Preciados, so you’re only a stone’s throw away from Madrid’s main shopping districts, and not far from most of the city’s major tourist attractions. Housed in a striking 19th century building, the hotel’s interior manages to combine old-world elegance with modern furniture and technology. Every room here has a balcony, so you’ll be able to enjoy great views over Madrid any time. Room rates start from £105.



Palacio Real – The huge Royal Palace is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. However, the Royal Family do not actually reside it in, only utilising it for official occasions such as State Ceremonies.  The Palace is open to the public on other days. You’ll be able to visit the impressive Throne Room, as well as the Imperial Bedroom and Bedchambers. The Royal Pharmacy is also worth a look for its hundreds of carefully labelled medicine drawers.



El Fogon de Trifon – This small restaurant with its rather unassuming exterior is a great place to try out some tasty specialties from Madrid. The city’s ‘typical’ dish is a bowl of callos a la Madrilena, a kind of spicy tripe stew. Add more spice with a plate of clams in chilli sauce, or cool down with some creamy goat’s cheese, served with slightly tart quince paste. The homemade croquettes are stuffed with savoury, rich Jamon Iberico ham, another Spanish delicacy. 


Check here for cheap flights to Madrid.



'Let The Computer Fly It'

Posted September 9, 2010 by BookingBuddy

FO9_Ryanair_pilot Ever watch those action movies where a flight gets hijacked and a plucky flight attendant, with the help of a martial-arts trained paasenger (I’m looking at you, Wesley Snipes), inevitably ends up saving the day? Well, if Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary gets his way, then that could be a lot closer to reality than you may expect.

The controversial O’Leary has recently been quoted as saying that he wants to ‘take out the second pilot,’ as he feels that computers are doing most of the work keeping an aircraft aloft these days. The co-pilot would be then be replaced with a trained flight attendant, who would be required to leap into action and land the plane should an emergency arise.

However, others have criticised his proposal, with some calling the idea ‘unwise’ and ‘unsafe’. A spokesman for the British Airline Pilots’ Association has also suggested that O’Leary’s suggestion is ‘just a bid for publicity’. There’s no word yet on whether Wesley Snipes plans to leap into action to save the day should O’Leary’s plan go through.



Breaks In Los Angeles – Los Angeles Hotels

Posted September 8, 2010 by BookingBuddy

LosAngeles Get some movie magic into your life with a trip to Los Angeles. The City of Angels is a popular destination for many, and has no end of attractions. The Hollywood sign is a familiar sight as it towers over the city. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is one of the most famous theatres in the world, with many celebrities leaving their hand and foot prints in the concrete outside the theatre’s forecourt. Love shopping? Then give your bank account a real workout at the high end boutiques along Rodeo Drive, or get a great bargain from the Downtown area. It’s not just glitz and glamour here though. Los Angeles has a huge, multicultural population, which can be seen in neighbourhoods like Koreatown, Little India, Little Ethiopia, Little Armenia and other ethnic enclaves throughout the city. With so many creative types squeezed into this city, you’ll also find that Los Angeles has more than its fair share of museums. If it all gets too much, just escape to a beach, or hike up into the hills surrounding the city for some fresh air and spectacular views.


La Brea Tar Pits – See giant mammoths, wolves, camels and lions in the middle of Los Angeles! No, this isn’t the newest blockbuster from the Hollywood studios, just some of the exhibits inside the Page Museum. Thousands of skeletons and fossils have been unearthed from the tar pits over the last few decades. Visitors can watch volunteers and palaeontologists at work in boxes around the tar pits. The museum also features life-sized exhibits and dioramas of animals that have frequented the pits in the past.



The Brentwood Inn - Located in Brentwood, the Brentwood Inn is not far from the most of the city’s attractions, but offers guests a measure of tranquillity after a hectic day in Los Angeles. This charming inn has 21 intimate rooms that come with complimentary bottled water and internet access. The rooms have a very laidback feel, with clean white walls and simple, but luxurious furnishings. It’s not far from Santa Monica, making it very convenient if you decide to head to the beaches. Room rates start from £120, and include breakfast.



Grill ‘Em All Truck – This heavy metal-themed burger truck (their name is a pun on Metallica’s album Kill ‘Em All) has been winning plenty of praise from burger aficionados recently. Their burgers sport names like ‘Carcass’ and ‘Behemoth’, but don’t let that put you off. The ‘Behemoth’ lives up to its name by being a monster of a burger – cheese buns are stuffed with a thick, juicy beef patty, then topped with cheddar, beer soaked onions and slices of bacon. Enjoy it with a side of ‘H100s’ – deepfried potato and cheese bites – and you’ll be ready to rock all night. The truck moves around the Los Angeles area, but fans can find out where they’ll be next via Twitter. 


Check here for cheap flights to Los Angeles.



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