Posted January 27, 2011 by BookingBuddy
With lengthening days ahead, there’s plenty to keep you entertained this month. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so make sure you get some chocolates and roses ready for your loved one. Of course, if you find the lovey-dovey stuff a little sickly, just focus on football or rugby matches instead, or head to York and pretend you’re a Viking!
6th February – Clown Service, Holy Trinity Church, London
The annual Clown Service takes place in the Holy Trinity Church today, in honour of Joseph Grimaldi. Grimaldi was one of the most famous English clowns in the 18th-19th century, and is buried in nearby Joseph Grimaldi Park. Stay around after the service, as attending clowns often put on performances for the public. Those of you with a case of coulrophobia – that’s a fear of clowns – may want to stay away from the place.
12th – 20th February – Rye Bay Scallop Festival, Rye
The pretty seaside town of Rye is awash with scallops this month, as the Rye Bay Scallop Festival gets underway. Restaurants throughout town will be offering mouth-watering scallop-based dishes, and there will be scallop cooking demonstrations throughout the week. Cap off the week with a scallop race – roll up your sleeves, grab a wheelbarrow and join in the ‘What A Load of Scallops’ race for a chance to win the coveted plaque!
26th February – 6th March – Bath Literature Festival, Bath
The Bath Literature Festival returns to the historic cobblestoned streets of Bath. There will be a series of free poetry readings and storytelling sessions around the city, a ‘Writer’s Surgery’ for those who are stuck on their latest projects, as well as a poetry pub crawl! Writers appearing at the festival include Dr. David Starkey, Polly Toynbee, Kazuo Ishiguro and Jane Shilling.
Posted January 26, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Discover an island paradise with white sandy beaches, clear blue waters and perfect weather all year. Aruba has all these and more – distinctive scenery, scrumptious food and historic towns. Unforgettable sights here include natural stone bridges and lopsided trees, as well as the flamboyant historic architecture in the capital Oranjestad. A trip to the Arikok National Park is a great way to admire the island’s indigenous flora and fauna.
Gasparito – This family-owned restaurant is located in the homestead of the Ridderstap family. It is also an art gallery, with most of the dining room walls covered in works by local artists. The menu is a combination of local specialties and well-known favourites. Keshi yena is a plate of melted cheese, served with either seafood or chicken. There’s also the Aruban combo - a platter of local favourites – for those who can’t decide what to pick.
My Aruban Home – Enjoy the comforts of home while in Aruba, with a stay at My Aruban Home. The resort’s name gives you a good idea of what you can expect here – a relaxing, homely atmosphere in comfortable accommodation. The units consist of kitchenettes and living areas, and come fully air-conditioned to help you beat the heat. Room rates start from £47, and include pick-up and drop-off at the airport.
Arikok National Park – Discover Aruba’s unique plant and animal life within the confines of Arikok National Park. The park shelters a number of animals found only on Aruba, such as the cat-eyed snake, the Aruban rattlesnake, and the Aruban burrowing owl. There are also some archaeological sites in Arikok, as well as the remains of a goldmining complex known as Miralamar.
Check here for Aruba travel information.
Posted January 25, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Tenerife is such a hit with visitors that you may find it near impossible to enjoy any elbow room at one of its more popular beaches. The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife offers eager holidaymakers white sandy beaches, as well as lush humid forests, craggy mountains and surreal volcanic vistas. Hike up Mount Teide for panoramic views around the island – the volcano is Tenerife’s highest peak, and is surrounded by national park.
Masca – Masca is a tiny village perched on the northwestern tip of Tenerife. Located in the shadow of the Teno mountains, the little village is slowly becoming a popular sightseeing spot. Visitors traipse here for the splendid views – you can see all the way to the island of La Gomera from here. Explore the quaint little plaza, go for a walk and see the abandoned houses clinging on to the hillsides, or hike through the lush green forests here.
Hotel Tigaiga – Located within the lush confines of Taoro Park, the Hotel Tigaiga is a comfortable, family-run hotel that will have you feeling right at home. All rooms come with balconies that enjoy views to Mount Teide or over Taoro Park. Soak up some sun by the outdoor swimming pool, enjoy or stroll through the cactus garden, or test your brain power in a game of giant chess.
Los Abrigos – Los Abrigos have their very own fishing boats in order to ensure the restaurant serves up fresh, top quality seafood every day. The mixed grill is great for sharing – it’s filled with lightly cooked prawns, shellfish and squid, and served with lemon to help bring out the flavour. Fish is available grilled, lightly battered and fried, or steamed. You can also enjoy large plates of steamed and grilled shellfish, as well as a chunky seafood stew.
Check here for cheap flights to Tenerife.
Posted January 20, 2011 by BookingBuddy
It’s no surprise that many of us find travelling a highly stressful experience. All those security checks and scans, never-ending queues and other passengers – it’s enough to make you give up and just stay home instead! However, at least one airport is trying to improve the experience for their passengers.
The airport will be opening a 10000 square feet lounge at its North Terminal this summer, just in time for the holiday crowds. The lounge will include a spa, a mini-cinema, games areas and even a business centre. Passengers will have to pay a £20 entry fee to make use of the lounge. They will also have access to complimentary goodies suck as snacks, magazines and WIFI. Those will like to arrive at their destination looking their best will probably want to go for a manicure or even a haircut.
‘At Gatwick, we want our passengers to feel as if their holiday starts right here at the airport,’ said Robin Longden, the airport’s chief commercial officer. Sounds good to me! I may even forgo my overseas holiday and just spend a couple of days at Gatwick this summer.
Posted January 19, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Hop over to the island of Lanzarote for a stimulating break. Your flight will get you to Arrecife Airport. From there, it’s only a short journey to the historic town of Arrecife. The island is often associated with sunburnt tourists and drunken partygoers, but wander away from the egg-and-chip establishments and you’ll find a serene island filled with wild, volcanic landscapes.
Almacen de Sal – Housed in a former salt warehouse, the Almacen de Sal serves up tasty, seafood-focused dishes in beautiful surroundings. Start with some stuffed peppers, or tender baby squid cooked in their ink. Those of you wanting a break from seafood may want to go for the duck cooked with orange, Segovian style roast lamb, or a Galician beef chop.
Timanfaya National Park – An otherworldly landscape greets your sight as you step into Timanfaya National Park. The dramatic, seemingly lifeless landscape here was formed as a result of volcanic eruptions in the mid-18th century. Stroll along the footpaths and discover rare plant life, or hop on a camel for a bumpy but unique journey. The El Diablo restaurant serves food cooked by natural geothermal activity.
Nautilus Bungalows – The bright, cheerful rooms at the Nautilus Bungalows help get you into the holiday mood as soon as you check in. The bungalows are great for family holidays as they come with a full kitchen and spacious living room. Facilities include a supermarket in the grounds of the resort, as well as two swimming pools and a mini-golf course.
Check here for cheap flights to Lanzarote.
Posted January 18, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Escape to Gran Canaria for a funfilled holiday in the sun! The third largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria is home to beaches, sand dunes, historic towns, and nature reserves. Visit Las Palmas for a vibrant city break, or head to one of the smaller villages to enjoy a slower pace of life.
Taboga – See the spectacular dunes of Maspalomas from your balcony here at Taboga. Located in lively Playa del Ingles, the hotel offers 24 airy self-catering apartments – each fitted out with a full kitchen and comfortable living room. Room rates start from £50.
Roque Nublo – The monolithic Roque Nublo stands on a mountain peak overlooking Gran Canaria, and has been an emblematic landmark of the island for thousands of years. Hike out of Tejeda to reach the rock – it sits nearly 2000 metres above the town, and at that height, the views are spectacular.
El Herreno – Join the locals here for some tasty Canarian food. This popular restaurant also has plenty of tapas dishes on offer. Try the ubiquitous papas arrugadas – wrinkly potatoes served with lashings of fiery mojo sauce. Roast pig trotters are another specialty, as well as snails, cheese and seafood.
Check here for Gran Canaria travel information.
Posted January 13, 2011 by BookingBuddy
You may have spent hours in the gym in order to look good in that teeny-weeny bikini, but all that hard work may be wasted as soon as you leave the office to go on holiday. It’s no surprise that many people find they’ve put on weight after their break. Once the ‘holiday mentality’ kicks in, you may find yourself eating unhealthily or cutting back on exercise. However, there’s no need to let all that workout time go to waste. Here are some simple tips to keep the pounds from piling up.
Look for healthy options at the airport. The fast food available at airports may help fill you up before your flight, but many choices can be highly calorific. Skip that burger and chips, and opt for a sandwich instead. Even a seemingly innocuous latte can be surprisingly high in calories.
Walk around. It can be tempting to hop into a cheap taxi or hire a car to take you around, but it won’t keep the holiday weight off. Bring along some good walking shoes, and explore the place on foot instead. You’ll also be able to see much more of your destination this way. Some cities are also bicycle-friendly, so rent a bike from the nearest outlet and start zooming around while getting a good workout at the same time!
These easy tips may not help transform you into a triathlete, but at least you won’t have to give up the yummy local dishes for fear of piling on the pounds.
(Photo: Joyce Wan)
Posted January 12, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Enjoy an adventurous holiday with a flight to Fuerteventura. The island is popular with surfers, who are drawn to the strong winds and warm waters here. Don’t forget your camera – the black sand beaches and ethereal volcanic landscapes provide ample photo opportunities.
La Vaca Azul – Named for the eye-catching blue cow on its rooftop, La Vaca Azul is popular for serving up fresh fish and seafood dishes. Enjoy the fish of the day, so fresh it practically swims onto your plate, or order off the menu. There are plenty of tapas dishes, as well as several kinds of paella here too.
Ajuy – Drive along the west coast of Fuerteventura to discover the village of Ajuy. This little village is known for its distinctive black sand beach, as well as a number of dramatic caves that are just calling out to be explored. In the right weather, the wreck of the American Star can be seen behind one of the headlands. Ajuy also has a number of restaurants located by the beach, so you can enjoy a plate of fresh seafood while watching the sun sink.
Bahiazul Villas and Club – Located in Corralejo, the Bahiazul resort has over 100 luxury, whitewashed villas to accommodate guests. Enjoy homecooked meals while on holiday - each villa is fitted with a kitchen as well as dining and living areas. There’s also a restaurant on the grounds, and a little supermarket should you need anything.
Check here for cheap flights to Fuerteventura.
Posted January 11, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Top up that fast fading tan with a trip to the sundrenched beaches of the Canary Islands. Lanzarote and Tenerife are the best known islands, but you’re likely to have just as much fun on the lesser known islands too. La Gomera’ unspoilt natural scenery stands in beautiful contrast to the holiday resorts of Tenerife. Visit El Hierro to able to boast to those back home that you’ve been to the ‘edge of the world’.
Reina Isabel Hotel – You’ll be able enjoy the best of both worlds at the Reina Isabel Hotel – Las Palmas’ vibrant centre is a short walk away, while the beautiful Playa de Las Canteras sits right in front of the hotel. There’s also a rooftop pool, and four different restaurants to choose from. Room rates start from £74.
La Gomera – This little island is a nature lover’s dream. La Gomera is covered in lush vegetation and distinctive natural features. Circle the island in a boat to see Los Organos, a dramatic series of pillars shaped like the pipes of a church organ. Hike through the Garajonay National Park for a look at the laurisilva forest, and make your way to the top of Alto de Garajonay for views around the island.
La Tasquita de Nino – Blink and you may just pass by this tiny restaurant hidden in a converted post office. Enjoy an intimate dining experience filled with traditional Canarian dishes – morcilla (black pudding), conejo en salmorejo (rabbit stew), and a selection of tapas, with a side of mojo sauce.
Posted January 9, 2011 by BookingBuddy
A mere 56 miles from Sicily and just 180 miles north of Africa, the easily accessible Mediterranean island of Malta reflects the influences of its Phoenician, Roman, Arabic, British, and French roots. All five diverse cultures have occupied the island at one time or another over its 7,000-year history, and the result is an energetic urban island at the heart of the Maltese archipelago (which also includes the smaller and sleepier islands of Gozo and Comino, both wonderful day trips by ferry from the island of Malta).
There's no better restaurant in all of Malta than the de Mondion restaurant at The Xara Palace in the walled city of Mdina. You'll enjoy it for both the atmosphere—it's situated atop the city's centuries-old fortifications and boasts a full 180-degree view of the island—and for the seasonally fresh Mediterranean cuisine.
Located near the heart of Malta's tourist center in Valletta, the five-star luxury Hotel Phoenicia commands stunning views of the island and is quite an architectural gem in and of itself. When you stay there, you'll live like a prince or princess—literally, since you'll be staying in the same hotel that once paid host to Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth.
Take a day trip by ferry ride to the nearby island of Gozo and enjoy shopping among the open air markets located at the foothill of the Citadel. This is the main shopping district, so in addition to stalls and street vendors you will also find many of the island's best shops as well. There you can browse everything from clothing and handbags to music, toys, and souvenirs. As no trip to Malta is complete without taking home some genuine Maltese sea salt (still gathered from the same salt flats used by the Romans), be sure to pick a bag of sea salt from one of the local vendors.