Posted March 10, 2011 by BookingBuddy
The Amalfi coast is famous for some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe – higgledy-piggledy houses perched precariously on the sides of cliffs, white sailboats on top of brilliant blue water, and market squares thronged with people. Amalfi takes on a yellow tinge in the warmer months, thanks to the lemons that grow all around here. Quench your thirst with a chilled glass of locally-produced Limoncello as you sit on an outdoor terrace taking in the brilliant sunsets.
Ristorante Caravella – This Michelin-starred restaurant may not have the best views, but who has time to look out to sea when you’re faced with food this good? The menu makes is heavily seafood based. There’s spaghetti served with seafood, ravioli cooked with cuttlefish ink, and fried olive and mozzarella balls.
Hotel Residence – Set in a palatial old mansion, the Hotel Residence sits on the seafront overlooking Amalfi’s magnificent harbour. All 27 rooms here have been furnished with original antiques, in a style that remains sympathetic to the building’s origins. Room rates start from £120.
Amalfi Cathedral – This ancient cathedral is unmissable – its formidable bulk looms above Piazza del Duomo, where a set of steps lead up to the marbled, arched entrance. Spend some time admiring the gilt mosaics on the cathedral’s gable, or enter the Romanesque nave through the magnificent bronze doors, which now sport a patina of green. The bell tower looks over Amalfi’s harbour, and is covered with majolica tiles.
Check here for Amalfi travel information.
Posted March 8, 2011 by BookingBuddy
First time visitors to Croatia may find themselves pleasantly surprised at the country’s balmy Mediterranean climate. Croatia’s long coastline hugs the Adriatic, providing it with a multitude of sandy beaches that are perfect for spending lazy summer days on. Head to Dubrovnik to find out why Lord Byron proclaimed this World Heritage listed city the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’. The ancient city of Split is full of historic attractions, and ruins left over from Roman times.
Hotel President – Located beside the open-air market at British Square (Britanski Trg), the Hotel President offers a peaceful respite from city life in the Croatian metropolis. Guests can visit the market to shop for fresh food or antiques. The hotel itself is refreshingly modern, and the rooms are finished with roomy beds and colourful paintings on the walls. Room rates start from about £90.
Kamenice – Grab an outdoor table at this popular hangout and feast on fresh local cuisine. ‘Kamenice’ means oysters, and you’ll find plenty of that on the menu. There are also steaming platters of mussels, fried fish and squid, and a variety of omelettes.
Diocletian’s Palace – Built by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the 4th century, the imposing Diocletian’s Palace is a city within a city. The magnificent edifice was built with imported marble, and finished off with Egyptian sphinxes and columns. The Palace is in remarkably well-preserved, although there are still several areas undergoing restoration. Visitors will need to spend several hours taking everything in – the palace is a wonderful example of Roman excess, from the huge Peristyle to the basement with its soaring vaulted ceilings.
Check here for Croatia travel information.
Posted March 3, 2011 by BookingBuddy
If you still think of Eastern European countries as cold, grey outposts, then a visit to Bulgaria will soon change all that. It has emerged from the shadow of the Iron Curtain, and is fast becoming a popular holiday destination. Visitors have plenty to choose from – sandy Black Sea beaches, lush mountainscapes, hidden villages and colourful, cosmopolitan cities.
Rila Monastery – If you’re heading to the Rila Mountains, make a pit stop at the historic Rila Monastery for a look at this World Heritage listed landmark. The monastery was built near the cave where the hermit Saint Ivan originally spent his days. The modern day complex encompasses not just the cave, but a whole series of magnificent buildings, churches and towers.
Hebros Hotel Restaurant – Located in the Hebros Hotel, this restaurant offers diners a slightly upscale version of traditional Bulgarian dishes. Start off with a choice of soups salads, and move on to homemade meatballs, breaded pork fillets, or rabbit stewed with plums.
Dedeman Trimontium Princess Plovdiv – Look past its fairly uninspiring facade, and you’ll find a comfortable, spacious hotel with pleasantly neutral furnishings. The hotel is perfect as a base for visitors who wish to explore this ancient city. It is only 10 minutes walk from Old Plovdiv, the city’s atmospheric old town. Room rates start from around £40 per night.
Check here for cheap flights to Bulgaria.
Posted March 2, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Paris may be more hyped up, but Prague is the real city of romance. The Czech capital has more than its fair share of spectacular architecture - the majority are clustered within the historic centre, but those willing to venture further afield will be rewarded a more cosmopolitan view of the city. Sightseeing can take its toll on your feet, so sit down in one of Prague’s great cafes and enjoy a rich hot chocolate or glass of Czech wine.
Old Town – It may be full of other camera-wielding tourists, but to entirely skip the Old Town wouldbe unforgivable. Prague’s historical nexus is filled with a staggering variety of architectural wonders.Take a look at the Astronomical Clock, or Orloj. It built more than 600 years ago and features an array of animated figures that appear every hour. Visit the exhibition in the Old Town Bridge Tower to find out more about the significance of the famous Charles Bridge, and to enjoy the bird’s eyeview of the Old Town from the top of the tower.
Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa – The opulent surroundings might be a bit much for some, but if over-the-top Baroque style is your cup of tea, then a stay in the Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa might just be the thing for you. This boutique hotel is housed in a magnificent mansion a few short steps away from Prague Castle. The interior courtyards here are full of old-world charm, and are just the spot for enjoying a quiet tea break. Room rates start from about £170.
Grand Cafe Orient – Cubism reigns supreme in the Grand Cafe Orient, designed by architect Josef Goscar (his bust greets customers as they enter the cafe.) The interior harks back to Cubism’s heyday in the early 20th century, with elegant Cubist-inspired furniture and fittings. The menu itself features a variety of Czech cafe favourites, interspersed with a few international offerings.
Check here for cheap flights to Prague.
(Photo: Vera Kratochvil)
Posted February 24, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Now that the days are getting longer and the air is warming up, there’s hardly any excuse for you to stay cooped up inside all the time! There’s no shortage of events this month that will entice you to come out and enjoy some sun.
6th March – Maslenitsa Festival, London
Kickstart Spring with a dose of Russian flavour at this festival in Trafalgar Square. The Maslenitsa event will feature live bands and choirs performing traditional Russian music on stage. There will be a range of kiosks and food stalls around Trafalgar Square, serving up an array of Russian delicacies such as blinis and borscht.
17th – 20th March – Antiques For Everyone Fair, Birmingham NEC
Ever dreamt of making a fortune from a dusty little ceramic vase – like those folks on the Antiques Roadshow? Visit the Antiques for Everyone fair and you may just pick up a few tips and some valuable antiques at the same time. The fair is crammed with over 400 dealers and millions of pounds worth of items ranging from teddy bears and textiles to kettles.
25th – 17th March – Hawick Reivers Festival, Hawick
The Scottish town of Hawick steps back in time this weekend, to commemorate the town’s turbulent and colourful history. A concert kicks off the proceedings, followed by a parade through town. Actors dressed in 16th century costumes will re-enact a series of trials on Saturday, with workshops, lectures and performances taking place throughout the weekend.
(Photo: Rob Wiltshire)
Posted February 23, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Ayia Napa has been a paradise for partygoers for years, so if you haven’t been there yet, it might be time to consider a trip soon! The clubs are far from the only attraction here – Ayia Napa’s incredible beaches, with their fine white sand and clear blue waters have drawn many visitors over the years. Relax on Nissi Beach and top up your tan with the beautiful people, or head to Cape Greco for a possible sighting of the mythical Ayia Napa Sea Monster.
Ayia Napa Monastery – Visit this historic monastery for a tranquil respite from hung over clubbers and sunburnt beach bodies. Ayia Napa Monastery sits in the centre of town, on the site of an illuminated icon discovered by a hunter. The sycamore tree by the gate is thought to be over 600 years old, and the cool fountain in the courtyard was built nearly 500 years ago.
Napa Mermaid Hotel – Forget the cheap fittings and crowded public areas of other resorts on Ayia Napa – the Napa Mermaid Hotel offers guests a chance to relax in quietly elegant surroundings. The rooms are decorated in neutral, luxurious furnishings, and look out over the sea. The facilities include both an outdoor pool and a heated indoor pool, as well as a gym, tennis court and spa. Room rates start from £60.
Clarabel Restaurant – This family-run restaurant offers an array of Mediterranean and Cypriot dishes on its menu. Enjoy a variety of mezes, or enjoy the flambé dishes, cooked on a portable flambé trolley right in front of your table!
Check here for Ayia Napa travel information.
(Photo: Paolo Neo)
Posted February 22, 2011 by BookingBuddy
If Ayia Napa is the only thing that comes to mind when you think of Cyprus, then it may be time for another visit to this sunny Mediterranean island! History buffs will have a great time exploring archaeological sites or simply wandering through the historic streets of Nicosia. The Troodos Mountains covers a significant portion of the island, is home to some of the oldest trees on earth! It is also a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders.
Bellapais Gardens – Set in a romantic landscape of fertile gardens and meandering paths, the Bellapais Gardens in Kyrenia is the ideal destination for a relaxing getaway. With only 17 self-contained cottages, you’ll be sure to enjoy some tranquillity while staying here. Most of the cottages come with a terrace when you can enjoy views that stretch all the way to the sea. Bellapais Abbey is only a minute away from the hotel, and can be seen while you have a relaxing swim in the spring water pool. Room rates start from around £50.
Nicosia – A tale of two cities unfolds daily in Nicosia – it is the capital city of both Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, with the Green Line dividing Nicosia in half. On the Cypriot side, the picturesque Old City is popular with visitors. The narrow streets are filled with the scent of jasmine and lined with a multitude of shops. The historic Famagusta Gate houses a cultural centre, and the Ledra Observatory Museum gives visitors a bird’s eye view of Nicosia.
Antonaros Tavern – This unassuming little restaurant in Limasol has only mezedes on its menu, so you’ll be able to sample a wide array of local dishes at once. There are plenty of familiar items, such as dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), halloumi and soulaki. You’ll also find some seafood dishes here, and freshly grilled fish.
Check here for cheap flights to Cyprus.
(Photo: Paolo Neo)
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 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 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.