5 Great Places for a City Break

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City breaks provide opportunities for relaxing weekends that go a long way into helping one to recharge batteries before moving on with life. If you plan to take a city break as a group it’s good to make group hotel bookings early for great bargains. Sample some suggestions for ideal city breaks.

BARCELONA

Barcelona forms a unique combination of blissful relaxation on a sun-kissed beach and compelling city break. You can sunbathe on the beautiful beaches without having to leave the city. Ramble down the La Rambla and enjoy the interesting activities going on, interact with foreigners as you snack on the streets restaurants and enjoy the views famous monuments. In the evening you can stroll along the three kilometre Barceloneta Beach which is easily accessible and where wild parties never come to an end.

Check out BCN Travel for great ideas of things to do once you arrive.

BEIJING

Beijing is one of the ancient four capitals of China: rich in culture, numerous temples, majestic palaces and enormous stone walls. It is an ideal destination for the perfect city break. It is known to habor the most restaurants per square kilometer than any other city in the world and with the most bikers in the world.

You can explore its Forbidden City which boasts of numerous palaces and courtyards and surrounded by a 53 meters moat. The Great Wall of China, the must see Temple of Heaven which is even larger than the Forbidden City are some of Beijing’s unique highlights.

MARRAKECH

Marrakech is simply magical, from the time you exit the airport you are welcomed by unfamiliar kaleidoscope of colors, bustling streets and stunning background of the shimmering snow capped High Atlas ranges. Better still, it isn’t too far away from Europe, meaning you won’t have jet lag by the time you touch down.

You will be intrigued by the strong mix of ancient and modern architecture that form the basics of this charming city. Discover the Old Medina and explore the famous Jamaa el Fna square which is crammed with interesting activities that form an extraordinary scene of story tellers, dancers, musicians and street cafes.

Visit the Saadian tombs, take a bath in a Hammam and explore the neighboring rural villages and get acquainted with the interesting culture of the Berbers.

BANGKOK

Bangkok is the most popular destination in Asia; it warmly welcomes you to its sun drenched beaches, ancient temples and vibrant culture. The vibrant nightlife is enticing with its extravagant shows, bustling street markets and parades. Its chaotic China town is lined up with market stalls, food stands and multiple gold shops. Visit the National Museum an appreciate Hindu and Buddhist art or stroll in the impressive Grand Palace and enjoy its captivating history then head for a relaxing Thai massage to help you calm your nerves after such a long day discovering Bangkok.

VALLETTA

Valletta is the capital of Malta and wouldn’t necessarily make it on to everyone’s list of city breaks, but it really is a fantastic place to visit. With amazing architecture, beautiful winding cobbled alleys to match Seville and other Spanish classic, and sitting on a beautiful waterfront, a holiday in Valletta won’t let you down.

AND ONE BONUS SPOT – HONG KONG

For any shopping addict the city of Hong Kong will come in handy. It is a shopper’s paradise with a satisfying treat for people from all walks of life. You are able to buy anything your heart longs for from clothes and shoes to electronics, antiques and fresh farm produce from the streets of Hong Kong. The popular ladies market in Tuong Choi Street sells ladies clothes while the Temple street market sells electronic gadgets at reasonably fair prices. At night this place is transformed into a hubbub of restaurants where budget eaters fill their tummies with sweet smelling delicacies.

Accident in the clouds

Have you ever been traveling and felt unsafe on a flight? Was it due to the weather, your personal circumstance or the quality of the airline? When you take a flight you expect to be taken care of, but what happens when you are not? As a traveler, do you have the right to complain about your experience or should you keep it to yourself? What about if you suffer an injury while on board an aircraft, did you know there are specialists in personal injury aviation accidents? Here are some tips on how to proceed if you are unhappy with your airline experience.

What to do if you have a complaint

Read terms and conditions first – It is important to be well read on your transportation company’s policies before you pay them. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before booking your flight. If you know what is guaranteed in writing before you step onto the aircraft, it will save a lot of heartache in the long run.

Deal with it immediately – If you are dissatisfied with your flight, airline or experience deal with it as soon as possible. Try going straight to the customer service desk at the airport after you land and speak with a representative. At the very least get the name and details of a manager and a number you can call to file a claim. The longer you wait the harder it will be to get the respect and compensation you deserve.

Don’t be afraid to speak upAs a traveler you have more rights than you are probably aware of. This goes back to reading the airlines terms and conditions first. Don’t be afraid to complain if it is in the bounds of what was promised by the airline. Even if you are unsure, it does not hurt to at least voice your concerns to customer service. When you hold the airline accountable, you help ensure other travelers won’t face the same issues.

Types of accidents in the clouds

In-flight accidentsSome accidents are just that, accidents. They include tripping and falling while walking in the cabin or to the bathroom or falling on the way in or out of the aircraft.

Moving objectsA large number of accidents are caused by moving objects in the aircraft, such as luggage that falls from an overhead compartment or being hit by a passing service cart.

Turbulence This isa fairly normal occurrence on flights, but in some cases it leads to severe injury if the passenger is not wearing a seatbelt, is moving about the cabin or is not properly warned about the turbulence.

Personnel errorsInjuries can be caused by the negligence of the airline’s personnel, such as the pilot being overtired or impaired, flight attendants, ground crew members or maintenance workers failing to uphold their “heightened duty of care” that they bound to by law, since airlines fall into the category of “common carrier” or entities that transport the public for a monetary fee.

Types of claim

Making a claim for an airline accident is largely dependent on what or who caused the accident.

Negligence claimThis applies if the accident was caused by inattentiveness of airline employees or the Federal Aviation Agency,

Airline employeesAirlinepersonnel must have done something that caused the traveler to be injured such as fail to warn passengers about heavy turbulence, not properly stowing luggage or leaving hazards in the walkway

Federal Aviation Agency (FAA)This organization responsible for the airline industry as a whole. If they fail to warn a pilot about a hazard on the runway and a crash results, causing passengers to be injured, the FAA may be held responsible.

“Acts of god”- An airline cannot be held accountable for unforeseen natural events. Sometimes the pilot and/or the flight attendants cannot see heavy turbulence coming. If you are injured and the staff did everything in their power to prevent passengers from being injured it would be considered an “act of god”.

Product liability claimsAirline staff cannot take all the blame. Sometimes it is simply that the materials used to manufacture the aircraft were defective. In such cases your claim would be filed against the manufacturer of the product that malfunctioned and caused your injury.

How to file a claim

If you find yourself in one of these situations or something similar, don’t panic. Stay calm; there are plenty of people around to help.

Directly with airline – You always have the option of dealing directly with the airline by visiting the Customer Service desk at the airport. If your problem is more serious, it may be a good idea to simply note the Customer Service manager’s name and number and seek professional help before proceeding further.

Personal injury lawyer -There are a wide variety of personal injury lawyers available, many of whom specialize in aviation injury. You can search online to find firms and lawyers in your area. Getting help from an expert is always the safest bet.

FAA – If you are interested in reporting a complaint or problem about your recent flight experience, including a personal injury, the FAA has a toll-free hotline – 866-835-5322.

A guide to planning an alternative family holiday

There’s no reason why you have to stick to the same tried and tested family holiday model every time you go away – especially if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous. We’re going to give you some tips about how to plan an action-packed family break, as well as suggest a few options that are open to you.

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Start planning…

Firstly, it’s best to plan your holiday as a family, because this will help get the kids really excited about where you’re going and what you’re doing – a real blessing if you’ve got disinterested teenagers.

Secondly, to give you peace of mind when you’re arranging your break – and to make it easier for you – it’s best to go on an organised tour. This doesn’t mean you’ll be restricted in terms of what you do; in fact, it could open doors that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

The companies that offer adventurous family trips have extensive knowledge of the destinations they serve, which means they can introduce you to parts that you may not find on your own, as well as having connections with a host of activity providers who can make sure your holiday is full of thrills and spills.

Where to go

When you’ve taken the decision to be adventurous with your family break, the world really is your oyster. There’s such a wide variety of places to explore when you open up to the possibility of going off the beaten track. The following are just a few of our picks that we think are particularly good for families.

Borneo

Borneo in Malaysia is a wonderful choice if your children love wildlife, as there are some amazing reserves and sanctuaries on the island. Of course, Borneo is most famous for its orang utans, which you can get unbelievably close to at a rescue centre in Sepilok.

You can also go on jungle walks to see some more of the local wildlife, such as the proboscis monkeys that live in this part of the world, or even take a trip down the river to explore a little further afield. Mum and dad will certainly appreciate the chance to unwind in the natural hot springs in Poring, while you can all round off your trip with a bit of rest and relaxation on one of Borneo’s beautiful beaches.

Costa Rica

For plenty of action and adventure, Costa Rica is a fantastic choice. It boasts a wide variety of landscapes, including volcanoes, rainforests and beaches, while it’s become something of a mecca for travellers looking for an action-packed break.

On a family getaway here you can go white water rafting, fly through the rainforest canopy on a zip line, canoe along the coast, cycle around a volcano and go horse riding with the local cowboys. There’s certainly a lot to keep people of all ages occupied, making it a fantastic choice for families with older children who’ve got an adventurous streak.

Gozo

You don’t have to fly halfway around the world to find action and adventure, though, as there are lots of places in Europe that have plenty to offer on that front. One such example is the island of Gozo, which is part of Malta.

The emphasis here is on coastal activities, with kayaking in sea caves, mountain biking along coastal trails, abseiling and climbing on cliffs, and snorkelling in the warm Mediterranean waters that surround the isle among the things you can look forward to.

 

Alternative European city breaks

Most people looking for cheap city break deals in Europe focus on the big hitters – world-famous cities such as Paris, Rome, Madrid, Berlin, and the like. The appeals are obvious: iconic landmarks, top museums and galleries, strong tourism infrastructures and packed events schedules.

However, by ignoring cities with less celebrated names, you could be missing out, not only on fantastic culture and heritage, but also some great deals. To broaden your horizons a little, here’s a rundown of a few of Europe’s alternative city break destinations and the reasons why they’re worth a look next time you’re booking a holiday.

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Friedrichshafen, Germany

The vast majority of visitors to southern Germany head for the capital city of Bavaria, Munich, where you’ll find famous attractions such as the Nymphenburg Palace, the Oktoberfest beer festival and a wealth of museums and galleries.

Friedrichshafen, on the other hand, is most likely a city that has flown completely under your radar – until now.

Situated 200km to the south-west of Munich on the border with Switzerland, Friedrichshafen enjoys a prime location on the banks of picturesque Lake Constance. A relatively new city, Friedrichshafen was founded in 1811 and is best known as the town where Ferdinand von Zeppelin built and launched his first airships in the early 20th century.

Airships are still part of the city’s charm today, and intrepid guests can take to the skies in a modern Zeppelin for a bird’s eye view of the town and the lake. Other attractions include watching theatre, opera and ballet at the Graf Zeppelin Haus, exploring the Dornier Museum, and cycling on the shores of the lake.

Innsbruck, Austria

Most people don’t look much further than Vienna and Salzburg when they’re planning an Austrian city break, which is shame given what cities such as Innsbruck, in the west of the country, have to offer.

Known more as a base for skiing trips, the city is actually a delightful place to visit no matter what the time of year, with its pretty, multicoloured buildings enjoying a spectacular mountainous backdrop.

Use the funicular to venture into the mountains for skiing or walking and cycling, depending on the season; seek out paintings by the old masters in the city’s art galleries; or sample some hearty Austrian beers in a brewpub.

The city holds many events throughout the year, so check out the programme and book your holiday to coincide with the one that takes your fancy. These include ART Innsbruck, the international fair for contemporary art, which takes place towards the end of February.

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

You fancy a bit of Spanish sunshine and culture, so it’s a toss-up between Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, right?

Well, perhaps, but have you considered Palma de Mallorca? The Balearic Islands might not be a culture vulture’s most obvious landing place, but this island city has more than enough charm to please even the most discerning of city breaker.

Enjoying a spectacular waterside setting, Palma is a delightful place to be. Boasting fine architecture, including a stunning Gothic cathedral; great shopping; art galleries and museums; and restaurants and bars, Palma is far from merely an entry point for those heading for Mallorca’s sandy beaches and is most definitely a city that needs to be sampled over a number of days.

 

Health advice for diabetics when traveling

While diabetes – be it type 1 or type 2 – is a serious condition that must be treated with respect, there is no reason why it should interfere too much with travel plans.  Travelers with diabetes probably need to plan ahead more carefully than most, but in the vast majority of cases they can go virtually anywhere, and see virtually anything, that their travelling ambitions suggest.

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Having decided on a destination(s) a traveler with diabetes should begin their planning by finding out whether crossing time zones will be involved; what types of food are likely to be available in each place (and the times at which they are likely to eat), and the expected level of activity (more or less than usual?) All of these factors can affect a medication regime.

 

To ensure that the traveler has effective control of their diabetes a pre-travel medical check is also a good idea.  Any immunization shots can also be administered at this time, since diabetic travelers may need more time to recover if those shots make them unwell.  The doctor should supply a prescription for the patient’s usual medication and a letter explaining what type of diabetes this patient has, and the means by which they control it, for example, by using pills or injecting insulin.  The letter should also explain whether the patient has any allergies.

 

An individual that has diabetes, of either type, should pack their medication and monitoring equipment in their hand luggage and keep it with them at all times – on the aircraft and throughout the trip.  On no account should medication or blood monitoring kits be placed in aircraft hold luggage – the danger of it going missing, or being damaged by extremes of temperature in the hold, is too great.

 

The general rule is to take at least twice as much medication and blood testing equipment as is likely to be needed, so it is important to be organized and get hold of all of these items well before departure.  Many such items can now be conveniently ordered on the Internet, for example patients can buy Januvia online.  The doctor’s prescription referred to above should be taken in addition to these medications, in case of need: it may be helpful to check out prescription laws in the destination country or countries, too, as these can vary.

 

Travelers should also keep travel insurance documents on their person at all times, and remember to declare their diabetes to the policy provider.  A list of English-speaking doctors overseas can be obtained from the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT). Contact details can be found at www.iamat.org.

 

Any person that has diabetes should always wear a medical ID, for example a bracelet or necklace, at all times, however, this is particularly important when travelling, especially for those who inject insulin.  It is also a good idea to carry food (in case of none being available when needed) and to remember never to go barefoot, but to check the feet regularly and seek medical attention immediately if infection or inflammation appears.

 

Alcatraz Island’s diverse history

No holiday to San Francisco is complete without a trip to Alcatraz Island. As well as being the site of one of the most famous maximum security prisons in the world, its history is far more varied and far reaching than that. If you don’t believe me, read on or book yourself a trip with Air Express and experience it for yourself. Remember that you need to make sure you have enough time on your holiday to visit Alcatraz, get in touch with ESTA USA to ensure that you have the correct visa with enough days to visit this infamous site.

1775

These days the name Alcatraz is synonymous with crime and punishment, as well as a lack of hope, but the moniker has much more mundane origins. In 1775, Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala named it La Isla de los Alcatraces, which translates as the Island of the Pelicans. He was charting San Francisco Bay and this small uninhabited island was somewhat featureless save for the birds.

1847

By 1847 the US military was looking to secure its land and saw the potential in the island as a site upon which to build a fortification. A number of geological surveys were carried out and by 1853 construction had begun.

It was kitted out with impressive guns and cannons that could sink a ship at three miles distance. Despite this might never really being put to the test, the island became a symbol of US military power.

1861

As modern weaponry had made much of the island’s artillery obsolete, officials began to think of using Alcatraz as a location for holding captives. Its isolation and the freezing waters that surrounded it were seen as particularly advantageous to this use.

In 1861 the first 26 prisoners arrived from the Civil War, but by 1898 with the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the island’s number of inhabitants had swollen to 450.

1906

The earthquake that shook San Francisco in 1906 made it necessary to find an alternative place to the mainland to confine civilian prisoners and Alcatraz was chosen

as their destination. By 1912 it was decided that a purpose-built cell house needed to be constructed and this was full to capacity when the 20s came roaring in.

1934

Despite its isolation, conditions within Alcatraz were not too bad in the intervening years – baseball field was built and regular recreational activities were staged. By 1934, the running of the prison became too expensive and it was closed down.

Ownership fell into the hands of the Department of Justice and as the Great Depression took hold, crime rates spiralled out of control. There was a need for a prison that not only incarcerated criminals, but acted as a deterrent. Renovations on Alcatraz began.

Tool-proof bars and window coverings were installed, along with gun galleries, teargas canisters in the ceiling above the dining hall and cement poured into the utility tunnels. Engineers were making Alcatraz a place of no escape and creating its dreaded reputation.

Under the watchful eye of strict prison warden James Johnston, the first inmates started to arrive. Among them were Al Capone and George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly. There was one guard to every three prisoners and even Capone once confessed that Alcatraz had got him licked.

1962

Over the years there were 14 attempted escapes from Alcatraz, but the most famous was carried out by Frank Lee Morris and Clarence and John Anglin. All three managed to escape from the cell house, but it has never been established whether they survived the freezing waters of the bay, as they were never seen again.

1963

The prison was closed and the island all but abandoned in 1963 and despite various proposals was not made into a shopping centre and hotel complex or a West Coast version of the Statue of Liberty.

1969

Between 1969 and 1971 a large group of Native Americans took over the island, hoping to create a heritage centre for their culture. Conditions were difficult and after an

accidental fire burnt down several key buildings, federal marshals removed all the remaining inhabitants.

Graffiti that was daubed on some of the structures, including the water tower, can still be seen today. Despite a general no tolerance policy of such painting across America, officials have allowed it to stay as it marks part of the island’s unique history.

Present day

Alcatraz is now an ecological reserve, due to the colony of western gulls that have made their home on the former prison island. Since 1973 when it was opened to the public it has also been a popular tourist attraction, with one million people visiting every year.

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Annual Holiday

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Holidays and spending are like inseparable twins; however there are still ways to enjoy your annual holidays without necessarily breaking the bank to have a good time.

1. GET CHEAP FLIGHTS
Though it is seemingly impossible to haggle for air flight charges at an airline, it is possible to generally compare flight charges from different airlines online and get the best deals across multiple airlines to find cheap flights. Make sure to book directly from the preferred airline rather than using the booking sites. You may be surprised at the deals you may get from the airline when you make use of the airline telephone numbers and make the bookings in person.

The simple trick to cheap flights is to book early, be flexible and fly during midweek when flights are less in demand.

2. GET A CHEAP TRAVEL INSURANCE DEAL

Travel insurance is as important as the air ticket that you purchase to get to your annual holiday destination: do not ignore because in the long run you are the one at risk of losing. There are different types of policies from travel cancellations to disruptions and medical coverage. Browse carefully and choose a travel insurance policy that best suits your holiday.

 

3. SAVE ON TRANSPORT WITH THINGS LIKE EURAIL PASS

The Eurail Pass is a brilliant way to save money, especially if you are on a backpacking tour. Enjoy hopping from train to train anytime anywhere in Europe where the pass covers. The pass covers twenty two European countries and convenient because even the seats are reserved for pass holders, all you have to do is decide how many European countries you will visit before buying your pass. Remember, when you decide, then buy directly from the Rail company rather than use a broker.

 

4. VISIT THE CHEAPER DESTINATIONS

We all know that some places are definitely cheaper than others; though prices fluctuate for one reason or the other, opt for the best value holiday destination. You may need to use the internet to get the best destination that will still offer a fantastic holiday. You will get ideas from other travelers who have been there and done that and also be able to calculate exactly how much you may spend on your holiday.

Some places like Morocco and Tunisia will not only be favorable for your holiday but will be great value for your money. Newly opened up places like Burma offer authentic tourist experiences at a very affordable cost: rush there before it becomes a tourist trap. While still at it is best to try the all inclusive package as it offers cheaper deals from accommodations to flights.

5. BOOK EVERYTHING EARLY

This one always does the trick; most people ignore this very important tip and find themselves paying unbelievable amounts at the last minute. Prepare and plan for your trip early when the cheap seats on your plane are still available, book your flight directly and do not forget to book your parking space in advance. You may also consider taking a cab to the airport; better still get a friend or relative to drive you to and from the airport to avoid hefty parking fees at the airport.

 

A Fairytale Wedding Destination

Many celebrities along with couples choose to get married in a tropical paradise. Statistically one couple every single week in a year will want their dream wedding and their destination was the tropical Whitsundays. This information is reference as to keep a blog profile so it can be easy and quick to use by people wanting a fairytale style wedding.

A Fairytale Wedding Destination

A Fairytale Wedding Destination

A Dream Wedding

Girls from a young age dream of the fairytale wedding. As well as wanting knights in shining armor to sweep them off their feet so why not plan that wedding only dreams are made of at the most romantic place in the world. A famous author by the name of Ralph Emerson quoted, “Life is a journey, not a destination,” was only partially correct. The destination for the perfect wedding day along with the perfect weather is always what the bride and groom is looking for. Of course a bit of romance, relaxing after an emotional day and letting their hair down is also on their minds. People like celebrity race car driver Grant Denyer or Ben Southall gave their brides-to-be that fairytale wedding.

Destination Whitehaven Beach

Couples will find that the Whitsunday paradise have everything to make that fairytale wedding come true. The journey will begin by flying over the azure waters of the Great Barrier Reef to Whitehead Beach.  Couples today want something different besides a church wedding in the city where they grew up and to make new memories. Whitehead Beach offers a place where all dreams of a perfect wedding can take place. Now take a detour to a place considered to be the most romantic in the world where couples say their wedding vows.  It is not far from the Great Barrier Reef and it is known as the Heart Reef.  The next place that is known for having a wedding ceremony is by taking vows on board or on land at the sailing club.

Fairytale Wedding Planning

The Whitsunday area has plenty of professional wedding planners, places to pick exotic floral for the bridal bouquets, hair and makeup salons, fine dining at elegant restaurants, rent the bridal party attire including men’s suits along with world class photographers to choose from on the special day. Of course, the bridal party can choose from a professional company that can plan the complete wedding to give them the fairytale story wedding. All they have to do is be there and the rest is done by the company. The reason Whitehaven Beach and the Whitsundays area is known to be the place to have that dream wedding is simple; the natural beauty of the landscape, the tropical climate, the privacy and the romantic atmosphere. This has been proven by a survey that was done recently by the Whitsunday Marketing and Development Board showing that 60 percent of the couples came from long distances just to have that dream or fairytale wedding.  Since, the happy couple is already here to have that dream wedding then they won’t have to go far for the honeymoon. They can find many places to have the honeymoon retreat with relaxing and taking that special time as being that new spouse. The fairytale wedding will be only dreams and memories of a life time.