Author Archives: Jeremy

Visiting the Edinburgh Festival

The Edinburgh International Festival began all the way back in 1947 and has since developed into something much, much bigger and farther reaching than it used to be. What began as a single festival to celebrate art and culture blossomed into a world famous festival as the decades went by.

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What happened was that several other festivals began to appear around the same time. They were completely unrelated and started by different organizations but they quickly became a part of the same festival season. There are still other festivals taking place at the same time as the main one, called the Fringe. These occur on the outskirts of the festival proper and involve gatecrashing theatrical companies presenting their own festival to ride the original’s coattails.

The Fringe is a non-stop assortment of theatrical productions, music, art performances and cultural celebration. While the performances at the Queen’s Hall and various other venues are a big part of the festival and its major draw, the vendors that sell handmade crafts and local cuisine are a big part of the celebration as well.

The entire area is blanketed in advertisements for upcoming performances and festivals within the festival. The performers dress up in theatre garb for weeks on end, performing in public to make people aware of what’s upcoming in the festival. Banners fly throughout city announcing the festival long before it even begins and grow in density as the festival starts.

Once it begins, it seems like there isn’t anywhere you can go in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas where you won’t be affected by the festival in some way; whether it is the jovial spirit of the people or the permeation of cultural celebration through the area.

If you are planning to visit during festival season, which runs through most of August, then you should look into the schedule of events for both the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe Festival. Both offer websites that list a full set of events and how to get tickets for some of the more prestigious events.

The real challenge can be finding somewhere to stay, with most places filling up fast when the dates are announced. There are dozens of high quality hotels in Edinburgh, including fantastic boutique hotels like Hotel du Vin in Bristo Place, which is nestled among the action in the city centre. Many local residents actually leave the city for the month and rent their home to visitors, so there are plenty of accommodation options out there.

No matter what kind of art you enjoy, there is sure to be something you’ll be interested in each day of the festival, as almost every day holds multiple events in a variety of artistic forms. Some days will have two theatre performances and a classical music concert while the next day will have a theatre dance group performance followed by an orchestral concert and a speech by a renowned local artist.

Whatever you go to see, you probably don’t want to miss the fireworks celebrating the end of the festival, which are a form of art all their own. This isn’t your typical fireworks display either, as they are designed to celebrate the accomplishments of art by the local community and to finish off the festival in a big way.

You can enjoy the festival on any budget, as there are a variety of free shows as well as ticketed ones, so no one has to feel left out.

21 Jun 2016

Paris Van Java or Bandung, Indonesia

Known as “Paris Van Java,” Bandung, Indonesia has been termed “Paris of Java” by its Dutch colonizers. Today, Bandung still retains its European vibe. While it is likely that Bandung may resemble a Parisian city of the 19th century more than a modern Paris of today, given this Javanese city’s relaxed more rustic vibes. Here are a few reasons Bandung is the Paris of Java.

Paris Von Java
Shopping
Bandung is one of the top locations in Southeast Asia to buy designer clothes, so in this way it resembles Paris. But where you would expect to pay top dollar (euro) for designer duds in Paris, luckily Bandung is different in this way. Paris Van Java is home to a mass of outlet stores which sell legitimate top brands(most of the time) at discount rates. It is possible to get a complete wardrobe of high quality clothes for a fraction of the price you would pay for the same items back home. So just like Paris of France, Paris Van Java  is a perfect place to shop til’ you drop.

Hotels
Bandung has hotels that counter those of Paris. Ranging from high-end classical, to budget hostels, to funky artsy themed hotels, there is something for every palette.  Many of these places can be booked booked via sites such as Traveloka.com including the luxurious Grand Royal Panghegar, famous for its world class charm.  Bandung is also home truly unique lodgings, including waterside wood huts with glamorous interiors, rustic mountainside cabins complete with lawn gnomes, a waterpark hotel that is perfect for the kids, and a romantic castle true to Paris‘ 19th century gothic style.

Paris Von Java
Cafes and Restaurants
If Paris is known for one thing more than any other it is its cafe culture. In terms of unique cafe experiences Bandung rivals its European counterpart.  Bandung has cafes to suit any taste, ranging from simple steet-side coffee shops perfect for a quick cup; to elegant places great for dinner or lunch. The Javanese and international food in Bandung is some of the best in Indonesia. Paris Van Java is also home to some magnificent themed cafe, including garden themed and several retro themed cafes as well. Badung also has several art galleries doubling as cafes, could it get any more Paris than that?

So if you are looking to rekindle your romance why not give Java’s city of a love a try instead of the French version. Not only will have the opportunity to experience a gorgeous country filled with natural wonders beyond compare, you will also get many of the charms you would get in Paris itself, often at a fraction of the price. So sipping coffee while taking a break from designer shopping can be equally rewarding in Java as it is France. It is with good reason the Dutch dubbed Bandung, Paris Van Java.

30 May 2016

5 Fairy Tale Locations around the World That You Can Afford To Visit

The world is a beautiful place and there are some scenes in this world that you wouldn’t believe actually exist. For many seeing is believing, and without visiting these stunning places, you won’t understand how beautiful places can be. When you get a chance to visit these places, you will agree on the fact that they are taken out of a fairy tale. One notable fact is that some of these places are very affordable. Following are 5 such fairy tale locations around the world that you can afford to visit:

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Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech is the most fascinating city in Morocco. It is known as the “Jewel of the South” with a great combination of old and new. Laying low and dominating the Haouz Plain at the foot of beautiful snowcapped High Atlas Mountains, Marrakech boasts luxury hotels, the Agdal Gardens’ vast orchard, the Menara Garden’s tranquil olive groves and lagoon, bustling bazaars, mansions and hidden palaces amongst the mysterious labyrinthine medina. Marrakech is thus one of the fairy tale destinations that you should plan on visiting someday.

Paxos, Greece

Paxos is a lovely little Greek Island located about an hour south of Corfu. The west cost of the island has steep limestone cliffs and caves. There are few small beautiful villages in the island, surrounded by wonderful nature and exciting ancient architectural wonders. The views of the villages and its nature make it one of the fairy tale places you can afford to visit.

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany is a vast region in Italy with superb natural beauty. The landscapes in Tuscany are unparalleled. The nature in Tuscany constitutes rolling hills, olive groves and cypress trees. Spending some days in a luxury Italian villa in wonderful natural landscapes can be a fairy tale experience of a lifetime. Some of the medieval towns in Tuscany are no less beautiful than its wonderful nature surrounding.

Santorini, Greece

The Greek Island of Santorini is often regarded as the most beautiful island destination in the world. Santorini boasts of stunning 360-degree views, colorful small villages, a couple of beautiful beaches, spectacular sunsets, world-class accommodations, and great reputation for its food and drinks. The architectural beauty of Santorini is unique with lots of white color small houses and cathedrals in its beautiful villages like Oia and Fira. Santorini is a perfect destination for family travel and honeymoon. You can expect to get surprised beholding the beauty of this Greek Island.

The Cinque Terre, Italy

The Cinque Terre is the name for five beautiful fishing villages located on the rugged portion of the Italian Riviera. These wonderful small villages are known for the nature and colors of the houses and buildings. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Modern vehicles are banned in this part of the world, making it a serene location to spend some relaxing days of your life.

02 Mar 2016

3 Surprisingly Affordable Luxury Vacations

When you speak of a luxury holiday, most people would instantly wince at the thought of it because of the expenses that are involved. Surprisingly however, not all luxury breaks need to punch holes on your wallet. You can enjoy lavish holidays without spending too much, specifically in the three destinations that will be mentioned below.

Crete

With many luxury hotels and extravagant villas, Crete is one of the best destinations that you can consider for your next holiday. The good news is that you do not have to spend a fortune just to enjoy the luxuries that it can offer. With a length of about 350 kilometers, the island is one of the most scenic you can ever hope to find and is gifted with an abundance of beaches.

The rich history of Crete adds up to the reasons why it is popular amongst luxury travelers who are on a budget and want to experience a holiday in the Greek islands. Aside from its rich past, it also offers a wide array of exhilarating water activities such as jet skiing, parasailing, fishing, and wind surfing. If you want to play golf, you can also find several golf courses in the island, regardless of your skills. It is also home to great restaurants, many of which can be enjoyed at affordable prices. One thing’s for sure, a holiday in Crete won’t disappoint.

Portugal

Excellent value for money is perhaps one of the best things that you can get when you visit Portugal. With fascinating towns, charming villages and pristine beaches, Portugal is a popular destination in Europe because it is cheaper than most of its neighboring countries, yet it can offer an equally stunning holiday and is ideal for families. If there is only one place you can visit in the country, it would most probably be The Algarve.

If you are looking for cheap resorts that can offer the exceptional services, some of the options that you can consider include the Oporto Surf Camp, the Vilanova Resort, Clube Alvorferias, the Balaia Mar Hotel and the Atlantico Golfe Hotel. There are also many villas that can be rented, which can offer cheaper alternative to hotels if you are traveling as a large group.

China

It is impossible to run out of activities that you can do in China. More than just the multiplicity of attractions, its popularity can be attributed to the fact that China offers a luxury holiday experience in a manner that is budget-friendly. Whether you choose to explore one of its cosmopolitan cities or its native provinces, you can have an unforgettable experience without feeling guilty about your spending.

When in China, you should not miss seeing the Great Wall and The Forbidden City if you happen to be in Beijing. For those who are looking for a more urban feel and vibrant nightlife, Shanghai should be included in the itinerary. More so, the surrounding provinces will also be ideal for those who want to experience more serene holidays. Whether it is affordable hotels or self-catering accommodations, you will have lots of choices in China.

02 Dec 2015

Live like the rich and famous (for a few nights)

Want to live like the rich and famous? Liz Taylor's home is available as a vacation rental these days ... photo by CC user Warner Brothers - eBay - Frank Driggs Collection (public domain) on wikipedia.org

Fancy yourself a fan of the homes of Hollywood stars? For the longest time, the star-struck among us had to content ourselves with going on tours of celeb homes, and standing on the outside looking in, imagine in our minds what it must be like to have a home that resembles a palace more closely than one in which we would raise our families.

In the past decade or so however, enterprising entrepreneurs have snapped up the former abodes of A-list names like Elizabeth Taylor and Merv Griffin, and have converted them into holiday rentals for those wanting to live out a long standing dream. What’s more, the price on many of these beauties is more than reasonable … if you save up a bit of money, paying less than £400 a night to stay in Liz Taylor’s former castle becomes very doable.

Intrigued in the possibilities that await? Check out the infographic below, or for more info check this page

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30 Nov 2015

The most popular holiday destinations in the USA

New York City is one of the best holiday destinations in the USA ... photo by CC user Francisco Diez on Flickr

Seeking to get away on an exciting holiday in the near future? Across the pond, the most popular holiday destinations in the USA contain a variety of experiences that are certain to fulfill you, as each of the places mentioned below will appeal to a certain sort of person.

So, what are you waiting for, take advantage of these unbeatable American Holiday offers, and get overseas to see any one of the following holiday destinations in the USA…

1) New York City

If there is any one city you visit in America, be sure to make it the Big Apple. Easily the most cosmopolitan city in the United States, the challenge won’t be finding things to do, it will be determining what attractions and sights to cut and which ones to keep during your time in this dynamic place.

If you love food, then visiting Chinatown and Williamsburg in Brooklyn will yield good finds.

Culture hunters will have a multitude of museums to jump between, and shows on Broadway to take in.
Those that are fans of landmarks will be busy checking out the view of the top of the Empire State Building, scoping out the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, and strolling through the relative peace of Central Park.

Long story short, you won’t have a hard time keeping busy in NYC.

2) Miami

Seeking some sun on your American holiday? If you are looking to insert a little rest and relaxation into your itinerary, then stopping in Miami is a must.

With miles of beach lying along the subtropical Atlantic or on Biscayne Bay, you’ll have your pick of what type of experience that you are looking to have, from quiet and serene to lively and youthful.

Once the sun sets, Miami really comes into its own, with nightclubs boasting a scene that is the stuff of legends.

When you aren’t looking to veg out on a sun lounger, the Miami area offers much in the way of culture, as it has Cuban and Haitian neighborhoods that are brimming with restaurants and shops that are indicative of their nationality.

3) Las Vegas

Looking to really let loose on your time off in America? If this is your goal when heading to the USA, there is no better place to go than Las Vegas.

Billed as being the Entertainment Capital of the World, this shining city in the desert has resorts that cater to kids, and shows featuring entertainers from Penn and Teller to Celine Dion.

Of course, this says nothing of this city’s gaming options, which allow those that are inclined to do so to employ their money in a variety of ways in the hope of winning more at the end of the night.

21 Nov 2015

Want Luxury? 5 Reasons You’ll Love St. Petersburg

Displays of wealth like this is one one of the reasons you’ll love St. Petersburg...

When you think of a decadent, luxurious holiday destination, Russia might not be the first place that springs to mind. But you may be pleasantly surprised to find out what St. Petersburg has to offer to the discerning tourist with a taste for the finer things. The former imperial capital of Russia and second largest city, St. Petersburg is also a major cultural centre and bustling metropolis, home to some incredible and unique tourism hotspots. Below, we list out the reasons you’ll love St. Petersburg if you are an unapologetic lover of all things luxury…

1) Hermitage Art Gallery

Housed in the awe-inspiring Winter Palace which was built for Empress Elizabeth by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the Hermitage Art Gallery is home to one of the biggest art collections in the world, with 360 rooms exhibiting some of their 3-million strong catalogue of artworks and exhibits. Founded by Catherine the Great in 1750, the vast collection at the Hermitage is considered by some to be the most comprehensive overview of Western European art, so naturally this trip may require a little forward planning to see everything you want to see – see https://www.hermitagemuseum.org for more information.

2) Ballet 

A visit to Russia would simply not be complete without seeing the ballet – and the original Mariinsky Theatre, where many of the greatest works of Russian ballet & opera were first performed, is the perfect choice. Founded in 1860, the Mariinsky continues to stage both modern and classic performances – see what’s on during your trip at http://www.mariinsky.ru/.

3) Nightlife

St. Petersburg is often referred to as the ‘beer capital’ of Russia, and many breweries and distilleries call it home. There is a great nightlife scene in St. Petersburg, and some bars & nightclubs are so exclusive you may find yourself turned away IF you have not booked in advance! The Mayakovsky bar on Pochtamtsky per 5 offers sophisticated cocktails, smooth jazz, moody lighting and sumptuous velvet interiors – ideal for a classy evening out.

4) Hotels 

St. Petersburg’s many hotels offer a wide range of options to suit all tastes and budgets, but to truly revel in the old-school splendour of mother Russia, you could do much worse than stay at the 5-star Corinthia, boasting a spa and workout room, multilingual staff, full concierge service and lounge bar, the Corinthia captures the true essence and grandeur of its historic location at Nevsky Prospect, and offers the ultimate in Russian hospitality, comfort and decadence.

5) Dining 

With so many amazing cultural destinations in St. Petersburg, you can expect the very best of their cuisine too. Russian food may not be a byword for fine dining, but the eateries offering traditional fare in St. Petersburg will blow you away. One of the leading high-end restaurants in St Petersburg, ‘L’Europe’ located in the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe on Nevsky Prospekt effortlessly blends handsome turn-of-the-century décor with flawless haute cuisine, offering a mix of Russian and European cuisine, including a sumptuous caviar and champagne brunch on Sundays.

04 Aug 2015

How we travel differently: Daytona Beach for dogs

In the past, if you had a dog and you loved to travel, you faced two agonizing choices: Drop Fido at a kennel or leave him in an empty house with daily visits from a pet sitter. Now, however, more hotels and businesses recognize that for many, a dog is a cherished family member and travel companion. Daytona Beach, as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, is ahead of the curve. There are pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, beaches, and parks. If you’re headed for Daytona with your canine in tow, here are some tips to make it a blast.

Where to Stay

While there are plenty of pet-friendly hotels in Daytona Beach, some charge exorbitant pet fees or impose strict size limitations. The La Quinta Inn & Suites Oceanfront Daytona Beach allows pets of all size and lets them stay for free. The tile floors are easy to sweep up after a day at the beach and the kitchenette makes it easy to keep food dishes clean and water bowls filled. If you love the homey feel of a B&B, the Coquina Inn has a liberal pet policy and even includes a “bed and biscuit” welcome basket for your dog.

Where to Play

Read below to learn more about Daytona Beach for dogs

Image by Amy Fox via Trover.com

Daytona Beach has some of the best dog parks in the south — there’s even a dog beach! The Lighthouse Point Park and Ponce Inlet Dog Beach is just a few minutes south of Daytona Beach and gives you and your dog plenty of space to enjoy the sun and sand. The Michael Crotty Bicentennial Park is a four-acre dog park with plenty of benches, watering stations, and separate small and large dog areas. The Manatee Island Park also has a separate dog park so you and Fido can enjoy an afternoon of manatee watching.

Where to Eat

One of the advantages of vacationing in a pet-friendly city is having lunch with your dog. At the Blue Grotto, you can even go dancing. This beachfront bistro offers a full menu of lunch and dinner delicacies, cozy waterfront gliders for admiring the view, and a huge dog-friendly deck. Cool off with a cup of frozen yogurt at Rhokkoh’s, a pet haven on historic Beach Street. There’s plenty of water bowls outside, free treats inside, and magazines for dog lovers scattered about. Heli-Hogs is a fun barbecue joint with dog-friendly seating and smells that will have your dog drooling. They also offer helicopter rides.

Where to Get Help

If you’re in town for a wedding or a business event and need a hand with your dog, Rover.com can hook you up with a dog walker, pet sitter, or even an overnight stay. If your dog sprains an ankle swimming in the surf, there’s a Banfield Pet Hospital right near the beach. Go Vet Go is a mobile vet service that will come right to your door in a pinch.

Why not plan a Daytona Beach vacation with Fido this year? You and your dog will have a ball.

20 May 2015

5 of the best nightlife spots in Canada

Montreal has some of the best nightlife spots in Canada ... photo by CC user 27961484@N02 on flickr

With wedding season just around the corner, now is the time to start planning those all-important stag and hen nights. Nowadays, these celebrations are more than just an evening out – they’re a holiday in themselves, and that’s why picking your destination is so important.

Of course, whether it’s a hen night or simply just an excuse to have a good time, good nightlife in any holiday destination is essential, and that’s why more and more of us are turning to Canada. Wherever you land in the Great White North, here are the nightlife spots in Canada that cannot be missed.

Niagara Falls Casino Resort

Far from being just simply a wonderfully romantic destination, Niagara Falls also offers a great night out thanks to its casino resort. Gambling has always been a controversial issue in Canada, with sites like http://cad.SpinPalace.com only legal in certain regions. For that reason, stick to practising at Spin Palace at home – you can enjoy the best of the land-based casino action within this resort, which features an array of visual spectacles such as its famed glass enclosed walkway.

Brutopia, Montreal

Perfect for those who are keen on a tipple or two, Montreal’s Brutopia is particularly welcoming thanks to the relatively lenient drinking laws in the region – that is, one only has to be 18. Hence, most folks can enjoy the abundance of entertainment that goes on here, including frequent live jazz performances and an extremely impressive selection of beers.

Just For Laughs, Montreal

If you’re getting married in the summer, then be sure to head over to Montreal (appearing twice here simply for being known as Canada’s ‘party capital’) to catch the Just for Laughs festival in July. This year’s line-up will feature the comedic talents of Neil Patrick Harris and Mike Myers – guaranteeing a night out filled with huge grins.

El Convento Rico, Toronto

Energising Latin music? Drag queens? Check. This Latin drag bar is in Toronto is sure to be one night out you’ll never forget: El Convento Rico features live entertainment from exotic dancers, a bright and vibrant décor and out of this world catering.

C Lounge, Toronto

Another Toronto hit, the C Lounge promises a night out that’s a little different from the rest – it has its own on-site spa too! Make sure you turn up early to get your hands on some spa treatments while you sip cocktails in its chic interiors. What’s more, head over in summer and you can even have access to your own VIP area by the pool, complete with palm trees.

07 May 2015

Best Luxury Honeymoon Destinations in 2015

Puerto Vallarta is among the best luxury honeymoon destinations in 2015 ... photo by CC user lilu12323 on Flickr

With the Big Day approaching later this year, only your honeymoon remains to be planned, and despite the massive undertaking that your blowout wedding will be, you want your trip afterward to be just as epic. If you’re looking for nothing but the best for your spouse to be after your wedding this year, the following luxury honeymoons will have you both over the moon with the value that you will receive for your hard-earned cash…

1) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

With expansive frontages on the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, Mexico has no shortage of hidden secret getaways that will grant you the post-nuptial relaxation that you so richly deserve. Those seeking the best in luxury will be pleased by what they’ll find in Puerto Vallarta though, as it has a long history of serving visitors from the chillier parts of North America, yet they are not as overrun by the tourist hordes as Cancun has experienced in recent years.

With many resorts just outside of town being nestled within their own private coves, you needn’t worry about unwelcome interlopers as you bake in the sun or play in the waves, and with an assortment of divine infinity pools on these properties, you’ll have an alluring plan B if you’d rather not swim in the ocean.

2) Mauritius

In the Indian Ocean, most attention these days is focused on the prettiest belles at the ball (the Maldives and the Seychelles), leaving unassuming Mauritius open for you to enjoy without the crowds that flood into the prior two locations during the high/honeymoon season.

This isn’t to say that Mauritius pales in comparison in the tropical beauty department, as its beaches and its peaks coated with lush rainforest will make you wonder why only vacationing South Africans seem to know about this place.

Many resorts can be found along the west coast and on Grand Baie, but make time to take a day trip to Ile Aux Cerfs, where some of the most crystalline waters in the country can be found.

3) Malaysian Borneo

Many folks seeking out luxury honeymoon destinations in 2015 automatically default to Thailand, which is understandable considering the very high quality of its beaches, food and its people. These qualities aren’t confined to this celebrated nation, as you will find destinations with similar advantages in places in Malaysian Borneo.

While it does have beaches that are world class, a cuisine that combines the best elements of its Chinese, Malay and Indian heritage, and locals that are just as accommodating, Malaysian Borneo has a fraction of the crowds that the Land of Smiles gets, while having marine and rainforests that have some of the highest concentrations of biodiversity in the world.

Tours to see orangutans and other rare species should be on your agenda here, as this will make for an action-packed day that will make your lower-key ones all the more satisfying.

16 Apr 2015