Author Archives: Jeremy

Best Destinations in the South of France

As I sit here in one of the finest Provence vacation rentals that I have found in recent years, my thoughts have turned to the south of France and which parts of it I love the most. I’ll come right out and say it, there is nowhere on the southern tip of France that I don’t like and as such it is pretty hard to choose which are my favorites. With this being said, I was asked by a friend recently, which destination he should choose on his trip later this year to the south of France and that is what I intend to answer for you today.

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The idea of picking a favorite is simply not possible, there is something down here for everyone, for every budget and for every style of vacation that you could be looking for. With that in mind I thought it best to simply present to you what I think are the best destinations in the south of France and then let you choose for yourself which one you should visit when you get the chance, and I will telling my buddy the exact same thing. Without further ado then, here are what I think are the best destinations in the south of France.

Provence

I should probably start with what is right in front of my nose, Provence, the place that keeps pulling me back to it year after year and every time I come I experience something different. If you are looking for a region with historical significance, sheer romance and sun kissed beaches then Provence will be the place for you. There is much to see in this region for any type of discerning tourist, from the quiet harbor of Cassis, the religious center of Avignon, Gordes, the village that is regularly voted as the most beautiful in France to Porquerolles, the jewel in the crown of Provence which offers sandy beaches and clifftop views. If you want to explore the south of France then my recommendation is that you should sat right here.

Nice

The first location in most people’s heads when they think about the south of France is Nice and in all honesty, I echo there sentiments entirely. Over 3 million people head to Nice each year and when you visit you will understand why, it sort of reminds me of Miami with its wide avenues, trendy beaches, glitzy tourists and beautiful cars rolling by. One difference that I think Nice has from Miami is that it is drenched in far more history and culture. Aside form sunning yourself on the sandy beaches of Nice you can also go to see the large collection of Matisse paintings in the gallery, visit the Russian Cathedral and if you are there at the right time you could witness the World’s best jazz musicians descending on Nice for its annual festival, a stage which has been occupied in the past by none other than Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie to name just a few.

St.Tropez

Because of its status, I almost didn’t want to fall in love with St. Tropez quite in the way that I have but it is undeniable, the place is classy, elegant, beautiful and very ‘happening’. Whilst the rich and the famous do call this southern French destination their playground, there is also a lot to see and do for us lesser mortals and traveling to St. Tropez really doesn’t have to cost the Earth. There is a great deal of money in this place however and whilst on the face of it, the town looks like a quiet fishing village, it is only once you look a bit closer at the fisherman’s houses and realize that they are indeed boutique Prada shops that you realize the stature which this once quiet place now has. The restaurant prices are pretty reasonable here and somewhat strangely the most expensive item you will probably buy will be the ticket that gains you access to a private beach. Here in St. Tropez you will be able to lounge by the -highly expensive- beach all day, take a walk along the promenade and ogle at the super yachts before getting dressed up and hitting the town on an evening, the food is great, the clubs are lively and who knows, you just might spot a celeb or two!

So here we are, I have eventually withheld down my favorite places in the south of France to just 3, I have begrudgingly ignored Monaco, Cannes and Marseille ( 3 very nice places ) in favor of destinations where I have fallen in love with just a little more. Wherever you choose to go in the south of France I can assure you that you most certainly will not be disappointed and if you are anything like me, you will be back year after year.

 

13 Apr 2017

Preparation Checklist for Your Upcoming Road Trip

One of the best ways to get away from it all for a while and have an adventure is to pack up the car and head off on a road trip. Roadtripping gives you ultimate freedom and flexibility when it comes to where you want to go and it allows you to see multiple destinations in one fell swoop. The difference between jumping in the car and hitting the road compared with a flight for example is all about the journey and the things that you will discover and the places that you visit that flying would never give you the opportunity to see. Before you head off on that road trip then there are some important preparations that you need to make and here is a quick checklist to ensure that you have everything you need.

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Car Preparation

Your car is likely to be clocking up some miles during your trip and the last thing that you need is any kind of problems like a breakdown, for that reason it is vital that you thoroughly check your car before leaving home. Here are a few things that you need to check.

  • Fluids – Make sure that your car has sufficient levels of brake fluids, water, oil, gas and screenwash before you travel.
  • Tires – Make sure that your tires have sufficient tread and air in them, you will be putting them through their paces during the trip and you may even want to consider putting new tires on before you leave. Michelin tires are one of the most durable on the market and if you do opt for a new set then these will be a great option.
  • Lights – It is very important that you ensure that all lights on your car are in good working order, headlamps, indicators, brake lights and reverse lights. Ask someone to give you a hand when checking and it would also be a good idea to grab some spares to take with you.

For the Journey

You want to make sure that the journey is as fun as it can be and in order to do so you should be loading up on snacks and drinks as well as some in-car entertainment. Music will be vital and if you’re using a digital device then you should make some time and get a playlist put together for your trip. To keep everyone entertained you could plan some in-car games and if you have kids with you then make sure you set time aside to download some movies or games onto a tablet to keep them entertained in the back.

Planning Your Route

Although you do have absolutely freedom when it comes to where you stop during your trip, it is a good idea to have a loose plan or destination in mind for your road trip. Remember that you may not have great phone signal if you are traveling through more remote locations and you should prepare ahead of time for this. Despite technological advancements there is nothing wrong with a good old fashioned map to help you out. If you use something like Google Maps then you can preload your destination and it will still track you with GPS even if you don’t have signal, alternatively you could use a Sat Nav to help you on your journey, getting lost can sometimes be fun, but not always.

21 Dec 2016

5 Must-See Attractions in St. Petersburg  

Whilst not a country famed for its tourism, Russia is becoming more and more, an ideal destination for travelers looking to step outside the most well known of the worlds idyllic destinations.

St. Petersburg is a vibrant and charming city, whose largely untouched history and strong cultural personality shine through in almost all of its attractions. These are just five of the best, which are sure to give first-time visitors a fantastic insight into life and culture in Russia.

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photo: Arian Zwegers

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

By far one of the most famous attractions in the city, this church is both aesthetically stunning and historically relevant. Although built 200 years later, its design is highly reminiscent of the famed St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow – an image that has for long defined Russia to the outside world.

Incredibly, it was built to mark the spot where Russian Monarch, Alexander II, was stabbed in a fatal assassination attempt by rebel group, The People’s Will. Now its winding spirals and colorful columns provide joy for visitors of all ages.

Winter Palace

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Photo: Creative Commons

The Winter Palace, and the surrounding Palace Square, is another much-loved attraction by visitors to the city. Not only is the building a dominating force on the surrounding area, with intricate architecture and bright colors drawing all eyes in its direction, it also is a politically pivotal structure that has had much influence on the city’s 300 year culture.

Many tours are available and the building is now also the site of the world famous Hermitage museum, so visitors can gain an in depth understanding of the Palace’s history and the importance it has played.


State Russian Museum 

For the visiting intelligentsia, and lovers of art and culture, this museum is an essential stop. Rivaling the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow for the greatest, and most comprehensive, collection of Russian art anywhere in the world, it’s the ideal spot to soak up some of the country’s greatest creative triumphs.

It houses collections from the historical icon paintings, right up to installations from trailblazing artists of the present day. The adjacent Marble Palace is also used for temporary exhibits, and recently showcased the Ludwig Collection of modern art.

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Peterhof


Photo: Alberto Garcia


This largely overlooked municipal town, located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, is known locally as the Russian Versailles. Home to the breathtaking Peterhof Palace, and surrounded by a picturesque park and gardens, it’s the ideal spot for a tranquil afternoon stroll.

Dripping with golden statues and endless, charming water features, the grandeur of this site is something that can only be appreciated with your own two eyes. It’s easily accessible by train or only an hour’s drive from the city center, so makes for a perfect day-excursion for any visitor.

Summer Garden

If you want to soak up the natural beauty of the masterfully sculpted botanical Russian parks, without traveling so far, then the Summer Garden makes a fantastic local alternative. Located just next to St. Michaels castle, this site is easy to get to using the inner-city metro.

The gardens were created on a unique island, bordered by the Fontanka, Moika,  Neva River and the Swan Canal, allowing for cool waterside breezes, and making it the perfect stop for a relaxing summers day.  The site also houses a tea and coffee shop so you can grab a quick drink, and bite to eat, whilst taking in its natural beauty.

The charms of Russia are still largely under the radar of the mainstream traveling community, making it the perfect time to visit! Book your St. Petersburg holiday now, before it becomes overrun with crowds of tourists!

20 Jul 2016

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