Why the train to Paris is always better than the Plane

I never thought that I would prefer travel by train to travelling by plane, but if you are taking the Eurostar London Paris route then it certainly is! There’s so much to love about the train in comparison to hoping on a plane. The whole thing just seems so much more relaxing, less rushed and over all pleasant. If you’ve already travelled on the Eurostar to Paris then you know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, then you are missing out on short queues, great staff, centrally located station to depart from and much more.

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Here are 3 more great things to look forward to when you step onboard one of the TGV trains bound for Paris.

Sit with your friends

I know that on a plane you are able to sit next to your friends, but when you travel on the Eurostar you are able to book a table so that you can sit around and chat to one another. So you can play cards, chat or even have a meal together – it really makes for a much better journey.

There’s so much space

There is much more space on the Eurostar when you compare it to a plane, the best thing is that there is no turbulence so you are not forced to stay in your seat for the majority of the trip. You can get up stroll around, go to the café/bar for a snack if you like and stretch as much as you like. The plane can’t compete with this in anyway shape or form, being able to walk around as you like is something that I really enjoy.

The security checks are sensible

There’s no over the top security checks for the Eurostar like there is at the airports these days. This another thing I absolutely love! If you are travelling with a child and need to bring lots of things with you such as baby food then there’s no need to worry when you’re on the Eurostar because it is straightforward and you can bring on nearly everything that you need.

 

Revealing the History of Amsterdam

When people think of the Netherlands they maybe think windmills. Some others perhaps think of tulips or the little boy who put his finger in the dam. The country is a mixture of enterprise and imagination, great artistry and sporting talent.  The sea has always been a challenge to the Dutch. They sailed the seas in search of trade, exploration and colonisation. Such a low lying country however has had a problem closer to home and that has been to stop the sea’s invasion.

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Its Canals

Sea defences stretch the length of the country and have largely been very effective otherwise there would be no City of Amsterdam where history is not only in its museums but also everywhere you look. If you want to get your bearings then there will be buses with a hop on and off facility that will help you.

When it comes to Amsterdam Sightseeing people are perhaps more likely to take to the canals which date back to the 17th century and have allowed both the commercial activities of the city to develop and also helped its defences. You can tour the canals to this day and see the host of buildings that relate to the country’s trading era with the most opulent of buildings the former homes of those that made their wealth from trade. The homes may not be large but there elegant facades identify them as the homes of traders in the past and Amsterdam’s wealthy today.

The Night Watch

There are plenty of things to see and do on dry land and the Rijksmuseum is a spectacular place for anyone interested in art. Perhaps the most famous painting in the whole museum is one of Rembrandt’s 17th century masterpieces, The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch preparing to march out, more commonly known as The Night Watch. There are many paintings from the Dutch Masters and if you want to see more then there is always the Van Gogh Museum.

Beyond art

The National Maritime Museum will let you see more of the Dutch as one of the world’s greatest sea powers. It is extremely educational and a great place to take children if you are travelling as a family.

Anne Frank’s home is certainly something to go on the list of places to visit. Her diary written during World War II is there as part of the permanent exhibition. You will find it difficult to believe that hidden annex within the house was home to two families hiding from the Nazis during the War.

Amsterdam by night of course is famous. The Red Light District is a tourist attraction and perfectly safe. If you want to take an organised walking tour then that will be available from a reputable operator.

If you really need to see windmills there are tours that will take you out of the city to see the countryside. The Netherlands is a small country with a high density of population but that does not mean there are not many open spaces and windmills to see if you want to get away from the city for a day.

Image attributed to        Freedigitalphotos.net Keerati

 

 

 

Winter festivals in Barcelona

You might be forgiven for thinking that summer is the best time of year to visit Barcelona, but there is actually lots going on during the winter months as well. The fun doesn’t stop when the temperature drops – quite the opposite in fact.

After you’ve booked your flights to Barcelona, which you can do by clicking this link, take a look at some of the festivals that are popping up around the vibrant Spanish city. You’re bound to find an event that suits each member of your party and you can look forward to immersing yourself in an exciting new culture.

For a winter getaway you’ll never forget, try out one of these festivals:

Fira de Santa Llucia

A European holiday in December wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a traditional Christmas market, which you can find in pretty much every major city on the continent. You can bet that Fira de Santa Llucia, the oldest Christmas fair in Barcelona, will top the festivities being held in your local town, and it is a true wonder to behold.

From late November through to December, browse more than 300 stalls displaying all kinds of Christmas gifts and decorations, including the Catalan figure of the Caganer used for Nativity scenes, an unusual chap who can be seen crouching down with his trousers around his ankles.

The market has its own artisan section and you can even buy Christmas trees (although you might struggle to fit one in your luggage). Don’t miss the Nativity scene contest, or the many musical parades and exhibitions.

Cap d’Any (New Year’s Eve)

Spend New Year’s Eve in Barcelona if you can, because the festival atmosphere in Placa Catalunya is unbeatable on December 31st. Most Spanish families kick off the evening with a mammoth feast, but they’re always up for a party after midnight.

Tradition dictates that you must wear red underwear for good luck for the year ahead, and eat 12 grapes at midnight – one for every time the clock chimes. Join in the revelry and have a memorable New Year’s – it’ll beat whatever’s going on back at home.

Drap-Art

Creative types may be more inclined to visit Drap-Art festival, a celebration of international recycling that takes the shape of various markets, exhibitions and workshops.

The event primarily serves as a platform for up-and-coming artists who rely on recycled materials, and offers visitors the chance to discover more about this unique form of art. There is also plenty going on to keep passers-by entertained.

Drap-Art takes place at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona and FAD exhibition space, but some elements will spill over into nearby venues as well. Dates for this year’s festival are December 13th to January 5th.

Els Grans del Gospel

Whether you’re in Barcelona for three weeks or three nights, this musical extravaganza is not to be missed. Born of the gospel section of the International Jazz Festival, Els Grans del Gospel, which takes place over 13 days in December, features performances from some of the best choirs in the world.

In the past, award-winning acts such as the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa have sung to crowds, as well as the New Orleans Gospel Chorale and Kings Gospel Choir. The event is being held at various venues around the city.

Famous Kiwis and their Accomplishments

Famed for its stunning natural beauty and tranquillity, New Zealand is one of the world’s top tourist destinations and there are plenty of famous Kiwis out there who helped put this fascinating country on the map. Here’s a list of some of New Zealand’s most famous exports, and the effect they had on the world around us.

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Bruce McLaren, Driver

Born in Auckland, Bruce McLaren was a brilliant driver and had a vision that extended way beyond the driver’s seat. He became the engineer, inventor, constructor and tester of Team McLaren – the most successful team in the world of motorsport since its conception in 1966. McLaren have won 123 Grand Prix races, dominated CamAm events, taken three Indianapolis 500 races and won 19 prestigious Formula One World Championship titles. That’s more than any other team in the entire history of the sport!

Sam Neil, Actor

Born in Northern Ireland to army parents, Sam Neil’s family returned to their native New Zealand in 1954, and Neil went on to go to boarding school before attending the universities at Canterbury and Victoria and gaining a BA in English Literature. After graduating, he worked with the New Zealand Players as well as working as a film director, editor and scriptwriter for the New Zealand National Film Unit. His most notable films include Jurassic Park, The Horse Whisperer and The Hunt for Red October.

Jean Batton, Pilot

The 1930s were very much dominated by men, but Jean Batton made a name for herself in the man’s world and inspired generations of women to aim for more in life. Jean’s most impressive achievements have to be being the first person to fly directly from England to New Zealand, and being the first woman to fly a return journey from England to Australia. Born in Rotorua, Jean was known as Hine-O-Te-Rangi, Daughter of the Skies

Russell Crowe, Actor

Born in Wellington in 1964, Russell Crowe moved to Australia when he was very young and has gone on to star in a number of Hollywood blockbusters including Gladiator, LA Confidential and many more. He even picked up an Oscar for his role in LA Confidential.

Peter Jackson, Director

Born on 31st October 1961 in Pukerua Bay on the North Island, Peter Jackson is most famous for directing the epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was filmed on location in Jackson’s native New Zealand. He has also directed hot films including Heavenly Creatures, King Kong and more. New Zealand is full of natural beauty from dramatic mountains to gorgeous deep blue waters, glaciers and coastlines, so it’s not hard to see why it was chosen to provide the setting to The Lord of the Rings.

Kate Sheppard, Suffragist

New Zealand is famous for being the first country to grant universal suffrage to both men and women equally, and it couldn’t have happened without famous suffragist Kate Sheppard. The leader and main figurehead of the women’s rights movement in New Zealand, Kate has been an inspiration to generations of suffragists all over the world.

 

Young, Wild and Free: Tenerife’s Top Bars and Clubs

With plenty of golden sandy beaches, inviting water and sunshine all year round, it’s no wonder Tenerife is such a popular destination with holidaymakers. But there’s far more on offer on this tiny island than rest and relaxation. As the sun goes down, the fun is just beginning with partygoers flocking to the island’s bars and clubs to experience that famous Tenerife nightlife.

Whether you want to enjoy a wild night of clubbing or just chill with your mates while enjoying a few beers, here’s our guide to the top bars and clubs on offer in Tenerife.

Taboo’s Nightclub, Golf de Sur

Taboo’s is one of the Golf del Sur’s premier nightclubs and is the perfect place to let your hair down and party into the early hours. Popular with both locals and tourists, this cool and contemporary club plays a vibrant mixture of funk, disco, house and everything in between and the bar staff can whip up a mean cocktail.

There are also regular theme nights held at the club ranging from Ann Summers right through to ‘The Full Monty’ crew. It’s a great night out, but don’t expect to leave before sunrise!

Tramps, Playa de las Americas

Known as The King of Clubs, every night is like Saturday night in Tenerife’s number one club. Tramps has been the island’s main clubbing force for almost a decade and attracts top international DJs as well as huge clubbing events such as Gatecrasher, Hed Kandi and Radio One’s summer tour.

With podium dancers, top quality sound systems, numerous bars, a VIP lounge and some of the world’s best DJS, Tramps should be top of your clubbing itinerary.

Showtime – The Sound of Musicals, Costa Adeje

If you’ve had your fill of loud clubs, try something a little different and head to Showtime – a dinner-theatre event featuring songs, dance and comedy all rolled into one. It was voted the island’s number one night out by tour operators in 2010 and 2011, and includes all the razzmatazz of the stage and the big screen with hit songs from Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Chicago, Glee, Dirty Dancing and more.

This feel-good show also includes a transport from your hotel, a two-course meal and all wine, beer and soft drinks are included. That’s bound to save you a pretty penny, and you can find even more great holiday savings at http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/flights/Tenerife/.

Acanto, Costa Adeje

Costa Adeje certainly isn’t short of beachside bars, but none are quite as cool and classy as Acanto Cocktail & Lounge Bar on Playa del Duque beach. Mojitos and other exotic cocktails are definitely not to be missed, but the bar also serves up a range of thirst-quenching fruit juices and ice cold beers.

Watch the world go by and enjoy a few nibbles in the cool interior, enjoy one of the nightly live music events, or catch up on all your favourite live sport on the 42” flat screen TVs as you enjoy a game of pool. Acanto is also the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee the morning after the night before and re-charge your batteries so you can carry on the party in the evening.

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