Avoid hassle at the airport

We are all fully aware that security at airports and when taking flights is a very necessary part of holiday and business travel. Now that security is being stepped up further due to a terror warning in the United States travellers have to prepare themselves for further delay at check in but there are some ways in which you can make the situation slightly more bearable.

The first thing that we have to say is that you should absolutely ensure that all your electronic devices are fully charged before you leave home and it would be wise to have them switched off whilst travelling and at the airport.

Weekends are a busy time and if it is possible to travel outside of them it will be better for you. Now that most, if not all airlines and travel companies allow online booking and printing of boarding cards, doing this will ease your time in the airport. Fast track through security for around £3 can prevent frustration in the snaking line of stressful passengers.

Whenever it is possible and particularly if you have had a long journey to the airport with young children, book a lounge, it may cost you a few pounds but it could prove to be money well spent. Airport security checks are an absolute necessity and as travellers we just have to make the best we can of them.

Airport securityPicture: redjar

Take the hassle out of your holiday travel

You have booked a wonderful Mediterranean cruise which is due to depart from Malaga and take in some beautiful places over the next ten days, but there is a snag, your are flying out on a budget airline and of course you inevitably come up against the excess baggage charge, worse still you are over the weight allowance.

This is a nightmare situation that so often causes headaches for travellers, you know that although the dress code on your cruise ship is going to be reasonably relaxed, it still requires smart casual wear for both the men and women, this naturally means that you may have to pack a little more that you might have to on say a beach villa holiday, when shorts and a shirt are all that is needed.

So what is the answer to this dilemma, if fact is there an answer short of packing less than you feel you may need for a ten day holiday? Well it is simpler than you could possibly imagine, you contact Send My Bag and they will resolve the matter quickly and without fuss. They will collect your bag from your home and deliver it safely and securely to the cruise liner, and you can also arrange for it to be collected from the dockside and delivered home to you. No hassle, no excess baggage, no aching back, just a smooth journey to embarkation and ten days of relaxing sailing ahead for you.

Cruise Caribbean

Picture: 16g

Visiting Ajaccio, Corsica

The main city in Corsica, Ajaccio is a wonderful holiday destination, especially for tourists searching for the perfect combination of beautiful beaches, picturesque harbours and peaceful rivers. Roman remains boasting medieval magic, majestic cathedrals, charming buildings with impressive contemporary architecture, bustling markets and a rich assortment of restaurants and bars are surprisingly in contrast with the mountain range in the background.

Climate

Ajaccio is ready to enchant its visitors with a Mediterranean climate, which tempers the heat and dryness of summer with a cooling breeze. Although winters are quite dry, heavy rainstorms may occur in spring and autumn.

Things to do and see

Casa Bonaparte, the most important tourist attraction in Ajaccio, is a large yet simple residence where Napoleon Bonaparte was born. This residence is now a national museum boasting numerous paintings and objects that once belonged to the French military and political leader and his family. Another attraction is the Gorges de Spelunca, a natural wonder plunging into a foggy green torrent at the confluence of five magnificent rivers: Aïtone, Campi, Onca, Tavulella and Porto. Tourists looking for relaxation and fun will find numerous bars, restaurants, clubs, cinemas and a great casino.

Lodging

Ajaccio makes available a variety of budget accommodation options and excellent boutique hotels, such as Les Mouettes and Bella Vista, set in superb historic buildings with private beaches, swimming pools, Jacuzzis, gardens and terraces embracing splendid panoramic views of the city and Mediterranean Sea.

Transportation

One flight per week takes British tourists from London to Ajaccio in about two hours. To get around the city, travellers can opt for different transportation options, including buses, ferries and rental cars.

AjaccioPicture: Thilo Hilberer

A tale of two cities – eats and laughs in New York and San Francisco

The United States is famous for many things, not least for its food and comedy. Here are just a few of the more popular eateries and stand-up attractions in two of America’s most vibrant and bustling cities.

New York

Fifth Avenue Restaurant & Diner: Whether it’s a quick bite or a full on feast, time is certainly not of the essence when hunger strikes in the Big Apple. Fifth Avenue’s offering is no exception; the best bit about this diner is that it also delivers around the clock 24/7. Renowned for mouth-watering omelettes, the only downside to the Fifth Avenue Diner is knowing which of the wonderful four-egg creations to go for.

Comic Strip: This New York comedy club is best known for being the venue where the greats were discovered; think Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. Opened in 1975, the club started out as a multi-talent venue with novelty acts, singers and musicians taking to the stage. Since transforming into an exclusively stand-up venue it has become one of the city’s most popular homes of comedy. Many visitors claim they feel part of comedic history as they sit in the modest, yet charismatic, auditorium.

New York CityPicture: kaysha

San Francisco

Sparky’s Diner: San Francisco’s 24-hour eatery is infamous for both its pizza and ice cream. A plethora of other typical late-night bites are also available, such as burgers and custom milkshakes. Situated near the Castro, many partygoers will head to Sparky’s to soak up the evening’s alcohol intake and the varied and vibrant in-house jukebox is a hit for revellers who don’t want the night to end.

Improv: San Jose’s oldest theatre was built in 1904 and is officially designated a historic landmark. The club is revered for its reasonably priced food and drink and its two level tier set-up. Harry Houdini and Charlie Chaplin frequented the nightspot in the days when vaudeville acts and corporate parties were the main attraction. Today, the venue primarily hosts comedy nights and features popular acts such as Jeff Garcia and the Filipino Kingz.

Cable Car San FranciscoPicture: Peter Hijenhuis

Read the small print before you blame the insurer

There are hundreds, if not thousands of cases were an insurer has not paid out on a policy when a claim has been made, because the cause of neglect, accidental or otherwise, by the insured means that they have undervalued the items when making the application. Take one example, that of a house insurance policy. Assume that you have insured your home and on the declaration to the insurer you have stated that the contents of the property are worth £20,000 when in fact they are probably worth nearer £40,000. You may get very slightly cheaper premium, but what happens if disaster strikes and the house is flooded?

The likely outcome will almost certainly be that you will be paid out, yes you will but it could be at half the value of the contents, which is all you have insured for. If the house is burgled and that nice piece of jewellery which you bought was stolen, you might just get half the value.

Insurers will always pay out on genuine claims for travel, motor insurance accidents, but they will always check that you have taken out the correct cover and if you have not read the small print and decided it is not important, you should not be surprised if the insurer raises an item in the terms and conditions! It has come to light through a survey carried out by a holiday home and travel insurance company, that a remarkable fifty percent of homeowners have an insurance claim rejected and further 60% of people never bother to read the terms and conditions when taking out insurance. This is hardly the fault of the insurers and this is why the small print should always be looked at and questioned if you are in any doubt.

insurance

Experience one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – Dubrovnik

One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Dubrovnik, also called the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, is a real feast for the eye and soul.Located on the coastline of the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is home to numerous historic buildings with stunning sculptural detail, splendid churches, museums set in amazing buildings surrounded with artworks, a surprising café society, and dozens of luxury resorts that have turned the city into an elite holiday destination with first-class service and remarkable hospitality.

Climate

Dubrovnik has a humid, sub-tropical climate, with hot and dry summers and mild, wet winters. Although summer is usually characterised by thunderstorm conditions, the best time to visit Dubrovnik is from May through September.

Things to do and see

Located minutes away from the superb Elaphite, Mliet, and Lokrum islands, Dubrovnik invites tourists to visit its wonders, ranging from virgin landscapes with unique flora and fauna to internationally known churches, monasteries, museums and historic edifices, such as Rector’s Palace and Sponza Palace.

This city also boasts a wide array of superb beaches, public parks and cultural centres offering numerous workshops, exhibitions and concerts. For the most active tourists, Dubrovnik offers vibrant nightlife and a series of day activities, including snorkelling, diving, sailing, and even rock climbing and hiking.

Lodging

Dubrovnik has a wealth of accommodation options, ranging from luxury resorts to budget alternatives. Hotel Excelsior has luxury accommodation, located close to the heart of the Old Town. Villa Dubrovnik, recently renovated to offer modern facilities along with spectacular views over the Old Town and the Adriatic Sea, and Hostel Marker, with private rooms and apartments with kitchenettes, bedrooms, living rooms and private bathrooms, are just a few of the establishments that holidaymakers should try.

Tourists can also find a plethora of restaurants serving Mediterranean and local cuisine, renowned especially for fresh seafood and rakija, a distilled drink made from local fruits.

Transportation

Getting in and around Dubrovnik is quite easy. A regular flight from London to Dubrovnik takes about two and a half hours. Dubrovnik also has a reliable land and sea transportation network, connecting buses with trains and ferries.

DubrovnikPicture: Jon Culver

Travellers guide to Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, is a modern metropolis with its origins in a charming medieval town. Cobblestoned streets with beautiful old buildings and artworks illustrate Helsinki’s exciting history and rich culture.

Climate

Influenced by the Baltic Sea, Helsinki features a humid continental climate that brings long, warm summer days with average temperatures ranging between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.

Things to do and see

Helsinki hosts many festivals throughout the year, including Lux Helsinki, Vappu and Juhannus. To enrich its cultural landscape, the city also offers a variety of theatrical plays, concerts and film festivals. For nature lovers, Helsinki makes available a few surprises in the form of outdoor activities. Both travellers and locals can go to the beach, visit a local farm, choose a boat trip or try one of the trekking routes surrounding the city.

For the tourist looking for relaxation, the city has a few spas with body treatments, saunas and Jacuzzis. Families with children can opt for a great day out at one of the amusement parks. In addition, the city hosts a number of restaurants and bars that will make tourists feel at home.

Lodging

Although quite expensive, accommodation is of a high standard. Several budget hotels are CheapSleep Helsinki, Eurohostel and Summer Hostel Karavaani. Travellers who can afford luxury accommodation are able to find a variety of options, including Radisson Blu Royal, Hotel Haven and Crowne Plaza.

Transportation

The public transportation system, including taxis, trams, buses, metros, trains and ferries, covers all areas of Helsinki. A tourist choosing a direct flight from London can reach this beautiful city within three hours.

HelsinkiPicture: Tuija Aalto

Adults only in all-inclusive luxury

Adult only holidays are relatively recent phenomena. More and more people are seizing the opportunity to enjoy a childfree getaway and meet like-minded adults for a relaxing break. There is the added benefit for those without children who are now able to take a relaxing holiday without a plethora of little ones running around.

Adult exclusive trips tend to be the epitome of sophistication and luxury and the hotels are handpicked by specialist tour operators who are experts in the field. The level of accommodation offered is usually 5 and sometimes 6 or 7 star – the best to be found anywhere. Couples and groups are able to enjoy a relaxing lounge poolside without the noise of excitable children; they can also experience a quiet, romantic meal; a rare treat far from the stressful daily teatime routine at home.

An abundance of adult only activities will be on offer; think scuba diving and boat trips, while the in-house spas will be the order of the holiday, ready to offer deep tissue massages, cleansing facial treatments and a bubble-filled Jacuzzi in which to sip champagne. On adult only holidays it is usual for the hotels to have their own private beaches and rooms with sea view balconies. The accommodation tends to be contemporary in style with a refined décor; the service will be of world-class standard.

Whatever your reason for choosing an adult only getaway, be it a break from the kids or a chance to make new friends, the stylish retreats typical of these holidays are sure to provide the perfect setting.

couple beachPicture: Wicked Cool

Corfu holidays

The island of Corfu nestling in the Ionian Sea just off the coast of Greece has long been a favourite with the British; it has nothing to do with the fact that it was a British possession from 1814 to 1864, it was during this period that Corfu became prosperous and the Greek language became official. During the period new roads were constructed, water supply was improved; we are not only welcomed to this island because we spend our money there in the holidays! But for us British it is the beaches which are situated on the western side of the island and the relaxing swimming and sunbathing, just relaxing in the warm Mediterranean sun that attracts.

Corfu’s not all about sunbathing and beaches of course, it is a green and beautiful Island with plenty to see and do; you will find riding stables, waterparks to keep the young ones happy, scuba centres to swim amongst the colourful fish, old ruins of castles and not forgetting those sleepy typical Greek villages to wander through and have a cooling drink. You can go on organised boat trips for island cruises, visits to traditional Greek fishing villages. Corfu town is worth a visit where you will find a vast selection of traditional Greek goods, jewellery, and leather.

Naturally when you go to Corfu, as with almost anywhere in Greece, it is about food and wine! For the Greeks eating is a family affair and Sunday lunch can be an all afternoon affair, but for you, just relax, drink some delightful wine, Corfu’s tavernas will not disappoint.

It is possible to hire a car in Corfu if you want to explore the island at leisure, but beware, the habits of the local drivers leave a lot to be desired and you should keep your eyes open for people from side-roads without stopping, overtaking is a sport for some and the middle of the road is where many think they should be!

When is the best time to go to Corfu, well the island get into holiday mode at around Easter until October, if you can, Late May to late June are the periods when the tavernas as less busy, the heat is not so intense, holidays are cheaper, but unless you cannot avoid it, July and August are the busy and intensely hot; September is an ideal month to take a late break. Corfu is served by all the major airlines and the budget carriers operate from most regional airports and the flight time is just over three hours.

CorfuPicture: Stefan Kraft

British Museum most popular British attraction list

The British Museum remains top of the most visited attractions list for 2013 and attracted a whopping 6 million tourists last year. The National Gallery came second in the list as London attractions dominated the list of Britain’s most popular tourist sites.

London saw a 12% increase in tourists last year, with many suggesting that it was a knock on effect from hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. London attractions made up 12 of the most visited sites in Britain and top placed British Museum received 20% more visitors than in 2012.

Housing some of the best historical artefacts in the world from the Vikings to Egyptian mummies, the British Museum has been the most visited British attraction for the last seven years.

The most visited attraction outside of London was the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh which attracted 1.77 million visitors.

Overall, visitors to British attractions were 6% up on 2012, due in some part to the good summer weather. Tourism minister Helen Grant welcomed the news by saying, “It is fantastic news for the tourism sector that our top attractions received a boost in visitor numbers in 2013 and the Government will continue to support the industry and promote Britain to the world as a great place to visit and do business with.”

British MuseumPicture: Nicolas de Camaret