Whet Your Appetite for Travel with the Wanderlust Storybook
For as long as people have had language, they’ve used it to tell stories. Before the advent of the written word, it was through these stories that cultures survived from generation to generation. In the many years between, they have grown and evolved and today embody the spirit, outlook and values of the cultures from which they originate.
We’ve picked and retold a scattering of stories from around the world, with stunning hand-drawn illustrations, to give you a glimpse into the variety of cultures that make up our global community. We hope it’ll help stir the wanderlust in you and get you excited to go out into the world to experience those cultures for yourself.
The Lake of the Returned Sword – Hanoi, Vietnam
The turtle took the sword and vanished beneath the waves; only the gleam of the blade remains, spread over the water like a translucent film of fire. King Le Loi spoke: “Let this lake be renamed Hoàn Kiếm” which means The Lake of the Returned Sword.”
Art-filled and motorbike-fuelled Hanoi has been Vietnam’s capital since the north and south of the country reunified in 1976. The physical and cultural heart of the city is Hoan Kiem Lake.
You won’t need directions to find the Lake: It stretches for one mile southwards from the lively shops and grand hotels of the Old Quarter. From its green waters rise two islands, the larger of which—Jade Island—is reached by a bright red wooden bridge.
The Three Sisters – Blue Mountains, Australia
“And towering above, the three sisters clutch at empty pockets of sky, their bodies underground reaching for breath. They mourn with the heavy silence of rock, waiting for the day when they may they may return to sing and dance and laugh again.”
It’s a 90 minute drive from downtown Sydney to the Three Sisters. These towering rock formations are just a tiny part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area—a name derived from the bluish tinge observed across the landscape when the eucalyptus release warm oils into the atmosphere.
The Three Sisters—each stretching nearly a kilometer into the sky—stand watch over the lands of the Darug, Wiradjuri, Dharwal and Gundungarra Aboriginal people. The latter are the site’s traditional custodians, and it’s their dream-time legend that paints the formations as petrified girls.
Legends and folklore reveal the nuances of a culture, locating a people’s history in their homeland, shaping their norms and relationships. Learning the stories of a people is as integral to travel as learning language or custom. It is part of the journey.
Delve into the Wanderlust Storybook for more tales and legends from around the world.
Find it here: www.ebookers.com/travel-blog/folklore/
To make things even easier ebookers has released an app for pay as you go and contract phones running iOS – the ebookers Travel app for iPhone and iPad. The app lets users book hotels, flights and sort out hire cars in just a few simple steps, making it even easier to escape the everyday stresses and strains, whether it is for a last minute get away or summer vacation.
What does it do?
Providing a one-stop-shop for all your travel needs, ebookers is a simple and straight-forward app which allows you to book transport and accommodation for all types of excursion. What’s more, it comes packed with exclusive mobile only discounts and last minute deals, so you’re guaranteed to stumble upon some great offers.
The simple user interface may seem a little basic, but you’ll soon realise that the no frills design is perfect and anything more would just get in the way of what is a very efficient method of organising a trip without having to leave the comfort of your own home or even switching on the laptop.
What we liked?
Navigating around the app is effortless and with a range of filtering options on board users can tailor their search to find exactly what they need, in super quick time.
With 110,000 hotels in its database there’s something for everyone, wherever you are in the world. There’s also a reviews section to check out what others thought of the accommodation, and with an interactive map to see exactly where each hotel is located, you can quickly make comparisons to ensure you pick the most convenient place.
Booking flights and cars is just as swift and in a few taps you’ll have sorted your entire journey. When departure day comes ‘Flight Status’ lets users know if there have been any delays and at any point should you need to be reminded of your details it’s all kept securely under the ‘My Trip’ section.
What could be better?
On the whole there’s very little to fault about the app apart from the fact that you have to begin the whole booking process again should you lose your Wi-Fi or 3G connection. This could prove to be very frustrating, particularly when going through the final stages of the booking procedure, as you could well be left wondering if your details have gone through. It’d be great to see an additional function on board that saves every stage of your search should the handset’s connection cut out.
Whether you’re planning on jetting off into the sunset or need to book a last minute place to stay, ebookers has it covered.
Its simple, detailed sections are easy to understand and even if you’ve never used the app before it shouldn’t take you too long to get to grips with, which is great if you’re booking a last minute trip in a hurry.
A range of mobile deals, exclusive to those who download the app, provide a huge incentive, and what’s more it’s free. Why not let your smartphone do all the hard work and give ebookers a try?
This app review was written by Sarah Hazelwood of Phones 4u, the number one destination for all the latest smartphone reviews and deals.
ebookers reports 150% increase in searches for beach holidays with Brits keen to escape the snow
- Topping the list of factors for what makes a happy holiday is sightseeing (66%), hassle free travel (64%) and being in the sunshine (60%)
- Only 2% of women let their husbands or boyfriends decide the holiday destination
- 20% of Brits believe their happiest holidays have been in the UK
- Over half (52%) of people think that hidden costs would put them off booking a holiday as well as delays at the airport (39%)
- Nearly 1 in 3 (27%) people are put off a holiday by annoying street and beach vendors
21st January, 2013 – It turns out that Brits much prefer the brighter side of life with 60% of them admitting that sunshine is one of the most important ingredients for a happy holiday, with hassle free travel (64%) and sightseeing (66%) making up the top three, according to a survey by ebookers.com, one of Europe’s leading online travel agents.
Amusingly 6% of cheeky Brits think that eye candy on the beach makes for a happy holiday, of whom over three quarters (86%) are men. Similarly, 3% of people think a good-looking air hostess is a key factor, with 92% of them predictably men.
The news come as Britain wallows in what’s said to be the most depressing day of the year. It’s likely that many will be daydreaming about faraway shores and getting the sand between their toes – 40% of people said that beach breaks were their favourite type of holiday, so much so that ebookers.com has seen a 150% increase in searches for beach holidays compared to this time last month.
In the midst of the January blues, 38% of people feel that dark and cold mornings trigger them to book a holiday. The patter of rain (28%) and depressing news stories (13%) also entice people to book. Yet 41% of people feel that nothing would trigger them to book a holiday in January.
Jo Hemmings, relationship psychologist, comments, “January is always a lull month after the excitement of Christmas. People are already thinking about happier times and holidays are a big part of this. With time off allowing people to relax, it is interesting that sightseeing is what makes people happiest whilst away.
“Everyone always wants something different from their break so I always feel it’s important that everyone going on the holiday discuss their ideals of what they want before jetting off, regardless of who’s booked it. Also it’s good to plan how you’re going to spend your holiday so that you know you’ll be happy for the duration.”
The research, which polled 2,000 British adults, delved into people’s holiday beliefs. It revealed that women really do wear the trousers, with just 2% of them allowing their husbands or boyfriends to decide the destination.
Once on holiday it’s surprising to see it’s the boys who feel the pressure of looking good on the beach in front of their partner (9%) – so much so it would actually put them off booking a holiday. Women are slightly less vain with 7% worried about looking good in their beach attire.
Interestingly the data also discovered that the “staycation” is still going strong, with a fifth of people (20%) having had their happiest holidays in the UK.
As people tighten their purse strings, ebookers.com also found that 13% of men admit to scrimping at Christmas to allow them to book their holiday in January compared to 6% of women.
The idea of a savvy traveller is certainly becoming the norm. The research showed that 47% of southerners booked earlier because it’s cheaper, compared to nearly 40% of northerners. Of those “savvy Southerners”, 51% were male, highlighting that men are more determined to book a good deal and get to the beach quicker.
The research also revealed:
- 16% of the UK will not go on holiday this year, both in the UK or abroad
- 4% of people would book a holiday in January due to a bursting work inbox, of whom the majority are men (73%)
Jessica Craker, UK Marketing Manager, comments; “It’s always interesting to see the different attitudes of men and women when it comes to finding that perfect holiday, but whatever your happy holiday formula may be, the easiest way to find it is by searching online. The research confirms what we’re seeing; since the launch of our Travel Happier Sale with up to 50% off hotels, we’ve seen beach holiday searches up by 150% from this time last month. For those 41% who say nothing will trigger booking a holiday in January, we’ll always encourage our customers to book early when it’s cheaper to take advantage of our sale. If there’s one thing we know that can make the booking decision easier and holidays just a bit happier – it’s a good price.”
For further information visit www.ebookers.com
ebookers Facebook fans can also win a trip to Thailand at www.facebook.com/ebookers
Research was undertaken by Opinium with 2,000 British adults in December 2012.
For more information please contact the ebookers press office on 020 7025 6650 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ebookers.com, one of Europe’s leading online travel agents, prides itself on making booking decisions easier and providing honest and impartial advice to travellers. ebookers is a brand that is owned and operated by Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE: OWW). It has origins going back 20 years and close relationships with leading travel suppliers of hotels and airlines. It offers a huge selection of choice from over 250 airlines, over 110,000 hotels around the globe and car hire from most of the
major international brands. ebookers.com sells a full range of travel products online and over the telephone through 24/7 call centres and through some retail outlets
About Orbitz Worldwide
Orbitz Worldwide is a leading global online travel company that uses innovative technology to enable leisure and business travellers to research, plan and book a broad range of travel products. Orbitz Worldwide owns a portfolio of consumer brands that includes Orbitz (www.orbitz.com), CheapTickets (www.cheaptickets.com), ebookers (www.ebookers.com), HotelClub (www.hotelclub.com), RatesToGo (www.ratestogo.com) and the Away Network (www.away.com). Also within the Orbitz Worldwide family, Orbitz Worldwide Distribution (http://corp.orbitz.com/partnerships/distribution) delivers private label travel solutions to a broad range of partners including many of the world’s largest airlines, and Orbitz for Business (www.orbitzforbusiness.com) delivers managed corporate travel solutions for corporations. For more information on partnership opportunities with Orbitz Worldwide, visit corp.orbitz.com. Orbitz Worldwide uses its Investor Relations website to make information available to its investors and the public at http://corp.orbitz.com/investors. You can sign up to receive email alerts whenever the company posts new information to the website.
New Year getaway, Valentine’s Day, popping the question, honeymoon or maybe you’re happily married but looking to rekindle a lifelong romance. Whatever the romantic occasion, here we’ve hand-picked five of the world’s idyllic romantic destinations and the best hotels to stay in while you’re there.
Lovers who are seeking an unforgettable destination should include Bali on their list of choices. For centuries, Bali has been known as an exotic oasis with some of the world’s best beaches and lush surroundings.
In the balmy waters of southern Asia, the Indonesian island, complete with verdant landscape, volcanic lakes and cultural gems, is as close to paradise as they come, providing individual privacy in an exotic, romantic setting.
Enjoy spectacular sunsets in the late afternoon or sunrise in the morning on a beach, the lush jungle vegetation, and the rolling rice terraces. Bali’s fabulously rich and vibrant culture, reflected in festivals, dances and music, adds to the exoticism of this deeply spiritual island.
At the end of a deeply relaxing day, come home to the exclusive Seminyak Beach. The 128 room Royal Beach Seminyak Bali is set amongst 4.5 hectares of tropical gardens. Along with two stunning pools, one right on the beach and another tucked into the garden area, the resort offers 17 secluded spa villas, each boasting a private whirlpool or swimming pool. The hotel is within walking distance of Seminyak Village, the home to some of the trendiest bars, restaurants and shops in Bali.
Or snuggle up undisturbed in one of the beautifully furnished individual Bali Aroma Exclusive Villas. These villas offer guests a perfect home for those seeking a natural Balinese feel, style with privacy and comfort all together. Enjoy candlelit cuisine and sip champagne under the stars.
One tip to note: it’s wise to avoid monsoon season between December and March
Paris is arguably the most romantic city on earth and there’s a good reason why the city emanates this perception.
Wander the charming streets, beautiful public parks and ubiquitous street-side cafés and you’ll understand why it makes an unbelievably romantic setting. Indulge in the delicious world-class culinary delights and take in all the sights of the French capital.
Take a moonlit cruise down the Seine. Visit the many famous art museums and head to the Museé Rodin to see the sculptor’s famous work “The Kiss”. There are few better places to put your arms around your lover than atop the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame Cathedral. A short train ride away, visit the luxurious Chateau de Versaille, the elaborate palace of the notorious Sun King. Take a bottle of wine and a snack of baguettes and cheese to nibble on the grounds.
Venture to the Ile Saint Louis (near Notre Dame), a great neighborhood for walking. The tiny island within the Seine has cute boutique shops, nice restaurants and nightclubs filled with locals. Be sure to try Berthillon, a delicious ice cream that can only be found in this small neighborhood.
Choose from the many lavish hotels the city lays claim to. L’Athenee, a unique and charming boutique hotel that oozes 19th-century Italy, complete with all its romanticism is one winner. It’s a gem of a place with adorably classic decor and fabulous luxurious furnishings.
Alternatively, Timhotel Elysee Montparnasse with its 1930’s facade highlighted by an Art Deco fresco, has a touch of modernity while fully respecting the great French decorative tradition.
Nassau, The Bahamas
All the Caribbean islands know how to pour on the romance, but Nassau Paradise Island in The Bahamas not only has the sublime pink sand and turquoise waters, but also offers a wonderful variety of places to eat, exciting nightlife, and great hotels.
Stroll the cobblestone streets, indulge in watersports or sip cocktails overlooking the ocean. Whether you want to take a romantic horseback ride or carriage tour, the choice is yours.
Explore the array of charming pink colonial buildings of Parliament Square. Steal a kiss on a gondola cruise in the clear water around Nassau harbour as the sun sets. Make time to walk around historic Fort Fincastle, from where you can take in the magnificent sea views. Wander through the lush tropical grounds of Nassau’s Ardastra Gardens and Conservation Centre, past meandering canals and along forest trails. Write your names with a stick on the dreamy Pink Sands Beach. The red algae from the nearby coral reefs is what gives the sand its romantic hue.
If it takes your fancy, visit the idyllic surroundings of the Out Islands, favoured by those who prefer their island life quaint, quiet, simple and barefoot. No footprints but yours, so remote and secluded that you feel like you are the only two on the beach.
Then head back to your luxury room and drift off into sweet slumber and perfect Caribbean dreams.
One option is A Stone’s Throw Away, an exquisite hideaway perched on one of the highest elevations by the coast.
Indulge in a rare panoramic view of Nassau’s land and sea. The scenery boasts the best of the island’s natural wonders, from the native pine forest by Lake Killarney to the brim of the coral reefs that protect the glimmering beaches of west Nassau.
Another wonderful highly-rated option is the Marley Resort and Spa. This intimate world-class sanctuary echoes the enduring creative spirit and traditions of the Marley family. The luxurious 16 themed suites and deluxe accommodations blend the warmth of Marley history with ultimate comfort and convenience. Amid Nassau’s atmosphere of relaxed and artful living, Marley Resort & Spa is a true haven for travellers.
Tahiti evokes visions of an island paradise. It is the largest island in a cluster of 118 islands, grouped inside the archipelago of Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. For years and years, Tahiti has been a leading romantic holiday and honeymoon destination. With beautiful fine white sand beaches, warm crystal clear waters, emerald green mountains and spectacular scenery, words can hardly describe the beauty, serenity and magical essence of these islands. Deep valleys, clear streams, and high waterfalls make it a picture-perfect destination and help explain why its intimate resorts, small peaceful villages, and miles of quiet pristine beaches are considered one of the best places in the world for “alone time.”
True romance is sleeping high above the turquoise lagoon waters in an over-water bungalow and there’s plenty to choose from here. Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa, a charming “boutique hotel” offers 28 overwater bungalows, 8 beach bungalows, 28 garden bungalows with private pool. It is a perfect blend of luxury and serenity making it an ideal destination for couples.
Or choose Hotel Bora Bora, a treasure on the main island of Bora Bora. Capturing the beauty and mystique of French Polynesia, it offers thatched roof villas and bungalows nestled among tropical gardens and palm studded beaches.
Tahiti is a perfect choice for a relaxing or active holiday. Some of the world’s best surfing, scuba diving, and snorkelling are found in Tahiti. The water temperature stays at a reliable 26°C – 29°C all year long – an almost perfect climate. Be sure to indulge in a romantic Polynesian-style spa treatment incorporating fresh flower baths, body wraps with banana leaves and fresh fruit masks.
Unforgettable highlights of any visit or honeymoon here are enjoying exquisite French Polynesian cuisine, beach strolling, relaxing in the sand, sunset watching, and walking through beautiful tropical gardens. Simply unforgettable!
Santorini, one of the 56 picture perfect Greek islands is famous around the world as one of the most romantic destinations for honeymoons and couple getaways. With its stunning sunsets, whitewashed villages, pretty blue domed churches, welcoming locals and views to die for you cannot but fail to fall in love with Santorini.
There are plenty of sumptuous hotels and idyllic self-catering villas to choose from. You want this to be perfect, so opt for one of the suites at Absolute Bliss Imerovigli. Exclusively stylish and romantic, Absolute Bliss is a haven of generous Greek hospitality. Surrounded by natural environment, it is situated on the black volcanic rock of Santorini Caldera and with its traditional Aegean architecture and gorgeous views, it will offer you an unforgettable pleasure that you won’t forget.
Alternatively, stay in the VIP Suites tucked in the cliff of the caldera, in the beautiful and artistic village of Oia. These unique apartments are the perfect blend of Greek luxury and tradition. Elegantly appointed with antiques and hand-crafted furnishings, it combines modern conveniences with Cycladic Island charm.
Stroll along the caldera’s edge to the village of Oia, whose perch on the cliffs at the western tip of the island makes for memorable sunsets—all the better when seen from atop the ruins of Oia’s sixteenth-century castle.
Choose any local restaurant perched high in the hills and overlook the Aegean Sea almost 1,000 feet below.
Sipping wine and eating tapas as the sun hits the water is a guaranteed romantic Kodak moment. Visit Perissa and Kamari beaches with their black volcanic sand, meander through the quaint ancient villages of Pyrgos and Akrotiri, and sign up for a romantic swim in the volcanic hot springs.
The only difficult part now is choosing which marvelous destination to go for!
The countdown is now on all over the world. All of the preparations are in place. Santa and his elves have been busy preparing for his launch on December 24th!
Early on the 24th, Santa will be departing his depot at the North Pole to begin his 33-hour journey, delivering presents to children all over the world.
The man himself will be well-rested in preparation for his yearly epic journey around the globe, though no doubt he’ll be in need of a quick pit-stop on each of the continents.
Here, we have chosen the rumoured pit-stops of choice for him.
It’s expected that Santa will have presents for about 1.5 billion children around the world, and that he will begin his journey around Earth by travelling to New Zealand, where the time is thirteen hours ahead of Ireland and the UK and where children will already be asleep for a few hours.
From there he will travel to Australia, and then north towards Asia, taking in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan.
It’s rumoured that Santa will make his first pit-stop at South-East Asia’s tallest hotel, Swissotel The Stamford in Singapore, complete with its own helipad for his sleigh and reindeer to land with ease. The Stamford offers panoramic views of Singapore, Indonesia and parts of Malaysia with luxurious facilities offering Santa a brief respite on his long journey.
From there, Santa will continue west into Burma, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, through all the “Stan’s” to Georgia, Azerbaijan and north throughout Russia.
Here, in Moscow, Santa will make his second pit-stop at the beautiful Hotel National. The hotel, built in the Moscow Modern style, displays a “classicised” eclecticism, combining varied ornamented décor motifs from late classicism. The hotel’s elegant and opulent ambience will provide Santa with a few moments of leisurely relaxation before he’s off again.
Renewed and invigorated, Santa will take off on the next stretch, making his way south through Belarus and Ukraine all the way through to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Yemen. From there, he’ll make his way down through the horn of Africa, dropping off his gifts as he goes. By the time he reaches South Africa, assuredly, he’ll be in need of refreshment. Stopping in the heart of South Africa’s most beautiful metropolis, Cape Town, at the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel and Spa, he’ll be provided the very best in luxury and comfort for his brief stay.
Here he can put his feet up while taking in views of the iconic Table Mountain.
Afterwards, his flight path will take him up into West Africa via Central Africa and north into Europe, covering the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Austria, and Poland through Germany then further north into Scandinavia before he eventually makes his way over to the UK and Ireland.
Taking a quick interval, Santa will rest at The Royal Horseguards Hotel in London. Built in 1884 in the style of a French Chateau, it is a stunning and charming setting to lodge in. Mixing 21st century decor with Victorian style, Santa should feel right at home here.
No time to rest for too long though! The next stretch is making the expansive trip across the Atlantic to North America. Starting in Northern Canada and working his way down into the United States, he’ll visit each of the fifty states making his deliveries. Down through Central America and around the Caribbean, Santa will progress towards the end of his trip when he enters South America in Colombia. Dashing through Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, he’ll make his final pit-stop when he stops over in Rio de Janeiro. Here he’ll take a quick rest at the Relais & Chateaux Hotel Santa Teresa, located in the charismatic cultural and historical part of Rio. The boutique hotel oozes charm and sophistication and with its tropical design will make for highly-needed relaxation before Santa begins the final leg of his journey.
To conclude his trip and make the final distribution of gifts, Santa will fly down through Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, just in time for dawn on Christmas Day!
Tags: Ailwee Caves, Burren, Christmas, Christmas Experience, co clare, Dublin, Dublin Zoo, flights, hotel, Ireland, Kent, Lamberhurst, Lapland, Lapland UK, London, Santa, Santa’s Grotto, The Burren, Westfield Shopping Centre
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to Santa’s Grotto!
Find out where to meet the man in red this winter with our guide to the best UK and Ireland Santa’s grottos.
As one of the world’s oldest and most popular zoos, Dublin Zoo is Ireland’s No.1 visitor attraction and this year it is providing the ultimate Christmas experience to come and visit Santa at his magical grotto. Located in the Phoenix Park in the heart of Dublin city, the 70-acre park is home to some 600 animals in an environment where education and conservation combine for an exciting and unforgettable experience. Children will experience the magic of Christmas as they wander through the traditional and enchanting grotto and be greeted by Santa’s elves in the winter wonderland. The grotto will be packed with animated reindeers and elves working hard in Santa’s workshop. Young visitors will also receive a gift and photo to keep as a special memento of their time with Santa. The whole family can also enjoy a variety of festive fun including Christmas arts and crafts, face-painting and warm treats! After sharing their list with Santa, children can then explore the wonder of Dublin Zoo and say hi to all the new arrivals this year including bull elephant Upali, Sita and Suri the Asian lionesses, red panda cubs, meerkat pups and many more.
When: Every weekend in December and every day from Thursday 20th – Monday 24th December
Where: Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park, Dublin
Cost: €8 for annual pass holders / €10 for non-annual pass holders. No pre-booking necessary
Nearest Hotel: Park Plaza Tyrrelstown, situated next door to The Phoenix Park.
Click here for more: http://bit.ly/QMMJZ9
Ailwee Caves, Co. Clare
The Ailwee Caves lies in the heart of the Burren in Co. Clare. Close to the pretty village of Ballyvaughan they make for an interesting and unusual family fun day out. The caves are magically transformed into a winter wonderland from 30th November to 23rd December with the installation of Santa’s kingdom.
Voted one of the best grotto’s in Ireland on several occasions, party packs, face-painting, carnival entertainment and a Christmas market complete the festive atmosphere. You can also enjoy a complimentary entry to the Burren Birds of Prey Centre, catch a flying display at 12 noon or 3.00pm.
When Every weekend in December and every day from Thursday 20th – Sunday 23th December
Where Ailwee Caves, Burren, Co. Clare
Cost Check the website for booking info http://www.aillweecave.ie/
Nearest Hotel: The Falls Hotel and Spa is located very conveniently for the Ailwee Caves. Click here for more: http://bit.ly/XytN3l
Lapland UK, Lamberhurst, Kent
This attraction is an authentic award-winning, immersive theatrical production which magically transports your child to Father Christmas’ arctic homeland and is a wonderful day out for all. Just some of the activities include decorating gingerbread in Mother Christmas’ kitchen, ice-skating, meeting husky dogs and sending a postcard from Father Christmas’ working North Pole Post Office. A personalised visit to Father Christmas himself in his snowy forest home completes this unique day which isn’t to be missed. Imagine the excitement on your child’s face when Father Christmas invites them personally to come and help in his Toy Factory this Christmas, a special memory they will cherish forever.
When 1st to 24th December 2012
Where Lamberhurst, Kent
Cost £44.50 to £64.50 per person plus booking fees
Nearest Hotel: Mercure Tunbridge Wells Hotel. Click here for more: http://bit.ly/VOFXB8
Westfield Shopping Centre, London
Visitors to Santa’s grotto at Westfield London shopping centre over Christmas 2012 enter a winter wonderland, when the popular children’s attraction reopens for the festive season. With amazing animation and 5D special effects, including wind, lights and elf dust, the Santa’s grotto at Westfield London offers an unusual festive family experience that’s bound to be popular with kids. Each child visiting the grotto will have their name and picture featured in the film, helping Elbow the elf on his journey to help save Santa’s presents from the good-elf-turned-bad.
When 22 November 2012 – 24 December 2012 10am – 8pm
Where Westfield, London
Nearest Hotel: K West Hotel, London is right on the doorstep. Click here for more: http://bit.ly/SLdNIa
Hyde Park, London
Meet Father Christmas at the Santa’s Grotto at Winter Wonderland, when Hyde Park is transformed into a breathtaking festive landscape complete with ice rink, Christmas market and circus. Hyde Park goes all Christmassy with the sparkly additions of rides and attractions including a Giant Observation Wheel and two circuses – ‘Christmas Circus’ and ‘Cirque Berserk’ – from the family-friendly Zippos Circus. Winter Wonderland’s ice rink, the biggest outdoor rink in the UK, surrounds the Victorian bandstand and is illuminated with more than 100,000 lights. Entry to the site, including Santa Land and the Christmas Market is free. If temperatures drop and you need to defrost, there’s rustic revelry on offer around open fires, with hot cider, mulled wine and food for sale.
When 23 November 2012 – 06 January 2013 10am – 6pm
Where Hyde Park
Nearest Hotel: Thistle Kensington Gardens Hotel is literally across the road from the park. Click here for more: http://bit.ly/VOGnYr
Tags: break, deals, New Years Eve, New York, Philippines, Russia, Spain, USA, weekend
While it may happen at different times, the celebration of the New Year is something that’s universally celebrated by all, every culture across the world has its own traditions and customs to ring in the New Year. It’s not just the time zones that are different, the build-up and the aftermath of New Year’s day differ from country to country.
Take Spain as an example, its countdown is primarily followed from the clock on top of the Casa de Correos building in Puerta Del Sol square in Madrid. They also have a tradition to eat twelve grapes, one for each chime of the clock before it strikes midnight. If the person successfully does this, it will mean good luck and fortune for the year.
For the Russians, celebrations usually begin one or two hours before midnight. One of the traditions is to listen to the Kremlin clock bell ring twelve times on the radio or on TV; the last twelve seconds are spent in silence as they make their secret wishes for the New Year. When it reaches midnight, the Russian national anthem begins and people congratulate each other and exchange presents.
In the Philippines, most natives follow a number of traditions such as how they dress. For one, they believe that wearing clothes with circular patterns will attract money and fortune. Also, throwing coins at the stroke of midnight is said to increase wealth in the upcoming year. Other traditions include making loud noises to scare away malevolent spirits. They do this by blowing plastic horns called torotot, banging on pots and pans, or by igniting firecrackers and fireworks at midnight.
In Japan, people rather at the Shubuya crossing and the Zojoji Temple in Tokyo to ring in the New Year. Here they attach notes containing their New Year wishes onto helium balloons before releasing them at midnight.
Perhaps the most iconic location for New Year’s has to be New York, where everyone gathers at Times Square for the ball drop. A tradition since 1907, the 11,875-pound crystal ball located on the roof of One Times Square begins descending at 11:59pm, as visitors count down the seconds to midnight.
For great deals and offers for all the destinations above click here: http://www.ebookers.com/holidays/
Tags: Christmas, Christmas shopping, Christmas Traditions, Christmas Traditions From Around the World, Juleaften, Nikolaustag, Weihnachtsmarkt
With only a month and a half to go, our attention is now being diverted towards the Christmas season. It’s difficult to ignore, shops are filled with festive goods and gift ideas, cities have decorations up and are preparing to switch on the lights and brighten up the high streets and TV stations are now hosting numerous Christmas ads.
These may be the signs which tell us that it’s approaching December 25th, but for other cultures, they do things a little bit differently. All over the world, there are different ways of celebrating the festive season.
For Europe, this varies depending on where you’re based. For one, Germany celebrates Nikolaustag (Saint Nicholas Day) on December 6th. On this day, children leave out their shoes for Saint Nicholas to put sweets and goodies in them. He sometimes even visits them at schools or at public events. In every village, town and city, the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas markets) becomes a main feature until December 24th, when the Christmas trees are finally put up.
On the other hand, the Danes celebrate Juleaften (Yule evening) on December 24th. Here families eat a traditional evening meal which has roast pork, roast duck, or roast goose as the main attraction. When that is finished, families gather around the Christmas tree and sing songs while holding hands and dancing in circles. After that, the handing out of presents occurs. The presents will be handed out by the children or Father Christmas will appear and distribute them.
Heading over to Latin America, El Salvador sees the nation’s children celebrating the holidays by playing with firecrackers, fountains like the volcancitos (‘little volcanos) and sparklers named estrelliates (little stars). Older children and young adults get to display larger fireworks or Roman Candles and families hold parties where they dance and eat. When midnight strikes on Christmas Day, everyone gathers around the Christmas tree and opens their presents.
Moving over to Asia, for the people of Sri Lanka, the first of December is signalled by the sound of fire crackers at dawn, alerting everyone that Christmas is around the corner. It’s then that the Catholic community perform the first ritualistic task of merry making. When it reaches midnight of Christmas Eve, locals attend midnight mass as December 25th is seen as the commemoration day of the birth of Jesus.
Finally finishing up in Japan, Christmas isn’t seen as a national holiday, but the effects it has on commerce makes it popular. The event has become a holiday for couples to spend time together and exchange gifts, but perhaps most bizarrely, an advertising campaign back in the 1970s by KFC has made eating at the fast food restaurant a national custom. Its popularity is so great; the chain has to take reservations months in advance.
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Tags: Barcelona, berlin, best shopping cities, Best shopping destinations, best shopping in Europe, Christmas, Christmas shopping, Germany, Paris, Rome, Shopping, Spain
It feels that including Paris on any list about shopping is mandatory, and it’s no surprise that it features here. Any type of store that you can think of, you’ll find here and with places like the shopping arcade Palais Royal, Marché St Pierre and Lafayette Maison, you’ll quickly realise why Paris is regarded as one of the best cities in the world for shopping.
If you’re looking for a base to work from, the three star Kiebar Hotel Champs Elysses Tour Eiffel (£58 per night) will help you settle in quite nicely as you start exploring what is a wondrous city.
It might be the home of the best football team in the world, but the city of Barcelona offers far more than sporting highlights. It hosts a number of diverse shopping areas like the The Portal de l’Àngel, Avinguda Diagonal and the large commercial centre Les Glóries, which has over 230 stores like Zara, Mango, and Pepe Jeans. It also has multiple bars, cinemas and restaurants spread over three levels. The Hesperia Sant Joan Suites Hotel is incredibly affordable at £24 per night so you won’t be breaking the bank should you decide to head over.
Home to many cultural delights, Rome is the place to be if you’re looking for a mixture of traditional and modern shopping experiences. You can book yourself into the four star Best Western Ambra Palace Hotel (£54 per night) or if you want to have that little bit extra for shopping, the Trinity B&B (£51 per night) will give you a mixture of comfort and affordability.
Rome is perhaps one of the more expensive European destinations featured here, but for the extra cost, you’ll uncover higher quality goods and the mixture of markets and modern department stores means it will be a while before you discover everything this city has to offer. Stores include local favourites such as Barbara Spinelli, Borsalino, Replay and many more.
Another great cultural city that has a lot to offer, Amsterdam’s laid-back atmosphere, its fusion of trendy, antique and cheap goods, and numerous shopping corridors means that you’re guaranteed a relaxing shopping experience. The best place to go is the Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat. Here you will find the haute couture boutiques: Cartier, Gucci, Edgar Vos, Tommy Hillfinger and the very impressive Oger shop. One place you can stay in is the four star Moevenpick Hotel (£93 per night), which is located less than two kilometres away from the city centre, a perfect distance to cover on your bike.
One of the trendiest cities in Europe was always going to be a haven for shopping and Berlin does not disappoint. From Kurfürstendamm, which hosts luxury designers and international chain outlets, to Mitte, where you can find trendier boutiques and trendy Berlin labels, you will find stores and areas that will satisfy you, no matter where you are. Visit The Schönhauser Allee Arcaden in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district and is home to some great fashion names such as Accessorize, Bonita, Esprit, H&M and much more.
A brilliant location is the four star Melia Hotel (£56 per night) which is located at the heart of Berlin, meaning that all culture and shopping highlights are within walking distance.
*prices correct at time of posting
Tags: Cape Town, Dubai, Mauritius, Phuket, winter fun in the sun, winter sun
As the temperatures drop in the UK, it’s only natural to look abroad for a touch of winter sun. A cold winter, with predictions of minus 18C, was forecast by British Weather Services last week and if that’s not enough to send you running for the airport, what is? Luckily, winter sun getaways are cheaper than you might think, with some gorgeous locations and brilliant discounts to be found on ebookers.com
Luxury needed cost the Earth and the three-star Mauritius Le Grand Bleu Hotel starts from just 44 pounds per room per night. It’s a fairytale setting, tucked away in the picturesque fishermen village of Trou Aux Biches in the north east of the island. The Mauritius Le Grand Bleu Hotel is ideal for couples and perhaps the setting for a pre-Christmas proposal, too?
Cape Town enjoys temperatures of around 22 degrees – the perfect escape from grey Britain. The Southern Sun Cape Sun is popular with business travellers but luxurious enough for an indulgent break away, too. The gym includes and splash pool and you can expect to pay around 127 pounds per room per night this time of year.
Dubai may have a glamorous reputation but it’s not overly expensive to enjoy some winter sun. The Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa is opposite the Dubai Museum and has won awards for its Arabic-style facilities. This award-winning hotel is also in the ideal location for shopping, close to the Meena Bazar Overall. Rooms start from 84 pounds per night.
Go for a tropical Thai winter with a stay at the Deevana Patong Resort & Spa Phuket. It is a luxury oasis with rooms from just 16 pounds per night, set among 12 acres of secluded tropical gardens in Patong Beach. You can chill on the beach or head off for something a bit livelier with Patong’s world-renowned nightlife within walking distance. Room service, spa and restaurants are extra.
Suzi Dixon is a freelance travel and finance journalist, and is a brand ambassador for www.mytravelmoney.co.uk