Uncategorized

Top 6 Family-Friendly Events To Enjoy In Europe!

Posted on Updated on

Provence

Carrieres de Lumieres, 5th of January 2014

If you are trying to decide whether or not to take the family to Provence and the question is, “What can we all do together,” then look no further. The underground quarries just outside the villages have been host to sound and light shows featuring great artists for awhile now. Last year the show featured Van Gogh and Gaugin, and has been described as nothing short of beautiful. The artists’ works are projected gigantically on the quarry walls as you wander through a maze of underground tunnels. The images move or swim across the walls to a soundtrack that plays throughout your visit. This year’s show is called Monet, Renoir… Chagall, Journeys around the Mediterranean. It will move through these artists works and put you and your family in a different world for over an hour.

The shows run from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. through September and starting in October they run from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The price for adults is 9.50 euros, price for kids 7-17 is 7.5 euros, and kids under 7 get in free. This is a great activity for the whole family, and if you have very young children, then it is a great way to save some money.

Carrieres De Lumieres
Photo Credit: http://www.facebook.com/CarrieresDeLumieres

Rome

Time Elevator, open year-round

Are you considering heading to Rome but are worried that experiencing the history there might get a bit boring for you or your kids? Well, there is an exciting way to view the history of Rome that will make your sight-seeing much more special. The Time Elevator is an exciting adventure that includes all of your senses through the use of new digital, mechanical, and stereoscopic technologies. When you go into the Time Elevator you step into the history of Rome and immediately are taken back to the founding of the city. As you move forward you see the victories and defeats as well as the development and eventual fall of the Roman Empire. This is followed by later events focusing on the popes all the way to the Fascist period, and even some present day Rome.

Photo Credit: Time Elevator Roma Facebook Page
Photo Credit: Time Elevator Roma Facebook Page

You experience all of this on a treadmill, which is a fixed special armchair, with a sophisticated audio system with individual headphones in 6 languages (Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Russian). Not only do you hear the action but you feel it as well through multi-sensory effects like rain, wind, and many others. This journey through time gives you a unique perspective and will be fun for all ages. It costs 12 euros for adults and 9 euros for children. If you want more information you can visit www.time-elevator.it.

Budapest

Folklore Show of the Danube Folk Ensemble, 29th October 2014

If you’re looking to experience the history of a country in an exciting and visually stimulating way, then Budapest should be next on your travel list. The folklore of all countries is interesting, but in Budapest, one group has been able to put the common folklore into a dance and music show and they have become one of the most popular folk acts in the world. They combine the continuous theatre dance with folklore dances, but also include modern aspects to better relate to the audience. They are made up of a 30 person dance ensemble accompanied by a 7 person folklore band. The show does not run every night of the week and takes a break for the winter months. The dates for the remainder of the year are one performance on September 30th, and October 2nd, 7th, 9th, 14th, 16th, 21st, 23rd, 28th, and 30th. The winter break follows and performances resume in May, 2014.

Folklore Show of the Danube Folk Ensemble
Photo Credit: ٭٭ NơƐണí ٭٭ @ Flickr.

The tickets are arranged into 3 categories depending on the quality of seat, and the seating map can be viewed at www.budapest.com by clicking on things to do, and then looking under the events category. Prices can be found here as well. Remember that the Euro is not used in Budapest, but they use the HUF. The most expensive ticket costs around 21 Euros (6200 HUF), but the conversion rates may change so be sure to check before you purchase tickets. They are also offering a special rate if you decide to purchase a dinner cruise right after the show. The hosts/hostesses will lead you on a 4 minute walk to take a cruise along the stunning Danube River. This special package only costs around 49 euros (14500 HUF) with a category I ticket at the current exchange rate. Reservations can be made by emailing tours.mailbox@budapest.com. Come enjoy a fabulous show with the family, and then treat them to dinner on the river at a very good price.

Folklore Show of the Danube Folk Ensemble 02
Photo Credit: Txapulín @ Flickr.

Lisbon

Family Sundays at Castelo de Sao Jorge, 1st and 4th Sundays of each month

Have you been having trouble getting your kids to enjoy history? Well, here is another fun way for you and your kids to experience some of the history of Lisbon. On the first Sunday of the month at 11:00 a.m., the “heralds of fun” at St. George’s Castle, will lead you through two hours of fun and games. The games will carry historical meaning and are meant for the kids, and even parents, to learn from them. The games played include break-the-jugs, the blind-stick, the treasure tower, and many more.

Castelo de Sao Jorge 01
Photo Credit: freakyman @ Flickr.

If you’re looking to learn more about the buildings history, then come back on the fourth Sunday of the month for a 1.5 hour tour of the castle and archaeological site. This tour will help you discover characters and stories of the past, while also striving to gain sensitivity and respect for historical heritage as an important aspect of culture. To make reservations you can call 218 800 620 or send an email to servicoeducativo@castelodesaojorge.pt. Each activity costs only 3 Euros and is sure to have you and your children hooked on history.

Majorca

Festa Des Verman (Wine Fair), 28th and 29th September 2013

If you and your family are looking to experience the culture of a place first hand, then this festival is a good start. Every September, the village of Binissalem celebrates their feast Festa Des Verman, or the grape harvest festival. This celebration includes a variety of events like a grape-crushing competition, mass village dinners, parades, and a wine-tasting contest. The two highlights of this event, of which people say you cannot miss out on, are the fire-runners and, more importantly, the infamous grape battle where it is mandatory that you wear white. The final day of the festival has local entertainment in the main square and free wine starting at 4:30 p.m. in the church square.

Festa Des Verman 01
Photo Credit: Porto Bay Events – Porto Bay Hotels @ Flickr.

This festival does not require reservations or purchasing tickets beforehand, but it could be quite crowded so be sure to arrive early. It is an exciting event to take the family to. And the grape battle is something your kids will not soon forget. Head to Majorca and witness as well as take part in a fantastic local festival, while enjoying some of the greatest wine in the world.

Festa Des Verman 02
Photo Credit: George M. Groutas @ Flickr.

Prague

Andante Boat, Operates all year

Whether you are looking for a simple sight-seeing cruise, want to have dinner while sailing through the historic center of Prague, or want a boat all to yourselves, the Andante boat is a perfect fit. This boat offers all of these options, and if you decide to rent out the boat for a group, there are even alternate destination choices like the quiet river town of “Slapy,” or a slow drift around “Nelahozeves Castle.”

Andante Boat 01
Photo Credit: crazbabe21 @ Flickr.

This beautiful boat has an air conditioned, inside dining room with 60 seats and an adjoined smoking room for 10, as well as a sun covered sight-seeing upper deck that seats 90. Catering is also available on the boat. You can head to www.prague-boats.cz to book a cruise or rent out a boat. Prices vary depending on the cruise and they can also be found at the same sight, but remember they are listed in the Koruna of the Czech Republic. The conversion is 1 Euro to roughly 26 Korunas, but be sure to check before you make reservations as the rate is constantly changing. The Andante Boat is a great way to have a family reunion that nobody will ever forget, or just take a relaxing 2-hour cruise with the kids to see the wonderful sights of Prague.

Gothic Rome – Top 2 Unnerving Destinations To Visit This Halloween In Rome, 2013

Posted on Updated on

Rome

halloween poster

If you really wanted to be spooked on Halloween in Rome, here are some places you must pay a visit:

1. Crypt of the Capuchin Monks:

This crypt was set up by the friars of Italy in the 16th century when cemeteries began getting so overcrowded that they had to come up with another way of dealing with the dead. And this crypt is what they came up with. Though the crypt was initially intended for other dead friars, it soon turned into an unusual tradition followed by the Romans in which it became a social status to have the affluent dead preserved and put up in this crypt.

The Capuchin Monks crypt holds almost 4000 dead Capuchin Monk’s bones that have been arranged in weird decorative signs. The crypt is a place that is definitely not for those who get easily spooked. You will come across decayed and shriveled skeletons lined up, some sitting, some standing whereas others are set up in odd positions that show they might be talking to another skeleton, rocking in a chair, or enacting other scenes from their lives. You will also come across many bones that have been arranged in patterns like a triangle, arch, flower, cross, circle etc. and nailed to the wall.

To give you even more chills, you will come across unnerving signs like:

“What you are, we once were. What we are, you someday will be.”

Photo Credit: krotpong @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: krotpong @ Flickr.

2. Monster Park:

If you have kids with you, you might not want to take them to the Crypt of the Capuchin Monks. However there are plenty of other places in Rome that are not too scary yet spooky enough for kids to enjoy as a Halloween thrill. Amongst these places, the Monster Park is one of the best.  Located in the northern side of Rome, the Monster Park is filled with monstrous statues from the mythological dark world of the 1500s.

Take a stroll through this park and your kids will be marveled and frightened by the grotesque figures that have been skilfully carved from natural rock. Art and nature together create such a surrealistic fantasy in this park. One of the best structures to check out in this park is the Mouth of Hell, which essentially is a gigantic face of an ogre with a gapping mouth so big that people can actually walk through it. Other interesting structures you will come across include a huge tortoise with a statue standing on its shell, a nymph that has butterfly wings, a crude Hercules while slaying an Amazon, a mermaid, a harpy, lions, snarling dogs and so much more.

The garden itself is located in such a picturesque location, in a deep valley, overlooking the Orsini’s park and village houses. It’s a place that both adults and kids will enjoy. The Monster’s Park is definitely a site worth visiting for a spooky yet fun day out with the kids in Rome.

Photo Credit: StefanoRomeTours @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: StefanoRomeTours @ Flickr.

If your headed to Rome for Halloween, make your stay more comfortable and affordable by booking one of our budget Rome apartments. Click here to view our list.

Friday Night Guide To Enjoying The Night Life Of Berlin

Posted on Updated on

Hip, progressive, avant-garde, underground, there probably aren’t enough words to describe the nightlife of Berlin. Berlin probably has the most diverse night clubs that can be found anywhere else in the world. From pop to electric, to rock, indie and contemporary music, this party capital of Europe caters to a wide range of genres. So if you’re touring Berlin anytime soon, this guide is all you need to properly enjoy the nightlife of Berlin.

Photo Credit: mK B. @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: mK B. @ Flickr.

Did you know that Berlin is home to some of the hippest and coolest bars in the world? Some of the most insane warehouse clubs and techno music can be found in this city. Top that up with Berlin’s alternative youth culture and legendary beer, and you’re in for one of the wildest nights out! Berlin’s nightlife doesn’t just go on ‘all night’ rather it extends well through the day too. With countless beer gardens and beach bars, parties go on almost all day long. So make sure you’re not just putting aside your evenings in Berlin to enjoy its nightlife but actually have a day or two to properly appreciate the live music, dancing and drinking that Berlin has to offer.

So here are the top 4 must-visit Berlin clubs:

1. White Trash Fast Food:

If you’re looking for a more hip rock n’ roll club, then White Trash is where you need to be. This is not just another club to rock out all night, rather White Trash is a trendy music venue, popular restaurant, and hip bar all combined in one. Their legendary cheeseburgers and beers are so famous that the likes of Pink, Carl Barat and Lenny are known to hit this famous club whenever they visit Berlin. This East-Berlin venue was set up by an expatriate couple. Stepping inside this restaurant/club feels like you’ve entered into an old-west jumble of a British pub or a campy trailer park. White Trash is known to serve the best American food in Berlin while its bar is known to be a place to spot trendy hipsters that linger there in anticipation of the musical performances that are to proceed well into the night. If you are in the mood of some serious rock n roll, then head down to their Diamond Lounge and you will be greeted by a rather raucous crowd that jams all night long. And if you really want to make this night memorable, head to their basement tattoo parlor and get some ink to mark your awesome Berlin night out!

Photo Credit: Philippe AMIOT @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: Philippe AMIOT @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: Philippe AMIOT @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: Philippe AMIOT @ Flickr.

2. Berghain:

This is probably one of the most distinguished clubs not only in Berlin but in the world. They say it’s not really for people faint at heart. Its nightlife scene involves a hedonistic vibe along with pulsating techno beats that draws in thousands of locals and tourists in over the weekend to party all night and all morning until the sun comes up. Like the White Trash Fast Food place, this too is known to be a club for celebrity spotting. Though it doesn’t really don a glamorous interior, the likes of Lady Gaga have been seen partying away in this club. Set up in what was a former power plant, this club’s décor consists mainly of steel and concrete. It’s quite like a scary techno walk through an industrial park. To enjoy a more intimate crowd and a lighter tech house, head upstairs to the Panorama bar. A word of advice – be prepared to wait an hour or more to get in. Also, the club has a zero camera policy so don’t bring any cameras or you won’t be allowed in. Berghain’s doormen are the toughest.

Photo Credit: Robert Agthe @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: Robert Agthe @ Flickr.

3. Watergate:

Watergate is one of the best located clubs you’ll find in Berlin. It is located directly on the River Spree and overlooks the popular Oberbahnbrucke Bridge. This is one of those clubs that aren’t only recognized for their amazing DJ’s and rocking music but also for their interior and structures. Watergate is divided into 2 floors and gives you amazing views of the river outside because of its all glass structure. The second floor ceiling of this clubs is the best part. It is completely covered with LED lights that move along with the beats giving a really impressive cutting edge clubbing experience to everyone. Like Berghain, this too gets quite a queue around its corners so make sure you get there early. It opens Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays so don’t forget to put down this in your list to-do during your visit to Berlin.

Photo Credit: oscar alexander @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: oscar alexander @ Flickr.

4. Weekend Club:

Here’s another club recognized for its peerless location. It’s brilliantly located on three floors of a Soviet high-rise building on Alexanderplatz. If you are in the mood of enjoying some stunning panoramic views of Berlin, then head up to the 12th floor. If you want yourself lost in a black box with absolutely no windows and nothing but LED lights, then the 15th floor is where you need to head to. Finally if the weather permits, especially during the summer months, the Weekend Club has a sprawling roof terrace floor that is just amazing. The Weekend Club is one of those clubs that caters to all age groups. On weekends you’ll see more of a younger crowd with more techno music playing from the international electronic scene. This is when you can enjoy DJ’s like Fatboy Slim, Moby, Richie Hawtin and more. If you are more of an older raver, then hit the club on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll spot older Berliners chilling out to slightly less techno music.

Photo Credit: andreaspopp @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: andreaspopp @ Flickr.

London’s Top 3 Event’s To Enjoy This Weekend – September 21st & 22nd, 2013

Posted on Updated on

1)    Open House Weekend 2013:

London’s annual Open House weekend will take place on the 21st and 22nd of September this year for its 21st anniversary. This weekend gives you the chance to venture into some of the largest historic (in some cases secret) buildings all over the city which would normally be closed to the public. The theme this year is ‘Celebrating Architecture, people and place’ and one building that is particularly important to stop by is the Battersea Power Station, a coal powered fire station that in its prime, powered more than one fifth of the city. It is your last chance to truly explore this building before it is redeveloped into a new London district.

Buildings open for viewing include 100 private residences, and many government buildings, historic sites, and educational establishments, as well as many others. The majority of these buildings will be open for walk-ins, but around 10% will require advanced booking (definitely Gherkin and Tower 42). Instructions for booking can be found at www.londonopenhouse.org. With over 700 venues open to the public, this is a perfect time for sightseeing. Come adventure through London and get lost in the architecture and the history.

Photo Credit: damo1977 @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: damo1977 @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: damo1977 @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: damo1977 @ Flickr.

2)    The Commitments at the Palace Theatre:

Roddy Doyle’s classic, bestselling novel, ‘The Commitments’, is a story of a rough group of Irish kids who find redemption through soul music. This story, also a hit movie in the 90s, has been adapted to the stage by Doyle himself. The group of kids in the play attempt to become “the finest soul act in Dublin,” and as music plays such an important role in the story, the prospects for the musical are very high. It will be making its worldwide premiere in London’s West End at the Palace Theatre. The musical will be directed by Jamie Lloyd who is most recently known for his work with the production of Macbeth starring James McAvoy. Some of the famous songs included in this musical are Night Train, Try a Little Tenderness, In the Midnight Hour, Papa was a Rolling Stone, Save Me, Mustang Sally and many more hits that are sure to have the audience singing along. The show opens on Saturday the 21st of September and runs through January of next year. Tickets can be bought online at www.thecommitmentslondon.com or by contacting the box office at 0844 874 0790. Show how much soul you have and be one of the first to see “The Commitments.’

Photo Credit: www.thecommitmentslondon.com
Photo Credit: http://www.thecommitmentslondon.com
Photo Credit: R/DV/RS @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: R/DV/RS @ Flickr.

3)    Live Transmission – Joy Division Reworked:

Joy Division was an English rock band formed in 1976 mostly famous for their hits ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and ‘Closer.’ The group seemed to be on its way to success when its lead vocalist, Ian Curtis was diagnosed with epilepsy and he fell into depression. He would often have seizures during performances and his depression worsened until May of 1980, when he took his own life. The other members went on to have good music careers but the group would never put on another performance… or so everyone thought.

Due to the collaboration between the electronic musician Robin ‘Scanner’ Rimbaud and the avant-garde Heritage orchestra conducted by Jules Buckley, the music of Joy Division has been reinvented. ‘Scanner’ and the orchestra are joined by a 3-piece band consisting of members of Trapped Tigers and Ghostpoet, and the visual artist Matt Watkins to form ‘Live Transmission.’ This group will be breaking down the songs of Joy Division and giving an audio visual performance that pays tribute to music of Ian Curtis and Joy Division. The group will start off their tour of the UK at Royal Festival Hall on Saturday the 21st of September. It promises to be an original show that tests a new terrain of music, while paying respects to Joy Division and their musical spirit.

Photo Credit: SebastianDooris @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: SebastianDooris @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: Matt From London @ Flickr.
Photo Credit: Matt From London @ Flickr.

7 Fabtastic Events To Enjoy This Bank Holiday In London!

Posted on Updated on

It’s the year’s last bank holiday and London is smack bang with all kinds of exciting events and festivals. But it seems like all the hype is around The Notting Hill Carnival.

If you don’t fancy heading to the carnival this year, here’s a list of 7 lesser-known yet incredible events that will have you all set for a bombastic long weekend.

1. The HayDaze Weekender, Proud Camden, August 24th

If you want to enjoy your Saturday Camden style, The HayDaze Weekender is the place to be. Proud Camden celebrates the year’s last bank holiday with pop-up market fairs set up in country-style stables, a huge variety of circus performers, daytime performers and so much more. Some of the attractions of the event include a vintage clothes boutique, a Silent film club, a Vinyl Record stall, a Tie-Dye workshop and a Psychic Reading.

Make sure you don’t miss Proud Camden’s own troupe of remarkable circus performers that will have you bedazzled and dazed. Entertainment will be covered by more than 50 bands all across the venue with headlining acts from Laura Whitmore (DJ Set) and London Guns featuring Gary Powell of The Libertines and Babyshambles.

For further details on the event, click here.

The HayDaze Weekender

2. Bookstock-on-Sea, The Book Club, August 25th

The Bookstock Street Festival is back for its third annual festival this bank holiday. With an oceanic twist this year at Shoreditch’s Leonard Street venue ‘The Book Club’, promises the best of both seaside fun and Shoreditch style entertainment.

With free entry to the festival, expect sea salt cocktails, gourmet ice-cream, Bookstock-on-Sea Sticks of Rock and fish & chips along with live entertainment from legendary bands like Odyssey, Ben Pistor, Princeless,Nextmen, Bad Zuke & more.

For further details on the festival, cick here.

bookstock-on-sea-web_jpg-

3. Smartie Partie Summer Bank Holiday Boat Party & After Party, August 25th

How about a river-rocking Bank Holiday? Join the legendary boat party organizers, Smartie Partie for an on board raucous day of dance and music followed by an awesome after-party at the Opal nightclub. Soak up the sun, take in the gorgeous views of London, and have a rocking time on one of the most unique London daytime parties.

You’ll have 2 floors of sound to enjoy on the The Golden Sunrise Boat with Tech House playing upstairs and House Classics playing downstairs. DJ line-ups include Ramone, Matty Wells, Poison DJs and more. You’ll have access to cash bars and drinks on both floors, with drinks priced as low as pub prices. From the Tower Millennium Pier to the Westminster Pier you will enjoy almost 4 hours of dance, music and drinks on board after which the party will then continue on in Opal.

For further details on the boat party, click here.

official boat party image

4. Camden Beach, Roundhouse, August 24th

Haven’t booked a beach getaway for the bank holiday? Worry not! The legendary Camden Beach is on for its final week over the long weekend. So, head down to the Roundhouse terrace to enjoy a slice of paradise right in the heart of North London. With 150 tonnes of fine sand spread over 900 square meters, deck chairs, live music, end-of-the-pier amusement, delicious food, beach huts, ice-cold drinks, ping pong and lots more, the Camden Beach is not to miss.

For further details on the Camden Beach, click here.

Camden Beach - Official Facebook 02

5. Hush Puppies Darkroom, Truman Brewery, August 23rd – 26th

Are you a budding photographer looking to have a good time this bank holiday? If yes, the Hush Puppies Dark Room is where you should head to. Join Hush Puppies in their celebration of true craftsmanship and traditional methods of capturing beautiful moments. You will get the chance to head out with a rented 35mm analogue camera to take some photographs to develop yourself in the dark room, participate in workshops where you’ll learn the art of street photography and plenty more. On top of all that, it’s totally FREE!

For further details on the event, click here.

Hush Puppies - Official Facebook Page

6. Street Feast, Dalston Yard, until September 14th

Food Alert for all Foodies out there!

If you’re stuck on ideas for enjoying this bank holiday, just head to the Dalston Yard and you’ll be electrified by a market brimming with food, booze and music amidst stunning graffiti, spectacular colours and raw décor.

You will encounter a dazzling array of food traders including some of Britain’s favourite restaurants and chefs like Lardo, Turner & George, Redhook, the Junction Juice Bar, Bloody Mary Buffet, Quality Chop House, and many more. But food isn’t the only thing to enjoy at the Street Feast. You can participate in workshops, activities, and master cocktail classes. To top up the summer fest ambiance, DJ’s will be playing the perfect summer soundtracks throughout the day.

For further details on the event, click here.

Street Feast

7. The Alternative Guide to the Universe, Hayward Gallery, until August 26th

Art Lover or not, this is a show you cannot miss! This brilliant exhibition show cases the vision of 22 artists who have portrayed another image of the universe or another way of living in it through their charming, bewildering and oppressive work of art. The unorthodox perspectives portrayed by these self-taught artists, visionary inventors, fringe physicists, and architects are truly remarkable.

To give you a sneak peek into the exhibition, you will get to see fictional identities, healing machines, imaginary cities, unseen energy flows in the human body, speculations on the mysteries of space and time, devices for communicating with other dimensions, time travel machines, and a lot more.

For further details on the exhibition, please click here.

Hayward Gallery Official Image

Enjoy and don’t forget to share your experiences on our Facebook page!

Top 5 London parks

Posted on Updated on

London can be a bit of a concrete jungle with endless rows of buildings, bitumen and barricades.  Over the centuries however, the city’s architects have always made sure to include green space, even if it’s just a tree sticking out from the footpath! Here’s our pick of the best open spaces to be found in London:

1.       Richmond Park

A short commute south-west, a visit to Richmond Park is almost like going to the countryside. The park itself is huge, covering nearly four square miles, and is listed as a National Nature Reserve. Its sprawling fields and woods are home to more than 600 deer and it’s criss-crossed with bike and running trails that are always teeming with dogs and tweed jacketed ramblers. It’s a magical place. World renowned wildlife presenter, Sir David Attenborough lives close by and even films there occasionally!

Richmond park deer
Richmond park deer

2.       Kew Gardens

Most parks in London are free to visit, but you do have to pay a fee to get inside Kew Gardens. Don’t let this put you off – Kew Gardens is sublime. It’s officially known as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and has the world’s largest collection of living plants dotted throughout its grounds and classically styled greenhouses. A highlight is The Palm House, a very ornate iron and glass structure that was built in the Victorian era to house tropical plants. Climb the spiral stairs to get a feel for the humid jungle canopy – quite a treat on a cold English day.

Victorian Staircase at Kew Gardens
Victorian Staircase at Kew Gardens

3.       Regents Park

Situated in North London, Regents Park is one of the best places to be in London on a sunny day. Imagine perfectly manicured flower gardens and lush lawns flowing around a lake, like it’s straight out of Wind in the Willows. You can hire a paddle boat and muck about on the water, or if you’re feeling classical you can hop in a row boat. I recommend the latter; it’s romantic and requires a degree of skill that you can show off to the crowds sunning themselves.

Carmen at Regents Park
Carmen in Regents Park

4.       Greenwich Park

The best way to get to Greenwich is by ferry. Try to grab a seat near the front and you will be treated to a river tour of some of London’s most famous landmarks including Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. The park is a former hunting ground that was used as the equestrian venue at the 2012 London Olympics. Its lawns flow up a hill which hosts the Royal Observatory and the prime meridian, the line from which longitude and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is calculated. The sprawling view of London from the hill is truly spectacular.

View fromGreenwich Park
View fromGreenwich Park

5.       Green Park, Hyde Park and St James Park

These three parks are all within walking distance of each other in central London and can be considered the city’s lungs. Green Park is a rather plain reserve close to Buckingham Palace dotted with lots of trees and memorials. St James Park is close to the Houses of Parliament so is a popular spot for government workers to have lunch. Then there’s Hyde Park which hosts Speakers’ Corner where anyone can get up and rant on about something they’re passionate about. There are also statues, gardens, fields and the Serpentine recreational lake where you can take a swim amongst the swans and ducks. All three of these parks are great spots for a stroll or picnic and without them London would be a poorer place.

Deckchairs in Hyde Park
Deckchairs in Hyde Park

Staying in accommodation from Loving Apartments provides an excellent base to explore London’s parks and green spaces, and with over 500 apartments to choose from, you are spoilt for choice.


About Dave

Dave writes the travel blog Double-Barrelled Travel with his wife Carmen. Dave and Carmen hail from Perth but have been living in London for the past four years, travelling around Europe during this time. Dave is a journalist in his day job but it’s travelling that truly lights his [camp]fire. You can Tweet him @2barrelltravel or find him on Facebook.

Majorca’s Top 10 Bars

Posted on

Relax with a sun-downer at sunset, boogie the night away, meet friends for a catch-up, enjoy local tapas and a glass of wine, a romantic tryst – Majorca’s bars can provide the perfect ambiance for each occasion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Palma’s bar scene is famous with its endless offering of bars from simple tapas to uber chic clubs. Abraxas, is one of the city’s most beautiful and glamorous nightclubs overlooking the Bay of Palma (Avenida de Gabriel Roca 42) offering pulsating music, chill out areas, and terraces for that special night out.  By contrast Hostal Corona (Josep Villalonga 22 off Avda Joan Miro) is hidden in a Palma back street, off the tourists’ beaten track.  A beautiful patio garden and relaxed atmosphere is the perfect place to chill with friends.  In Palma’s old town Wineing (Calle Apuntadores, 24) offers unique wine tasting with a ‘self-service card’ which you insert into wine dispensers.   Informed staff, and excellent tapas mean you can sample both Spanish and international wines and also enjoy a romantic meal with friends. La Bóveda (Paseo Sagrera 3) is Palma’s original tapas bar.  Nestled in one of the oldest streets around Sa Llotja near the harbour, it highlights the classics with pata negra jamon (Iberian cured ham) being a house special.  Good house wines and a bustling, boisterous atmosphere complement this popular venue.

Cocktails by Cayusa @ Flickr
Cocktails by Cayusa @ Flickr

But not everything happens in Palma!  Tim’s Bar in Port Andratx (Av. Almirante Riera Alemany, 7) is the place for drinks and cocktails any time and for all occasions.  Friendly staff, and the special disco nights make this a favourite destination of locals and tourists alike.  A mellow evening after a wine tour leads you to Café Ca S’Hereu in Binissalem (Carrer de Pere Estruch 1) with its laid back roof terrace – and the food’s not bad either!  Well-priced home-made traditional tapas and friendly hosts has made Bar C’an Miguel in Porreres (C/ de l’Almonia 2) a much-loved island staple.  Linger over a cocktail or glass of wine in the square, overlooking the village church, and watch the world go by.

Port Andratx by Hilts UK @ Flickr
Port Andratx by Hilts UK @ Flickr

Marema Beach Club (Avenida del Mar) is the place to head for a day’s sun worshipping.  This is a cool spot for savouring a drink whilst admiring the view over the Bay of Alcúdia and Moro Beach.  As the sun drops, the music comes up and the night slips away.  Described as ‘chic, stylish, chilled out and delicious’ is the beach club, bar and restaurant, Port Verde del Mar (Ronda del Sol, Son Servera).  A stunning seafront location on Son Servera beach and a beautiful natural environment make this both the ideal ‘escape from it all’ location and the venue for that special celebration.

177813_2759

For an evening of musical exuberance, try Palma’s Bar Cuba Colonial (Calle San Magin 1).  Enjoy a night in Havana with salsa on the ground floor, and house and urban funk in the basement club.  An imposing colonial building in lively Santa Catalina houses this café bar and nightclub, popular with a chic, cosmopolitan crowd.  Enjoy!

Loving Apartments have over 200 houses, villas, and apartments in Majorca, which are an ideal base to explore the islands’ legendary bars and nightlife.

Dine Like a Local in London

Posted on Updated on

Eating in London is thrilling with every conceivable type of cuisine on offer.  Here are a few tips for your Loving Apartment holiday.

A ‘traditional English breakfast’ is famous for its sustaining sausages, bacon, black pudding (a traditional Northern speciality), eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes.  Toast and orange marmalade follow with copious cups of tea.

English breakfast
Mmmm Brekky… © adactio

Lunch is usually eaten between 12.30 and 1.30 pm and can either be a main meal or a light snack.  Good lunch options are chain restaurants offering set menu deals, or pubs (or gastro pubs) with simple bar snacks or short menus.

Afternoon tea or “High Tea” is another famous and currently fashionable English institution.  All major London hotels offer tea from 3 – 5.30 pm,  comprising sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, and a selection of cakes and teas.  Prices range from £25 – £45 per person.

High Tea
Sandwiches, Cakes, Tea and often a glass of champagne. © jay.tong

The evening meal can be eaten early at around 5.30 – 6.00 pm, and then is called ‘supper’.  Dinner is served from 7.00 pm until approximately 9.30/10 pm.  Many central London restaurants offer keenly priced pre-theatre set course menus between 5.30 – 7.00 pm.

Signature English dishes are fish and chips; sausages; steak and kidney pie; shepherd’s pie; roast beef and Yorkshire pudding; and deserts such as fruit crumbles, steamed puddings with custard and lemon meringue pie.

Fish n'Chips - Haddock and Chips
Fish’n’Chips © Calgary Reviews

The greatest excitement of eating in London is the variety of quality but affordable international restaurants.  Particularly popular and competitively priced ethnic options are Indian curries, with Brick Lane E1 offering an exciting range of restaurants; and Chinese with London’s China Town offering a tantalising array of dim sum, Chinese buffet and take-away menus.  Other increasingly popular options are Spanish tapas bars, Mexican and Lebanese restaurants.

china town london
London’s Vibrant China Town ©SPakhrin

The bill always includes VAT and sometimes a service charge.  Tips can be left for exceptional service.  A reliable guide to London restaurants is Hardens.  Restaurants often require reservations for dinner, especially on Friday and Saturday.  Many restaurants are open for Sunday lunch but closed for dinner.

The Loving Apartment team suggest the following restaurant options:

Afternoon tea:

  • The Savoy Hotel, The Strand
  • Fortnum & Mason’s, Piccadilly

British:

  • Wilton’s, Jermyn Street
  • Roast, Borough Market
  •  Rules, Maiden Lane
  • Rowleys, 113 Jermyn Street
  • Anchor & Hope, 36 The Cut, Waterloo

Happy Eating!

Our Top 5 Pick of Beautiful Christmas Markets

Posted on Updated on

Christmas in Europe is all about tradition, family, crisp weather and cosy fireside nights. There’s no better way to get into the festive mood than to wrap-up warm and go to one of Europe’s many great Christmas markets. So here are five of the best to tempt you out of your holiday apartment and embrace the spirit of Christmas yet to come.

1. London

Head to the iconic Southbank of the Thames, under the London Eye, for a traditional Germanic Christmas market. There’s plenty to eat, toys and gifts to buy, and activities for the children – a great day out from your London apartment.

Christmas Market, London – Image © _Husky_
Christmas Market, London – Image ©  Pix42day
Christmas Market, London – Image ©  Ntalka
Christmas Market, London – Image ©  Mal088

2. Budapest

Vörösmarty Square is home to a hugely popular Christmas market. It really is as much about delicious warming Hungarian food as it is about shopping for gifts: but if you can pull yourself away from the lure of the open kitchens, there is a huge selection of unique gifts to make Christmas truly special.

Christmas Market, Budapest – Image © Contrast & Imagination
Christmas Market, Budapest – Image ©  Contrast & Imagination
Christmas Market, Budapest – Image © Contrast & Imagination

3. Barcelona

Not much chance of snow but the traditional Christmas market is centuries old and has over 300 stalls with decorations, handicrafts and much more. Plenty of seasonal music, a lovely Nativity scene in Plaça Sant Jaume and the kids can win a prize and let off steam by beating caga tió with a stick!

Christmas Market, Barcelona– Image © Anura in Canberra
Christmas Market, Barcelona – Image © PinkBow
Christmas Market, Barcelona – Image © i love technology

4. Prague

When your city has Wenceslas Square as a jewel in its tourist crown, it would be plain wrong if it didn’t have one of the best Christmas markets on the continent. The setting is magical, snow is almost guaranteed and the colourful market has everything from hand-crafted stocking fillers to stunning Bohemian crystal: there is no shortage of seasonal food, drink, Christmas music and daily carol singing. Perfect.

Christmas Market, Prague – Image © Petrosvaios
Christmas Market, Prague – Image © Clemansfield
Christmas Market, Prague – Image © SleepyJeanne

5. Berlin

The only problem with a seasonal break in Berlin is deciding which of the many of Christmas markets to go to? Well, the most popular is also the most contemporary feeling and clusters around the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Of course there’s tradition here but modern artworks, decorations and up-to-the-minute jewellery satisfy the most modern of tastes.

Christmas Market, Berlin – Image © Vinay Deep
Christmas Market, Berlin – Image © Ed from Ohio
Christmas Market, Berlin – Image © le bec

Free Time Travel at Rome’s Pantheon

Posted on

Pantheon, Rome – Image © Clayirving

Perhaps the most spectacular piece of time travel you can do whilst in Rome is to visit to the Pantheon. Here you will be whisked back to the ancient city of our old wall-building friend the emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117 to A.D. 138). You might think from the inscription above the entrance that Marcus Agrippa was responsible for this ancient edifice but his Pantheon, whilst on the same site, was razed to the ground in A.D. 80.

Pantheon, Rome – Left image © JON6, Right image © Michaelrmclaughlin

Once inside, the architecture is quite breath-taking and could be no further removed from the contemporary style of your Rome Loving Apartment. Above your head is the largest masonry dome in the world, with an interior diameter of over 43 metres (142 feet). Compare that with the 31 metre (102 feet) diameter of the inner dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and you start to appreciate just what an amazing feet of engineering it is. The dome’s tremendous weight is supported on a series of arches. The ancient Romans were experts in building arches that could take immense weight but to ensure the success of this mammoth project increasingly lighter building materials had also to be used as construction moved up towards the dome’s peak.

Pantheon, Rome – Images © JNO6

The Pantheon is located on Rome’s Piazza della Rotonda, just a fifteen minute walk from Barberini Metro station and within walking distance of many of the holiday apartments in the centre of Rome. It is free to enter and is open from 08:30 to 19:30 Monday through Saturday and from 09:00 to 13:00 on Sundays. Cafes, bars and restaurants are abundant around the square, not always the best value for money (as with anywhere where tourist footfall is heavy) but the atmosphere and vista make it worth spending a while there with a drink or light meal.