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A travel guide to lesser known attractions in the UK

british-bagpipeMost travellers who plan to visit the United Kingdom for the first time have in mind a dozen or so places or attractions in the UK that they would like to see.

Some very well-known tourist spots are around London, the Big Ben, the Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, etc.

But, if you really want to see and experience the true British culture and hospitality of which the Great Albion is well known, you have to leave London behind and become a traveller not a tourist!

First of all get yourself a standard BritRail GB Pass for 194.00 pounds, which is valid for eight days or if you are on a budget a National Express Brit Xplorer pass for 79.00 pounds which is valid for week.

Either of them will do and they will save you a fortune. Now you can set off and discover some of Britain’s hidden gems.

Barnard castle

Quite often when we talk about famous British castles, the Alnwick castle comes first, obviously the Harry Potter, movie has done a lot to make this magnificent castle the first choices for many travellers. Almost a million visitors went to Alnwick castle last year.

Barnard Castle 2016

However, if you wish to escape the crowds the little-know Barnard castle on the north of England is highly recommended. This 12th-century castle provides an amazing view of the river Tees. On the north east of Barnard castle is the city and county town of Durham, and on the east is the market town of Darlington.

Barnard castle is also the ideal starting point for exploring the Lake District. But before you head to the Lake District, check out the Bowes Museum which is just 15 minutes’ walk to the west of Barnard castle. So what are you waiting for? Add it to your list!

Dunwich Village

Only a few hours away by rail, Dunwich is the ideal destination for a short trip or a long weekend away from London. Dunwich during the Anglo-Saxon period was a major trading centre with a very busy commercial harbour.

Unfortunately the unpredictable weather conditions and ferocious storms that hit the East Anglian coast forced its inhabitants to evacuate the town on a numerous occasions through the centuries.

Due to coastal erosion Dunwich’s population has been forced to relocate and these days less than 200 people live in Dunwich.

Lesser known attractions in the UK - Dunwich heath 2016

Nevertheless, the natural beauty of the coastal lowland heath attracts many, nature enthusiasts, bird watchers and walkers.

If all that walking makes you feel a little peckish, head towards the Coastguard cottages, there you will find a small café that serves tea and freshly ground coffee with a wide selection of delicious homemade cakes.

Next door you will find the Dunwich Heath souvenirs shop to purchase some souvenirs and gifts for the family and friends back home.

the-ship-inn-hotel-dunwich

For a long weekend in Dunwich we highly recommend The Ship Inn Hotel Dunwich a small traditional and cosy guest house just a short drive from Westleton but within a walking distance of Dunwich’s well-known attractions and landmarks.

If you wish to save even more on your accommodation you can check out some cheaper deals with discount codes from Hotels.com

Lansallos Village

Lansallos is a small village and civil parish in south Cornwall that attracts many British holiday makers as it is well known for its stunning beaches.

Lansallos in Cornwall 2016

The Lansallos beach is small natural sandy beach easily accessible to visitors by the footpath next to the St Ildierna’s Church. The longest beach is at Lantic Bay, a beautiful horseshoe shape of beach with a steep climb back up to the coastal footpath.

If you decide to get down to either beach, be aware of the high and low tides in the area so you don’t get caught out. If in doubt ask one of the locals, they will be happy to advise you.

Clevedon Pier

Most people travelling to Britain, are aware of the Blackpool Pier and the Brighton Pier, they are both well photographed and documented in the media, the Clevedon Pier is less well known.

Top attractions in the UK - Clevedon Pier 2016

The Pier located in the town of Clevedon, in Somerset and it was built during the Victorian times as a docking station for the passenger steamer from Devon and Wales.

The Clevedon Pier is 312 meters long and 5 meters wide. The whole structure is designed with metal beams and wooden planks for decking, it stands just 4.30 meters above the sea level.

There are a number of hotels and B&B within a walking distance to the Clevedon Pier, the Highcliffe Hotel Clevedon as well as the The Moon & Sixpence offer comfortable and reasonably priced accommodation. For greater savings on hotels and bed and breakfast deals check out the Dealslands website.

Camley Street Natural Park

Camley street natural park in London Our last suggestion is the Camley street natural park, and there is a good reason why we left it for last. Not because it is inferior to the rest of the attractions but because it is easily accessible by foot. No need for a rail pass or a long distance coach ride.

The Camley street natural park is located in the centre of London just off  the King’s Cross rail station.

So once you are done with the Museums, shopping centres, pubs and cafes, head over to the King Cross station, then just a five minutes’ walk off the station and you will be into an amazing oasis.

The Camley street natural park is managed by London Wildlife Trust and is the habitat of a number of different and rear birds, butterflies and bees all spread across two hectares of land.

The park runs alongside the Regent’s canal where you can see narrow boats, ducks, geese and moorhens. There is also a small visitor’s centre with a cafe and toilet facilities.

So if you really want to have memorable holidays in the UK, full of British history and culture then try our five suggestions above.

These suggestions would not be found on the mainstream travel guides but these lesser known attractions in the UK encapsulate the rich British heritage through the centuries, unique, unspoiled and picturesque, the very best of Great Britain.

Eating out in Barcelona: Best Restaurants & Tapas

Tickets Restaurants & Tapas

In Barcelona, you will always be confused by all the different things it has to offer. This high-spirited city loves to eat. When eating out in Barcelona, make sure you take full advantage of all the wonderful food it has to offer.

However, in Spain they eat dinner no later than ten p.m. so make sure you are in time at all the cafes and restaurants, even bars. Also, Barcelona is the Catalan capital of Spain. Catalan is slightly different from Spanish, don’t you dare forget that. You’ll thank me later for this tip.

Best Restaurants and Tapas

Cerveseria Catalan

Cerveseria Catalana

You must visit a restaurant called Cerveseria Catalana. Try to book a table before you get there and get there on time. Chances are, you might still end up waiting. They offer the classic Spanish tapas menu. You may not know all the different things they have, but everything is good, just order the staples. Don’t be afraid to order from the specials menu either. This authentic, delicious Spanish food.

The tipping culture is not so popular in Spain. The tourists may have infused this, and a few waiters might even expect an excellent tip from you, but a meagre 5 to 10 percent would do. Big tips could spark confusion and largely unheard of.

Brunch and CakeBrunch & Cake

If you are the type that can’t imagine a morning without eggs, head to Brunch & Cake. This is not Spanish food, but there is almost no variant of breakfast in Spanish cuisine.

This is not as well-known among locals but for any of you visiting Spain, this place offers delicious breakfast to cure your hangover.

Speaking of drinking, from dawn to dusk, you’ll find cheap beer provided by immigrants. This is cheap, unbelievably cold beer that locals complain about.

However, this street beer moving through the narrow pathways of your neighbourhood will be one the greatest memories of a Barcelona night.

To satisfy hunger during one of these strolls, head on the way to Carrer d’ Avinyó. Here Indian and Pakistani immigrants roam with warm, home-made Samosas you cannot miss.

Botafumeiro

Botafumeiro Restaurant

For a perfect seafood, experience visits Botafumeiro. It is named for the huge incense burner which is hanging in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. You get top traditional seafood here. It is an elegant place to eat in with its wood-panelled walls, crisp white tablecloths, and decently dressed waiters.

Eating out in Barcelona: Tickets Tapas

Tickets Bar & Restaurant

Another excellent restaurant you must visit is Tickets. It is a joyful experience to eat here. It redefines “fun with food”. You should make a reservation for their heavenly smoked Artichoke, Quail’s Egg and Salmon. It is quite a charming and sophisticated place.

Eating out in Barcelona

In the end, I would advise you to be wary of some lousy places. Barcelona may be quite famous for its food experience, but yet there are plenty of sad tapas bars and restaurants.

They serve you frozen croquettes and overpriced seafood. Be careful when choosing your meals, sometimes eating out in Barcelona can be an unpleasant experience. Many of these places offer similar stuff so be careful not to be fooled into eating the same things over and over again. Do your research, go for the public options and have a pleasant stay!

Hotels in Barcelona

There are many excellent hotels in Barcelona, but you need to book in advance to avoid disappointment as they tend to sell out quickly, especially on weekends and during the Spanish festivals like the Festa Major de Gracia, in the middle of August or the even more popular Festa de la Merce towards the end of September.

compare all hotels in Barcelona

 

 

 

Greek Islands: Four romantic days on the island of Naxos

Old windmills at Filoti village

Last summer my girlfriend and I were in a big dilemma regarding our holiday destination where we could spend a few days to relax away from the busy life in Athens. The choices between the Greek Islands?
A few hundreds. After several recommendations from our friends the decision was taken with a great enthusiasm.

What was the destination? The beautiful island of Naxos.

Naxos Town

The island of Naxos is located in the center of the Aegean Sea and it is part of the Cyclades islands. Naxos is ideal for couples and families as it offers an excellent cuisine, perfect beaches and plenty of activities to choose from.

A lovely donkey near Moutsouna beachI would strongly suggest to rent a car rather than a scooter or ATV for your transportation. The distances tend to be long and the roads are in a good shape.

However, some times in order to reach your destination you have to go through gravel roads with sharp stones. Also some times the roads are quite slippery and with many U-turns and relatively high elevation.

In addition you have to bear in mind that the public bus service doesn’t have a very dense schedule so if you wish to explore most of the island you must definitely rent a car.

I will also recommend you arrange your accommodation in Chora (the capital of the island) so you can be near the night life and the harbour so you don’t have to drive more than you really need.

If you wish to be on a more quiet and relaxed area, Filoti village is a very good choice. It is located in the center of the island and getting to all the main beaches around the island is significantly easier.

Four day itinerary on the island of Naxos

 

Marble streets on the island of NaxosDay 1: Leave from Chora and head to Apeiranthos. An amazing village with old traditional buildings, some have been built with marble and they are dated back to the years of Venetian occupation of the island of Naxos, some even predate that.

The village of Apeiranthos is famous for its local meats and cheese delicacies. The locals are extremely hospitable and willing to help you if you need directions to get to your destination.

Go around, walk and explore the side streets, admire the old buildings, the two Venetian towers, when you need a rest sit at one of the local restaurant and enjoy the local cousin.

I would definitely recommend Platanos restaurant, since we sat there and we were very happy with the quality of the food and prices of the restaurant.

After you taste the local cousin and enjoy a cup of coffee, you can head to the beach of Moutsouna which is approximately 25 to 30 minutes by car. The road is full of turns and on a high elevation so drive slowly and carefully.

At Moutsouna beach we discovered two traditional fish restaurants which unfortunately we did not have the chance to try as we were full from our previous stop but both looked quite good. We are planning to try their delicacies on our next visit to the island. Once you eat or swim you can move on to the beach of Panormos which we found amazing, relaxing and very quiet.

The amazing and quiet beach Panermos

On the Southeast side of the island and away from the crowds of tourists it’s definitely a place you should visit in case you just want to relax. However go there well equipped. There is a small and friendly canteen but it is a bit pricey and there are not many parasols.

Once you rest enough by the beach it is time to drive all the way back to your accommodation which is not a short drive so plan ahead and try to head back before the sun sets.

In the evening you can spend your time exploring the town’s side streets, the various romantic restaurants or the night clubs and bars to enjoy your cocktail.

Clystal blue-green water at the hidden beach near AgiassosDay 2: The second day we choose Agiasos beach located at the South side of the island.

However, the beach I am talking about is located 500 meters after Agiasos village. So once you see the sign ‘to Agiasos’’ on your left, simply ignore it and drive 500 meters further down the road. You will see a small gravel road heading to the beach where you can drive and park your car.

There you will find two amazing beaches that are not crowded at all.
Warning the smaller one on the far right end quite often is used by nudists. So be aware and make your choice.

If you continue on the gravel road you will find Alykes beach and Kastraki beach. On the last one try to visit the old deserted hotel and its deserted beach where you can swim all by yourself without anyone else!!! Your own private beach.

On your way back you can visit the cave of Za, which is located on a hill. To get there you have to drive up to a certain point on the road and then walk the rest of the way up.

You will definitely need sports or hiking shoes because a big part of the path is not paved. Be careful when you are entering the cave as its very dark and slippery, but for us it definitely worth the effort.

View from Za cave at the Island of Naxos

On your way back you can stop at Filoti village, where you can enjoy the local meat products (try the lamp chops!!!) at the traditional taverns situated in the center of the village under the huge trees. Many shepherds live in the village so if you are interested in buying dairy products straight from the producers, feel free to ask the locals at the square and they will direct you to one of the producers.

Once your rest you may wish go back to the city and enjoy an ice cream at Waffles house or have a drink at People’s bar.

Don’t forget to visit the famous Naxos candy store situated in the old city. It makes candies with traditional flavours and aromas such as Ouzo, Cinnamon and Citron, you can also find many modern and unexpected ones such as various combinations of Spicy, Sweet and other tastes. The owners were very hospitable; they even gave us a nice shot of a local drink called Raki.

One of the many beaches at Agia Anna on the Island of Naxos

Day 3: On the third day of your stay on the island of Naxos, you can visit Agia Annas beach and then Maragkas and many beautiful beaches situated one after the other, you would be spoiled for choice, believe me. If you like pizza try to find the “Mama Mia” pizzeria which is quite famous on the island. The Italian owners have brought a taste of Italy on the Greek island of Naxos.

A grandpa enjoing his coffe and the wonderful dayDay 4 : I would suggest on your last day to go to the Panermos bay. The driving is a bit long and strenuous for about 1-1.5 hours and there are not many interesting things to see or do on the way. However, the sandy beach is honestly incredible; it feels like you are not in the Aegean Sea but on an island somewhere in heaven!!!

Make sure you bring with you plenty of water, parasols and everything else you might need because after a certain point on the road there are no super markets or villages. Also there are no sun beds or umbrellas for hire so plan accordingly!!

On the right edge of the beach there is a very nice tavern with an amazing view of the beach and the Aegean Sea with very hospitable owners. The Panermos bay is quite far away, but if you can give it a day I am sure it will be the highlight of your trip.

While on the island of Naxos there are certain things you must definitely buy or taste. I would highly recommend the local dairy products such as Arseniko, Graviera and Ksinomizithra. Also the meat products which are produced on the island with traditional methods, the local fish and last but not least the local honey called Zikomelo.

We only stayed on the island of Naxos for four and half days but the people, the beautiful sceneries, the refreshing and relaxed atmosphere of the island were more than enough to recharge our batteries and keep us going through the hot summer.

Sunset,view and your girl._what more can you ask

I will definitely recommend the island of Naxos for a long holiday or even a short trip to unwind, relax and explore the beauty of the Greek islands.

This summer live your myth in Greece!!!

Spyros Skouris the author of the 4 romantic days on the island of NaxosAbout the author

Spyros Skouris the author of the article “Greek Islands: Four romantic days on the island of Naxos” can help you arrange your dream vacations on your visit to Athens in Greece.

He also owns an apartment in Athens which is available to rent on Airbnb.

Athens Sightseeing: A Full Day Tour Of Athens

Akropolis by night

After visiting a number of European countries, all of them start to look pretty much the same right? Fortunately, that doesn’t apply to Athens. Athens is indeed a European country but it feels like it has been ‘spiced’ with many Middle Eastern colours and aromas.

Due to its geographical position, as well as the occupation from the Ottoman Empire for more than 400 years, have left Athens with a variety of cultural influences on landmarks and on it’s inhabitants.

Athens Kalimarmaro stadium

Athens besides the many archaeological sites has numerous beautiful seaside places where you can swim in the sea or just drink a cup of Greek coffee (like the locals do) and enjoy the views. Make sure you have more than one day to visit and explore all the hidden gems of the city.

Athens Metro

Best place to start your day tour of Athens is the Metro station of Acropolis. It is advisable to be there early in the morning to have a head start, as more tourists will be visiting later on and it will get crowded. Also you must remember that the Greek sun in the summer is really strong so make sure that you apply sun cream often and always have a bottle of water with you.

Walk the beautiful street of Dionysiou Areopageitou and buy yourself a ticket (20 Euros per person which applies for all the archaeological sites of Athens for 4 days). I could fill in at least ten pages with the facts and the history of Acropolis but this is neither the place nor the time to do so.

Always remember to support the campaign for returning the STOLEN artefacts of Parthenon, which are now located in the British Museum in London back to Greece, where they belong to.

So enjoy the beauty of Acropolis standing for more than 2000 years and wonder around it. Make sure you exit not from the typical exit, but from a downhill exit next to a small wooden kiosk that you will come across as you climb up the stairs. This way you will be able to see more sites and ancient constructions as well as an additional theatre.

Athens Archaeological Museum

Once you exit the site of Acropolis head the opposite way to the new museum of Acropolis, a construction that Greeks are really proud of since it was literally built upon ancient buildings but without causing any destruction to them. You will be able to see parts of them as you move though the Acropolis museum.

Exiting the museum of Acropolis and head left the same road you followed to go to Acropolis. Enjoy the weather and feel free to buy from the street vendors’ traditional artifacts and souvenirs which are actually in much better prices than the shops. Always try to support the local economy which really needs your help, especially these days!!!

Once you meet the first cafeterias’ with their tables outside you can go for a coffee to the roof gardens and admire the views of Acropolis.

Once you catch your breath continue and enter the ancient Agora from the small exit in front of the cafeterias with the same ticket that you bought in Acropolis. There are three must see places there among the many:

• The ancient temple that really looks like Acropolis.
• The old church with the unique pictures that were saved during the occupation from the Ottoman Empire (check out the Saints and Angels that their faces were removed by the occupants).
• The small museum which shows aspects of everyday life in Athens.

Exit the site from the main entrance and you are in Monastiraki area.

Day tour of Athens - Monastiraki

Warning!!!: As all the main tourist attractions around the world, the same rules apply in this area. Keep your bag zippers closed, leave no bags unattended and beware of your personal belongings in general. Pick pocketing is not a very common thing but not a very rare as well. Kindly decline any offers for sunglasses, perfumes or mobile phones since they will be 90 percent end in monkey business.

Monastiraki open flea market where you can shop various stuff

Shop around this area, you can find really good prices in leather and gold or buy some souvenirs for your friends back home. (Make sure you buy a hat for the rest of your vacations in Greece since the Greek sun is very strong. The area is ideal for taking pictures of locals restoring old furniture and buying antiques.

Hungry? I would suggest you head to the restaurant of Savvas with the amazing roof garden. It serves traditional Greek cuisine and the quality of the food is always very good, and of course you can stare (guess what???) Acropolis!

From there you can head to the Athens central meat & fish market called “Varvakios” to take some photos. Avoid it if you don’t have a strong stomach, watching hanged meats and the heavy smells might not be for everyone! The whole area is really popular for buying traditional products.

Head back to Ermou street (if you don’t know which one it is, simply ask an Athenian. The majority of the Greeks speak English and usually are very helpful with tourists.

Ermou street is the road with all the big brand names stores and you can always buy designer clothes or anything else you might need. Head up towards Syntagma square. On your way visit the small church (Kapnikarea) in the middle of the street.

It is estimated that the church was built some time in the 11th century, perhaps around 1050. As it was common with the early Christian churches, this was built over an ancient Greek pagan temple dedicated to the worship of a goddess, possibly Athena or Demeter. You can walk into it and light a small candle like Orthodox people do.

Efzonas on Syntagma sq in Athens

Reaching Syntagma square you will see the Greek parliament and the national guards called Efzones. They wear their traditional skirt (which has 400 foldings, one for each year of occupation under the Ottoman Empire).

Take some photos and walk until the national Library and Academy. Two amazing buildings built like the ancient Greek ones. Once you are done continue on to the Omonoia street where you need to ask the way to the National Museum which is just five minutes by foot.

The national Archeological museem of AthensThe National Museum even though it is last on the list, it is for me the most important sight of Athens. Make sure you do not miss it. It hosts an amazing collection of masterpieces of art of the ancient Greece.

Statues more than 5000 years old, jewels of the Macedonian family of Alexander, and the famous Machine of Antikythera.

That is a full a day tour of Athens, where you can cover all the main tourist attractions.

If you feel that your feet can still do some extra walk, you can always add one of the following sights to your tour. Plaka, Kallimarmaron, the National Garden, Zapeio, Likavitos and Glyfada area.

But my suggestion is to visit those places another day so you can take your time and enjoy them like they deserve to.

Spyros Skouris profile photoAbout the author

Spyros Skouris the author of the article “A full day tour of Athens” can help you arrange your dream vacations on your visit to Athens in Greece.

He also owns an apartment in Athens which is available to rent on Airbnb.

Lads holiday to Antalya Turkey

Andrew Wain 2015With the university exams out of the way, we gathered at the pub debating where to go for our summer holidays.

There were four of us, Mat, George, Kevin, and myself Andrew.

The choices were mainly Spain, Italy, Greece, but with our student budget been on the low side we had to eliminate most of the ideas.

Even if we could get a low cost airline like Easyjet to fly us to Spain we couldn’t collect enough money among us to book a cheap hotel room for four lads in Spain.

Disaster was looming on the horizon, we could all see ourselves spending the summer at home with a trip down to Southampton for a long weekend.

That was all until Murat, the fifth member of our university gang pop in to our table holding a travel map to Antalya in Turkey.

Murat was born in Luton but his parents came from Turkey in the early eighties. His parents still have contacts with their extended family back in Turkey and Murat had been toying with the idea of going to Antalya to see where his parents grew up.

Needless to say the connection was instant!! Murat’s family had a house in Antalya. After a few more rounds at the pub our travel plan was set, hands were shaken, we were good to go. Our first lads holiday to Antalya in Turkey.

easy jet turkey antalya 2015

We flown from Gatwick with Easyjet and we landed at Antalya airport just before 10:00 a night. We were picked up by Bulent, Murat’s cousin who took us to our accommodation and promise to show us around the next morning.

Antalya city is definitely a modern city built on the South Western coast of Turkey with a population of around one million with a lot of buzz and night life for the holiday makers.

Antalya Turkey fish restaurants

In the morning we took the tram upto the Hadrian’s Gate or Üçkapılar in Turkish and we walked into the old part of the city the Kaleici for some sight seen.

Antalya was buzzing, many touristic shops selling souvenirs, beach clothes and café/restaurants are cramped in the rather small space of the old city with narrow streets and paths that somehow all seem to lead downhill towards the old harbor.

Konyaalti Beach

Turkish flag - Lads holiday to Antalya 2015

The next morning we walked back to Hadrian’s Gate and took the tram to Konyaallti beach.

Konyaalti beach is on the western side of Antalya city and it is about 7 km long. At the far end of the beach you can clearly see the Beydagları mountains. Inwards from the beach there is a huge green park with plenty of cafes, bars, nightclubs and hotels.

If you fancy doing more than just swimming and sunbathing on the Konyaalti beach, a short walk towards the park and across the Dumlupınar road are the Aqualand waterpark and the Antalya Aquarium, one of the biggest aquariums in Turkey, it claims to have the longest tunnel aquarium in the world, 131 meters long!!

We really liked the beautiful designed thematic exhibitions of different seas, oceans and rivers. There are many different types of sea species small and big as well as sharks. The sharks are not huge but there are really many of them and you can see the divers swimming among the sharks while feeding them.

Antalya Aquarium - Lads holiday to Turkey

All signs at the Antalya Aquarium are written in 3 languages: Turkey, English and Russian. It cost us 75 Turkish Lira per person for entrance to the aquarium. On the ground floor as you exit the aquarium there is food court with a number of different establishments to choose. By that time we were starving so we marched to McDonald’s which these days seems to be everywhere.

Lara Beach

Lara beach was our second favorite beach in Antalya. You can drive to the beach or get there by taxi but since we were on a budget, Bulent advised us to take a small minibus from the centre. In Turkey they call them Dolmush and they seem to be everywhere and run very frequent services across the city.

However, sometimes they can get very crowded. To the Lara beach you need Dolmush number 18, 30 and 77, it took us around 40 minutes to the beach and it only cost us 2,5 Turkish Lira each, which is around a dollar each.

lara beach antalya

Lara beach was not as busy as Konyaalti beach, which was a surprise as it is the longest sandy beach in Turkey and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean sea. We had a long walk and it seems some spot on the beach tend to be more popular than other with private organized beach clubs.

With the temperature on the beach approaching 40C we decided to rent a couple of umbrellas and sunbeds. There are plenty of bars with cold beers, to keep you cool and refreshed and since we were in Turkey Efes beer was our first choice!!

Side

Side is a holiday resort around an hour from Antalya city, full of 5 star hotels. It also seems to be very popular with Russian tourists. Side has calm water and fine sandy beaches, plenty of water-sport activities and is dominated by all inclusive type of hotels.

Antalya City

During our stay in Antalya we also hopped into a pirate boat and went for a daily cruise. There are many boats leaving around 10 in the morning from the old harbor.

Don’t get intimidated by the Turkish sales men who claim to have a last minute special fare, walk around and compare the different cruises before you make up your mind. Then you are ready to start bargaining, believe me bargaining is part of the Turkish culture.

Fares vary according to the length of the trip, we went for the six hours cruise.

lads boat trip in antalya

Once on board we snap some photos and had a few rounds of beers, loud party music was echoed around the boat reflecting the mood of our group. After almost an hour of sail we stopped twice for swimming and snorkeling in some truly amazing bays.

Complimentary food was also provided by the crew of the boat. We were served spaghetti, green salad and fish barbequed which was delicious and after a tasty lunch, there was even more time to relax as we sailed slowly back towards the harbor.

Night life

The night life in Antalya did not disappoint us. Having a local on our side we were taken to all the best pubs, bars and night clubs. Kaleici at night was heaving with young Turks and tourists, the narrowed streets where full of folk-songs bars and little colorful taverns. The Turks seem to party until the morning, so we joined them too!

Ally’s night club was our favorite night club, great music, amazing sea view, and plenty of girls to dance and flirt until the sun comes out. OK drinks were a little bit expensive but we were lucky to be amongst a group of friends of Bulent so we were charge local prices, no tourist prices. I could write more here but as they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!!

club ally antalya turkey

I have to admit that towards the beginning of the second week of our holiday to Antalya we were all running low on cash, our student budget could not support our all night partying lifestyle, so we started spending more time at the beach than going clubbing and partying every single night.

Without doubt this was our best holiday so far, we had great time, we made a lot of friends and we all agreed that we would definitely be going back to Antalya in the future.

I am actually thinking after my graduation to apply for a job in Antalya, Turkey. There are many hotels in Antalya that require English speaking staff, for various roles during the summer.

Andrew Wain, the author of the lads holiday to Antalya in Turkey is a final year student of hospitality and hotel management at LMU.

Vital information You Need to Know Before Travelling to the US

Need to Know Before Travelling to the US 2015One of the worst things you can do is to realize you have left out something or forgotten an important detail just before you board a plane to the United States. Travelling today is a little bit technical due to issues of global terrorism, changing weather patterns and country specific restrictions that have to be adhered to. To travel safely and comfortably, Hotels-Fairy.com has compiled a brief guide with the most important things you need to know before travelling to the US.

So here are a few things you might want to check out.

Delays could happen

Remember if you are travelling in winter snow storms could bring about cancellations and delays across the main airline hubs within the US. Before travelling, you might want to contact your airline or travel company to prepare accordingly. You can also monitor the US airport conditions online, such as through the Federal Aviation Administration site.

Do not forget that the US hurricane season usually begins from June all the way to November and it is capable of affecting the coastal regions of the United States.

Medical Cover

Almost 4 million people from Britain visit the US annually and while the visits are usually without any trouble, you might want to get yourself a comprehensive medical and travel cover before travelling. This is very important because anything could happen while in the New World.

Valid travel documents and detailsNew York city 2015

Before you travel to the United States ensure that your passport, Visa or any other travelling document is valid and has not expired. If you are from the UK and other 37 Visa Waiver countries you can easily enter the United States without a valid US visa for three months or 90 days. The Visa Waiver Program allows you to visit the US for tourism or business reasons and you do not have to wait until a valid visa has been granted. However, as one of the citizens in the Visa Waiver countries you need to apply for ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) to be allowed to enter the country. Citizens of other countries outside the Visa Waiver nations must apply for valid US visa to be allowed entry.

 Travellers from risky regions

It is worth noting that travellers arriving from countries affected by Ebola in West Africa, particularly Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea should arrive at any of the five main airports so that they can undergo proper health screening. While this can change, it is always important to clarify and counter check before you travel.

Taxi-Cab-New-York

Car hire

If you are planning to hire a car in the US to save time and money that you could have used in public transport and taxis, make the arrangements before you board the plane. Renting a car prior to travelling can help you save money and time, especially if done online due to immense deals offered to travellers.

Specific requirements

If you have unique requirements that might complicate your travelling or your health it is important to notify the airline as soon as possible. This could save you a lot of trouble as well as incurring losses while in America, which you could have avoided with a little planning.

Above all, you might want to remain as safe as you can and observe caution. Even in a great country like the US something negative could happen at any moment as history has shown.

america capitol washington dc

Six autumn days on the beautiful island of Crete

 

The beautiful island of Crete

A late October escape to the beautiful island of Crete begins with my arrival in Chania. My gamble to visit the island so late in the season seems to be blessed by the Ancient Gods, as the sweet Aegean sun is still most definitely shining in this part of the Mediterranean; the summer hordes of holiday tourists have long since departed and the island is begging to be explored.

Base camp for this autumn adventure, the ancient and “off the beaten track” village of Aptera, situated on the north-west coast of Crete between the towns of Souda and Kalives. Aptera lies approximately 13 km east of Chania. A hidden treasure of a location; unspoilt, and unique in its rich history and local hospitality.

Home to two importantAptera Castle and impressive historical sites. The ruins of the Ancient City of Aptera and the Fortress of Sousbasi, also known as Koules of Aptera. Both sites just a stone’s throw walk away from the Aptera Hotel, a small family run complex of modern studio apartments, with a most spectacular view of Souda Bay and the White Mountains.

Traditionally furnished, spacious, self-catering apartments, well equipped, with all necessary amenities and complementary Wi-Fi access.

A place to call home after a long day out, on the road, mountain or beach out exploring Crete and all it has to offer its guests.

With the relatively short time I have to spend on the island a hire car is a must, as I wish to see as much as one can possibly see in Crete and the freedom of having your own transport to accommodate your schedule offers a freedom of possibilities and destinations.Aptera cisterns

The island roads are well maintained and destinations for the most part well signposted.

The first port of call is the Old Town of Chania and its famed Venetian built harbour. The quaint narrow shopping streets and waterfront restaurants, all housed in old buildings of Venetian or Turkish design make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

I recommend taking a lengthy stroll through the town, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells it has to offer – which are plentiful. Then pick a spot to rest, order a meze and some tsikoudia (the Cretan raki drink) and watch the world go by, the backdrop of the Venetian lighthouse and the Mosque of Yiali Tzami is sure to make the moment magical.

My second day in Chania, Crete is spent exploring the local area. In the morning I set off by foot, a visit to the ruins of the Ancient City of Aptera and the Fortress of Sousbasi. What a nice way to start ones day.

I won’t lie, I’m no history buff and I’m not here on a quest to enhance my knowledge of history and classical antiquities but my mornings walk through the Roman ruins has been a wonderful, serene experience and the views from the top of the hill have stolen my heart.

The most impressive monument on the site, in my humble opinion, is the impressively preserved Roman cisterns which have survived centuries and earthquakes galore in order for me to feel like Lara Croft exploring them.

The Fortress is also astonishingly well preserved and an imposing landmark I can look to in awe, in order to guide myself back to Aptera if I find myself geographically challenged during my travels.

I then travel by car, to explore the neighbouring villages of Kalives and Almyrida, the October sun still guiding my travels, I take a stroll in Kalives and stop foSamaria Gorger a coffee, astonished to still see tourists still swimming in the crystal blue waters so late in the Autumn season.

I then drive a few kilometres east to Almyrida where I stop for fresh fish and glass of wine, watching the sun set and planning my adventure to Samaria Gorge the following day.

An avid adventurer and a keen walker the main reason I wanted to visit Crete was to walk the famous Samaria Gorge. Knowing that visits to the National Park are only allowed from the beginning of May to the end of October and fully aware that weather this time of year may very well take a turn for the worse, I was keen to attempt to cross the Gorge as soon as possible.

Research taught me that the usual way to “do the Gorge” was to take an organised tour, from Chania by bus to the starting point of Omalos, travelling through breath-taking mountain scenery, and then departing on the beautiful yet treacherous 13km trek through the Gorge, arriving in Agia Roumeli some 5-6 hours later.

The only way to then leave Agia Roumeli, which is only accessible by foot, and return to Chania is by boat via Chora Sfakion or alternatively to Sougia. This is the usual way to pass the Samaria Gorge.

However if you’re up for a challenge and are physically able to, there is another way. Drive to Omalos in your own hire car, arrive early, (you can call the Park Rangers the previous evening to confirm opening time on +30 28210 67179), pay your 5 euro entrance fee and depart on a most adventurous and exciting journey of a lifetime.

Kri-Kri Samaria GeorgeWalk through well-trodden paths, with plentiful water stops, take in the stunning scenery and stop off to say hello to the Kri Kri (indigenous to Crete and protected species of mountain goat), walk joyful mile after mile, appreciating the wilderness along the way.

You arrive in Agia Roumeli, take a well-earned break and then … well you walk back up to Omalos again! The Park Rangers give a guideline time of this route of 10 hours, so if you are trusting of your ability to undertake such a walk and allow plentiful time you can appreciate the Gorge twice fold and experience both routes.

Only the last 4km are of a significant physical challenge, where the gradient increase rises back up to 1236m quite rapidly and unforgivingly. Those with weak knees should not attempt this. Walking the Gorge in late October, providing the weather is on your side is an unprecedented experience. No long queues of busloads of tourists littering the way, fair weather and a sense of achievement await those who go to Samaria.

Fourth day in Crete and understandably after the challenging walk down and back up Samaria Gorge it is a relatively easy going day. A nice, easy going, excursion to Lake Kournas just 30 minutes away from Aptera, provides an ideal location to relax, recuperate and take a slow pedalo journey across the mystical mountain lake.

lake cournas

An afternoon visit to Souda and the Souda Commonwealth War Cemetery is a worthwhile drive, to pay respects to the fallen soldiers of past Word Wars. A serene, beautiful and peaceful place of rest, worthy of our respect and reflection.

A visit to Rethymnon, another stunning Venetian built harbour town of Crete, greets my fifth day on the island. After a walk up Mt Vrisina a few kilometres north of the town, where poor weather now prevents summiting, a rainy October walk leads me into town.

There I seek refuge one of the towns welcoming and hospitable tavernas and pass away the time, sharing stories and travel experiences with other travellers.

My final day in Crete beckons me to try my luck walking another Gorge, this time the Gorge of Agia Eirini, inland towards Sougia. The lesser known sister of Samaria Gorge is a much easier trek of 7km down a gradient of 500metres.

Agia Eirini Gorge

Alas the previous day’s rains have made the Gorge impassable after the 3rd kilometre so the planned journey is cut short. Onwards and upwards through mountains to the beautiful southern seaside town of Sougia, where the sun is still shining and people are still swimming in its luscious bays.

There I stop off to walk along the shore, watch fishermen head out to sea with their boats and feed local stray cats the leftovers of my most delicious fish supper.

My six autumn days on Crete have too swiftly come to an end. What a diverse, lovely landscape I have been treated to in the last few days. What generous, hospitable and honourable people I have met along my travels. One thing is for sure, I will return to the beautiful island of Crete as my journey here is far from complete.

To be continued….


Travel blog by El MEl Mitropoulouitropoulou.

Travelling solo around the Globe, seeking adventure and challenge.

Namaste