To arrive at The Camp my friends and I chose to hire a small boat from a family run business on the corner of Worcester Racecourse. No skipper is necessary for this; we were given a quick run down on the dos and donts of boating and we were free to set sail.
Meandering up the river at our own pace was fabulous - really tranquil and beautiful to be on the water, passing ducks, swans and for the lucky ones, even otters.
We arrived at The Camp to be greeted by other (professional) boaters who guided us in safely to moor our boat.
The Camp is most welcoming; obviously a popular place for summer revellers as it was really quite busy. However, this just adds to the charm - we threw out our picnic blanket and enjoyed the best cheese and onion rolls ever tasted, swilled down with a glass of traditional scrumpy cider. Surrounded by stunning peacocks, we felt right at home and at one with the nature.
Once we had filled up on food and drink we headed back down stream and towards Worcester Cathedral; this gave us a cultured feel and was the perfect end to a perfect day.
We had a real adventure and found ourselves in fits of laughter at times! I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a cheap day out with a difference. (boat hire starts from £10 an hour, depending on choice of boat & £10 bought me and my partner two drinks each and a huge baguette.)
Suitable for all ages and we even took our dog when we returned a second time.
The boat hire place can be found in the corner of Pitchcroft Racecourse; 01905 27949 and to get to The Camp from here is just one way up the river - you really cannot go wrong.
Grimley, Worcester WR26LX
01905 640 288
Google map: tinyurl.com/ydb92w9
I've spent three days in Split last summer and found this little accomodation in the very center of the city and near the port. The view from my room was amazing: my window was just in front of Peristil. This area of Split city center is very busy even during the night so you can experience a little bruit, but if you like nightliving you are in the right place. My room was simple and ikea-style, but anyway elegant and very clean, featuring air conditioning and even free internet access. These rooms are cheaper than hotel's ones, but more expensive than a hostel room. A sort of B&B without breakfast.
Poljana Kraljice Jelene, 2
Split 21000, Croatia (HR)
Tel: 00385 21 879140
How about this for an authentic French meal?
A starter of goats cheese salad, a main course of steak frites (with an absolutely fabulous piece of steak) followed by a cheese platter and rounded off with a crème brûlée dessert. At the end of the meal we’ll have an espresso coffee and during the meal two glasses of pleasant local wine. Well, this was what was on offer last week at our local bistro for an unbelievable €12! This isn’t an isolated example and around our local area of the Loire Valley, just north of Saumur, we are close to at least ten restaurants, which offer us amazing lunchtime feasts. Head down to Saumur and though on the main tourist route, you can still find great lunchtime menus for less than €15.
The secret is to always go for the set Menu of the Day – ‘Le Menu du Jour’, the Dish of the Day – ‘Le Plat du Jour’ or the Workers Menu – ‘Le Menu Ouvrier’. As well as providing great value, you can be assured that the meal is prepared fresh that day. So, choose carefully and you can eat like a king. However, stray off the ‘Menu du Jour’, ‘Plat du Jour’ or ‘Menu Ouvrier’ and onto the ‘a la carte’ dishes and you will end up with a bill that is closer to 35 Euros per head once you have added in wine and coffee.
How do you uncover these great deals and have a great value and great tasting meal?
In a large town just trawl the streets and read the blackboards describing the Menu du Jour and Plat du Jour along with the prices. In more rural areas either head for the nearest village or keep your eyes open as you travel around – some of the restaurants seem to be in the middle of nowhere! When you do find an establishment, don’t judge the restaurant from the outside. Some of our favourites are nothing to look at from the outside, some even look a little run down. One local eating spot has a tobacco kiosk at the entrance end then a traditional bar and the cosy restaurant, which serves exquisite food, is hidden at the back – you’d never know unless you went inside. Discovering these places in all part of the adventure. Don’t discount the restaurants that may look like lorry stops – these can be real hidden gems offering what seems like unlimited buffet starters, cider and wine! Take a look at the number of cars parked outside – there will be a mix of tradesmen’s vans, trucks, large lorries and family cars, reflecting the mix of clientele inside. If the place is pretty full with this mix then you are on to a winner – the locals don’t patronise a poor menu!
Once inside, just stick to the ‘Menu du Jour’ – even if you are presented with the ‘a la carte’ menu. The proprietor is just chancing his or her arm to see if you will pick one of the more expensive dishes. Sometimes you will have to specifically ask about the ‘Menu du Jour’, especially in more touristy locations where the assumption is that you will choose something more expensive! When you are asked for water don’t be afraid to ask for a ‘carafe D’Eau’ or ‘eau de robinet’ (tap water) – bottled water is not mandatory and if you look around the other tables you’ll find the locals, in general doing the same.
Don’t discount some of the more exclusive restaurants, either. Those that position themselves at the upper end of the price bracket still need to bring in the lunchtime diners, so they will also offer a ‘Menu’ or ‘Plat du Jour’. One of the most expensive restaurants in Saumur can costs you an arm and a leg in the evening, but at lunchtime you can have an upmarket starter and main dish of the day for €16 Euros. The wine however, isn’t included in this price!
Eat like the French and you are benefitting from one of France’s great traditions. Whatever a person’s occupation or status a meal at lunch is an important part of the daily routine. No shorter than 1 ½ hours, lunchtime eating starts at an early age in French schools. Many primary school children will receive a starter, a main course and a dessert for school dinner, followed by ten minutes ‘repose’. Only then are they unleashed into the school yard for the remainder of lunchtime. So the pattern is set for life! To ensure this tradition doesn’t die out, in 2009 the French government reduced the rate of sales tax on certain items in the Menu du Jour. Lunchtime dining in France is big business, is widespread and a massive employer and as we can see, great value. So make the most of it and enjoy!
L'Art Obase, Mouliherne, Maine et Loire
Le Boufftard, Hommes, Indre et Loire
Les Menstrels, Saumur www.restaurant-les-menestrels.com
What makes a good hostel in Africa? If it were just the fact that it was clean and the prices fair, we would have been content with our stay at the Mufasa Lodge in Lilongwe, Malawi. Add on hot showers, friendly staff, Wifi internet, and a fun lounge bar in the back, and you have the best hostel we’ve seen so far.
After more than 30 hostels in 100 days on the road in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda - the Mufasa Lodge stood in a league of its own. Starting at fifteen US dollars a night for a dorm bed, it’s the best value in the city.
Kamuzu Procession Road, PO Box 7 Lumbadzi, SS Rent a Car Building, Lilongwe, Malawi
A small restaurant in La Balme, recently converted from a series of old cow sheds. It's near the bottom of the Aiguilette (a short red run with a button lift). There's a lovely sunny terrace and they do great value lunches for around €10. Try the assiette de pisteurs, a huge plate of salad, rosti, goats cheese on toast and lardons.
00 33 683 33 86 61 (Booking is essential)
In Japan, there is the "licensed tour guide system", which means the Japanese government requires anyone working as a foreign language speaking tour guide to pass the national exams and get the national licence. If you are going to book a tour of Japan, make sure your tour guide has a licence. If she or he doesn't and is going to charge you, it's an Illegal act.
But if you are going to book a tailormade tour through a travel agency, it can be very expensive. So why don't you consult a local tour guide directly? There is the web site called "Tour Guide-interpreter Search System". This site is run by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and all of the registered tour guides have passed the national exams, which are a foreign language, an interview in a foreign language, Japanese history, Japanese geography and Japanese general culture. These tests are one of the most difficult national tests in Japan and require a lot of knowledge.
Tour Guide-Interpreter Search System
The best way to avoid disappointment is to combine hunting for the Northern Lights with something else that's fun and different. Tromsø, Norway, is a great place to do just that. I went dog sledding which was so much fun I nearly forgot why I was there in the first place. With seven Huskies dragging you into the quiet wilderness on a sledge, the Northern Lights is an added bonus if it shows up, but even without it you would not go home feeling left out. My best night however was the cheaper option of renting cross country skis from the Intersport shop in town and heading for the free, open 24hrs, floodlit slopes on the island, just a short walk from the town centre! The calming feeling of sliding along on the skis, taking in the fresh air, makes the northern lights even more spectacular. Best of all, you wont have to 'share the experience'with anyone else, which often is the case on organised tours. And the downhills provide an added thrill!
The city itself is known in Norway for being one of the most hospitable – with a buzzing nightlife.
Tromsø also benefits from twice weekly direct flights from Gatwick with budget, but decent, airline norwegian.no. If you book early enough you can get returns for under £100. Stay in the Clarion Hotel Bryggen to get access to their rooftop heated jacuzzi!
There are loads of good (and cheap) ideas on what to do in Tromso and other tips here: www.iglobetrotter.com/norway/northern-lights/northern-lights-activities.
Ski-rental: Intersport Sportshuset, Storgata 87, phone +47 77661100
Husky-rides: Tromsø Villmarkssenter, www.villmarkssenter.no
Google map: tinyurl.com/yl8w4vp
Food and drink at Bodrum Milas airport is very expensive. Two pints of Efez and two portions of chips cost £13 last summer! Even if you have soft drinks instead, it is still a lot of money if you are travelling with a family. We make sandwiches for the journey now. It saves about £5 per person. You are still stuck with buying drinks as you are not allowed to take liquids over 100ml through security.
The basics are executed very well here, from clean and bright rooms to the excellent location of all three of the Madame Cuc hotels in Pham Ngu Lao. The real bonuses are the use of free internet and wifi, breakfast, refreshing drinks and a simple dinner which are all included in the room rates. Madame Cuc's also appears to house the friendliest staff I have encountered to date, readily fussing over a hint of tiredness or lethargy with a Grandmother's care and attention.
An excellent restaurant serving authentic, traditional Mexican ingredients in a modern style in a beautiful open air courtyard. Prices are high by Mexican standards so take advantage of the three course, 85 pesos lunch served only on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2.30-4.30pm and make sure to try the complimentary shot of single village mezcal bottled especially for the restaurant.
Alcala 403, about 5 minutes walk north of the Zocolo.
Google map: tinyurl.com/yfzabz9
A no-strings attached gem, the Weinerei offers unlimited wine, juice, and a meal for a one Euro fee (plus a donation on exit) in central Berlin.
The cafe itself is small, packed with locals and the wine isn't bad either!
A must-visit for budget travellers with a penchant for good wine, conversation and value.
Palmers Lodge is amazing. First of all, it's an old mansion that has been converted into a hostel. They have private rooms available, but I only stayed in the dorm room and it was unlike any dorm room I've been in. The beds were SOLID wood (no creaky metal), and had curtains which was great for privacy. FREE wifi! FREE breakfast! There's a bar and restaurant downstairs and the staff are pretty helpful. By chance I booked into Palmers Lodge on my first trip to London (they were the top rated hostel in my searches), and I've been back six times now in the last two years. I wouldn't want to stay anywhere else in London and I can easily recommend it to anyone looking for a place.
The CaixaForum Madrid by architects Herzog and de Meuron, opened in 2008 and is located near the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.
The converted former power station presents itself like a walk-in sculpture, with several exhibitions and events hosted concurrently. The building looks over the Paseo del Prado with a daringly beautiful planted wall and contrasting Cor-ten steel and brick facade.
My family and I went there after a visit to the botanical garden for a 'quick look' - we stayed three hours and hadn't even exhausted the impressive Richard Rogers architects exhibition (until 18 Oct 2009) with dozens of models. Even the younger kids were happy!
A cool cafe and bookshop rounds of this 'must visit' gem.
Paseo del Prado, 36
Tel.: 91 330 73 00
Atocha, línea 1
Bulgaria is rapidly becoming a popular tourist destination and a number of big and small hotels are opening every year. On HotelBeam Bulgaria list there are a number of independent hotels which can be contacted directly which is good because some of these hotels are small and locally managed and are not well connected to travel agencies.
It's a small personal hostel in the middle of the Old Town in Stockholm. You have everything within walking distance, from historical plays to shopping and night life areas.
They offer single, twin, triple and four-bed room. You have free wireless in all rooms and a guest kitchen.
A more central hostel you can't find.
Stora Nygatan 38 11127 Stockholm
+46 (0)8 22 99 40
8 min walk from central station
Corsican wine is rarely encountered outside of Corsica, and when you do it's prohibitively expensive. The Corsicans are an insular lot, and tend to only make enough wine to serve local needs - a little is exported to France and an even smaller amount worldwide. Yet Corsica has the most incredible climate, perfect for wine production. So in itself, the opportunity to sample some of the products of the many small domains is interesting.
Add to this the dramatic Corsican landscape, a temperature which rarely dips below 25 degrees before the winter properly kicks in and the miles of unspoiled beaches where your only companions are a few wandering cows (nice brown and white ones with horns, not fellow tourists) and you've got a very pleasant adventure indeed.
Camping makes the whole thing affordable. Many camp sites have their own beaches for a quick dip before bed. They are littered along the main road that winds its way around Cap Corse and few cost more than 15 euro for the night for a couple with a tent.
There are signs along the roads advertising the different domains - the only choice you face is which one you fancy stopping off at and how much to buy (most don't take cards so you'll need to load up on cash). Each is very different, ranging from the very commercial to the ones where you ring a little bell and someone eventually saunters out and offers you some homegrown olives to go with your taster. An incredible range of wines is produced and every single place will have some unusual speciality to share with you alongside their big earners.
It's all so wonderfully relaxed: plenty of swimming in the remarkably clear sea, a little sunbathing perhaps, lunch from the excellent local market and an afternoon meandering between the domains discovering all of the wonderful wines that the Corsicans are smart enough to keep to themselves. It also makes great economic sense - even buying the wines in a Corsican supermarket will cost you upwards of 40% more than buying direct. Buying them outside Corsica becomes astronomical. At the domains you can expect to pay between 5 and 15 euro a bottle and end up with something really very special to take home with you.
Fly into Bastia (Easyjet flies on a Sunday), hire a car and set off North!
As a girl travelling alone in Costa Rica, I felt really safe here and was very grateful for all the tourist information they had. It has only just opened so isn't in the Lonely Planet yet, but is definitely worth a visit. Good value for money and a really good location on the main road.
Phone: 506 2221-6868
On Paseo Colon, the main avenue, in front of the Spanish Embassy.
Playmobil Fun Land is a themed activity park based on the Playmobil children's toys. It is aimed at children under 12 and is fun interactive activities. There is minimal queing and no roller coasters, just lots of things to do. We spent two whole days there. Hight season entry (August 2009) was 10 Euros per person irrespective of age, so 40 Euros for a family of four per day.
Things to note:
Much of the play involves water, so come with swimming gear to stand under the waterfalls. If soemone gets wet, use the tumble dryers provided to dry clothes.
There is a large indoor section if it's raining. Outdoors, sandpits and things are covered with awnings on hot days.
Food and drink is NOT a rip off e.g. tea for one Euro, single scoop ice cream cone 80 Cents!
The cafeteria has lots of choice eg pasta with different sauces and pizza, very much aimed at kids. A kids meal is 42 Euros.
You pay a pfand (deposit) on all crockery which is then refunded when you hand it all in, so keeping everying tidy and clean.
Most staff speak very good english.
Much of the park is wheel chair accessibile (so good for buggies too) and they have a wheel chair raft on the boating lake.
We had two super days out and the kids would love to go back.
There is an appartment hotel with family rooms for four across the road from the park. However, as the park is not loacated in a particularly interesting part of Zirndorf we stayed at the Hotel Knorz, an easy walk to/from Playmobil and the town centre.
Phone 0911/96 66-1700
Nearest station is Zirndorf which has a 30 minute train service from Furth which is on the main line to Nuremberg (or use the Underground)
Alternatively, get the bus 113 from central Nuremberg. Tourist info in Nuremberg have all the details and will printout timetables for you.
Staggeringly cheap way of getting round - $15 for 7 full days - even timed. Connections between buses/subway excellent. Get into Boston/Cambridge for a few dollars from the airport. Machine at the airport.
All subway stations
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org