Really Discover offers short (2.5 hrs) tours of Seville. The walking tour is limited to 10 people so you are never so far from the guide that you can't hear what is being said.
We chose to start our first full day in Seville with the walking tour in order to get our bearings and plan our week better. Our guide, Luis, really knew his city and obviously loves it as well. They have a basic plan but are flexible so that they can skip over places you've already been if you wish.
We were met by David, a Brit who moved to Seville, and Luis our guide who spoke very good English. Both were friendly and helpful. A later call to David helped us sort out a taxi back to the station very early in the morning.
They are also happy to recommend their favourite places to eat or visit. Luis recommended a restaurant called Taberna del Alabardero which we visited twice for their Menu del Dia.
Luis also took us to the Archivo General de Indias which was a treat that we would probably have skipped had it not been for the tour. This place is particularly interesting for US visitors interested in their own history.
These guys have a walking tour of San Luis Obispo that includes the disgusting (but must see) Bubble Gum Alley, the old Mission and historic Chinatown.
And the guide was great about suggesting local places to eat that tourists might not normally find.
In New York the best value sightseeing tour is that relaxing Circle Line boat trip around Manhattan Island. For just $34 those aboard get to see it all with great commentary. Remember: sit on the left (or port for more seasoned voyagers) side of the boat!
We have just returned to France from a week's holiday in Amsterdam. I have a few suggestions for other travellers. We had previously stayed at www.hoteltoren.com. Great place. Very charming and family run (which we like). This time around we rented an apartment through www.apartments-for-rent.com/amsterdam.
We booked an apartment in the Jordaan area on the Prinsencanal. We were very lucky to meet some young guys the first day we arrived. They run a small boat rental business called www.boothurenamsterdam.com (which translates into boat rental amsterdam) The guys who run it are amazing and give us a whole list of fun things to do in the neighbourhood. We did not leave the Jordaan area except for a brunch at the www.bakkerswinkel.nl in the Westerpark.
The boat rebtal guys suggested little Amsterdam gems like www.tazzina.nl and www.cinemaparadiso.info/
On Location Tours is New York City's only TV & Movie Tour Company. They take you behind the scenes of your favourite TV shows and movies filmed in NYC: Sex & the City, Friends, Gossip Girl, Seinfeld, Ghostbusters, and more. The tours are all led by New York actors and actresses who really know their stuff.
Long gone are the days of coal and steam in the South Wales area. Now, an industry of a different kind is bringing people to Wales – hospitality.
As you cross the new Severn Bridge and follow the M4 towards Newport, The Celtic Manor Resort and Spa looms above you. A magnificent five-star resort that boasts a wealth of amenities. From championship golf courses to a 3 AA Rosette restaurant this is true pulling power. Team that with hosting the 2010 Ryder Cup and you can see why it brings in celebrities and sports stars alike.
South Wales has so much more to offer: excellent shopping in Cardiff with the soon to be opened St. David’s Phase 2; a huge John Lewis and designer boutiques are all in the new centre - and as an added boost, Jamie Oliver has announced that he will be opening his new Italian venture in SD2.
Any visit to the city centre must take in a visit to Wally’s Delicatessen. A Cardiff institution with a fantastic choice available at the Deli counter and all manner of exotic foods to tempt and tantalise.
At the top of Queen Street lies Cardiff Castle. Roman in origin and with Norman battlements it adds real presence to Cardiff’s shopping area.
Stray away from the city and you never know what you might find. Ghost Tours at Llancaiach Fawr Manor House or Tommy Cooper’s statue in Caerphilly town (as recently unveiled by Sir Anthony Hopkins). Caerphilly Castle is one of the largest in Europe and is also worth a visit.
Follow the M4 a little further and you will come across a true hidden gem. Llanerch Vineyard. Fabulous food, excellent accommodation and a truly genial host in Carole. Treat yourself and stay the night and enjoy their food as prepared by Hywel Jones. The cookery school is also available on site and run by the legendary Angela Gray.
There are many restaurants involved in fine dining in South Wales. With so many quality ingredients on our own doorstep. Who could blame so many top chef’s for staying true to their roots and using Welsh produce. Try Calon’s Restaurant at Llanerch Vineyard or Tides at the 5 star St. David’s Hotel.
The Crown at Whitebrook has a Michelin star thanks to James Sommerin and their sister restaurant The Crown at Celtic Manor is Wales’ only 3 AA Rosette. Stephen Terry at The Hardwick in Abergavenny is currently transforming his restaurant into one with rooms. There are so many to choose from now that diners are spoilt for choice.
Don’t forget to try the local specialities either. Penclawdd cockles are a delight and Laver bread (seaweed) is a must. Caerphilly cheese has a worldwide following now and can be found as far afield as America.
Thanks to our rugby team, the Brains Brewery has been getting some worldwide press. Also, award winning Penderyn whisky is distilled here as is Tyrrells vodka and gin. Cardiff market is still going strong in the capital with fresh produce daily. Our lamb and beef are world class and will be found on many a local menu.
What more could I say about South Wales... plenty. But why don’t you come and visit and write the rest of the story for yourselves.
Raiatea is the second largest of the Society Islands in French Polynesia. Raiatea means approx 'bright soft sky' in Tahitian and this island was the centre of Tahitian culture and religion for more than 1000 years.
It is thought that the migrations to Hawaii, New Zealand and other parts of Polynesia started from here. The main town on Raiatea is Uturoa. The best way to have a look around is to take the Island Drive which leaves from the end of the pier in Uturoa.
Stops along the way give access to the Botanical Gardens, views to Mt Temehani (the only place in the world where the white petalled Tiare Apetahi flower grows), visits to the pearl farms, motus in the lagoon and the various marae (traditional walled meeting places).
Far less touristic than Tahiti, Raiatea is defintely worth a visit.
Much more peaceful after the bustle of Tahiti. Moorea is astonishingly beautiful, and the best way to see it is to take a bus tour.
The Circle Island Tour takes you past pineapple fields, coffee plantations and flower-filled villages up to Belvedere Lookout, where you can see Opunohu and Cook's Bays.
One of the highlights is a stop off to see the little rectangular 'Marae', ancient structures which used to be sacred buildings, used as open-air temples and funeral sites.
(Picks up from all the main hotels)
I recommend a private guide named Cathy if you want to see Belgrade through local eyes. She can organize everything from hotels to tickets for the National Theater! Nice,funny, kind and not expensive. Those were the best days!
you can write to her by e-mail: email@example.com She is very busy, so book her in advance.
It's a Fiji tour (mainly for backpackers) that gives you more than just sand, sea and snorkelling. We visited villages and schools, learned about the culture and went trekking in the bush. What we liked about it is that you can get off and spend time in any place and then get back on the tour when you want to continue.
I booked a tapas tour with Gayle Mackie when my husband and I were visiting the city. It's a great way to see the real tapas bars that are often hiding down back streets. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and Gayle´s company was very much appreciated. I really liked the fact that she also recommended lots of other bars for us to visit as well as the ones we saw on the night of the tour (so we could try them out ourselves during the rest of our stay in Granada). She has just published a book too... Granada Tapas Tours: 100 Best Bars in Granada. Well worth it!
Naturalism meets eco-tourism at its very best. If you want to learn about and truly see the beauty of the nature around you on this pretty little island, I highly recommend taking one of these trips.
The knowledge and passion of the guides - in particular the founder, Irshad Mobarak - turn an ordinary nature trail or fun boat ride into something that will make you appreciate where you are and reflect upon what role you have as part of nature in this world.
We definitely experienced the real Gambia in our tremendous three week stay in February-March 2009. We were based in Brikama, a medium-sized town about 20 kms inland from the Atlantic and an hour south of the capital Banjul. It’s a fascinating town with a vibrant feel but none of the tourist-area trappings and hassles.
People are very hospitable and very warm to strangers – especially those who are respectful and show a genuine interest in life there.
Our host, Abdoulie Sarr, was a young entrepreneur whose aims are to create a range of locally-based enterprises to enable visitors to genuinely engage in the life of an area: get to know local people in depth; learn something of a local language; be part of local events; explore the beautiful country areas, learn about a different culture and exchange experiences; and to spend their money in ways that benefit local people rather than international tour operators.
He provided excellent quality accommodation and three substantial meals a day while we were in Brikama. Breakfast consisted of a choice of very tasty rice porridge or omelette delivered to our accommodation every morning and we had the option of having the other meals brought to us or of eating with his family. My travelling companion is vegetarian and we thought this could be a bit of a problem; nothing could be further from the truth. He was served excellent food with his ‘not even fish’ requirements fully respected and catered for.
Eating with the family was much more fun and gave us the opportunity of spending time talking with people and playing with the children. In fact, we spent a lot of time just talking and debating a wide range of subjects and laughing a lot– a real exchange!
Brikama is a fascinating town to explore and Abdoulie’s relaxed but efficient style meant we could go it alone or have him take us to specific locations of interest.
We wanted to see the country and Abdoulie organised a three-day trip into the interior travelling by local transport and combining road and river journeys. We enjoyed travelling in the normal vehicles that Gambians used and not in luxury coaches or 4X4s – much more real.
Our trip took in the Wassu Stone Circles (evidence of ancient civilisation here); the wonderful Janjanbureh Camp with its perfect location on the River Gambia and good quality accommodation and food; the historic towns of Janjanbureh and Kuntaur, the bustling ‘crossroad’ town of Farafenni, the riverside Tendaba camp and the rural villages along the country’s South road.
Abdoulie was an excellent guide with a wealth of local knowledge and contacts which made the trip run smoothly and tailored to what we wanted to see we never felt we were being herded along on a package tour.
Back in Brikama we became familiar with the local music scene seeing a number of bands and talking with the musicians. Brikama is major centre for music using the Kora.
The trip was a mind-altering experience into the way of life of a country with wonderful people and beautiful scenery in which the hospitality was outstanding and where we felt welcome and safe at all times.
At the end we felt we had had a real experience and had got to know a place and some of its people in depth – a place that is now very special.
Abdoulie Sarr provides a range of tailor-made options for accommodation, travel and local experiences across The Gambia and we highly recommend his professional yet personal approach.
Contact: Abdoulie Sarr Tel 00220-7722099/6720999;
They say 'you haven't seen Seattle until you've seen it from a duck', and for once, the slogan rings true.
As the city surrounds a great lake, a boat tour is a great way to explore Seattle, with many of its most arresting sights reachable by water.
The 90 minute tour goes across land and water, and the 'duck' is a Second World War 'amphibious vehicle' - basically a truck that floats!
Popular with kids, the 'Captain' plays music and gets the passengers to join in with games and spotting sights - expect alot of quacking and duck noises to be made.
But the tour itself will please the more mature 'sailors'- the tour kicks off at the Space Needle, and rides past Pike Place Market, downtown, Pioneer Square and Fremont, until you hit Lake Union.
Across the lake, you get a fantastic view of the city skyline, and get to see the cute houseboats in the canals (made famous by 'Sleepless in Seattle'). Highlights of the trip also include a voyage past the GasWorks park - on a hill overlooking the lake, this is the first industrial site in the world to be made into a public park. The grassy hill (popular with kite-flyers)is dotted with groups of rusting machinary and pipes - almost like red sculptures against the blue sky.
The best part of the tour for big kids everywhere? You get to ride a truck into the water.
516 Broad Street
If you'd like to extend your interactions with Thai people beyond bartering with tuk-tuk drivers or ordering another Singha, I heartily recommend booking a cultural exchange trip with this sustainable development / community-based tourism organisation based in Kuraburi on the Andaman coast, two hours' drive north from Khao Lak.
I received a warm welcome from the friendly AD team, who arranged for me to stay with a Thai family in a local fishing village. I got to see and experience various activities that the villagers undertake to support themselves in a post-tsunami world, including planting mangroves, weaving palm leaf roofs, designing batik, fishing, and much more. It gave me a real insight into a very different way of life - and was plenty of fun besides.
Andaman Discoveries also arrange longer-term volunteering opportunities, teaching English at a local school, helping out at a local orphanage, or in a school for disabled children in Phuket.
Soi Nangyon, Kuraburi.
You can get an overnight bus from Bangkok, or it's a three-hour bus ride from Phuket.
In the misleadingly named area of Hackney (Adelaide's version is far more picturesque than London's well-worn suburb), the National Wine Centre of Australia is the best way to sample the fruit of the country's famous vineyards.
This tour isn't just for wine-buffs, and the interactive 'Wine Discovery Journey' takes you around the working vineyard on site, explains how wine is made, and ends with a trip to the 'wine tasting gallery', with bottles from all over Australia's winelands.
One if the highlights of the trip is a lazy lunch in the Concourse Cafe, with a plate of Australian Cheeses, and the wine shop is full of bottles to squeeze in your suitcase after a few samples.
Haigh's is the Cadbury's of Australia, and Easter Time is the perfect excuse to drop into their factory and visitor centre for a guided tour.
This family-run company has been making hand-crafted chocolates for years, has won numerous awards and is famous with kids across its native land for making yummy Chocolate Frogs and Apricot Fruits.
A short drive or bus trip from the city centre, the tours are free and incredibly popular (call to book in advance) and last about 20 minutes.
After 'educating' yourself in the art of chocolate, visitors are rewarded with a special chocolate tasting and a free cup of tea or coffee, before picking from a factory fresh selection of chocolates and boxes of reduced 'seconds'.
The Gift Shop alone is worth the trip for a delicious souvenir - best buys include the 'Sparkling Shiraz Truffles' from South Australia's winelands and the 'Australia Collection', with chocolates using homegrown ingredients like macadamia nut and wattle seed. It's enough to convert even the most die-hard Dairy Milk fans.
Miradouro at Fenais da Ajuda by the northern coast of Sao Miguel in the Azores.
This is the main Island of the Azores. There are some bargain off-season offers. There's beautiful scenery - we were nearly always completely alone!
Explore the island by car and make sure to visit the many "Miradouros": sign-posted picnic places. They often have beautiful vistas and captivating gardens, sometimes several kilometres off the main road, which make them turn into mini-adventures.
The main town on Sao Miguel is Ponte Delgado. There are direct flights from Manchester in the off-season months
You're sure to come across XXXX Castlemaine beer in a Brisbane bar, and at this working Brewery you can learn how your humble pint is made.
At the end of the tour you head to the ale house to learn how to pour and taste the perfect pint, before guzzling your four free 'brewery fresh' beers. Go on Saturdays and you'll get a Queensland 'Barbie' included in the price.
As the beer has been around for 130 years and the brewery is a listed building, you can pretend this is an 'educational experience' rather than boozing in the middle of the day.
Corner of Black & Paten Street (just down from Milton Road).
Google map: tinyurl.com/py7kjf
Devonport is Auckland's maritime village, just across the harbour from downtown via a 10 minute ferry ride. As one of the first settled areas of Auckland it is full of history, graceful homes and buildings, parks, cafes, art galleries and fantastic views of the city.
This audio guide provides a more in depth experience and covers the main sightseeing and boutique shopping areas.
On a sunny day, or at least one that is not raining, Devonport is a must see place.
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