I had to arrange a 20-person minibus to take my group from Girona airport to our Barcelona hotel, and after looking around to find the best deal, I called an airport transfers company called Suntransfers - and I'm glad I did. The price was the cheapest I could find, and the British guy I dealt with (Bob, I think) couldn't have been more helpful. The minibus was modern and arrived on time, with the child seats I had asked for already installed. Recommended!
You've had fun on the buses, trams, metro etc. on you day of arrival using the ticket you bought for three euros (Feb 08) on the air shuttle bus, but what about day two?
Get a card Viva for three euros fifty and have more fun, but don't throw the card away, as you can top it up for more days/journeys the following day.
I don't know if you can have two or more days added when you buy it, as I didn't know you could top it up at the time of original purchase!
Word of warning: when we went in to the shop selling Carris travel cards on Praca da Figueira on Day two of our stay in Lisbon they wanted to sell us each a plastic card (four euros apiece, not returnable, unlike the London Oyster card) and then top those up with a day pass each for three euros fifty.
Being mean (and green) and not planning to be back in Lisbon in the foreseeable future, I decided to walk to the Cais do Sodre metro station where we were sold the paper Viva card for three euros fifty each.
We found out about the top up when we showed the cards the next morning at the metro cashier to explain what we wanted (my Portuguese is limited to ordering drinks!) and the cashier took them and topped them up.
Enjoy this fab city and use your card to max on the ascensores, elevadore and the ferries as well as the trams, buses and metro.
Metro stations and (possibly) Carris ticket booths - not open in Feb.
Lydiard Park is a 260 acre parkland with a historic house and church, extensive park and grounds, lake, children's play area, and refreshments. Because it's only a few minutes' drive from J16 of the M4, I'm recommending it as an ideal stop for motorists.
When staying in Rio, definitely do not stay in Copacabana etc - too many tourists… and you may as well be in Benidorm.
We stayed in St Theresa. There are great authentic restaurants, cafes etc. The architecture is colonial Portuguese. And best of all, to get down into Rio centre you take a tram down the 3:1 slope, this too is 100 years old, and it feels like it.
Lots of people come to Chiang Mai and do a 'package trek' - and see little more than a couple of captive elephants and the backs of other westerners as they parade through well-trodden 'Hill tribe villages'. Forget this, hire a motorbike and head into the surrounding mountains.
We recently hired a car with Alamo at LAX and plumped through prebooking for the smallest and cheapest. On arrival they wanted us to trade up to a bigger car (apparently a Focus not being a family car).
When we got outside to choose a car there were only huge cars anyway, so there's no point in paying for the upgrade. There were also lots of Prius sitting there as midsize cars but, because the European families were scared of the unknown, went unpicked. Read up on them before you go if you want a trendy midsize car.
The last time I flew to Venice, an air hostess announced 'For those of you on the right-hand side of the plane you will shortly have a wonderful view of Venice in the sunset. For those of you on the left, you really should have sat on the right!'
A good old fashioned seaside day out! Fish and chips and loads of fairground rides. Never mind your Costa del Sol!
The rides are all good fun, especially 'The Big One', and all cost around £1-2 each. Or you can get a £30 day pass.
The nearest train station is Blackpool North. You can get special promotions on buses and trams - www.nationalrail.co.uk/promotions/e05830eec35ce741007a2e79203d5296.html
There's even an airport: www.ukairportinformation.com/APT-16-Blackpool_Airport.htm
The local train service runs from Sorrento to Naples, with stations near to the main sites or with a shuttle bus (to Vesuvius). It drops you right outside Pompeii entrance for example. It's cheap and regular.
Monterosso old town is a good place to stay to explore the Cinque Terre. It's got good railway and boat connections, attractive streets, bars and some of the most fantastic food I've ever eaten (risotto marinara to die for)! It's also got two decent beaches which the other villages lack.
Your hotel will recommend a driver and guide (two separate people) for a hefty mark-up. I can recommend Nhep Sophea who's known as Tee for short. He's punctual, courteous and knows his way round all the temples. A car is much more comfortable than a tuk-tuk given the heat and dust and not a whole lot more expensive .
Everything you hear about it sounds terrible: it is located immediately opposite the airport terminal, it is part of a chain and they charge 46 euros for a single (54 for a double). The reality could not be more different. It is less than a year old; the staff are charming and courteous; even if your room faces the runway and you can see the planes taxiing, the soundproofing is so good you cannot hear them take off; if you want to have a picnic in your room the terminal has a couple of quite nice food stores (one with assorted local delicacies) and there is a stall selling seafood snacks outside; and the rooms are spotless, intelligently designed and with flat screen TVs and multiple cable channels. If you are fearing having to stay the night at Hahn Airport (it truly is in the middle of nowhere) for an early departure or late arrival, you are in for a pleasant surprise.
Tel. +49 6543 / 8180-0
Fax. +49 06543/8180-555
The toy/mountain train from Siliguri to Darjeeling is surely one of the great railway journeys of the world. But, unless you're a real rail enthusiast, nine hours on an uncomfortable train, which travels at less than walking pace, is a little bit too long.
We got a jeep up the mountain from Siliguri to Darjeeling, which cost about 300 Rupees (£4) each. The share jeeps are very regular and, although they're pretty crowded, are way more comfortable than the train.
You can then take the highest altitude part of the great rail journey from Darjeeling to Ghoom, to visit the famous Ghoom monastery. It takes about 45 minutes and is probably more romantic and comfortable than doing the hard 9 hour slog from Siliguri.
Just make sure you book the train on your first day of arrival in Darjeeling. You can't book the train from anywhere else and there is a fair wait for tickets (a few days). There is plenty to do in Darjeeling in the meantime, including the Everest museum, one of the better Indian zoos, Glenary's cafe and lots of trail walking and shopping.
Don't even bother with the tourist ride unless you've money to waste, it's a complete rip-off compared to the Ghoom trip - about 10 times the price.
Nathmulls in Darjeeling has to be the best tea shop in the world. Really helpful staff and a great range of teas to test (local of course!). Well worth a visit when you're up in the mountains.
Get to Siliguri train station, then ask a cycle rickshaw to take you to where the jeeps go from. Then just climb in a jeep and wait for it to fill up.
Nathmulls is in Rink Mall, Darjeeling, next to Cafe Coffee Day.
The new tram has finally arrived in Nice. It runs eight km from Las Planas to Pont Michel, stopping in between at Gare Thiers, Jean Medicin, Place Massena and up to Place Garibaldi.
The cost per journey is a standard fare of 1.30 euros. You can also get a day pass for four euros entitling you to unlimited travel for the day. You can buy tickets at any of the self-service stations where you catch the tram.
The journey from Place Massena to Pont Michel takes approx 16 minutes and there is a tram every four minutes during peak times and every eight minutes off-peak. Trams run from 4 am until 2.30 am the next morning.
S1 bus tours the main areas of the city, the waterfront (Pier Head/Albert Dock/King's Arena), the two cathedrals, the university and links up with the main transport centres in the city.
Buy an Arriva Day Ticket (£3 at present) on the bus and you can hop on and off at the places you really like and you can then use your ticket on any other of the Arriva services around the city. A Saveaway ticket bought from numerous outlets can be used at off-peak times.
Numerous stops around the city but notably Queen Square/Pier Head/King's Arena/Hope Street/Lime Street.
Children love the idea of going in a tunnel under the Mersey and crossing over on a boat. Park at Hamilton Square in Birkenhead, get the ferry to Liverpool (superb, heartbreakingly lovely view) and, after a stroll, picnic and visit to the Albert Dock, get the train back from James Street station. Steep escalators, lifts and friendly station staff. Cheap and good fun.
Hamilton Square is signposted from central Birkenhead and is itself an interesting area. The ferry is a five-minute stroll downhill from the station. Ask if you're not sure.
Spectacular clifftop walk with dips into beachy coves and links to local buses. Very scenic but also windy, with several swimming spots along the way, but you need to bring your own picnic. There is a museum at Porthcurno, too.
Porthcurno to Penzance is a long enough walk that you might want to arrange overnight accomodation along the way, for example at Lamorna.
The Land's End commercial complex is out of place but can be easily ignored, though it is a pity the National Trust have not bought it.
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