Archive for December, 2008


Free things to do in New York City

December 30, 2008

Who ever said, that nothing in this world is free got it wrong! New York City offers lots of fun family attractions and activities which are absolutely free of charge and gives one a true feel of the ‘Big Apple’.

Here is a list of things I picked up from around, that you can do for free in New York City:

Big Apple Greeter Tour
Especially tailored to help “out of towners” who are unfamiliar with New York, these free guided tours are led by friendly local volunteers who know their way around the city. Each tour covers one of the city’s five boroughs and is a great way of discovering some hidden treasures of New York which lie off the beaten path. A tour usually lasts between 2 to 4 hours and group sizes are small (2 to 6 people). If you wish to organise a Big Apple Greeter tour or get more information, the local number to call is (212) 669-8159.

Staten Island Ferry
I am told that a ride on the Staten Island Ferry which travels between Staten Island (St. George Ferry Terminal) and lower Manhattan (Whitehall Terminal) is something definitely not to be missed. This free 25 minute (approximately) ferry ride gives you a chance to just relax and take in some breathtaking views of New York City, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Do remember to take your camera for some photographs to show off to your neighbours!

Alliance for Downtown New York
Alliance for Downtown New York is another free tour service where visitors are taken on a 90 minute walking tour of the lively Downtown area. Stops along the way include Custom House, the Trinity Church, Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. The Downtown New York tour takes place every Thursday and Saturday and departs from the front steps of the US Custom House (One Bowling Green) at 12:00 PM (noon). Those travelling in groups will have to reserve ahead (contact (212) 606-4064 for details).

Sony Wonder Technology Lab
The hi-tech world of the Sony Wonder Technology Lab (56th Street and Madison Avenue) showcases the latest trends in cutting edge technology and communication and is another ‘must visit’ free attraction. This 4 floor ‘lab’ is a great interactive learning experience for the whole family and features hands-on exhibits which give you a chance to get involved in digital sound processing, operate robots, edit a music video and even create your own racing game!

More Freebies!
What else is there for free in New York? Well, there is the Downtown Boathouse (Pier 26 in TriBeCa between Canal and Chambers streets and Pier 64 in Chelsea at West 24th street) where one can go kayaking, Grand Central Terminal which offers free tours every Wednesday at 12:30 PM, the Socrates Sculpture Park (32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City), Queens Botanical Garden (43-50 Main Street, Flushing) and the National Museum of the American Indian.

So although New York can be pretty expensive, these free offerings can go a long way in making your visit to the Big Apple quite an economical experience.


Park Inn Russell Square Hotel in London- My Last Stay

December 22, 2008

One would hardly come across places Bloomsbury where visitors and tourists alike would feel its home away from home. As any traveller would know Bloomsbury is surely a traveller’s delight. It is filled with a plethora of historical attractions, culture, clubs, pubs and restaurants serving the best of British cuisine. It would come as no surprise that this is a destination that is well loved and well respected the world over. Tourists and visitors alike would gleefully celebrate this charming locale since it does on a grand and social level epitomizes everything that is quintessentially British.

It would be noteworthy to mention the numerous things that tourists could do in this enticing locale. Besides endeavouring to visit the numerous historical attractions, some of which include churches which are archaic and which do possess intrinsic historical value, tourists could also visit places such as the British Museum. Though the latter may only hold a mere modicum of British heritage, it surely offers a deep insight into the vast culture and the numerous tributes to such a grand heritage. It is a must visit and tourists and visitors alike who decide to overlook this particular attraction is truly missing something vastly impressive and important.

Most of the visitors to this destination do arrive for either business or pleasure. Whilst the latter would certainly have oodles of time on their hands to enjoy the vast contribution Bloomsbury has made to the rest of the British culture, it should be categorically said that modish Bloomsbury offers those travellers who are on business a technologically infused region sans the hassle and inconvenience. The art of being modern more or less could be seen through the numerous hotels that dot the entire region. What is appealing to most travellers is the simple fact that there is some accommodation property available that will suit the budget constraints of any traveller.

The Park Inn Russell Square Hotel in London is a unique and inimitable abode that truly does define what “accommodation” means. There is much to enjoy here besides the traditional hospitality of its staff. Famed for its many facilities and amenities, this is one property that seeks to deliver on its promise of super service. Although there are many facilities and amenities on offer it should be noted that many of these would have an additional surcharge. Amenities also depend and vary according to the type of room being booked.

It is no surprise that visitors do come time and time again to the Park Inn Russell Square Hotel in London, since it is after all avant-garde and a pleasant place to enjoy a decent holiday. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a holiday whilst experiencing the sights and sounds of the nearby vicinity. Think about it. Wouldn’t it be simply sublime to venture into this charming location a


A day in Gatorland

December 22, 2008

Gatorland in Orlando (around 20 minutes from Walt Disney World) is a one of a kind attraction which kids will love and is a great place to visit if you are looking for a break from Walt Disney World. As you may have guessed by the name, the star attractions of this 110 acre park are alligators which is a point emphasized by the huge alligator head entrance.

Divided into different sections, Gatorland is a great way to learn about these misunderstood creatures, though their toothy grin is still likely to send shivers down your spine! A good place to start is at Alligator Island and Gator Lake which is home to numerous alligators and crocodiles. If you are lucky you may even catch a glimpse of the park’s largest inhabitant, Alf, who measures over 15 feet.

Gatorland also has shows well worth seeing including the thrilling Gator Jumparoo Show where huge alligators literally jump out of the water to catch food from their trainers. If your nerves can stand more, then you should also take in the alligator wrestling show which features fearless wranglers tussling with live gators and showing you some of their specific features.

Time permitting you can also visit Gatorland’s Snakes of Florida exhibit and Flamingo Lagoon as well as take a ride on a mini train and meet friendly barnyard animals at Allie’s Barnyard including adorable Dolly Llama and Gracie the goat!

A day in Gatorland is a horrifyingly fascinating experience and is well worth a visit.


Benidorm Au Naturale

December 19, 2008

Benidorm’s wildlife encompasses a wide facet of attractions, which make for interesting, educating, amusing and exciting outings. There are a few parks which travellers to Benidorm can visit, and they will find that the town is a haven for a large variety of species of fauna and flora. Benidorm has developed a reputation and is sometimes called the “Manhattan of Spain” or “Beniyork” because of the many Benidorm apartments, hotels and high rise buildings which form its skyline. However, that being said, travellers will find that there is more to the town than that which meets the eye.

The Terra Natura Park of Benidorm is widely acclaimed and a major hit with tourists who travel to this locality. The concept behind this popular wildlife park in Benidorm divides the park into four distinct areas. These areas include America, Asia, Europe and ‘Pangea’. The ‘Pangea’ area is close to the entrance and here visitors can gaze at an impressive display of deadly and venomous creatures! Each ‘continent’ is home to animals and vegetation which is native to it. Visitors will also find typical dishes of the region in the sector restaurants!

There are a wide variety of Benidorm apartments within easy reach of the site, making it an ideal place for travellers to spend the day. While this is a perfect place to view the wildlife of Benidorm, guests can also cool of and relax at the water park. The best bit about the park is how tourists can get up close to view the animals without their safety being compromised. Some of the animals to be found here include Bengali tigers, Peruvian llamas, donkeys and a fabulous Mediterranean aquarium (which can be visit at an extra charge). Some months guests will also find that the park hosts special night safari tours and theme nights.

The Mundomar Marine Exotic Animal Park is another fabulous attraction for those of all ages! There is a dolhinarium, flamingos, turtles, sea lions and penguins- to name a few of the main attractions. A range of exotic bird fauna can also be viewed here such as wild swans, ducks and pelicans.

The Aitana Safari Park, which is near the village of Sella and around 33km from Benidorm is also a brilliant place to view the wildlife of Benidorm. The wildlife here consists of animals like elephants, lions and tigers, which can be viewed as guests follow the safari trail which runs through the park. The children’s zoo with its nursery is another highlight of this sight, as guests can visit new born animals.

There are many apartments in Benidorm where travellers can opt to stay at. Guests don’t have to compromise when it comes to accommodation as the apartments of Benidorm cater to varying traveller needs, ensuring that they have a comfortable stay. Guests looking to explore the wildlife of Benidorm will find that there are Benidorm hotels and apartments which allow for ease of access to such attractions.

Less than an hour’s drive from the hotels of Benidorm, lies the Vergel Safari Park. Travellers will have an adrenaline pumped experience as the tigers, leopards and wolves roam free while they drive through it in their car. Domestic animals such as pig and ponies, offer an alternative for those who don’t fancy too much adventure! Children are guaranteed a fun time as go carts, mini trains and a play area is also on site.

For those who are interested in the aquatic wildlife of Benidorm, a catamaran cruise where they can snorkel and scuba dive is a pleasant alternative to snorkelling on Benidorm’s beaches. Whereas if you prefer to view aquatic wildlife from a dry distance, take a trip on a submarine to Benidorm Island which is 2km out to sea. At the island is a conservation refuge for a variety of flora and fauna.

These are but a few of the wildlife attractions of Benidorm. Rest assured that your trip will be a pleasant one, especially with the wide variety of apartments and hotels in Benidorm, which offer different types of accommodation to suit your holiday budget!


For the first time visitor in Paris

December 19, 2008

If you’re a first time visitor to Paris, it does help to have some background information before you visit. Here are a few things worth noting before you embark on your holiday to that beautiful and romantic city.

The layout
Paris is divided into different “arrondissements” or districts, which spiral out from the center of the capital. Thus the 1st arrondissement is the most central, while the 10th arrondissement is further away. These districts each possess a unique character and provide a whole different experience altogether.

Getting around
Without a doubt, Paris is best explored by foot. The many attractions and districts are walking distance from each other and give you a chance to soak up the Parisian atmosphere. Those pressed for time can make use of the city’s well connected metro or bus services. If you are on a budget then it is worth buying a “carnet” of ten metro tickets or even a “Paris Visite” pass which gives you unlimited use of most public transport services.


What’s worth seeing?
Apart from the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum which are high on everyone’s list, other interesting attractions include the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Pantheon, the Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur and of course the Moulin Rouge which only caters to adult visitors. Check ahead before visiting museums or galleries since many of them tend to be closed on either Monday or Tuesday. Do try also to make time to stop at a sidewalk cafe which is a wonderful experience altogether.


How to manage your daily budget in Paris

December 19, 2008

If you’re heading to Paris and wondering how much to put aside for your daily budget, here is a rough guide that will hopefully give you an idea of general costs in the capital.

If you have bought your airline ticket and booked accommodation, the next big money drainer is going to be food. Prices vary widely on the kind of restaurant you go to and what district it is in. On average, breakfast will cost about 5 Euros, lunch 15 Euros and dinner 20 Euros. A stop at a cafe will be about 2 Euros, while some decent wine will come to about 10 Euros. If it is your first visit to Paris do try to at least one authentic French style meal which adds to the whole holiday experience.

Try and stick to restaurants in “touristy” areas such as Champs Elysees and Saint Germain des pres which are a bit cheaper. Beware of sodas as they are priced at a premium and stick with some good old fashioned water. Another thing to keep in mind is that most bills include service charge so you do not have to give an added 15% (though leaving some small change is a nice gesture).

As for travel, walking and using the metro or the bus instead of taxis will save you a lot of money. A metro / bus ticket is about 1 Euro, though you can save by buying a “carnet” of ten metro tickets or by deals such as the “Paris Visite” pass. While some museums / attractions are free, others will cost around 10 Euros.

Budget concerns aside, remember that it may be some time before you next visit Paris, so don’t be overly frugal and prevent yourself from having a truly memorable holiday.


Winter in Almeria – a great winter destination

December 16, 2008

If you want to get away from the bone chilling cold of winter then look no further. One of the best destinations to head towards is Almeria in the southeast corner of Spain where the climate even in winter does not fall below an average of 13 degrees Celsius. Rest and unwind in one of the most charming and unspoiled regions in southern Spain.


The generally warm and dry climate with low rainfall in this region ensures that your trip will enjoy mild weather and don’t forget that the number of hours of sun enjoyed per year is over 3,000! No wonder Almeria is the home of Europe’s largest solar energy plant. So don’t hesitate, Almeria is the only destination in the whole of Europe that will ensure that you don’t end up with those “winter blues”! Now you have a choice of seeking solace in balmy weather instead of facing the gloom of winter.

You can reach Almeria by traveling to the nearby international airports in Murcia, Granada and Malaga. Due to its location near the coast, protected by the natural barrier of Sierra de Gador, this province consists of semi arid desert like landscape which is conducive to agricultural produce. Moreover you can join the fiestas that are celebrated along the coastline as well as browse the popular handicrafts in pottery, ceramics, esparto, rugs and marble whilst enjoying gastronomic delights like paprika, gurullos and seafood, a legacy from Almeria’s rich past. While you are there you can visit the Moorish citadel, Alcazaba and the Gothic cathedral, a 300 year old hospital, spectacular beaches and many tapas bars.