Archive for January, 2009

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Canal Cruises in Amsterdam

January 19, 2009

One of Amsterdam’s most distinct features is its wonderful canals which run throughout the city. While you may prefer walking or cycling, do not discount taking a canal cruise which is a great way to leisurely experience the city, day or night.

A good place to start is in front of Amsterdam’s Central Station where you will find a number of canal cruises and tours. Just head over to a particular boat, find out when it is leaving and buy your ticket (tours cost around 10 to 15 Euros). Most tours last for about an hour and are great if you have limited time in Amsterdam or if it starts to rain.

One canal tour worth taking is the Museumboot (Museum Boat) tour which lets you “hop-on-hop-off” near Amsterdam’s many museums and galleries, while also giving you selected discounts on entry fees. A ticket costs around 14 to 16 Euros and tours start in front of the Central Station.

Of course there is no better way to experience Amsterdam at dusk or at night than by taking a specialty canal cruise. The 2 hour Candlelight Cruise (starts at around 7.30 PM) is a great way to spend the evening with that special someone, while the Dinner Cruise which includes a four-course dinner is also an option worth considering. If your musical preferences bend towards jazz, then definitely take the Jazz Cruise (sets off opposite Rijksmuseum) which gives you a chance to enjoy some live jazz music. The Jazz Cruise takes place on Saturdays (8 PM and 10 PM) and is in operation only during summer (April till the end of November).

Taking a canal cruise in Amsterdam is something worth doing at least once. If leisurely cruises are not your style, you can always hire a canal bike (pedal boat) and pedal your way across the city.

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Coming to Paris from London

January 18, 2009

If you’re looking for a quick and hassle free way to get to Paris from London the best option would be to take the Eurostar train (top speed of 300 km/h or 186 mph) which makes the journey across the channel (or rather underneath it) in just 2 hours and 35 minutes. Sure, the flight time to Paris from London is only about an hour and 20 minutes, but that does not take into account the total time added on from commuting by train from both airports (about another 1 hour 15 minutes) and the time it takes to check in.

The Eurostar train, with 16 daily services running right into the Paris city centre is especially ideal for those who may only have time to spend one day in the “City of lights”.

The London Eurostar Terminal can be found at Waterloo International Station which is located close to the London Eye. The Eurostar service to the Euro Disney Resort in Paris also leaves from here. Rail pass holders should remember to bring their passes along as they are eligible to quite a discount, while concession fares are available for young people and those on wheelchairs. Remember, each person is allowed up to 2 pieces of luggage and try to check in about 30 minutes before departure (Check in closes twenty minutes before the scheduled departure time).

Another great advantage of using Eurostar is that it arrives right in the heart of Paris at the 19th century Gare Du Nord Station. The station also has Metro services (lines 4 and 5) and RER (commuter train) services (lines B, D and E) which provide easy access to the many sights and sounds of this romantic city. Outside the Gare Du Nord station one will also find public bus services and a taxi rank. If you have the time, there is no better way to take in Paris than by enjoying a leisurely stroll through the city.

The Gare Du Nord station is located in the 10th arrondissement (a small district in Paris, and Paris is divided into twenty such arrondissement) of Paris, which is home to the picturesque Canal St. Martin and the historic Place de la Republique. Charming restaurants and cafes abound in the area, while close by you will also find the magnificent Sacre Coeur basilica which stands atop Montmartre Hill.

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Getting Last Minute Seats in Paris

January 17, 2009

No matter what the event, getting last minute tickets is not one hundred percent guaranteed, but definitely worth a shot. If you’re in Paris and unexpectedly decide you just have to attend a concert or take in an opera, here are a few options.

If it is last minute theater tickets you are after, then make a beeline to Place de la Madeleine or to the Tour Montparnasse area where you will find booths selling half price tickets (valid for performances on that particular day). The booths are generally open from 12.30PM to about 8PM though they close at around 4PM on Sunday.

As for the opera, you can either try your luck online (www.operadeparis.fr) or head to one of the venues (Opera Garnier, the Bastille or Le Chatelet) and queue up (from about 10AM) to see if there are any last minute seats available. If your attempts prove unsuccessful, remember to check back at the opera about 1 hour before the show starts to see if anyone has returned tickets.

Another final option is that outside most sold out shows you do get a few people trying to sell their tickets at the price they bought it at because they have had to cancel at the last minute, while you will find others selling tickets at black market prices. Beware of forgeries though and be careful that they don’t take your money and leave before handing you the ticket.

As you can see, getting seats at the last minute in Paris depends on luck, fate and just how determined you are. Happy ticket hunting!

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Dublin the City of Living Culture

January 16, 2009

To visit Ireland’s capital city Dublin, is to visit a place rich in history and culture and one which boasts of proud traditions in music, theater and literature. The best way to experience Dublin is by exploring the city and immersing yourself in its colourful and interesting culture.

The Temple Bar district which is located in the Dublin city centre is a good starting point. Considered the main cultural center, Temple Bar is home to many restaurants and pubs where you can soak up the Dublin atmosphere. However, most Dubliners seem to steer clear of this area, so if you really want to mingle with the locals, head to Grafton Street.

After having done your rounds at Temple Bar or Grafton Street, you should consider taking in some of Dublin’s historical attractions. Places worth visiting include Trinity College which is Ireland’s oldest university and home to the ancient book of Kells, Dublin Castle and St Patrick’s Cathedral.

If you want to delve deeper into Dublin’s fascinating culture then definitely consider taking in a show at the Abbey Theater which also happens to be Ireland’s national theatre. Keeping the city’s rich theater tradition alive, Abbey Theater is a great place to take in an authentic Irish stage performance. Also close by is Peacock Theater which is home to more innovative forms of theater productions.

For art lovers a visit to the National Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art is a great way to take in the country’s artistic heritage. Also in Dublin one will find the James Joyce Center where you can learn about the author who penned “Dubliners”.

For the ultimate Irish experience however, visit Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day (17th of March) when the city is transformed into one big celebration of Ireland’s proud cultural heritage.

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Hotel Impero Rome: A Value for Money Stay in the Eternal City!

January 5, 2009

Rome was not built in a day, as is evident to anyone who has walked along its city streets where travellers will find something new to discover behind every corner. While the ancient streets of the Eternal City have retained their old-world charm, the days of the relatively quiet chariot is long gone and has been replaced with the chaotic cacophony of traffic! Those in search of reasonably priced city centre accommodation should look into staying at Hotel Impero.

Looking out over the Roman Opera House, this simple hotel offers real value for money and gives one a chance to experience the different faces of Rome. Getting around the city is not a problem since there are public transportation services close by including the Termini Railway Station which is walking distance away.

In order to experience the city’s vibrant atmosphere one only needs to wander around its lively streets and squares and observe life go not so quietly by! The Impero Hotel Rome is a good starting point for ones excursions and is within easy reach of such attractions as Via Veneto and the Spanish Steps which is an ideal spot for some people watching. The grandiose Coliseum is around 15 to 20 minutes by foot from the hotel. Not to be missed are visits to the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

A more modern side of Rome is its emerging fashion scene which is evident in the number of designer boutiques one will find in the city. Those in search of the latest fashion trends should do their shopping along such areas as Via Condotti and Via del Corso. Even if the designer-ware at these posh shopping streets do not get ones heart racing, the price tags sure will! A more culturally interesting shopping experience is on hand at Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori market and at the Porta Portese flea market.

Rome at night is just as fascinating as in the day especially when certain monuments such as the Coliseum and the Forum are lit up. A popular night-time activity in the warm summer months is to gather around such city fountains as Trevi and Naiads, where one can cool off and enjoy the company of others. Piazza della Rotonda and Campo dei Fiori are also popular hangout spots, while such areas as Trastevere is known for its energetic club scene.

Guests of Hotel Impero Rome wanting to unwind after their many sightseeing excursions can do so at the onsite terrace where one can enjoy views of the city. A breakfast service is offered here as well, while guestrooms come with air conditioning, a private bathroom and a television. Even though the hotel does not have dining options, its central location means that guests have easy access to many restaurants and cafes where one can try some local dishes or enjoy a lazy evening drink.

Chockfull of unforgettable memories and great photo opportunities, a visit to Rome is an experience of a lifetime. Those wanting more information on the Impero Hotel and the city’s attractions can refer, “A Guide to Hotel Impero & Rome for First Time Visitors.”

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DAM SQUARE AMSTERDAM IS THE BEST AREA TO STAY

January 2, 2009

Amsterdam being the capital of Netherlands has been the stuff of fairytales and stories. Besides its contribution to the world of children’s stories, this inimitable destination is a well loved place when it comes to the numerous tourist visits per year. What is even more enticing is that fact that this locale offers so much more than the average holiday when it comes to the many attractions and venues that have historical and cultural significance. Venture in and experience a holiday that could be described as being mesmerizing and pleasurable. In a place like this there is much to do and experience especially if one does plan to visit with family and friends.

Whilst Amsterdam may be according to many an oasis of sorts, it should be stated that one of the best areas to stay is the Dam Square Amsterdam. The latter is essentially an area that is both cosmopolitan and international sin terms of quality standards. There are as expected in a place such as this a wide and enticing array of shops, cafes and boutiques that sell a plethora of goodies and trinkets, some of which are of local manufacture. Besides this obvious expectation, there are also many other historical and cultural venues that would call for a mandatory visit by any tourist.

The unique and cosy Dam Square Amsterdam is also known for the many accommodation spots that dot the entire area. There are many hotels and accommodation spots that offer an adequate and decent stay with typical Dutch hospitality. Of course, there are also many other hotels which are of a high standard and do offer many superlative and enviable facilities and amenities which has the comfort and pleasure of guests in mind. While there are many accommodation spots that could be regarded as being “adequate” to being “posh”, there are also many hotels that would comfortably sit in between these two extremes.

For example,the NH Krasnapolsky Amsterdam is a much loved accommodation unit which does offer its guests a fabulous and entertaining stay. Located in the heart of the Dam Square Amsterdam, it is one of the most ideal spots to stay in. Once settled in, tourists would be well advised to visit the many charming places that this area offers. A notable event that takes place is the Queens Day or on Christmas there is a huge funfair in this town square. With lots of merry making, food and drink adding to the mix of things, there is much jollity and entertainment during this festive period.

Home to the NH Krasnapolsky Amsterdam, the Dam Square Amsterdam is also part of much history and culture. Throughout the many years, the Dam Square Amsterdam has made its claim economically and socially. Besides being an economic hub of sorts, this area could be even seen in many famous and old paintings. A stock exchange, namely the Beurs van Zocher was built in 1837. While the Zocher building in the area was done away with, in its place since 1914 the De Bijenkorf department store has made its steadfast claim.

As explained earlier, there are many things to see and do in this particular area in Amsterdam. Home to the fascinating NH Krasnapolsky Amsterdam, there is no shortage of accommodation options. There are also many shops, boutiques and restaurants appealing in turn to those who are materialistic to those who are connoisseurs of food. Indubitably this would be one of the most exciting places to stay especially is one is visiting Amsterdam for an entertaining vacation filled with fun, frolic and loads of memories.

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Tips on Alicante Airport

January 2, 2009

If you are heading to Alicante or even to the lively resorts of Benidorm or Torrevieja, then sooner or later you are going to find yourself at Alicante Airport.

Here are just a few tips which could make your journey all the more enjoyable.

After having collected your luggage you will have to choose your mode of transport. The cheapest (around 0.90 Euro) way to get to downtown Alicante is by way of the C-6 Alicante Airport Bus (Bus Stop 30) which stops across the road from the arrivals terminal. The bus normally arrives every 45 minutes and journey time is around 40 minutes. While there is also a direct bus service to Benidorm (Bus Stop 29 – 30), other transport options include hiring a car at one of Alicante Airport’s car rental desks (Avis, Europa, Hertz, etc.) or taking an airport taxi.

In the event of your baggage getting lost when you arrive at the Airport, head to the lost luggage counter and fill out a standard form (available in English) and remember to tell the staff where you are staying so that your luggage can be delivered to you. Also ask for a “survival package” which should see you through till your luggage arrives.

There can also be the rare occasion when your luggage could have got damaged (wheels, handles, etc.), in which case remember to take it to the luggage claim desk (near the luggage claim belt), where you will get a form which you need to send to your airline.

One final note for those checking-in at Alicante Airport; since the airport is small, things can get a bit hectic and it is better to check-in at least 90 minutes before departure time (during summer). Happy travels for 2009.