Archive for April, 2009

27
Apr
09

Grange-Over-Sands – Sun, Sand and You

It’s where the highway men once stood waiting for unsuspecting travelers who decided to take a short cut from Hest Bank to Lancaster in the 1500s. Today, Grange-over-Sands, in Cumbria attracts tourists seven miles south of Lake Windermere. On the south stretch the sands go up to Morecambe Bay.

Then, came the abbeys and in 1904, original cast iron seats were built along a mile-long walkway for pilgrims. The promenade is now lush with flowers and shrubs. It was in the early 1500s when Cartmel Priory used the town as a grain storage area. Today, the town also wows visitors with one of the tallest Christmas trees in all of British Isles – the 100-ft Wellingtonia!

Gray limestone homes and hotels with Victorian architecture circle the seafront. The Park Road Gardens are the spot for the ever-popular concerts in summer. Yewbarrow Terrace is the shopping mall with Higginsons’ butcher shop, which has won the ‘Best Butcher in Britain prize.

Grange-over-Sands was also known as the ‘Riviera of Cumbria’ and got its own railroad in 1857. That was when Grange-over-Sands was swamped by tourists who came to enjoy the sun and sand. Every year in June, there is an Edwardian festival you cannot miss. There are hundreds of smalls selling handicraft items, food and more. The local residents, including the stall-owners dress up in Edwardian clothes.

And, if you’re out on a stroll you cannot miss the St Paul’s parish Church dating back to 1852. The local St Bee’s clock tower dates back to 1913 while the Hampsfell Hospice, a small stone tower, set upon a hill above the town was built in 1834. You will love the half-hour walk through limestone woods to the top. From there you can see the Black Combe, the Langdale Pikes, Scawfell, and Bowfell.

Possibly this site was involved in military activities during the battle between the King of Cumbria and the King of the Saxons in AD 946 and later when the Jacobite rebels came in 1745.

Holker Hall has several museums and hosts the Garden Festival every year. For those who love to hike, the Cross Bay Walk offers an eight-mile stretch that takes them to nearby villages. Grange-over-Sands are reachable via the M6, train, cross-country roads, and by flights to Manchester airport to enjoy the mild weather, countryside and period charm.

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19
Apr
09

Top UK Cities For Shopping

London

London is classed as one of the world’s top shopping destinations, from its exciting and renowned Harrods and Harvey Nichols, to its many high streets, colourful laneways and bustling markets, London has it all when it comes to the latest fashion trends and must-haves.

London is high on the list as one of the major fashion capitals of the world and is best known for its fashion, style, electric mix and trendsetting. If Versace, Prada and the likes are your thing then Bond Street is the place to go. For lavish stores Regent Street is the answer with wonderful gems such as Liberty Store, French Connection, Laura Ashley, United Colors of Benetton and many more.

Convent Garden is London’s trendy shopping area and you will find shopping in Covent Garden an exciting experience, alot of the things you buy here you can’t get anywhere else! Convent Garden is home to many designer stores, boutiques and of course some quaint little restaurants and caf├ęs where you can drop those bags and take time out from all that shopping!

Of course no shopping trip is complete without a visit to London’s Oxford Street. Oxford Street truly is a shopper’s paradise offering the very latest in fashion trends for every taste, shape and size! Oxford Street probably has one of the highest content of shops on one street than anywhere else in the world. From Riverisland to Top Shop, Miss Selfridge to GAP the list is endless.

Birmingham

Looking to revitalise that wardrobe? Satisfy your craving for shopping? Purchase some head-turning outfits? Or you just simply are looking for a great location to go on that shopping spree? Then look no further, Birmingham has it all and so much more to satisfy your every shopping need!

For that great shopping experience you must visit Birmingham’s shopping centre called ‘The Bullring’. The Bullring is Europe’s biggest city-centre retail zone and offers a great shopping experience from H&M, to Mango, Karen Millen, to Footlocker and hundreds more.

Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK and is home to over 700 retail stores, from the major retail stores and brand names to the colourful side streets you will want to spend a few days here.

Edinburgh

The beautiful city of Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and offers an excellent shopping experience. Whether you are looking for an outfit for a special occasion, trendy casual wear, or perhaps a tartan berry and kilt you will get all these and more when you hit Edinburgh’s shopping streets.

If you are looking for luxury shops Louis Vuitton and Harvey Nichols are sure to satisfy. Princes Street is Edinburgh’s principal shopping thoroughfare and home to the many high street shops mentioned in London and Birmingham. You will also have plenty of opportunity to purchase some souvenirs as you browse the wonderful shops and streets of Edinburgh.

Mairead writes for Novacarhire.com – an independent car hire reservation website where you can book low cost car hire at over 5000 locations worldwide.

12
Apr
09

Useful Travel Tips to Rio De Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro or “River of January” in English is Brazil’s 2nd largest and South America’s 3rd largest city. It is situated behind Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. From the year 1763 up to the year 1822, it stood as Brazil’s capital city while under the Portuguese colony. It became an independent nation from the year 1822 up to the year 1960. Hence, from 1808 up to 1821 it was considered as the Portuguese Empire’s capital. It is also known as “A Cidade Maravilhosa” or “The Marvelous City” as its nickname.

Rio de Janeiro, or just Rio, is popular because of the vast natural settings, Samba and various other music as well as Carnival celebrations. There is also a wide array of tourist beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana paved with cream and black swirl-like pattern mosaic decorations or Pedra Portuguesa as it is most known for.

One of the most popular local attractions in Rio de Janeiro, apart from its unspoiled beaches, is the Christ the Redeemer or Cristo Redentor. It is Jesus Christ’s giant statue that lies on top of the Corcovado Mountain. Just recently, it was considered as part of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Other attractions include Sugarloaf Mountain’s cable cars or the Pao de Acucar, the Sambodromo, a permanent giant parade stand used during Carnivals and the Maracana Stadium deemed as the largest football stadium in the world.

Aside from all of these the Tijuca Forest or Floresta da Tijuca and the White Stone State Park or the Parque Estadual da Pedra Branca both the world’s largest as well as the 2nd largest urban forest also lies here in Rio de Janeiro. Going to other Brazilian cities is also no problem with the Galeao-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport because it connects various international flights to Rio de Janeiro.

Here are some useful travel tips to Rio de Janeiro:

Money Exchange
When bringing and exchanging money in Rio, you can bring cash, traveler’s checks or credit cards. When bringing some cash, it is wise to put it inside a money belt and keep it there until you reach the hotel. Of course, it is also safer to book in a hotel that provides a safety deposit box inside your room.

Traveler’s checks are good but the exchange rate is always a problem. However, it is good to bring some for emergency purposes. Carrying debit or credit cards is also very convenient in Rio. The most widely accepted are Visa, AmEx, Diner’s and MasterCard. This is best when going on shopping sprees, dining outside and paying your hotel bills. If your credit card falls under the Cirrus system, you can also use it to withdraw some cash.

For visa card holders, you can withdraw from Banco Itau, Banco do Brasil and Brandesco. Thus, if ever you plan to withdraw at any of the ATM machines in Rio, it is in Portuguese so make sure you ask for help from bank personnel only. This means that if you will be exchanging your money, you will lose money because of the exchange rate. This makes the ATM’s Cirrus system as your best option since they use the same rate as the one you use back home.

In Rio, currencies apart from Euros or US dollars are not that good. It is best to just bring either of the two, particularly the US$ which consecutively gets the best rate.

The Portuguese Language
When going to Brazil, it is best to brush up on some Portuguese language. A quick course would do about basic conversation. It is also advisable to buy translations book. It might be handy in your trip.

Brazilian Currency
The currency in Brazil is called Real. They have the R$50, R$100, R$20, R$5, R$10, R$1 and R$2 bills. The exchange rate at current is R$3=US$1. There are also 2 varieties for every coin except for the coin R$1. The real can be divided in 100 centavos. These coins are handy for coffee, bus rides and gums.

Having a Visa
For Europeans, only a valid passport and return ticket is needed in order to enter Brazil. Upon entry, you also need to fill up an entry card, allowing you to stay for about 90 days. This will be attached to your passport. The other half is kept by immigration officials. Losing this will entail a delay in your departure.

For Canadians, Australians, US and New Zealand citizens, a visa is required. You can get this from your home country’s Brazilian embassy. Thus, make sure you also contact them prior to going to Brazil so that you are aware of the full entry requirements.

When you already have a tourist visa, you have the option of extending it for another 90 days. You only need to apply this at least 15 days prior to the expiration of the 1st one. However, you can only do this once. Afterwards, you need to leave the country and just reenter at another time.

Thus, for those who are from Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay as well as other neighboring countries, you only need a photo ID to enter Rio. For countries that require a visa, the requirements for a visa include a copy of your round trip ticket, your passport that should be valid for another 6 months, 1 colored or black and white passport size photo, show money, vaccination certificates and the visa application form from the Brazilian embassy or consulate.

04
Apr
09

The Graceful Glamour of Monaco

Monaco is deemed as one of the most impressive and sophisticated countries. With Monte Carlo as its capital, Monaco is the second smallest nation in the world, next to Vatican. This 1.9 square kilometer country has been an emblem of prestige and glamour. The official language is French. The populace is made up of a hundred plus different nationalities. The children are obliged to learn French in school.

The elegance of Monaco was enhanced all the more by the wedding of Prince Rainier III and American actress Grace Kelly in 1956. The lovely actress met the bachelor prince when she was in Cannes to promote her movie. To Catch a Thief. Their marriage blessed them with children Caroline, Albert and Stephanie. A car accident on a fateful day in 1982 on a Monaco cliff took the life of Princess Grace and injured Stephanie. Her people still grieve over her death to this day.

Monaco is a sanctuary to casino lovers and fashion aficionados. It is celebrated for quite a few things. First, it celebrates the dazzling life of the Grimaldis, the fascinating royal family. Second is the Formula One cars bellowing through the manicured streets during the Grand Prix. This is a customary race that produces more visitors and money. And third, the Monte Carlo casino. In recent times, the country has gained handsome revenue by developing into an economic delight, and a gambling seat with the establishment of the internationally eminent Monte Carlo Casino in 19th century.

Monaco roads are tidy, well designed and constructed. These, together with luxuriant parks and classy palaces are highly safe mainly because to the attendance of efficient police and patrollers as well as CCTV cameras. Also, the French Riviera, the Mediterraneans coastline of Frances southeastern part is one great reason to come and experience the elegance and splendor of Monaco.

The locality of Monte Carlo is regarded as the country’s most well-off district and is mainly distinguished for its exciting ambiance. Its glamour and popularity appeals to the rich and famous who in turn magnetize everyday travelers to Monte Carlo. This rocky peninsula lies to the north of the Port of Monaco. The roads of the district’s most lofty portion are crammed with companies and stores. These include the Radio/Television Monte-Carlo headquarters, Boulevard Princesse Charlotte, and the Boulevard des Moulins. These are joined by the Avenue de la Costa that showcases a lot of luxury shops.

Monaco faithfully keeps its independence too. Even Charles de Gaulle himself, French general and leader wasn’t able to compel the departed Prince Rainier to eradicate his tax-free law. Almost all of Monacos income emanates from tourism and casino as the Monegasques do not pay taxes.

Monaco brings you many interesting attractions. Take a trip to Les Spelugues, a significant complex of the Congress Center that consists of 100 apartments and Loews Hotel with 636 rooms. Or be amazed at the Oceanographic Museum, the country’s most visited museum hovering spectacularly on Monaco Villes cliff-top. It features a marvelous panorama over the sea as well as showcases myriads of fine-looking fish species in its aquariums. Plus, taking an expedition in a helicopter will have you witness the marina that accommodates private yachts and vessels.

While indeed a wealthy region, visiting it does not entail spending a fortune. Travelers can lodge at budget hostels. In Monaco you can spend some pleasant days and being the country so tiny, even a one-day tour may be highly fascinating.