Category Archives: Travel

As well as the conventional approach to promoting holiday destinations, we like to think outside the box and offer our readers alternative ideas.

The Gem of The English Rivera

Torquay is famous for its deep aqua-marine sea, beaches, beautiful cliffs and panoramic views. Known as The Gem of The English Rivera, it makes the perfect UK holiday destination.

Dotted all over this quaint town are dozens of shops selling locally-made gifts, and there’s also a thriving shopping outlet right in the heart of the Town Centre. The harbour, meanwhile, is filled with  leisure yachts and fishing boats.

There is loads to do, both day and night. Chill out by the sea, enjoy walks and water-sports, or visit one of Torquay’s famous attractions.

Oddicombe Beach

One of the best-known places in Torquay is Oddicombe Beach, with its distinctive red sandstone cliffs. This shingle beach is a great place to relax on a deckchair or take part in water-sports.

Oddicombe Beach photographed by Derek Harper / Source: Wikimedia Commons
Oddicombe Beach photographed by Derek Harper / Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hike up to the cliff-top to enjoy the magnificent view across the bay, or take the Babbacombe Cliff Railway, which runs from the top of the Breccia cliffs all the way down to the water edge. Facilities include beach huts, a shop and a newly re-furbished cafe.

Babbacombe Model Village

A few yards from Oddicombe Beach is Babbacome Model village, one of the best model villages in the UK. Visitors of all ages can enjoy this miniature world, which portrays English life over the last 5 decades.

Babbacombe Model Village photographed by MANHATTAN RESEARCH INC / Source: Wikimedia Commons
Babbacombe Model Village photographed by MANHATTAN RESEARCH INC / Source: Wikimedia Commons

The village includes over 400 model buildings (including stately homes, factories, shops, farms and a hydro-electric dam) and is inhabited by 13,000 figurines. A tasteful hint of humour is incorporated into the design and features, while the award-winning miniature landscape gardens are a delight in their own right!

Living Coasts Zoo and Aquarium

Living Coasts offers up-close experiences with some of the resident marine animals of Torquay. Here you will meet otters, octopuses, seals and even penguins. There are also games, talks and panoramic underwater viewing areas.

Enjoy local food and stunning views at the Living Coasts Cafe, or peruse the Fair Trade jewellery and local art at the Tradewinds Gift Shop, where all profits go towards Living Coasts’ conservation work.

Places To Stay

  • Vomero Holiday Apartments: Vomero is a Grade II listed building. It has been occupied by a number of famous guests including the engineer Brunel and the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. The building has now been converted into five spacious self-catering apartments, set within award-winning gardens with splendid sea views.
  • Chelston Dene Holiday Apartments: If you’re on a budget, you’ll find excellent self-catering accommodation at Chelston Dene Holiday Apartments. The hosts Rod and Jackie Payne are on-site to help you feel at home. Pets are welcome to stay as well.
  • The Downs Babbacombe: If you would rather wake up to views of the English Channel from Babbacombe, The Downs Babbacombe is a 4 Star hotel offering breath-taking sea-view suites. It is owned by Kate and Ed and is an excellent place to stay. The couple and dedicated staff make you feel part of their family from the moment you arrive to the end of your stay.

Also worth mentioning is award-winning Hanbury’s, just around the corner from Babbacombe Downs, where the best freshly-caught fish & chips is on the menu.

Hope Ilori

See the Red Arrows at Blackpool

Blackpool is one of the UK’s best seaside holiday destinations, hosting spectacular aircraft displays every  August.

This year, the world famous Red Arrows will be there to surprise the crowds with jaw-dropping aerobatics from the 7th to 8th  August. Fans of flying sport will also be able to see the Typhoon, Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster Bomber fly over Blackpool’s South, Central and North Piers.

Red Arrows Air Display
The Red Arrows in flight / Source: bigstockphoto.com

It’s a great family-orientated event, with spectators  lining the length and breadth of the Promenade up to nearby Bispham. The presence of commentators, the press, local dignitaries  and TV personalities adds to the feel-good festival atmosphere.

While you’re there, be sure to see the  Comedy Carpet at the heart of Blackpool’s Central Pier. Created by artist Gordon Young, it’s a huge visual representation of the jokes, songs and catchphrases of over 1,000 comedians.

The Comedy Carpet is  a favourite back-drop for selfie-taking visitors, and reading the quotes  is truly inspirational.

Blackpool's Comedy Carpet photographed by Immanuel Giel / Source: Wikimedia Commons
Blackpool’s Comedy Carpet photographed by Immanuel Giel / Source: Wikimedia Commons

The aircraft display is free and creates a real buzz as tourists flock to the Fylde Coast to watch.  Remember to book in advance, as it coincides with the summer holidays!

Hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, self-catering and caravan accommodation all have their ‘No Vacancies’ signs up, much to the dismay of those who haven’t secured anywhere to stay for the weekend.

Our tried-and-tested top places to stay:

  • The Beach House: 5* self-catering apartments located in picturesque Bispham
  • Queens Mansions Holiday Apartments: 5* self-catering apartments with sea views, also in Bispham
  • Sea-Cote Holiday Apartments: apartments with sea views and a 3* Visit England Tourist Award
  • Chellow Grange Holiday Flats: ideal for those on a smaller budget but with high-end taste, these flats are located on Queens Promenade (a few yards away from the private Formula Go-Karting Track) and have sea views
  • Camelot Sea Front Hotel: a family-friendly bed-and-breakfast right on the South Promenade offering views of the lovely Irish Sea

If you miss this year’s air show, do not despair, as a few weeks later you can secure a spot somewhere on the Promenade to watch the Blackpool Firework Championships, followed by the Blackpool Illuminations that welcome in the winter and Christmas festivities.

Hope Ilori

The City of a Hundred Spires

What do you know about Prague? If you’ve never been there, take a short trip with us to discover why this city makes such an intriguing holiday destination.

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic. While its history stretches back into ancient times, it truly began to thrive in the 14th century, when it was transformed into an imperial capital by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.

According to myth, one of the rabbis of Prague created a clay creature named a ‘Golem’ which was supposed to protect the Jewish community from anti-Semitic attacks. The clay was taken from the banks of the Vltava river, and was brought to life by Hebrew incantations. There are lots of stories surrounding the Golem of Prague, but nobody knows what truth there is in the legends.

charles_bridge

Prague’s rich past and architectural gems are bound to keep you fascinated throughout your stay. Here are just a few examples of what the city has to offer:

Prague Castle

Prague Castle is the largest medieval castle in Europe (over 70,000 m2). It is the most important cultural and historical monument in Prague, even housing Bohemia’s Crown Jewels.

An old legend says that if a usurper places the crown on his head, he will be doomed to die within a year. The last time this supposedly came true was in World War II, when high-ranking Nazi official
Reinhard Heydrich is said to have secretly worn the regalia. In less than a year he was assassinated by British-trained Czech soldiers.

When visiting Prague Castle, it is worth taking a stroll through the beautiful gardens and trying to find Golden Lane. This street, inside the castle walls, consists of a few tiny, colorful houses – most notably No. 22, where Franz Kafka wrote his masterpieces.

According to the stories, the lane was once home to alchemists who sought to turn ‘base metal’ into gold, which is how it gained its name.

The Astronomical Clock

ASTRONOMICAL-CLOCK-DETAIL-PRAGUE_CZECH_REPUBLIC_1_1024x1024While visiting Prague, you must not miss the world-famous Astronomical Clock. The third oldest of its kind in the world, this treasure was installed in 1410 and still works today. People are amazed watching its procession of Apostles, parading figures and unique demonstrations of time.

The clock shows the sunrise and sunset, the zodiac calender, phases of the moon and, of course, the actual hour. It is best to watch it at noon, when the clock really comes to life.

The Franz Kafka Museum

One of the greatest Czech writers was born near the Old Town Square in 1883. You may recognize his name; it is, of course, Franz Kafka. In the Franz Kafka Museum you can see some of his first edition books along with his correspondences, photos and animations, which have never been shown before.

The Petrin Observation Tower

A mini-version of the Eiffel Tower, the Petrin Observation Tower was erected in 1891 for the Jubilee Exhibition advancing Czech technological achievements. The metal structure is 60m high, and you can climb the 299 steps to reach the top. You can capture wonderful views of the city if you chose to walk there uphill through the park, or you can always reach it by the funicular railway.

The Charles Bridge

From the Petrin Hill you are able to look down across the city to the stunning, pedestrianized Charles Bridge, the construction of which was begun in 1357 under the auspices of the Czech Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. As the only way across the  Vltava river until 1841, the Charles Bridge was the most important connection
between Prague Castle and the Old Town.Prague_charles_bridge_kampa (1)

The most famous of the 30 statues on the bridge is that of Bohemian Saint Jan Nepomucky, which people believe brings you good fortune when touched; so, when you walk past it, don’t be shy!

Places to eat

After your sightseeing you will be starving, so why not go to one of the many traditional restaurants, cafes and bars in Prague?

A great example is Pod Slavinem in Old Town Square, which has a friendly atmosphere, and extensive menu and reasonable prices, making it an excellent venue to experience the delights of Czech cuisine and to sample the internationally-renowned Czech beers.

Denisa Frauenbergova