No matter what anyone says, winter is a wonderful time to go travelling around Europe. No, you will not get a tan, but that does not mean Europe has nothing to offer those of us wishing to escape the regular day-to-day Christmas and New Years preparations, and go on a December mini-break. And, of course, the best adventure to go on in the weeks running up to Christmas is a trip to a traditional Christmas market.
Beatrix Potter is without doubt one of the most beloved children’s authors in the world. Her stories have captivated and amused both children and adults since the publication of her very first novel “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” in 1902, followed by five other books about Peter and the gang between 1904 and 1912 as well as a host of many more tales and characters. Perhaps Potter’s most famous books centered on the fantastical world of Peter Rabbit and his family and friends.
Since his debut in 1902, Peter Rabbit and co. have lent their images to spinoff merchandise in the shape of everything from obvious things like stuffed toy bunnies and children’s clothes and school items, to modern souvenirs like key chains and tshirts, to slightly less obvious items like tea towels, dishes, and wallpaper.
Although cemeteries aren’t a traditional tourist attraction, they can nevertheless be a fascinating place to visit. In honor of the traditional day assigned to visiting the graves of loved ones, All Saints’ Day which is celebrated in many countries around the world on November 1st, here is a list of the most interesting final resting places that are open to those of us who (hopefully) just wish to pass through.
Deansgrange Cemetery (Ireland)
First opened in 1865, Deansgrange Cemetery now holds around 150,000 people. Perhaps the most famous historical figure buried here is Ernest Walton – a Nobel laureate whose atom-smashing experiments ushered in the new nuclear age.
Monumental Cemetery (Italy)
Located on a Genoa hillside, Monumental Cemetery is famous for its abundance of monumental sculpture. Not only is it one of the largest cemeteries in Europe, it is also one of the most beautiful due to the beauty of its art and the length of its history. It has been visited by the likes of Charles Dickens and Lord Byron who both went on to write about the cemetery’s splendor. In the 1850s, excavations uncovered a Necropolis built by the Etruscans dating back to the 4th century BC.
Wiener Zentralfriedhof (Austria)
Vienna’s main cemetery has always been open to all religions, yet due to its distance from the city center authorities originally had to convince grieving families to bury their dead here. Hoping to produce landmarks that would attract both business and tourism, they built honorary graves as a sort of tourist attraction. Their planned apparently worked, as Zentralfriedhof became the final resting place of greats like Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Salieri, and Strauss.
The Protestant Cemetery for Foreigners (Italy)
The name of the cemetery is deceptive as it also holds many Orthodox, Muslim, and Jewish dead too – any one who could not gain access to the Catholic cemetery is welcome. It is one of the oldest cemeteries still in continuous use, having first opened in 1730. The poets Keats and Shelley among many others famous historical figures are buried here.
The Woodland Cemetery, as it is commonly called by foreigners, was designed to be at one with nature. Its architects, Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentzthe, wanted the main focal point of the cemetery to be the beautiful surroundings and not its dead. The result is a serene and beautiful final resting place, simple and restful as only Scandinavians can design.
Cat cafes, cafes that are home to several cats that customers pay extra to hang out with, have been popular in Japan since the mid-oughties. In urban Japan – a land of small apartments, long working hours, and strict landlords that do not allow pets – having a cat of your own is not always a feasible option. And for cat lovers who are unable to have kitties of their own, the next best thing is spending some quality time with someone else’s.
Cat cafes generally feature six to fifteen cats (although some have as many as 50!) that roam around the place, and play, nap and eat alongside human companions who are free to cuddle and play with them (for as long as the cats permit it, of course). In addition to the coffee and snack prices, there is also usually a standard per hour fee that helps pay for the maintenance of the cafes’ gracious feline hosts. More often than not the cats are rescues from local shelters and all have names and personalities well known to the regulars.
And now, thank heavens, the phenomenon is spreading to Europe. One of Europe´s first cat cafes opened in Vienna in 2012 under the ownership of, unsurprisingly, a Japanese expat. After having to convince the Vienna officials that the place would be both hygienic and safe for its feline employees, Cafe Neko was eventually allowed to open and has met with great success. Customer are obliged to wash their hands before they can play with the cats as well to allow the cats to sleep when they feel like it, but kitty playtime and cuddles are encouraged by the management. There are also hanging baskets for when the cats need some alone time. The cafe has attracted all manner of clientele, from couples to single working women and men who often stop by after work for some coffee and cat time.
Similar cat lover havens have also recently opened up in St.Petersburg and Paris, and another is scheduled to be opened soon in London. Clearly, cat cafes are here to stay and Europe’s cat lovers are the better for it.
Although it may seem like I’m pushing England on you, dear audience, with another post on the sights and sounds of English cultural heritage, I really did not intend to follow up my post on the Lake District with another England-related one. The truth is I came across the history of Wrest House recently, and I simply could not ignore its relevance as a great tourist attraction that even Brits would love to visit.
I’m sure that most of you that are not from the UK never fail to picture large country manors, hunting dogs, and gentry in tweed when someone bring up English culture. Thus, when arriving in the UK (and England in particular) we are all somewhat disheartened to not find luscious country houses on every corner replete with their own hunting grounds, magnificent staircases, and statue gardens. But we’ve all seen and drooled over Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey, and we want our elaborate manors, dammit!
Never fear, my dear fellow anglophiles, for I have discovered something that will appease your feelings of dissatisfaction at the lack of realism in all those disappointing stereotypes. Wrest House is everything you have dreamed of and more when you pictured yourself visiting aristocratic country homes in the vein of Lizzy Bennett. Wrest House in its (more or less) current state was built by Thomas de Grey, member of the aristocratic de Grey family that lived on and owned the estate for centuries. In 1834, de Grey decided to demolish the Medieval mansion and build in its place (or rather, 250 meters to the north) a magnificent palace in the style of the French Chateau. The mansion was completed in 1839, which was relatively soon by the standards of the time. Although the de Grey family has disappeared, the building has continued to be constantly in use. During World War I, it was converted into a military hospital. Currently, after the completion of renovations in 2011, the upper floors of the manor are used as office space, while the ground floor is open to visitors.
On the ground floor, visitors will find the fantastically imposing Staircase Hall, a library which was the de Grey family’s living room, Countess Henrietta’s sitting room and conservatory, and the Drawing Room which still contains paintings of barely draped 1830′s ladies. Th exhibition focuses on the de Grey family history, as well as the workings of the estate during that era.
Then of course there is the garden. The Wrest Park gardens showcase the development of landscape design over three centuries. You will be able to see English, French, Dutch and Italian styles all in perfect union with each other. Some of English’s history’s favorite architects, such as Thomas Wright and Capablity Brown have worked to fashion the gardens to reflect the opulence of their owners. Unlike the building, the gardens have remained true to their mid-17th century style. Some features of the garden include the Long Water (created in the 1680s by Anthony de Grey), Thomas Archer’s Pavilion (built in 1709-11), and Brown’s famous serpentine lakes.
Moreover, since its renovation, the house comes with splendid visitor facilities that make for an easy and relaxing day out for the entire family. Or you can go alone wearing period garb and pretend to be a count/countess. Your choice.
Skiing opportunities are incredibly diverse across Europe and beyond, with some catering towards one end of the market and others offering a range of opportunities no matter what your proficiency. With Neilson ski deals, you can benefit from some of the best experiences there are, to suit whatever your budget. Much of the cost of a ski holiday will depend on the type of accommodation you choose and whereabouts in the resort it is located – you’ll pay more for close vicinity to the slopes, and even more if you’re located on the slopes but in many cases, this locale is highly recommended.
It’s up to you what sort of accommodation you choose and there are a surprising amount of options available to you, broken down into the following categories. Take a look at them and see which would be the ideal accommodation type for you and you’ll be one step closer to booking your perfect ski break.
These often offer the best value for money and are likely to be in the heart of the resort. Of course, you will have to bear in mind the cost of food and drink, which can easily get out of hand if you dine out every night – it’s much cheaper to pick up some food from the local supermarket and make something.
A popular choice in the alpine resorts of Austria, Switzerland and France, a chalet generally provides full board facilities, with staff for most of the week. While you can expect a great level of comfort from even the basic chalet, there are often more upmarket ones available.
Whether it’s B&B, half board or full board, hotels can vary from the very basic to high-end luxury and what you pay will reflect this. Try and find out the proximity of the hotels to the slopes beforehand so you know how close you are.
Weigh up the pros and cons of each accommodation type, take a look at what’s available in your chosen resort within your price range and get yourselves ready for an unforgettable snow-capped experience!
Autumn is irrefutably here. The hot weather is gone, rain is expected daily, the wind is brisk, and the leaves are changing color. However, just because we can no longer rely on hot weather and long nights does not make autumn any less beautiful than the summer, albeit in different ways. When it comes to the UK, a place not known for its great weather, there is still plenty to see even in the colder months of the year.
The Lake District in particular is one of those destinations that does not get better or worse with seasons, it simply because beautiful in a different way. No matter what month of the year you visit, you will surely be stricken by the majestic beauty, the spectacular sights, and the peace and quiet of the Lake District. Moreover, the Lake District is also home to literary history that would make your book club friends rage with jealousy. Here are some of our favorite sights to visit when in the Lake District.
1. Go on a Lakeland Walk
Unsurprisingly, the Lake District is a favorite destination of hikers. The town of Ambleside in particular makes a great start-off point for several famous Lakeland Walks. For the pros, there the 10-mile Fairfield Horseshoe via Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Fairfield and Dove Crag. For a less intense experiences, there’s the hour long climb to the top of Wansfell and a descent via Jenkins Crag. For the beginners, there’s stroll through Stock Ghyll Force which is a 60ft waterfall that plunges into a canyon. Whatever your hiking expertise, you will definitely find yourself having a wonderful time.
2. Visit Brantwood
John Ruskin, one of the greatest British thinkers of the 19th century, bought this house in 1871 and spent the next few decades expanding it. In everything from the decor to the architecture, you will be able to glean Ruskin’s belief in the ideals of homemade arts and crafts over generic factory goods. He designed everything from the terraces to the wallpaper and furniture, and you will even be able to see his enormous collection of shells.
3. Cruise the Windermere
When in the vicinity of Windermere, a cruise on the lake is an absolute must. This pastime dates back to when the first passenger ferry was launched in 1845, and it is still a favorite activity for both locals and visitors. With any of the cruises, you can hop on and off at any of the ferry landings at your will in order to catch a later ferry back home.
4. Dove Cottage
Located just outside Grasmere, the cottage was originally an inn known as “The Dove and Olive” before it was bought by William Wordsworth. He lived here with his family from 1799 until 1808, when the home proved too small for his growing family. It was a happy home where three of his children were born. Today, the cottage is home to not only rose bushes, tiny latticed windows and honeysuckle, but also some incredible Wordsworth artifacts including portraits, a cabinet replete with his original glasses, and even his shaving kit.
5. Keswick Launch
Located on one of the most beautiful lakes in the Lake District, Derwentwater was also a favorite of Beatrix Potter. The jetties are a short walk to the south of the town, alongside the fields of Crow Park. Boats leaving from this launch stop at landing stages like Lodore Falls, Ashness Gate, Haws End, Nichol End, and High Brandlehow, and you can even get off and walk between landing stages if you so wish. If the weather is particularly clement, you may even want to rent your own rowboat and do the journey on your own.
The Wide World of Beers
Contrary to the rumours, man did not crack open a can of lager just after inventing the wheel, but it is true that beer is one of the oldest known (man-made) drinks. This alcoholic staple dates back to at least 3100 BC, possibly even earlier.
Most countries around the world boast their own offerings from the cask and tap. Here’s a quick rundown of so
me of the most popular beers and lagers from around the world, including those from the holy trinity of beer-production: Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
Czech Republic selection
Visit a Czech bar and you will usually pay more for a bottle of water than a mug of beer. Czech Republic is the birthplace of the famous Pilsner beer and Czechs drink 37 gallons of the beer per person per year, which is the highest per person consumption rate in the world. The Czech hops are famous for their aromatic and bitter taste and the original Budweiser beer is brewed in the Czech town of Ceske Budejovice. If you are looking for a strong, complex lager then go for the cloudy, amber, U Medvidku’s X-33, which boast a whopping 12.6% abv.
Belgium is rightfully famous for its beers and lagers. Beer is big business for this small country and there are an estimated 700 beers are produced in Belgium. Beer-making in Belgium dates back hundreds of years and Belgians are world experts in the mashing, boiling, fermenting and conditioning process. Their signature blonde beers, made by producers such as Leffe and Duvel, are delicious, refreshing and pack a hefty alcoholic punch.
Germany’s champion beer
Germany is another country famous for its beer and per
haps even more so for its beer festivals, such as Oktoberfest in Munich and rivals in Stuttgart and Erlangen. Schneider Aventinus, brewed by Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn, was awarded best beer in Germany in 2012. If you like bananas then this will be the beer for you as it features strong notes of ripe bananas, raisins and plums. The beer has a slightly unusual ruby-red colouring and a high 8.2% abv.
The Irish Favourite
You can’t hold a conversation about beers without mentioning a pint of the black stuff. This Irish dry stout has been described as a meal in a glass and is a consistent favourite the world over. Guinness is brewed in 60 countries around the world and sales are an annual 850 million litres worldwide. The best news is that you don’t need to wait until St Patrick’s Day to sup a pint, as Guinness is sold in 100 countries around the world.
The world’s best beer…?
America is home of many famous brands of beer and lager such as Budweiser, Miller and Coors but it’s also the producer of many fine craft beers. In 2012, Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon won the World’s Best Beer award for their Red Chair NWPA. This pale ale boasts a pretty high 6.20% abv and judges found that it also boasted complex floral hops and juicy malts that build to a lasting, and satisfying finish. It’s certainly hard to argue with their choice.
Gordon Albeit writes on food and drink for various publications but real ale and speciality lager is without doubt his favourite topic.
Although no one is expected to know all the laws of all countries they visit, being a foreigner does not excuse you from unknowingly breaking that country’s law. So, oftentimes, it’s good to have a basic grasp of your holiday destination’s criminal code. Fortunately, sometimes those laws are splendidly hilarious. Here, we have rounded up some of the weirdest, unlikeliest, and downright odd laws from around the world.
Do not kiss on train platforms in the UK and France. Supposedly this is to make train stations more efficient.
A cruise is one of the most popular holiday choices due to the amount of different places you are able to see in a short space of time, being on the open water and the excitement of being on board a large cruise ship, which can be considered a holiday in itself.
During a cruise there will be periods of time where you are just at sea and have to wait a day or two until you have reached the next destination on your journey. There are plenty of things to do and see whilst you are on board the ship and benefits to make the most of to make your holiday a truly remarkable break.
Enjoy the Entertainment
Cruise ships will have a full list of activities and entertainment opportunities to keep guests entertained throughout the stay on ship.
There is something to entertain everyone, no matter what your preferences, whether it is quiet and relaxing or energetic and adventurous. The entertainment is all there for you to benefit from and not only is it a great way to pass the time, but it also provides a holiday with a difference.
There is something for children and adults alike and checking the daily newsletter will ensure you know what is happening and when, so you never have to miss out.
Rest and Relaxation
The overall purpose of a holiday is to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life and be able to gain some type of rest and relaxation, even if your holiday is filled with different sources of entertainment and activity, there is always the opportunity to wind down, especially on board the ship.
Adult only deck
The above are all provided within the cruise ship and can give you the perfect alternative to the hustle and bustle of the rest of the ship.
The food is one of the most talked about aspects of a holiday and a cruise break should not mean this is any different. The dining facilities on board are just as good, if not better than a hotel and all meals are provided for everyone on board, with a whole range of foods being offered all day long.
There is a standard cruise ship etiquette that must be followed to make the dining experience work for both you and your fellow passengers.
Traditional Fixed Seating
A specific table at a certain time is booked for you and your party. This option is perfect if you have children travelling with you, or if you wish to have eaten your meal by a set time.
Open Seating Dining
Turning up to the restaurant without a prior booking means you are given any table that is available and it is ideal if you wish to have the freedom of eating simply when you are hungry rather than adhering to a specific time.
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the number of passengers on the ship and keep yourself to yourself. For the best possible cruise experience, joining in with activities and entertainment and attempting to meet other guests will make your time out at sea a truly enjoyable experience with new people.
Holiday friends can often become life-long friends, as having similar holiday tastes will follow with similar tastes in a range of different areas.
Try New Things
It is easy to be stuck in your old ways and this is particularly true for those who have enjoyed a cruise holiday before. But, for first timers, it is the best idea to try a little bit of everything and embrace the cruise ship experience.
It is essential to remember that you are on holiday to let go, to relax, and to have a good time and princess cruises are the best opportunity to fully embrace the holiday attitude.