Welcome to Europe Inside Out

Find attractions and things to do in all major cities in Europe.

29 April 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Five’s Alive: The Different Sides of Ibiza

Ibiza may be best known as one of the party capitals of Europe, but there are plenty of hidden gems on the island, too. From glorious beaches to rural villages, here are five sides to the island you can explore on Ibiza holidays for something that little bit different:

 

Rural Life

 

Venture off the traditional tourist trail and you’ll soon encounter a different side of Ibiza. There are several villages around the island where life moves at a refreshingly slower pace, and you certainly won’t find any sign of a party. Head to the villages and you can experience rural charm that has remained unchanged for decades. In Sant Miquel de Balansat you’ll find a hilltop 16th century church and sweeping views over forest and sea, while Sant Llorenç de Balafia is good for a glimpse of traditional architecture with its historic houses and two defensive towers.

 

Ibiza ... vista do mar

Ibiza … vista do mar (Photo credit: Miguel Tavares Cardoso)

Exploring Nature

 

Much of the island is still covered by dense forest, and you can easily escape to nature on a trip to Ibiza. Pine forests, olive groves, and almond trees characterize the landscape, and there are hiking trails running throughout the island. Some of the most popular trails are coastal paths and you can take in views of beach and sea before passing through areas of pine forest. Walking the coast is also a great way to discover some of the island’s more secluded beaches.

 

Active Ibiza

 

With so much scenery around it’s hardly surprising that there several outdoor adventure companies on the island. Sea kayaking is a great way to see the coast and the beautifully clear sea. You can either trek, bike or horse ride around the island, or venture below the waves by diving and snorkelling. If you’re seeking high-speed adventures, you can hire quad bikes, of if you like to take things slower you can go for a round of golf.

 

Formentera Beach, Ibiza (2377210337)

Formentera Beach, Ibiza (2377210337) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Escape to Formentera

 

The smaller Balearic island of Formentera is just half an hour away from Ibiza by boat. There you’ll find gorgeous beaches that display the rugged charm which made Ibiza so popular in the first place.  Spend the day on Ibiza’s sister island and explore the beaches and coast as well as the Ses Salines National Park. You can spot hundreds of bird species on the island and will feel a world away from Ibiza’s party resorts.

 

Yoga and Meditation

 

Believe it or not, there are a various yoga retreat centres on Ibiza, so you can look after both your mind and your body while you’re on vacation. Retreats are often in secluded locations where you can enjoy yoga by day and relax in the evening with gorgeous beaches close by.

 

These five sides to Ibiza aren’t the only alternatives to partying, either. If you weren’t interested in partying, which side would appeal to you? Maybe you already have a favourite side.

 

Images by andruby and victoriapeckham, used under Creative Commons licence.

 

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20 December 2013 ~ 0 Comments

The Magic of Christmas Panto

One of the most important Christmas traditions that will never die in the UK, is the Christmas pantomime. It is something that has stood the test of time and has never changed or altered just to meet modern day requirements. Instead, it has remained as cheesy as possible and yet people still love it. But why? Why are we so infatuated with pantomime and all that it represents? It’s quite simple really. We love pantomime so much because it is the epitome of Christmas tradition.

panto

 

Theatre visits are few and far between throughout the year, yet Christmas is the one time of year that both children and adults flock to the theatre to spend a few hours of watching pure entertainment. Everyone can appreciate the comedy value of the pantomime!

Each part of the UK has a special pantomime, from Edinburgh to Ireland, you are able to travel to experience a number of traditional tales told in an entirely new way. www.wow247.co.uk have all the information on the best pantomimes over this Christmas. Whether you want to see Sleeping Beauty or Aladdin and the Twankeys, the options are endless and you can be dazzled and entertained with some of the most popular tales.

One of the best things about pantomime is the level of audience participation. There won’t be a visitor there that won’t join in in some way and want to really feel a part of the entire experience. The slapstick comedy alone is enough to pull even the most sullen watcher into the show and have them up on their feet and shouting out advice to the characters alongside everybody else.

The Christmas season would be nothing without pantomime and it encapsulates the magic of the holiday and really delivers the true meaning of the Christmas spirit. It awakens the festive feelings or rounds off the celebrations perfectly depending on when you make the visit. It adds a level of excitement and enthusiasm to a holiday that can often be overwhelmed by pressure and stress and it brings to life the meaning of the season.

The fact that so many famous faces take to the panto stage every year shows what an English tradition it is and how important it is to so many people. It forms a very big part of the UK culture and the Christmas tradition and without it we would all be very lost…

11 December 2013 ~ 0 Comments

The Best New Year’s Eve Street Parties in Europe

There is no place to usher in a new year quite like at a street party. Even better if it’s a street party at a beautiful landmark, surrounded by the evidence of centuries of history and similar celebrations. Here are some of our favorite spots to party away your New Year’s Eve 2014.

 

London
For one of the world’s most impressive firework shows, head on over to the South Bank of the Thames which tends to turn into a party on December 31st. As soon as Big Ben strikes twelve, the sky will burst into color in what is one of the most spectacular firework displays around.

 

English: Big Ben.

 

Edinburgh

 

Scotland knows how to party. To celebrate the full scope of the festivities with the Scots, show up two days prior to New Year’s and make sure to stay until January 2nd. On the night itself, people take to the streets in what is known as the Hogmanay Street Party, replete with concert on an outdoor stage in the West Princes Street Gardens. Just one thing – you better be singing Auld Lang Syne as the clock strikes twelve!

 

Hogmanay Party in Princes Street Gardens, Edin...

 

Amsterdam

 

To get into the party spirit, head on over to Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein. Make sure to try some deliciously warm and sugary olliebollen (deep fried dough-balls caked in icing sugar) as you wait for the new year to hit. If you’re into pyrotechnics, head on over to Magere Brug over the Amstel River to catch a show. If you’re feeling particularly boisterous, make your way to the town of Scheveningen for an icy dip into the North Sea.

 

English: Magere Brug in Amsterdam. Deutsch: Ma...

 

Berlin

 

Silvester, as the Germans call New Year’s Eve, turns Berlin into a huge party. To start your evening off, make sure to head on over to the Brandenburg Gates where fireworks and laser shows welcome in the new year. There is also typically a concert held there with some relatively well-known acts playing. For some fire-power, check out the Oberbaumbrucke – Berlin’s longest bridge – the main stage for all firecrackers and smaller range fireworks.

 

English: 2007 New Year's Eve in Berlin. Italia...

 

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29 November 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Christmas Market-ing around Europe

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.

English: Cologne Christmas market lit up durin...

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16 November 2013 ~ 0 Comments

The Legend that Beatrix Built

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.

Illustration of Peter Rabbit eating radishes, ...

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.

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02 November 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Beautiful Cemeteries to Visit in Europe

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)

Deansgrange Cemetery

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)

Genova, Cimitero monumentale di Staglieno cate...

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)

Wiener Zentralfriedhof

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)

cemetery

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.

Skogskyrkogården (Sweden)

Skogskyrkogården i Stockholm

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.

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19 October 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Cat Cafes Are Now a Thing in Europe

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 Cafe

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.

21 September 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Wrest Park

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! wrest park2

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.

18 September 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Skiing Top Accommodation Options

 

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.

Apartments

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.

Chalets

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.

Hotels

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! 

07 September 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Exploring the Lake District

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.

English: The main road (Rydal Rd) through Ambl...

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.

Brantwood House overlooking Coniston Water, ta...

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.

Windermere

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.

Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Cumbria

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.

English: Low Brandelhow Landing Stage Low Bran...

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