Category Archives: Destination Guide

Curacao – A Brief Guide To A Colonial Caribbean Paradise

Travel Insurance to Curacao Image by Patrice_Audet CC0

Image by Patrice_Audet CC0

A Caribbean holiday is what dreams are made of – white sandy beaches, clear blue seas, delicious cocktails filled with fresh fruit and mouth-watering cuisine. So why haven’t you been? It’s expensive right? And hard to get to.  Maybe you’re worried about tropical storms. Well let us introduce Curacao, an under-the-radar Caribbean paradise that deserves to catch your attention.

Curacao is cheaper than you’d expect

It is actually the cheapest of the Caribbean islands to visit. It doesn’t mean the prices here are low, they are just cheaper than Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas etc. Prices here are usually in dollars, but as a Dutch destination (yes, it really is), you have the option to pay in Guilder at some places too.

Curacao is easy to get to from the UK

There are direct flights from the UK to Curacao International airport. So, no need for stopovers, sea planes or boats to get to your destination.

Curacao is unlikely to be hit by bad weather

The island’s close proximity to South America takes it more or less out of the path of hurricanes. In fact the last one to hit was in 1877. Because it is outside the hurricane belt it is actually less windy during hurricane season (start of June to end of November)!

Curacao Lagoon Image by MariaMichelle CC0

Image by MariaMichelle CC0

Curacao has over 35 beaches all within a 45-minute drive

And it is great for adventure travel. Coral reefs and shipwrecks make for great diving, and the rugged landscape is great for hiking – if you can tear yourself away from just kicking back on one of its many sandy beaches!

Curacao is culturally diverse

You’ll see a whole host of European influences on this island – but most notably, Dutch as it’s part of the Netherlands. Dutch architecture, trinkets, snacks and foods are present across the island, but fused with a distinctly Caribbean flavour. An insight into its varied past lies in the languages spoken here – Dutch, Spanish, Papiamentu, and English.

Curacao is a foodie paradise

The cuisine here is unlike food anywhere else in the world. Dishes such as iguana stew and fried cactus are served with a side of bitterballen no less! There is also the Dutch liqueur famously named after the island, made with oranges grown here. The food trucks are not to be missed either. These places serve up fusion fast food, like fries with peanut sauce, to hungry locals and tourists after a night on the town.

Curacao has a great nightlife

That brings us nicely to the fact that the island has a decent nightlife. It is a popular place for music festivals, DJs, and club-life in general. The music is as diverse as the food and many of the beaches are transformed into bars by night for a truly tropical feel.

Curacao sunset Image by Mariamichelle CC0

Image by Mariamichelle CC0

Get travel insurance for the Caribbean from worldwideinsure.com We can tailor your policy to provide cover for a wide range of watersports and activities, many of which are covered as standard

 

 

10 Must-Visit Wes Anderson Wonderlands

If you want your next holiday to feel like you’ve fallen into a Wes Anderson movie, then take a trip to the following locations. Each is a picturesque Wes-like wonderland that could well be the backdrop to his next film.

Pachuca, Mexico

Pachuca Mexico Image by DomAlberts CC0

Image by DomAlberts CC0

Why do we think that Wes would choose this as a location? The architecture here is influenced by Cornish mining immigrants – a fabulous fact that would fit a quirky script!

Curacao

Travel Insurance to Curacao Image by Patrice_Audet CC0

Image by Patrice_Audet CC0

The pastel colours of this colonial paradise in the Caribbean fit the Anderson aesthetic perfectly.

Las Vegas, USA

Travel Insurance to Las Vegas wedding chapel Image by Falkenpost CC0

Image by Falkenpost CC0

Whimsical wedding chapels and neon motel lights make Vegas a must-visit destination for Wes fans.

Furka Pass Strasse, Switzerland

Furka Pass Strasse, Switzerland Image by LoggaWiggler CC0

Image by LoggaWiggler CC0

Hotel Bélvedère sits along the iconic Furka Pass, a breath-taking backdrop fit for an Anderson movie.

Venice, Italy

Gritti Palace Venice Image by Mariamichelle CC0

Image by Mariamichelle CC0

Gritti Palace is a suitably opulent 15thcentury palazzo on the Grand Canal, the place to be for eccentric escapes.

Havana, Cuba

travel insurance to havana cuba Image by 12019 CC0

Image by 12019 CC0

The ageing colonial architecture offset by practically pristine classic cars makes Cuba a go-to if you’re looking for a Wes-style Wonderland!

St Petersburg, Russia

St Petersburg metro Image by Tama66 CC0

Image by Tama66 CC0

The metro features grand columns, marble interior, and chandeliers – a palatial place surreal enough to feature in a film script.

Budapest, Hungary

hungarian parliament Budapest Image by visualcreator CC0

Image by visualcreator CC0

Forget the Grand Hotel – the Hungarian Parliament building’s Gothic Revival architecture would be a resplendent backdrop for a Wes film.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland Image by Francesco Ungaro CC0

Image by Francesco Ungaro CC0

Bright orange paintwork set against the barren backdrop of the Icelandic landscape has the Anderson aesthetic written all over it.

Dinant, Belgium

Dinant, Belgium Image by Ben_Kerckx CC0

Image by Ben_Kerckx CC0

The juxtaposition of Gothic church, colourful houses and rocky outcrop looks like it dropped right out of a Wes Anderson film already.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Worldwideinsure.com can tailor your policy to include as many or as little activities and adventures as you’d like, insure you while you are already travelling, and provide car hire excess insurance too.

 

 

Winter Snow WITHOUT The Ski – Best Christmas Holiday Breaks Abroad

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If you want to enjoy the beauty of a winter wonderland without exerting too much effort – or risking an injury or two – here are our tops tips for breaks that are so off-piste there isn’t a ski in sight!

Visit Jigokudani Monkey Park in Japan

Inside the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park there is a unique opportunity to watch wild Japanese Macaques, also known as Snow Monkeys, enjoying the equivalent of a hot-tub in the snow. Troops of monkeys come to bathe in a man-made pool, which is fed by a hot spring. It’s a popular spot all year round but more so from December to March when it snows.

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Stay at the original ICEHOTEL® in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Part hotel, part art installation, and one hundred percent luxury, the original ICEHOTEL® is an immersive travel experience built each year from snow and ice taken from the nearby Torn River. With temperatures of -7C, it is advisable to only spend your first or last night in a “cold room” where you’ll be given expedition quality sleeping bags to keep you warm over your thermal layers. The rest of your stay can be in the warmer parts of the hotel.

Go Dog Sledding in the Yukon, Canada

Husky adventure holidays are the next big thing, and there are plenty of hands-on options where you can look after the pack as well as have a go at mushing. A four-day experience is recommended for beginners, and you should be reasonably fit to take part. It is a fantastic way to see the more remote parts of Canada and feel at one with the wilderness in winter.

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Say Hi to Santa in Lapland

Deep inside the Arctic Circle it is easy for the younger members of the family to experience a truly magical Christmas experience. There are a number of resorts to choose from, and each has its own take on what the magic of Christmas is all about. Whether you like a fun-packed Santa theme park or something low key with outdoor adventure, Lapland is the place to be.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! KIDS GO FREE on many policies from Worldwideinsure.com and a whole host of winter sports are covered as standard.

 

Cape Verde – The UK’s Ultimate Winter Getaway?

Travel insurance for Cape Verde Boa Vista Beach

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Fed up of the cold winter days already? Why not book a sun-drenched winter break in Cape Verde? It’s got all the sun, sea, sand and relaxation you could wish for and is the perfect antidote to the hectic pre- and post-Christmas mayhem!

Why Cape Verde?

There are direct flights from the UK to four of the islands in Cape Verde. Travel time is less than 6 hours, and the “wintertime” will be wonderfully warm, without being too hot. Expect average temperatures of 28°C in the day in November and December (about 22°C at night), dropping to daytime temperatures of around 25°C in January/February.

Also, it is really safe – probably the safest place in Africa. There are no large or dangerous animals, and no snakes or poisonous spiders. Rarely, there are reports of scorpions having been spotted.

cape verde travel insurance

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Where to stay in Cape Verde 

The island of Sal is the most popular, followed by Boa Vista. There are in fact 10 islands that make up the Cape Verde archipelago, but only three of them are home to the glorious white sands that attract travellers. The others are famous for their black volcanic beaches – much like Tenerife.

  • Sal – is only 30km by 11 km, is relatively flat, and is described as a beach-lovers’ paradise thanks to white powder sands and turquoise seas.
  • Boa Vista – home to the most remote, expansive and dazzling beaches in the archipelago; quieter than Sal and ideal for the ultimate relaxing break.
  • Santiago – the largest of the islands, rich in culture, diverse in landscapes and perfect for soaking up some creole culture.
Cape Verde Fishing Image

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What To Do in Cape Verde 

Many people come to Cape Verde to do, well, not much at all. Take a leisurely walk into the local town, stroll on the beach, hop in the pool, and soak up the sun. If you do feel inclined to try out some activities, here are the top things to do during your trip.

Kitesurfing 
These islands can get windy! The dependably gusty Atlantic brings with it the chance to enjoy some watersports, particularly windsurfing and kite surfing.

Snorkelling
There are some great opportunities to get up close to the marine life in the shallow waters off Cape Verde – do be warned that seas here can be rough, with strong undercurrents – keep a keen eye out for flags that indicate if it is safe to swim.

Island Hopping
Head to Fogo for dramatic volcanic landscapes with a dash of Portuguese culture and fantastic trekking. Maio is another must: almost untouched by tourists, this island is a mix of mature forests, beaches, and again wonderful walking opportunities.

Fogo Cape Verde Travel Insurance Image

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Turtle Walk
The Hatchery on Sal offers turtle releasing experiences, where visitors can watch nesting turtles and even see hatchlings being released to the sea.

Shark Experiences
Head to Shark Bay on Sal to see the relatively gentle lemon sharks. Tiger sharks and bull sharks are found in deeper waters; special excursions are available.

Whale Watching
Catamaran cruises are just one way to head out into the ocean where you could be rewarded with the wonderful sight of a humpback whale.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Worldwideinsure.com can tailor your policy to include as many or as little activities and adventures as you’d like. Many activities are covered as standard.

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Autumn Adventures in Essaouira, Morocco: Travel Guide

Essaouira Morocco Travel Image

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The port city of Essaouira is the perfect place to enjoy some warm autumn sunshine, while absorbing the sights, sounds and smells of one of Morocco’s more low-key – yet undeniably beguiling – cities. Since EasyJet stops direct flights from Luton outside summer months, reaching Essaouira requires a little more planning in autumn, but combining flights with EasyJet, Ryanair, Transavia and/or Royal Air Maroc will do the trick.

From Marrakech

Essaouira is also the ideal chill-out location if you’ve already been exploring Morocco’s more high-tempo tourist targets: when the hubbub and hard-sells of Marrakesh get too much, it’s time to hop on a bus to Essaouira. Located just two-and-a-half hours away, this laid-back seaside town is Marrakesh Lite: You get the buzzing medina and cafe lifestyle – but without the hassle.

Things to do

Known as “Africa’s Windy City”, Essaouria is buffeted by stiff seawinds – which take the edge off the warmer days. These dependable gusts have made the city’s beaches a mecca for wind and kite surfers – although they’re not ideal for swimming. If you enjoy a dip, you’re best off booking a riad (hotel) with a pool.

Other popular activities include sailing tours (10:30 to 14:30) from the port, but these are weather dependent. Spice shopping is another big draw, with saffron topping the shopping lists of many tourists (although it’s still tough to track down!). And if the aroma of all those spices get you in a culinary mood, why not book a cooking lesson at ’Atelier Madada, where Chef Mouna will show you how to create mouth-watering tagines and patisserie delights.

But if you’d rather someone else cooked…

Essaouria offers many exciting dining options, ranging from French-Moroocan fusion to vegetarian. The famous tagine is available everywhere, based around meat, fish, poultry or vegetables. If you love your seafood, head to the Port Grills where you’ll find a tantalising selection of catches: shrimp, langoustine, sardines and giant crab are on offer for as little as 120 dirhams (£10).

Essaouira Building Travel Image

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Things to see

The Ramparts – Explore the pink-red hues of the ramparts, a defensive wall built by the Portuguese, complete with old cast iron cannons. Game of Thrones fans may already be familiar with the walls – they provided the backdrop for scenes in the third season. Take a look at the arts and crafts for sale in the archways underneath.

Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah Museum – Explore the history of Essaouira through ancient pottery, jewelry, tools and weapons, showcased in a beautiful former riad from the 19th Century.

Music

Essaouria’s relaxed atmosphere is made all the more so by the plaintive sounds of traditional Gnaoua music. Heavy iron castanets known as qraqeb and three-string lutes are the chief instruments. You can hear this music played in cafes and on the street.

Costs

Essaouira is cheaper than much bigger cities like Marrakesh and Rabat, not least because you’re less likely to face inflated prices at the hands of taxi drivers, street vendors and barbers – since the locals are more genial than in urbanised parts. In general, Morocco remains a low cost holiday destination, despite the pound’s ongoing wobbles – and a hugely rewarding one.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Kids are covered for free on some of our policies!

Why Autumn Breaks Are Better: 4 Amazing Destinations

Summer is wonderful, but if you haven’t managed to squeeze in a holiday this year, fear not – autumn is a fantastic season to get away. In fact, you won’t experience the blistering temperatures of midsummer, and you’ll pay less for flights and hotels. What’s more, autumn in the northern hemisphere is a beautiful time to travel – with fallen leaves of red, gold and brown blanketing the landscape.

Here are four amazing autumnal experiences for your short list….

Seville, Spain

Seville Travel Image

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If you had visited this unique Spanish city in July or August, you may well have found it too hot (40 degrees is not uncommon). But arrive in October or November and you’ll be rewarded with warm, pleasant temperatures and the fragrance of orange blossom in the air. The city’s flat topography makes it a walker’s dream: saunter between shaded plazas, taking coffee and tapas when the mood grabs you.

Don’t miss:

  • The Moorish architecture – particularly the Royal Alcázar of Seville.
  • The Plaza de Espana: this opulent landmark square has far fewer tourists in the autumn months.
  • Relax in the autumnal beauty of the city parks – Parque de Maria Luisa is one of the largest.

Ontario, Canada

Onrario Travel Image

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For a more intense autumnal visual experience, consider Ontario, Canada, where the leaves change colour in eye-popping style from September to late October. Visit the vast Algonquin Provincial Park near Toronto for fiery autumn scenes that stretch out for hundreds of kilometres. Here you’ll also find lakes and rivers, where you can hire a canoe and glide through cool waters that reflect the soul-calming colours of the season.

Don’t miss: The Niagara Parkway (aka Niagara Boulevard) – You can hire a car and take what Churchill called “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world” – to one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the world. Expect a dazzling impressionist landscape of bright reds and yellows, and with a speed limit of 37mph, you can take your time enjoying it.

Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount Fuji Travel Image

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If a summer of work – and no holidays – has left your coffers full, then why not head to the Far East and enjoy views of the iconic Mount Fuji framed in foliage of deep reds?

The colours of the maples and cherry trees are so intense they even dreamt up an event to celebrate it: the Fujikawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival.

Don’t miss: Ascending Fuji. Deservedly one of the best-loved vistas in Japan, it’s worth making time to climb Fuji itself. Rise up through Lake Kawaguchiko’s haze as you move up the perfectly formed (and assuredly dormant) stratovolcano and be mesmerized by the dark rock as it gives way to the blazing whites of the snowy peak.

Iceland

Iceland Travel Image

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If you prefer even fresher temperatures and the freedom of unpeopled landscapes, then Iceland could be your perfect autumn destination. Visiting in October and November will be decidedly cheaper than summertime, and the vistas no less stunning.

If you visit in November you can experience kaleidoscopic colours day and night: Thingvellir National Park presents dazzling autumnal shades, while trips to see the Northern Lights will fill your evenings with awe-inspiring light shows.

Tip: While there are plenty of Northern Lights trips, these are essentially only taking you to locations where light pollution is low enough to see the light displays – which means if you have a hire car you can drive out by yourself. You’ll save cash and you won’t have to keep to the tour guide’s schedule!

It can get rather chilly in autumn, so pack plenty of warm layers. But you can retreat to the cosy cafes and bars of Reykjavik if it gets too cold.

And if you’re a light sleeper, an autumn trip here could be perfect: the nights are long and, as Björk might say, oh-so-quiet.

 

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Make sure you are covered before you jet off on your next trip!

The Safest Holiday Destinations in the World 2019

New Zealand Beach - Safe Holiday Destinations

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Can’t decide where to go on your next holiday? Why not take a look at the Global Peace Index? It is used to rank the safety of 163 countries worldwide, a great tool for picking your next family-friendly holiday spot! Here are the top 10.

Iceland

For the 11thyear in a row, Iceland has been declared the safest place in the world to be. For family fun, we recommend heading to this glorious country in the summer. You’ll be able to enjoy a healthy dose of fun-filled outdoor adventures around the clock as the sun barely sets this time of year.

New Zealand

While the long haul flight might not be child friendly, New Zealand has plenty to offer for families with young children. Top tip: head to Ngarunui Beach where the kids can learn to surf on some of the most gentle waves going in full view of the life guards.

Australia

With deadly critters roaming on land and sea, you might be surprised to find Oz in the top 10 safest places in the world, but here it is. Why not head to Kangaroo Island with the kids to enjoy getting up close to a diverse range of wildlife on this secluded island, over a third of which is a nature reserve.

Australia Safest Holiday Destinations

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Portugal

Head to central and western Algarve for all the best kid-friendly family fun. From Lagos in the west through to Vilamoura in the east, you’ll find plentiful zoos and waterparks that will keep the kids entertained the whole holiday. Its popularity with families does however mean that it is a pretty chokka place to holiday during the summer break!

Denmark

If you are heading to Denmark with the kids, there is no way you can’t stop for a bit in Billund, the birthplace of Lego and home of the original Legoland theme park and resort. Billund also has an impressive activity park, Lalandia, and Givskud Zoo, making the place a perfect paradise for kids of all ages.

Canada

For a winter break the kids will remember forever, book a stay at Whistler. This place has a ski-scene like no other, and the vibe will definitely impress older kids in the group, especially if you are there during one of the many ski and snowboard festivals or competitions. Plus, if the older kids are entertained, you might find time for a bit of après–ski fun or relaxation without them!

Canada Safest Holiday Destinations

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Czech Republic

Another great winter destination for families, especially near Christmas. The Christmas Markets in Prague are some of the best in the whole of Europe, lit up by thousands of lights, and selling everything that makes the festive season magical, from gingerbread treats to glorious gifts.

Singapore

This is the most family-friendly destination in Asia. It is sparkling clean, the public transport is great, and it seems that everywhere is buggy friendly. The place is packed with eye-catching attractions, lots of activity parks, and of course a Universal Studios Theme Park, but our must-do is Singapore Night Safari, open from 7.15 pm to midnight daily.

Japan

Give the kids a high-tech holiday in Tokyo, it’s packed with futuristic fun. If your kids enjoyed Spirited Away or Howls Moving Castle, go to Studio Ghibli, it has a museum guarded by a 5 metre robot! A trip to Honda Plaza and the kids can meet ASIMO, the most advanced humanoid robot in the world. Or take a trip on the bullet train, which connects Tokyo to most major cities at speeds up to 200mph!

Ireland

With a culture steeped in fairy tales and folklore, Ireland is the perfect place to wow the little ‘uns on holiday. Top Tip for parents is to become National Trust members. While most places, such as the fantastic Giants Causeway are accessible to the general public, you have to pay to access the visitor centres. This is where you can find out the folklore and facts behind such amazing natural wonders in an array of interactive displays.

KIDS GO FREE! Did you know that on some of our family travel insurance policies, the kids are covered for free? Call us to find out more!

Tour de France 2019 – What To Eat, Drink and See (Other than Cycling)

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Heading across the Channel to catch a slice of Lycra-clad cycling action? Well, at the pace they go, spectating will be over in a flash. Here’s what to eat, drink and do once you’re done during every stage of the 2019 Tour de France.

 

Brussels (6th– 7thJuly)

What to Eat: Mussels

What to Drink: Trappist Beer

What to See other than cycling: The Atomium

 

Binche – Épernay (8thJuly)

What to Eat: Pan fried crayfish

What to Drink: Chimay beer

What to See other than cycling: Bonne-Espérance Abbey

 

Reims – Nancy (9thJuly)

What to Eat: Local seafood

What to Drink: Champagne

What to See other than cycling: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims

 

Saint-Dié-des-Vosges – Colmar (10thJuly)

What to Eat: Foie gras

What to Drink: Local wine

What to See other than cycling: Wine tasting tour

 

Mulhouse – La Planche des Belles Filles (11thJuly)

What to Eat: Pork trotters

What to Drink: Alsatian Muscat

What to See other than cycling: Skiing

 

Belfort –Chalon-sur-Saône (12thJuly)

What to Eat: A cheese board

What to Drink: Cote Chalonnaise wine

What to See other than cycling: Musée Nicéphore-Niépce

 

Mâcon – Saint-Étienne – Brioude (13th-14thJuly)

What to Eat: Steak

What to Drink: Cocktails

What to See other than cycling: Basilique Saint-Sernin

 

Saint-Flour – Albi (15th– 17thJuly)

What to Eat: Warm goat cheese

What to Drink: Local white wine

What to See other than cycling: Sainte-Cecile Cathedral of Albi

 

Albi – Toulouse – Bagnères-de-Bigorre (17th– 18thJuly)

What to Eat: Cassoulet

What to Drink: Quinquina

What to See other than cycling: Garonne River Cruise

 

Pau (19thJuly)

What to Eat: Lamb

What to Drink: Sweet white wine

What to See other than cycling: Funiculaire de Pau

 

Tarbes – Tourmalet (20thJuly)

What to Eat: Street food

What to Drink: Local red wine

What to See other than cycling:  Jardin Massey

 

Limoux – Foix (21stJuly)

What to Eat: Lobster Bisque

What to Drink: Sparkling wine

What to See other than cycling: Etang de Soulcem

 

Nîmes (22nd– 23rdJuly)

What to Eat: Truffles

What to Drink: Rosé

What to See other than cycling: Local Roman sites

 

Pont du Gard – Gap (24th July)

What to Eat: Giant prawns

What to Drink: Chardonnay

What to See other than cycling: Roman Aqueduct

 

Embrun – Valloire (25thJuly)

What to Eat: Pork Ribs

What to Drink: Local glacier water

What to See other than cycling: Col du Galibier

 

Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne – Tignes (26thJuly)

What to Eat: Seafood

What to Drink: Chignin

What to See other than cycling: Snowboarding

 

Albertville – Val Thorens (27thJuly)

What to Eat: Veal

What to Drink: Peron Jean-Yves wine

What to See other than cycling: Maison des Jeux Olympiques

 

Rambouillet – Paris (Champs-Élysées) (28thJuly)

What to Eat: Anything and everything

What to Drink: Take your pick

What to See other than cycling: The Eiffel Tower

Venetian Flare – A Truly Indulgent Venice Travel Guide

Venice Travel Guide

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The Jewel of Italy, the Most Beautiful City in the World, the City of Masks, the City of Bridges, Queen of the Adriatic…  or quite simply – Venice. If you are yet to visit, this city promises to offer arguably the most fairy-tale, surreal and romantically hued experience. Here’s what’s not to miss when you go.

Art

A short paragraph will never do the presence of art in Venice justice, but the fact that just one building, the Santa Maria dei Miracoli, was built to house just one painting gives you an idea of how art is celebrated, respected and revered in this glorious city. Art of all forms and eras can be found here, welcomed by a culture that lives and breathes creativity!

Architecture

Piazzas, palazzi, priceless marbles, churches, and basilicas line the streets of Venice, testament to centuries of opulent architectural experimentation and devotion to creating exquisite spaces. The uniqueness of the style here can be found in the fact that Byzantine mosaics sit beside Islamic arches and Latin influenced gothic buildings. Enough to send history buffs bonkers, and fill the hearts of any visitor with utter joy.

Venice Travel Guide

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Boats

There are NO cars in Venice at all. It is an archipelago of over 100 islands set in a lagoon connected by around 400 bridges. This means wherever you go, you have to walk, or go by boat. Gondolas are not the only option! Venice is home to a number of styles of boat, from traditional wooden boats, through to powered ferries. Hiring a kayak is a great way to get around, and yes, if you do want to do the Venetian thing and go by Gondola – be prepared to pay for it!

Beaches

Golden sandy beaches aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Venice, but, there are several! Blue Moon is a public beach on the Lido – a 7 mile long sand bar, and free to use. The others will cost to access, but the price you pay is well worth it for a luxurious beach experience! Remember – it is illegal to swim in Venice’s waterways, so definitely head to the beach if you want to cool off in summer.

Backstreet Bars

Bacariare simple bars where you can go grab a glass of wine, beer or maybe a cocktail and tuck into some tapas standing up. They are usually small, dark spaces where people can enjoy a beverage or two, and when the space gets full people quite simply spill out into the street outside.

Venice Travel Guide

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Fine Food

The food in Venice is unique thanks to its aquaculture and influences from the spice routes back when the city dominated marine trade. If you are pushed for time in this stunning city go and get yourself Venetian tapas aka chichetito sample as much as possible. The Venetians are also known for producing some tantalising sweet treats too, the frittelle, which appear around carnival time, are not to be missed!

Fashion

If you like flamboyant, velvet, and especially flamboyant velvet, Venice is the fashion centre for you. Hit up Pied a Terre for gondola slippers and Nicolao Atelier for something suitable for carnival. Don’t forget your plague death masks either – they are a must if you plan to go full Venetian with your flares!

Museums

The Museum of Madness is a delightful example of the Venetian penchant for the weird, the wonderful, curiosities and oddities – packed full of psychiatric paraphernalia from back in the day. The Natural History Museum is also worth a visit for its diverse and impressive collection of bizarre specimens.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Whether you need insurance for water sports while you are in Venice or just want to make sure you are covered should something go wrong  – we offer competitively priced comprehensive single trip and annual travel insurance, and on family policies kids go free!

The Most Beautiful Towns in Southern France

Southern France offers glorious Mediterranean sunshine, an unrivalled peace and some of the most stunning sights and views on the planet. Here are some of the most gorgeous towns to visit or stay in the South of France.

Gordes (Vaucluse, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)

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A beautiful hillside town adorned with Romanesque terracotta roofs and winding narrow pathways. Head to Gordes on a Tuesday morning, when the locals open their shutters to sell the locally produced cheese and wine. Nearby is the famous Sénanque Abbey, surrounded by some of the most beautiful lavender fields, tendered by the resident monks.

Lauzerte (Occitanie, Tarn-et-Garonne)

Another hill-top treasure sitting proudly over the Occitanie countryside. During the day visit the idyllically peaceful town square featuring cafes, bars and a quirky piece of pavement art! On Thursday evening in summer, the Marchés Gourmands takes over the square for an evening of food, drink and entertainment and then take in the sunset over the nearby hills.

Carcassonne (Aude, Occitanie)

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This medieval fortress town is Europe’s largest walled city. Famed for its spires, walls and beautiful bridge, be sure to visit in the evening, when these stunning landmarks are lit up.

 

St Tropez (Var, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)

As famous for the St Tropez sun tan as it is as a destination for the rich and famous. Located on the French Riveria, sample the local historical landmarks, gaze up at the millionaire’s yachts, or just catch some rays on the nearby Pampelonne beach.

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)

An absolute must for Van Gogh fans everywhere. Saint-Rémy-de-Provenceinspired his ‘Starry Night’ painting. You can visit the Monastery of Saint-Paul de Mausolé, which was once an asylum where Van Gogh was treated. Beyond the art connection, there are winding streets, elegant fountains and an abundance of cafes that you will have come to expect from this sun-drenched part of France.

Rocamadour (Occitanie, Lot)

Image by SchrijverijDrenthe CC0

Imagine a fantasy French village – and Rocamador is it. Integrated into the hillside, Rocamadour is Instagram ready from every angle! For a unique experience visit the nearby monkey forest, where Barbary macaques (normally found in Gibraltar) roam freely in the woodland or Grotte Préhistorique des Merveilles, with cave art over 20,000 years old.

 

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Even if you are travelling within the EU and you have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) it only offers limited protection. You could still be asked to pay towards treatment, and it certainly doesn’t help if your passport gets lost or stolen!