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Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic and the nation’s largest city, has become known as one of Europe’s leading destinations for short vacations. Increasingly popular as a hen and stag night party location, Prague is also an excellent choice for those looking for a self-catering city break, and anyone with an interest in history or architecture. In this blog, we suggest an itinerary for travellers who have just a short amount of time to spend in the city, taking in what we feel are Prague’s “must-see” sights and experiences.

 

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Morning – Prague Castle

Start your day in Prague with a typical breakfast to fuel up for the morning – locals tend to go for freshly baked bread rolls filled with salami, cheese or jam, and perhaps a sweet pastry, accompanied by coffee or tea with lemon. After breakfast, make your way to Prague Castle, an extensive UNESCO World Heritage Site and important Czech monument. The earliest mentions of the castle date back to the year 880 and over the years the castle has been the stage for many dramatic and significant historical moments. We suggest that you buy tickets for Circuit B, which includes access to highlights such as St Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane.  Expect to spend a couple of hours exploring before moving onto the next location of the day.

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Late Morning/ Lunchtime – Lesser Town

One of the joys of Prague is that it is easy to navigate and the best sights are within walking distance of each other. Moving down the hill from the castle, you’ll find yourself in the Lesser Town (Mala Strana) which you may well recognise as the scene of numerous TV adverts and film scenes! Stroll the charming streets and enjoy the beautiful Baroque architecture in this ancient settlement and if it appeals, take a look at St Nicholas Church with its impressive fresco by Franz Palko. For lunch, choose one of the many restaurants overlooking the river. Many eateries offer a budget lunchtime menu, usually including a soup followed by meat or fish with potatoes or dumplings.

 

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Afternoon – Old Town

After lunch, make your way over the 14th Century Charles Bridge, which connects Lesser Town and Old Town. Your destination is Old Town Square, an ancient plaza surrounded by buildings in the Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. The best known site on the square is the 15th Century Astrological Clock on the Old Town Hall Tower. The awe-inspiring clock, which was made in the 15th Century, welcomes every hour with its Procession of the Twelve Apostles. Complete the afternoon with a walk (or elevator ride) to the top of the tower for more fantastic views of the city, then head back down to one of the nearby pavement cafés and reward yourself with a locally brewed beer!

 

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Evening Entertainment

If you have time in the evening, make the most of Prague’s excellent night-life. Bars and nightclubs offering a vibrant party atmosphere and for those who would like to see a different side of the city, an evening river cruise with dinner on-board is an elegant option. Another idea is to check out one of the traditional Czech dance and music shows offered by several establishments in the city.

 

If you had just one day to spend in Prague, which of its many attractions would you make time to visit? 

 

 

 

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Located in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside, Coventry is a beautiful and lively city that is perfect for a short break with the family. In this week’s blog, we take a look at some of the top attractions in the area.

 

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Coventry Transport Museum

Coventry was formerly a centre for British motor-car construction, and its past is remembered at the Coventry Transport Museum. The extensive and well-laid out museum is free to visit, making it an ideal choice for families travelling on a budget. With over 200 cars and 120 motorcycles, the museum takes you through a history of British transport in style. Highlights include Queen Mary’s car and the two Thrust jet cars that broke world land speed records in the 1980s and 1990s. The museum has a coffee house serving eat-in and takeaway snacks, and gift-shop. (Please note that the museum is currently undergoing refurbishment and some exhibits may be partially closed).

 

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Coventry Cathedral

While many of Britain’s religious buildings are ancient, Coventry Cathedral is a newer construction which was built to replace the 14th Century church destroyed in air-raids during World War II. An iconic feature of the city, many locals consider it to be a symbol of the cities strength and community spirit. Coventry Cathedral is an active church, and visitors can choose to attend a service, or join a guided tour to discover more about the building. Also on-site, visitors can opt to take the challenge of walking up the bell-tower (a good way to burn off some excess energy and see the fantastic view from the top)  as well as exploring the Blitz Museum, which recreates what people’s homes would have looked like in the 1940s.

 

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Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

The award-winning Herbert Art Gallery & Museum is an educational and fun attraction which focuses on local history, art and culture. As well as an astonishing array of artefacts ranging from costumes to taxidermy birds and weaving looms to children’s toys, the museum also has a great range of hands-on exhibits. Ideal to stimulate young and curious minds, interactive screens, dressing up opportunities and more guarantee a fun experience for all. The Herbert is located opposite Coventry Cathedral, and has a gift-shop and a café.

 

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Brandon Marsh Nature Centre

Located a short drive from Coventry city and easily accessible by public transport, Brandon Marsh Nature Centre is a fantastic place to get outdoors, enjoy the fresh air and spot the local wildlife. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, the reserve is set over 220 acres and is a habitat to numerous species of flora and fauna. With a nature trail, bird-hides, a recycled garden and a sensory garden, as well as a “mouse-maze” there is plenty to see and do. The nature centre also has a picnic area, a tearoom which serves hot meals and snacks, as well as a gift- and book-shop.

 

Do you know of a great family attraction in Coventry that we didn’t feature in our list? 

 

 

Must See Attractions in North Jutland

Posted on: June 16th, 2014 Posted by

 

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If you are looking for a family-friendly holiday destination with a difference, why not consider North Jutland? The northernmost region of Denmark boasts miles of sandy beaches, attractive towns and lots of things to see and do, and is a reasonably short two-hour flight from the UK making it a great choice for anyone who wants to travel overseas but doesn’t fancy going long-haul. In this week’s blog, we focus on North Jutland and suggest just a few of the must see attractions in the area.

 

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Viking History At Lindholm Høje 

Discover the fascinating history of the Vikings in Denmark at Lindholm Hoje. Located on a wooded hillside overlooking the city of Aalborg, Lindholm Hoje was once an important burial site and many ancient stones remain in place today. Sign-posts offering information in English are placed around the site to give you a better understanding of the various elements, while the museum displays an exciting collection of artefacts and exhibitions about Viking life and culture. The open-air Lindholm Hoje burial site is free to enter, but there is a small entry fee for the museum.

 

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Fine Art & Spooky Tales At Voergaard Castle

Steeped in mystery and legend, and home to an impressive collection of fine art, Voergaard Castle (Voergaard Slot in Danish) will appeal to visitors of all ages. The lavish Renaissance style was built in the 15th Century and over the years, certain spooky tales have become attached to the property – from a strange stain that cannot be removed from the floor and sightings of a “white lady” wandering the rooms at night. Ghoulish happenings aside, the castle also offers a glimpse into the past with the beautifully furnished rooms featuring an array of antiques and rare items, from Napoleon’s dinner service to works by Rubens and Goya. There is an entry fee for the castle, with reduced rates for children.

 

 Nordsøen Oceanarium

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Fun For The Kids At Nordsøen Oceanarium

Located in the port town of Hirtshals, Nordsoen Oceanarium will be a huge hit with kids of all ages. The Oceanarium has Northern Europe’s biggest aquarium tank, featuring species from the North Sea, as well as smaller exhibition tanks, feeding demonstrations and a newly opened “touch tank” where you can get close to starfish, flat fish and other friendly sea creatures.Open daily from 10am to 5pm, entrance tickets for the Oceanarium can be purchased in advance through their website, at a discounted rate.

 

Are you planning a visit to North Jutland or have you already spent a vacation there? Comment and tell us what you are most looking forward to doing during your stay, or what you recommend 

 

 

What to See & Do in Cluj-Napoca

Posted on: June 9th, 2014 Posted by

 

romania

 

With its  unspoilt countryside and picturesque cities, Romania is growing in popularity as a holiday destination for a traveller from across the globe. Cluj-Napoca is a first choice for many visitors to the country – it was once the capital of the renown region of Transylvania and has grown to become a cultural and economic hub. In this blog, we offer just a few suggestions for what to see and do on a  visit to the city.

 

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Cluj National Museum of Art

Established in 1951, Cluj National Museum of Art is housed within the beautiful Banffy Palace. The 18th century building was built by the architect Johann Eberhard Blaumann in the Baroque style and is considered an important example from the era. Open from 12 noon to 7pm from Wednesday to Sunday, the museum has more than 300 pieces of art and sculpture on exhibit including works by Alexander Popp and Virgil Fulicea.

 

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National Museum of Transylvania History

With an extraordinary collection of exhibits which tell the story of Transylvania from the Palaeolithic period to present day, the National Museum of Transylvania History is a fascinating place to spend an hour or two. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm, the museum was founded in 1859 and has a vast collection of objects which range from mammoth tusks and ancient tools, to intricate medieval jewellery, books, print and more.

 

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Alexander Borza Botanical Garden

Founded in 1920 and now a well-loved landmark in Cluj-Napoca, the Alexander Borza Botanical Garden is an ideal spot to explore on a sunny spring or summer day. The gardens are open daily from 9am to 8pm and are landscaped with different themed zones including a Japanese garden and a Roman garden. The gardens also have tropical greenhouses and a museum and many of the trees and plants are notable for being rare or threatened species.

 

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Fortress Hill

Located to the north of Cluj-Napoca’s old city, Fortress Hill is a must-visit for nearly every visitor to the city. Reaching 60m above the city, the hill is, unsurprisingly, the best spot to get a wonderful view over the surrounding landscape. The hill is named for a fortress which once stood guard over Cluj-Napoca, although now only the remains of its ruins can be seen. Today, the hill is topped by a hotel, and a cross in memory of the 1848 Revolution.

 

Have you visited Cluj-Napoca and what did you think of the city? Or are you planning a trip?

 

 

Six Summer Cocktails To Mix During Vacation

Posted on: June 2nd, 2014 Posted by

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Whether you are staying at home this year during your vacation or travelling to foreign climes, a cocktail is a refreshing and fun way to celebrate. In this blog, we explain how to blend and present five fantastic summery cocktails (plus one alcohol free option) that will tantalise your taste-buds and get you in the holiday mood.

 

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What You’ll Need & Tips

In addition to the ingredients listed for each drink, you’ll need a cocktail shaker and selection of glasses for serving. Remember to have a good supply of ice prepared in the freezer and if you like, a stock of decorative straws and stirrers to add a personal touch to your drinks. And of course, remember that although these cocktails may be very easy to drink, they are also rather potent – so enjoy with moderation.

 

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Flamingo

The Flamingo is a zingy and tropical cocktail with a lovely pink colour thanks to the grenadine syrup included in the mix. To make the cocktail, simply mix two measures of white rum, one measure of lemon juice and one measure of pineapple juice in your cocktail shaker and mix well. In a tall or balloon type glass, add crushed ice, then pour a splash of grenadine over the top before filling with your cocktail blend.

 

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Tropical Islands

Tropical Islands is a vibrant, sparkling cocktail which includes fresh fruit for a festive touch. Prepare this drink by chopping summer fruits into chunks (we like a combination of cherries, strawberries and peaches) and half filling a highball glass. In your cocktail shaker, mix one measure of brandy and one measure of white curacao, then pour over the fruit. To finish, top up with very cold tonic water.

 

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Mad Summer

With an unusual and distinctive combination of flavours, Mad Summer makes a great palate refresher between courses at dinner. Make Mad Summer by mixing three measures of whisky and one measure of tequila with three measures of watermelon juice. Pour into a tall glass and serve with a slice of watermelon and plenty of ice.

 

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Mango Bellini

For special occasions, the Mango Bellini is a wonderful, exotic cocktail that is very easy to make. The trick with this one is to make sure all the ingredients, and the glasses are chilled before starting. Then simply mix cava with mango juice, and serve in flute glasses – no decoration needed!

 

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Blue Lagoon

With an enticing blue colour that is reminiscent of the ocean, Blue Lagoon is a classic holiday favourite. Blend one measure of blue curacao with one measure of vodka, and pour over crushed ice in a tumbler glass. Top up with lemonade and serve with sprigs of fresh mint – magnificent!

 

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Sunny Sunday

Those who prefer not to drink alcohol don’t have to miss out on the flavoursome fun of cocktails – try a Sunny Sunday instead. Make this delicious cocktail by pouring a generous splash of grenadine over crushed ice, before topping up with a 50/50 mix of ginger beer and apple juice. Serve with slices of apple for a decorative touch.

 

Which of our selection of summer cocktails do you like best? Do you have any delectable cocktail recipes to share?