If you’re going on holiday in another country, or even to a whole other continent, flying is by far the best way to get there. The world has certainly become smaller with the advent of cheap flights, but that’s a good thing as pretty much anywhere is accessible in no more than a day.

Booking cheap flights is the name of the game as you can save a fortune and potentially have even more holiday spending money to play with. Why pay full price for a plane ticket when you can get the same seat or even an upgrade elsewhere for less? It’s an obvious choice, and one more and more people are making.

cheap flights

Whether you’re going on a long haul or short haul flight, the absolute best place to book cheap plane tickets is the internet. There are a phenomenal number of websites out there, but is dedicated to sending you to the best price comparison sites around. It’s a simple case of entering your details into a search box, clicking go and then checking out all the results. You’ll find some incredibly low prices, but always check elsewhere to ensure you find the cheapest deals.

The great thing is that you can be anywhere in Europe in a matter of hours. No matter whether you’ve booked a summer holiday to somewhere hot in the Mediterranean like France, Spain or Cyprus, or even a last minute ski holiday in winter, flights are the quickest and sometimes cheapest way to get there.

Of course many people find going through airports to be too much hassle, but that’s all part and parcel of it. You can’t board an aircraft without having been through some rigorous security checks first, and would you want it any other way? But ever developing technologies aim to cut queues and get you to the terminal quicker. If you don’t like it, buy a magazine or some perfume in duty free!

The fact is that taking the aeroplane is the quickest way to get anywhere in the world these days. If you book cheap flights online in advance, you can save a lot of money and maybe even get an upgrade. Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight!

Introducing Prague

The city of Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic covering over 200 square miles and being home to over a million people.

Situated at the centre of Europe, Prague is a perfect destination for a short city break holiday, combine this with a wealth of attractions for the tourist and you have a perfect situation. Prague is growing in popularity with more and more people choosing it as their holiday destination.


Getting to Prague

Travelling to Prague couldn’t be simpler with its location at the heart of Europe. There are direct flights every day from most European airports as well as flights from the USA. Many low cost airlines also travel to Prague with flights for as little as thirty pounds.

A cheaper but none the less efficient service is provided by coach transport, this is however a journey of about twenty four hours from London as opposed to ninety minutes by air. A good compromise is rail travel which is cheap and efficient.

The cities airport is just ten miles from the city centre which then only leaves a short journey by rail, bus or even hire car.

Places to Stay

Prague is one of the fastest growing city break destinations and despite investment in new hotels there is something of a shortage. Many old hotels have simply been done up but little as been spent else where.

Prices can be as high as many other European cities despite the sometimes questionable quality. Sadly there’s not much on offer for the budget traveller with the few cheap hotels tending to be old fashion.

stay in prague

A cheap alternative would be to stay in a private house with a local family, this can be organised through local travel agents. There are also hostels and if you travel further from the city centre, campsites too.

Eating Out

Restaurants in Prague are of a very high standard and there is a vast choice with many new restaurants opening all of the time. In many restaurants the emphasis is on traditional Czech food although there are restaurants serving Western foods aswell.

Restaurants in Prague

Czech food is quite similar to Austrian food with alot of meat served with either potatoes or rice in a sauce. Food tends to be simply with few spices and the meat tends to be fried. The most common meat is pork often this is served with dumplings, vegetables and gravy, a kind of stew if you will.

Some restaurants we recommend are Chez Marcel which serves fine Parisian food in the Jewish Quarter, Nebozizek which is a cafe over looking the city, La Perle de Prague serves very good Czech food and lastly the Opera Grill which is a small but very good restaurant. Continue reading →

Cross Country Trains

One of the cheapest, quickest and most convenient ways to travel is by cross country trains. Whether you’re travelling inside the UK, across Europe, or to destinations even further a field, taking the train is a sure fire way to get there on time and in total comfort. And the great thing is that if you book online you can even get some great discounts on train tickets!

Rail networks in the UK are improving on a yearly basis, and journey times are being slashed as a consequence. This means that anyone from daily commuters to tourists and day trippers can get almost anywhere in very little time at all, and updated modern trains have everything from Wifi to toilets and even restaurant carriages. There’s really no contest when compared to driving, as avoiding congestion is a given.

InterRailing around Europe has always been popular, but with cross country trains it’s even more so nowadays. You can visit all of the major capital cities and experience everything Europe has to offer on just 1 ticket. What’s more it won’t cost you a fortune, especially if you book online. Considering European rail networks are considerably better than those in the UK it’s a fast track to an unforgettable holiday.

Some of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe are around the Mediterranean. Spain, France and Italy are all Meccas for holidaymakers and getting there on cross country trains is incredibly easy indeed. It’s an adventure in itself as overnight trains have sleeping facilities that will make you feel right at home for the duration of your trip. Tickets are so much cheaper than flying it’s almost comedic, and you don’t have to deal with the stress of long queues, packed departure lounges and security checks. is all about travelling for less, and refers you to some excellent money saving websites. For rail travel, booking a ticket online is simply a case of entering your details, clicking go and getting a reference number. Some companies will even send you tickets through the post if you book early enough. With price comparison sites galore, you’re able to see any number of train times and fares and select the cheapest or most relevant ones for you.

The fact is that cross country trains are a great way to travel as you avoid all the congestion and get to your destination on time, in total comfort and for much less of the cost. From the UK to Europe, hitting the rails is certainly the best way to travel if you’re looking to save some money!

Scoop Up New Travel Partners Without Looking Desperate

The truth is out: you can really get a lot more done by traveling the world with a few travel partners than if you just traveled by yourself. After all, why should the beauty of the world be something that you have to explore on your own? If you want to really get a working idea of what people think about the world, you should definitely travel in a group. However, what do you do when your friends really don’t want to be part of a travel experience? You will have to end up just finding travel partners on the go, some of whom might be complete strangers to you.

Not sure how to get started? Well, we’re definitely glad that you asked!

First and foremost, you will need to think carefully about your travel goals as a whole. If you’re trying to really dig into the cultural significance of every place you visit, then you will want to make sure that you are attracting people that have the same type of goals that you do. It’s very tempting to just take on anyone and everyone that says that they’re interested in traveling with you, but you have to also make sure that their goals are the same.

Hike on sunset

Unfortunately, this can be hard to find if you’re not used to looking at total strangers. You will need to find communities where travelers congregate. Simply going on a place like Craigslist really won’t do, because you won’t really know what other people are thinking until you reach out to them and hear what they have to say.

This means that if you have dreams of doing a last minute travel run, you won’t be able to really get those dreams to become a reality. This is because you really need a lot of time to make sure that you will be able to put a trip like this together.

One thing that you will definitely want to do is be open and frank about your expectations. You don’t want to find yourself dealing with someone that thinks that you will be paying for their portion of the trip, or someone that has completely different travel goals. This will lead to a very uncomfortable trip, and one that will most likely be cancelled early. You just need to make sure that you dig in deep and get that taken care of as soon as possible.

The key to all of this is that you really can’t look desperate. The best travel partners will want to be able to count on you to contribute something powerful to the experience, and you can’t do that unless you’re going to be getting into things with a clear head. You can’t just leave things uncared for if you’re really serious about getting the perfect set of travel partners.

In addition, you will need to set up some ground rules with the people that you want to travel with you. For example, if you’re the only female in a group, you will need to emphasize that this is a trip of friends only — there’s no indication that you’re going to explore any romantic opportunities. Some people assume that if the gender mix is unbalanced, that romance is in the air. This is only one type of misconception that you will need to correct. There are plenty of other misconceptions that people have when it comes to the vacation scene.

Overall, you definitely have other things that you will need to think about as you plan the perfect trip with new travel partners. This is a great chance to make sure that you will be talking with a lot of different people and building new connections. Does it require you to leave your comfort zone? Of course it does. If you take the process slow and give yourself time, there’s really no limit to what you can do!


Travel as Art

How to prepare for the Orient-Express

Like any great work of art, a journey on the famous old train is to be savored. Therefore it calls for some preparation and even a little – dare I say it – deference. Not in terms of the staff or fellow-passengers, of course, but to the stricter codes of a more graceful time.

That is not to say you will not be pampered within an inch of your life.

When you arrive at the station don’t expect to hear the train’s location or time of arrival announced over the tannoy. Travelers on the Orient-Express were always a discreet bunch, and their arrivals and departures are a matter kept strictly between themselves and the crew.

In fact, the sojourns of the blue and gold train often go unnoticed.

At the end station either in London’s Victoria Station or the Santa Lucia in Venice, you may be struck by the small army of maintenance personnel furiously polishing every brass fixture, right up to departure time.

Don’t even think of carrying your own luggage aboard. A porter will take care of that for you – and you will not see it for the rest of the trip. That is correct. The elegant cabins will not countenance heaps of suitcases. They will be relegated to a luggage coach for the duration of the journey.

Fortunately, your valet will have packed a small suitcase with the bare necessities for a 30-hour trip, including evening wear.

If you board in London, the European train’s British cousin, the British Pullman, will take you to Folkestone, where a luxury bus will whisk you across the Channel to Calais. There you will re-embark onto the VSOE (Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express) line, which operates on the continent.

Your first task will be to get settled in to your cabin and the Art Deco realm of brass, mahogany, and Tiffanystyle lamps.

You may be surprised that, in deference to the original 1930’s era plumbing, there are no showers in the cabins – just small wash cabinets with hot and cold running water. Magnificent marble, brass and mahogany “personal conveniences” are a pleasure to visit at the ends of each wagon. So take heart. This might have been a problem back when the trip to Istanbul took five days, but on today’s 30- hour trip, even the most hygiene-obsessed will survive.

Presently, you will commence to dress for dinner. This is not just a good idea – it’s the rules. Gentlemen have a choice of dinner jacket and tie or tuxedo. Ladies have none: Evening gowns, preferably in the ultra-chic style of the 1930’s, are de rigueur.

This is a good time to warn those apt to chafe at the dictates of fashion that there is a dress code on this train. Because the Orient-Express hearkens back to a time when traveling was a social occasion, voyagers are expected to dress correspondingly. No common jeans or T-shirts, let alone sweatshirts or shorts, shall surface during the trip.

(Granted, in the morning, savvy travelers evade these rules by shuffling up and down the corridors in the fluffy, dark-blue robes, more elegant than anything most of us have hanging in our closets, furnished compliments of the VSOE – possibly for this very purpose.)

The first night you will be amply rewarded for your dressing efforts by the outstanding creations of the train’s French chef. The cuisine on the Orient-Express was always famous. Austrian gourmets were known to board the train in Innsbruck and disembark in Zurich just for the pleasure of eating lunch aboard.

Nothing has changed. A typical five-course menu can include: crème soup, a fish course with anchovies and saffron risotto, stewed beef, a platter of ripened French cheeses, and Bavarian chocolate cake.

Following a round of cocktails in the bar car, supper will be served, on sparkling china and crystal – with a corresponding barrage of forks, bien sur. Hopefully, you will have studied your Emily Post before departure, but if you forgot, you can take a peek at which fork your neighbor, who hopefully didn’t, is using.

After supper you may congregate in the piano lounge to listen to period Big Band music, or retire to your compartment. The steward will have transformed it into a bedroom, unfolding the seats into full-sized beds. Snuggling between the monogrammed covers, you can let the train, rolling at 140 kilometers per hour, rock you to slumber.

The next morning, at an hour prearranged with the steward, a discreet knock, followed by the man himself with a breakfast tray, ushers in a new day. You can watch the countryside fly by as you sip your coffee, tea or hot chocolate and munch on piping hot buttered croissants.

Later you can slip on the aforementioned bathrobe and slippers and join the throngs of passengers socializing in the corridors in theirs. This is a good time to make the acquaintance of your fellow travelers: an elderly couple whose children pooled their money to send them on a second honeymoon, the odd film star, an artist or two, or just the average millionaire.

With all due respect to Agatha Christie and Graham Greene, what you are not – and never were – likely to find on the Orient-Express are murderers and spies. In all of its 124-year history, the Orient-Express has not lost a passenger and doesn’t intend to start doing so now. As for spies, it is hard to imagine any government, then or now, willing to foot the bill in exchange for strategic information that can be found on a train.

Agatha Christie based the detective novel, Murder in the Calais Coach (later renamed Murder on the Orient- Express) on an incident in 1928, when passengers were trapped in the train for five days by a snowstorm in the mountains outside of Sophia, Bulgaria.

Lunchtime is another chance to savor the view and the cuisine. It is a convenient bridge to afternoon tea, served in the compartments so that travelers do not need to tear themselves away from their novels or games of euchre.

As the shadows lengthen and the train approaches its destination, the tim comes to prepare for life without obliging stewards, mahogany wall panels, Tiffany lamps, dressing for dinner, and breakfast in bed.

They will be missed. Yet perhaps it is a good thing to leave now; the only thing worse than yearning for luxury is getting too used to it.

Facts about the train:

It is huge, with a total of 17 wagons. There are nine sleeper cars with nine double-bed compartments each; two sleeper cars with seven one-bed compartments and three two-bed suites; two service and luggage wagons; three restaurant cars; and the essential bar car.

The train chugs through Prague’s Hlavní Nádraží four times per year, in May, June, September, and October.

The 40-member international crew includes a sophisticated mix, for example, a French chef, Italian waiters, and English and French stewards. All speak four major European languages.

A treat for history buffs and romantics

The first Orient-Express left the Gare de Strasbourg in Paris on October 4, 1883 with 40 passengers aboard. It was the creation of Belgian entrepreneur George Nagelmackers and, thanks to the coverage of Henri Stefan Opper de Blowitz, the Parisian correspondent of the London Times, it made the covers of all the newspapers. Shortly before the first train voyage, Nagelmackers created the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et des Grands Express Europeens, which still exists, and runs the VSOE to this day.

The Orient-Express would never have achieved its present renown if it hadn’t been for the project of a Hamburg firm to join Switzerland and Italy via the Simplon Tunnel. It created a shorter route to the orient for the train, which in 1906 came to be known as the “Simplon-Orient-Express.”

Service was stopped during World War I, but between the wars its fame grew and the cars became more and more luxurious – some are still part of the train that runs today. The train stopped running during World War II and never regained its glory. Its routes grew shorter and shorter, and the niveau on the once elegant cars dropped beyond recognition.

Then, in 1977, James Sherwood, president of Sea Containers Group, bought two of the original sleeper cars at a Sotheby’s auction in Monte Carlo. He decided to restore the train to its former glory. Over the next eight years, he bought 35 more cars and had them restored at a cost of over 500 million CZK. The reward came on May 25, 1982, when the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express, restored to its full splendor, left Victoria station. Today it runs every week from spring to November on a route between Venice and Paris and Calais, with a connection to London. It’s a gorgeous collection of original sleeper cars and has several routes: Venice – Innsbruck – Zurich – Paris – Calais; or Venice – Vienna – Prague – Paris – Calais, and many more.

Once a year, in September, it retraces its original route to from Paris to Istanbul. This train carries only 100 passengers who, owing to the lack of showers on the train, spend every other night in a hotel.

Be Careful What You Wish For The Mayor may overhear you – The Hotel Růže – Český Krumlov

In 1996, Jan Horal, a member of the RAF during World War II, took a trip to Český Krumlov. It was a place he remembered from his childhood. The owner of Hotel Duo in Prague, Horal was shocked to see the condition of Český Krumlov’s large, 16th-century, landmark hotel (which he described as “a horror”) overlooking the Old Town. Standing in front of it, he muttered, “If I owned this hotel, I would take better care of it!”

A man standing behind Horal stepped forward and introduced himself. It was the mayor of Český Krumlov, and he told Horal that the hotel was for sale by the town. “Three and a half hours later,” Horal remembers, “I was the owner of a hotel.” (Horal later also bought the Old Inn Hotel, down the street from the Hotel Růže).

Horal implemented a massive reconstruction project. Sets of three rooms were turned into two rooms, with the room in the middle divided in half so that two bathrooms could be built from it. Redecorated in a Renaissance era-style, the rooms feature dark wood and red fabrics – some of the bedrooms even have flowing, period designs painted on one of their walls – and the floors and ceilings are wood.

But the rooms offer all the modern conveniences, masked by Renaissance design: minibars and televisions are set into wooden cabinets, radiators and air conditioners are hidden by tasteful wooden covers. Even some of the bathrooms have an amusing touch created by their Renaissance-style wooden furniture.

Asked where the Renaissance-era furniture came from, Horal replies, “We built it.” Horal took his carpenter to museums and showed him pictures in books on Renaissance-era furniture, pointing out which pieces he wanted. “It wasn’t difficult,” he states. “Renaissance furniture is very simple.” Even with all the changes made to transform the hotel from what Horal describes as “Neo-Stalinist Renaissance style” into a top-quality, five-star hotel, the project only took six months to complete before the hotel was ready for business. Of the hotel’s 70 rooms, 40 have sweeping views of the town; the rest face the interior courtyard, which still displays the original, 16th-century paintings and sgraffito on the exterior walls.

A convoluted history

The four-wing hotel is a former Jesuit college. Its patrons, Wilhelm von Rosenberg and his fourth wife, Polyxena, bought six Gothic buildings standing on the site and destroyed them in order to build the college. Architect Baldassare Maggi d’Arogno, who moved to Bohemia from his native Italy in 1575, constructed the building based on plans by Alexander Vojtov, then rector of the Jesuit college in Prague. Construction began in 1586 and was completed in 1588; the college’s 59 windows required 16,695 individual pieces of glass.In 1773, Filip Holger remodeled the building for use as an army barracks, a function it performed until the late 1880s. Then in 1889, a license was granted to turn the premises into the Hotel Růže. The facade was restored and the staircase in the left wing was remodeled. The right wing and theater hall were renovated in 1906, and new rafters were built over the left and rear wings following a fire in 1919. Continue reading →

No Need to Feel Lost – Buy Travel Guides

One of the biggest weaknesses of all people around the world is the chance to experience different places, different culture, and different people. Everyone wants to travel to a new place to learn more. However, it may sometimes be a very daunting task and you are going to have a problem finding your way around. This is why you may need to buy travel guides, especially if you have no idea about the cultures of the place. People have been insulted for fewer things than what is perceived to be the wrong manners and gestures.

So, how will travel guides help? Well, for starters, these instruction manuals can give you the low down on what you can and can’t do. It would be nice to heed the advice that you get because you do not want to be in a situation where you put yourself and other people in a situation wherein you are going to have to apologize for something that you may have no even been aware that you did. These guides will help you point out those little cultural nuances that you need to learn and find help you find thing to do in big cities like London. You can learn all of the things that the general encyclopaedia entry can’t teach you about the place.

Travel guides are also important because you get to learn all of the important phrases. Suppose that you end up in the all too familiar situation of looking for a restroom – if you do not know how to say that all important phrases in the local tongue, you are going to have a problem. This becomes a bigger dilemma if you find yourself lacking in skills with the language because you are going to have a big problem making the people understand what you want to say.

Of course, you need to bring more than a travel guide if you are going to survive in another nation. It would be a good idea for you to bring a translation book as well, because you will need to say more than “where is the restroom?” and these books will give you an idea of what to say in these situations. You would get a really good grasp on things and it will be something that will help you out, especially when you need things in an esoteric part of the country where they speak nothing but the local tongue – this would make the experience feel all that more authentic.