Travel

Travel

A cycling tour of the Balkans: two wheels, three countries, four days

Our writer and his friends recapture their youth and the joy of cycling, with a challenging trip taking in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro

Rocking my bike from side to side, I crested the final rise and the landscape opened out before me. A high-altitude meadow freckled with cows rolled down into a shallow bowl surrounded by savagely contorted, parallel slabs of limestone sticking straight up from the earth. Beyond was 2,523-metre Bobotov Kuk, the highest point in Montenegro’s wondrous Unesco-listed Durmitor national park. Behind me were yet more staggering views, across glacial lakes to rows of mountain peaks, deep river gorges and pine forests populated by wild cats, bears and wolves.

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Travel

Ocho Rios: a Caribbean hideaway on Jamaica’s north coast

On the opposite coast to the island’s busy capital, Kingston, ‘Ochi’ is a tranquil but thriving haven with plenty to do, see and eat – and some characterful places to stay

Jessica Ogden has just finished applying a fresh lick of paint to the holiday cottage, one of two she rents out at Te Moana, close to Ocho Rios, occupying a scenic position on a cliff 30ft above the Caribbean Sea.

Unlike other luxurious and more opulent villas in the area, these cottages feel rustic, cosy and uniquely personal. That’s because they are. For Jessica, a fashion designer, they are an extension of her work, following in the footsteps of her mother, Annabella, who moved here in the 1960s. When her mother died two years ago, Jessica moved out soon afterwards to live at the family home. Although she has lived abroad for most of her adult life, her roots in Jamaica run deep. Annabella ran an art gallery here, Harmony Hall, which she opened in 1981, displaying the work of local artists – the gallery is still thriving today in a former 19th-century clergy house. Now Jessica has taken on the family business with her brother, looking after the two cottages at Te Moana, and adding a few touches of her own.

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Travel

Bologna city guide: what to see plus the best bars, restaurants and hotels

The opening of a foodie theme park will further elevate Bologna’s reputation as Italy’s culinary capital but the city has plenty more to offer, including superb art, music and medieval architecture

Europe’s oldest university town (it was founded in 1088) has been a haven for intellectuals and creative types since luminaries such as Dante and Petrarch passed through in the 14th century. Cultural capitals can ossify with time, but the constant influx of young blood into Bologna has kept the city alive. In the evenings, cafes flood with Bolognesi, from high-society ladies to stylishly scruffy undergraduates arguing politics and sipping Aperol spritzes.

Piazza Verdi attracts musicians and dreadlocked punks, while bars under the arches of Piazza Santo Stefano are a lovely spot for a sundowner. At weekends the central Via Ugo Bassi and Via Rizzoli, along with perpendicular Via dell’Indipendenza, are pedestrianised and fill with shoppers and street performers. At nightfall, crowds from the student bars along Via Zamboni and the more upscale options on Via del Pratello spill into the streets.

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Travel

Fence Gate Lodge, near Burnley, Lancashire: hotel review

This inn on the edge of the Ribble Valley has long had a reputation for good food and drink. Now it’s added a glam 24-bedroom lodge across the road

When I arrive at Fence Gate Lodge, owner Kevin Berkins is busy with a tape measure on the staircase, checking the installation of a bespoke bannister. It is one of the finishing touches to the 24-bedroom addition to the creeper-clad Fence Gate Inn (50 metres away) in Fence, a village outside Burnley on the edge of the foodie Ribble Valley.

Such hands-on management is unusual in people who’ve been in the business for 35 years. Many owners get other people to check the stair rods, but that is not how Berkins rolls. He designed the Lodge himself, and from the Inn’s staggering collection of nearly 1,000 gins (including a 1947 Gilbey’s, the year of Berkins’ birth) to the Lodge’s punched-stone exterior (dimpled stones commonly used to build east Lancashire’s mills), everything bears his fingerprint. Berkins was originally a butcher, and Fence Gate Inn is renowned for its sausages, made at his other pub and deli, the Eagle at Barrow. (These excellent products were the highlight of the lodge’s creditable grilled breakfast.)

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Travel

10 of the best attractions in Emilia-Romagna: readers’ travel tips

Fast cars, slow food, hilltop castles and open-air art galleries … Our readers pick their highlights of Emilia-Romagna – classic Italy without the crowds

On a hilltop between Bologna and Imola is Dozza, a handsome village of classic medieval appearance, with an unexpected twist. The entire village is an open-air gallery with around 100 artworks displayed wherever space allows. Murals adorn walls, doors and archways, showcasing a variety of styles by many different artists. Guided tours must be pre-booked but it is always open and accessible to all. Every two years, notable artists are invited to contribute to the collection, keeping it at the cutting edge of modern art. And in the enoteca regionale, more than 800 wines from Emilia-Romagna are available in the beautiful vaulted cellar of the fort. A fine day out.
marthah

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Business

Top 5 Tips for Using Credit Cards Overseas

Before jetting off to tour Asia or backpack through Europe for your next adventure, you may find yourself caught in a dilemma on how to pay for your travel expenses incurred through transactions with merchants at the holiday destinations that you are heading to. You may ask yourself, what is the best way to pay all of these merchants? Would it be cash, cheque or a credit card? Here are five tips that you can follow to fully maximise credit overseas. 1. Choose The Right Card Before you start using your credit card all day every day abroad, understand how your credit card company may apply foreign transaction fees. Stop to read the fine print. Does your credit card charge any fees that you did not know about? Watch out for the hidden fees and train yourself to avoid those pesky charges. Many credit card companies charge a fee for transactions performed abroad, usually 2%-3% of your total purchase. It may not sound like a hefty charge but why spend more when you don’t have to? Take, for example, a total sum of $5,000 was charged to your credit card on hotels, taxis, restaurants, and other expenses as you tour

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Music

10 of the best Bruce Springsteen landmarks in New Jersey

As The Boss regales Broadway audiences with his show of songs and stories about growin’ up and life in the spotlight, we pick out New Jersey locations that have played a big part in his life and career

This impressive building on the Asbury Park boardwalk was built in the late 1920s and is largely used for concerts and sporting events. Since 1999, it has also been the location for Bruce’s tour rehearsals. But Bruce hasn’t been its most raucous resident: in 1956, it was famously the scene of a large-scale riot at a Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers show, after which the mayor threatened to impose a ban on rock’n’roll performances.

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Travel

Berlin’s popular Thai Park faces threat of closure

The iconic but illegal Preussenpark food market could become a victim of its own success as officials clamp down over hygiene and safety regulations

Under the last of the summer sun, Thai hawkers dish up noodle soups flavoured with garlic and coriander, and prepare spicy papaya salads to order by hand. The sea of women in floppy brimmed hats, cooking street food under multi-coloured umbrellas, looks straight out of Bangkok, but this is western Berlin.

Thai Park, an open-air food market and popular tourist attraction usually wraps up at the end of October. But this year it is ending on a troubled note – the illegal market might not be allowed to resume in 2018.

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Travel

Water worlds: top 10 marine adventure holidays worldwide

Ahead of the BBC’s new David Attenborough series Planet Blue II, we pick 10 trips that explore the oceans, from diving the Pacific’s ‘underwater Serengeti’ to reef conservation in Belize and kayaking in Komodo

For world-class diving sites you can reach on a budget airline, try the Azores archipelago. The seamounts (volcanic underwater elevations) have barred hogfish and stingrays on the seabed, and devil rays and skipjack tuna closer to the surface, plus dolphins, turtles and whales to spot on the boat there and back. Divers can swim with 10-metre whale sharks off the coast of Santa Maria island, and with blue sharks around the Condor seamount, 10 miles from Faial island. The Rosais reef, off the western tip of São Jorge, is a more accessible place to find a wide variety of sealife, including octopus and huge schools of pelagic fish, and there is the Dusky Grouper Passageway off Corvo, where divers are often followed by the eponymous big, friendly fish. Caves and shipwrecks complete the package.
More information at dive.visitazores.com. Ryanair flies from Stansted to Ponta Delgada from about £45 return. Dive Worldwide offers group and tailor-made eight-day trips from May to October from £1,045 including flights

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Business

Top 9 Myths About Travel Insurance

Travel insurance may not be as cut-and-dry as you might think. Keep reading to see if you’ve fallen prey to the top 9 common myths and misconceptions about travel insurance. 1. Travel insurance is unnecessary You might think that travel insurance is nothing more than another clever scheme cooked up to part you from your money, and is unlikely enough to come in handy that it’s not worth going to the trouble to buy. But the chances that you’d be mistaken seem to be rising. According to claims data published by AIG Singapore in a 2017 report, “high-impact incidents” such as extreme weather conditions, medical outbreaks, or even sociopolitical events like terrorist attacks are 85% more likely to happen on your next vacation out of Singapore than only 3 years ago. And apparently, the number of claims AIG has received in the last three years resulting from sociopolitical causes such as political instability, terrorist attacks, coup d’etat or stricter border security have more than doubled compared to previous periods. Overall, AIG considers these high-impact incidents the top emerging risk for Singaporean travelers this year. What do extreme weather conditions, medical outbreaks, and terrorist attacks have in common? They cannot be expected or anticipated and

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Travel

10 of the best-value family ski trips

Winter sports breaks can be seriously expensive during February half-term and the Easter holidays but there are bargains if you know where to look

Action Outdoors is the UK partner of UCPA, a French non-profit group that works to make outdoor sports holidays affordable. Its all-inclusive ski trips offer some of the best value going, with ski hire and 12 hours of tuition included in the price. Les Contamines, in the Mont Blanc region, is a friendly, quiet resort with higher than average snowfall that’s often overlooked in favour of big-hitting neighbours Chamonix and Megève. The slopes are especially suited to beginner and intermediate skiers, and the town is picturesque.
From £654pp at half-term (departing 10 February) with action-outdoors.co.uk, including 7 nights’ full-board, 6½ days’ lift pass, 12 hours’ ski instruction, 6½ days’ ski equipment hire and evening entertainment. Accommodation-only options are available and under-3s go free. Return Eurotunnel crossings from £150 per car. Tolls and fuel about £136 according to viamichelin.com

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Travel

10 of the best winter sports resorts in Europe for skiing and more

Not everyone is thrilled by the idea of a week’s skiing and little else; here are ski bases with the full St Moritz array of winter fun but without the Swiss original’s steep prices

The winter sports holiday was famously born in Switzerland in September 1864, when a canny hotelier in St Moritz wagered a party of British visitors that if they returned in winter and the sun failed to shine more than in summer, he’d foot their bill. Statistically, he was on safe ground. They returned, and the rest is history.

Today, St Moritz offers everything from golf, cricket and horse racing on the frozen lake, to the Cresta Run and bobsleigh. But it’s expensive. Here are 10 less well-known destinations that offer more than just skiing.

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Art

Beautiful places to visit in Cornwall – chosen by local artists

As Tate St Ives reopens with a £20m extension, six of Cornwall’s leading artists describe the spectacular and atmospheric landscapes that inspire them

The Island at St Ives is my place to go for contemplation. It’s the big hill overlooking the town, west of the Tate. In my pottery I like to explore new techniques a lot and things do go wrong. If you go for a walk, you can think – how do I solve that one?

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Travel

Best little ski resorts in Europe: readers’ travel tips

Head to these lesser-known – and often cheaper – ski areas, some with challenging off-pistes and others with family-friendly runs and hotels, but all with breathtaking scenery

Villars is only two hours on the train from Geneva airport and it is possible to get a tram up into the village of Gryon, making the journey from airport to piste very easy for weekend skiers. Gryon and Villars have a wide range of blue and red pistes, which are excellent for families or skiers wanting to perfect their technique. However, the area’s best-kept secret is the glacier at Diablerets: incredible off-piste terrain with 2,000-metre verticals from top to bottom. The best thing is that it doesn’t attract the large numbers nearby Verbier does.
tomglancey

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Business

Travel Tips For Solo Female Travelers

The need for travel tips for solo female travelers is increasingly becoming a popular topic. This is not surprising as more and more women explore the world all on their own. Regardless whether it is for business, pleasure, or both, women are taking to the skies and visiting other countries. They soak in new cultures that leads to a better appreciation of who they are. The Department of Statistics Singapore laid out a few of the most common factors that helped propel traveling for women much easier. For one, the globalization has ushered in higher economic opportunities for Singaporeans. This resulted in more disposable income for travel. And women are taking advantage of this opportunity. Apart from that, traveling is now easier. The infrastructure has definitely improved in the last decade or so. It helps make business travel more comfortable. Transportation hubs whether by land, water, and air are all in place to help people discover new places. It seems like the only thing left is to decide where to go and just book that trip! This ease in traveling has led to a higher demand for travel tips for solo female travelers. Today Online shares that there was a

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Travel

One last time over Georgia – drone photography

Georgia introduced new rules restricting the use of drones last month but before they came into force, Amos Chapple, one of the early pioneers of drone photography, captured the country’s diverse landscapes from above

Camera drones have transformed the world of photography by making it cheap and (relatively) safe to take aerial images. But as security and privacy fears have mounted, new laws have begun limiting their use. Georgia was one of the last countries with relatively open skies but on 1 September, it imposed tight restrictions on drones. Amos Chapple, one of the pioneers of drone photography, headed to Georgia with a high-end quadcopter to make one last aerial record of the country’s mountains, lowlands and cities before the new rules came into force.

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Travel

The alt city guide to Cambridge

Cambridge’s food, drink, music and arts scenes are thriving, with an underground ethic energised more by town than gown

You might imagine that in a university city as renowned as Cambridge, the student population is pivotal to its cultural life. “Not remotely,” says Cambridge-based arts journalist, Harry Sword: “It’s bizarre; they live a closeted existence. Cambridge University is a boiler room in terms of the amount of work they’re given, and they have sophisticated entertainment networks in each college so it’s a very self-contained world.

“People forget that over 100,000 people were born and live here, regardless of the university,” Swords adds. From the independent enclave of Mill Road to the annual (sponsor-free) Strawberry Fair music festival, a dedicated minority of those locals work doggedly to maintain the city’s bohemian edge.

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