For many good reasons, the Golden Circle Iceland is one of the most popular sightseeing places in the entire world. Just in one day, you are served with perfect magnificent waterfall, the world’s oldest parliament and many hot spring areas which are commonly known as Geysers.
The purpose behind writing such detailed article is to help out people with exact tips of renting a car in Iceland and make them fully aware of unusual driving conditions.
If you plan to have a perfect tour to Iceland by car, you need to select the option of Iceland car rentals which offers cheapest and most effective ways to explore the vast island. Renting a car might sound a bit expensive deal but still it is much cheaper and less strenuous than traveling by bus.
With numerous car rental companies available in Iceland, it is a bit tricky call to select the best possible option. Being a traveler, you must not miss getting a fair deal which suits your budget and demand. Ideally, you need to follow certain tips mentioned here which will allow you to select the perfect car rental company on the island.
Select Car Rental Company Online – The most amazing and affordable deals by car rentals are found online. If you select the option of booking a car online, you are nearly guaranteed with a better deal than renting a car when you visit Golden Circle Iceland. Many online companies are ready to attract more customer and offer highly exciting discount offers which will save plenty of money. Yes, with online booking you need to plan the entire trip well in advance and get in touch with reliable and reputed car rentals to arrange vehicle on time.
Give top priority to budget – There is no point in hiring a car rental service which is not in your budget. Just decide a nice budget which allows you to rent a comfortable car for a long journey and start searching rental companies which fall within your budget. If possible, try to read some reviews and gain valuable knowledge from experiences of other visitors.
How to Drive Properly in Iceland?
It is the unusual driving conditions in Iceland which create plenty of issues so you need to find out certain effective ways of driving properly in this Country. We all are fully aware of the fact; landscapes are awesome and highly pleasing to our eyes.
Such beautiful sight-scenes are enough to drive attention of the driver away from the road. Just be careful and pay full attention to driving unless you reach your destination. The speed limit in populated Golden Circle Iceland areas is 50km/hr whereas it will vary around 60km/hr on thruways.
Driving in Icelandic highland is bit more complex and different from driving in the lowland. The weather conditions can change a lot in the span of few minutes so you can face situations like road crossed and rivers too high to cross with ease.
Don’t panic, be safe and enjoy the most memorable moments of your life in Golden Circle Iceland.
With an inviting and relaxed atmosphere, great spa treatments and dental care you can afford, Bydgoszcz in Poland is much more than just a collection of letters.
BYDGOSZCZ, until you know how to say it, is a city with an unpronounceable name. And when you do know how to say it – “Bdghst” – it remains a city that few people have heard of. Yet look a little further, and talk to some Polish friends, and you’ll find it’s more than just an obscure former trading centre in northwest Poland.
It’s one of Europe’s healthiest cities. From dental care to outdoor sports and a fantastic climate to minimal pollution, Bydgoszcz is so good for you it should have a spa therapy named after it. Bydgoszcz therapy perhaps. That sounds about right.
Stepping off the plane at Bydgoszcz International Airport, I am surprised to find that Poland isn’t grey, wild beasts don’t roam the roads and there are no dark satanic mills. Forget these untrue Polish stereotypes. No, the sun is splitting the sky and a lush green forest surrounds the airport. It’s common to have 30°C temperatures outside the winter months and, when I meet the mayor, Konstanty Dombrowicz, he jokes that next year they are expecting oranges. Driving to the hotel through the centre of town, cyclists whizz past and joggers bob along, giving the distinct impression that this is a healthy place. To later discover that 50 people turned 100 years old in 2007, out of a population of only 370,000, confirms this.Inspired by this statistic, I’m ready to detox in Bydgoszcz. And the next morning I set off in search of the secret to eternal life. The city has a wonderful park, offering horse riding, fishing, swimming, sailing and climbing, with skiing and ice skating in winter. There is minigolf and a driving range, and a nine-hole golf course is imminent. Travelling in the back of a traditional horse and carriage, my eyes return again and again to idyllic scenes of happy mushroom pickers swinging their baskets in the breeze. It’s true, really
Bydgoszcz also boasts a relaxing canal, winding its way through the pretty city centre past the modern opera house and late-gothic cathedral, whose interior is more Technicolored than Joseph’s dreamcoat. The city sits upon two Mayor Dombrowicz tells me animatedly that Bydgoszcz hosts regattas and motorcar races, and is in the running for the World Athletics Championships. The Republic of Ireland football team faced Poland here in 2004, as did Scotland in 2001, after which several Scottish fans married local women and decided to settle there. Later, I meet one these Scots in a bar and he tells me that, although there are more “bonny” cities in Poland, Bydgoszcz is a fantastic place to put down roots.
The Scottish connection dates back to the Highland Clearances, which took place mainly between the 1770s and 1850s. Large numbers emigrated to Poland and a couple of Bydgoszcz’s mayors were actually Scottish. The city is twinned with Perth in Scotland, and in May next year will host its very own Highland Games, with pipes, cabers, the lot.
With a good day’s exercise under my sporran, I know it’s time to really check out Bydgoszcz’s health credentials, with a trip to the dentist. Dental tourism is on the rise in Poland, as the cost of treatment in western European countries is becoming increasingly expensive. Before too long I’m horizontal, jaws wide open, having a check-up. I am impressed by the dentist’s professionalism and the money saved, if I was having treatment, would pay for the rest of my trip.
A filling, extraction or scale all cost 57PLN (€15) and a porcelain crown is 419PLN (€110) – so low that the next stop has to be the optician’s for an eye test and a new set of frames for only 152PLN (€40).Now, what healthy weekend would be complete without a visit to a spa? Villa Park Hotel, a short drive from the city, is a modern resort featuring every treatment you can think of – plus the cryotherapy, endermology and balneotherapy that you didn’t think of. Poland’s affordability really is spectacular, and when state-of-the-art spa treatments start at 57PLN (€15), it means the world to your wallet.
Of course, if you are so inclined, the city will also serve your needs for spiritual wellbeing. Christians will be delighted to hear that churches in Poland are routinely bursting at the seams, with three or more services on a Sunday. Non-believers can try mushroom picking as an alternative which, by all accounts of pickers I spoke to, is quite uplifting.
Luckily Bydgoszcz offers non-healthy indulgences as well, otherwise where’s the fun? Chocolates are a local speciality and, as it’s a university town, the bars are bustling in the evenings. One guide promises that they close “only when the people want to go home”. Checking out the hot pants sported by female bar staff in one chain-pub, Roosters, I doubt some visitors will ever want to leave.
Before leaving Bydgoszcz there is one more tried-and-tested therapy to try: shopping. The city does a great line in jewellery, dresses and hats – three important ingredients for a wedding, if you’re planning one. Judging by the quality and value of the restaurants, catering would be more than affordable, too.
Make sure your guests go for mushroom soup though. The people of Bydgoszcz have mushroom soup with every meal. Hang on a minute, come to think of it, that may well be the secret of their good health.City guidePLAN AHEAD
For tourist advice, river cruise bookings, and any other information, contact the tourist office (tel: +48 52 321 45 95 or go to www..bydgoszcz.pl).
WHEN TO GO
May to October is the best time to visit, with consistently high temperatures in summer, up to 35°C. It gets well below zero during winter, but the city looks beautiful at Christmas, with a tree and ice rink.
WHERE TO STAY
View a comprehensive list of places to stay at www.it.byd.pl, with prices to suit every budget. Or, visit www..bydgoszcz.pl and click on “tourism”. I stayed in the very central Hotel Orlem (www..hotelpodorlem.pl), with its gold-painted banisters, red carpets, stained-glass windows and chandeliers. Another hotel worthy of note is City Hotel (www.city-hotel.pl).
WHERE TO EAT
Restauracja Meluzyna, Gdanska 50, (tel: +48 52 327 5205) serves cracking mushroom soup and other local delicacies.
A 10 minute taxi ride from the airport to the city centre is 27PLN (€7). A kebab and a beer each cost 6PLN (€1.50). A comfortable double room in a three-star hotel will be no more than 228PLN (€60). The local currency is the Polish zloty.
Parkland surrounds Villa Park Hotel and there are a number of packages on offer, from weekends to fortnight breaks (www.villapark.pl). Lesny Park, located on the outskirts of the town, has a zoo with animals native to Poland.
TIME TO REFLECT
There is a large war memorial in the town square, where a ceremony is held each year to mark the city’s Bloody Sunday massacre, which happened during World War II. There was also a female concentration camp in the city
TAKE A DAYTRIP
Torun is twice the size of Bydgoszcz and is 48km away. As well as lots of shopping opportunities, the city has its very own leaning tower and is the birthplace of famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
That evening we had dinner in Ristorante Fulvimari.
One and the other restaurants in Rome near the hotel were reasonable with good food and attentive, friendly service. Property wines were excellent. That evening we revisited the Irish pub and our own hotel bar. Thru the hotel we had contracted with a van Rooney’s recent novel is The Rice Queen Spy. His 1st brochure was the thriller 9 Lives Too plenty of featuring his series detective Denny Delaney pitted against the ‘archterrorist’ Felix the Cat.
That was accompanied by the suspenseful The Daemon in Dreams a naturalistic blend and the paranormal. His work schedule includes Clawed Back from the bung a new Delaney effort.
We take a look at how you could start your own business.
SLICE OF THE ACTION
In times of economic uncertainty, starting a business with the backing of a well-known brand is the best way to be your own boss, says Felix El Hage
Times may be tough, but one business model that is reporting not just survival stories but tales of success in the UK and across Europe, is that of franchising. And now more than ever is the time to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to going into business for yourself.
Make no mistake, starting a new business successfully during a recession isn’t easy. It’s usually downright difficult, and takes someone with an iron determination and belief in getting from point A to point Z – despite the many potential storms that can occur along the way. It helps, of course, if you have your own source of funding and are not reliant on the few lenders that remain for new businesses out there. But it is possible provided you choose the right type of business and go about it in the right way.
Franchising is one of the best options for would-be entrepreneurs, as it means operating a tried-and-tested business model with a full support network, as opposed to a risky solo business. And if your franchise can thrive in a recession, think how it will soar when the good times come again.
According to Brian Smart, director general of the British Franchise Association (BFA), UK franchise businesses today are still successful, and proving highly resilient to the hard times affecting the global economy.
Take Domino’s Pizza for instance, one of Europe’s well-known fast food pizza outlets. Last year, Domino’s Pizza Group Ltd head of franchise development Andy Hirst told the BFA: “In contrast to the economic gloom, we’re still doing very well… franchisees keep snapping up our exciting new business opportunities. The tried-and-tested formula of a franchised business offers a welcome safety net, when coupled with a quality product offering and a strong brand.”
Clearly, in a tight economy the quality of the business model is critical, and the essence of a franchise is that you can access knowledge, key areas of best practice, business tools and training. You are in business for yourself but not by yourself. And that is something that customers will also respond to.
“We found in recent research that given the choice, twice as many customers would prefer to use a franchised outlet over a non-franchised outlet,” says Smart on the BFA’s website. “Locally owned businesses, with national business support are a real success story, and we expect to see the trend towards more franchising continue.”
One thing to remember is that despite all of this, your franchise business will not succeed on its own in a difficult market. A proven product is one thing but the attitude and enthusiasm of the individual running it is paramount. If a customer feels you care and you give them a positive experience in a recession, when the recession ends the gains to be achieved can be incredible.
Business format franchising is the granting of a license by one person (the franchisor) to another (the franchisee), which entitles the franchisee to trade under the trademark/trade name of the franchisor and to make use of an entire package – comprising all the elements necessary to establish a previously untrained person in the business and to run it with continual assistance on a predetermined basis.
WANT TO MAKE SOME MONEY?GET THAT MBA
Career plans may be in flux in investment banking, but business schools are still booming, says Des Dearlove
Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, HBOS, Bradford & Bingley, Wachovia – the list of credit crunch casualties is lengthening. For MBA hopefuls who covet a job in investment banking or financial services, the news is not encouraging. But what does it mean for the MBA market as a whole?
Manchester Business School dean Professor Michael Luger says: “MBA applications have traditionally been counter-cyclical, with students taking the view that an economic downturn is a good time to take a career break – a chance to retool and go back into the labour market with more value.”
Open University Business School MBA masters programme director Richard Wheatcroft agrees, saying: “People who get a redundancy package often decide that it’s a good time to do an MBA while the labour market is unattractive. But we also find a slight increase in registrations from people still in employment who want to make themselves more valuable to their employer.”
A clear indicator is the increasing number of candidates taking the GMAT entry exam.
“Our data shows an inverse relationship between downturns in the economy and GMAT test-taking volume,” says Dave Wilson, president and chief executive of the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers GMAT.
“For instance, during the recession from 1989 to 1991, GMAT volume grew to 240,000. Again, during the dot-com bust era, volume peaked – with 2002 as the record year to date (245,000). And 2008 is already ahead of that year.”
Many business schools report that the bulge in GMAT takers is swelling the applicant pool. Lancaster University Management School, for instance, had close to 900 MBA applicants last year (200 more than 2007) chasing a maximum of 90 places.
But what about the MBA jobs market? Newly minted MBA graduates with their sights set on the City or Wall Street may have to think again. But financial services accounts for only a small proportion of MBA jobs.
“One of the great advantages of an MBA is that you develop a set of generic skills that are not sector specific and can be broadly applied in business,” says Rob Dixon, dean of Durham University’s Business School.
MBA graduates appear to be rising to the challenging conditions. Some 57% of job-seeking MBA students who completed business school last year had at least one job offer before finishing their studies, according to the 2008 Global MBA Graduate Survey conducted by GMAC. Not since the 2001 survey has such a large proportion had jobs lined up in advance of graduation.
Wilson explains: “The MBA market is about far more than Wall Street or Threadneedle Street. It is about marketing, sales, accountancy, consultancy and more arenas. Although the global economy is struggling to regain its footing, newly-minted MBAs are still highly sought after.”
Graduates of full-time programmes with job offers expect salary increases of 74%, on average, above their pre-MBA jobs. For part-time programmes, the expected average rise is 53%.
“Challenging but not daunting” is how Grant Phillips, acting head of alumni at Oxford Saïd Business School, characterises the jobs market. “While positions in investment banks will be harder to come by, there are opportunities in banking areas such as private wealth management, asset management and, dare I say it, risk management,” he says.
He also predicts more jobs in the regulatory and compliance field. It is, after all, an ill wind that blows nobody any good, even on Wall Street.
India has a massive coastline. Peninsular India is just as interesting as the northern plains and the mighty Himalayas. With a little more than 7,500 km of coastline, there are dozens of beaches in the country where you can plan a honeymoon.
Traditionally, people have preferred the hills or the mountains as honeymoon destinations in India. That has changed substantially in recent years. With numerous new beaches having been transformed to suit the changing sensibilities and demands of tourists, newlyweds are exploring beaches as honeymoon destinations in India.
Let us check out the top three honeymoon destinations in India along the coastline.
Andaman is one of the most fascinating places you can be at for your honeymoon. Known as Andaman Islands and officially a part of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, it is a paradise. Bid adieu to stale air, polluted waters, overcrowded beaches and explore a tiny jewel that is not too far from the mainland but appears to be a world apart. You can indulge in scuba diving, there’s a coral reef to explore, the views are pristine, the accommodation is relatively affordable and there’s some interesting historical places to check out, like the Cellular Jail or Kala Pani.
Goa has been the default choice for beach lovers for a long time now. Much before Indians realized the need to develop their beaches for tourism, Goa had been globally recognized and popular. Credit the Russians and Portuguese who made Goa their favorite place in this part of the world. There’s a saying among Indians that Goa is not where you should be for your honeymoon. It is a place where you ought to be with your friends. Blame the general perception that has eulogized Goa to be a beachside replica of Vegas or the Indian counterpart of Bangkok. Goa is neither. It is not where you would only let you hair down. It has some spellbinding beaches, food that you would fall in love with, drinks so affordable that the ordinary bars in your city would appear to be a luxury and there is some amazing history to explore, from the forts to the churches and more.
It is impossible to not talk about Kerala, God’s Own Country. Beyond the backwaters and the amazing landscape of Kerala, the state is also home to some lovely beaches. You have to be in Marari to experience tranquility that you would perhaps not get anywhere in the region. And you can get a houseboat in Marari, which is a lovely, scintillatingly romantic way to spend your honeymoon.
Three years ago, I went on an outward bound course with my then employers and learned all sorts of important things about myself, most notably that I really couldn’t drink as much as my colleagues. Along with the obligatory bridge building was a night-time caving expedition where we were given the chance to turn off our torches and feel our way out should we fancy it.
Oddly, we did, and as we were 1km underground the blackness was breathtaking. There wasn’t a sound – save for the endless bumping of pit helmets on rock and some weeping from the girls – and it was truly an immense experience. Hooked, I set my mind on exploring other underground options around Europe. Here are seven of the best.
Postojna cave – SLOVENIA
Just 50km from Trieste, Italy, lie the Postojna caves in Slovenia, some of the most accessible on the planet thanks to about 8km of navigable trails. Unusually, most of the system is on the same level and you can wander around at will, although if you want to shell out a bit you can hire a dinghy and a guide will take you to places dark enough to scare Stephen King.
Slovenia is like a slab of Swiss cheese, with more than 7,000 known caves, and Postojna has been attracting paying visitors since 1824. The incredible underground train ride is straight out of an Indiana Jones movie, specifically, the one with the underground train ride, if that helps.
EXPECT TO PAY: €20 gets you in, while €60 will buy you a challenging, five-hour guided tour.
France is a wondrous holiday destination, which perhaps explains why more people visit the country than anywhere else on the planet. Yet away from the sun-kissed beaches of the Mediterranean and the lush green valleys of the Dordogne is an outdoor adventurer’s Mecca – the Ardèche, a land-locked departmentin southern France serving up mountains, rivers, forests and caves.
Although closed to the public, Chauvet Cave near Vallon features paintings some 30,000 years old. But among the seven other caves in the area is Aven d’Orgnac, with 3ha (one tenth of its total space) of underground hiding places to explore. Its top draw are the “organ pipes”, a collection of stalactites hanging down like something from The Phantom of the Opera.
They won’t reopen until May because there’s a good chance winter visitors would get snowed in – but if you’re in Austria this spring, and in need of a sight to make you look up and mutter something that rhymes with “moley twit”, you should seek out the largest system of ice caves on the planet.
The Eisriesenwelt Caves are less than an hour from Salzburg, and are the kind of thing you’d find in a Tolkien book. Their nooks and crannies measure more than 40km and date back a cool 100 million years. You don’t need a smidgen of caving experience to have a peep around either, as some nice men have put in a proper path, including lights. Interestingly, the nearby town of Werfen is where scenes from both The Sound Of Music and Where Eagles Dare were shot.
EXPECT TO PAY: €8.50 to see the cave, or €19 if you want a cable car jaunt (recommended) thrown in (www.eisriesenwelt.at).
HILLOCK CAVE – SWITZERLAND
There are more than 170km of known tunnels down here in this yawning cave system in the belly of the Swiss Alps, although experts say there are undoubtedly a lot more. Its name translates as “Hell’s Hole”, and it’s as forbidding a spot as we’ve seen – a maze of tunnels, crevasses and holes, with the kind of creepy rock formations that make you convinced you’re being watched.
Scoffing at the quick tourist visit, more intrepid explorers can trek deep into the cave system and spend the night in a bivouac, traversing underground lakes and monster caverns as they go. Eerily, the temperature in the caves is the same all year round – a breezy 6ºC.
EXPECT TO PAY: CHF395 (€264) for two days in Hell’s Hole with Trekking Team (www.trekking.ch).
The caves are at Hintertal in the Muotatal Valley, roughly 130km from Friedrichshafen or Basel.
CUEVAS DEL DRACH – MALLORCA
Spend too long in a cave and you’ll end up looking like Gollum – but you’ll struggle to tear yourself away from this popular Mallorcan tourist spot, which houses one of the world’s biggest underground lakes.
Known as the Martel Lake, it lies within a 2.4km-long set of caves sitting just 25m below the surface, and was first discovered by Frenchman and pioneering cave explorer Edouard Alfred Martel in 1896.
Every day, audiophiles are treated to a classical music concert, where the sounds dance off the stalagmites, walls and water. Mesmerising!
This place is simply awesome, and has been providing Poles with stuff to put on their chips since the Middle Ages. Excavations go down as deep as 327m, and the UNESCO-listed site first opened to visitors – condiment-mad European VIP ones – way back in the 1500s
Over the years, romantic/artistic/bored miners have carved all sorts of weird and wonderful figures out of the white stuff (which is actually not that white), and nowhere did they get more carried away than in what became the Chapel of the Blessed Kinga, which features scenes from the Bible in salty relief. Unashamedly touristy – it pulls in 1 million visitors a year – there’s also a serious side to the mine at the neighbouring Treatment Centre, where salty air and water is said to cure all manner of chesty ills.
EXPECT TO PAY: PLN48 (€12). Wieliczka, 10km south-east of Krakow (www.kopalnia.pl).
Les Catacombs – PARIS
If you look across the City of Lights from any decent vantage point, you’ll see just how much of the place is built from limestone. Most of it was plucked from the ground below – and as a result the capital of France straddles earth more holey than Rab C Nesbitt’s vest.
While this was a problem during the construction boom of the last 200 years (thanks to disappearing floors), it did provide city planners with a solution for what to do with all the bones clogging up the city’s cemeteries. In the late 1700s, an order was decreed to close the graveyards, reclaim the land, and pile the bones underground. In the Paris catacombs you can enter a chamber so full of bones it’s like entering hell. There are thought to be about 6 million skeletons in there, none of them intact. Instead, you’ll see walls of tibias, fibulas, and – creepiest of all – skulls.
BARAFUNDLE BEACHPEMBROKESHIRE, SOUTH WALES
Who goes: Families with active children This blissful corner of South Wales offers a sandy beach within reach of Bristol. The secluded beauty of Barafundle’s beach is bookended by limestone cliffs from which you can see bottlenose dolphins and basking sharks. Backed by forest and dune, it’s within the National Trust’s Stackpole Estate, a haven of farmland, lake, woodland and beach. Children will enjoy the lily ponds of the estate, home to otters, swans, ducks and more. It’s one of the loveliest spots in Wales.
PLAGE DE TAHITISAINT-TROPEZ, FRANCE
Who goes: The beautiful peopleFrance’s most chi-chi coastal stretch, the Côte d’Azur, is primed for action in summer months, when the jet-set (and everyone else) descends for a dose of Riviera beach action. The coast has everything you need, from intimate rocky coves to long swathes of golden sands where it’s hard to find a free square to lay down your towel (though it’s more likely in these parts that you’ll be paying for a sunlounger and a parasol). The buzzy Plage de Tahiti was made famous by a pouting Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s, and has been playing off this vibe ever since. And why not?
CONCHE DES BALEINESILE DE RÉ, FRANCE.
Who goes: Oyster-loversThis Atlantic isle of salt marshes, pines, dunes and oyster beds – criss-crossed by cycling tourists in summer – is home to gorgeous villages full of seafood restaurants and markets selling fresh cheeses, fruits and seafood. The best beach is Conche des Baleines, tucked away in the south-west corner, a curve of creamy sand backed by grassy dunes. This spot is best enjoyed with a bottle of rosé when the sands are drenched in sunset light. There are busy cafés around its lighthouse, and you can cycle to the galleries and homewares boutiques of chic St Clément des Baleines.
PLAYA DE LA MAGDALENASANTANDER, SPAIN
Who goes: Bucket-and-spade-loving familiesThe beaches of Santander in northern Spain have long been the city’s number-one draw, and it’s a great springboard for exploring the Asturias hinterland. Magdalena beach, overlooking a picturesque bay, filled with sailing ships and boasting a misty mountain backdrop, is sheltered from the north-east wind. At 350m long, its vast, fine golden sands are peppered with happy children and sun-seekers. The waters are enjoyed by splashing dogs, windsurfers and ecstatic teenagers on inflatable doughnuts.
BRELA BEACHDALMATIAN COAST, CROATIA
Who goes: Western Europeans, particularly ItaliansTalk about romantic. Visitors can’t get enough of Croatia’s sparkling waters, fishing ports, hidden islands and palm-fringed beaches: it’s eye candy for the soul. Once you get over the fact that few Croatian beaches are sandy, you’ll fall in love with their beachy blueprint: the secret cove of blue-green shallows nestled between high rocks. Along the Makarska coast, south of Zadar, Brela is a full 6km of pebbly beach forming itself into private nooks and backed by shady pines and olive groves.
Who goes: Art lovers and artists“In France there is no sky as blue as the one in Collioure,” said Henri Matisse. Matisse liked to wax lyrical about tiny, idyllic Collioure as its luminosity and general gorgeousness cured him of a bad case of artists’ block (the village sells his prints and postcards in every shop and gallery). Being only 20 minutes from Spanish Catalonia, there are Catalan accents in the architecture of its harbour, and the Pyrénées loom in the near distance. Although Collioure is mobbed in August, during the French holidays, it’s still an exquisitely pleasant one-stop-shop for lapping up good food, good art and natural beauty, laden as it is with seafood restaurants overlooking the bay, and small waterfront hotels from which you can dive directly into deep, clear, cobalt waters.
CALA FORMENTORMALLORCA, SPAIN
Who goes: Travellers in search of the “real” Mallorca, and the occasional celebrityHappy holidaymakers descend on Mallorca every year, but it’s still possible to find the perfect stretch of sand. Cala Formentor, a kilometre-long narrow strip of finest white on the Formentor peninsula, is accessed by a pleasant drive through Mallorca’s northern reaches. Shrouded by palms, overlooking mountains, and with dappled turquoise waters, this is one of the island’s most captivating spots. There’s plenty to keep you occupied, from pedalos to jet skis and glass-bottomed boats (and even a surfing school), and two restaurants will keep you fuelled with chilled beers and fish dishes. The hotel Barceló Formentor is where Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier honeymooned.
ES CODOLAR BEACHIBIZA, SPAIN
Who goes: Grown-up party people, wellness gurus and Ibiza insidersIbiza is the Balearic island of extremes. It is rocky yet covered in a thick spread of fragrant pines. It’s a party island and a rural haven of olive, fig and almond crops. If you’re looking for low-key insider Ibiza, your summer beach of choice should be Es Codolar. Yes, it is a pebble beach, but this serves the purpose of driving away the hordes. It is backed by the Ses Salines salt flats (making the water salty and buoyant) and a nature reserve full of brooding birds. And true to that tradition of Ibiza’s wonderful contrasts, it’s also home to Macao Cafe on the Rocks, a super-cool beach bar whose chilled-out dance music mingles with the sounds of breaking waves, serving great Italian food and cocktails.
Who goes: Swimmers and foodiesIn Cyprus, head west. You’ll find lush meadows, forests, sleepy monasteries and quiet beaches where turtles lay their eggs. Stay in Polis, a beach resort surrounded by citrus groves and looking across to the Akamas peninsula and its hiking trails. The area has a burgeoning agro-tourism industry, with idyllic lodgings that exude authentic Greek-Cypriot hospitality.
DOG’S BAY CLIFDEN, CONNEMARA, IRELAND
Who goes: Wild-swimmers, hikers, romanticsConnemara is the unspoilt gem of the west of Ireland, and Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay, lying back to back, are the best picks in the area for walking and swimming (if you can stand the Baltic temperatures). The mysterious thing about horseshoe-shaped Dog’s Bay is how its sands got so white (it’s actually because they are “foraminiferal”, or composed of seashells), and why its waters are of the palest turquoise (pass). Have lunch in the nearby town of Clifden, where there are little shops, art galleries, and pubs playing live music, and serving Guinness and oysters.
There’s tension in the air. Burgerac, London’s foremost hamburger detective, is about to deliver his verdict on a burger at a restaurant called Bar Boulud.
If you’re planning a trip to London, check out www.hotelgods.com to find the best deals on hotels.
He holds his half of the “Piggy Burger” at eye-level and we both admire its dazzling beauty – cheese brioche bun, tender pulled pork (slow cooked mince) and a medium-rare beef patty, brown edges giving way to a reddish-pink centre, a shy blush for a hopelessly enamoured audience.
But there’s a problem. The chilli mayonnaise has made the surface slippery and Burgerac is struggling to get a grip. Red cabbage spills from the seams. I nervously gobble a French fry.
“Slicing it in half appears to have affected the burger dynamics,” he reports, tongue only slightly in cheek. But despite concerns regarding structural integrity, Burgerac’s enthusiasm remains undiminished.
He declares it a triumph, his favourite burger in London. “For too long we put up with substandard burgers,” says the sleuth, who launched his food blog (www.burgerac.com) at the start of the year. For those who missed it, the name is a play on the 1980s British TV detective series, Bergerac.
“Now we’re braver in the kitchen and demanding more. There’s a new generation of ultra-burger and it’s hugely exciting.”
Burgerac, whose identity must not be revealed, is obviously obsessed. But he’s by no means alone. Five years or so ago, London wasn’t the best place for the burger besotted. Now the scene is booming and fast-food junkies are queuing up to reveal their once- taboo passion.
An online community of chefs, butchers, writers and kitchen-table enthusiasts alike carnivorously blog and tweet about bun absorbability, cheese gooeyness, lean-to-fat ratios, the optimum way to slice gherkins and the different kinds of burgers they discovered in small American towns on their latest pilgrimage to the burger’s homeland.
It’s understandable. We’ve all grown up with hamburgers. They symbolise America, childhood and, erm, capitalism. And if you’re counting calories, they are forbidden fruit, a calorific treat reserved only for special occasions. You can squeeze them, smell them and wrap your lips around them. They’re the ultimate comfort food. The burger is, in pop culture terms, perhaps the most iconic dish in the world.
This rich hamburger mythology was recently celebrated in London at The Burgermat Show. The event was a special edition of Burger Mondays, a social gathering and burger feast organised by American Daniel Young, a blogger (www.youngandfoodish.com) and former food critic for New York’s Daily News.
Young teamed up with Burgerac to produce a celebration of art, design and, of course, hamburgers. Each meal came with a burger-themed placemat designed by a young London artist – a unique souvenir for the discerning fan.
In a similar vein, artists Anna Lomax and Lauren Davies, together known as Jiggery Pokery (www.jiggerypokery.biz), have launched a collection of fast-food memorabilia at the YCN gallery in the east London neighbourhood of Shoreditch.
Entitled Eat Fast Die Young, it includes tomato-shaped ketchup dispensers, vanity cases shaped like burgers, and all sorts of tacky giveaways from the golden age of marketing burgers to kids.
“These take us back to our childhood and the things we couldn’t have,” says Lomax, her face lit by the golden arches in the window. “But ultimately it’s just about celebrating the naffness of it all.”
One particularly naff item is a comic book starring Mr Wimpy, a Popeye character re-imagined as a Tower of London Beefeater. He was the face of Wimpy restaurants, which first opened in Britain in the mid-1950s, a full two decades before McDonald’s arrived on UK shores.
Once a familiar sight on many a UK high street, today its restaurants are much fewer in number, the closest to central London being in Shadwell, east London. And that’s where I find Daniel Young eating a cheeseburger topped with a flattened pork sausage.
“Burgers are a strong part of New York culture, and New Yorkers have a very strong idea of what burgers should be,” he says, holding the last thing on Earth he thinks a burger should be. He started Burger Mondays to “bring a New Yorker’s sensibility” to the burgeoning London scene.
The events are held in small London cafés, but star accomplished chefs making spectacular burgers. “When you see 40 beautiful burgers and 40 people at shared tables biting into them and dripping onto the plate, the impact is very strong,” he says.
Although a Wimpy burger is a very different beast to some of the ultra-burgers you can order today, I can’t help root for the plucky British underdog that dared take on the American giants. And today there’s a new British burger chain on the scene: Byron. It was founded by Tom Byng, who fell in love with the dish while living in the US.
“What we’re doing here now is what happened in New York five years ago,” Byng says, fresh from opening his 16th branch in just four years. “The hamburger had acquired this grotty, Super Size Me-type reputation. But there was a resurgence and Americans were reminded of just how delicious and comforting hamburgers can be.”
Joining Byron at the start of the revolution was steakhouse Hawksmoor, whose Longhorn beef and bone marrow creation was an instant hit when it was released in 2009, raising the bar for British burger culture. It’s in a branch of Hawksmoor that I meet up with Marcus de Vere, who works in catering and has his own fledgling business, ANP Burgers (www.aintnopicnicburgers.com ).
He talks about beef blends, bun suppliers, fat content, cheese, pickles and salt like a man who’s made hundreds of burgers in the past week, which indeed he has. “I was a chef first and then I realised that I loved cutting up animals so I became a butcher,” he says. “If you’re going to have a ridiculous obsession with hamburgers, a butcher’s is a good place to work.”
But it was the arrival of The Meatwagon (www.themeatwagon.co.uk) last year, a van popping up in places like Peckham, south-east London, that really shook up the capital’s burger scene. Yianni Papoutsis makes old- school American-style burgers that people travel for miles to eat. Standing next to his food truck in a London pub garden, Papoutsis has an unlikely confession.
“I’ve always had a passion for Big Macs,” he says. “When I was five or six years old my Friday treat was to go to McDonald’s, and I have the strongest early memories of the first time I was allowed to eat a Big Mac. It was a rite of passage.”
But the Meatwagon experience is something different. High-quality burgers are served in a low-key setting, so it’s not quite like the knife-and-fork burger bars of Byron and Hawksmoor, either.
He serves me a Dead Hippie, his marvellously greasy, intensely tasty take on the McDonald’s burger. He tells me about the joys of corn-fed beef, vintage griddles and American diners. He claims he’s not obsessed with burgers. I don’t believe him for a second.
How do you choose which beautiful beach to sunbathe on next?
With difficulty, but here are 20 ideas for you. So many summer break destinations, so much sunshine — where to go first? We suggests 10 different beaches you could lounge around on
PLAYA DE SES ILLETES FORMENTERA, SPAIN
Playa de Ses Illetes
Who goes: The Ibiza ultra-hip brigade
When the international clubbers descend on Ibiza in high season, the insiders head to chill-out islet Formentera, two miles south. You’ll still find sunset-to-dawn beach parties here, but set to a tranquil reggae soundtrack.
If you have a problem with nudism, you may find Formentera a little outré, but the attitude here is just to relax and live and let live. The best beach of all is Caribbean-esque Playa de Ses Illetes, where some scenesters are known to lose themselves for an entire summer (quite a feat, as Formentera is only 19km by 6km).
Illetes is the island’s hub, with a bay of yachts, water sports, and good places to eat. Thatched umbrellas offer respite from the sun, so sit back and relish the wild beauty.
ELAFONISI BEACH CRETE, GREECE
Who goes: Families with water babies
If you want the real Crete, go west. Here, Chania is Crete’s most romantic town, an exquisite Venetian creation with a taverna-lined harbour looking over blue-green waters.
The best beach within tripping distance is Elafonisi on the far west coast (1.5 hours, but seriously worth it). Its big boon – apart from Indian Ocean-esque sparkling waters and pristine sandbars that glow coral pink when bathed in sunset’s light – is the preservation order slapped on it. It’s refreshingly under-developed, with locals renting out rooms.
Elafonisi is named for the tiny island it overlooks, separated from the shore by a metre-deep lagoon: perfect for children. Day-trippers descend in summer, so wade out across the lagoon to the islet and head south till you find a cove all to yourself.
ESSAOUIRA BEACH ESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO
Who goes: Beatniks, creatives, those who don’t really do beaches
Essaouira, its ancient, seagull-circled ramparts tumbling to a vast windswept bay, has been hosting hippies and artists since the 1950s, and it retains its chilled-out vibe today.
Bracing trade winds mean beach time is better spent camel-riding than sunbathing, but if you like jewel-box riads, small art galleries and music festivals (the Gnaoua World Music Festival takes place here 23–26 June), then Essaouira is your beach bag.
LIDO DI VENEZIA VENICE, ITALY
LIDO DI VENEZIA
Who goes: Venetians and tourists alike
On an island in the southern lagoon of Venice, frequently gawped at by people on arriving cruise ships, this is the closest beach to Venice. Its real glory days were back in the early 20th century when it was depicted in Thomas Mann’s Death In Venice, but it’s still hugely popular with Venetians in summertime.
There’s a golden, sandy beach, and the Lido is a great place to earwig on chit-chat and observe the locals. Beach huts here mean a cabin furnished with a curtain, from which you may then emerge and strike a pose.
PRASONISI BEACH RHODES, GREECE
Who goes: Guitar-playing surfer dudes
Rhodes is the big daddy of the Dodecanese. And while it has its fair share of visitors it also has unspoiled landscapes and an intriguing culture in the labyrinthine back streets of the gorgeous Old Town.
The most untouched beach is Prasonisi, a surfer’s paradise in the south that’s reachable only down long bumpy roads. Here, the Mediterranean and the Aegean part company, creating a magical sandy isthmus and some great conditions for riding the waves.
Surfer dudes in camper vans congregate for chilled beach parties in the evenings, so listen out for the strumming of guitars.
PLAYA CALAHONDA NERJA, COSTA DEL SOL, SPAIN
Who goes: Locals and holidaying British families
Nerja is the quieter, easterly stretch of the Costa del Sol. Here the beaches are awash with the scent of paella and there are no monstrous high rises. The heart of winding Nerja is the Balcón de Europa, a fabulous terrace that juts over the sapphire Med with wonderful views of the jagged coastline and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
Playa Calahonda, a small and scenic fishing beach, is reached via a steep path on the left-hand side of the Balcón.
PLAYA DE SOTAVENTO FUERTEVENTURA, SPAIN
Who goes: Windsurfers who want to get away
Fuerteventura is the Canaries at its most tranquil, so if you come seeking the dusk-till-dawn antics of Tenerife, Lanzarote or Gran Canaria, you will be disappointed. This place is all about deserted coves and fishing villages, vast tracts of white sand caressed by rays, ultramarine lagoons hidden down rutted tracks.
Playa de Sotavento, where the windsurfers flock, could be one of the most photographed beaches in Europe, yet is the most deserted. When the sun goes down, head north to the town of Corralejo for a tasty fish supper down by the harbour.
BIDDERS BEACH OROSEI, SARDINIA
Who goes: Nature lovers, seekers of the perfect secluded beach
With more than 1,800km of exquisite coast, this isle is smug in the knowledge that it has the most translucent azure shallows in the Med – not to mention some amazing pearly white sands. The more famous Costa Smeralda stretches for 55km in the north-east, and the unspoilt south coast has many deserted beaches.
Bidderosa beach in the east is composed of five pristine coves. To get there, you have to walk 4km through a nature reserve – and it’s well worth the trip.
KILESAND BEACH SYD-KOSTER ISLAND, SWEDEN
Who goes: Urban Swedes
West Sweden’s tiny Koster Islands are flecks in the Skagerrak strait in Sweden’s first marine national park, Kosterhavet. Enticingly car-free, and bathed in endless summer light, the two islands are home to fishing villages, and are blissful places to spend a wallowy week swimming, sunbathing, and devouring salt-smoked mackerel.
Often-deserted Kilesand beach is a kilometre-long sandy stretch framed by pine trees – great for cycling to with a picnic, past grassy meadows and red-painted houses along the way.
PRAIA DE ZAVIAL ALGARVE, PORTUGAL
Who goes: Hikers and camping hippies
The Algarve’s most westerly stretch, with rugged cliffs plunging to topaz-blue waters, this is a perfect place for learning to surf, taking walks through wild-flower-filled hinterlands, or just lying in the sun on the sandy shore.
Small and secluded, Praia de Zavial, near Sagres, has everything you need for a lazy beach day, including a café nearby serving the best burgers in the Algarve. Even at the height of summer you won’t find crowds; it’s not home to any resort, and is accessible only by car.
It was in 1956 that the ships began the race and no one knew it would become such a matter of prestige. Celebrating 60 years of the competition and the Diamond Anniversary, the series of Tall Ships Races begin on 9th July and end by 13th August 2016.
The Tall Ships Races, often known as the biggest sail event of the year, is a lot more than just a sailing event. Water sports enthusiastic, thousands of sail trainees and travellers flock in numbers to experience this amazing event. And that’s not it.. meeting alike people, the music and the after parties is an marvellous experience. The event kicks off on 7th July in Antwerp, Belgium with the foremost race setting sale on 9th.
Below we have listed the ships which will be taking part in the competition
Santa Maria Manuela
Alexander von Humboldt II
The TSR race dates are
Antwerp to Lisbon- 9th July to 24th July
Lisbon to Cadiz- 24th July to 30th July
Cruise-in-Company- Cadiz to A Coruna- 30th July to 13th August
The TSR sail events is taking place at-
Antwerp (Belgium) 7th July – 10th July
Antwerp loves TSR and this is its fourth time in holding the event. That starting event will take place in this beautiful metropolis of Belgium. And while you stay in Antwerp there are lot things you can experience. It is rich in art and architecture, fashion and entertainment. While you are chilling out in Antwerp do check out The Central Station, Plantin- Moretus Museum, Cathedral of Our Lady, Grote Markt van Antwerpen and Rueben’s House. Even after the disastrous bombings during the World War II, Antwerp sparkles with joy and the smiles of its people.
Lisbon (Portugal)- 22nd July- 25th July
Lisbon is expected to welcome around a million tourists as it welcomes the ships after its first race from Antwerp till here. The highlighting festival is the crew parade where thousands of participants will be coming from all around the world to show their skills. Culturally and biologically diversity is a beautiful sight. While you are in Lisbon go around the city and explore the Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Tower, ST. George’s Castle, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and Parque Das Nacoes.
Cadiz (Spain)- 28th July to 31st July
The third event of this year’s TSR is in the southern city of Spain which is also the oldest southwestern port in Europe. It is famously known for its 18th century cathedral graced by a Golden Dome. Unveiling the beauty of this ancient port city, you can dive into the deep waters which almost cover the entire city and in the romantic architecture which will surely make you fall in love with the city. The essence of Cadiz lies in Torre Tavira, Museum of Cadiz, Mercado Central and its beaches- Playa Victoria and La Caleta Beach.
A Coruna(Spain)- 11th August- 14th August
The closing ceremony to the most adventurous sailing event of the year will take place in the north-western busy port of A Coruna. Laced with legends and myths and history, today A Coruna is a perfect blend of history and modernism. The Tower of Hercules, Aquarium Finisterrae, Estadio Riazor and Church of Santa Maria de Cambre are a few places you must definitely visit.
Planning to be a part of this exotic event, we’ll help you!