Coming to London is always interesting, I have never got bored of this city. Even after knowing a lot about the city, as I have been learning about it since childhood, I still feel there is lot to learn about it, and lot to experience. In my previous article I wrote about the best bars in London in my opinion. Today I will talk about the places which are not in London, but interesting, near and easy to reach. London is surrounded by some of the interesting castles, towns and English country side.
I arrived in London for an educational trip. And since you know I love to go around the places I never miss the opportunity of utilizing my free time in travelling. In a sudden change in plan we had to shift our meeting place. I had to hire a meeting room in London as the one where we had planned, was undergoing renovation. And I am glad that we did. This new place was very beautiful in the premises of a college. It had a panoramic view across the Thames and was few steps away from the famous art gallery and London landmark, Tate Britain. Sitting there after the conference, I was thinking and talking to the students about the places they prefer to go during short vacations or long weekends near London. I am glad that I had traveled to most of the places which fellow students suggested me. Here is my list of top five places to visit from London.
1. Brighton – London by the Sea
|Brighton Pier, Photo by Helen Clark|
Brighton is a famous sea side resort, a perfect getaway point for the ones in London who wish to celebrate their weekends away from the city. Brighton is known for its oriental architecture and large gay community.
Try getting down to Brighton Pier, it is a nice place to walk in the cool breeze, along the beautiful sea shore & in the calmness all around. This is a place that will get you revitalized if you need a break from your busy work schedule. It can be a long walk, there are cafes after a mile or two and public conveniences. The light reflected from the cliff is very bright making the place even more wonderful. The place is well lit at night and is good for making photos.
If you enjoy hiking like me then come to Devil’s Dyke where nature will treat you in its own way. If you are lucky to find clear sky, you will find the views over Sussex breathtaking which will make you just want to go on a long walk. It gives you a 360 degree views of Brighton out to the sea and across to North Downs. There is also a pub restaurant on the top. The pub is surprisingly good and gives you a great panoramic view if it is cold outside. The food is above average.
If you admire Indian architecture, come to Royal Pavilion, I had no idea such a thing existed in English cities when I went there to attend a friend’s marriage. Royal Pavilion is a brilliant piece of art designed with unbelievable architectural touches. Rebuilt in the 19th century by architect John Nash, this building features a unique mixture of classical and Indian styles, which has been labeled as “Hindu-Gothic. You can start your tour with the electronic headphone which can translate the history of pavilion into several languages. Paintings and other architecture inside the Pavilion gives you the Indian feeling.
2. Cardiff, Truly Welsh
|Bute Park, Photo by Sarah Barker|
Cardiff is the capital of Wales in the United Kingdom situated on the south coast of the country. The city is gaining popularity with tourists who are interested in its history and Welsh culture. Cardiff is quickly becoming one of the United Kingdom’s tourism hot spots.
Away from London if you have come to Cardiff for walking or picnicking with your family and kids, then Bute Park is one of the best places. There is an amazing animal wall silence in the park which gives you the calmness and creates a romantic atmosphere. Waterbus is a really nice touch to the park. Hop onto the waterbus which takes you along the river past the Millenium Stadium to Cardiff Bay. It is of great value and is a nice ride along the river. The park has good networks of tracks for cycling along with good cafes.
I have visited a lot of castles but Cardiff castle was one of the best I have seen in the country. It has 2000 years of history together in an eight acre site: Roman, Norman, Plantagenet and Victorian history. You can go from the old Roman, Norman and Medieval ruins to the newer wartime shelters and lavishly decorated interiors. The main castle itself in the centre has some great views of the city, Millennium rugby stadium being one of them.
3. Cambridge, a University City
|Cambridge Backs, Photo by Paul Fenton|
Cambridge allows you to form various impressions about the place. from world famous Cambridge Univeristy to breathtaking view of King’s College Chapel from across the river Cam. It is very common to see students pedaling their way to the lecture hall and people spending their lazy summers near the River Cam. The town also deserves your admiration for rich intricacy of Gothic architecture.
River Cam and the view of serene greenery and colleges makes Cambridge a place to relax being surrounded by some of the most genius people in the world. Come to the Backs which is known for their daffodils and crocuses in the spring and beautiful open areas and road through gardens behind many colleges along the River Cam. The river is a good for punting during lazy summers.
Visit a college and walk on their garden and enjoy student’s cafes and see if you can recall your college days. Entry inside the college campus may not be free unless you are member or if you have a local pass.
Also see Anglesey Abbey which is a few miles east of Cambridge, take bus no. 10 which plies every hour. It is a National Trust Property, a beautiful house having extensive trail of nature, pond with fishes, beautiful gardens big enough to lose oneself. It is a good place to take your kids and play. There is a water mill which functions whenever there are volunteers, it is fun for kids as they can mill flour. And you can buy the milled flour right there. The on-site catering is good quality, offering a fair choice of meals and snacks at lunchtime.
4. Northampton, Beautiful Countryside
|Coton Manor Garden, Photo taken by Elliott Brown|
Not to be confused with the Northampton in Massachusetts (U.S), it is a largest settlement in U.K which is not classified as city. The place has beautiful gardens, lakes art galleries and museums.
Northampton is smaller compared to Cardiff and Brighton and there are less things to do. What I like here is the peace and experiencing true English country. My favourite place here is Coton Manor Garden which is among the best gardens I have been to. I was lucky to see real flamingos here. There are less but good cafes for refreshment. Entry fees £6 per adult is of a good value and Parking is quite big. If you are a gardener yourself or pursue it as a hobby then you may learn some tips and tricks at this place and even buy some plants for your garden. There are several different types of gardens, and they give you a map. Start by the house and you will appreciate the beautiful lawn, rose garden, a large pond and terrace gardens.
Another beautiful place is Stanwick Lakes. There is lack of public transportation and its better if you go by car. Keep binoculars with you if you enjoy bird watching. The entry to the place is free and parking fee is mere £2 for the whole day. There is a nice cafe and mobile drinks van for refreshments. Cycle tracks are nicely laid if you love cycling. The atmosphere is serene, pretty and oriented for all. The place is great for relaxing with family or playing with kids. People of all ages would enjoy here including a romantic visit for couples.
5. Oxford, It is not all about the University!
|Christ Church Meadows, photo taken by Tejvan Pettinger|
Known for one of the most famous university in the world, Oxford University is also the oldest university in United Kingdom situated 50 miles (80 Km) west of London. The earlier evidence of teachings dates as far back as 1096.
Much of the development in Oxford is surrounding the university, though Oxford is not all about the university. Train ride from London takes you Thames valley. Section between Reading and Oxford gives you some of the best views of English countryside.
Christ Church Meadow is my favourite place in Oxford. It is a beautiful place ideal for picnic spot or just relaxing. This scenic park offers you to walk through the meadows and along the river. The park is just two minutes walk from the main Oxford shopping street in the city centre and leads you down to the river banks of the Isis (Thames as it is known is Oxford). Take some cheese, bread, strawberries and champagne with you and head to the meadow watch the punters and enjoy the magnificent view of the Christ Church.
Another similar place is Port Meadow. Stroll by the river, have lunch and drinks in a pub, take horse ride or even feed the horses ducks and swans. It is a great open space with horses and cows around. Whether you do cycling or run or walk, this place is good for all and if you are here during winter you can even see kids from the neighbourhood skating on the frozen lake.
7 Travel Safety Tips You Should Know
Travelling can be enthralling, but have you ever asked yourself what if you get robbed? What if you get kidnapped? Or you get lost?
Leaving the comfort of your home to explore a foreign country can be an exciting experience. However, several worst-case scenarios can make you anxious when travelling overseas. From losing precious items and getting injured to theft or kidnapping, a lot can happen abroad.
The first step is to acknowledge that bad things can happen, which is part of the adventure. With these safety tips below, you can protect yourself as a traveller and have peace of mind.
Conduct Sufficient Research
Research and gather a lot of information. Travel safety starts even before you board that plane. Google about your destination and know the common risks and prevalent scams in that country. Get to know the safe and unsafe neighbourhoods.
Ensure you read reviews in the places you’ll visit or the hotel you’ll be staying in. Check if your rent property is in a safe environment. Read blogs from travel bloggers to find if there is anything written about your destination. You can watch videos on YouTube to learn a few things. You can listen to the accent, see attraction sites, and what the landscape looks like.
TripAdvisor is also a great platform where you can search your destination before travelling. It’s great for hotels, restaurants, local attractions, and tour companies. Read reviews to get valuable information from previous clients.
Doing research helps you feel confident and comfortable when travelling.
Buy Travel Insurance
A vacation isn’t a vast investment, like buying a car or house, but you still need a lot of money. Buying airfare, paying for tour guides, and accommodation needs tons of cash. The travel insurance cover protects you from lost or damaged items.
It can be expensive to replace items like electronic devices, clothes, and medication. You might also get hurt or sick while in a foreign country. If you get hurt or sick before travelling, you’ll have to cancel your trip. With this, you’ll lose the full cost. In such a scenario, the travel insurance will reimburse the amount used.
You may also need to get evacuated from a danger zone, and using helicopter transport can cost you a fortune. This is where travel insurance comes in. Early returns or losing a family or friend are other incidents that should motivate you to get insurance cover.
However, ensure you get a comprehensive cover that will cater to almost every bill you might incur. Choose a reliable insurance provider to give direction and offer the necessary help. Check the reputation of the said company, their insurance packages, and don’t forget to read reviews.
Share Information with a Reliable Friend or a Close Relative
Travelling is marred with uncertainties. Anything can happen when in a foreign land. That’s why you should let those close to you know about your whereabouts.
In case of an emergency, you might not manage to communicate specific details. The insurance may require you to call before going to the hospital. They can help you find a reliable hospital nearby.
It is always advisable to scan and print important documents and upload a digital cover of the insurance package.
Keep Your Money in Various Places
Never travel with all of your money in the same place. Stash emergency money throughout the luggage just in case you lose some. You can also place cash on your body but in different pockets.
You may wear a money belt beneath your clothes or have a handy bra pocket to keep your credit cards and cash. Invest in an excellent zippered passport pocket that can hold a phone and a passport. This way, even if you get robbed, you’ll still have some cash and cards tucked away.
More so, be mindful of purses and pockets when in a crowded place. It’s too easy to get pickpocketed in a crowded subway or bus. Criminals know their target pretty well, but you can give them a hard time trying to rob you.
If you get into a crowded place, keep your hands-on any pocket that has your valuables. If possible, tuck the purse underneath your arm to ensure it opens towards your body and hard to access. Ensure the purse can be zipped, covered, or fastened.
Avoid keeping stuff in your back pocket as it’s an easy target. Also, it’s recommended to ditch the purse and wallet altogether.
Lock Your Bags
Locking your luggage can deter thieves. Zip your wallet and purse and lock your bags as well. A determined thief goes for easier targets. They know travellers carry tons of valuable items, and that’s why locking your luggage during transit is a great security measure.
You can use non-TAS travel locks as they’re hard to break, unlike the universal TSA lock. However, you may use a TSA-approved travel lock for added security and peace of mind.
Don’t Bring with You Your Precious Items
It’s easy to have items disappear while in transit. It could be a scarf you left in a park or sunglasses fell in the water as you were surfing. When packing for air travel, leave anything that will break your heart if it gets stolen or lost.
For instance, leave your precious jewellery at home. Carrying education or property documents is risky. Bring cheap items like a travel-friendly necklace or wedding ring, an older smartphone, or inexpensive clothes.
Watch Your Drinks
When in a foreign country, you become an easy prey. No matter the circumstances, ensure you watch over your drinks. Make sure you see what’s being poured so someone doesn’t spike your drink.
It would also be best to avoid getting drunk. If you usually take six drinks, reduce to two. If you didn’t travel with a buddy, go everywhere with your drink, even to the washroom.
Every day there is news of travellers who have fallen victim to several crimes while travelling. This should be your huge concern in taking the necessary measures. Don’t be too naïve or optimistic to think it can never happen to you.
But don’t allow anything to stop you from having an enthralling vacation. Follow these travel safety tips, and you’ll enjoy a peaceful trip.
A unique perspective of Jamaica
Over the last years, Jamaica has become one of the most visited destinations by tourists in the entire world. This beautiful Caribbean island with its stunning beaches, rich nature and delicious gastronomy has everything you could wish for in a holiday destination. However, if you want to experience Jamaican culture in a unique way while interacting with nature hand in hand, there is a place you can not miss during your trip: Yaaman Adventure Park.
The most original holidays
Jamaica is famous as a beach holidays destination. And who can really blame those that choose to visit the country because of this? Its white sand beaches with crystal clear waters and jungle right next to the shores make out for some breathtaking views. However, Jamaica has so much more to bring into the table. A good example of this can be found in the famous tours in Ocho Rios offered by Yaaman Adventure Park.
Ocho Rios is known as the most touristic area on the entire island. And in an area with such a wide catalogue of activities focused towards tourists, we can find Yaaman Adventure Park. Formerly known as Prospect Plantation, Yaaman Adventure Park original placement used to be an 18th Century agricultural property with a lot of history and cultural points. Yaaman Adventure Park offers its visitors the opportunity to interact hand in hand with nature in a lot of adrenaline filled adventures that will make out for unforgettable experiences.
Do not limit yourself to simply laying on the beach, discover the beautiful island of Jamaica and its culture in a fun and original way.
The perfect activities for everyone in the family
There are as many types of holidays as there are types of people in the world. Yaaman Adventure Park is aware of this, and that is why they offer a wide catalogue of activities in Ocho Rios that will adapt to everyone’s needs. Your age does not matter, there is the perfect activity waiting for you at Yaaman Adventure Park. Yaaman Adventure Park has a lot of fun activities that will allow you to interact with nature, as well as some more relaxing ones that will help you understand Jamaican culture better. Some of their most renown activities include:
Bird aviary tour
An activity that everyone in the family will surely love! In this aviary, you will be able to interact with exotic and local birds while they freely fly around you. The aviary is a tropical heaven for the birds that live there, and will make you feel like you have been transported to a fairytale world.
Swim with dolphins
Dolphins are some of the most beloved sea animals in the world. And in Yaaman Adventure Park you will be able to swim with dolphins in their unique shore excursions in Ocho Rios. These loving creatures are very smart and love interacting with the visitors. During these excursions, you will be able to swim with them and even hug and kiss the lovely dolphins.
Cook genuine Jamaican recipes
Jamaica has one of the most delicious cuisines in the world. Their traditional colourful dishes are full of unique flavours that will not disappoint your palate. On the cooking tour offered by Yaaman Adventure Park, you will learn how to prepare the traditional “Jamaican Fare”. The famous chef Irie will teach you all the secrets of this dish consisting of festival, Steamed Callaloo and chicken. All of this while you enjoy some breathtaking views 1100 feet above sea level.
But these are only some of the activities you will be able to enjoy at Yaaman Adventure Park. From Mud buggies tours to tours across near stunning rivers, rides on the back of camels or a jitney ride, the possibilities at this park seem endless. So if you are looking for a fun and original alternative for your next holidays, then look no further, Yaaman Adventure Park is the perfect place to go.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Spain?
There are plenty of reasons why you may be thinking about living in Spain: its population is friendly and kind; its climate, especially in the coastal areas, is enviable; its gastronomy is incredible… but, what about its prices? What is the most affordable way to live in Spain?
Perhaps the most important question if you decided to go: would it be better to buy instead of renting a property in Spain. Or yet living in a Spanish residence?
Spanish cities where to live cheap and well
In the geographical variety that Spain presents, we can find many differences in average salaries and the standard of living that reside there would require. The areas of Galicia, Extremadura, Castilla y León, together with Almería and the south of Alicante usually have a lower price of euros/square meter in their homes. The quality of life is really appreciable, but you should know that there are fewer possibilities for business and transports.
The autonomous community of the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Madrid, which have higher than average incomes (normally more than 24,000 euros per year), also have higher prices. However, Madrid has such a wide range of rents that it sometimes makes them cheaper than other countries.
In addition, and taking into account the tourist seasons, the areas of Valencia and Andalusia are normally a preference when it comes to living in Spain for a while or even spending your retirement. Although day-to-day life can be more expensive than in other areas of Spain, the mild climate and variety of leisure options are often worth it in the long run.
Whatever your option is when moving to another country, especially if you don’t know its legal system, can be very tiresome. That’s why our advice is to try to contact local agencies (that speak English) to give you fair and fruitful advice. For example, to move to Andalusia, we usually recommend Tejada solicitors.
I have already decided on the place. Now what?
Well, if you have already fully immersed yourself in the streets of a beautiful city that we have talked about, what should be your first step?
Decide what kind of stay you want to be in (since your future economic situation will also depend on this: taxes, permits…). You may have already chosen, for example, property conveyancing in Marbella, but it is recommended that you also think about renting a property, because it can be very profitable while you are in your other place of residence.
To sum up, before moving to a Spanish city, decide if you want to spend a little more money per month in exchange for the exceptional conditions that their precious land can give you; secondly, contact a reliable agency that will help you make the best investment and even more, apply for a Spanish residency if you are decided to stay for a long time.
And remember: a move is always a new beginning.
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