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Top Five Places to Visit Away From London.

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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
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 cardiff
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
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 northampton
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.

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Ibiza: not only a destination for young people but also a natural paradise with dream beaches, exclusive locations, and luxury villas

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Ibiza is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. This stunning island is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its paradisiac beaches and historical monuments. Traditionally, Ibiza has been associated with party tourism, which means that young people would visit the island due to its famous nightclubs or electronic music scene. However, since 2015 the government has stepped in to try and make Ibiza a more family friendly place to visit. With so many beautiful landscapes to discover and luxurious family friendly villas to stay in, Ibiza is without a doubt, one of the best options for your next summer vacations.

The best places to stay in Ibiza

The first and most important you need to decide when planning any trip is where you are going to spend your stay during the travel. Traditionally,when we travel to a foreign country we tend to look for our lodging at hotels. However, in places as touristic as Ibiza, you will often find hotels overcrowded during the summer season. Thankfully, there is a more private alternative for your stay: luxury villas. You can find numerous luxury villas available for rental spreaded across the island, but the ones which users recommend the most are the ones offered by IKH – Ibiza Luxury Villa Rentals. IKH villas offer everything you may need for a luxurious vacation. They are located near some of the most beautiful beaches and villages in the island, such as Es Cubells, Sant Josep, Talamanca, Cala Jondal, Rocallisa, as well as in Ibiza Town, the main city in the island. These villas are family friendly, and most of them either include sea views or are located at a very short distance from it. IKH villas are often equipped with everything you may need for your holidays, such as a fully functioning kitchen, internet and TV service, air conditioner to survive the Spanish heat, etc. 

The luxury features of these stunning villas and the amazing reviews from its customers make IKH villas an option you should definitely consider for your next Ibiza holidays.

The most stunningly beautiful beaches

The main attractive of Ibiza is, without any doubt, its gorgeous beaches. Blessed with pristine waters and white sand, these beaches make out for an otherworldly seaview. The whole island is surrounded in beauty, but if you are looking for some stunning views, we can not stop recommending you check the following beaches during your travel:

  • Es Cubells: this beautiful beach is surrounded by nature. Located near the mountains, it offers the perfect mixture between civilization and untouched nature. This beach is located beyond a cliff, which makes it harder to access. However, this can work as an advantage for us, since with a little more of effort we will have access to a stunning beach away from the main crows, which makes up for the recipe for a perfect beach day.
  • Sant Josep: this place groups some of the most stunning beaches in Ibiza, such as Ses Salines, D’Hort Cove, Compte Cove or Vedella Cove. It is near the international Ibiza airport and the natural reserves of Ses Salines, which means that this zone has an easy access. The beaches in this zone have turquoise waters and fine sand, which makes them some of the favorites among tourists
  • Talamanca: thanks to its easy access and calm waters, this beach is one of the favorites for families with kids. If you do not have access to a rental car, this beach is one of the easier to reach by bus. 
  • Cala Jondal:  a stunning beach of turquoise waters which shore has pebbles instead of sand. This makes up for a stunning beach view. This beach is located near some luxurious clubs, where you will be able to relax and have fun while watching the sea. 
  • Llonga Cove: this cove is located near the luxurious urbanization of Roca LLisa. Its calm waters make it a favorite among families and young people looking to practice water sports
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Dolphin Discovery is the only park with the AZA accreditation in Punta Cana

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The Dominican Republic is a country that has one of the richest biodiversities in the world. This biodiversity manifest itself in Punta Cana, the main tourist area in the country. Most tourists visiting this country do so in order to enjoy its otherworldly beaches with crystalline waters and white sand. But if you want to discover the country’s biodiversity, we invite you to swim with dolphins in Dolphin Discovery, the only dolphin park with the AZA accreditation for the ethical treatment of the animals in Punta Cana.

The importance of the AZA accreditation

The acronym AZA stands for Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This association stands up for animals welfare and demands the higher standards of quality in institutions that work with them. Institutions all around the globe try every year to get their AZA accreditation, but the requirements are so high that only a low percent of the applicants pass the cut. 

In order to get this accreditation, Dolphin Discovery first had to fill an application that would place them on the list of institutions with a pending visit from the AZA expert team. 

During the AZA team visitation, every aspect of Dolphin Discovery Punta Cana was carefully examined in order to determine if they were keeping their quality standards high enough to ensure that the dolphin’s were treated ethically and in the best possible conditions. The AZA experts checked, among others, the following aspects:

  • The safety of the guests that visit these installations
  • The wellbeing of the dolphins, ensuring that they were being taken proper care of
  • The conservation efforts in order to prevent any damage to the biosphere
  • The educational programs to raise awareness about the living conditions of the animals to the visitors
  • The veterinary medicine programs in order to make sure that the animals are healthy and can receive the proper medical care as soon as they may feel ill
  • The organization financial stability, since a lack of resources would affect the dolphins welfare directly.

It is worth to mention that even if Dolphin Discovery earned this accreditation, its validity lasts only for 5 years, so in the future they would have to prove again to be among the best on their field. 

If you are planning to visit any recreational park that works with dolphins during your travel to the Dominican Republic, Dolphin Discovery is definitely the best option since it is the only company in the whole country that received an AZA accreditation. After all, when we visit a foreign country, it is important to be responsible and look out for the local fauna and flora. 

Swimming with dolphins

Dolphins are really fascinating animals. Their high intelligence and natural elegance make them some of the most loved animals in the world. If you want to make memories that will last forever during your visit to The Dominican Republic, we recommend that you try and  Swim with dolphins Punta Cana. On Dolphin Discovery you will be able to find different programs that involve swimming with these majestic creatures. These programs are designed always keeping the needs of the visitors in mind, so you can find the program that will fit you perfectly. Among the most popular visitor programs you will be able to find the following ones:

  • Dolphin Encounter Program: this program is perfect for families with kids, since it was especially designed for all ages. This program includes a small platform for people who can not swim properly, and during the session you will be able to hug and handshake the dolphins.
  • Dolphin Royal Swim Program: during your session you will be able to enjoy the dolphins acrobatic maneuvers, but what really makes this program so special is that the dolphins are trained to do you a foot push, lifting you out of the water. This will make up for a really fun experience you will not be able to forget.
  • Dolphin Swim Adventure Program: on this program you will be able to hug the dolphins, give them a handshake and then swim with them. You will be allowed to hold to the dolphin as he carries you around the beautiful Punta Cana waters.
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Azul Talavera Hotel: the perfect place for your next holidays in Puebla

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Puebla mexico hotel

Puebla is a beautiful and charming city you should check out for your next holidays. 

Located in the heart of Mexico, Puebla is the most visited coastless city in the country, and there is no wonder why. This city has a very rich history and a lot of monuments for visitors to discover. People wanting to visit this city can count themselves lucky, for there is an hotel with professional staff and an idyllic location: Azul Talavera Hotel. 

An hotel with a lot of history

Azul Talavera Hotel originally opened its doors as Rosewood Puebla Hotel back in 2017, and since then, it has earned its rightful spot as one of the best hotels in Puebla Mexico. The hotel went under this name transition back at 2019, but it was ran smoothly and without causing any inconvenience to the customers. On Azul Talavera Hotel, customers are always the staff priority. Because of that, during the transition the hotel kept its doors open, without affecting in any way at all the previously scheduled bookings or events. The hotel also kept the same staff team, which means that this transition did not affect the quality of the services provided.

But what really makes this hotel a historical place is its building. Azul Talavera Hotel was built  on 3 historical buildings placed in the charming neighborhood of San Francisco. This neighborhood is located right at the city’s historical center and it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987. 

History is key in Azul Talavera Hotel. The hotel is proud of its history and the country’s traditions. Because of that, you can find decorations with traditional mexican themes all across the hotel, and the suites include items of local craftsmanship to reflect Puebla’s traditional market. 

Enjoying the best Mexican cuisine

One of the perks of choosing Azul Talavera Hotel as your place to stay during your holidays, is that you will be able to enjoy one of the best gourmet restaurants in Mexico. The hotel’s restaurant is named Pasquinel Bistrot and it is the perfect place for you to enjoy the best Mexican food. This luxurious restaurant serves original dishes you will not be able to find anywhere else, since the food here mixes local ingredients with European cooking inspirations. 

Let your wedding be handled only by the best professionals 

Puebla has become a popular wedding destination over the last decade. Getting married on a beautiful city abroad is something that each day becomes more and more appealing for many future brides and grooms. In Azul Talavera Hotel they are aware of that, and they have made their best effort to become a referent on Puebla weddings

Azul Talavera Hotel has four different wedding venues to fit the wedding of your dreams: Trinitarias Garden, Patio Azul, Patio Rosa and Patio Verde. All these venues mix traditional mexican elements with modern architecture, all hand in hand with nature. The hotel includes everything you may need to exchange your bows, from a glamorous ballroom to an antique courtyard that features a 300 year old private chapel.

But Azul Talavera Hotel is more than beautiful wedding venues. What makes this place really stand out is its team of professional wedding planners. The hotel’s staff will manage every detail needed in order for your wedding to be perfect. Their catering team will make sure you and your guests enjoy the most delicious food, while their wedding planners will guide you on every step of the process. Azul Talavera Hotel has also a partnership with professionals all across Puebla, from photographers to decorators or entertainers.

This will take a lot of stress away from the future bride and groom, which means that they will have more time to relax at the hotel Spa. It is named Cobalto Spa and it includes beauty and wellness treatments for the bride, groom and the whole bridal party.

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