You might not associate the historic city of Edinburgh with golfing, but it boasts several excellent choices. Many of which offer stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside as you play. I’ve been getting to grips with the game recently, so will look to make my way around all of these if possible… Some of the most popular courses are:
A real gem in the crown of this stunning city. Braid Hills offers amazing views of Edinburgh Castle and the imposing Arthur’s Seat. With two courses and its number one course being one of the most vertically challenging in Edinburgh, this is a place to tee off that simply can’t be missed. Not a particularly long course and surrounded by beautiful purple heather, it’s more about testing shots from one hilly ridge to the next than long play. The view from the 14th hole in particular is fantastic, thanks to its elevated position high above the city. While this course isn’t renowned for first class facilities, it’s simply a wonderful place in which to enjoy the game and the breathtaking views.
The fourth oldest golfing society in the world and located less than six miles from central Travelodge hotels in Edinburgh, Bruntsfield offers spectacular views over the Firth of Forth. Set in mature parklands, and with high standards that ensure its members and visitors enjoy a great game of golf no matter when they visit, Bruntsfield has been the venue for numerous championships, and in 2011 it was the Regional Qualifying Venue for the Open Championship. A historic course boasting top class facilities, high standards of service and a warm welcome.
Known as one of the most outstanding parkland courses in the Lothians, at 6525 yards, Duddingston is a real test of golfing skill. This historic golf course is built on the site of a former deer estate and adjoining the area in which Bonnie Prince Charlie, Charles Edward Stewart, kept his cavalry prior to the battle of Prestonpans. With a gently hilly landscape, this course offers a first class game and fantastic facilities, combining a mix of old and new that just adds to the beauty of the experience.
Outside the City
A little further afield are some truly fantastic golf courses, including Gullane which offers three championship links golf courses, affording spectacular views of the Firth of Forth and the surrounding countryside. The three courses are simply numbered rather than named to reflect their age. Number one has a long history of hosting International championship events, most recently this included hosting the Local Final Qualifying for The Open at Muirfield. Number two has been used for the Seniors Open Amateur as well as Open Championship Qualifiers. Lastly number three, the shortest of the courses, provides a challenge for golfers of every ability.
Gullane is renowned throughout the world for its golfing. The third hole on the number one course was voted one of the top 500 holes in the world, and the view from the 7th tee, which is the highest point on the course, is renowned the world over – it’s simply breathtaking! If you’re a fan of the sport staying in Edinburgh you simply can’t miss this fantastic course! The pretty village of Gullane with its windswept beach, pretty stone cottages, huge mansions and quaint shops and tea rooms is well worth a visit too.
If golf is your thing, a visit to Edinburgh and its surrounding areas should definitely be on your ‘to do’ list.Scott on Google+
I have been Christmas shopping to New York City on a couple of occasions and enjoyed picking up some unique gifts for the family back home in the UK. To return the favour here is a quick guide to doing that in reverse – travelling over from the US into London, it is easy to enter through Paddington, drop off your empty suitcases at a hotel in the area and follow this store guide.
Harrods and Knightsbridge
One of the most famous and exclusive stores in the UK capital, Harrods’ Christmas World opened in July this year! Situated in Knightsbridge – just a short walk across Hyde Park from Paddington – the department store may not sell so many elephants now (if that story was ever true), but is full of a host of other gifts. The Knightsbridge area as a whole is lined with high-end and unique shopping venues.
Not a single outlet, but the world-renowned Oxford Street offers a wide choice of the typical store brands of the UK. Familiar to locals, so by definition then; a great selection of unusual shops for the overseas Christmas shopper!
Running south from halfway along Oxford Street through to our next stop of Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street also has its fair share of quintessentially English retail stores. One of the highlights for a shopping list with children in mind must be Hamleys Toy Shop. The flagship store on Regent Street is the largest of its kind in the world – with 6 floors of delights – and this is a place where you can buy a life-sized elephant, if you can close the suitcase.
Just a short detour about a quarter of the way along Regent Street is Carnaby Street – still a brilliant example of “swinging London” today as it was in the sixties and with a new musical playing, still as influential as ever. Drop in to Liberty on the way – it’s conveniently located on route.
After stocking up on stocking fillers from the luxury end of the spectrum of London shopping, Piccadilly Circus has a wealth of fun souvenir style shops to raise a smile and revive a memory of your trip.
So, after trick or treating and Thanksgiving celebrations, check off the next holiday to do list with a Christmas shopping trip to London.
Scott on Google+
The other half and I been keen to hop on a flight over to Fiji for a while now. And with views like this on offer – who wouldn’t? Being in Australia, it seems only right to have a look at what the world has to offer this side of the planet.
Its roughly a 5 hour flight from here in sunny Melbourne, so not too much of an arduous trip. And, while there aren’t a huge number of airline carriers flying those routes, you can still find a few bargains if timed well.
One thing travelers ( i am included here) will struggle with however, is timing the purchase of flights correctly. Get this wrong and you could end up spending upwards of 50% more on a flight than necessary, so heres a couple of things to consider before making a purchase.
There are times when a destination is more likely to be booked than not, say for example during their peak summer months. This is a simple concept to understand, so plan a trip just outside of these months for decent weather and much more reasonable pricing.
A simple search for ‘weather fiji’ in Google gives you the following website from the Fijian government. http://www.met.gov.fj/
Simply cross check your desired weather with flight details and see where you can balance the best bang-for-your-buck.
Public and school holidays
Not having kids, this is one factor i rarely consider but it really does affect prices for popular destinations within reach of your locale. Check the local government websites for details on local school holidays, along with public holidays. Families will of course like to travel during this time, raising flight pricing significantly.
Savvy workers will also normally book trips away during public holidays to minimise the amount of annual leave they need to use in on their holiday. A top tip is to book flights outside of public holidays and mid week at unusual times, as the more undesirable a flight time, the better value it normally is.
Of course, this works better if you are flexible with your travel schedule, so may not suit everyone.
Cookie based pricing
*Bear with me here – Geek speak imminent*
Whenever you search on certain airline and flight websites, cookies are stored on your computer that log your activity. Cookies are simply small data files which keep a record of what you have been doing on a website, so the website may customise the next visit based on your activity. If we clear these from our computer we can avoid the website hiking prices to Fiji, as they know we are keen on that destination. Lastminute.com was notorious for this – so watch out for them especially.
To clean these up in Google’s Chrome browser, Go to settings > privacy > clear browsing data and click ‘delete cookies and other site and plug-in data’. I like to delete these ‘from the beginning of time’ just to be sure, but a month or two will probably also work.
This effectively wipes your click data from Chrome, ensuring that you are not served prices based on previous activity on a website. This is particularly true for big flight comparison sites. Alternatively, you can surf the page in incognito mode (Cntrl + Shift + N to open a new incognito window in Chrome), to browse without any historical data affecting your flight quotes.
With a couple of these areas to consider, you can quickly make savings on your flight purchases. You just have to be savvy about it and you will get a great deal.
Scott on Google+
The best clubs in Ibiza
Ibiza is renowned as one of the party capitals of the world. But, with so many clubs and music nights to choose from, how do you find the ones that are perfect for your taste and style? Here’s a rundown of some of our favourite venues on the White Isle.
Beginning life as a humble old finca in 1973, Pacha is now one of the globe’s biggest nightclub brands, with the Ibiza venue being the jewel in its stylish clubbing crown. Now in its 40th year, this summer promises to be one of celebration. With its iconic double cherry logo, Pacha attracts thousands of international hedonists who flock here to party with resident superstar DJ’s including David Guetta, who plays every Thursday at the F*** Me I’m Famous night.
Avenida 8 de Agosto, Ibiza Town
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertocastano/3622941562/
2. Ibiza Rocks
Why worry about getting home after a night out, when your home for the week can be right at the heart of the party? This legendary hotel plays host to superstar DJs, and some of the world’s biggest bands play on its main stage. So far this summer, some of the big names to perform or confirm are Jake Bugg, Example, DJ Wire, Ellie Goulding, Rob da Bank, Zane Lowe, Rizzle Kicks and The Vaccines. You stay right in the centre of the action, meaning you simply need to walk upstairs when you can tear yourself away from the party. You can even stay in a stage view studio where you can soak up the atmosphere even before you head downstairs to join in.
Calle Cervantes 27, 07820 Sant Antoni de Portmany, Ibiza, Spain
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robfox/1104650244/
One of the best loved clubs on the island, and the planet, Amnesia is currently under the umbrella of the legendary Liverpool club Cream. With an eclectic programme, it covers the best of techno, house, trance and dubstep. Matinée every Saturday is one of the island’s most popular LGBT nights, and Amnesia is also famous for its messy foam parties, which heiress Paris Hilton recently took to the decks to perform at as part of her sell-out residency. Other acts who have played here include Calvin Harris, Chase & Status and Nero to name but a few.
San Antonion Road, San Rafael
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amnesiaibiza/9448865759/
Built like an aircraft hanger, Privilege is the world’s biggest nightclub and everything here is on a grandiose scale. There’s a huge swimming pool inside, erotic shows and a garden with a chill-out zone. Tourists and locals mix with A-listers like P Diddy, Jade Jagger and Madonna at its famous nights. The Face on Tuesdays is one of the most colourful nights on the island. Sexy and snazzy, house music comes from DJ Oliver while this year’s theme is Psychodelic Dream In the Jungle. Or head there on Thursday for The Arena, featuring larger-than-life sets and cutting-edge DJs.
Urb. San Rafael, 07816 San Rafael
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertocastano/3863637089/
A relative newcomer to the island, Sankeys is already making a name for itself as the nerve centre for lovers of underground dance music. In Play D’en Bossa, Sankeys has an impressive sound system, three rooms and a roof terrace. While the brand had been a clubbing institution in Manchester since 1994, it only took off in Ibiza in 2012 and owner David Vincent is now concentrating solely on the Ibiza venue. The flagship room is the Basement, decked out in black to create a truly underground feel.
Carrer de les Alzines 5, Playa d’en Bossa
Scott on Google+
The month of August is a great time to visit the US, with a multitude of events and activities ensuring that there’s something to suit visitors of all ages and tastes.
With many locals looking to get away from the big cities at this time of year, it can often feel like the entire country is in holiday mode, ensuring that there’s often a relaxed, inviting atmosphere. Whether you are interested in cars, rodeo, fairs, or other unique American events, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
The Payson Rodeo
If your view of America has been influenced by novels and movies set in the American West, then the lure of a rodeo may simply be too much for you to resist. The famous rodeo in Payson, Arizona, was first established back in 1884.
It’s regarded as the world’s oldest rodeo and features a range of activities, including bull riding. There’s also usually a fantastic accompaniment of traditional music and local food.
The Payson Rodeo takes place in the middle of August each year.
The US Open of Surfing
One of the world’s most significant surfing competitions takes place annually in Huntington, California. The music of The Beach Boys makes it clear that California is at the heart of the surfing world and the first week of August sees surfers gathering from all over the planet.
Professionals compete throughout the week and the event provides a great opportunity to enjoy the spectacle, watching leading surfers demonstrate their skills and bravery.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Held in the town of Sturgis, North Dakota, the famous Motorcycle Rally brings together motorcycle enthusiasts in a unique setting. When the rally was originally established, it was primarily viewed as offering a showcase for stunts and tricks.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally usually takes place during the first week of August. Many visitors choose to stay in motor homes at the event site.
A number of State Fairs take place during August too, with many people suggesting that Iowa hosts the best fair in the entire country.
With more than a million visitors heading to the Iowa State Fair every year, you may well be wondering what attracts them. The event lasts for 11 days, bringing visitors a real taste of Iowa.
Within its Des Moines setting, visitors are treated to a huge livestock show, countless stalls selling food and a double Ferris wheel. In addition, local companies display a range of new products and innovations on a site that covers more than 450 acres in total.
Other fairs hosted during August occur in New York, Minnesota and West Virginia.
If you’re planning on investigating your car rental US options, then it may even be realistic for you to visit multiple locations. You can then judge for yourself when it comes to finding out which State Fair has the most to offer.
Many cities host a Restaurant Week at some point during the month of August, with special offers from leading restaurants. These events provide the perfect opportunity to reveal what a city has to offer, meaning that they can also tantalise visitors.
August sees Restaurant Weeks being hosted in Boston, Indianapolis, New York City and Seattle. In all cases, it’s recommended that you should make reservations in advance. As might be expected, the best restaurants do tend to get booked up some weeks before the event.
The baseball season is at its peak during the month of August, with many cities hosting their own team. Although you may not yet be familiar with the rules of the game, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy the experience of watching leading teams in action.
Tickets can be bought online, with games taking place at regular intervals. Those who prefer American Football may be able to take the opportunity to watch pre-season games at this time of year, with a number of the franchises usually in action.
August is a great time of year to visit the United States. With numerous special events to choose from, you can ensure that your visit will be truly memorable.Scott on Google+
So things have been a bit quiet around here recently – we are rained in most weekends. Bah! There are however plenty of things to keep you busy around the Prahran area during the cruddy weather.. Here is my last week rundown :
Pimp a pizza!
Our local cheapy Pizza institution Lucky Coq, which is located conveniently across the road from my flat is running a ‘Pimp my Pizza‘ competition.
You create the toppings, promote it to your friends and hopefully win a spot on their menu! The winning pizza design gets 3000$ and a donation to charity!
You can see mine listed with chicken, bacon, egg and blue cheese! Yummers.
Sit and hit 21!
Casino.org popped up in my searches for online blackjack, so i gave it a spin.. I’ve built up my initial deposit by around 20$ so far, so not too shabby. I went with their top listed site, Spin Palace. (From memory Spin Palace used to be the poker site used on a late night poker show back in the UK… I must be getting old!)
I dont normally play blackjack online, but definitely beats heading to the famed Crown casino in the rain. Hopefully i can recreate the success of my last poker game back in Manchester….
I’m also having a work poker game on Friday, so wish me luck for that also I think a 20$ buy in tournament, so could be in for a nice little payout.
Take a trip to Duke’s
Arguable the best coffee in Prahran, Duke’s Coffee on Chapel street is always a good place to find shelter on a miserable day. The hip-cafe interior and awesome brunch menu makes it a must visit venue in the winter months. Did I also mention how good the coffee is? Duke’s regularly roast their own fresh batches of beans in the back of the store, fresh for public consumption.
It doesn’t get much more Melbourne than that.Scott on Google+
Though Spain was the first country to officially experience the wonders of chocolate, back in 1528 when it arrived from the ‘New World’, edible chocolate did not emerge until the eighteenth century. Barcelona was there at the forefront of the edible chocolate revolution, shortly after the invention of the first chocolate-making machine in 1780. The Barcelona chocolatiers, Chocolates Amatller began crafting chocs for the new, more widespread ‘eatership’ in 1797, and, as we all know, the rest is history. The Casa Amatller still stands today, next door to Gaudi’s Casa Batllò (the one that looks like a gingerbread house). The Casa Amatller, like Gaudi’s work, is an exemplary piece of modernist architecture, making it an intrinsically Barcelona-esque building in more ways than one. Other chocolatiers soon began springing up all over Barcelona in the nineteenth century, including Simón Coll’s family business, that began on the outskirts of Barcelona n 1840. Their signature “Chocolate à la Tazá” has been made for seven generations, and under the same label and with the very same recipe since before 1880. To cut short what would be a tremendously long list of classic Barcelona-based chocolatiers, I’ll just say that Barcelona’s chocolate-making pedigree is one of the best.
Given Barcelona’s illustrious background in the chocolate industry, there are, of course, numerous experiences on offer for the chocoholic on holiday in the city. There are a number of tours available, which will arrange everything from chocolate tasting to a three course chocolate dinner, served with wine designed to complement the meal. It is true that chocolate is more versatile as a foodstuff than we commonly believe, and this sort of chocolate-based dinner will put pay to any reservations you might have regarding the serving of chocolate sauce on a steak! There are other courses that offer a more rigorous experience of Barcelona as a chocolate heaven, for example, Gourmand Breaks whose tours comprise a mouthwatering four days of total immersion in Barcelona’s choccie hotspots! Having said that, with a little research it is quite easy to conduct your own chocolate tour.
Start, as most visitors to Barcelona do, by heading to Las Ramblas, the main strip that runs through the centre of the city. Many hotels and hostels are located just off this main drag, so you’ll be right at the centre of the action within a short transfer journey from Barcelona airport. As soon as you’ve unpacked, make a beeline for the Café de l’Opera, right on Las Ramblas. You can’t miss it. The Café de l’Opera was previously one of the leading chocolaterias in the city, and it still boasts the breathtaking Viennese style interior and exterior decor. Its collection of unique antique mirrors still adorn the walls, quite as they did in the café’s heyday. Not only does the Café de l’Opera have a stellar chocolate heritage, but it is also one of Barcelona’s oldest surviving restuarants. Enjoy a meal from the restaurant’s á la carte menu, if you can bring yourself to wait before tucking into one (or two?) the many mouthwatering chocolate desserts.
However, if waiting for dessert just isn’t your style, then you will definitely enjoy a trip to Espai Sucre, one of the world’s only dessert-only restaurants. Yes. Dessert only. Amongst the range of special set menus and tasting menus on offer at Espai Sucre, you will find a special chocolate menu. Just one piece of advice: come in comfortable, roomy clothes! I made Espai Sucre my final stop before jumping in my taxi back to the airport on my last trip to Barcelona. Apart from feeling a little sick, I was so blissed out on chocolate for the flight home, I hardly had time to mourn the fact that I was leaving this gorgeous city. So, that’s a good tip, if you need help minimising your end-of-holiday blues!
If, by now, you’re not already experiencing chocolate overload, your next stop will be the jewel in Barcelona’s choc-tastic crown: the Museu de la Xocolata. Here, you can learn all about the history of chocolate, manufacturing techniques and tour the gallery of chocolate art and sculpture. Once you’ve made it round the museum, head straight to the museum’s shop, and order a cup of hot chocolate. This is not just any hot chocolate, and definitely worth experiencing even on the hottest of summer days: this hot chocolate is thick, like liquid chocolate. I’ll just let you process that thought a moment…
Well, it probably goes without saying that with a bellyful of hot chocolate, a three course chocolate meal and a big bag of chocs from the Boqueria market, you’re likely to be feeling a little off-colour. Time for a little TLC (and, by that, I mean Totally Loads of Chocolate). Check in at the Gran Hotel Balneario Blancafort Thermal Spa and order yourself onto the spa’s Blancafort Chocolate Therapy programme. Choose from a melted chocolate wrap, a chocolate and orange cream massage, or a body cleansing sugar peel, and get as much choc on the outside of your body as you’ll have on the inside. After all that, the little sweet they leave on your hotel pillow will seem a bit underwhelming!Scott on Google+
Whether you are planning a family holiday getaway or a weekend adventure with your friends, discover the best places to visit in England. You can spend your vacation in one of England’s busiest cities, historical heritage towns, or enjoy water sports activities in different beautiful beaches in the country.
Exploring Rural England
(The lovely Yorkshire dales)
If you want to spend a relaxing vacation in England, you may want to check out different rural areas in the country. Explore the natural wonders that England has to offer. You can visit the holiday gems in East Anglia —Norfolk and Suffolk. You can also visit the Lake District and Cotswolds’ breathtaking natural beauty. The unspoiled landscapes of the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales are the perfect location where you can do hiking activities. West Country offers stunning coastal sceneries, excellent local cider and ancient countryside.
Life in the City
Looking for a night out in the city during your vacation? You can seek out different city breaks, choosing between locations for historical tours, romantic weekends, relaxing spa packages, and night parties. London’s unrivalled atmosphere is best for people who are looking for a place to stay and have fun. Aside from party venues, there are also a lot of poker hubs inside casinos in the city. Travellers who play online games at online sites can try joining live Poker tournaments held at The Casino at the Empire or try the infamous Vic casino for cash games. You can win a good amount of money, which you can use as travel money to further your adventures. You can also spend your winnings to watch concerts and theatrical shows that are taking place in the city during your stay or shop in the retro shops located in Manchester.
England is known as one of the countries that is rich when it comes to history. Its illustrious past is one reason why many people visit the country. For example, Stratford and Bath is known for its rich literary heritage while Durham and Oxford is where the academic history of England first started. Travellers who fancy great architectural structures can visit Windsor, York or Chester. Going to Canterbury, Lincoln, and Salisbury is like walking down the memory lane because it is where you can see the oldest streets in England.
England’s Beautiful Coastlines and Beaches
The country offers breathtaking sceneries of deserted beaches and coastlines, which are perfect for people who want to spend their holiday by the beach. Discover the best-kept coastal secrets in England while staying at some of the award-winning seaside resorts offered in the country. You can also do different activities such as surfing in Devon, cycling in Blackpool and sailing in Dorset. You can also interact with the friendly community in each destination.Scott on Google+
It’s been a while since I’ve featured one of my favourite bloggers, but what a great way to get back into the groove, with Mark Heers from the well-loved Travel-wonders.com. Without further a-do:
Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Mark, I am a 40+ year old Australian living in Sydney a few train stops from the spectacular harbour and who discovered travelling in my early 20s.
Your main blog is travel-wonders.com – How did you get into travel blogging?
I started travel blogging around six years when I saw the mountains of old photos, trip notes, diaries and the like I had accumulated over 25 years. As I continue to travel, it seems a better way to record and treasure the places and experiences and people that I see and meet in my journeys. It seemed a great way to save older photos by getting them scanned and sharing some thoughts on places I’ve been.
Do you think using the internet (for research, planning etc) aids or hinders your travel experience?
When I first travelled through Africa in the early 1990′s, there was almost no information (apart from dated and regularly wrong Lonely Planet books) and no way to share experiences with folks who had travelled there recently. These days, the internet is by far the easiest and most accessible way to get information but I think some travellers use the internet to tell them everything and let it remove the whole experiential element of visiting places. I always do some research on places I am planning to visit (great to find out events that are on) but not to the point where it sets the itinerary in stone. Shut down the iPhone, take your time in a place, slow down, look and walk around, talk with people, participate in local events and let the trip take you on your own journey of discovery.
You have traveled for over 25 years – How have you seen the world of travel change in that time?
Changes have been good and bad. Travel is more economical and easier than ever to do with the wealth of information and efforts by most places making it eaier than ever to see and visit places. Air travel is way less pleasant with overly zealous security, immense amounts of wasted time and airlines being way less welcoming. Getting off the beaten path is still very possible though probably a little more tricky and more and more countries (in Asia and the Middle East especially) gladly welcome visitors.
Where are you in the world right now ?
I am in my home city of Sydney, Australia – one of the greatest travel destinations anywhere in the world.
Do you have a favourite continent or country to visit and why?
I have several favourites for various reasons. My all time favourite cities in the world are Paris and Prague, though the latter is becoming crowded and over touristed. Pet countries/regions are Iceland, rural France, Antarctica and Canada while the greatest natural experiences are East African safari, the mountain gorillas in central Africa, walking in Yosemite and watching bears feast on salmon in Canada and Alaska.
What are your 2013 travel resolutions..?
Ever since I started travelling, I try to see visit or experience three new places, events, regions or sights every year. Have maintained that pretty well so that seems to be a good resolution to keep on with.
If you had a travel story to tell us over a beer, what would it be?
One strange event happened in Stockholm. Travelling out to see a castle some way out from the centre of the city, their efficient train service went near. As it pulled out from one station, the train rattled and rocked for me to look up and find that I was the only one in a carriage and it was being driven into a shunting yard, having terminated its journey six or so stops before my destination. The train stopped, the lights went out and I found myself trapped in the train with no way to open windows or doors. Before the advent of mobile phone, I sat around for a couple of hours trying to work out the best thing to do and whether I could pluck up the courage and strength to break a window and crawl out, when the doorway between the carriages opened to find a driver (who apparently has to check the entire train before leaving on a new journey). I’m not sure who was more startled but a brief discussion later and all was understood and I finally got to visit superb Drottingholm Palace. (Incidentally, a better way to visit to via boat)
Great story! What is your travel itinerary looking like for the remainder of 2013?
Travel is quieter now and tends to be shorter journeys a bit closer to home. A planned trip on the next few years is to walk the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James), a 1000-year old pilgrimage trail of around 800 kilometres through northern Spain.
How can people get in touch with you?
Wow – that was great, thanks Mark! If you have any more questions, I am sure Mark will be happy to answer them…Scott on Google+