Destinations

6 Reasons To Visit Paris

Often dubbed as the most romantic city in the world, Paris attracts a number of tourists searching for a romantic getaway with an added taste of culture from this iconic city. There is plenty to do, see and of course taste the local cuisine without even venturing down south to the French Riviera or into the countryside if you simply just don’t have the time. The French are known for their distinct style, and carefree way of life so grab a friend and check the following places off from your to-do list!

Food

You can’t visit Paris without sampling some of the local delicacies, right? Local cheese, wine and of course the infamous escargot cannot be passed up during your first trip to the capital of France. During the summer months, a variety of taste festivals are up and running so locals and tourists can sample some of the best food and drink that Paris has to offer.

Architecture

Many of the buildings around the city centre date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, particularly the Notre Dame Cathedral which was highly influenced by French Gothic architecture at the time. Located in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, visitors can access the cathedral any day of the year for a small fee.

Shopping and fashion

Don’t worry about saving your money for those duty-free airport purchases, head over to the Galeries Lafayette which is one of largest department stores in the city. Opened in 1912 with over 10 floors of shopping, you’re bound to leave with something you like. There are also plenty of specialty boutiques around the city, and also don’t forget to check out the local markets for some hidden gems and one of a kind purchases.

Sightseeing

Hop on a bike and cycle around The Eiffel Tower to make the most of your time, then take the elevator (or climb the 600 stairs) for an amazing view of the entire city.

Festivals

During the summer season, Paris is filled with festivals which attract tourists from all over the globe. Rock en Seine is a popular music festival on the Rue Oberkampf with international and local artists which make up just some of the large line-up. Head over to Montmartre for the annual Grape Harvest Festival which has been running since 1934. Celebrating winemaking, gastronomy and French folk music for everyone to enjoy.

Theme parks

If you’re travelling with children make sure to check out one of France’s most popular theme parks, Disneyland Paris. There are many rides which are unique to Paris, including the Crush Coaster which is one of the best attractions at the entire resort.

Image via Wikipedia

By Felicia Sapountzis

June 30, 2014

Feeling Thrifty: 3 Inexpensive Holiday Destinations

It is possible to plan your next getaway without the added stress of wasting away your entire life savings. If you’re in the market for a fun mini-getaway with the family, spouse or even a girls’ trip, it is best to thoroughly do your homework and shop for the best deal you can find. Here are our three destinations which will be kind to your account balance.

1. Fiji

Just a four hour plane ride from Sydney, Fiji is known for it’s majestic beaches and warm weather all year round. If it’s your first time visiting the island, check out the local museums for a hit of culture, and snorkel amongst the native flora and fauna in the crystal clear sea.

Flights start at $491 per person.

2. Sri Lanka

With a deep-rooted history which dates back to the ancient Silk Road, Sri Lanka is a thrifty holiday destination if you’re on a tight budget. Offering a variety of idyllic beaches, traditional food and rich culture, it is definitely one destination to add onto your list. There are a bunch of activities to make the most of your stay,particularly Pigeon Island National Park which boasts rock pools and coral gardens which are family friendly.

Flights are approximately $953 per person.

3. Tasmania

If you’re looking to keep it relatively local, head down to Hobart for a weekend of rest and relaxation. Visit the diverse restaurants and cafe’s or get a taste of the local vino at one of the many wineries along the countryside. For a view of the city and Tasmanian Peninsula, hot air balloon rides are a definite must.

Flights start at $109 per person.

Image via About Australia

By Felicia Sapountzis

June 11, 2014

5 Of The World’s Most Beautiful Airports

It’s hard to love an airport. We appreciate it, sure. We are happy they exist, yet it’s a challenge for any architect to design an airport that people will love for its unique design as well as its functionality. Most of us generally just see them as hubs to facilitate us getting from Point A to Point B – minus the taxi queue. Below are 5 of the most beautifully designed airports in the world, collated by Jonathan Glancey, who would love for the rest of us to take some time to appreciate the sheer brilliance of these megastructures and the beauty of the quaint aerodomes.

Courchevel Airport, France

Courchevel Heliport airport in mountains  Trois Vallees Three Valleys ski region of French Alps France Europe eu

Opened in 1961 to boost the fortunes of this top-end French Alpine ski-resort, Courchevel is the most demanding for pilots. They have to negotiate deep mountain valleys and a notoriously short runway, set into the mountainside and sloping at an angle of 18.5 degrees. This slows landing aircraft very quickly and the view through the cockpit is somewhat daunting. Takeoffs are downhill, allowing aircraft to scramble into the mountain air in record time. Pilots require a special certificate to fly here. James Bond was possibly an exception: you can see his exploits at Courchevel in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies.

Queen Tamar Airport, Mestia, Georgia

Georgia

Mestia is a small ski town, 1,500m up in the Caucasus mountains in northwest Georgia and its churches and forts form a Unesco World Heritage site. The bizarre new airport terminal – in the guise of an extruded square steel and glass section bent into three improbable directions – is the work of the German artist and architect Jurgen Mayer-Hermann. The black and white structure has been designed to attract the curious and to help put Mestia on the map of the modern world. 

Dammam King Fahd International Airport, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Dammam architecture of of the airport

Dammam is one of the most oil-rich cities on earth. Its airport is possibly the world’s largest, although this claim is based on the land it occupies: countless acres of desert sands yielding to the Persian Gulf. Planned by the Japanese architects Yamasaki and Associates starting in 1976, the airport was opened for full commercial operation in 1999. During the first Gulf War, it had served as a military base. It sits 50kms from Dammam and reached by a road though a desert of camels, Bedouin tents and other scenes from traditional Arabian life. A lavish royal terminal here is rarely used and, on the whole, this enormous airport seems remarkably quiet.

Hajj Terminal, King Abdul Aziz Airport, Jeddah

Jeddah Saudi Arabia Airport Hajj Terminal Saudia 747 Architects - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

Formed by an array of gigantic tents aligned in the most orderly fashion, this is one the most unexpected, and mesmerising, airport terminals. What makes it so different is that it is only used during six weeks of each year, for a million or so Muslims flying into Jeddah on their way to Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The Bangladeshi engineer Fazlur Rahman Kahn and the American architects SOM came up with a brilliant plan: a gigantic and naturally ventilated grid of tents, although the fabric of the 210 “tents” that form one giant structure are made of modern Teflon-coated fibreglass supported by tapering 45m steel poles. The sides of the “tents” are open to the elements. Serving as a giant sunshade, the roofs of the terminal keep pilgrims comfortable as they wait to be transferred, by road, to Mecca, 70km away. They can also cook their own food, creating an atmosphere more like a souk than an airport terminal.

Chek Lap Kok (Hong Kong International), Terminal 1, Hong Kong

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This huge, airy and elegant airport was built to coincide with the handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997, although the opening took place the following year. The vast Terminal 1, designed to look like a giant airliner by Foster and Partners, sits on top of a landfill extension of Hong Kong. Chep Lap Kok is characterised by lightweight steel and glass roofs, clear passenger routes, carefully modulated daylight, commanding views out to the aircraft and a vast central “market square”.

This article originally appeared on the BBC by Jonathan Glancey.

May 19, 2014

The World’s Best Hotels 2014

The annual TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards have announced the world’s best hotels, and it’s sure to inspire plenty of wanderlust.

More than 700,000 hotels around the world were assessed for the awards, which are based on the quality and quantity of user-submitted reviews over the past 12 months.

Top 10 hotels in the world

1. Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Pontresina, Switzerland
2. The Upper House, Hong Kong, China
3. Gili Lankanfushi Maldives, Lankanfushi, Maldives
4. Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
5. The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
6. Casa Gangotena, Quito, Ecuador
7. Lindos Blu, Lindos, Greece
8. The St Regis Punta Mita Resort, Punta de Mita, Mexico
9. The Oberoi, Mumbai, India
10. Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, Canada

Closer to home, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Wolgan Valley, which we reviewed last year, was awarded Australia’s best hotel. TripAdvisor describes it as “a beautiful, elegant stay where you can completely let your brain switch off. The Wolgan Valley is as breathtaking as the photos imply, and the rooms are even better.”

Australia’s other best hotels include Xanadu Holiday Resort on Main Beach, Cairns Coconut Holiday ResortSummit Apartments Airlie Beach and Grange Resort Hervey Bay.

Other award-winning hotels that you’ll want to put on your bucket list:

World’s top luxury hotelAkademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guesthouse, Franschhoek, South Africa

World’s best bargain hotelCastlewood House, Dingle, Ireland

World’s best family hotelCavallino Bianco Family Spa Grand Hotel, Ortisei, Italy

World’s most romantic hotelThe Place Luxury Boutique Villas, Koh Tao, Thailand

Don’t forget to enter our $10,000 holiday competition to win your ultimate dream holiday!

Where is the best hotel you’ve ever stayed?

January 23, 2014

Top 5 Tips for Planning the Ultimate Destination Wedding

Destination weddings are an amazing way to host your special day; you get friends, family, fun and a holiday packed in to a week-long intimate event that will create amazing memories for everyone who is able to join in.

And while more and more couples are choosing the destination wedding route these days, what most don’t realise is that there is serious planning required around the logistics, coordination, shipping and overall vision. When it comes to local weddings we’re pretty much set with a standard to do list, but there’s tons that destination brides don’t even think about when it comes to planning their weddings, especially those after the DIY look – for example who’s supplying the fairy lights and mason jars? How do you get the bonbonnieres to your exotic destination?

Narelle Williams, destination wedding expert and director at Global Weddings shares her top 5 tips to plan the ultimate destination wedding.

1.    Thinking ahead
A destination wedding doesn’t just mean jetting off to said destination and forgetting about the to-do list! As well as the wedding plans and your own travel arrangements, you need to remember your guests are travelling a long distance too. Don’t forget to think about their travel, accommodation and giving them all the necessary information about the local area. The best thing to do is sit down and write a to-do list of all the arrangements that need to be made for travel, shipping, decor (including sourcing, logistics and shipping of these items) and your dress and groom – to name a few key headings. Next, assign responsibilities and deadlines to each task. This way, you’ll banish that bridezilla and make the day stress free!

2.    Budgeting
From the onset, decide what’s important to you to take and what’s not. Get familiar with what items your resort can supply you with as part of the cost, what is outside of the package and what you’ll need to bring yourself. Trying to lug everything across the world is a hassle and not to mention expensive – especially if you have to pay excess baggage fees just to get your dress and veil across. So look into what is light and easy to send (think DIY faves such as fairy lights, jam jars, origami cranes and chalkboards), and decide what is most important to you and really adds to your vision for the day.

3.   The dress
You’ll need a special dress box to have freighted to your destination – check with your dress maker to see if they have one or you can discuss your boxing needs with your shipping company. Otherwise, full service airlines will allow you to take the dress on board and hang it in their business class cupboard even if you’re flying economy but you do run the risk of it getting squashed.

4.    The location
Do your research into the customs policies for your destination. Some countries don’t allow fruit, wood or other items, so make sure the DIY items you plan to take are allowed in the country.

5.     Shipping
No bride should have to give up on the details – they’re the bits that everyone remembers! Excess baggage fees can be ridiculous, so do your research and cost comparisons and find a shipping company that suits you. If you’re going to an exotic location in the middle of nowhere, check out PACK & SEND, which will send absolutely everything and anything anywhere. Anywhere? Yep, anywhere.

Did you have a destination wedding? Share your experience in the comments!

 

October 2, 2013