Travel tips to help you make the most of your European trips. Tips on the best things to see, places to stay and eat in European destinations.. The lowdown from locals and experienced European travellers to help you plan your travels.
I had planned to visit the Museum of Decorative Arts in Marseille prior to our trip to the city. My interest was further piqued by posters and flyers dotted around the city of the ‘Pop Art Design’ exhibition by Hubert Le Gall at the Museum of Decorative Arts, which runs until 6 September 2015.
The museum, which is housed in Chateau Borely, was renovated for Marseille’s 2013 stint as a European Capital of Culture. The adjacent park is beautiful, but we weren’t able to explore it, as it was raining heavily.
I loved the hare’s ears seat.
There appeared to be a bit of a hare theme, as I spotted another in the dining room, sculpted as a candelabra, balanced on a top hat.
The bedroom contained some of Hubert Le Gall’s trademark flower patterns. Daisies were emblazoned on a sideboard.
There was a black multi flower rug sculpture on the floor.
The black and gold table on the first floor landing had what looked like a giraffe refection on the floor.
Another of my favourite exhibits was the fish dress.
There were some lovely glass pieces.
The Art Nouveau stained glass was beautiful.
The sun and cloud shelf was pretty.
There was a golden teddy bear style sculpture base for a reading light above a table in the drawing room.
And another similar sculpture in the fireplace.
I wasn’t quite sure which animal heads decorated the mirror frame, I thought maybe antelopes.
The spaghetti style chandelier was different to the more standard reflective crystal prism style.
The red and green flower pot chairs were fun.
I’d highly recommend a visit to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Marseille. If you buy a Marseille City Pass the 5 Euro entry fee is waived.
Experience days website Into the Blue has done some crystal ball gazing to see the type of activities which could be on offer in the next fifty to one hundred years,
What about a retro space shuttle flight? The space shuttle was the first reusable spacecraft, which launched using a detachable rocket and fuel tank. The front compartment (orbiter) returned to Earth like a plane, using specially designed delta wings.
Never mind a lap around Brands Hatch, imagine a hyper sonic race in a spacecraft.
With the advent of faster spaceships it should be possible to quickly cover the 600 light years to reach the earth-like planet of Kepler 22-B. With a gravity 2.3 times greater than Earth, skydiving is going to feel supersonic.
I remember seeing Neil Armstrong’s moon landing in 1969 on TV. As a child it seemed like science fiction. But maybe my grandchildren (should our sons oblige) will be able to visit a lunar landing site.
If you fancy more than a day trip to space, then why not spend a few nights at the International Space Station. But you’ll need to be strapped into your bed, so that you don’t go bump in the night.
A waterpark in Mars would probably need to be constructed indoors with plenty of heating, as Mars is much colder than Earth.
Scientists believe that there’s an ocean below the water-ice crust of Europe Moon (one of Jupiter’s sixty seven moons). So you’d need to pack a super-insulated wetsuit to go scuba diving there.
I can see ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Off Here’ being held on Venus. Who knows what bugs they might have to eat there.
I’ve found that you can’t generalise about the utility of city passes. You have to work it out for each individual city. It depends on the individual offering; the price, how many attractions are included and if these attractions offer free or merely reduced admission.
Adult prices for a Marseille City Pass
24 Euro for 24 hours
31 Euro for 48 hours
39 Euro for 72 hours
As I’ll be in Marseille from Friday afternoon to Tuesday morning, and the museums are shut on Mondays, the 48 hours Marseille City Pass looks like the best option for me.
Free entry to permanent exhibitions at these museums:
– Museum of African, Oceanic, American-Indian Art
– Museum of Mediterranean Archeology
– Marine Museum
– “Cantini” Museum
– Roman Docks Museum
– Natural History Museum
– Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions of Marseille
– Museum of Decorative arts and Fashion
– History Museum
– MAC (Contemporary Art)
– MuCEM (Closed on Tuesdays)
– Museum of Fine Arts – Palais Longchamp
– Museum “Regards de Provence”
All public transport including bus, metro and tram.
Guided Tours, which must be pre-booked.
Tourist train to Notre-Dame de la Garde or the Old Town.
Boat trip to the If-Castle (includes entry to the castle) or boat trip to the Frioul Islands.
Calculating How Much I’d Spend on Individual Admission Charges
I selected some things I’d like to do in Marseilles
The total for these four attractions came to 34 Euro, more than the 31 Euro for a 48 hour Marseille City Pass. As I thought that I might also use public transport to explore outside the city centre, I reckoned that it was worth buying the pass.
Update 2 May 2015 – Buying the Marseille City Pass did work out to be a good deal. I also took a tourist train to Notre Dame de la Garde which costs 8 Euro The return bus fare to the two museums outside the city centre costs 3 Euro. Therefore, I got 45 Euro worth of value from paying 31 Euro.
When travelling it’s not all about buildings and monuments; although a great part of sightseeing, we all know one of the best ways of getting to know a city is through its markets; which mark its culture, gastronomy and style of living. As a Mediterranean city, Barcelona is rich in in all kinds of markets, they be permanent, food orientated or second hand markets.
Markets in Barcelona mark the city’s pulse, as well as also being architectural sites. Here’s a selection of Barcelona’s best markets, which will also allow you to visit exciting neighbourhoods of the Catalan capital. One of the best ways to get to know Barcelona as a local and discover its best markets is renting a flat close to (at least one of ) the markets through a agency like oneholidayrentals.com. Then you’ll be able to take your time and enjoy the glorious feast of smells, colors and tastes that these markets offer, and maybe event try some cooking with ingredients purchased there.
One of Santa Caterina’s most famous features was part of the market’s refurbiishment in 1997. Its colourful roof, created by Enric Miralles, covers the market and is one of the most photographed rooftops in the city due to its impressive architecture. Inside, classy restaurants sit close to food stalls, combiningthe traditional market setting and innovative cuisine.
Just off Les Rambles, the Mercat de Sant Josep, or la Boqueria, is by far Barcelona’s most visited, especially by tourists. Under its modernist roof built by Mas Vila in the mid-19th Century, this market is a feast of colors for the eyes: as many types of fruit as you can imagine, fresh fish direct from the Mediterranean Sea and plenty of spices and herbs. Framed by the market’s porches, you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants where you’ll be able to taste La Boqueria, such as famous Bar Pinotxo or Bar Central’s typical tapas.
Mercat de Sant Antoni
Although it is being restored until the end of 2015, this market is well worth a visit. Its majestic metallic structure is another example of the 19th century architecture and is one of the biggest in Barcelona. Surrounding the market you’ll find clothes stalls twice a week, all the food stalls in the adjacent Ronda de Sant Antoni, and a second hand book market on Sundays which makes it an excellent time to visit.
Els Encants opens its doors Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for both bargain hunters and the curious. This is one of Barcelona’s oldest markets and was famous for its outdoor atmosphere until its location was changed. Now under a modern roof, this semi-outdoor market combines all kinds of secondhand items such as clothes, furniture, books and any other brand new item you can imagine at low prices. On the last floor, you’ll find plenty of ready-made food stalls where you can relax for a while from all the searching t find that bargain.
Located in the Sarrià-Sant Gervasi district, this amazing building from the early 20th century is considered an artistic monument. Behind its majestic structure created by big glass windows and red brick walls, you’ll find all the services that the upper-side citizens of Barcelona may need. All the meat, vegetables and fish you can think of, organic stalls, perfume shops and even clothes boutiques. The best time to visit is probably during the Christmas period, as stall-owners make a big effort to decorate the market beautifully and also create a pretty impressive crib.
Mercat de la Concepció
Beautifully hidden in the middle of Barcelona’s Eixample between small side streets, La Concepció is a great market built in the 19th century under the influence of London’s famous Crystal Palace. This is a highly social market, as there are always plenty of activities going on; to create a dynamic space open to the neighborhood, full of flower stalls and with great scents. Around la Concepció, you’ll find great restaurants where you’ll be able to taste authentic Catalan cuisine, made with the market’s products and its best delicatessen.
Apart from these permanent markets, Barcelona has many weekly and monthly markets. There’s the Lost & Found Market, celebrated twice a year, where you’ll find the biggest selection of vintage and second hand clothes. The artisan fair in Plaça del Pi, is celebrated on the first Saturday of every month, here you’ll find an excellent array of home-made food Probably the most famous is the Mercat de Santa Llúcia; celebrated during the Christmas period in front of the Cathedral, where you’ll be able to find all your Christmas decorations or the typical Catalan“ Caganer” for your crib.
Innovative improvements in technology mean fast internet connections no longer require a physical wired connection. Mobile technologies and broadband have transformed the travel industry and revolutionised travellers’ experiences. But how do mobile devices and broadband impact travellers’ behaviour and where do you find cheap broadband deals?
Today’s travellers are more connected than before. Many are using fast internet connections for activities such as planning travel itineraries, making travel bookings, buying travel insurance and keeping in touch with home. These mobile devices include not only mobile phones but also laptops and tablets.
Travellers are using travel apps for their entire trip, such as booking holidays, checking in for flights and booking ancillary services. Combining mobile broadband with technologies like GPS enable travellers to search locations and find tailored walking routes. Travellers who subscribe to mobile broadband can use their devices in remote areas like a forest as long as there is a mobile signal.
By connecting to Wi-Fi, those exploring the globe can surf the web free anytime and anywhere, such as in a train, hotel, café and retail locations. Some airports have complementary Wi-Fi service for travellers. Major cities around the world are also becoming more connected. Taipei, Florence, Paris, New York and Perth are named in The Telegraph’s list of the world’s Wi-Fi-friendliest cities.
Finding the Best Mobile Broadband Deals
The best deals will depend on how you plan to use mobile broadband while travelling. Data speed, data allowance, cost per minute for voice calls, cost-per-megabyte and duration of the plan are some important things to consider. Faster speed and higher usage limits mean higher cost. The choice also depends on how long you will be in the country.
International roaming means your device will use the network of a provider in your destination country with which your provider has a roaming agreement. The costs of some mobile broadband services abroad are very high. To keep costs low, you should switch off data roaming and use Wi-Fi, turn off automatic app updates and don’t download movies, music and attachments.
If you decide to use data roaming, it’s possible to reduce cost by purchasing an affordable global data roaming bundle. I’ve used Vodafone Euro Traveller, where I pay £3 a day to use my UK package in most European countries. Buying a local pay-as-you-go SIM card or dongle is another option. I did that when I was in Belgium, paying 15 Euro (around £12) for a 1GB data SIM. Thank goodness the staff in the store set up the SIM for me as it was a bit complicated on my old phone.
The current EU regulations require providers to cut off your data connection when you’ve used €50 of data in a month when roaming overseas. If you want to avoid running up a massive bill, remember to subscribe to this EU cut-off limit or arrange in advance to have a higher limit when signing up with a provider. Your provider will send you a warning when you hit your limit. A local SIM card is a cheaper option if you’ve to make calls to local numbers. Make sure your handset can be unlocked from your network.
Mobile devices and broadband are revolutionising each stage of the travel process, from planning the trip to writing reviews of the trip online.
In the good old days of package holidays, the return transfers from the airport to your hotel, a suitcase in the hold and a meal on the plane was usually included in the price. Now, so many elements of package holidays have been stripped out to make the price sound lower.
The last two occasions when we’ve gone on package holidays, to Madeira and Cyprus, we found it almost as cheap to hire a car as to pay for our return transfers from the airport to our hotel. Having the hire car meant that we could organise our day trips.
However if you’re staying in a city, I don’t see much point in having a hire car. Parking spaces can be difficult to find and parking rates high.
On our recent trip to Budapest and Prague, I organised taxi transfers through the hotels at which I was staying. It cost 30 Euro from Budapest Airport to our city centre hotel, and 21 Euro from our Prague city centre hotel to the airport (we took the train from Budapest to Prague). Our taxis were punctual and comfortable, the journey time was a lot shorter than using public transport. I thought that the price paid was good value for money for four passengers.
When I went to Chicago with our son Simon, Blacklane Limousines offered us a complimentary transfer. I thought that after the 7 hour flight from Edinburgh and getting through US immigration, it’d be great to get to our accommodation quickly. I decided to request a pick up time one and a half hours after our scheduled time of arrival at Chicago O’Hare Airport. The price included a 60 minute wait time after the pick up time. As our flight arrived early, we came out into the arrivals hall twenty minutes before the pick up time. Five minutes later, I received a text and email to say that our chaffeur had arrived.
Deciding whether you should arrange airport transfer will depend on the price, the location of your accommodation and the available alternative routes of transport.
You can walk down to the sea. It was really windy when were there, with large waves. No wonder that the restaurant had shut for the season, as diners in the terrace could have been swept out to sea.
Crashing waves at Deia
The village of Valldemossa nestles in Tramuntana hills. The best known landmark is the 13th century Carthusian monastery, the ‘Real Cartuja de Valldemossa’.
Street in Valdemossa
I thought that Valdemossa had some lovely shops, many of which displayed and sold local art and crafts.
Shop in Valdemossa
Day Trip to Palma on the Ferrocarril
This train has been running along the scenic troute from Soller to the capital of Palma for more then 100 years. It’s probably a good idea to get one of the first trains departing Soller, particulary in low season, as the last train back to Soller departs in the early evening.
It’s easy to get to Majorca with various airlines flying from most UK airports, with an average flight time of around 2 hours 30 minutes. It took us around 40 minutes to drive from Palma Airport to Soller.
You could put together you own trip to Majorca, but it’s worth comparing the total price with the cost of a package holiday, especially if you’re taking hold luggage. Booking with a tour operator also means that you are ATOL protected which offers refund or alternative accommodation and travel if the tour operator, airline or accommodation provider goes bust.
Here are my tips for 25 fun things to do in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
Take in the Views from the UFO Observation Tower
The UFO is a restaurant and observation platform at the southern end of the New Bridge.
The New Bridge and the UFO
It costs 6.50 Euro to get onto the observation deck.
Close up of the UFO
Sample Local Beer at the Castle Brewery
If you get thirsty walking up to Bratislava Castle, then a stop at the Castle Brewery, will provide refreshment. Beers brewed on the premises include a 10% ‘Castle Light’ and a 14% Castle ‘Semi-Dark’ which cost under 2 Euro for half a litre.
Listen to Traditional Slovakian Songs
There’s a clock with eighteen bells hanging below the clock face, at the front of the modern shopping centre in Dunajska. On the hour, the bells play traditional Slovakian songs.
The bells below the clock
Ride the Old Timer Road Train
You get a good overview of Bratislava by taking a ride on the ‘Old Timer’ road train, which departs from outside the old Slovak National Theatre.
The Old Timer train in Bratislava
Spot the Mini Gherkin
There’s a mini version of the Gherkin in London at the Eurovea shopping centre.
Visit the Museum of the City History
You can find out more about Bratislava at the Museum of the City History.
As it was very hot when I was in Bratislava, so I cooled off in a shady seat in the passageway into courtyard where the entrance Museum of City History is located.
A cool seat
Spot the Wooden Biplane at Bratislava Airport
There’s a wooden biplane, a replica Caproni Ca 33, suspended from the ceiling of the departures terminal at Bratislava Airport.
Biplane at Bratislava Airport
Do Some Lion Spotting
In the square by the new Slovak National Theatre there’s a lion atop a column behind the sculpture of Milan Ratislav Stefanik, an important figure in the struggle for Czechoslovakian independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Milan Ratislav Stefanik sculpture with the lion column behind
Close up of the lion sculpture
Go Back in Time at the Pharmacy Museum
The Pharmacy Museum is housed in a former pharmacy called ‘At the Red Crayfish’ – which seems a very strange name for a pharmacy.
The Pharmacy Museum in Bratislava
The Museum is just up from Michael’s Gate. The admission ticket includes a visit to the Museum of Arms in Michael’s Gate tower.
Michael’s Gate tower
Admire the New Slovak National Theatre
The new Slovak National Theatre opened in 2007. Construction started in 1986, but funding issues caused several delays.
The new Slovak National Theatre
Visit the Capuchin Church
The Capuchin Church, dedicated to St Stephen of Hungary, was built by the Capuchin order of friars who came to Bratislava in 1675.
The Capuchin Church
Visit Bratislava Castle
Bratislva Castle sits on the Little Carpathians hills, which rise from the banks of the River Danube. For three hundred years, Bratislava was the coronation city of the Hungarian kings, who were crowned in the Castle. The Castle is now managed by the Slovak National Museum, who run exhibitions there.
See Slovakian Modern Art at the Galleria Nedbalka
The Galleria Nedbalka houses 20th century Slovakian art. I liked the fact that the gallery was open from 1pm until 7pm, as most museums and galleries close at 5pm.
Get Your Photo Taken on a Penny Farthing
There’s a bicycle rack opposite the Primate’s Palace which has a penny farthing at either side.
The penny farthing bicycle rack
Have a Seat by the Fountain at Old Market Hall
The Old Market Hall opened in 1910 and was regularly used as a covered market until the 1960s. It has since been used a film studio and exhibition hall. There are seats by the fountain outside Old Market Hall.
Old Market Hall
Taste Wine in Hviezdoslav Square
There’s a wine tasting kiosk in Hviezdoslav Square
Wine tasting kiosk
Have Fun at the Coronation Festival
The Coronation Festival which takes place in June, features a costumed re-inactment of a coronation, including a procession from Bratislava Castle to the Old Town. In 2015, the 1712 coronation of Charles III will be commemorated over the weekend 26- 28 June.
Crown displayed in the pre-2014 Coronation Festival exhibition in the Primate’s Palace
Admire the Copper Doors in Hlavne Namestie
I thought that these were some of the most beautiful doors I’d ever seen.
Copper doors in Hlavne Namestie
See Some Budget Ballet
Amanda recommends seeing some budget ballet at the old National Theatre in Bratislava. I had a look a ticket prices and they ranged from 4 to 20 Euro.
The old Slovak National Theatre
Visit the Trinitarian Church
Construction of the Baroque style Trinitarian Church started in 1717. It’s a simliar design to St Peter’s in Vienna. From 1939 to 1994, the Slovak National Council met here. in 1992, the passing of the declaration of Slovakia’s independence took place in the building.
The Trinitarian Church
Admire the Glass Sculptures in Gorkeho
Above the grand entrance of Palais Motesicky on the northern side of Gorkeho, behind the old Slovak National Theatre, you’ll find a cluster of glass flower sculptures, by Czech designer Borek Sipek. I thought that they looked at their best when illuminated after dark.
The illuninated glass sculptures
Take a Cruise on the River Danube
There are lots of options for Danube cruises in Bratislava. You can take a city sightseeing tour, visit Devin Castle, the Danubina Meulensteen Art Museum, or take a day trip to Vienna.
Cruising the Danube
Be Dwarfed by the Monument to the National Slovak Uprising
The Monument to the National Slovak Uprising commemorates the attempt to depose the pro-Nazi government of Jozef Tiso in 1944, during World War Two. At the end of the war in 1945, the Soviet Army took control of Slovakia.
Browse the Street Markets
There’s a small market comprising of red kiosks close to Hlavne Namestie. It’s attractive even when shut, as the stalls are adorned with illustrations and information about the city.
Red market stall kiosks near Hlavne Namestie
There’s also a small market in front of the old Slovak National Theatre.
Market stalls near the old Slovak National Theatre
Buy Slovak Folk Arts and Crafts
Some of the nicest locally made souvenirs I saw were in a store in Hlavne Namestie.
Slovak Folk Arts and Crafts shop
There’s plenty of street art in Bratislava. My favourie batch was behind St Martin’s Cathedral.
Street art in Bratislava
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my travel tips for things to do in Bratislava.
While travelling frequently for work may sound exciting, it can also be quite stressful. The InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) have come up with eight tips on reducing business travel stress. Below are their tips and additional suggestions from me to help you arrive calm and in a productive frame of mind.
Select a Conveniently Located Hotel
I like to stay at a hotel within a 30 minute walk to the meeting/event which I’m attending. This helps me ensure that I arrive on time, as I’m not having to traverse a city at rush hour.
Make Time to Relax and Exercise
I’ve enjoyed leisure time in swimming pools and spas at hotels. As I’m not a fan of gyms, I try to book a hotel which is close to a park to go for a walk, or even sit outside to work if the weather’s good.
Create a Travel Checklist
I’m already a list convert. ticking off the items on my list as I pack to ensure that I don’t forget to take anything with me.
Pre-book Your Taxi
Knowing that there is a taxi waiting to whisk you to your final destination can be reassuring, especially after a long journey. The last couple of times I’ve booked taxi transfers from the airport, I arranged them through reception at the hotel at which I was staying. I thought this was safer than pre-booking on an unfamilair website or waiting in a long queue at the airport.
Check That Your Hotel Offers Free WiFi
I always try to book at hotel which offers free WiFi. However, I also like to have the backup of mobile broadband just in case there are any problems with the hotel WiFi. This also has the advantage that I can get online when I’m out and about. As most of my travel is in Europe, I use Vodafone’s EuroTraveller, where I pay £3 a day to use my UK plan abroad.
Take Spare Clothing and Toiletries in a Carry On Bag
When flying I generally travel with only a carry on bag. If I do check in hold luggage, I prefer to take my toiletries in my carry on bag in case of leakage. I also take a capsule wardrobe on board with me, just in case my suitcase goes astray. I find that these tubes of milk served with tea and coffee are very hard to open without squirting the contents all over yourself, so a spare top may well be required.
Ensure Your Business Travel Wallet is Well Stocked
I think this is one where we ladies have a head start on the guys as most of us routinely carry all sorts of handy items such as wet wipes, plasters and painkillers in our handbags.
Keep on Top of Expenses and Bills
One of the first things I do upon returning home from a business trip is to pull together all my receipts and work out my expenses. IHG offer a handy secure online account management system for business travel which avoids so much faffing about with paper receipts.
This article is brought to you in association with IHG Business Advantage.
Brittany Ferries’ infographic highlights some of the advantages of travelling from the UK to France by ferry versus plane.
The comparison is based on a holiday to the Loire Valley for a family of two adults and two kids. The journey by ferry would entail driving your own car to the UK ferry port, the ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Caen and the drive to the Loire Valley. The journey by plane would entail driving to your UK departure airport, flying to Nantes and picking up a hire car at the airport to drive to the final destination.
Check in time for Brittany Ferries is 45 minutes before departure, compared to two hours for flights. Travelling by ferry would avoid the drive to the airport, transfer from the airport car park to the terminal buidling and queueing up to drop off your hold luggage and to get through airport security.
To me, the biggest advantage of travelling with your own car and crossing the Channel by ferry is that there are no luggage restrictions. I’m geting fed up of squeezing all my luggage into one carry on case to avoid hold luggage fees, bag drop off queues and waits at the luggage carousel on arrival at the destination. Never mind the confusion over the differing maximum dimensions and weight of that cary on suitcase between the airlines.
You can fit in loads of luggage in your car, even in a supermini. This is a real boon, especially when travelling with kids. I remember how much gear I needed to take even for a day out, never mind a holiday. If your kids are small, you can use the foot wells at the back seats as extra storage space.
It’s easier to keep kids entertained on a ferry than a plane. A ferry offers more space to move around.Â When you’re on a plane you can be wedged into your seat, with a baby on your knee, unable to even walk up and down the aisle during trolley service. There’s the option to pay for a cabin on the ferry if you want some private space. Click here for information on the various Brittany Ferries routes to France.
I’ve never had a problem getting a seat next to my travelling companian(s) on ferry. With most airlines, you now have to pay an additional fee to select specific seats; the free allocated seats don’t guarantee that everyone in the party will sit together.
Another advantage for me is the free WiFi on board on Brittany Ferries. Although I can get online through Vodafone Euro Traveller, it costs me Â£3 a day to use my UK allowance, which only includes 1.5GB of data per month.
It can be a real hassle picking up a hire car when you arrive at your destination airport. There’s usually a queue, when all you want to do is get going to your final destination.
Not having to pay for car hire could make your holiday cheaper. You need to watch our for fairly hefty excesses, payable if the rental car is damaged of stotlen,Â even on supposedly all inclusive prices with car hire firms.
Diesel is cheaper than unleaded petrol in France. As we have a diesel car, we’d be able to take advantage of this. Whereas, it’s usually more expensive to rent a diesel than a petrol car, so the additional cost of renting a diesel car would negate the savings made on cheaper diesel.
If you’re thinking of taking your car to Europe, check that your car insurance offers EU cover as standard, some insurance companies charge extra for this. Our M&S premier car insurance also includes European breakdown cover.