Travel-Insurance-UK-Infographic.jpg

INFOGRAPHIC: Travel Insurance in the UK

Travel Insurance in the UK Did you know that Brits are more likely to make a claim on their travel insurance in Spain than in any other place in the world? Or that women are more likely than men to take out travel insurance? Or that almost half of the folks in the UK don’t More »

Green Vervet Monkey, The Gambia

Getaway to The Gambia

Often overlooked as a tourist destination in favour of more well-trodden African countries, the tiny finger-shaped nation of The Gambia is finally starting to come into its own. Nicknamed “The Smiling Coast of Africa” (although some would argue it resembles more of a moustache), The Gambia is one of the safest places in Africa to More »

Lake Offensee, Lake District, Austria

Breathtaking Lakes You Can Visit by Rail

Landlocked? No wheels to get you around? Got a hankering to experience some water activities this summer? Fear not, millions of Europeans are in the same boat (see what we did there?) Mercifully, much of Europe sports a stellar railway system, so even if you are not blessed with the luxury of lakeside living, there are More »

INFOGRAPHIC: Travel Insurance in the UK

Travel-Insurance-UK-Infographic.jpg

Travel Insurance in the UK

Did you know that Brits are more likely to make a claim on their travel insurance in Spain than in any other place in the world? Or that women are more likely than men to take out travel insurance? Or that almost half of the folks in the UK don’t realize they are responsible for their own medical bills when they travel abroad?

If any of these are news to you, read on to see what else you should know about travel insurance.

Travel Insurance UK Infographic

 

Getaway to The Gambia

Green Vervet Monkey, The Gambia

Often overlooked as a tourist destination in favour of more well-trodden African countries, the tiny finger-shaped nation of The Gambia is finally starting to come into its own. Nicknamed “The Smiling Coast of Africa” (although some would argue it resembles more of a moustache), The Gambia is one of the safest places in Africa to enjoy a getaway. And with plenty of beaches, nature activities, and world-class resorts, you’ll be smiling too. It’s also pretty easy to get there. Thomas Cook Airlines flights to Banjul, the nation’s capital, operate several times a week.

Here’s a quick look at what you can expect while you’re there.

Albert Market

Albert-Market-Banjul-The-Gambia

Occupying the same space since the 1800s, Banjul’s chief market is also the hub for most of its activity. Shops, stalls, stand and carts manned by friendly (and colourful!) locals offer everything from fabrics to fish and clothes to chickens. Bring your haggling skills though — the first price is never the agreed upon price, with discounts to be had up to 90% off the initial quote. Allow a few hours to meander through the maze of alleyways, and another hour to find your way out.

Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Kachikally-Crocodile-Pool-The-Gambia

Located in Bakau about 20 minutes outside of Banjul, the Kachikally Crocodile Pool pulls double duty — it’s a premiere attraction for tourists, and it’s a sacred site for locals. The crocodile is a symbol of fertility in The Gambia, so women travel here from all across the country, and even neighbouring countries, to undergo a ritual bathing and blessing ceremony. It’s thought that the waters have healing powers to aid in conception. More than 100 crocodiles inhabit the banks along the water, and many are tame enough that they can be petted — with the assistance of a guide of course. Laws forbid locals from getting financial gain from the pools, so the fear of getting ripped off here is never a worry.

Bijilo Forest Park

Green Vervet Monkey, The Gambia

No visit to Africa would be complete without monkeys, and the Bijilo Forest Park has them in spades. Situated just 11 kilometres outside of Banjul, this small nature reserve occupies a spectacular location just up from Senegambia beach and its stunning cliffs. You’ll see plenty of Green Vervet Monkeys, and if you’re lucky, the endangered Western Red Colobus Monkey as well. Although it’s tempting, refrain from feeding the monkeys with nuts being hawked by local vendors. Discarded bags become a problem for the wildlife and the park’s caretakers, and hand feeding these beautiful creatures disturbs their natural behaviour. There are also over 130 species of birds in the park, so plan on spending a full day here.

 

Breathtaking Lakes You Can Visit by Rail

Lake Offensee, Lake District, Austria

Landlocked? No wheels to get you around? Got a hankering to experience some water activities this summer? Fear not, millions of Europeans are in the same boat (see what we did there?) Mercifully, much of Europe sports a stellar railway system, so even if you are not blessed with the luxury of lakeside living, there are plenty of gorgeous lakes that are merely a short train ride away.

So get your water wings and inner tubes at the ready, and check out these breathtaking lakes you can visit by rail.

Lake Garda

Lake-Garda-Italy

Italy’s largest lake (and some would argue its most beautiful) is served by no fewer than three train stations — Desenzano and Peschiera del Garda in the south, and Rovereto in the north. Each acts as a gateway to some pretty fabulous activities in the region. Take for example the Medieval Market in Tignale. Accessible by bus from the Rovereto train station, the yearly summer evening market features acrobats, fire-eaters, and period costumed townspeople offering everything from local handicrafts to jam and liqueurs.

 Windsurfing Lake Garda, Italy

If it’s the water you’ve come for, windsurfing is available year-round at Lake Garda. Gardasurf Water Sport School is located in Brenzone, which is linked by bus to the Peschiera del Garda rail station, offers windsurfing classes for both young and old, and if windsurfing doesn’t quite suit your fancy, the facility also offers dinghy, sailboat, and catamaran rentals.

Although most folks think of the ocean when they think of diving, Lake Garda offers some stellar fresh water diving opportunities for those up for the challenge. Many of the dive shops are situated in the southern lake resorts of Arco, Riva del Garde, and Malescine (served by the Rovereto rail station.) Ambiente Acqua in Arco offers PADI diving certification courses as well as day and night dives for those already certified.

Austrian Lake District

While technically it’s proper name is Salzkammergut, this area is more popularly referred to as simply the Austrian Lake District. And with a total of 76 lakes in the region, there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied, and of course plenty of rail options serving the Lake District.

 Lake Traunsee, Lake District, Austria

Holding the distinction as Austria’s deepest lake, Lake Traunsee can be accessed from the train stations at Gmunden in the north as well as Ebensee in the south. For history buffs, a paddleboat steamer from the 1870s still plies the waters offering tours of the lake for visitors. There are plenty of free beaches along the 12km shore as well for those looking to take a dip on a budget.

 Lake Offensee, Lake District, Austria

Although the water temperature can be a bit chilly chilly (it’s worth checking), sunny days are the perfect time to visit Lake Offensee for a refreshing dip. The scenery here is amongst the best in Austria, and since it attracts fewer visitors than some of the larger bodies of water in the Lake District (Lake Offensee takes only 90 minutes to walk around), there are days that seem like you have the whole place to yourself.

Why Cuba is Still Definitely Different

Colorful vintage 1950s Chevy cars, Havana, Cuba

Win 5000€ for a Cuba Getaway

With a mind numbing array of 1950s vintage Chevys roaming its streets, a vibrant salsa-infused nightlife, and a culture and history unlike any other place on the planet, Cuba is (and always will be) definitely different. 

From world-class scuba diving, to world-class beaches, to world-class entertainment, there’s also definitely no shortage of things to do in this sun-kissed Caribbean getaway. Check out the video below for a Cuba Primer.

 

And to help you explore it in proper style, the folks at Cuba Travel Network are running an innovative contest to put 5000 Euros in your paws to be used for a once-in-a-lifetime, customize-it-yourself tour of the Pearl of the Antilles. 

Cuban gentleman with cigar

So what do you have to do? Simple — just prank a friend or family member via text message that you are in already in Cuba, submit your entry online or via Twitter, and the prank with the most votes wins! Of course, creativity will be key to get your entry to the top of the herd, so think long and think hard about a unique way to confound your friends before entering. For full contest details, and to see examples of what the competition looks like, check out www.cubatravelnetwork.com/competition.

Good luck!

CUBA2

Day Trips from Vienna

Liechtenstein Castle, Austria

Home to Freud, opera, classical music and associated with plenty that just screams “fancy,” Vienna is one of the most elegant cities on the planet. The thing is, it’s still a city. And sometimes you just need to get out of the concrete jungle (as beautiful as this one happens to be) and explore what’s beyond the hustle and bustle.

Here are some worthy options if you’re contemplating your choices for day trips from Vienna.

Liechtenstein Castle

A mere 20 minutes outside of Vienna’s city centre will find you in the wee little town of Molding, known for that behemoth on the edge of town – Liechtenstein Castle. Just don’t confuse it with the taller, cliff-hugging Lichtenstein astle in neighbouring Germany. Built in 1130 as a tribute to the then current Prince, this sprawling castle housed the royals for over 200 years. It’s now privately owned (one of the few in Austria) and a guided tour takes about 50 minutes. 

Salzburg

Salzburg Austria at night, day trips from Vienna

Consistently lauded as one of the most picturesque cities in the world (believe me — it is!), Salzburg really deserves more than just a day. But if you’re intent to see it in one, leave early — it takes about 2 and a half hours to get here from Vienna. Alternatively, you could conceivably book a flight that would get you there in about 45 minutes (check fly.co.uk for flights from Vienna.) Once you do make your way there, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to things to. Salzburg’s beautiful old town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) competes with attractions such as its imposing fortress, and the nearby Sound of Music sites for your time.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava Slovakia

One of the great things about Europe is that everything is so close — and that goes for countries too. The Slovakian capital of Bratislava is only an hour train ride from downtown Vienna, so if you’d like to add another country to your bucket list, you may want to consider this day trip. Bratislava’s Old Town is grittier than Salzburg’s, but its astonishingly beautiful nonetheless. A short public bus ride will take you to Delvin Castle on the city’s outskirts, and the views from the these ruins are well worth the short climb — it’s unparalleled in this region. 

What other day trips from Vienna do you know about?