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Morag@BarrheadTravel

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About Morag@BarrheadTravel

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  1. Staff Travel Diaries: Colorado

    Hi Kellie, tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Barrhead Travel. I have worked for Barrhead Travel for a little over 6 years now. I am a Travel Consultant who specialises in Worldwide Holidays. I am also the specialist for Sandals and Beaches resorts and promote weddings and honeymoons in their resorts. I was even the first member of staff to be married at a Sandals Resort! What did you see when you were in Colorado? What would you recommend to people visiting? Where to start? Colorado caters to everyone. If you are into art and culture Denver ticks all the boxes. Fort Collins was my favourite though. Small town, friendly people and great atmosphere. We visited Ginger & Baker and had a walk through with owner Ginger whose vision for her restaurant/pie shop was amazing and I would love to go back and see the finished building. Breckenridge is fantastic for skiing and the town itself is lovely with great little places to eat. For the adrenaline chasers, Royal Gorge is the place to visit (but not for the faint of heart or those afraid of heights). Tell us a bit about the hotels you stayed in. AC Hotel in Denver is brand new and super central, plus the staff and food were amazing. The Armstrong Hotel in Fort Collins: really central, and a little bit more traditional in design and decoration. DoubleTree Breckenride Hotel: close to the slopes for skiing and close to resort centre. Royal Gorge Cabins: Without a doubt my favourite. Fairly new, modern and a fab home away from home with views that would take your breath away. Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs: central hotel with nice cocktail bar just off the lobby. What clothes would you recommend someone packs? The weather is so changeable. Depending on the time of year pack sunscreen as well as hats and gloves. One day could be glorious sunshine and the next could be a snow storm. How did you get to Colorado? I flew from Glasgow via Reykjavik with IcelandAir. First time flying with them and really enjoyed it. Connecting via Iceland is so easy and would 100% use them again. Any other tips for someone travelling to Colorado? Pack lip balm and hand cream as well as drinking loads of water. The high altitude really does affect your skin making it dry. Plenty of water to keep hydrated as it high and dry. Especially the higher you go. Pack painkillers as the altitude can give you a bit of a headache.
  2. MSC announces their new ship MSC Grandiosa

    We have no details yet, but MSC has decided on a new name for their ship: MSC Grandiosa. MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, commented: "The Meraviglia generation of ships is already setting a new standard for the cruise industry and is just one of the three brand new prototypes that we have designed to bring the cruise guest experience to the next level. MSC Grandiosa is named to signify magnificence and grandeur, a fitting name for this even richer, ultra-modern mega-ship.” Mr Vago continued: “Additionally, with MSC Grandiosa we also continue to innovate in product. Just as MSC Cruises “democratised” the luxury cruise experience when we were the first cruise brand to introduce a ship-in-ship luxury concept - the MSC Yacht Club, we are now doing the same for art and culture with the very first fine art museum at sea. Similarly,” he continued, “MSC Grandiosa will be the third of only four MSC Cruises ships to exclusively feature Cirque du Soleil at Sea, hosted in the uniquely complex, custom-built Carousel Lounge.” Mr Vago concluded: “Of course, over and above everything else, these ships will be once again at the forefront of environmental technology at sea. In fact, amongst other innovations, they will feature the latest hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems, SCR-Catalysts, state-of-the-art waste management and recycling capabilities, emission-reducing energy and heat recovery systems, and highly advanced wastewater treatment.”
  3. Best places to visit in November

    For us Brits, November is the month when the clocks go back, Christmas lights go up and temperatures fall into single figures. It’s no wonder we crave winter sun… It’s also the month when the northern and southern hemisphere switches hands. Many places that were not open to tourists due to the rainy season (or humidity) are now in full swing. If you’re looking to fit in a holiday before the festive season begins, here are ten places we recommend. 1. Caribbean First off, we have the Caribbean – all of it. November is when most Caribbean resorts open up for the tourist season but it’s not high season quite yet. Whether it’s dancing in Cuba, listening to reggae in Jamaica, or admiring the beautiful landscape of Saint Lucia, November is a great time to explore this beautiful part of the world. 2. Mexico Just across the Gulf, Mexico is also a great option in November. Not only is the weather amazing, but the first two days of the month are spent celebrating the Day of the Dead Festival (Dia de Muertos). It’s a public holiday and is dedicated to remembering loved ones who have passed on. Janitzio in Lake Pátzcuaro, and Xochimilco in Mexico City are the best places to join in the festivities. 3. Deep South of America The tourist season in most of the USA begins to slow down in winter, but the Deep South is still in full swing. So whether its rodeos in Texas, music in Memphis or parties in New Orleans you’re after, now is the time to do it. 4. Hong Kong Most of South East Asia is at its best during our winter, but Hong Kong needs a special mention. The city can sometimes get too much for tourists during the summer heat, but the winter boasts breezy days perfect for exploring this glittering metropolitan gem. 5. Phuket November is shoulder season of Phuket and a great time to visit before prices go up. The rainy season has just ended (though you might still experience light drizzles) and the beaches are sunny once again. 6. Mauritius November is the start of summer season in Mauritius, with daily temperatures of 24°C. The temperature also increases gradually over the next few months, normally reaching 28°C. November is also just before the tourists start appearing in large numbers, so it’s a great time for good weather and secluded beaches. 7. Dubai If you’re looking for dazzling sun, but don’t want to travel to the southern hemisphere or across the Atlantic, Dubai is a great option. The Middle East is typically too hot for British holidaymakers during the summer months but when winter begins to set in, a cool breeze appears and it becomes the prefect short haul getaway. 8. Turkey Roughly the same distance from the UK as Dubai, Turkey is also a great winter sun destination without a long-haul flight. Whether it’s the cultured capital of Istanbul or one of the many family-friendly resorts in Antalya – it’s a great all-round winter sun destination. 9. Canary Islands Finally, we have the always-popular Canary Islands. Set off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, these islands are permanent inclusions in best winter sun destination lists. Whether it’s the volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, the hiking in Fuerteventura , the adventure in Gran Canaria or the all-round fun of Tenerife, the Canary Islands are always a good choice. 10. Christmas Markets Not everyone is looking for sunshine at this time of year. City breaks to some of the Europe’s best Christmas markets are extremely popular in the later months of the year. A few of the biggest also open shop in mid-November so you can get your Christmas shopping finished before everyone else.
  4. It’s that time of year again when the UK skies are lit up with mesmerising light shows for Guy Fawkes Night. Like a lot of the British population, you might wish firework displays were more common throughout the year. But we see that as an excuse for a holiday. Here are seven world-famous cities that are famous for their firework displays (including somewhere in the UK). Sydney Sydney is one of the first cities in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and we witness their spectacular fireworks display every year on TV. Then on the 26th of January, Darling Harbour lights up again for Australia Day along with a boat parade. Between the spellbinding light shows and the terrific weather – January is a great time to visit this iconic city. Dubai https://www.barrheadtravel.co.uk/holidays/worldwide-holidays/dubaiDubai never does things by half measures, and that includes its fireworks displays. Every New Year, revellers gather around the Burj Khalifa to witness the world’s tallest building light up with fireworks. Other areas of the city that light up with fireworks include Jumeirah Beach and Atlantis the Palm. Montreal Montreal loves fireworks so much, there’s an official competition. Going strong since 1985, the Montreal International Fireworks Competition is held every summer and features synchronised music. Tickets are pricey (usually $52 to $70 plus taxes) but there are plenty of places to view them throughout the city for free. London Since its Guy Fawkes Night we can’t not mention London . While many UK cities put on their own amazing firework displays, London’s are a step above the rest. You’ll find firework displays at Crystal Palace Park, Battersea Park, Alexandra Palace and Wembley Park (to name a few). Paris You know what makes every fireworks display better? The silhouette of the Eiffel Tower. Every year on the 14th of July, fireworks are set off from the gardens of Trocadéro for about 30 minutes and the public are welcome to watch from the Champ de Mars. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks in the UK might be a chilly affair, but in Rio de Janeiro it’s a warm and tropical experience. At the start of every New Year, thousands of people gather on the sands of Copacabana Beach for a 15-minute fireworks display. Washington, D.C. The USA dazzles every 4th of July – but nowhere does it better than Washington D.C. Fireworks are set off from National Mall, and they are viewable from a plethora of places around DC. Including the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial and numerous rooftop bars. Where have you witnessed an amazing fireworks display? Let us know in the comments.
  5. A beginner’s guide to Western Australia

    The biggest of Australia’s six states, Western Australia is home to everything that makes Oz great. It boasts a cosmopolitan capital city, stunning coral reef, an adventurous outback and great surf. But being on the other side of the country from the iconic Sydney or bustling Melbourne, it has a smaller tourist crowd and everything is a lot cheaper. Some travellers argue that Western Australia is the ‘real’ Australia. Ready to explore this goldmine of adventure and exploration? Here’s some key information to get you started. Where to Go Western Australia boasts a massive and diverse landscape, and we can’t possibly list everything (that’s a blog for another day!). But below we have rounded up five key places of interest that you should definitely consider. Perth The capital city of Western Australia and your first port of call if you’re flying in from international shores. It has everything you would expect from a large capital city, but still has a low-key atmosphere about it. Start your day slowly with a stroll through King’s Park – one of the largest inner city parks in the world (even NYC’s Central Park doesn’t beat it). Then finish your day by hopping on the ferry to South Perth and watching the sunset over the spectacular skyline. Margaret River Australia is recognised internationally for its delicious wines and surfing waves. Margaret River is the perfect place for both. With 100 wineries it’s no surprise that it produces 15% of the country’s premium wines. Then along the coast you’ll find 40 surf sports, ranging from powerful reef breaks to fun beach waves. Monkey Mia Part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Site, this little bay is so lovely even dolphins like to swim into shore to check it out. Every day specially trained rangers are on hand to provide insight into the dolphins who have made this bay their home. The perfect chance to learn more about these playful creatures in their natural habitat. Ningaloo Reef The Great Barrier Reef might receive most of the attention, but the Ningaloo Reef is the world’s largest fringing coral reef. If you’re wondering what fringing coral means – it’s a coral reef that is only moments from the shore. Yep, you don’t need a boat trip to see this reef; a few strokes and you’ll be snorkelling over it. The North West The places we’ve mentioned already are tucked into the South West corner of Australia. But if you want adventure we recommend heading north to Broom and Kimberley. Here you’ll experience the Australian outback. Wander through the ancient gorges of Karijini National Park, witness Australia’s highest waterfall (King George Waterfalls) and admire some of the oldest aboriginal artworks on earth. How to Get There Perth is the transport hub for the region. Here you’ll be able to catch an international flight or a plane to another beautiful area of Australia. Like any other trip Down Under, it is the perfect opportunity to stop over somewhere exotic on the way. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are both popular options. Getting around Western Australia is vast and if you want to explore corner to corner, we’d recommend a hire car. Word of warning though: fill up your tank as these roads are remote! Also remember to hire a 4x4 as the roads can get very rocky. If however, you’re planning on staying in the populated Perth and South West region, you can get by on train and coach. There are plenty of hop on and hop off tickets available. Weather and Climate The weather is always diverse when we’re talking about somewhere the size of Western Australia. But as a general rule, the south is similar to the Mediterranean, the east is desert and north is tropical. If you’re planning to travel across the state, make sure you take a variety of clothing options (and take plenty of sunscreen). Final tips and recommendations: The currency here is Australian Dollars Perth is cheaper than Sydney and Melbourne The time zone is Western Standard Time (AWST) is GMT + 8:00. The legal drinking age is 18 The school holidays work differently in Western Australia and the children have their long summer break during December and January.
  6. 10 reasons to visit Latin America

    Dramatic landscapes, diverse culture, fascinating history and salsa dancing until the early hours. Latin America is a bucket list destination for a reason. Anyone who has ever visited the continent will recount their tales of exploring ancient ruins, tucking into delicious food, mingling with the friendly locals and admiring the local craft talent in the street markets. If you’ve not yet made the journey to Latin America, here are 10 reasons why you should. 1. Two ancient world wonders If your journey includes the beautiful countries of Brazil and Peru, you’ll have the opportunity to tick two World Wonders off your list. Machu Picchu in Peru has been confusing and fascinating historians in equal measures for many years. Most believe it was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472), though other theories exist. Today it is known as the most familiar icon of Inca civilization and how life was before Latin America was discovered. Over in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll be greeted by the wide-arms of the Christ the Redeemer statue. Very hard to miss, it is located at the peak of the 2,300 foot Corcovado Mountain and is 20 metres high by 28 metres wide. 2. Ancient culture and history Machu Picchu isn’t the only captivating ancient ruin. Mexico City now stands in the same location where Tenochititlan once did. Originally the capital of the Aztec empire and the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas, the pyramid of Templo Mayor is one of the best examples of this fascinating time period. Another important ancient culture in Latin America is the Mayan culture. It is the only ancient culture to have developed its own writing system and is famous amongst historians for its calendars, art, architecture and astronomical system. Chichen Itza, found in the Yucatán State, is one of the best living examples of its existence. 3. The Amazon River and Rainforest Covering more than 7,000,000 square kilometres that transcends the borders of nine different countries, the Amazon Basin is one of nature’s greatest achievements. It is estimated that 40,000 species of plants and more than 4,500 animal species live within its boundaries along with 200 local tribes. It’s a great opportunity to get back to nature. If you want to stay in the Amazon Rainforest you can choose between rustic camps and luxury eco lodges. The Amazon isn’t the only impressive rainforest in Latin America, however. Costa Rica might be a small size, but it is covered in a tropical forest and is home to five percent of the world’s flora and fauna. 4. World-famous waterfalls The Amazon River isn’t the only mesmerising waterway in Latin America. Hugging the border of Argentina and Brazil lies the famous Iguazu Falls, which is considered one of the most impressive waterfall systems in the world. Over in Venezuela, you’ll find the Angel Falls – the tallest waterfall in the world standing at a height of 3,212 feet. The waterfall is remotely located and the best way to see it is to fly over on a plane tour. Kaieteur Falls in Guyana is another waterfall that attracts attention from travellers. It stands at only 700 feet but is considered to be one of the world’s most powerful waterfalls. You’ll see what we mean when you pay it a visit. 5. Beaches for all tastes Pacific, Caribbean and Atlantic: the coastline of Latin America covers a lot of ocean. Ipanema Beach in Rio is brilliant for beach sports such as football and volleyball. Máncora in Peru is popular with surfers, as is Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica. Montañita in Ecuador is also popular with watersport fans. Shell Beach in Guyana is fantastic for wildlife spotting and outdoor enthusiasts. Manuel Antonio Beach in Costa Rica is great for adventure types who want a rainforest as a backdrop. Whether you’re looking for a romantic stroll with the perfect sunset or big waves for surfing, you’ll find it in Latin America. 6. The Andes Make sure you fit a visit to the world’s longest continental mountain range into your trip. Which isn’t hard because The Andes stretch through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. Many of Latin America’s largest cities are constructed on top of the Andes many plateaus. Quito, Bogotá, Arequipa, Medellín, Sucre, Mérida and La Paz can all be found up in the Andes. Also, the Altiplano plateau is the world's second-highest after the Tibetan plateau. 7. Unbeatable Wildlife With such amazing landscapes, you can image the wildlife-spotting opportunities are second to none. The Galapagos Islands offer one of the most fascinating ecosystems on the planet. Located off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, their isolated location has lent a hand to the survival of many plant and animal species – including some that are found nowhere else. Another country to visit if you’re all about the wildlife and scenery is Costa Rica. Nestled into Central America, Costa Rica has become popular with eco-tourists and boats an extensive number of national parks and protected areas. If you want to see a Big Cat in the wild, Costa Rica is one of the best places to do so. Jaguars, ocelots, pumas, jaguarundi, margays, and little spotted cats all live here. There are also over 400 bird species. 8. Modern cities While Latin America is one of Mother Nature’s most prized possessions, city-lovers won’t be disappointed either. The famous Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires are filled with a lively atmosphere and every night you’ll find a salsa party going on until the early hours. But if your journey won’t take you anywhere near these two power-houses, don’t fret. The Peru capital of Lima is filled with luxury hotels, nightclubs and a lovely promenade. San José in Costa Rica is also a lively hub with international restaurants. Plus, Brazil’s largest city isn’t even Rio, it’ actually Sao Paulo. The Chilean capital of Santiago is also fast rising as a cosmopolitan hot-spot. 9. Rich gastronomy Wherever you end up in Latin America, your taste buds will thank you. Up in Mexico, you’ll love the vivid combinations of tomatoes, avocado, chilli peppers, yellow and blue corn. Mexican cuisine was even registered on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010! Then further down you’ll find Peru, where the capital of Lima is considered one of Latin America’s foodie hubs. If you’re a seafood lover then you’ll adore the famous ceviche: fresh seafood, marinated in lime juice and chili pepper, served with boiled corn, sweet potatoes and cured onions. You’ll have the opportunity to try exotic meats like alpaca, wild boar and Guinea pig! Make sure you also grab a bottle of Inca Kola – a sweet and fruity fizzy drink that you’ll find everywhere. 10. The friendly people Latin Americans are warm and welcoming people. If you’re ever stuck for directions, the locals won’t hesitate to help you and the service in local restaurants is second to none. Whether you are relaxing on a beach in Costa Rica or hiking through the Andes of Bolivia, locals are more than happy to make sure you feel welcome in this beautiful continent.
  7. A foodie’s guide to Lanzarote

    If you love food, then you’ll love Lanzarote. This stunning Canary Island takes pride in its locally grown produce and borrows gastronomic influence from Spain, Africa and Latin America thanks to its historical position as a former trans-Atlantic port. Whether it’s freshly caught seafood, vegetables grown in volcanic sand or unique vineyards, Lanzarote boasts plenty of distinctive but delicious flavours for the discerning traveller. Freshly Caught Seafood Being an island, it probably doesn’t surprise anyone that Lanzarote restaurants offer several delicious seafood dishes. Two local delicacies that you’ll see popping up regularly on menus are the local fish Cherne, (wreckfish in English) mero (in English dusky grouper) and vieja (parrotfish). Make sure at one point you also try some Sancocho Canario, a stew made with salty fish, sweet potato, mojo and gofio bread. Fresh Tuna Steak, Calamari and Octopus are also common. If you want to taste the best seafood Lanzarote has to offer we recommend heading to the towns of El Golfo and Arrieta where much of the fish came out of the water earlier that day. Meat While locally caught fish tops the menu, meat is also very popular. Goat and rabbit are two meats that are very common and are primarily used in stews. Young goat especially is very popular – and is normally served fried or cooked in the oven. Papas Arrugadas If you read any food and drink guide concerning Lanzarote, this local potato dish will make an appearance. In order to get the skins ‘wrinkly’ texture, the potatoes are boiled in sea water and then to add flavour they are served with Mojo, a traditional Canarian sauce made with garlic and herbs or paprika. Cheese Cheese fiends are definitely not left out on a holiday to Lanzarote. The cheese found in Lanzarote is award-winning and can be made from goats, cows or sheep milk. You can find fresh, semi-fresh, smoked or cured cheese in many shops and restaurants, however cured cheeses are also sold with a mixture of olive oil and paprika or gofio creating a unique flavour. Bienmesabe You might not be immediately familiar with this dessert, but it has been called “the most famous dessert in the Canaries”. Traditionally it is made using honey, egg yolk and ground almonds – but additional ingredients can include sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and sweet wine or sherry. Volcanic wines The vineyards that grow out of the dark volcanic sands have been attracting wine connoisseurs to Lanzarote for years, and have also been awarded Protected Designation of Origin status. All the wines are grown in the fascinating La Geria region, with single vines protected from the trade winds by a semi-circular wall. Malvasia is the wine mostly associated with Lanzarote, and is defined by its characteristic light fruity flavour and are very crisp and dry making it a great accompaniment to the fish dishes that are popular on the island. Other wine varieties found across the island include Muscatel, white and black lists, Diego, and Burra White Negramoll. Dining in a volcano Lanzarote locals sure put their volcanoes to good use. In the hills of Timanfaya National Park, lies the El Diablo restaurant that cooks its food by placing a grill rack across a volcanic vent. Then there’s also Jameos del Agua in the north of the island, a restaurant found in the volcanic tunnels created by the eruption of the La Corona Volcano. Every Tuesday and Saturday you can enjoy the Jameos Night and be treated to a la carta dinner with live music.
  8. The 10 most haunted buildings in New York City

    More than 8 million people call New York City home and a further 60 million tourists visit the island every year – and apparently ghostly spirits can’t get enough of the place either! While we don’t have official numbers on how many ghosts populate NYC, we wouldn’t be surprised it goes into the thousands. Anyone looking for a spook certainly won’t be disappointed. There are numerous places you can look for paranormal activity, but today we’ve rounded up the most popular. If you’re looking for a ghost these are the best places to look. 1. Dakota Apartments While this apartment block is already infamous as the murder site of John Lennon, it’s disturbing past starts way before that. Over the years, there has been sightings of a little girl dressed in turn-of-the-century clothing, an adult with the face of a small boy, and even the ghost of Lennon himself. In 1968, the exterior of the building was also used in the horror classic Rosemary’s Baby. 2. The House of Death At 14 West 10th Street you’ll find a beautiful townhouse that has been called the most haunted building in New York City. Throughout the 20th Century the building has been the site of many gruesome crimes – and experts claim there are 22 ghosts that call the building home. Mark Twain lived here from 1900 to 1901 and his ghost has even been spotted wandering the stairway. 3. 12 Gay Street Located along one of Manhattan’s most picturesque streets lies this former speakeasy. It operated during the Prohibition era and was called the Pirate’s Den – before being bought by former NYC Mayor Jimmy Walker. Residents and neighbours have insisted that flapper girl ghosts have been seen on the property. If that wasn’t creepy enough, at one point the building was owned by Frank Paris, the creator of notorious hell-puppet Howdy Doody. 4. The Manhattan Well You’ll miss this one if you aren’t looking for it. First brought to public attention as the murder site in the Manhattan Well Murder trial of 1800 (the first American murder trial to have a recorded transcript), it’s now a site of spooky goings on. A young woman named Gulielma "Elma" Sands was found here, and a man named Levi Weeks (who had been courting her) was accused of her murder. The trial went on for weeks but – to much public outrage – Levi was acquitted. The well was filled in and built over in 1817, but was rediscovered in 1980 – and paranormal investigators claim that Gulielma Sands still haunts the area. 5. The Conference House Over on Staten Island you’ll find the only surviving pre-Revolutionary manor house in New York. It was at one point used by loyalist Colonel Christopher Billop as a station for British forces during the Revolutionary War. Plus, it was the location of the unsuccessful Staten Island Peace Conference on September 11, 1776. However, ghost hunters visit for a different reason. In 1779, Billop suspected a fifteen-year-old serving girl of spying for the rebels and threw her down a flight of stairs, killing her. Apparently her screams can still be heard today. To top it off, the house was built on a Lenape Indian burial ground. 6. Merchant’s House Museum This is one of New York City’s more under-the-nose museums. Once owned by the Tredwell family, it’s rumoured that the youngest member still lives there in spiritual form. Gertrude Tredwell lived there until her death in 1933 – and weird sights, sounds and smells have been reported. You can book yourself a ghost tour of the house. 7. Morris-Jumel Mansion Manhattan’s oldest remaining house has certainly seen its fair share of ghostly spirits. The previous owner Eliza Bowen Jumel is a common sight, but the ghosts of a solider and a young girl aren’t unheard of. 8. White Horse Tavern This sophisticated pub was quite the hangout for tortured writers back in the early 1950s. One of them, a poet named Dylan Thomas, drank too much whiskey and collapsed on the pavement outside. He later died in hospital but it’s rumoured that his ghost returned to the pub. 9. New Amsterdam Theatre If you’re seeing a show here, keep your eyes peeled for an extra performer. A onetime Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl named Olive Thomas died by suicide here in 1920, and there have been reported sightings since. Her pictures have been hung up at every entrance so that the cast and crew can greet her on their way in and out. Apparently she has remained a friendly ghost and keeps her peace with the living. 10. Hotel Chelsea If you’re looking for some celebrity ghost sightings, it’s rumoured that the ghost of Charles R. Jackson and Nancy Spungen wander the Hotel Chelsea at 222 West 23rd Street. Currently it is closed for renovations but will reopen in 2018. There’s plenty more haunted building in NYC aside from these ones. Have we missed any of that you think are especially spooky?
  9. 10 amazing Australia bucket list experiences

    When it comes to bucket list experiences, Australia does not disappoint. The country is a gold mine for adventure. Blessed with a variety of landscapes ranging from lively cosmopolitan hubs through to desert plains and the colourful ocean life minutes from its shores. Whether you’re a city lover, scuba diver, wildlife-seeker, sports enthusiast or adrenaline junkie, Australia has a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you. So grab your bucket list, we’re about to tick a few things off it. Diving in the Great Barrier Reef Definitely one of Mother Nature’s proudest achievements, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral ecosystem. There are several ways to admire the reef, whether it’s scuba diving or from above on a boat trip. Either way, this is a bucket list experience that everyone must do once in their life. Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb For the best views of this famous city, book yourself a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. It’s not for the faint hearted but it offers unbeatable views (especially at night) and is a great way to get your adrenaline pumping. Meet dolphins in the wild Dolphins are friendly creatures, but usually you need to take a boat trip to see them. Their usual home is along the shores of Monkey Mia in Western Australia, however, they regularly swim into shallow waters to mingle with humans. Organised tours are operated by locals who know the best spots and have their own personal stories. Travel through the outback on board The Ghan Considered one of the world’s greatest rail journeys, The Ghan Railway reaches areas of Australia that are otherwise inaccessible. Crossing the states of Southern Australia and Northern Territories, the train will stop off at Alice Springs, Katherine, and Coober Pedy (the end points are Adelaide and Darwin). Drive the Ocean Road Over in the southern state of Victoria, lies Australia’s most scenic road trip. The Great Ocean Road is the world’s largest war memorial (it was built to commemorate WW1 veterans) and runs by several prominent landmarks. The most famous of these landmarks is the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations. Soak up the atmosphere of Melbourne Melbourne definitely takes the top spot as Australia’s coolest city. It’s the perfect place to view colourful street art, shop in stylish second-hand stores, enjoy international fusion cuisine and drink cool cocktails into the early hours. Remember to also take a day to relax, embrace the city’s café culture and soak up the atmosphere – in a city as interesting as Melbourne, this is sometimes all you need to do. Cage Dive with Great White Sharks If you’re an experienced diver, head to South Australia and come face-to-face with one of the ocean’s greatest creatures. Most tours have to be booked in advance and many operators request that you already know how to work scuba equipment. There’s also the option of watching from the boat though. Witness the Aurora Australis The northern lights might get more attention, but the lesser known southern lights are just as spectacular. They are a lot more elusive (and your timing needs to be impeccable) but it is undeniably worth it. The best time to see them is September with secluded Tasmania topping the list of locations. Watch the sunset over Uluru Rock Complete your Australian adventure with this fiery sunset. While the drive to Uluru rock is far (and bumpy!) the red glow from the rock in the later hours is one nature’s best tricks. What’s your top Australia bucket list experience? How many have you ticked off?
  10. It’s October and that means it’s fright time. Not just because it’s Halloween in two weeks, but because the latest instalment of American Horror Story is now on our screens. Acclaimed by critics and worshipped by fans, the show has become a favourite with TV fans obsessed with the macabre. Many of the season’s standalone storylines (that fit into a wider universe) are based or inspired by real-world events, such as New Orleans voodoo queens and disappearing colonies. The producers have brilliantly brought these storylines to life with some of today’s finest actors, impeccable special effects and location scouts who spent weeks looking for the perfect filming sites. Fans of the show have made it their goal to not only track down every filming location used, but also the real-life locations of the stories some of the seasons were based on. Ready for a pop culture guide/history lesson? Let’s get started. Season 1: Murder House The Harmon residence might not have been the friendliest or happiest home in the world, but there’s no denying that the house was beautiful. In real life, it is known as The Alfred Rosenheim Mansion and can be found on the wealthy Westchester Place in Los Angeles. Its real history is also fascinating (but a lot less gruesome). Rosenheim was an architect by trade (as well as a roller-coaster designer!) and built the house in 1902 for himself and his family. They sold it after eleven years to California’s richest man, A.J. McQuatters (the then president of the Alvarado Mining and Milling Company). The house then switched hands in the early 1930s to actor Edward Everett Horton. After that – believe it or not – the house was sold to Catholic Order of Nuns who used it is as a convent. They built a chapel on its grounds, and all the attic scenes were filmed here. It was damaged by an earthquake in 1994 and the nuns put it on the market for an impressive $3 million. The producers of American Horror Story weren’t the only film-makers to choose the house as a backdrop. Spiderman, Seabiscuit, The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, Six Feet Under, Bones, Dexter, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have also filmed here. Season 2: Asylum While Asylum was set in gloomy 1960s New England, the series was mostly filmed in sunny Orange County. The exterior shots of the asylum were the Santa Ana Courthouse – an imposing Romanesque structure that was perfect for bringing the frightful Briarcliff Mental Institution to life. Season 3: Coven Die-hard fans will want to visit the Lalaurie Mansion - and we mean the real one. While the Gallier House was used for exterior shots, and the Hermann-Grima House was used for interior, this isn’t where everything went down in 19th Century New Orleans. On Royal Street, near the waterfront, you’ll find the real Lalaurie House. Purchased in 1832 by Doctor Louis Lalaurie and his wife Delphine, it became the location of many lavish parties and gruesome crimes. The couple was well-respected among the New Orleans elite but the slave trade began to notice the high-turnover of their house slaves. When a fire broke out, their secret was no longer safe. When law enforcement got to the property they discovered the missing slaves in the attic - many of them disfigured, mutilated and amputated. Some were also dead and never disposed of. The couple had already fled the city and it's widely believed that they moved to France. Many believe it was a slave who started the fire in the kitchen in the hopes of attracting attention from law enforcement. Over the years the building has been used as a saloon, barber and furniture shop. It was even owned by the actor Nicolas Cage at one point. For somewhere more light-hearted, remember to pop by Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies aka the Buckner Mansion in NoLa's Garden District. You’ll also find Maison Vitry in the Treme District stepping in as Marie Laveau’s Cornrow City Salon. Season 4: Freak Show While this season was meant to be set in Jupiter, Florida, the producers kept to New Orleans. The circus camp was a purpose-built set that is longer there. But fans can still stop by Dandy’s home. The real location is Longue Vue House & Gardens in the Lakewood neighbourhood. The diner in the series is Camellia Grill in the French Quarter. Die-hard fans might also want to make the trip to Philadelphia. Specifically to the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia to learn more about the real-life Edward Mordrake. Season 5: Hotel Welcome to Hotel Cortez, aka the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. While not used as a filming location by the producers, this infamous hotel and its shady past inspired the series. It opened in 1927, and since then has there has been over a dozen deaths caused by suicide, accident or murder. Its name changed in 2013 to Stay on the Main. The deaths that have taken place on the property are not the only thing that’s a bit off-putting. It was also the reported residence of serial killers Richard Ramirez in 1985 and Jack Unterweger in 1991. It is also rumoured that the Black Dahlia (who was actually portrayed Season 1 Murder House) made the Cecil Hotel her last stop before her death in 1947. For filming, the producers used The Oviatt Building at 617 South Olive Avenue for its exterior shots. The lobby and hotel rooms were a purpose-built film set inside Fox Studios, but there’s one place you can visit. The ornate wood-panelled ballroom is the lower level of the Los Angeles Theatre at 615 South Broadway! Season 6: Roanoke If you’re looking for the farmhouse where Matt and Shelby stayed, you’ll be disappointed. The house was purpose-built for the show in the Calabasas area of California. But you can still visit the real Roanoke (sort of). The modern-day Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in North Carolina is where the Roanoke colony was established by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587. At the same time, a native Croatoan tribe also lived on the island and not everyone peacefully co-existed. Colony leader John White travelled back to England for more people and supplies. But between the harsh winter and the Anglo-Spanish war, he didn’t return for three years. When he did, there were no people or buildings, only the word Croatoan carved into a tree. Many historians, archaeologists and conspiracy theorists have tried to work out what happened to them. While you won’t find any remains in the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, there is a visitor centre with information. Season 7: Cult We’re only half-way through the current season and we’re not sure how many locations we might be introduced to. But eagle-eyed fans picked up from the trailer alone that the house the ice cream truck drives in front of is the same house that belonged to the Doyle’s in the 1978 Halloween slasher flick. The real-life location of these houses is Orange Grove Avenue in West Hollywood (the Myers House was 707 Meridian Avenue, South Pasadena, California.) Now that the show is running, we’ve discovered that the show’s main characters Ally Mayfair-Richards and Ivy Mayfair-Richards live in the Doyle’s former house. And a murder has already taken place across the street – in the same house where the Wallace family lived in Halloween. Oh, and the murder took place while a bit of babysitting was going on. Coincidence or homage? You decide. What is your favourite season of American Horror Story so far and can you name any locations that we’ve missed?
  11. New Zealand isn't just for backpackers

    Hitchhiking around New Zealand and trying to relive scenes from Lord of the Rings may seem like the perfect holiday for some. But what if you like hot showers, excellent food and sumptuous sleeping arrangements? The good news is you don’t have to scratch New Zealand off your list. New Zealand has more to offer than roughing it, and we’re here to help you to enjoy one of the world’s most beautiful countries in style. Getting Around Forget long distance buses. New Zealand is the land of the road trip, and renting a car can be one of the most rewarding ways to experience it. Take a trip from the north island to the south island (with a ferry in between) and watch the landscape shift dramatically from beautiful beaches, and volcanic mountains, to windswept plains, glaciers and snow-capped peaks. Or simply rent a car to do short trips into the nearby countryside from wherever you’re staying. Sleeping With so much natural beauty to take in, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about urban life in New Zealand, which is contemporary and energetic. Nowhere is this more evident than Auckland, where skyscrapers rise up from beautiful beaches and sparkling ocean. View it all from a luxurious suite in the Sofitel Auckland. If the city gets too much, get in your car and head to Solitaire Lodge, a leisurely three hour drive from Auckland, to experience the awe-inspiring Lake Tarawera in one of the world’s best boutique hotels. New Zealand is also one of the greenest countries on earth, with numerous, thoughtful eco-lodges. However, the south island does it best with Hapaku Lodge, which offers 360 degree views from handcrafted, sustainably-built treehouses. Eating and Drinking New Zealand is in the midst of a culinary renaissance. A new generation is celebrating their country’s gloriously fresh, local produce. Taste award-winning, cool-climate wines on the south island and immerse yourself in what looks to be wine’s next big thing. Try the sauvignon blanc from Cloudy Bay, or sample the pinot noir from Delta in Marlborough. For delicate food in an unpretentious setting, visit Grove in Auckland. And if you’re in the market for the pinnacle of New Zealand’s fine dining scene, look no further than The French Cafe, voted the best restaurant in the country in 2016. Things to Do New Zealand, after all, is a place of adventure and excitement. Add some exploration to your holiday by taking one of the many cruises out of Auckland to The Bay of Islands and bask in the sublime beauty of New Zealand’s ocean landscapes. While you’re on the water, New Zealand is teeming with marine life, so seize the opportunity to tangle with world-class marlin, kingfish and snapper. For serious thrill seekers, the appeal of New Zealand is its status as one of the originators of modern bungee jumping. Start at Karawau Bridge, the first commercial bungee in the world, and build up courage for The Nevis, a 143m jump from a cabin shakily suspended in mid-air by nothing but cables.
  12. 5 budget winter sun destinations

    Let’s face it, the UK never gets winter right. And there’s only so many months we can take of sludge, grey skies and electric blankets. Instead of patiently waiting for April to arrive, many of us just take off somewhere else for a week (or two) to perk up our spirits. Problem is, the later months of the year can get expensive and we’ve already splashed out on our ‘main’ holiday for the year. So we recommend these 5 cheap winter breaks to see you over until spring. 1. Canary Islands No matter what time of year it is, you can always rely on the Canary Islands for a sun-drenched getaway. Even better, they don’t have to cost you the world. With a range of accommodation offers you can stay in a five-star villa or a two-star self-catering apartment. The choice is yours. Keep an eye open for Canary Island deals, as there are always plenty of them floating around. 2. Gambia Gambia might not be a place you’d immediately think of when you picture a relaxing sunshine holiday, but it’s one of the world’s hidden gems. It’s much cheaper than other more established resorts, and you can stay in high-end hotels on a mid-range budget. January is its coldest month, but even then it is a toasty 24°C. You also won’t need a visa if you’re only there for travel. Related: A beginner’s guide to the Gambia 3. Cape Verde Savvy travellers have been heading to Cape Verde for a few years now. The beaches are pristine, the landscape not dissimilar to the Canary Islands, and the sunshine beautiful - so it’s not hard to see why. The islands are also home to a unique Creole Portuguese-African culture, which is especially noticeable in the local foodie scene. 4. Doha With new skyscrapers popping up along its glittering coastline, Doha is sometimes hailed as the new Dubai. There’s no pretending that Dubai is a cheap winter sun break, but Doha has many of the same things that attract people to Dubai – at a much cheaper price. 5. Marrakech December is an excellent time to visit Marrakech. The scorching summer heat has now cooled, plus the famous souks and bazars are less busy. Our tip, however, is to dine at the local restaurants rather than the hotels (the opposite to most travel advice, we know) as it’s the hotels who like to hike up the price of a three course meal.
  13. 6 reasons to visit Fuerteventura

    Fuerteventura offers everything you have come to expect from a holiday in the Canary Islands. Whether it’s perfect beaches to relax on with family or delicious restaurant to dine in while the day turns into evening, this sun-drenched island off the coast of Africa sure knows how to treat its guests. Not sure if it’s for you? Here’s six reasons why we think everyone should visit Fuerteventura. 1. Enjoy a day at the beach We’ve said it ourselves before: Fuerteventura is the best Canary Island for beaches. Fuerteventura boasts over 150 km of beaches, all of them delicately crafted with natural soft white sand and serene turquoise waters. All the island’s beaches are beauties in their own right, but we recommend the Parque Natural de Corralejo – a natural park that rolls along the coast for 10km with impressive sand dunes peeking out the volcanic landscape. 2. Watersports Fuerteventura’s picture-perfect coastline makes it a prime location for watersports. Kitesurfing and windsurfing are both big business on the island and in July you’ll even be able to catch the World Championships for windsurfing in Playa de Sotavento. 3. Bustling tourist resorts Like all great Spanish holiday destinations, Fuerteventura is home to several resorts that have all the amenities you need for a fun-filled break. Corralejo is a favourite with tourists, where you’ll find tapas bars along the beach and karaoke bars to see you into the evening. Caleta de Fuste is also another popular spot, especially for families looking for watersports while the Jandia Peninsula is known for its cocktail bars and its duty-free shopping centre. 4. Quieter towns for a cultural day out Fuerteventura’s cultural hub is the Betancuria Old Town – the island’s original capital. Founded in the 15th Century, it is now Fuerteventura’s main cultural attraction and even has an archaeological museum that details how its ancient inhabitants lived. 5. Local cheese While in Fuerteventura, make sure you treat your taste-buds to a slice of the local cheese. Keep an eye out for queso Majorero, a goat milk cheese that regularly uses olive oil, paprika, or a mix of corn meal and wheat meal in its production. 6. Beautiful volcanic landscapes Fuerteventura earned itself UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve status in 2009 thanks to its volcanic landscape and pristine beaches. In order to make the most of its organic landscape, locals have shied away from building high-rises providing unbeatable views of dormant volcanoes, stunning cliffs, windmills, hidden villages and cactus plantations.
  14. A shopaholic’s guide to Milan

    Milan might be filled with beautiful architecture and fascinating history, but it’s no secret that many people flock here because of the city’s undeniable influence on the fashion industry. The streets themselves look like something straight out of Italian Vogue. Those wacky catwalk fashions you see at Fashion Week? You might look ridiculous wearing them in the UK but in fashion-centric Milan, it is the norm. While you might assume you need to re-mortgage your house to shop here, savvy shoppers know how to find a designer bargain. You just need to know where to look. So grab your shopping bags, we’re going to Milan. Quadrilatero d'Oro If you really want to buy the latest high-end threads and don’t mind dropping a few grand, then visit the beating heart of the fashion industry. Roughly translating to the highly apt 'rectangle of gold’, you’ll spot all the big brand names such as Prada, Versace, Valentino, Tiffany & Co, Roberto Cavalli, and Fendi. Keep an eye out for the flagship Gucci store and the Armani Megastore. Even if you aren’t planning on dropping some serious cash, it’s still an impressive place. The window displays are works of art and the atmosphere is energetic. Corso Buenos Aires If you’re looking to pick up some familiar high-street names, then head to Corso Buenos Aires in north-east Milan. It boasts the largest concentration of clothing stores in Europe, most of which are mainstream and recognisable. H&M, Zara, Nike, Adidas, and Guess all make an appearance. After you’re finished shopping, take a breather in the nearby Indro Montanelli Public Gardens where you’ll find the Planetarium and the Civic Museum of Natural History. Corso Vittorio Emanuele II Similar to Corso Buenos Aires, this is a great place to pick up some high-street favourites. But it is also home to one of the city’s biggest department stores, La Rinascente. Boasting eight floors, you’ll find everything from clothing to perfume. Serravalle Designer Outlet There’s a joke amongst locals that only tourists shop in the expensive city centre. Experienced shoppers know that you can find top designer labels for much less in the many outlets found around the city – especially the ones you have to make more effort to get to. Serravalle is the city’s biggest outlet and lies 50 miles outside of the city centre (a convenient shuttle bus service runs 3 times a day from Milan Foro Bonaparte and once a day from Piazza Duomo). Here you’ll find 300 designer brands all with a price tag of 30-70% off. The shopping centre also had free WiFi, multilingual staff, a children’s playground and restaurants. Basement Outlet Not far from the city centre, you’ll find this unbelievable gem. While outlet stores have a reputation for being sweaty and a fight-for-all, Basement has a more boutique feel. Hidden beneath street level in a basement (hence the name) you’ll find some well-known designer labels for 30-70% off. Top tips for shopping in Milan: Sale season is the same as the UK: January and August. Most shops in Milan operate from 9:00 till 19:30 (13:00 – 15:30 is usually lunch break). Only shop in the designer stores if you really want this season’s top fashions and have the money to spare You can still own designer threads for half the price if you know where to look Don’t get hung up on shopping – Milan is a lot more than just fashion!
  15. In the UK we are no stranger to Greek cuisine, thanks to the availability of Mediterranean style restaurants. However, nothing beats the real thing. And no trip to Greece is complete without filling your plate up with as much delicious local cuisine as possible. While it’s tempting to stick to what you know and order a Greek Salad, Moussaka, or Baklava – we instead recommend giving one of these traditional recipes a try that are not as readily available in the UK. Amygdalota This almond based cookie is extremely popular and isn’t hard to find. Typically you’ll find them in casual settings and many Greek locals like to pair it with a glass of warm Greek coffee. Ellinikos (Greek Coffee) On the topic of coffee, we recommend trying Greece’s most popular type of hot drink: Eillinikos. Available in three variations, choose between Vari Glyko (strong & almost honey sweet), Metrios (medium sweetness) and Sketos (without sugar). Courgette Balls (kolokithokeftedes) This popular starter brings together a creamy filling and a crunchy coating, with a burst of flavour made up of courgette, feta cheese and fresh mint. Greek Fava Dip (Yellow Split Pea Puree) If Santorini is your Greek island of choice, you’ll see this appetizer popping up on menus across the island. Sometimes extra olive oil is added, so it can be used as a side dip as well. Saganaki – Fried Cheese Calling all cheese lovers. This only takes 10 minutes to prepare (it’s literally cheese coated in flour and fried) and makes for the perfect comfort-food appetizer. Spanakopita Also known as a Greek spinach pie, this tasty and hearty dish is prepared with (or, sometimes, without) feta cheese, butter, olive oil and baked until golden and crispy. It can also be served as a starter, side or main meal. Yemista Bursting with juicy flavour, Yemista is the Greek word for stuffed tomatoes (but sometimes you’ll find variations made with green peppers, courgettes, eggplants or aubergines) that are usually filled with rice and various herbs (sometimes mincemeat). Pastitsio The perfect main when you need something tasty and filling. Pastitsio is a baked pasta dish with added ground beef and béchamel sauce. Galaktoboureko Moving onto desserts now, you have to let this beautiful sweet dish melt in your mouth at one point of your holiday. A traditional sweet dish that goes back hundreds of years, it is made up of crispy pastry sprinkled with melted butter and usually served with custard and syrup. Loukoumades If you like your desserts a little more savoury than sweet, then try these golden puffs of fried dough. Usually sprinkled with sweet syrup, walnuts and cinnamon.
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