A Family Holiday in Sharm el Sheikh

One of the most popular destinations for family holidays is Sharm el Sheikh. The city appears as a group of buildings on a breathtaking mountainous plateau overlooking sandy beaches, some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs and crystal clear waters. This city was constructed by Israelis after the 1967 War. Its purpose was to break Egypt’s blockade of the Tiran Strait and gain control of communications between the Suez and Aqaba. Tourism helped to finance the Israeli occupation. Returned to the Egyptian government in 1982, Sharm el Sheikh remained a relatively inexpensive travel destination with good restaurants, and exotic local shops.

As a city, Sharm offers a mixture of bazaars, coffee shops, traditional Egyptian entertainment, gourmet restaurants and modern nightlife in bars around the Old Market. It’s a wonderful hub for travel to other nearby areas such as Nabq Bay, Naama Bay and Sharks Bay, each of which has its own dynamics. Family activities include diving the reefs at Ras Mohammed National Park to view the vast varieties of marine life, dining under the stars Bedouin-style, and traveling through historic backdrops.

Sharm el Sheikh’s coast off the cliffs is rocky meaning access necessitates stairways. To save visitors’ feet and the coral, swimming is allowed off the jetties. The place to dive in a beautiful cove is Sharks Bay. Snorkelers and divers appreciate the variety of wildlife and fantastic colors of the coral reefs and around Tiran Island opposite. Soho Square at the bay includes shopping malls and restaurants with international cuisine after a day in the water. Naama Bay and Nabq Bay are other popular beaches nearby.

Families and groups that would like to see the Sinai Desert differently can choose quad biking. The trip takes tourists away from the crowds on the “usual” Sinai camel trails. This 2 hour, fun filled exploration requires no previous experience and central Sharm el Sheikh hotels provide door to door service. The most popular times for biking are at sunrise or sunset when the desert reveals its spectacular colors. Spending time among the dunes and crags by riding through the sands takes travelers completely away from the bustle of the city.

International clientele can choose from every style of cuisine. Middle Eastern foods abound at the Saffron; El Mercato provides quality sushi; Chinese foods are available at Tahi; and a wide variety of oriental cuisine spreads before customers at El Masrrieen.

All major hotels include excellent bars open day and night. Their staff members will also direct families to quality restaurants, clubs and bars around the area. Many of these establishments include rooftop bars where patrons enjoy the sunset and starry nights. Little Budda disco provides a night of dancing for those with energy left after their day out; Pangeae gives adults a traditional night club atmosphere; and Fantasia lets tourists experience cultural belly dancers.

Sharm el Sheikh offers the perfect center for a family’s visit to Egypt. Any desired entertainment – day or night – is found within the city or at the nearby desert and beaches.

Get a Taste of the Mediterranean Lifestyle

The Mediterranean lifestyle is one of healthy food, plentiful sunshine and beautiful surroundings; the perfect relaxing life. Why not experience it for yourself on your 2011 holidays? After sampling this sublime way of living, don’t be surprised if you find yourself never wanting to leave again!

Here is a simple guide to experiencing the best of all things Mediterranean, whatever your price range:

Food: The Mediterranean diet is rich in oils, fish and vegetables and favours local ingredients, farmed and tended to by those who, through the generations, have learned the skills of their region. Inhabitants of the Med’s surrounding nations are renowned for their healthy diets and long lives, with many locals working past standard retirement age. Diet, along with an active lifestyle, is a key element of this good health.

Why not get an easyJet to Barcelona, one of Spain’s top cities with its excellent markets, and outstanding cuisine and culture. There are many restaurants that cater for all budgets, offering authentic, locally sourced Spanish cuisine in this metropolitan mecca.

Wine: The Mediterranean boasts an extensive history of wine production that is believed to date back as far as 6,000 BC. Whether it is a glass or Rioja over dinner or exploring one of the coastal vineyards, you can indulge with a whole host of different tastes and aromas.

When dining out, don’t be shy in asking staff for recommendations or for a sample of the locally-produced wine. Through these locally-sourced wines, you can experience a genuine taste of the Mediterranean, whilst supporting local vineyards; allowing this historical produce to live on.

The climate on the coastal areas of the Med, where most of the produce comes from, consists of dry, warm summers and mild, wet winters; providing the perfect climate for grape production. You can visit vineyards in a variety of ways including vineyard trekking and bicycle tours; many with the guidance of a local wine expert.

Markets: The Mediterranean market provides a further insight into the region’s culinary delights and the variety and quality of local produce used in restaurants, cafés and by residents. As you would expect, all the food is fresh and produced locally, so not only will you be experiencing a taste of authentic Spanish living but also supporting local farmers and producers.

Some of the top markets across the Mediterranean include the Vucciria of Palmero; the mecca of Sicilian cooking offering a lively and colourful atmosphere scattered across narrow streets. Fresh fish, mountains of olives and freshly-cooked bread will leave you salivating as you worm you way through the stalls.

One great tip is to arrive early for the best choice of food from the stalls, and don’t be afraid to haggle for a good price. Don’t be wary of trying something new and be sure to ask the market trader the best way of preparing and cooking these foods. They are not only traders but culinary experts, and most will be happy to offer friendly advice. You could even follow the locals and grab some market goodies before escaping off the tourist trail and enjoying your feast in a splendid residential square.

Culture: It is sometimes difficult to pull yourself away from the famous sights that many city breaks have to offer, but for a true look at the heart of any place it is wise to stray a little from the beaten track. Keep your eye on local information boards and any posters advertising entertainment for locals. Trips and tours are good value, especially when run by local companies, as not only are you supporting the community but it offers a real insight into local life.

Local festivals and celebrations are always a great way to absorb the culture. You can watch as locals take part in traditional and historical rituals. From the Tomatina tomato festival in Spain to the Tuscan Sun Festival in Italy; there is always something spectacular happening in each town, city and village, you need only look.

Holiday souvenirs – save money shopping internationally

Forget old fashioned ideas of stuffed toy donkeys and cheap sombreros. With the pound at a real low on the international exchange, cashing in whilst abroad is a good way to make your budget stretch a little further.

Holiday Souvenirs

Whether it’s simply getting organised enough to pick up Christmas and birthday gifts for the entire year, or going the whole hog and investing in bulk buys for retail back at home, the key to making savings is to work out the sums first.

Fully fledged buyers will want to counter the cost of the entire cost of the trip into the figures, whilst the rest of us might just bolt the buying trip onto an already accounted for, well deserved break. The main rule is to check out exchange rates in advance to establish what things are going to cost, how much money you have and what the margins are when it comes to actual savings.

Setting a budget is always very important as it’ll stop the entire exercise inverting, with shoppers going overboard and spending way above and beyond their means. Plus it’s worth working out what you actually want to achieve i.e. presents, furniture, investment, personal use, that way you’re also working to a well established agenda which again can stop things spinning out of control.

Do your research into payment and transportation costs. How will you make payment? If it’s by credit card check out the additional costs incurred by international transactions, alternatively look for pre-paid cards or send money abroad via money transfer from an international payment provider.

Getting the stuff home is also a big factor to consider – small, personal purchases can be taken in baggage on flights – but check baggage allowances, these days the weights have been slashed and anything above and beyond can cost an arm and a leg. Bulk buys can be packed up and freighted home – again, check costs, logistics and time scales.

Imports, especially for profit, may incur tax and duty – check with Customs and Excise with regard to product, quantity and costs.

Sydney Food and Drink

The vibrant city of Sydney, located on the south-east coast of Australia is very rich in tourist attractions. It is the largest and most highly populated city in Australia and is home to a greatly diverse population. Warm summers and mild winters make it a very pleasant place to live and many of the people living here have moved in from overseas.

With regards to food and drink here, there are some great options. There are a lot of fantastic wines available and the Hunter Valley, a two hour drive from the city, is famously Australia’s oldest wine growing region. Fusion cooking is very popular. Cuisine from all around the world is mixed together to make the 21st century an exciting time for food in this city. Among others you can find Chinese, Italian, Thai, Mexican, Greek and French food. Eating out is a popular pastime here and there are plenty of restaurants, fast-food chains and cafes.

If you love food, why not make your visit coincide with the Crave Sydney International Food Festival. This year it will take place from October 1st to 31st and there is plenty to do. The whole month features hundreds of food related activities, with something for everyone. It starts off with the World Chef Showcase, featuring a great line up of contemporary chefs in the area from the 1st to the 2nd. The website cravesydney.com has more information about this exciting festival which you will not want to miss if you are a food fanatic.

It is also really fun to do it yourself with a good old traditional barbecue. Sausages and steaks will sizzle in the sunshine and you will come to see why so many people love it here. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, there is always crocodile meat available at crocodile farms, usually in the form of a steak or burger. Even Emu is eaten here, so there are definitely options available for the adventurous diner.

If you are planning a visit to Sydney, visit Mydestination.com/Sydney and have a tasty stay!

By Rosalea Collinge