From Luton to the World

Exploring the World from the hub of Luton Airport

One of London’s six international airports is Luton, located less than two miles from the M1 motorway, to the north of the capital. Most of the flights from Luton Airport travel to Europe, with a handful of special charter flights to Asia and North Africa.

Around nine million passengers travel from Luton to UK and world destinations every year, making it the UK’s fifth-busiest airport. Regional carriers such as EasyJet, Ryanair, Thomson Airways and Monarch Airlines all use Luton as a base for their regular services around the UK and Europe. In total, nine carriers offer flights from Luton Airport, with EasyJet handling the majority of the flights.

Amsterdam
[Amsterdam by Joao Maximo]

Amsterdam is just over an hour from Luton

Passengers using Luton Airport can reach dozens of obscure, small destinations around Europe in addition to popular travel destinations like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Milan. EasyJet runs more than two dozen regular flights each week to interesting places like Bordeaux, Minorca and Paphos.

EasyJet also offers seasonal flights that coincide with peak travel seasons such as summer and the Christmas period. Travellers can enjoy quick, direct access to European places like Pisa, Salzburg, Heraklion and Corfu. The regional carriers that operate out of Luton Airport are known for their cheap airfares, making this airport ideal for quick weekend getaways.

Wizz Air is the other big player at Luton Airport, operating around 20 regularly scheduled flights, mainly to Eastern Europe. Travellers can reach destinations including Vilnius, Skopje, Riga and Katowice with Wizz Air in addition to popular travel cities in Poland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, such as Prague, Budapest and Warsaw.

lanzarote
[Lanzarote by Thomas Kamann]

The Canaries are just a 4 hour flight from Luton

Warm weather getaways to the Mediterranean region seem to be the priority of Thompson Airways. Their regular flights out of Luton Airport go to Gran Canaria, Madeira, Lanzarote and Paphos. These popular island destinations make a great choice for winter escapes or beach holidays on a budget.

Thompson’s seasonal schedule is even more extensive, adding nearly two dozen hot tourist spots to their roster. Again, the Mediterranean is the focus for this regional airline, with some interesting flights to exotic places like Rhodes, Corfu, Malta and Kefalonia. Travellers can be lounging on the beach just a couple of hours after departing from London with one of these seasonal flights.

Big hitter Ryanair is an important part of the flight options from Luton to the world. It uses this airport for flights to unusual cities such as Marrakech, Tallinn, Bratislava and Reus. Ryanair also offers several quick flights to small airports around Ireland, including Kerry, Knock and Dublin.

Another great carrier for a warm weather escape is Monarch Airlines. Its six regularly scheduled flights are complemented by a handful of seasonal additions, mostly to Mediterranean destinations like Malaga, Tenerife and Gibraltar. In 2012, Monarch will open up a new route from London Luton to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. Travellers flying out of Luton Airport can also get to Tel Aviv conveniently on El Al, while Flybe covers Jersey and the Isle of Man.

It’s easy to reach Luton Airport from the Greater London area by rail, bus or car. The Luton Airport Parkway train goes straight to London St Pancras Station every hour on the Midland Main Line, passing through the population centres of Kettering, Leicester, Beeston and Nottingham. A shuttle bus provides frequent transportation between the airport and the train station.

Luton Airport is also easy to reach via the M1 motorway, which runs just a couple of miles away and connects with Leeds and London. Short- and long-term parking are available right at the terminal as well as at satellite lots a few minutes away.

Alan writes for National Car Hire UK who offer car hire at Luton Airport.

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A new dimension for river cruises

Combine exotic destinations and state-of-the-art ships and river cruises take on a whole new holiday dimension. Vietnam and Cambodia by any stretch of the imagination can accurately be described as exotic destinations, while the River Saigon, the latest ship to ply the Mekong River, beginning in 2012, is certain to be the best-of-the-best as far as river cruising is concerned.

The River Saigon may look at first glance like some throwback to some 1930s colonial era but that’s where any such vague similarity ends. For this river craft is at the cutting edge not only of technology, but also of luxury. It’s certain to be a fabulous way to enjoy the unspoilt beauty and peace of a truly enchanting part of the world.

If the ship glides gracefully through a magical landscape on the outside, on board the watchwords luxury, service and intimacy will surely add up to a holiday experience that will stay a lifetime in the memory. The ship features 30 deluxe staterooms, all of which have lovely French-doors that open onto a spacious promenade where passengers can enjoy a range of amenities and activities.

These include eating meals within the ship’s panoramic restaurant, enjoying the tranquillity of the lounge complete with library, or relaxing mind, body and soul in the delightful surrounds of the massage room. There’s also a boutique, too. And when it comes time to retire for the evening, the staterooms provide everything you’d expect a first class hotel room to provide. It simply doesn’t get much better.

The Mekong River flows through no fewer than six countries – China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam – and is just over 3,000 miles in length. It begins its life in the Tibetan Plateau and eventually reaches the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, where it slows and splits up into nine channels before emptying into the South China Sea.

Any trip to this area of south-east Asia can never be considered complete without a visit to the internationally famed Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, a world heritage site of great importance. The complex, which goes back more than 900 years and was the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire, is a magnet for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the site every year.

And, of course, there are still many traces to be found of the cathartic Vietnam war which raged during the 1960s and 1970s across the whole region. Many of the battlefields are now popular tourist attractions, a good example being the 75 miles of underground tunnels found at Cu Chi, a district of Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh City used to be better known as Saigon.

These amazing tunnels formed part of an even greater complex of connecting tunnels which literally straddled the whole country, enabling the Viet Cong fighters to move about unseen and then to launch devastating attacks against the American forces. But the tunnels were so much more than simply a means to resist the Americans. Food, weapons and other equipment were also safely stored underground and the tunnels even housed hospitals to treat wounded fighters.

The Best Restaurants in Meribel

Meribel
[Meribel by Leo-setä]

By many accounts, the French Alps ski resort of Meribel is the most popular place in Europe for Brits on a skiing holiday. As one of the world’s largest ski resort areas, Meribel and its surrounding villages of the Three Valleys are home to a wide range of dining options. From quick and cheap pizza to gourmet French cuisine, visitors have plenty to choose from among the 80 or so eateries in and around the village.

Many of the best restaurants in Meribel are found in the resort’s top hotels. With their luxurious atmosphere and stunning alpine views, places like the Allodis, the Grand Coeur and the Escale are hard to beat. You’ll pay dearly for the experience, but Meribel attracts some very skilled chefs in its finer restaurants. Chez Kiki is the resort’s most famous restaurant, especially for steaks, but similarly excellent menus can be found at Bistro du Praz and Le Plantain.

The quintessential Three Valleys meal centres around the traditional Savoyard cuisine of this region. There are several restaurants serving this rustic and delicious style of mountain fare, most notably Le Refuge, Cro Magnon, Galette and Oree du Bois. Cheese is another important commodity of the region, best enjoyed in its myriad incarnations such as fondue at the Fromagerie, situated right in the heart of the resort village.

Much of the dining in Meribel is on the expensive end of the scale, so budget accordingly if you plan to eat more than pasta and pub fare. The intimate and rustic interior of Kouisena is well worth a visit, especially for its quality cuts of meat cooked over open fires. Evolution is another newcomer to the resort, dishing out an international menu in its stylish, contemporary café. In Altiport, the popular Blanchot and the newly opened Zinc Brasserie are both great choices for lunch on the slopes.

Thankfully, Meribel has loads of mid-range restaurants with lively atmospheres and affordable menus. La Taverne, right in the centre of the village, is one of the most popular and busiest places. A dinner here will keep you close to the ensuing nightlife of the resort. Lodge de Village is also nearby and features a comprehensive menu catering to all walks of life. It is popular with families who want a quick walk home after dinner. La Tsaretta, however, is a true locals’ café; it is situated down the mountain, in the traditional village of Les Allues. Dine here to mingle with Meribel’s permanent residents.

Cheap meals are most easily found at places such as Pizza Express or the massive cafeteria-style restaurants on the slopes. The cafeterias are particularly popular since they are essentially ski-in, ski-out, so expect packed and chaotic conditions between noon and 13:00. The best advice is to have your lunch early or late to avoid the crowds.
Rhododendron is one such slopes-side cafeteria, with three separate restaurant areas serving a very diverse menu. Almost everything is available here, from a cheap sandwich or beverage to a three-course lunch. Trois Marches is another busy and affordable spot at the top of the Plattieres 3 gondola. Don’t expect much in the way of table service or staff attention in the cafeterias as it’s every person for them self.

The first thing to do when you arrive in Meribel is stop by the tourist office in the village centre and pick up a free copy of Le Guide des Restaurants. It covers the whole gambit, from the best restaurants in Meribel to the casual creperies and pizzerias. Another option for those lodging in a chalet with some kind of kitchen is to dine in. Meribel has 10 supermarkets, mini-marts, bakeries and butchers providing supplies for the local population and self-catering types.

John is a guest blogger from Alpine Action Meribel Chalets.

Top Ten Attractions With Paris Pass


Visit Paris Museums & Galleries Free

Check out the top ten must see attractions from Paris Pass. Still rated as one of the most romantic and fun cities in the world, Paris is full of great food, historic sites and fashion! With Worldclass museums and galleries you can take the family or just that special person in your life for a fabulous break, and save a small fortune with Paris Pass.

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Paris Bus Tour
Discover the main sights of the city in the original and relaxed way, with a sightseeing bus tour of Paris with Les Cars Rouges. Each round tour lasts approximately 2hours and 15minutes, and features all of the main sights of central Paris.

Ô Château Wine Tasting
France and Paris is home to the finest wine in Europe. From champagnes to Bordeaux’s the variety is wide and the quality is high.

Whether you are a wine novice or a connoisseur, the Ô Château Wine Tasting is for you! With a unique approach, this is a great opportunity to have some good fun and experience some great French wine.

Palace Of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles, is one of the largest and most opulent castles in the world. Boasting around 2,143 windows, 1,252 fireplaces, and 67 staircases, the Castle is one of the most visited attractions in France.

As a fine example of 18th century French art, this historic building has been on Unesco’s World Heritage List for 30 years.

The castle was the official seat of power until 1789, but has since been seen as the unofficial seat. Also known as the “cradle of liberty” (Berceau-de-la-Liberté) it was here that the people of Paris made their stand against King Louis XV1, forcing the Royal Family to leave behind their life of decadence and move back to the true capital city of Paris.

Bateaux Parisiens River Cruise
Cruise up the majestic Seine and discover the sights of Paris from a new perspective with the Paris Pass! From the water it is possible to see the bridges and monuments of Paris as you could never hope to from land.

Bateaux Parisiens River Cruises deliver spectacular and hidden views of this magnificent city. An informative historical and cultural commentary is available in English and on-board guides occasionally take the microphone to inform Paris visitors about current events, exhibits, and festivals.

Arc De Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is perhaps the most iconic of all French monuments. It is at once instantly recognisable and deeply evocative of the military glories and follies of France.

Napoleon ordered its construction in 1809 to celebrate the triumph of the Republican armies. However, it was soon after that his empire began to collapse, and the Arc was not completed until 1836. The Arc de Triomphe is decorated with friezes of battle scenes and carved with the names of Napoleon’s victories.

Louvre Museum
The Louvre Museum is unquestionably one of the finest art galleries in the world. Home to thousands of classic and modern masterpieces, the Louvre is the jewel in the crown of French culture, a towering testament to European civilisation and history.

Its quality and importance is highlighted through its popularity as the Louvre is the globes most-visited museum.

Towers Of Notre Dame
The construction of the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, undertaken at the initiative of Maurice de Sully, began about 1160 and amazingly was completed within 40 years.

Around 1250, Jean de Chelles built the north arm and began work on the south arm, which was completed by Jean de Montreuil.

From the middle of the 13th century to the beginning of the 14th century, the chapels of Notre Dame Paris were constructed between the buttresses of the nave. The buttresses next to the chevet were built by Pierre de Montreuil and are particularly fine.

The Orsay Museum
The Orsay Museum was originally designed as a train station in 1900. By the 1950’s it became apparent that the platforms were too short for modern trains and the building became home to a theatre.

In the 1970′s it was remodelled and converted into a museum dedicated to displaying art from the period 1848 to 1915. There are many masterpieces at the Orsay include work by Delacroix, Manet, Guaguin, Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, van Gogh and many more great artists.

Montparnasse Tower
Discover Paris from the 56th floor of the Montparnasse Tower which offers visitors a stunning view of the city in all directions.

In just 38 seconds, Europe’s fastest elevator will take you to a height of 196 meters (over 640 ft) where the most beautiful view of Paris stretches out before you from a modern, relaxed and very comfortable setting. From the top of the Tower you can spot Paris’s landmarks and major attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Sacré Coeur, Orsay Museum, Arc de Triomphe, Panthéon and the Louvre.

Grevin Wax Museum
The Musée Grévin may astound the visitor with its dramatic lifelike scenes of historical and modern Paris. Over 300 wax figures of the world’s most famous people dramatically posed in amazing scenes. See stunning recreations of the major events in French and world history.

The Grevin Museum’s Discovery Tour reveals the secrets of making wax figures. After meeting Louis XIV or Jean de La Fontaine, visitors may enjoy finding out how the waxworks are made.

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The Best of Geneva Nightlife

Geneva by night
[Geneva by night by kevingessner]

Whilst Geneva might not seem like a typical spot for a cracking night out in the same way as London or Paris, the city has a huge amount to offer, whatever it is you’re looking for. There are smart cocktail bars, huge clubs, boho drinking dens, fashionable venues full of beautiful people and underground dance nights, all within easy reach of the city centre. One thing to bear in mind is that Geneva is an expensive city and the best of Geneva nightlife doesn’t come cheap. However, all it takes is a bit of planning to get the best of Geneva nightlife on a budget so if you are visiting on a shoestring, head for the student areas such as Plainpalais for great, cheap deals.

Bars

Le Francis Bar is a sophisticated piano bar that serves an excellent range of cocktails to a discerning crowd and makes a great start for any night out. Like most of the best venues in Geneva, Le Francis also has a club and a restaurant attached so you don’t even have to move from this spot to have a great night out. If you want to rub shoulders with Geneva’s beautiful bright young things then head to Arthur’s Rive Gauche and take up a position on the terrace with a bottle of something cold and crisp. Senso has great cocktails and a tasty menu of Italian style cuisine that is popular with the local sophisticates and Soleil Rouge (is an excellent wine bar with a fine selection of Spanish wines.

At the other end of the scale is La Clémence, favourite haunt of students of the nearby university and the kind of place that everyone who lives in Geneva has been to at least once. The bar has a pretty cosy atmosphere in winter and then opens up its terrace during the summer months. For beer aficionados, Brasserie Trois Dames is a great drinking spot, with plenty of carefully brewed beers to work your way through, from pale ales, to stouts and wood aged beers.

Mainstream Clubs

Macumba is a club complex only ten minutes drive from Geneva town centre that is mind-bogglingly big. There are six separate venues all under one roof here so plenty to choose from whatever the beats that you’re looking for, from dance to disco. If it’s glamour you’re after then it has to be the Griffins Club With sumptuous furnishings, low-level lighting and a range of international DJs spinning tunes for the champagne supping crowd, the club provides a glamorous place to spend the hours of midnight to 5am. Gold & Platinum is everything that you would expect from its name, with a sophisticated bar serving chic cocktails for you to drink on the white leather couches before heading into the cool club with its flashy interiors and international beats.

Alternative Venues

Moulin à Dance offers something a little less mainstream with an eclectic mix of everything from hip-hop to soul to dancehall to salsa. Weetamix is another great dance club in Geneva, working a mix of techno, house and electro. The club draws plenty of big dance names, as well as the more underground side of the scene.

Le Chat Noir provides a sophisticated stream of jazz, soul and live acts in a cellar bar environment, as well as club nights at the weekends. The hugely popular L’Usine is an arts space/club/venue and offers an interesting range of activities and entertainment, with more of an underground flavour than many of the other venues in Geneva.

Whatever it is you’re looking for from nightlife, there’s a good chance you will find it in this sophisticated and open minded city, particularly if you have a decent sized budget. Best of all, Geneva is relatively small – with a population of around 200,000 – so you’re unlikely to find yourself queuing all night to get in somewhere. You can fit in lots of nightlife into one evening here as most of it is within easy reach – this makes it one of the best cities in the world for bar crawls!

Amy is a guest blogger from Easyjet who provide flights to Geneva from more than 30 airports across Europe. See more of her Geneva tips in this post on the top hotels in Geneva.