Unlocking the history in Europe

Whether visiting just one European city or region, or taking an extended tour of England, Italy, Germany and France, there is so much history to discover that a single trip will only allow the traveler to scratch the surface. While each country has its own distinct culture and history, each has waged war and been conquered by one another, and/or shared kings and queens, sometimes on more than one occasion. The result is an often bewilderingly complex and colorful history that can be traced back for many thousands of years.

Although it is almost impossible to list everything a visitor to Europe should see and do, here are just a few suggestions to whet the appetite.

England

Most visitors to the UK will arrive in London, which has countless historic sites and museums. There is the Tower of London, which William the Conqueror had built in the 1080s; 11th century Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum and the Natural History Museum… the list is endless.

Outside the capital, one of the country’s most popular and ancient monuments is Stonehenge, which is thought to have been constructed between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago. There are dozens more ancient stone circles and monoliths dotted around the country. Dating from more recent times, 1775 to be precise, the world’s first cast iron bridge is located in Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, some 158 miles northwest of London. A World Heritage Site, featuring a number of museums and craft centers, it is widely accepted as being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

Italy

Rome has so many museums and ruins it seems there is something to see around every corner. There is the Coliseum, the Circus Maximus and the Palatine Hill, while in the Vatican City there is the 15th century St Peter’s Basilica.

Florence is home to the Uffizi Gallery, with its sculptures and paintings by artists such as Michelangelo, Rubens and Rembrandt. Construction of Florence’s cathedral, The Duomo, started in the 13th century and the cathedral is dominated by a magnificent dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Also not to be missed are the Leonardo da Vinci museum and the Accademia Gallery, which houses Michelangelo’s David.

During the Battle of Cannae Hannibal of Carthage, outnumbered more than two to one, defeated an 80,000-strong Roman army led by Consuls Varro and Paullus II. Fought on August 2, 216BC, it is claimed to be the bloodiest battle in history. The site of the battle is near the town of Barletta, some 250 miles south-east of Rome.

Germany

Germany has been at the center of Europe for many centuries, from its early tribal beginnings, through invasion by the Romans, to the 20th century when it was epicenter of two world wars. After the Second World War the country was divided into East and West by the Iron Curtain, before finally being reunified in October 1990.

Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, which was constructed between 1788 and 1791, was originally the entrance to King Frederick William II of Prussia’s Palace. It became the symbol of the reunification of both the city and the country following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Short sections of the Wall, which was erected in 1961, have been preserved throughout the city. A 1.3-km length is visible at the open-air East Side Gallery.

Going back much further in time, the Imperial Baths of Trier were constructed in the 4th century AD by the Romans, who fought numerous skirmishes and battles with Germanic tribes between the 2nd century BC and the 5th century AD. The Baths are the largest outside Rome and significant sections remain standing. Visitors are also able to see and explore the Baths’ underground tunnels.

France

One of the first structures travelers arriving in Paris are likely to spot is the Eiffel Tower. This iconic landmark was opened in 1889 and, along with Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Palace of Versailles and the Arc de Triomphe, is sure to be high on any tourist’s list of essential sights.

Another major attraction in the city is the Louvre Museum, which contains over 35,000 objects in an area that covers over 652,000 square feet. The museum’s exhibits date from modern to prehistoric times, though it is most famous for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which the artist is thought to have completed while at the court of Francis I.

France has seen numerous battles over the centuries but those fought during the First and Second World Wars are likely to be of most interest to today’s visitors. The First World War saw some particularly bloody encounters and, at the site of the Battle of Belleau Wood, which took place between June 1 and 26, 1918, 2,289 US soldiers are buried in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. At Bayeux in Normandy, where thousands of Allied troops landed on D-Day, August 29, 1944, the conflict is remembered at the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum. Many other museums and memorials can be found all along this part of the French coast. Bayeux is also where the famous tapestry depicting a much earlier battle; the Battle of Hastings, in 1066, is displayed.

Europe offers something for everyone and each country has its own language, though English is also widely spoken. Whether traveling on a budget or staying in five star hotels, there are comfortable accommodations to be found in almost every town and city. What’s more, by checking out websites such as Flights.com, getting there need not cost a fortune.

Visiting Disneyland Paris from UK? Some Information about Disneyland Paris Tickets

Disneyland Paris is one travel destination that has remained top on the list of many holiday makers who always come back. For a place to be visited repeatedly, it has to be very attractive. This means that Disneyland Paris tickets are always on demand. There are some families who go there every holiday. This can be attributed to the fact that there is always something new with every visit.

Disneyland Paris constitutes of two parks: Walt Disney Studio Park and Disney Park. It is recommended that you use a park map to choose which among the two would offer you a better experience. Your choice should also be guided by your budget. AttractionTix are budget-friendly if booked in advance.

Since this is a popular destination, long queues are sometimes inevitable. To fully utilize your time and have maximum fun, you can get Fastpass tickets from fastpass systems which are installed in machines around the park. The tickets are free of charge and allow you to enjoy other attractions as you wait for your time slot for popular rides such as Buzz Lightyear’s Blast and Pans Dream Flight.

This holiday destination can be used for celebrations such as birthdays, short or long holidays. There are so many activities such as sight-seeing in Disneyland Paris so you can be sure to get total value for your money as you purchase a ticket. If you live in UK, this is a perfect family weekend getaway. Before booking your travels be sure to familiarize yourself with the ticket options. One ticket offer includes unlimited admission for 4 days to the two parks for the ticket price of three days. You should regularly check for new and better offers as well during the year.

In most cases, short breaks do not exceed five days. You will find tickets for 1-5 days which will match the family weekend trip period. The cost of the ticket depends on the number of days, whether you are interested in one or the two parks and the number of adults and children in your holiday group. Children range from 0-11 years.
For example, if your visit is one day and you prefer to visit the two parks for celebrations, the ticket costs £49 for adults and £44 for children. For total calculation, put the quantity of the tickets you want before you add to basket. These are details for one of the tickets but when you visit the website you will access more ticketing information. There are more Disneyland Paris tickets on the website.

Top Dream Wedding Venues

Okay, so these wedding venues may be a tad out of our price range, but we can always dream. Although your wedding budget may not cover these exclusive venues, they may just give you the inspiration you need to arrange your big day. Here are the most luxurious and magical locations from across the world.

Claridge’s, London

The crème de la crème of London’s rich and famous visit Claridge’s for premium luxury. Booking a wedding in this decadent hotel will mean your every whim is taken care of, including the organisation of your big day. A complimentary event co-ordinator is thrown in for good measure.

Whether you’re looking for grandeur or intimate chic, Claridge’s has got something for everyone’s taste…as long as that taste is expensive. You’ll even get your own beautiful dressing room for the bridal party.

Ice Hotel, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

The famous Ice Hotel is the ultimate winter wedding venue. If a festive, snowy landscape charms your socks off, you’ll be enamoured with the reindeer-drawn sleigh, packed with fur blankets. Obviously, you’ll have to adjust your wedding dress for the cold climate.

Everyone can fall asleep in one of the five star ice rooms after a glimmering celebration in the ice bar. Even the church is made of ice!

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England

A more old school approach to weddings: a friggin’ palace. Blenheim Palace is a gorgeous stately home that was built in the 1760’s. Now its resplendent rooms are open to wedding parties and will make you feel like a true prince or princess. Have your photos snapped in the 2,100 acres of parkland and even enjoy a firework display over the lake.

Hotel Plaza Athenée, Paris

Die-hard romantics, you’ve got to have your wedding in Paris…it’s the rule. The quintessentially French Hotel Plaza Athenée is every Francophile’s dream venue. Drool over showstopping chandeliers and ornate mirrors. Alternatively, have an outdoor wedding in the charming courtyard garden.

Finish off the day with a night in the Eiffel Suite, offering floor-to-ceiling views of – you guessed it – France’s trademark building. Parfait!

The Plaza, New York

You’ll feel an affinity with the city that never sleeps, in the run-up to your wedding day. For an exciting and stylish ceremony, you really can’t top The Plaza. This is grandeur, turn of the century style.

Have a classic, champagne reception in the bar and get your very own butler to wait on you hand-and-foot in one of the luxury suites, with a private terrace and views of central park.

Nunsmere Hall, Cheshire, England

Now for a more affordable destination, Nunsmere Hall is a stunning Edwardian house that stands alone on an island, surrounded by lakes. This wedding venue in Cheshire has everything you could want from a location.

The immaculate gardens are picture-perfect and you can enjoy a flute of champagne with your guests, on the south-facing terrace. This venue is perfect for small weddings, but if you still want to invite all the extended family, you can take the festivities to Nunsmere’s glorious marquee, beautifully furnished with Chinese lanterns.

Paris versus London: Which city is the fairest city?

Two countries separated by a minute stretch of water, England and France are almost side-by-side. Despite a chequered history between the two countries, each is as rich and diverse as the other. Two capitals joined by a single train line, but which is the fairer of the two?

While Paris has the baguette, London has the doorstop sandwich. Where London has Big Ben, Paris has the Eiffel Tower.

Paris is known as the City of Light and is officially recognised as the world’s most romantic city.

Start your trip to this beautiful area with some pre-booked AttractionTix, where you will find all the magic of the USA’s premium theme park waiting for you in Paris. Wild rides, your favourite characters and so on – a trip to Paris without seeing Eurodisney would be like a trip to the beach without dipping your toe in.

Listing Paris’s great museums and galleries is like creating a world-leading group of cultural institutions – the Musee D’Orsay, the Louvre, Notre Dame… But often the essence of a city is to be found in exploring the streets. And from the alleyways along the banks of the Seine to the winding paths of Montmartre, Paris is certainly picturesque.

Why not try the climb up to Sacré Coeur and enjoy the beautiful views of the city? At 130 metres high, the sights are spectacular. But if you’re more interested in boutique views than city panoramas, head down to Les Halles. From there you can explore some of the best shopping streets Paris has to offer before making your way onto the grand boulevard of the Champs Élysées where designer stores meet macaroon shops and the famous Parisian café culture.

If you decide to visit London, you should buy some London Eye tickets for the views, head to Bond Street for the designer stores, and take a trip down to the South Bank for refined riverside culture and entertainment.

If possible, it seems London has grown even more diverse in the past five years. There really is something for everybody in England’s capital. The food market at Borough, the antiques of Bermondsey and the new pop-up dining scene are major attractions that bring tourists in their thousands to London every day.

It has cultural institutions of its own to shout about, too. Take the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, all within a stone’s throw of each other in the heart of South Kensington. Each is a day out in itself.

And yet again, there is much to be said for exploring a city, and the quiet streets and mews of Mayfair and Chelsea are the perfect places to get lost for an hour or two.

Both London and Paris have their qualities, foibles and mysteries that make them unique. Despite French officials themselves claiming that London was a superior city as reported in the Evening Standard in 2010, you and I know that each has its own appealing je ne sais quoi.

Top Snowboarding Destinations for this winter

With the winter nights drawing in are you are looking to dust off the board for an adventurous weekend break? Or are you looking for a luxurious get away with excellent Après Ski for the winter period? Complete Ski take a look at the best places to visit this winter for snowboarders of all types; whether it’s for the chance to learn to snowboard, the best place to visit for early season powder or a family vacation read on for a look into the best in snowboarding destinations.

Ultimate luxury – Courchevel, French Alps

Courchevel, one of the most renowned luxury snowboarding resorts, has something for everyone including high pistes, with great snow almost guaranteed, four terrain-parks, and – being part of the Three Valleys area – you can easily travel between the other resorts in the area. There are four surrounding villages giving the upper hand in choice and the ability to cater to all tastes for accommodation; although not necessarily all budgets. If it’s exclusive yet lively Après Ski you’re looking for head to Courchevel 1850 (so named because of its altitude) where the exclusive night clubs and bars offer everything from fine food to live music.

For enthusiasts and experts – Verbier, Swiss Alps

With varied terrain and endless runs Verbier has to be top of the list for all enthusiasts. Recognized as one of the premier ‘off-piste’ locations in the world, this village in the Swiss Alps is a perfect destination for those adrenaline junkies among you. Alongside runs for the adventurous there are also seven different schools for the beginner offering private or group lessons and much more. After a good snow fall there are unmissable rides taking you all the way down Mont-Fort; these, however, are not for the faint hearted.

For beginners – Alpe d’Huez, France

Alpe d’Huez is a beginner’s paradise with an absolutely huge novice / green run area. This is easily accessible, never gets busy and is always in top condition. With the resort offering daily rentals for boards you can’t go far wrong for your first time boarding than to be treated gently with this well groomed multi-pisted resort. Offering varied terrain Alpe d’Huez has something for everyone not just the beginner making it perfect for groups with varied levels of expertise.

Get the early snow season at Val d’Isere, France

Because of its location in a remote valley at high altitudes Val d’Isere boasts a longer season than most running from November to May. There is something for everyone here with a lively resort and plenty of nightlife and restaurants on offer. Whilst not being the cheapest destination around it can offer you designer shops, bars to suit all tastes and hotels to suit all budgets. Freeriders and Freestylers are accommodated completely and will want to return time and again for the miles of piste and off-piste to play around with as well as the fun-park under Mout Blanc which surpasses that of Tignes.

Top Snowboarding destinations for families – Lake Tahoe, Nevada & Canada

With breath-taking views and panoramic beauty this resort is family friendly and offers a range of activities, with several exceptional resorts surrounding this hot spot for skiers and snowboarders alike. Diamond Peak, a family-friendly resort, offers kids under 6 free skiing and a reduced price for families. There are easy ways to keep your holiday inexpensive, like not renting a car as the resorts offer free shuttle services. Also keep in mind that Mountain Lodges are convenient but expensive so explore the budget lodges. There is the option for group and private lessons in snowboarding for beginners and while the children are learning there is the opportunity for the adults to take on the Diamond Peak Terrain Park – perfect for those looking to take on some extra thrills and excitement. Lake Tahoe has everything a family could want for a brilliant holiday without remortgaging your house.

The Top 5 Holiday Destinations Ideas for Retirees

Older age is the best time to travel and to take longer breaks in some of the finest destinations in the world. If you’re retired you have the luxury of being able to take longer breaks and relax and enjoy some of the most picturesque, elegant and exciting destinations in the world. Here Insure for All takes a look at 5 of the very best destinations for the older generations!

The Loire ValleyThe Loire Valley
The wine, the climate, the Châteaux, the food and the scenery make the Loire Valley one of the best destinations for anyone who wants a peaceful, tranquil and relaxing holiday. Touring the wineries and vineyards while you try not to drink too much wine makes for a fantastic holiday experience. Taking a boat ride along the river and tours of all the wineries is essential and you can spend weeks relaxing in beautiful French villas or exploring quiet rural French towns. The Loire Valley is incredibly beautiful and the warm climate makes this a luxurious destination whether you want to take a cruise or stay in a quiet villa retreat.

The Italian Riviera
The Med has dozens of great summer and winter destinations that give you refreshing sea air, beautiful beaches and incredible weather. The Italian Riviera is one of the best Mediterranean destinations as it has a much less frenetic and touristy atmosphere. The fishing towns and seaside villages are so beautiful that you really won’t ever want to leave. The atmosphere is much more local than tourist and the beaches are luxurious, the sea is warm, the food is mouth wateringly delicious and the accommodation on offer is great. For a long summer this is a fantastic place to live!

Florida
Florida is America’s answer to Cornwall but with better weather and better beaches. From the Atlantic coast to the Florida Keys the state boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and some of its best scenery. There’s the Everglades National Park, world famous golf courses and weather that will just melt your woes away. It’s a state that’s geared towards older people with plenty of resorts tailored for the over 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. There are golf courses, warm waters, a rich diversity of animal and marine life including dolphins and whales as well as over 100 national parks to visit.

Cyprus
Cyprus is one of the prettiest islands in the Mediterranean. It has beautiful light and warmth that has inspired artists for decades. The island boasts an incredible history and culture as well as fabulous beaches to enjoy. Highlights include the old town of Paphos with its harbour and castle, the sprawling cedar valley, Larnaca salt lakes and Kolossi castle. There are dozens of beautiful small villages along the coast and in the country and you can avoid all the major tourist spots easily if you want to. Cyprus is a very popular winter and summer destination and is only cold for a few months each year.

The Caribbean
While it’s slightly unfair to lump the Caribbean into one destination the reality is that cruises are incredibly popular to the region and are the best holidays if you want to see a lot of countries at once and enjoy beautiful weather and all the home comforts. Tailored cruises for over 60’s offer a great fun environment and you get to visit some of the best countries in the world from Cuba to Jamaica and Barbados. The weather and beaches make this a wonderful destination for anyone and a cruise is a great way to see the world.

Travel from London to Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels from just £9

Travel from London to Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels from just £9

Travel from London to Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels daily on selected departures (excludes Friday and Sunday and travel between 25 and 29 October 2012) until 15 December from just £9 one way – including your booking fee. See what you’re missing in Europe!

Travel from London to Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels from just £9

Travel Deals: Eurolines