What do see and do and In Los Angeles

This guide to Los Angeles – what to do and see and where to stay offers a versatile listing for first-timers in the City of Angels. The most populated city in California has an eclectic mix of high end and bare bones accommodations. Depending on personal preferences, guests could find themselves among priceless artworks or in the front row of a live performance.

Attractions
Cultural
The Getty Center (getty.edu.) continues to delight long time residents and new arrivals with pieces from American and European artists. Photographs, sculpture and manuscripts line the halls. During pleasant weather, throngs congregate in the central garden area to order a bite at the café.

Watts Towers took artist Simon Rodia over 30 years to create. The massive structure consists of 17 individual works and sits in an area known for riots during the late 60s and early 90s. Guests should visit the site during daylight hours for safety reasons.

Fitness
Los Angeles is known for its beautiful people. Adventurous types are more than welcome to take in a workout at Venice Beach. Skateboarders and bodybuilders come to take in fresh air. Couch potatoes can enjoy a little people watching.

Los Angeles Conservancy Walking Tours (laconservancy.org) combines two great activities: sightseeing and cardiovascular workouts. Guests enjoy trekking through downtown all the way to nearby San Pedro. Reservations are required due to the tour’s popularity.

Shopping
No trip to L.A. would be complete without shopping. Rodeo Drive houses high-end boutiques. The only shopping complex designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright sits mere footsteps away. Santee Alley, known as The Alley, features outdoor merchants offering reasonably priced goods. Jewelry, clothing and toys are all available for purchase.

Nightlife
Bar Marmont (chateaumarmont.com), located inside legendary Chateau Marmont, offers excellent people watching. Well-heeled patrons enjoy cocktails and gastro-pub cuisine. The Woods offers a slightly more relaxed environment, enhanced by its location inside a Hollywood strip mall. Drink specials are on tap until 10:00 p.m.

How to save money on family holidays

Money is obviously a big factor when going on holiday. No matter whether you’re thinking of booking a trip away, you’ve booked and are saving up spending money, or you’re budgeting during the trip itself, it’s important to keep on top of things financially. With these top tips, your summer holiday could pass a lot more smoothly.

One of the most important pieces of advice is to book early, even as much as a year in advance. People traditionally book their holidays just after Christmas, but there are significant savings to be made if you can manage to do it before. What’s more, the longer you have to save up a good amount of spending money, the easier it will be.

Travelling to your holiday can often be a costly experience, especially if you travel during busy times on the road. One way of ensuring you don’t get caught up in a gridlock is to travel at a slightly more unsociable time. A trip early in the morning or late at night can be the difference between an expensive, stressful drive and a pleasant, hassle-free journey. It’s not just money you’ll save; a problem-free trip may also douse any tensions that could build up in the car otherwise!

When you’ve arrived at your destination, don’t think that you have to spend loads of money to get the most out of it. . Family holiday parks or campsites have plenty of free things to do that are just as much fun. has plenty of free things to do that are just as much fun. These include a nature trail, lounging around on the beach, or playing a few games in the countryside. Don’t live a miser’s life, just budget and spend money on the essentials.

Camping gives holidaymakers one key advantage: complete control over food. Make use of local supermarkets – perhaps researching the cheapest beforehand – to stock up your storage sensibly. Do be sure to keep an eye on best before dates in order to avoid any illness.

There are a whole host of ways to save money while on holiday. With these useful tips, you need not break the bank to enjoy that much deserved getaway with your family.

All Rhodes Lead to Beauty

Why Go?

The largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, Rhodes boasts a stunning Acropolis that rivals its mainland counterpart for both history and beauty. Moreover, there are endless beaches of golden sand, one of the most picturesque Old Towns in Europe, and a kaleidoscope of sensory catalysts in the shape of mountains, olive trees and vineyards. That, in a nutshell, is why you should go to Rhodes.

When to Go

Similarly to its neighbouring islands, and indeed the mainland too, Rhodes enjoys a superb all-year-round climate and is popular with visitors throughout the seasons. If you’re planning an active trip, with plenty of walking and sight-seeing, you may want to avoid the peak months of June, July and August, when temperatures can soar into the 30s.

Good months to visit are April–May/ September–October, when you’re pretty much guaranteed sun, but without the debilitating heat of mid-Summer. The island is also relatively quite during these periods, giving you a sense of space and tranquillity.

Getting there and around

Rhodes is best reached by air. There are ferries from the mainland, but these can take up to half a day.

Rhodes Diagoras Airport connects to a vast number of European destinations, and is served by several low-budget European airlines including Easyjet, Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Thomson. From the US, Continental runs flights from Newark, NY to Athens on the Greek mainland. Rhodes can be reached by domestic flight from Athens, or, as mentioned above, and if you can spare the time, ferry.

Once on the island, public buses run frequently from the airport to Rhodes Town until late. However, buses to the south of the island, including Lindos, stop after about 9pm, so if you are landing late you may want to consider pre-booking a hotel transfer to avoid a hefty taxi fare (€75 to Lindos).

Alternatively, hiring a car is strongly recommended for anyone visiting Rhodes. There are 5-6 car rental desks located in arrivals at the airport, ranging from low-end to more renowned firms such as Hertz and Avis. We opted for Budget, and took a Nissan Micra for the whole week, costing us an affordable €150.

Best Attraction

Looming large over the stunning town of Lindos is an imposing Acropolis, used to defend the island against the Ottomans in the 14th Century. Whilst lacking the same aura of grandiosity of its Athens counterpart, Lindos’ answer is physically more striking. Even six centuries later, one can imagine the castle being used to fortify the town against its aggressors.

As an added bonus, the castle was also refreshingly free of the tat-peddlers that you usually find at any popular tourist site, whilst the panoramic views of the Aegean Sea offered each way you turned were simply breathtaking. Meanwhile back at street level you will find a myriad of quaint rooftop cafes, bars, restaurants, and Lindos hotels.

Best Unusual Attraction

At the very southern tip of the island is a remote town called Prasonisi. This is real Wild West territory, with a couple of shops and a petrol station the sum total of the amenities. The town has a long sandy beach that was utterly deserted when we visited. If this wasn’t enough of a novelty, we also discovered that you can actually walk across the sea to another island, also called Prasonisi. Of course, you can impress your friends back home by embellishing this 5-minute, knee-deep amble until it resembles the story of Moses crossing the Red Sea!

Best Activity or Tour

Highly recommended is a tour of Siana, a small town on the west coast of the island, famous for its production of honey. Thanks to its relatively secluded position, miles from the hot spots of Rhodes Town and Lindos, it has remained delightfully free of commercial cynicism and ruthlessness.

At the rickety stalls that line the pavement, there were no hard sells; just simple people selling simple honey at simple prices. We were suitably enchanted, and bought up a few jars of the sweet stuff, as well as some tins of earthy, delicious olive oil that I’ve been cooking with every day since I returned.

Best Lodgings

There is an excellent range of Rhodes Hotels to choose from. For sheer value for money, you will do well to beat the 5-star Mitsis Rhodos Village resort, located in the town of Kiotari, on the south of the island. This hotel is best suited for families and couples looking for a relaxing and affordable all-inclusive stay.
It is spread across a vast site with traditional rooms as well as apartments scattered throughout the resort. The hotel backs onto Kiotari beach which is unexceptional but adequate. Here you can enjoy watersports, though these are not part of the all-inclusive deal. The beach bar serves up snacks, drinks and ice cream throughout the day (free to hotel guests). Back at the hotel, there are three swimming pools to choose from, the nicest of which is the infinity pool at the top of the hotel, which backs onto a good-quality Italian restaurant complete with wood-fired oven.

Best Eats

The atmospheric Koykos café in Rhodes New Town was fantastic – and not just for the food. Street-facing window-ledge seats are a people-watcher’s dream, while inside is a cavernous maze leading to a quaint courtyard and terrace. Our waiter, despite being run off his feet, still found the time and energy to helpfully talk us through the menu.

Family Holiday Stuff

When you’re travelling with your family, there are so many things to remember to take. Theres all the really obvious things like passports, tickets and money, but after that, with the air companies limiting baggage more these days we’re all thinking about what we can leave out, and what is essential.

Here’s our guide to things not to forget:

Clothes

Think about this one, where are you going, what will you be doing can you dump one or two outfits and replace with things that will mix and match. Are you going somewhere that sells clothing cheaply? If you are, this could be your chance to travel light on the way out, and stock up while you’re there. Do however remember that although it doesn’t happen often, luggage does go missing occasionally, so it’s worth carrying at least a change of undies for the family in your hand luggage – just in case!

Sun Protection

Sun protection for you and the kids is one of those really essential things, and although most of it will be available to buy somewhere when you get there, it’s unlikely to be cheap as it’s something they know everyone will need. So make sure you take hats, sun shades, and plenty of sun cream for all of you.

Camera

What would a holiday be without those wonderful holiday snaps to share around and show everyone when you get back, so do remember to take a camera unless you have a phone with a good camera on it and an extra memory card which would be a light weight alternative way to go.

Entertainment

Ok in theory no one will get bored because you’re on holiday, but there’s nothing worse than a grizzly child especially when all you want to do is lay back and relax for a change, so pack something to entertain the kids – a few good ideas can be books, mp3 player, colouring book and pens, or hand held games console such as a Nintendo DS (+ games of course).

Pills

Perhaps not something that we want to think about on holiday, but this one’s quite important. Make sure if you or any member of your family is on any medication that you take enough to cover you not just for the exact number of days you’re planning on being away, but a few extra just in case! If you’re travelling with kids it can also be worth popping a couple of basic first aid items into your luggage too that way they’re at hand if you need them.

Baby items

Obviously not necessary if you don’t have a baby, but if you do, check out exactly what your hotel will provide, and what you can hire there, and if it won’t be supplied and you’re going to need it, take it along! Think about including things like Swim nappies, a sling (to save taking a pushchair!), and maybe even a light weight pop up sun tent if you have the space in your luggage.

A Travel Guide

Travel guides sound a bit naff, but if you’re planning on doing anything more than spending your time on the beach or in the hotel complex, then they can be invaluable to learning what there is to see and do nearby.

Travelling in Majorca

Holidaymakers flock to Magaluf and Palma Nova in their thousands for the sun, sea and sand and cheap deals offered by package holidays. However, there is so much more to Majorca than a Brit-infused fiesta, and if you want to travel around and explore somewhere new – without flying to the other side of the globe, Majorca may be the location for you.

Get off the beaten track by hiring a car – or, for the truly brave, hitchhiking, which is far more common and acceptable on the Continent – and discover the Majorca travel agents don’t tell you about – the Gothic architecture, olive groves, hilltop villages and hidden coves waiting to be discovered. For landscape and nature fans, the Serra de Tramuntana mountain ranges on the northwest coast are simply stunning and offer fantastic road trips, town markets and hiking opportunities – including to Lluc, a place of pilgrimage. You can also camp in Lluc, for a memorable holiday adventure.

Pollenca is also in this area and is well worth exploring. Not only a great jump-off point to discover Lluc Monastery, Port de Pollenca, the beaches around the Bay of Alcudia and the S’Albufera wetlands – a major nature park – Pollenca is an important part of Majorca’s cultural history, having attracted painters and celebrities to its gorgeous shores – as well as being the site of one of Agatha Christie’s novels.

On the opposite side of the island, the south east, culture vultures will delight in the gallery of artwork by Picasso, Francis Bacon and Henry Moore in the historic town of Valldemossa. This region is also hope to Palma, which shares a major tourist beach resort with Majorca’s capital – a city full of culture and breathtaking architecture. The Castell de Bellver, one of Spain’s most distinct castles, offers beautiful views of the bay as well as a number of archaeological finds and sculptures.

The Art Of Packing

When you’re travelling somewhere, and you need to pack your suitcase or backpack, you need to think carefully about what to take, how much things will weigh, and how far you will be walking carrying them. You’ll also need to make sure you stay within weight limits, and whether you’ll actually need what you’re packing.

Weight limits:

Many airlines these days have weight limits, and some of them can be quite strict meaning that if you go over them at all, you’ll have to pay extra for your luggage. Try to make sure you choose light weight suitcases so that you don’t lose a chunk of your weight allowance before you start. If you can take on hand luggage without it being weighed then try and put the heavier items in here. Yes this will mean that you have to carry that weight on, but if it means you don’t pay extra it can often be worth it.
Making the most of space:

When you pack items such as shoes which are bulky but have space inside them, fill them with other things – items such as socks and pants can be stuffed inside easily and the shoe won’t take up any more space filled like this than it would empty.

If you roll clothes instead of folding them, they tend to take up less space. Unless of course you have a vacuum bag you can transport them in, in which case, fold them flat, slide them inside and then remove the air. This is useful if you have no weight limit, but do have a limit on space, and won’t be needing to carry your luggage too far by hand.

What to take and what to leave behind:

Think about whether it’s worth carrying shampoo, soap etc. with you or whether it would be easier to buy these items when you arrive. If you’re staying in a hotel, often they’ll provide complimentary soap, shampoo and shower gel for example.
Think about where you are going. Will you actually need a hairdryer or could you borrow one when you get there. How many pairs of shoes do you really need to take? Shoes are one of those items that take up space and weight and are awkward to pack, so if you can get away with just one pair that you wear to travel in, plus one extra pair, then do so.

Carrying your luggage on your back:

If you’re going to be backpacking and doing a fair amount of travelling with your luggage on your back, then you’ll want to think about weight, space, and ease of carrying things. If you’re going to be travelling for any length of time, it’s very worthwhile to spend a bit of money making sure that everything you take with you is very durable whilst at the same time being light weight. A good example of this would be a sleeping bag. This is an item which can be very bulky and heavy, but a good quality modern version will be light weight, will roll up into it’s own very small carrying bag, and will also be warm and durable.

The History of St. Ermin’s Hotel

St. Ermin’s hotel is a grade II listed building on Caxton Street in London, just opposite St. James’ Park underground station. It is tantalisingly close to Westminster Abbey, The Houses of Parliament and Buckingham palace. This four star hotel central London is a Victorian built building, and is one of the early mansion blocks to be built in the city. The hotel was originally a horseshoe shaped mansion block, and was built to the designs of E T Hall – mansion blocks of this kind were first seen in Victoria Street of London, and remain popular in the areas to this day. Hall originally plumped for a red-brick exterior in the style of Queen Anne, all grouped around a courtyard.

Built originally in 1887, it was turned into a hotel between 1896 and 1899 – when it was built Hall designed the courtyard which could be used for both carriages and for the residents to use as a garden.

Here’s our video:

In the hotel the two entrances in the side wings exist in their original form to this day, by 1894, before the block turned into a hotel it appears to have been extended towards St. Ermin’s hill. In 1896 it was purchased with the intention of turning it into a hotel, which was common with many buildings of such grandeur – however the apartments were offered without a kitchen, so servants were used to provide such facilities for the residents – but the facilities were provided including smoking rooms and reading rooms, for the use of a hotel.

caxton_bar

Built originally in 1887, it was turned into a hotel between 1896 and 1899 – when it was built Hall designed the courtyard which could be used for both carriages and for the residents to use as a garden.

In the hotel the two entrances in the side wings exist in their original form to this day, by 1894, before the block turned into a hotel it appears to have been extended towards St. Ermin’s hill. In 1896 it was purchased with the intention of turning it into a hotel, which was common with many buildings of such grandeur – however the apartments were offered without a kitchen, so servants were used to provide such facilities for the residents – but the facilities were provided including smoking rooms and reading rooms, for the use of a hotel.

caxton_bar_02hd_low_res

The new owners on development into a hotel, made the courtyard into a neo-Baroque space, with veranda’s and a double staircase leading to a balcony at gallery level – there was also a double height ballroom put in place and a restaurant which is now The Cloisters, in which the
cove in contains is decorated in rococo plasterwork; all created by a theatre architect J P Briggs, who provided a sequence of public rooms, in great decoration and rich plasterwork. Since the hotel had its ownership changed in 2010, they have begun to restore the hotel to how Briggs designed it.

St. Ermin’s hotel has somewhat of an exciting history and something that other Westminster hotels don’t have, as it has been regularly used by the governments secret services. During the 1930’s the hotel and various other buildings in the estate were used by what we know now as MI6 to meet up with agents, and became the home of the Special Operations Executive working under cover. Throughout World War Two it had varying ties with all manner of secret services and even having a listening post for MI8, on the roof of what is now the passport office in the area. The hotel has even been used by MI5, and the Naval Intelligence Division – and shortly before the second world war, the hotel was used for guerrilla warfare classes run partly by MI6 and partly by others working for ‘King and Country’, which also contained two of the Cambridge Five spy ring, using the hotel as a base to meet their Russian Handlers.