World Guides Travel Blog
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August 25, 2012
THE CHANGING FACE OF YOUTH HOSTELLING
The last time we stayed in a youth hostel, it was a bit of a cloak-and-dagger affair. I seem to remember it was frowned upon if you didn't arrive at the hostel's front door on your own two legs, bicycle, or by train or bus at the very least. In short, we felt obliged to park the motorbike down the road, out of the sight of the youth hostel manager. What we did with our crash helmets, I have absolutely no idea.
I should add that that was almost 30 years ago. The youth hostel was on the north-eastern coast of Britain. Boggle Hole rings a bell. We had to do a rather onerous chore before breakfast and, even in the height of summer, it was a bit on the chilly side.
So it was with some trepidation that I booked us into the youth hostel at Coalport for a few days this summer. Situated right in the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, it occupies part of the historic Coalport china works and is so close to the Ironbridge action, that it seemed churlish not to give it a try.
As it turned out, it was youth hostelling, but most definitely not as we know it. For a start, the chores have gone. There is also no longer that awful moment when you are halfway back from the bathroom and the lights go out for the night. There is no alarm call in the morning, no compulsory ejection after breakfast into the great outdoors, whatever the weather. This time, we discovered, you could enjoy tea in the hostel's cafe, book a two-course meal with a bottle of wine, stay up to midnight reading and even, heaven forbid, enjoy the luxury of an ensuite bathroom attached to a family room. It was just like staying in a hotel.
Or at least it would have been if it hadn't been for a few lingering YHA staples. There was still a lounge, formerly known as the common room. Comfortable chairs, a stack of board games and a couple of shelves of paperback books definitely gave it a youth hostel feel. Cooking in the kitchen felt just like the old days, too, as we bonded with the other hostellers and generally tried not to get in each other's way. And there were still the ubiquitous bunk beds. And some 30 years on, I was still too slow to grab the top bunk. Next time perhaps!
Posted by Sue at 9:59:22 on 25/8/2012
August 22, 2012
ALL INCLUSIVE - GOOD FOR EVERYONE?
The idea of an all-inclusive holiday in the Mediterranean is certainly appealing for many. It offers a very affordable holiday where you don't need to pay for additional meals, snacks and drinks - although it is always important to check for possible restrictions. More and more hotels are now trying to lure holidaymakers with competitively priced all-inclusive offers. However, this kind of holiday is certainly not good news for local bars and restaurants.
This summer has seen eateries struggling to survive, with many in Greece
and other European cities failing to draw in diners. The worst affected have closed up shop altogether - a sad reflection of the times I guess. So, wherever you choose to holiday this year, do consider supporting the local businesses if you want them to survive the slump. If you really want to experience the most of a city, then surely sampling some traditional cuisine in a local restaurant or two (especially those with a view) is an integral part of any summer holiday. Much better than eating in your hotel, night after night!
Posted by Martin at 10:29:55 on 22/8/2012
August 15, 2012
EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE
Now that the Olympics are over, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (3rd to 27th August) is beginning to receive more and more press attention. I've never been to this Scottish performing arts extravaganza, because the city's hotels seem to get booked up months in advance and I've never been organised enough to book a room so far ahead. However, I'd love to go, as it really does look like so much fun, all through the summer.
Scotland's capital has been home to The Fringe since 1947. Literally hundreds of official venues display a numbered blue plaque outside, which corresponds to the programme of events. Over some four weeks, close to two million tickets are sold and more than 40,000 performances are staged, some of which are completely free of charge, including the popular and well-publicised Fun and Filth Cabaret with BBC Radio 1's Scott Mills and Nick Grimshaw.
There is also a street fair based on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, where the office of the Festival Fringe Society is based. Live street entertainment fills the streets and when the sun is shining, the base of The Mound is a good place to sit and watch street performers. If you are planning to visit Edinburgh
in August, then you may also like to check out the International Festival (9th August to 2nd September) and the Military Tattoo (3rd to 25th August). Maybe I'll actually finally manage to join in the fun next year!
Posted by Martin at 12:00:18 on 15/8/2012
August 4, 2012
TECHNOLOGY - TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT?
As our annual holiday approaches, we embarked on the usual discussion about what to pack. The traditional list of contenders for suitcase space came and went. A good holiday read is a no-brainer. So too are sunglasses (just in case) and a raincoat (just in case). Swimsuits, goggles and assorted kiddy-friendly floats are debatable. Will we use them enough to warrant the space they'll take up? Maybe not. Then, one of us - mentioning no names - suggests that maybe it would be good to take a laptop this year. Now there is a bone of contention.
So far, I've resisted the need to pack technology along with the toiletries when heading off on holiday. Breaks away from home are just that - a chance to get away from work and routine. They're all about the two 'Rs': rest and recuperation. Besides, goes my argument, we'll worry about losing the said laptop. We'll have the hassle of keeping it safe from theft.
As much as I argue, though, I can see that taking a bit of technology might be quite handy. For a start, it would make it possible to check out online holiday and destination guides at the touch of a button, including our very own World Guides of course! We'd be able to satisfy the urge to find out if there is a good bicycle hire place nearby. We could even check opening hours to avoid arriving at a place on the only day of the week it is closed. Should we suddenly find myself on an unplanned trip across the Irish Sea to Dublin for the weekend, we'd be able to quickly look up a street map, find out the hot sightseeing spots and even book ahead for the evening meal.
As we contemplated the arguments for and against, a perfectly reasonable solution emerged. Wherever you are in the world - whether you are in Hereford or Honolulu
- most places nowadays have at least one Internet cafe to satisfy even the most desperate of technology cravings. So, decision made - leave the laptop, pack the goggles!
Posted by Sue at 11:17:17 on 4/8/2012