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A Jersey jaunt

March 17, 2014 at 2:45 AM
Gorey Harbour, Jersey Photo: David Blaikie

gorey harbour, jersey photo: david blaikie

One of the warmest places in the British Isles and the most southerly of the Channel Islands – Jersey is a haven for all things good. When I think of Jersey, my thoughts turn to warm sunny days, yachts and sail boats creating pretty pictures in the St Helier marinas. And, of course, whether strolling around St Helier browsing the boutiques, sat on one of Jersey’s many beaches or exploring the green and lush countryside, there is always time to enjoy a Jersey ice cream, which I think can be included in the delicacies that are Jersey home-grown.

So what is the best way to explore Jersey? Car, cycle, boat or by foot: the answer? All are great ways to explore this beautiful island – a total land mass of 45 square miles, measuring nine miles by five miles, Jersey proves good things certainly do come in small packages! Old English charm, a sophisticated cosmopolitan vibe and good old seaside fun are a few of the things that make Jersey such a special place.

Friday Commentary: Safe travel

March 14, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Staying safe whilst on the move isn’t always easy

 

Stay safe and avoid conflict spots around the world

Stay safe and avoid conflict spots around the world

Events in recent months and years have turned once safe and popular holiday destinations, such as Cairo in Egypt, Bangkok in Thailand and Ukraine, into virtual no-go areas. Egypt has seen a decline of 28.9% in January with visitor numbers down to half their 2011 height of 1,147,962. Whilst the recent shutdown of Bangkok during the protests has given tourists pause for thought.

At the same time as people are reconsidering holidays to Egypt and Thailand we have also witnessed the unfolding situation in Ukraine. Last week at the worlds largest tourism fair, ITB in Berlin, Ukraine’s tourist board was trying to make the best of a bad situation with images of the protests in Kiev being used as an image of hope and change, something they believe will inspire some of the 80,000 tourists which visited from the UK in 2013. Elena Ovcharenko, head of public relations and marketing for Kiev’s tourism office spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald and said the following of Kiev: “I think it’s our story at the moment – it’s the sad side of our story but we’re proud that Ukraine has these heroes and people who weren’t scared to defend the interests of their country,”

With HomeAway having rentals in Egypt, Thailand and Ukraine we thought it would be timely to look at how to stay safe when abroad and what to do if the unexpected happens. So we asked our panel of experts their advice on safe travel, and where would they stay away from?

The world’s greatest hidden beaches

March 11, 2014 at 8:05 AM
Marietas Islands Photo: Miguel Naranjo

Marietas Islands. Photo: Miguel Naranjo

Beaches are beautiful. People, not so much. The trouble is, you can’t have one without the other. The sweeter the sands, the higher the body count, right?

Not necessarily.

If you’re searching for the perfect beach – a place to call your own, if only for one day – you’re in luck. It turns out that hidden beaches are like the Days of Christmas: you wait all year for one, and then 12 rock up in rapid succession. Here are a dozen beaches that are unspoilt, unpopulated and relatively unknown – for now.

Of course, if bloggers keep writing about these unsung wonders, they won’t remain hidden for long. So by all means tell all your friends about this blog – but make them swear not to breathe a word of it to anyone else.

Friday commentary: Would you take a budget flight to the USA?

March 6, 2014 at 9:04 AM
All aboard! Ryanair jets off to the big apple Photo: Juanedc.com

All aboard! Ryanair jets off to the big apple Photo: Juanedc.com

Budget airlines. Love them or hate them, over the last decade they have enabled millions of us to afford to fly to Europe for a summer getaway. From city breaks to a week by the beach, they transport more of us from the UK than any other carrier; in fact Easyjet is the UK’s largest airline by passenger numbers. Way back in 2000, low-cost carriers accounted for just 8.6% of the market, but by last year that number had risen to 52% of UK airline passengers. Traditionally they have operated from the UK to mainland Europe’s top destinations. Last week Michael O’Leary – Ryanair’s always colourful CEO – made an announcement which could prove as disruptive for transatlantic flights as the budget airlines have been for European travel, with his intention for Ryanair to launch €10 (£8.20) one way flights to New York. Michael O’Leary said “We can make money on 99-cent fares in Europe”. Before going on to say “not every seat will be €10 of course, there will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats.”

But do we want ‘budget flights’ on long-haul routes? Being cramped in with little leg room on a relatively short hop across to Spain, Italy or Greece is one thing, but how many of us will put up with it for the seven and a half hours to New York? Then there is the price. Michael O’Leary let us know that for €10 we will be paying extra for everything from baggage to printed tickets, meals and drinks. Factor in the ‘hidden’ costs of taxes and how much cheaper will it be? And will it be worth it?

This week we have been running a poll on our Facebook page to ask whether you would consider flying to the USA with a budget carrier. So far we have had a pretty even split, with 53% voting yes and 47% voting no. So the question goes out for you to debate with us, would you fly to the US with a budget carrier?

First we asked our panel for their views on budget airlines, and whether they would choose to fly to the US with a budget carrier, do you agree?

Kent: rural beauty on the edge of the city

March 5, 2014 at 8:16 AM
Blue sky over the white cliffs of Dover

Blue sky over the White Cliffs of Dover

Yes, South East England’s home to our crazy, smoky capital – but let’s forget about that for a few minutes. Transport yourself just an hour or so outside (or just a few minutes away from your work desk or kitchen table…) and come with me to what is arguably the loveliest home county: Kent.

The White Cliffs of Dover, pummelled by waves; Canterbury Cathedral, and its turbulent history; hop farms, orchards and vineyards in spades: the ‘Garden of England’ (rightfully named, thank you very much) packs a pretty hefty punch when it comes to attractions, but it offers lots of activities too – and they’re diverse, to say the least.

Fancy taking a breath of fresh air with me? I thought so.