Category Archives: Europe

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Athens’ Hidden Hotspots

I didn’t expect much from Athens. Most of my friends had either not spent much time in the city on their way to the islands (as most people do), or they just didn’t enjoy their time.

Or, as I like to think, they just didn’t find the right places. What I love about Athens is that it’s unashamedly Athens – it has no pretensions, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. What you see is what you get.

I hired a private guide from Athens Insiders because big cities scare the crap out of me and I felt like paying for someone to be my friend would be a good idea. I was right. My guides Daphne and Anthia showed me THEIR Athens and then made me comfortable enough with the city to do some exploring on my own.

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I didn’t expect much from Athens. Most of my friends had either not spent much time in the city on their way to the islands (as most people do), or they just didn’t enjoy their time.

Or, as I like to think, they just didn’t find the right places. What I love about Athens is that it’s unashamedly Athens – it has no pretensions, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. What you see is what you get.

I hired a private guide from Athens Insiders because big cities scare the crap out of me and I felt like paying for someone to be my friend would be a good idea. I was right. My guides Daphne and Anthia showed me THEIR Athens and then made me comfortable enough with the city to do some exploring on my own.

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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Europe


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Be one of trivago’s ten secret Hotel Testers!

Hotel Locanda Vivaldi in Venice

Hotel Locanda Vivaldi in Venice

Apply now as a trivago secret Hotel Tester: Evaluate the four star Hotel Locanda Vivaldi in Venice and get 100€ while staying there for free. Applications for this fantastic opportunity are now open:

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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in Europe, General



For a fun day out, try Twycross Zoo

Twycross Zoo also calls itself “The World Primate Centre”, which should give you a very good idea what they are specialised in. This does not mean that they only have primates, but they do dominate and the majority of their animals are monkeys of all sizes. We love them and had fun watching them, at some enclosures we spend ages because they were just so entertaining.

They have more than 1000 animals and there is a wonderful selection from all around the world, including the ever-so-cute merkats, Chimpanzees, camels, elephants, deers, hyenas, a large variety of birds, One of their stars is a snow leopard who’s given birth to two adorable cubs in May 2011. Of course we were dying to see them but sadly had no luck, both times we visited the Himalaya enclosure neither the mummy nor her babies were anywhere to be seen.

We had more luck with the gorillas, which also had a baby recently, and managed to get a very good and long look at the proud mum and dad and their little one.
One of the highlights of the day was the themed areas which are not to be missed. We loved the Borneo Longhouse and the Sri Lankan themed elephant walkway, both are superbly designed and offer so much to explore.

There are also several play areas, the kids didn’t ask for playtime so we gave them all a miss. The small fun fair offered a variety of carousels for smaller kids, sadly only one of them was open, and a train ride. The later is suitable for all the family. What we did like is that they do not charge you for these rides. They might not be new and a bit dated, but from our experience small children don’t care about that at all.

Text courtesy of Fritzthecat who reviewed Twycross Zoo at trivago

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Posted by on December 3, 2011 in General, United Kingdom


The Top 10 Celebrity Hotels

Sleep like Lady Gaga, drink a cocktail in the style of Paris Hilton, or walk in the footsteps of Madonna, Robbie Williams and Naomi Campbell – across Europe travellers can enjoy the same service as celebrity guests. trivago reveals ten hotels, which are loved by international VIPs. Suites covering up to 300m2 with several bedrooms, bathrooms and even private terraces, are just some of the favoured luxury amenities. From Berlin to London, via Rome and Saint Tropez, there are luxury hotels to be found with world-famous jet-setters on the guest list.

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1. Hotel De Crillon (Paris, France)
2. Grandhotel Schloss Bensberg (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany)
3. Schlosshotel im Grunewald (Berlin, Germany)
4. Hotel Hassler Roma (Rom, Italy)
5. Hotel St Martins Lane (London, United Kingdom)
6. Hotel W Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)
7. Hotel Das Triest (Vienna, Austria)
8. Hotel InterContinental Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf, Germany)
9. Hotel Byblos (Saint Tropez, France)
10. The Morrison Hotel (Dublin, Ireland)

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Europe, General, Top 10


Schloss Sanssouci

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Sanssouci is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park. The palace was designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1745 and 1747 to fulfil King Frederick’s need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court. This is emphasised by the palace’s name: a French phrase (sans souci) which translates loosely as “without worries” or “carefree” symbolising that the palace was a place for relaxation rather than a seat of power. The palace is little more than a large single-storey villa – more like the Château de Marly than Versailles. Containing just ten principal rooms, it was built on the brow of a terraced hill at the centre of the park. The influence of King Frederick’s personal taste in the design and decoration of the palace was so great that its style is characterised as “Frederician Rococo”, and his feelings for the palace were so strong that he conceived it as “a place that would die with him”. Because of a disagreement about the site of the palace in the park, Knobelsdorff was fired in 1746. Jan Bouman, a Dutch architect, finished the project.

During the 19th century, the palace became a residence of Frederick William IV. He employed the architect Ludwig Persius to restore and enlarge the palace, while Ferdinand von Arnim was charged with improving the grounds and thus the view from the palace. The town of Potsdam, with its palaces, was a favourite place of residence for the German imperial family until the fall of the Hohenzollern dynasty in 1918.

After World War II, the palace became a tourist attraction in East Germany. It was fully maintained with due respect to its historical importance, and was open to the public. Following German reunification in 1990, the final wish of Frederick came to pass: his body was finally returned to his beloved palace and buried in a new tomb overlooking the gardens he had created. Sanssouci and its extensive gardens became a World Heritage Site in 1990 under the protection of UNESCO; in 1995, the Foundation for Prussian Palaces and Gardens in Berlin-Brandenburg was established to care for Sanssouci and the other former imperial palaces in and around Berlin. These palaces are now visited by more than two million people a year from all over the world.

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Posted by on April 24, 2010 in Europe, Germany


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King Arthur in Snowdonia: on the Trail of the Once and Future King

King Arthur appears often in literature, from the Mabinogion to Geoffrey of Monmouth, from Ninnius to Chretien de Troyes; but it’s difficult to reconcile his literary adventures with the real Arthur who, if he existed at all, was probably a Celtic warlord who united his countrymen against the invading Saxons.

In literature and folklore, King Arthur is most often associated with Cornwall and Wales; the name Pendragon is Anglo-Welsh, meaning “Dragon’s Head”. And while his famous court at Camelot has often been linked with Caerleon, just outside Newport in the south east of Wales, there are several legends placing Arthur and his feats in the Snowdonia region of North Wales.

Whether or not Arthur existed is debatable. However, folk memories last a long time, and one has to wonder if there’s some shred of truth to the local Arthurian legends that still survive in Snowdonia.

One tale describes how Arthur met a giant, Ritta, on the slopes of Snowdon while out riding with his knights. Arthur remarked upon Ritta’s unusual cloak, which the giant explained was made from the beards of kings. Ritta said he would be honoured to include Arthur’s beard in his cloak but Arthur, reluctant to part with his facial hair, refused. A fight ensued and Arthur slew the giant and had him buried under a cairn at the mountain’s summit.

Snowdonia is dotted with cromlechs, ancient burial chambers left behind by our ancestors thousands of years ago. Yet despite the age of these atmospheric monuments to our forebears, folk tales still connect them with Arthur who, if he existed, would probably have lived in the 5th or 6th century. One such tale claims the cromlech at Cefnamlwch, on the Llyn Peninsula, was formed when Arthur threw the capstone from the top of Garn Fadrwn, while the three standing stones beneath were carried there by Arthur’s wife in her apron.

Dinas Emrys, an old hill fort at Beddgelert, has several Arthurian connections in literature and folklore. The name Dinas Emrys honours Merlin – full name Myrddin Emrys – who described two warring dragons in a pool beneath the fort. The pool is, apparently, still there; a first century rectangle choked with tall grasses. In another tale – “Lludd and Llefelys” from the Mabinogion, an ancient collection of Welsh folk tales – the dragons were put into stone coffers and thereafter the place was known as Dinas Emreis.

In another tale Arthur fought a monster, the Afanc, which lived in Llyn Barfog (the Bearded Lake), not far from Aberdyfi. The Afanc had been terrorising the area so Arthur went to fight it. He lassoed the beast with an enormous chain, and his horse, Llamrai, hauled it from the lake to be slain. A nearby rock, Carn March Arthur (the Stone of Arthur’s Horse) bears a deeply-etched hoofprint, said to have been made by Llamrai as the Afanc was dragged from the lake.

Lakes are a common theme in Snowdonia’s Arthurian tales. Llyn Dinas, a Snowdonia lake which reflects the fort of Dinas Emrys which towers over it, is said to be the site of a battle between Arthur’s knight Sir Owain and a giant. The hill beside Llyn Dinas, local legend says, is where Merlin’s treasure is buried.

At least two lakes in Snowdonia are claimed to be home to the Lady of the Lake and the final resting place of Excalibur, Arthur’s sword. Some local legends say that Sir Bedivere threw Excalibur into Llyn Llydaw, beneath Snowdon, after Arthur’s death; and that this was the lake Arthur sailed across to reach the magical isle of Avalon. Another story insists the sword was thrown into Llyn Ogwen, also in the mountains of Snowdonia.

Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island), off the tip of the Llyn Peninsula, is another place with Arthurian connections. In some tales the island is Avalon. In others, Enlli is the burial place of Merlin, who lies in a cave or in a magical house of glass. It’s also said that Arthur’s ship lies at the bottom of Bardsey Sound, the stretch of water separating Enlli from the Llyn Peninsula.

And even Arthur’s final battle is said to have taken place in Snowdonia. One story says that he died at Tregalan, where he was brought down by a hail of enemy arrows at a pass that is to this day called Bwlch y Saethau, or Pass of the Arrows. Arthur’s knights covered his body with a cairn of stones, still known as Carnedd Arthur or Arthur’s Cairn. After his death, Arthur’s knights sealed themselves in a cave below the summit of Y Lliwedd where to this day they slumber, fully armoured, ready to fight at their king’s side when he awakens to save Wales in her hour of greatest need.

Article Source: King Arthur in Snowdonia: on the Trail of the Once and Future King

About Author:
Steven Jones is Senior Tourism Services Officer at Cyngor Gwynedd Council, a Welsh local authority whose not-for-profit Snowdonia Mountains and Coast website provides visitors to Snowdonia with a wealth of useful information about the region, including activities, attractions, history and culture. The site also enables visitors to search an extensive database of Snowdonia accommodation, and to plan their holidays in some of Snowdonia’s most popular towns and villages.

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Posted by on April 21, 2010 in Europe, United Kingdom


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Tailor Made Holidays for Groups in Europe

The birthplace of William Shakespeare and one of the best-loved places to visit in central England. Easily accessible from London and most of southern England, it is a ‘must’ as part of a tailor made holidays for groups. See Shakespeare’s museum and also Ann Hathaway’s cottage amongst other things. Check out our Stratford day trips and our Stratford overnight which includes Warwick Castle and Oxford for a well-rounded cultural experience.

Warwick Castle is over a thousand years old, was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 and is considered the finest medieval fort in England. The castle has many attractions, from the dingy dungeons to the grandeur of the State Rooms and Great Hall. Visit the King Maker exhibition and climb some of the magnificent towers to view the surrounding countryside. A tailor made holidays for groups trip to Warwick Castle is a must for history lovers.

Fans of the Royal family will be in their element! Steeped in history, visit the home of Queen Elizabeth II and enjoy a through the keyhole experience of the world’s largest and oldest castle. Enjoy the spectacular State Apartments and marvel at its generously furnished environment. Used for State occasions to this day, be a part of where these regal traditions take place whilst appreciative world well-known artworks. Visit St. George’s chapel, where the tombs of numerous kings and queens reside, and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House to be amazed by the magnitude and intricate design.

Smart, chic and seriously French – there’s lots of cool shopping and spa style in Paris to be found. Some of the most famous sightseeing places and lots of art, old quarters and trendy stuff to lose yourself in. The tailor made holidays for groups café society by day and night and all sorts of world-class restaurants to choose from. Paris clubs and night spots are a class apart and guarantee a great time!

Fed up with expensive Euro prices? Want a great summer week at affordable prices? Like the tailor made holiday for groups idea of your own apartment or villa with a group of friends – freedom and your own place with no hotel hassles. Then go for Siofok on the coast of Lake Balaton in Hungary.

Long a major favorite with Dutch, Scandinavians and other Europeans because of its nightlife and fab beaches it is yet to be discovered in the UK. Especially this year when Europe and the Med are hurting anyone with pounds in their pocket, this is a great place to go tailor made holidays for groups to guarantee a cool time at cooler prices

Season is from beginning of June to end August and, regret, because of popularity, we can only usually take bookings for whole weeks (minimum 5 nights) and for groups – not for individuals or couples only. Flights are easy – loads of options to Budapest and we arrange transfers to the coast

Masses of activities, in and out of the water, and the main attractions at night are the restaurants with really great prices and all-night clubs. Then just laze the day away on great beaches with good swimming conditions. For the active, apart from water sports, there are quad bikes, buggies and paintball all at prices much better than the UK

Article Source: Tailor Made Holidays for Groups in Europe

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Tailor Made Holidays For Groups

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Posted by on April 21, 2010 in Europe


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