29 June, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Football Focus

As well as travel, another of my passions is sport. Today's photo was taken at Wembley Stadium before a football game. I was walking to my seat, and looked up to see the sun setting behind the famous arena, and thought it made for a nice silhouette! For those who aren't into sport, the stadium was opened in 2007, and was built on the site of the old Wembley stadium. It holds 90,000 spectators, and the Wembley Arch is an iconic sight. It spans 1,040 ft, and is the longest single span roof structure in the world. It's so high it even requires beacons for low flying aircraft!

I'm always looking for contributors for this feature, so if you have a travel photo you'd like to share, just send it to me using the email address on my contact page, and include a short paragraph about where it was taken. Thanks in advance for your contributions.

27 June, 2012

Unusual week: Wigwams on Route 66

My second featured accommodation for Unusual week is a legendary pit-stop on America's world famous Route 66. The thing I love about this place is not only that it's pretty wacky, but also that it was part of the inspiration for the 'Cosy Cone Motel' in the Disney Pixar movie 'Cars'!

Those who have travelled along Route 66 will know that there are many icons along the way, and this motel is one of them. The man who inspired the retro motel was Frank Redford, who was heavily influenced by native Indian culture - as you can see below!

The motel has a village-style arrangement of nineteen 30 foot-tall tepees made from wood framing, concrete and stucco. Each wigwam is equipped with what the hotel call 'traveller's essentials', and that includes your own barbecue! The 'rooms' also have a fridge; tv; AC/heater and free wi-fi. There is also a pool onsite.

The wigwams actually quite spacious - almost tardis-like, as they don't look that big from the outside. You are on a main road here, but that's part of motel living in my opinion, and the novelty factor reigns supreme again today - when else are you going to stay in a wigwam?

If you want a dose of kitsch, then you need look no further. The slogan on the hotel's website says "Sleep tight in a Wigwam tonight!"  - sounds like fun to me!

25 June, 2012

Unusual week: Plane sailing in Stockholm

Since starting this blog, I have come across several incredibly unusual hotels, and I decided to feature a couple in a week I've named "Unusual week" here on Travel Lightbulb! Today's incredible place to stay is like no other I've ever seen. It's certainly original, and before I tell you more about it, the photo below says it all.

Amazing or what?! Yes, that's right.....it is actually an old Boeing 747 - the first in the world to be converted into a hostel with more than 30 rooms. It sits on a disused runway at Stockholm airport, and is a 15 minute walk from the main terminal, or via a shuttle bus which takes just 5 minutes.

The plane was previously used by various airlines including Pan Am and Singapore, and has certainly been given a new lease of life! Some spaces are multi-occupancy dorms, while others like the flight deck (see photo below) are en-suite double bedrooms, so don't be put off by the term 'hostel'. The Cockpit suite has its own bathroom with shower.

The first class cabin has been converted into a 24 hour cafe, and there are plans to convert the engines into rooms, and also utilise the wings. The fixtures and fittings of the jumbo have mostly been retained (the signs notifying you where the emergency exits are still exist); however on renovating the aircraft,  they added things like wi-fi and flat-screen TVs to make the experience more pleasant.

Jumbo Stay is obviously a very practical option if you're on an early flight out of Stockholm. It makes a a change from a boring airport hotel, and is actually one of the cheapest places to stay at the airport. When I saw the photo of the flight deck room, I totally got it -  how could you resist that room, even if it's for the sheer novelty factor! Unless you're one of the lucky ones who can afford to turn left on entering a plane, I can imagine sleeping here could be the best night's sleep you'll ever have on a plane! If you'd like more information on this fantastic place to stay, please click here.

22 June, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Going floral this Friday!

I took today's Travel Photo in a lush garden in the Caribbean. Flowers that you don't get in your own back garden scream "tropical" to me, and I loved the colours of this beauty against the dark green of the leaves. It's amazing how you can sum up how warm a place is with one photo.....can you almost feel the humidity?

If you want to share your own travel photo with me, just send it to me using the email address on my contact page, and include a short paragraph about where it was taken. Thanks in advance for your contributions!

20 June, 2012

Stunning views in Cumbria at Linthwaite House

The Lake District is a beautiful part of the UK; and when choosing somewhere to stay, it's nice if you can get a place that takes advantage of the stunning vistas. Linthwaite House does just that, with panoramic views of one of Cumbria's most beautiful stretches of water, Windermere.

The location is perfect for exploring; but the hotel itself is set in beautiful grounds, and has a stunning terrace - a great place to sit while watching the sun go down. It's just outside of the main village of Windermere; and although it's very quiet, you're still close to the shops and restaurants nearby.

There are thirty rooms at the hotel - all are luxurious and very tastefully decorated, and some overlook Windermere and the Lake District fells.  The owner describes the interiors as Raffles meets Ralph Lauren!

Picture crackling fires; afternoon tea, and sumptuous surroundings, and you can imagine what this place is like. Not only is the accommodation superb, but guests say you simply have to eat here, as the food at the hotel is cutting edge and delicious!

The photo above says it all about the views I mentioned at the start of this post, and the hotel is the perfect base from which to go walking; cycling or touring the Lake District. It's close to all the major attractions including Beatrix Potter's 'Hilltop' and Wordsworth's homes. To visit the hotel's official website, click here.

18 June, 2012

Bird watching in Tobago

I have never been a binocular carrying; bird watching type, but when you visit the Caribbean on a regular basis you can't help but become interested in the stunning colourful birds that are constantly flying around. I recently came across the perfect place for bird watchers and novices alike to watch birds at close hand on the stunning island of Tobago. 

We read about Adventure Farm and Nature Reserve on a superb website called My Tobago - a fantastic resource if you're thinking of going to the island. Although we'd read a report on a forum, we didn't really know what to expect, but it was one of the highlights of our stay. The twelve acre estate is on the Arnos Vale Road, and is owned by Ean MacKay. 

The photo above shows just how lush the entrance to the estate is, and once you've parked up, it gets even better! When we went, there was no one around....just a little note telling us to make a small payment in a tiny wooden box; to take a couple of pieces of banana, and put them on the branches of the trees. We took a seat and waited.

Within seconds of sitting down on deck chairs, dozens of different coloured hummingbirds appeared at the sugar water dispensers (see above). While they may be famous for the whirring noise they make with their tiny wings, we actually saw them stop flying, and just sit and drink - amazing!  Larger birds then appeared on the branches of the trees in front of us where we'd placed the fruit. We saw lots of different species, but the most stunning had to be the Mot Mot (see below) which has vivid blue feathers on it's head, and a long distinctive racket like tail.

After that, we took a little walk around the estate - there is a little path to follow, which takes you on a lovely stroll - keep your eyes peeled, as we saw more beautiful birds on our walk. As well as simply visiting, you can also stay in the eco villas or the apartment on the estate so you can make the most of life in this peaceful place. Guests can pick herbs from the garden to use in their meals, and as it's only 20 minutes from the airport, it would be a great location from which to explore this beautiful island. 

If you want to spend a morning/evening surrounded by beautiful birds in a peaceful location, then I can't recommend this highly enough! For more information on bird watching and the accommodation options, click here.

15 June, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Denver Skyline

The latest travel photo Friday is a reader contribution of the Denver Colorado skyline from Laura Ann Klein. Over to Laura for more...

It was taken last month from the steps of the Museum of Natural History in City Park. One of the most beautiful things about Denver is our skyline includes a backdrop of mountains referred to as "the front range". Twenty plus years ago, having air this clear was threatened but through rigorous clean air controls we are lucky enough that on most days we can see our mountains to the west.

Great photo Laura. You can see more of Laura's travel photos on her blog: edgyjunecleaver.com If you'd like to see your own photo being featured here, send it to me at travellightbulb@hotmail.co.uk. Please include your name; and a paragraph about where and when the photo was taken. All contributions are welcome!

13 June, 2012

A boutique hotel in Norfolk

Titchwell Manor is a child friendly boutique hotel which overlooks the North Norfolk coastline and marshes. It's a Victorian farmhouse that has been transformed into an elegant hotel which is renowned for its superb food.

The lovely thing about this hotel is the range of accommodation. You can choose between Victorian manor rooms, or more contemporary look in rooms that look onto the stunning herb garden.

Not only is Titchwell Manor child friendly, but it's also a great place to bring your dog on holiday. There are lots of open fields and woods to explore, as well as golden beaches nearby. The hotel will even provide a dog bed, dog biscuits and a water bowl in your bedroom!

There are two restaurants at the manor - the fine dining Conservatory Restaurant; and the Eating Rooms, which is a stunning and informal dining area and bar with a sea view terrace. I mentioned that the hotel is child friendly, and the cute thing about the kids menu is that it includes mini roast beef on Sunday so the little ones can enjoy the same dinner as mum and dad!

There is lots to do in the area - the beaches nearby are lovely; guests can visit the RSPB Titchwell Marsh nature reserve; and golf and water sports are also on offer in the surrounding area. If you want more information, click here for the official website.

11 June, 2012

A stunning B&B in rural Somerset

I love staying in bed and breakfast accommodation, and the other day, I came across a stunning example north of Castle Cary, in the heart of rural Somerset. Clanville Manor is a working beef farm that offers B&B accommodation in a beautiful Georgian house.

The manor has been in the family since 1898, and has been run as a B&B for 17 years. It featured in the AA Lifestyle Guides as one of '500 Perfect Places to stay', and is also in the top 10% of AA 4 star rated B&B's. 

You can guarantee fresh eggs will be served at breakfast time (there are hens in a run beside the car park!) and in the evening there are plenty of great restaurants and pubs to choose from in the area. There is lots of sightseeing to be done, with museums and National Trust properties aplenty. Having said all that, if you just fancy chilling out then there is a heated swimming pool which is available in the summer months.

There are also two self-catering cottages available for weekly lets and short breaks throughout the year, and recently the family have decided to let the whole manor house. It is ideal for large family holidays (it sleeps up to eight), and having watched their own children grow up there, the family are now looking forward to welcoming others to the manor for get-togethers. 

While they have some dates available this year they plan to do this for longer periods of time in the summer of 2013. If you'd like more information, the official website is: www.clanvillemanor.co.uk

08 June, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Summer sunflowers

Today's photo will be a familiar sight to anyone who has ever travelled through Europe by car. The sunflower fields that greet you in France and Spain in particular are breathtakingly beautiful, and prove to be a real distraction to drivers who are not used to seeing them! These lush fields could be right out of a Vincent Van Gogh painting of sunflower fields in bloom, and are one of the highlights of a driving trip in Europe.

If you have a photo you'd like to see featured on Travel Lightbulb, then please send it to me at travellightbulb@hotmail.co.uk. Please include your name, and tell me where, and when the photo was taken. All contributions are welcome!

06 June, 2012

A resort with a difference on California's Big Sur coast

If you're looking for an unusual experience on California's breathtaking Big Sur coast, then Treebones is just the place. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean with stunning panoramic views in all directions, and is surrounded by the Los Padres National Forest.

The main lodging venue is the yurts, which are a great option if you want to feel like you're doing 'outdoor living' without camping.  If you've not heard of them before, Yurts are tent-like circular fabric structures that have wood lattice frames. At Treebones, they are spacious, and tastefully furnished. They even have lighting; queen sized beds, and a hot and cold sink. The shower and toilet facilities are just a short stroll away. 

Eating options here can be found in the Wild Coast Restaurant or the Sushi Bar (see above). The restaurant specialises in local ingredients grown and harvested from their own organic garden. As for the sushi bar; it is outdoors with an unobstructed ocean view, and a great place from which to watch the sun set. It is also the only one for sixty miles!

From the yurts you can hear the sound of the ocean. You can sleep under the stars looking up through the sky dome from the comfort of your own bed. It's the perfect place for couples or families. If you'd like to visit the official website, click here.

04 June, 2012

Flying, love it or hate it?

It's the first Monday of the month, and time for another of my  travel ramblings. I decided to feature one of the most important parts of travelling.....flights. Many people love travelling, but hate flying - so which category do you fall into - do you love it, or hate it? 

Flying can be an amazing experience, and if you want to get away in a hurry, then simply jumping on a plane, and reaching your destination a few hours later is the easy way to do it. Having said that, there can be many downsides to this type of transport such as a toddler in the row behind you who won't stop kicking your seat, or delays that mean you're stuck in the airport for hours spending your holiday cash on sunglasses you don't need!

Surely there are also positives to flying - we all spend the majority of our time working hard, and not getting a chance to relax. So if you're on a long flight then a few hours of reading a good book; listening to some music, or watching a film you didn't have time to see at the cinema is surely a bonus as you make your way to your final destination without doing a thing! Even better, you can do that while sipping on a cold beer or glass of bubbly - you can't do that on a driving holiday!

For me, living in the UK, my holiday starts as soon as the plane gets above the clouds, and you see that stunning blue sky. You know then that the next time you touch the ground, you're officially on holiday and nothing can trouble you for the next two weeks. Which camp are you in - do you love it or hate it?!

01 June, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Surprise in the sky

A few years ago on holiday in Majorca, I went on a drive around the island. I came across a stunning beach which was almost deserted, and had stunning mountains behind it. While taking some photos of the beach, I turned around to see this extraordinary sight.

A helicopter was flying out around the coast, and must have decided to take the scenic route - who can blame them - the view was stunning!

If you'd like to send in a photo for me to feature here, then please send it and a paragraph about where it was taken to travellightbulb@hotmail.co.uk