28 September, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Catching the rays

Today's photo contribution is a very different sort of travel pic, which comes from Peter Henry....

After a five week drive through England; Spain, Portugal and Spain on the way back from our road trip, it was time to put the feet up on the return ferry crossing (Santander to Plymouth)! After horrendous UK 'summer' weather, we had no rain for the whole five weeks - bliss. The photo shows us catching the last rays, whilst approaching Plymouth Sound.

Great photo Peter, thank you for the contribution. If you have a photo you'd like to contribute, please send it to the e-mail address on my contact page, along with a short paragraph about where it was taken. Many thanks!

25 September, 2012

Fashion and funky in Portugal's Algarve

Hotel Vila Galé is a funky hotel located on the outskirts of the town of Lagos in Portugal's Algarve. It's situated a short walk across the road from Meia Praia Beach - a four kilometre long sandy beach which is so big, you can always find a quiet spot.

It's bigger than most places I feature on Travel Lightbulb, but it's the design that really caught my eye when I visited, and it definitely deserves its place here. This four star hotel has 248 standard rooms and 38 suites. 

Portuguese style inspired the decoration of the hotel, and the rooms are large and modern. That description matches most of the public areas too. There is a fashion theme to the bar (see catwalk shots on the columns in the photo below) and outfits created by Portuguese designers are draped over mannequins in many areas of the hotel.

The pool area is not only huge but also stunning, and there are plenty of sun loungers and a pool bar to quench your thirst on hot summer days. The hotel is very popular with families with young kids, and has a club to keep your little ones entertained.

It should be noted that this hotel is about a twenty minute walk to the marina and town, but taxis are cheap and Lagos, with its beautiful old town, and plentiful restaurants and bars, is well worth discovering.

21 September, 2012

Travel Photo Friday: Brilliant Budapest

Today's photo comes from journalist Nick Coppack who took the pic on a recent trip to Budapest. Let's hear more from the man himself....

No trip to Budapest is complete without a walk up Gellert Hill. Situated on the banks of the Danube River on the Buda side of the city, it rises 140 metres into the air and offers stunning views of Pest. A maze of paths (take your pick!) lead up the hill from Gellert Square to a picture-perfect summit that features a number of sculptures, including Hungary's own Statue of Liberty (commemmorating the liberation of Hungary from the Nazis) and, as this picture shows, Bishop Gellert, who played a vital role in converting Hungarians to Christianity around 1000AD.

Thanks for the contribution Nick, it's much appreciated and I love the photo and the story that goes with it! If you'd like to see your own photo here, then why not send it to the email address on my contact page, along with a short paragraph about where the photo was taken. Have a great weekend!

18 September, 2012

A Safari Tent in Scotland

If you're looking for somewhere to stay in the UK that's a little bit different, then look no further. I've found a place suitable for a family, that's also in a great location. The tents at Lochhouses are located on a farm near Edinburgh in East Lothian. They are the perfect base from which to explore the beautiful coastline.

Photo courtesy of www.canopyandstars.co.uk
They sleep eight and have one double bedroom; twin bunks; a cupboard bed, and a double sofa bed so are perfect for families of a group of friends. The tents have a spacious living area and a wood-burning stove with an oven to keep you cosy on cold Scottish nights!

Photo courtesy of www.canopyandstars.co.uk
While you are staying in a tent, it's not without its small luxuries - there is hot and cold running water, and real beds rather than camp beds. At the front of the tent you have a little deck with a wood burner - again to combat the Scottish weather!

Photo courtesy of www.canopyandstars.co.uk
The location is just perfect for exploring this part of the country. There is plenty to do in Dunbar itself, and there are also great local attractions like visiting Concorde at the Museum of Flight, or visiting Rosslyn Chapel half an hour away (see my earlier review of the chapel here). If you don't want to venture too far, then you can easily amuse yourself just exploring the woods or taking a horse ride on the beach.

Photo courtesy of www.canopyandstars.co.uk
If you want more information on the Heron Safari tent, or other glamping options, then find it here at Canopy and stars official website.

14 September, 2012

Travel Photo Friday: Peaceful scene in Scotland

As a proud Scot, I love nothing more than getting out and breathing the clean air in my home country, and the Scottish borders are a fantastic place to explore. The photo below was taken on a visit to the stunning Stobo Castle Health Spa on a cold February day. Despite being just over twenty miles from Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh, you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, and the scenery is absolutely beautiful. Sometimes it's important to remember that while it's great to travel to see and experience new things, you can also have a great time exploring what's right on your doorstep!

If you missed my original post on Stobo Castle click here to read more. I love featuring other people's travel photos, and if you'd like to contribute please get in touch at the email address on my contact page. Thanks in advance for any contributions you send.

11 September, 2012

Caribbean Cocoa - Boucan Hotel Chocolat

You may know Hotel Chocolat as the makers of yummy cocoa products, but did you know they also have an actual hotel on the Caribbean island of St Lucia? Boucan by Hotel Chocolat is fittingly situated on a site where much of the chocolate that is exported is cultivated and produced.

There are six cottage-style rooms (which they call Cocoa pods), which are set around a beautiful terrace and water feature. Another eight luxury rooms (called Cocoa Pods luxe) are set higher on a hill with their own verandas. Rooms have four poster beds, and semi-outdoor rain showers, and they also provide an iPod with a selection of playlists.

The rooms have window shutters, but are open to the outside and the nightlife can get noisy. It has to be said though I'm not talking about clubs and bars - but instead tree frogs, birds and crickets! The hotel does provide ear plugs, but I love nothing more than the noise of the Caribbean sending me to sleep!

The restaurant has fast become one of the hottest destinations on St Lucia whether you stay here or not. Inspired by the rare cocoa growing on the Estate, the menu sometimes uses it as a subtle spice - it may sound strange, but bear in mind it was used as a savoury ingredient for over three thousand years.

There is plenty to do here if you don't want to laze by the pool. You can take a boat cruise on the Caribbean side of the island and try a bit of snorkelling; spend a day on a nearby beach (there is a free shuttle service), or take a nature walk around the estate and create your own chocolate! The Piton mountains are St Lucia's most famous landmark, and the view of the Petite Piton is absolutely majestic from this hotel, which simply oozes class. If you want more information, see the official website here.

07 September, 2012

Travel Photo Friday: Curacao Floating Market

Today's photo is a colourful contribution from Linda Thompkins, so over to Linda for more details.

This photo was taken at the 'Floating Market' in Curacao. If you're not familiar with the island, it's located less than 44 miles off the coast of Venezuela, and is part of the ABC islands (Aruba, bonaire, and Curacao) which are all outside the Caribbean hurricane belt. The colourful, bustling market has been around for decades; has become part of life on Curacao and is a favourite tourist attraction. The market vendors are actually from Venezuela, and sail to Curacao to sell their fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. Here you can find exotic fruits you have never see or heard of along with plantains, mangos and coconuts.

The Venezuelan men live on their boats for approximately 6-8 months. The long row of boats are anchored at the back of the vending stands, which explains the term 'floating' market. Additional supply boats arrive daily from Venezuela to restock, and bring news letter and packages from back home. Top tip: The best time to stop at the market is before noon.

Wow Linda, what a great photo, and a fantastic story to go with it! You can read more from Linda on her twitter page @justatraveler I'd love to hear more travel tales from my followers, so if you have a photo you'd like to contribute please get in touch on the address on my contact page. In the meantime, have a great weekend.

05 September, 2012

Travel Lightbulb changes

I just wanted to update you all on some changes to my blog. From next week, I'll be posting on a Tuesday and my usual Travel Photo Friday at the end of the week. I'll still be doing my travel ramblings on the first Monday of each month, and on those weeks I will post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but the rest of the time look out for new posts on Tuesdays and Fridays.

If that has confused you then why not follow me on twitter - @travellightbulb, or why not like and follow my Facebook page as I'll keep you informed on there whenever a new post is on my blog. As regular followers will know, I'm always looking for travel photo contributions, so if you have a shot you'd be willing to share, then please get in touch on the email address on my contact page. Thanks for your support. These changes mean I can spend more time finding gems for you all, so keep following!

03 September, 2012

Space: the final frontier

This month's travel ramblings post features a "trip" that has the potential to take you further than ever before - and I don't mean to a far flung exotic destination. If you've ever dreamed of space travel, then a company called Excalibur Almaz are the people who plan to make that dream a reality.

The Isle of man international space exploration company plans to offer week-long orbital space flights beginning as early as 2015. They'll send tourists on round trips inside refurbished Russian space vehicles which will first dock with a space station orbiting Earth, before bring blasted into the Moon's orbit more than 238,000 miles away.

So what do you need to make the trip? Well the right level of physical and mental fitness is important . Not only that, but you need to have quite a lot of money! As you would expect, this will not be a cheap voyage (around £100 million), but months of ground-based training is also included and it will obviously be pretty exclusive.

This is not a new idea (as we already know that Richard Branson is going to offer 'space tourism' with his Virgin Galactic), but this trip would be a private expedition rather than a sightseeing tour. I never thought I'd live in a time when space travel would be possible; and although it scares me, it's also an incredibly exciting prospect. What do you think? If money was no object - is this the ultimate 'trip'?