30 October, 2012

A car enthusiasts delight

If you're passionate about cars, then I have just the place for you. The Lakeland Motor Museum, which is located close to the southern tip of Lake Windermere, is an unexpected delight! It has around 30,000 exhibits which have been assembled over a period of almost 50 years.

There are all sorts of exhibits here from vintage and classic cars, to those which are just plain fun - one of my own personal favourites is the little gem in the photo below!

As well as tracing over 100 years of motoring heritage, the museum also pays tribute to Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell. If you haven't heard of them, they were father and son who between them captured 21 world land and water speed records in the Bluebird series of cars and boats. Donald Campbell was tragically killed on nearby Coniston Water in 1967, whilst attempting to break his own water speed record.

There is actually a full size replica of the 1935 Bluebird car, along with the 1939 boat and jet hydroplane's. It's a fascinating place to visit, and there are so many weird and wonderful things to see here that it's worth a trip even if you're not a car enthusiast. For more information, visit the official website here.

26 October, 2012

Olympic Orbit

Today's photo takes us back to the London 2012 Olympics earlier this year, and to the Orbit Tower. It's the tallest art structure in Britain; was designed by internationally acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor, and is one of London's major new visitor destinations.  It was taken by Gemma Thompson, here's her tale...

The Orbit is an amazing construction with incredible views of the Olympic Park, and inside the stadium. I was lucky enough to watch Usain Bolt's 100m semi-final win from up here. The winding walk down the stairs was a tad scary - I was glad there is a lift to get up there! Well worth a visit.

Great photo Gemma, thanks for the contribution! If you have a photo you'd like to see featured on here,  please get in touch via the email address on my contact page. Thanks in advance!

23 October, 2012

The Pig - A 'restaurant with rooms' in the New Forest

If you're looking for a stylish but laid back country house hotel in the UK, I have somewhere that may interest you! The Pig is a relaxing retreat set in the heart of the New Forest National Park,  just one mile from the village of Brockenhurst, yet only a 90 minute drive from London. 

There are twenty six bedrooms with sixteen in the main house, and ten in the stable yard. They are all well equipped and have gorgeous bed linen and great showers and baths. They also have a little coffee machine; kettle, and a mini fridge with cold drinks and nibbles....oh, and the views are beautiful too!

Such is the importance of food at this place, they like to call it a restaurant with rooms! There is a walled garden, and the gardener/forager and chef grow and find the food, and then the chef decides what will go on the menu. 

The food is so fresh that the menu doesn't just change weekly, in fact it doesn't even change daily....it can change by the hour depending on what food has been sourced - now isn't that the way it should be?

The hotel was received the 'Outstanding Excellence and Innovation UK' award in the Conde Nast Johansens Awards in 2012, and it's no surprise. This could be just the perfect place to bed down after a fantastic meal!

19 October, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Flying to Paradise

This photo was taken on a trip to the Grenadine islands in the Caribbean (if you're new to my blog, you may not have read my review of this wonderful trip, so take a look here). One of the most exciting parts of the trip is the short flight from Barbados to Union Island, as you're flying through tiny puffy white clouds, and see the gorgeous islands in all their glory as you fly into Union. This photo always makes me want to return and do the trip all over again!

Why not contribute your own travel photo, and I'll provide a link to your blog/website. If you fancy doing that, then please get in touch on travellightbulb@hotmail.co.uk - or on my twitter page @travellightbulb. Hope to hear from you soon and in the meantime, have a happy weekend!

16 October, 2012

Michelin star dining in Dublin

Today's featured restaurant is the first Michelin starred place to be featured on Travel Lightbulb. The whole point of my blog is to feature things that suit everyone, from big budget luxury destinations to cheap as chips finds that are just as special. Chapter One, a stunning restaurant in Dublin, is leaning towards the more expensive side of things, but it's actually great value for the fantastic food and I couldn't leave it out. 

It has been said that you are not just buying a meal when you eat here, but that instead you're buying an experience, and I couldn't agree more with that statement. The attention to detail is fantastic, and the staff are friendly and have perfected their service so it's neither overly formal, or too casual.

So onto the food itself. The head chef focuses on local and seasonal producer to create an array of modern dishes with robust flavours. There are plenty of options for the carnivore, and also for the fish lover. They also cater extremely well for vegetarians with a whole menu dedicated to those who prefer that option.

Speaking of the menu options, you can go for anything from pre-theatre to a four course dinner. They also have tasting menus if you really want to savour lots of different flavours. If you're visiting Dublin, and want a superb culinary experience, then book a table at Chapter One. Their official website can be found here.

12 October, 2012

Travel Photo Friday: Bangkok bites!

Today's photo is a little unusual, but it does come under the banner of a 'travel photo' nonetheless! It comes courtesy of Jamie Sheppard who took it on a recent trip to Bangkok. Let's hear more about the gruesome contribution!

Bangkok is well known for its variety of street food, and cheap street food at that. Everything is available from chicken and shrimp and pork. Perhaps the strangest street offerings come from Khao San Road, a well known traveller hub in the heart of the old town. Here, for around 50 pence, you can feel like a contestant on "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here", and sample a range of bugs that include whole scorpions, giant cockroaches and even larger crickets. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!) I only tried the crickets and beetles, which actually weren't too bad. They were salty and extremely crunchy, but as long as you can get past the thought of the bug alive and think of it as a tasty snack, you'll be alright! However, allow yourself to be put off by the disgusted looks of some passersby and you could find it a tough task. Either way, it's all part of the weird and unusual experience that you get in Bangkok.

09 October, 2012

A world class hotel in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a fantastic city with a great buzz about it, and choosing a place to stay is not easy. Location is important with any city break, and I've found a beautiful hotel that's not only in a great position, but is world class. The Conservatorium Hotel is ideally located in the heart of the city's major museums, and parallel to the designer fashion district. It's also a short stroll from the Jordaan neighbourhood, so you'll be able to discover the gabled houses that dot the grand canals for which the city is so famous.

The hotel has 129 rooms with suites of varying sizes. They pay homage to the building's original lofty ceilings, and almost half the rooms have been made into a stunning duplex layout with exposed structural beams.

An integral part of the hotel was the creation of the restaurant and bars. They're not just for hotel guests, but are also popular with locals residents. There is a lounge with oversized sofas; an informal Brasserie; a specialty restaurant which offers local dishes and the bar is the ultimate watering hole which also serves gourmet tapas style food.

As well as discovering everything Amsterdam has to offer, there is a wellbeing centre at the hotel which features a spa; gym, and pool. If you're looking for somewhere that gives you more than just a base from which to explore the city, then The Conservatorium could be for you. You can visit the official website here.

05 October, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Stunning Sunsets

Today's photo was taken in Barbados a couple of years ago - there are sometimes wonderful sunsets in the Caribbean, and there is also a phenomenon called a green flash. This happens when you have a really clear sky, and when the sun dips down below the horizon, you see.....a green flash! It's really strange. Sundowners (cocktails while watching the sun go down!) are big news in the Caribbean, and this evening was no different. The only thing that makes me sad about sunsets, is they mean you have a day less of your holiday left - boo!

Oh, and can you spot the cruise ship on the horizon? Please get in touch if you'd like to see your own photo featured here. You can contact me at the email address on my contact page, or on my twitter (@travellightbulb) or facebook pages. Have a great weekend!

03 October, 2012

Luxury and exploration in Chile

Luxury is not the first word that springs to mind when I think of travel in South America, but that's exactly what I bring you today. The Singular is a stunning hotel in Chile, located in Puerto Bories in the heart of Chilean Patagonia.

All of the rooms in the hotel face the Patagonian fjords, and the views are just stunning. They make the most of the views with floor to ceiling windows, and the rooms are also very well appointed, and spacious.

There are many regional choices on the menu here, and the restaurant is in one of the original brick buildings and have been decorated beautifully. As you can imagine, to go along with the amazing food, the Chilean wines are superb.

The hotel offers over a huge selection of excursions, and the guides will tailor them to all levels of difficulty. Guests comment on how amazing the guides are; and what is fantastic is that as well as being experienced, they're also included in the full board price. You can sail to glaciers; go horse riding, and you are also close to all the nearby natural wonders of the world such as the world famous Torres Del Paine National Park.

Although some people say it seems expensive to stay full board, it's worth it in the end as it includes your airport transportation, all the excursions (miss them and miss out!) and all your food and drink from the restaurant menu. If you'd like more information, visit the official website here.

01 October, 2012

Just cruising around

Despite travelling all over the world I have to admit, I've never been on a cruise. I have lots of family and friends that have been on cruise holidays and loved them, but for some reason I've just never done it. I'm not really sure that the idea of a full on two week holiday where you're relatively confined to a ship appeals to me, but when friends come back raving about them, I do wonder if I'm missing out!

Photo courtesy of AMA Waterways
One prospect I am intrigued by is a river cruise. They are becoming increasingly popular and there's growing interest in this market, especially from experienced ocean cruisers who are looking for a way to visit new regions and so called 'bucket list' destinations. You may be surprised at the options available - you can do anything from cruising around the popular European rivers and Nile trips, to exotic cruises along the Mekong and Yangtze rivers.

Photo courtesy of AMA Waterways
So is one river ship the same as another? Apparently not - according to website Cruise Critic, most ships look similar, because of the bridges and locks they have to navigate, but there can be significant differences onboard. Some cruise lines opt for a minimalist style to create more space, but others fill every inch with sumptuous furnishings and decor. Money is a big consideration with any holiday, but river cruises are typically one of the most inclusive options of any such holiday, which can make them excellent value. In most cases your accommodation; transportation; excursions, meals and some drinks are all included.

Photo courtesy of AMA Waterways
It's still a holiday I'm not sure is right for me, but perhaps I just haven't found the right option for me yet!  It can be quite daunting looking at cruise itineraries where you're at sea for days on end, but a river cruise that is perhaps a little shorter, or where the itinerary means you can spend a bit more time 'on land' may appeal to some.  If you're thinking of planning your own river cruise, then you may want to have a look at Cruise Critic, a website which enables you to compare ships; cruise lines and itineraries, to suit you preferences.