25 December, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hello fellow travel lovers, and a very Merry Christmas to you all! Wherever you are spending the festive season this year, I hope you have an amazing time.  Here's to a fantastic Christmas!

21 December, 2012

Travel Photo Friday: The perfect day

Coming up in the new year on my blog, I'm going to be featuring the most wonderful place to have lunch on the island of Majorca. Today, I thought I'd give you a sneaky peak at what's to come. This photo was taken as I was finishing lunch, and as you can see the views from the restaurant are amazing.  Sometimes all you need to be perfectly happy when you're on your travels is a cool glass of wine, and a stunning view like this!

If you have a photo you'd like to donate, then please get in touch via the address on my contact page. All I need is a couple of sentences about the photo, and the pic itself. I'd love to see your own travel shots! In the meantime, have a great weekend - cheers!

18 December, 2012

Luxury in the Lake District - The Swan Hotel & Spa

If you're looking for a weekend retreat with a bit of luxury, and beautiful surroundings, then look no further. The Swan Hotel and Spa is situated at the southern tip of Lake Windermere in Cumbria, and suits everyone from couples, to families and business guests. 

The oldest part of the building was erected in 1623, but now it has been expanded and offers 51 bedrooms and suites which have all the modern facilities you would expect. It still has character and charm though, and the rooms are fresh; bright and have stunning views.

The highlight of my stay at The Swan was DEFINITELY the food! It has a great reputation among Lakes locals (which is always a good sign!) and you can almost see other diners drooling as they enjoy their food! Breakfast, which is included, is also amazing with all sorts of cooked options on offer. Top tip - they serve incredibly delicious eggs benedict!

When I stayed, I had an energising massage in the spa which was just fantastic. It helped me to relax while also preparing me for a lovely walk around the local area. There is also a pool and gym area, for those who are feeling more energetic!

The boutique hotel is a great base from which to explore the countryside, but it's also the perfect place to relax and unwind. If you want a weekend away, with amazing food, then this could be just the spot for you! Visit the official website here.

14 December, 2012

Travel Photo Friday: Castara kids

I love today's photo, and the story behind it is even better. Steve Wooler has the tale...

Each year, an organisation on Trinidad brings over parties of under-privileged kids to Tobago, from the poorer parts of Port of Spain and possibly other parts of Trinidad. They enjoy a week or so camping on the playing fields outside Les Coteaux (a short distance from the old Arnos Vale Waterwheel) and during the week they are taken out to enjoy various activities. One of their regular events is a day out on Castara's main beach - and this photo shows the kids enjoying various activities on the beach.

Great photo Steve, thanks so much for your contribution. If you want to know more about Tobago, then I can highly recommend Steve's website - www.myTobago.info, it's a great source of information for anyone visiting the island.

If you have a travel photo you'd like me to feature, please get in touch through the email address on my contact page. Thanks in advance.

11 December, 2012

Travel back in time on the train in Majorca

If you ever find yourself on holiday in Majorca, then there is one thing you must not miss. There is a train which takes you between Palma and Sóller and it is absolutely stunning - as you can see from the photo below. 

Since 1912, a daily service has been running on narrow tracks along this route which is just over twenty seven kilometres long. As well as the beautiful, traditional train, the highlight of the journey is the stunning scenery along the way.

As you climb out of Sóller, you cross bridges, and viaducts, and get great views over the town - have your camera at the ready. It them plunges down to the plain through tunnels and gorges through the valleys of orange groves.

If you have ever wanted to travel back in time, then take this lovely forty minute journey. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and it's also practical if you want to take a day trip to either Palma or Soller. If you want more information, or timetables click here.

07 December, 2012

Travel Photo Friday: The Venice of the East

I'm really excited about today's photo, which comes from Arpit Verma, as I think it's absolutely stunning. Let's hear about where it was taken from Arpit....

The photo was taken in a place called Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan in India. Udaipur is famously called the lake City of India, and is one of the places with the most historical importance in the country. The image is of a lake called Lake Pichola, one of the several beautiful lakes in the city.

Top tip: Udaipur is a huge tourist attraction for people around the globe, and no wonder it is called the Venice of the East.

If you have an unusual photo, or simply a beautiful travel pic 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! Have a great weekend wherever you are.

05 December, 2012

A beautiful historic mansion - Casa Gangotena, Ecuador

Travel Lightbulb is taking you to Ecuador today, and a hotel that is featured in the Condé Nast Traveller Hot List for 2012. Casa Gangotena is in the capital city of Ecuador, Quito. The hotel situated in a newly-restored historic mansion which overlooks Plaza San Francisco - the heart of one of the best preserved colonial districts of Latin America.

It was originally built as a palatial family home in the 1920's, but fell into gradual disrepair. Thankfully it has been restored to its original glory. The three-storey hotel has just 31 rooms, which are full of antiques but also bursting with contemporary design. The best rooms are the balcony suite and the Junior suite - which used to be the tea room of the Ganotea family.

Quito itself has one of the largest, least-altered, and best-preserved historic centres in the Americas. Along with Kraków, it was the first World Cultural Heritage Site declared by UNESCO in 1978.  Take it all in at the bar on the top floor - the view is unbelievable!

Quito is a great place to explore, and is not only sophisticated but also wonderfully eclectic! This is the perfect base from which to do that. If you want more information on today's featured hotel, visit the official website here.

03 December, 2012

Do you trust online reviews?

When you're planning to visit somewhere or go on holiday, how often do you use internet review sites before you make your decision? I have to say while I always have an idea of what I'm looking for, I sometimes go onto sites such as Trip Advisor to see what other travellers think. There's no doubt that the internet is part of everyday life (and a crucial part of the travel industry); but if you read a bad review, would you still visit that restaurant or stay in that hotel?

While I find review sites very helpful, incredibly, it is estimated that 1 in 10 reviews are fake. Around 85% of consumers search for reviews and recommendations online; and as we all know word of mouth can have a big impact on our views, which makes it very influential. Mark Hall, managing director of online reputation management comany Got Juice says:  "A single bad review can ruin the chances of gaining new customers and create a long standing, horrible word of mouth campaign offline."

So should we trust review sites in the first place? I have to say I make my own choice in the end, and believe that all reviews should be taken with a pinch of salt anyway. On a recent holiday I went to a restaurant that came highly recommended - it was ok, but actually turned to to be the poorest meal of the trip. The motto of the tale? One man's meat is another man's poison!