Walking in the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes

Cloaked in a black suit and a foreboding top hat, this stealth figure looked out of place standing beside the modern Underground Station in London England.

 Feeling no fear I joined the growing crowd of curious onlookers.  “The game is afoot” he announced in a conspiring tone, and turned swiftly. Not bothering to look behind at whom dared to follow the mysterious guide walking in the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes.

 “What beguiles you to study this mythical detective who has never walked the cobblestoned streets of London?” boomed the guide of London Walks.

 After a hearty laugh at ourselves, we listened as our leader described how the fictional Sherlock Holmes was created by Arthur Conan Doyle. How the famous detective had solved the famous mysteries of the day from his imaginary study at 221B Baker Street.

 Sleuthing through Charing Cross, down dark alleys, past famous London landmarks we followed as close as the crowd allowed. I dare not miss a word this man had to reveal.

 Posed at the entrance to a cold dark alley I closed my eyes for a second, I could almost see the gaslights lining the famous Strand. I felt a sliver of cold fear. Was this how his fictional victims felt as they ran helplessly through London’s dangerous streets?

  “In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes ends at the Sherlock Holmes Restaurant and Museum.  A tour of the museum is worth your time and money.

Why is Easyjet UK’s #1 Airline?

EasyJet’s fare prices make them UK’s #1 airline, and we are delighted to fly them year after year.

I automatically check their flights first, because they offer the largest number of flights to the most popular destinations all around Europe. Their fares consistently beat out other chartered airlines flying to the same destination.

Over the years I have found their flights prompt, staff friendly, and seat comfortable. My husband is six feet and we will often choose to upgrade to premium seats. The small charge is worth the guarantee of arriving fresh and eager to enjoy our holiday.

The airline maintains their lowest fares by limited complimentary service.  Meals, drinks and headphone cost extra. Who cares.  I can always pack a chocolate bar.

The website is loaded with great resources. My favourite place to visit is the low fare finder. Each week I can check out which exciting European destination is on sale.  Check out http://www.easyjet.com.

EasyJet also offers complete holiday packages. When in the website, click on the button called “holidays” and you too, will discover, why EasyJet is UK’s #1 Airline.

 

 

London Walks

I’m a historical tourist. I love most things ancient and historical.

 Every year I grab a flight to Europe from Vancouver, and every year I look forward to my next chapter in life’s history book.

 Our journey begins in the historical city of London. Over the years I have found a great walking company that has revealed the history of London, one walk at a time.

 London Walks was founded nearly half a century ago by Keith Baverstock, an Australian. Over the years the walking company has earned the reputation of being the best loved walking tour on the planet.

 To join a walking tour, meet the guide at the pre-arranged London Tube Station (found on website). There is no need to pre-book or pre pay, the walks run rain or shine.  Each tour last approximately two hours and costs $10 British Pound, per adult.

 Over the years I have wandered in Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes. Learned the secrets of St. Paul’s, British Museum, Westminster Abbey, from an expert. Enjoyed the Old Knightsbridge Pub Walk, and late at night, I trembled through the Haunts of Jack the Ripper.

 My most memorable walk was called the Charles Dickens London.  The enthusiasm behind the guide’s words, the purpose in each step she took, the long Victoria dress she wore. I knew even before I started the walk, that I was about to embark on memorable journey that I could cherish forever

 London Walks has so many regular tours I don’t have the space to list them all. Whatever one you choose, the walking experience, will be the highlight of your trip to London.

 Every walk I take reveals a fascinating chapter of London’s history. Every year I can’t wait to consult the walking tour’s website to see where my history lesson will take me.  

If your planning a trip to London, check out their website  http://www.walks.com. 

Snapshot of Crete

Although it could not be more Greek, Crete is a country within a country with its own history, folklore and traditions.

The island was the birthplace of Europe’s oldest civilization, the enigmatic Minoan culture that flourished over 4,000 years ago.

Crete is the largest island in  Greece and the second biggest (after Cyprus) of the East Mediterranean. It lies at the Southern Aegean Sea and at the crossroads of three continents Europe, Asia and Africa.

The island has a population of 600,000. Approximately 42% live in Crete’s main cities and towns whilst 45% live in rural areas

The island stretches for 260km  in length but is only 60 km at the widest point.

Cretans still preserve the bonds with their rich folk traditions and cultural heritage. The Cretan dances, Pentozalis, Haniotikos, Pidihtos, Maleviziotikos etc, are still danced at every opportunity

Unemployment is relatively low on Crete, with a large proportion of its labour force employed in the services sector, notably in occupations related to tourism.

The main sources of wealth in Crete are agriculture and tourism. The cultivation of the olive tree is very important in Crete and excellent virgin olive oil is produced here. Other important products include oranges, grapes and vegetables from greenhouses. Honey, cheese and herbs are of excellent quality also. Finally, big numbers of sheep and goats are raised in Crete.

The traditional time to visit is April to October but the best time to visit is May or June when the weather is not so hot and the sights are not crowed with hoards of tourists.

 

 

Comparing 3* to 4* All Inclusive Resorts

This year we are visiting Lanzarote, the fourth largest island in the Canaries. We are choosing to stay in Playa Blanca, the resort furthest from the airport, but an area that offers the best deals.

During my research I compared the 3* Marconfort Atlantic Gardens Apartments to the beach front 4* Hotel Hesperia Costa Dorada, that includes a nine hole pitch and putt golf course and a Spa with Turkish baths.

Both resorts are close to the beach, and rated high on http://www.tripadvisor.com. Both offer the standard all inclusive package that includes, all meals, snacks, alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks and on site entertainment.

The 3* Marconfort Atlantic Gardens Apartments is a 30 minute stroll from the Marina Rubican, the heart of the tourist centre in Playa Blanca. It offers a restaurant, bar, and pool bar. Activities include: two swimming pools, tennis courts, volleyball, mini golf and a gym.

The beachfront 4* Hotel Hesperia Playa Dorada is located a 10 minute stroll along the seafront promenade to Rubican Marian.  The hotel offers 3 restaurants, 5 bars, 6 pools, a wellness centre including Turkish baths, 9 hole pitch and putt golf course, tennis courts, a gym,  and daytime activities offered by animation team.  After dark, the hotel offers daily live entertainment in the Atlantic Bar.

The professional animation teams are the main reason we consider the 4* resorts much better value.  (Most 4* resorts offer day and evening entertainment, but you still need to do your research.)

The team offers a variety of daytime activities, usually located around the main pool. Aqua aerobics, yoga, archery , boules, is found on many 4* resorts. The activities and times offered are usually displayed in the lobby, so it is easier to plan your day.

I always look forward to the nightly entertainment over the free drinks. Both the day and entertainment are a fabulous way to meet the other guests.

At the end of our research, my husband and I always opt to spend a little more money to enjoy the full entertainment package, and the best location money can buy.

Check out your holidays options on http://www.sunshine.co.uk. A little bit of planning creates the best holidays.

 

 

 

 

Going All Inclusive in the Canary Islands

The temptation to island hop can be enticing, but I’m glad we decided to slow down, and enjoy the moment.  Going all inclusive keeps the prices affordable.  We can come back to our happy place, and to a different island, year after year.

The holiday package we purchased through http://www.sunshine.co.uk covered all of our needs:  flights, hotel room, meals, snacks, drinks (alcohol and non alcoholic) and day to evening entertainment.

I did not feel compelled to stay on the resort and get my money’s worth. The tropical island was ours to discover, and we could savour the local cuisine, during the day. The final, affordable, price of the holiday package, left me plenty of money in the budget to pay for our lunches out.

We choose island of Tenerife, on our first holiday in the Canaries. Our resort hotel, Green Garden Resort and Spa in Playa de las America soon turned into our home away from home.

I would gladly return, year after year, but my adventurous spirit beckons me to try something new.

From our first night wandering along the seafront promenade, lavishing in sunsets more beautiful than I had seen before, I knew I’d found my happy place.  I also realized that paying all inclusive would allow me to enjoy the Canaries, at my own pace.

Year after year, I have found the best all inclusive deals with a dedicated online holiday company called http://www.sunshine.co.uk.  They rate 4.8/5 on http://www.reviewcentre.com. Each year I check out other tour companies but http://www.sunshine.co.uk always offers the best prices and so many choices for hotels and flights.

If your looking for fun in the sun, any time of year,  check out the Canary Island.  Check out http://www.sunshine.co.uk and enjoy the advantages of going all inclusive.

 

 

 

 

 

teneriff 131

Who were the Guanches of Tenerife?

The origins of this pre-Hispanic race are a mystery, but it is widely accepted that they came from North Africa.

What is known about the Guanches is taken from the writings of the Spanish Chroniclers and archaeological discoveries that have been made.

The Guanches were hunter-gatherer tribe who lived a lifestyle like the people from the Stone Age.

The research into these people revealed that they shared a number of cultural characteristics with the ancient Egyptians.  Their biggest link to the Egyptian race was the Pyramids of Guimar located not far from the town of Candelaria.

The nine statues that line the Candelaria seafront is an unforgettable reminder that this brave race existed.

I was immediately drawn to them as I approached the harbour front of Candelaria.

Statues of Tenerife’s original inhabitants can be found all over the island, but nothing can compare to the emotional impact of starring up at Candelaria’s brave soldiers.

 

teneriff 130

 

 

teneriff 128 - Copy

Journey to the Patron Saint of Canary Islands

Candelaria is a small coastal town, located on the north east coast of Tenerife.

The village is known for the Virgin of Candelaria, and the Basillica was built in her honour

The massive size of the church dwarfs the small village with a population of just 2,000 residents.

The Virgin of Candelaria is the patron saint of Canary Island and on August 15th, the locals throw a fiesta to show their devotion.

Religious visitors travel from all over the world to visit the main sight of this village, the Basillica.

I was lucky that the Basillica was almost empty that morning. I could stop to admire the brightly colored murals in peaceful silence.

teneriff 135

Back out on the Plaza de la Patrona de Canarias, we wandered passed the nine statues who represent the aboriginal Guanche kings who guard the Virgen of Candelaria. Steel weapons at the ready, glittering in the late morning.

Guanches are the original settlers of the Canary Islands, and I will blog about them next Monday.

teneriff 268

Journey to Mount Teide in Tenerife

Our favourite drive tour was our winding journey out to Mount Teide, the largest mountain in Spain.

I expected the drive to include hair raising turns and tiny roads with sudden drops but the experience was a snapshot of breathless views through scented pine and eucalyptus forests

The TF-21, that cuts through Teide National Park, is beautiful road that is well maintained. The roads rises on a steady pace.

The forest ends and roads opens to unique landscapes of colorful rocks interspaced between wild grass and brown barren land.

We stopped to grab a cup of coffee at the restaurant at the foot of the gondola. We starred through the panoramic windows as tourists braved the ride into the blue sky.

The 25 Euro gondola ride takes 7 minutes. The cable car arrived at a rocky perch where we wandered along the mountain pathways to admire the lofty views.

Mount Teide is a great family attraction. If you don’t want to splurge for the cable car the lunar landscape is perfect for hikers of all ages.

Tips for Driving in Tenerife

Let us start with the basics. In Tenerife they drive on the right hand side of the road with the steering wheel on the left of the vehicle (as in most of Europe, except the UK and Cyprus).

The main motorway, the TF-1, is smooth driving, and runs from the south of the island, to the capital Santa Cruz, and all the way out to Puerto de la Cruz. Use this highway when you can.

The most challenging area to drive in Tenerife is on the northwest of the island. the hairpin bends, steep drops and fogged in mountain roads require your constant attention. This area has some of the most beautiful natural sights. The coastal town of Garachico is not to be missed.

Once you leave behind the TF1, and TF5 cruising along Tenerife’s country roads is an enjoyable experience, but the key word is “laidback”. The locals, Tinerfeños, travel slowly and look for every opportunity to stop suddenly and socialize.

We rented a Hyundai Accent for five days. The total cost per day, including taxes and insurance, was $30 Euros. At the time, a GPS was not available. The island is small, and we managed okay after our first trip.

Our most scenic drive tour was our trip to Teide National Park. I will blog about this next Monday.