1. Wedding Wreaths
There are some local wedding customs and traditions in many countries that go back centuries. Greece is no different. In the Orthodox church ceremony, two white circlets called stephani (meaning ‘wreath’) which are joined together by a ribbon, symbolising the unity of the couple. They are placed on the bride and groom’s heads by the priest during what is known as the ‘crowning ceremony’. There is much other symbolism contained in the stephana (pl), such as the crowning of the couple by Christ via the priest. The exchanging of the stephana from bride to groom three times by the best man (or woman), the koumbaro(a) seals the union. During our wedding, even though we married in England, we had stephana at our ceremony, swapped on our head by our koumbara
2. Throwing Rice
When leaving the church guests throw a handful of rice on the couple’s heads which is symbolic for the good roots of the marriage.
3. Parading the Dowry
For many decades now, most weddings in Greece are no different from anywhere else. For most, the traditional “Greek wedding” seems more and more like a distant memory. But there are some regions in Greece where old customs and more picturesque weddings still happen. In order to still see that kind of old fashioned wedding, one has to go to the small towns on Mount Olympus (like Livadi or Agios Demetrios), or the rural regions around Ioannina, and of course the islands. Even then, it is getting rarer and rarer. Old tradition dictates that the procession to the church is escorted by a horse carrying the bride’s most valuable belongings and embroidery, which are proudly displayed. Accordion and clarinet always prevail in the traditional wedding parties in Greece, as these customs derive from medieval Greece and Byzantium.
4. Wedding Favours
At the wedding reception it is traditional to give wedding favours known as bonboniera. These are usually bags or boxes filled with sugared almonds (koufeta). The white of the almond is for purity, the almond’s egg shape represents fertility, and the hardness of the nut personifies the endurance of marriage. The sweet sugar is symbolic of the sweetness of married life.The number of koufeta should be 5, symbolising health, joy, fertility, prosperity and longevity. Sometimes the number is more or less but always an odd number, which is not divisible by 2 and therefore representing the fact that the couple cannot be split up. Ideally the number should be a prime number - divisible by 1 and itself - symbolising that the couple can only be separated by death or themselves.
5. Traditional Treats
During the reception pasteli may be eaten. This delicious snack is made from honey and sesame seeds. We tried some at the Apolloniatisses bakery in Rhodes - and brought some home as it was so yummy.
In Crete another tradition is to decorate the wedding table with special decorative bread called Xóbliastres. At one time this would have been to feed the whole village but in modern times it is purely decorative rather than edible.
6. Pinning Money on the Bride & Groom
Of course most people have heard of the pinning of money onto the bride’s dress instead of giving wedding gifts at Greek weddings. It is still a common practice in Greek communities around the world, although probably not so much in Greece. Unfortunately nobody did this at our wedding!
7. Plate Smashing
Although a tradition which people associate with Greek celebrations, the “Breaking of the Plates”, which once implied abundance, to symbolize good luck and happiness, is now considered to be in very bad taste. It is also officially discouraged by the authorities as being dangerous in most regions of Greece.
Dreaming of a 'big fat' Greek wedding or a small, intimate event? We can help you incorporate some of these traditions and customs into your dream wedding in Greece if you wish. Contact Sarah today to arrange your free consultation. We'll create the perfect celebration in magical Greece.
The strawberry, one of the most popular fruits in the world, comes originally from the Americas. It’s a member of the rose family and is a unique fruit as it has seeds on the outside rather than the inside. The most common varieties are a hybrid of the wild Virginia strawberry (native to the USA) and the Chilean variety (originally from South America).
Native Americans were eating strawberries when the European settlers arrived. Often the crushed berries were mixed with cornmeal and baked into strawberry bread. After trying this bread, colonists developed their own version of the recipe which became the famous strawberry shortcake.
In the 1500s, explorers brought the fruit back to France from Virginia. The Virginian and Chilean varieties were then brought together accidentally about 250 years ago in a botanical garden in France, where a new type of strawberry was born. This is the variety we eat with such gusto in Europe today.
The strawberry was also a symbol for Venus, the goddess of love, because of its red heart shape.
The English word "strawberry" comes from the Anglo-Saxon "streoberie". The word was first spelt in the modern way around 1538.
In 1625 the British Francis Bacon described how ‘strawberry-leaves dying, yield an excellent cordial smell’, suggesting that strawberries were admired as much for their scent as their taste. It is still true that the very smell of the fruiting strawberry plant gets your mouth watering. Indeed the strawberry features in many works of fiction throughout history, including these:
The strawberry grows underneath the nettle
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality.
William Shakespeare, Henry V (c. 1599), Act I, scene 1, line 60.
The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.
Dr William Butler, 17th Century English Writer
In Britain many regions grow strawberries, including Kent, Devon, Cheshire, Lancashire and Scotland. But of course, the fruit grows equally well in warm and Mediterranean climates of the northern hemisphere. In Europe there are even annual strawberry festivals in the Greek towns of Paradisi and Nea Manolada, and in the French town of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, as well as many in the US. There are also many strawberry fayres in the UK too, from community events to music festivals. In parts of Bavaria, the annual rite of tying small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of cattle as an offering to elves is still practiced by country folk. Elves are believed to be passionate about strawberries and the offering will mean healthy calves and abundant milk.
It is impossible to mention strawberries without their mouth-wateringly perfect complement, cream. There is something quintessentially British about strawberries. An English summer wouldn’t be the same without a bowl of strawberries drizzled with cream. This delicious combination has been enjoyed for centuries, from kings to commoners. But nowhere is it more iconic than at Wimbledon, the international home of lawn tennis.
Celebrate this decadent fruit. Use our concierge service to add Wimbledon or festival tickets to your holiday itinerary or book a tour around the strawberry growing regions of the world.
There is nothing like travelling to a great destination, eating delicious food and having new experiences. But today travelling is not just about flying and flopping. It is exploring the place, getting to know the landscape, culture, tradition and cuisine.
Travelling gives us an understanding of people from other lands, and can be a journey of self-discovery. First-hand knowledge is so much better than reading about it or watching on TV. You can see awe-inspiring sites, have unique experiences, see works of art, have wildlife encounters, eat great food and try new drinks. All in all, travel makes memories that last a lifetime.
Stir your imagination quite with a new adventure. Knowing that you have a trip planned is a great motivator; something to look forward to. If you are hungry for food experiences, craving excitement and new cultural insights, then speak to Tasteful Travel about your dream bespoke holiday.
When planning a holiday, whether it’s a multi-stop adventure to far flung destinations or a week in the Isle of Wight, it’s vital that the trip is tailored to you. Designing the perfect holiday is not easy but with the help of a specialist travel consultant, the process can be stress free and simple.
We are happy to meet you in person to discuss your trip, either over a coffee or on a home visit. If more convenient we can discuss plans over the phone or via email.
All aspects of the trip from flights to transfers, accommodation to excursions, Tasteful Travel design the perfect journey for you. Destination, budget, likes and dislikes and holiday style are all taken into account so that you get the travel experience you love.
No matter whether you seek a relaxing getaway in luxury resorts with day trips included; an action-packed break exploring by camper van; or a foodie extravaganza; Tasteful Travel can help make the dream a reality.
Our in-depth knowledge of European, Middle Eastern and Antipodean destinations, coupled with our passion for helping clients plan amazing holidays, mean that you get the very best bespoke trip planned for you.
Visit stunning locations on open-jaw land itineraries with cruises, a unique way of travelling between incredible places. Fancy a Greek odyssey with some island hopping built in? Have a desire to journey from Singapore to Sydney? Prefer to travel across Australia on the Ghan train on an Aussie adventure? No problem. Having travelled extensively in Europe, made many trips to Australia and lived in Kenya, Singapore and Dubai, I have the experience and insider tips to make a great itinerary extra special.
The personal service that Tasteful Travel provides is not limited to just flights and accommodation. Our concierge service can add spa visits, restaurant reservations and excursions to your trip. We will also be with you every step of the way, from planning your holiday to providing on-tour assistance and checking in with you when you get home.
To get in touch and find out more, contact Sarah today or check out our website at www.tasteful-travel.co.uk.
Named 16th best hotel in the world by TripAdvisor in its 25 Top Hotels of 2019 awards is the Ikos Oceania in Nea Moudania, Greece. Voted for by millions of people this accolade is no mean feat. It goes to highlight the quality of hotels to be found in Greece, a country that has long been thought of as the home of the basic and dated accommodation.
Halkidiki has long been a holiday destination for Greek tourists and many people from the nearby city of Thessaloniki have their holiday homes there. Travellers from outside Greece are increasingly discovering the three green "fingers" of land that make up Halkidiki. With outstanding beaches, a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and plenty of activities and excursions, it is a great destination for all. But Halkidiki is particularly wonderful for the luxury traveller. Having predominantly Greek customers keeps hoteliers and restaurateurs on their toes. Quality is the watchword here. Halkidiki delivers luxurious comfort and a gastronomic experience that will keep you coming back for more.
The Ikos Oceania, like its sister hotel the Ikos Olivia in nearby Gerakini, has contemporary design in a soft pallet of colours. Choose from a range of elegant rooms and suites then enjoy sophisticated dining and opulent leisure facilities.
At the Oceania, the landscaped gardens cascade downhill to the private beach on the azure Aegean. The setting is lovely for a relaxing holiday and dining is especially recommended here. Choose from four à la carte restaurants, most with menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs. Added to this the hotel offers a "Dine Out" experience taking guests to some of the best local restaurants for the perfect modern Greek food experience.
As well as the excellent beach, there are plenty of pools at the Ikos Oceania to suit all ages and styles, toddlers, children and adults, together with a heated indoor pool and a private pool for the exclusive use of Deluxe Collection guests. Enjoy all-day waiter service at your chosen pool for that extra touch of comfort. Or relax and rejuvenate in the tranquil spa.
Prefer a more active holiday? The Ikos Oceania has a huge range of included activities to keep everyone happy, including tennis, mountain biking, canoeing, aerobics, yoga and much, much more. With evening entertainment, bars and children's shows, there is always something happening at the Oceania. No wonder it is the people's choice!
Why not book your next holiday at this fabulous luxury resort? Sign up here for the latest deals.
New Orleans is a testament to living history. Entire neighbourhoods, buildings, cobblestone streets and ancient oaks are markers of bygone eras. The history of New Orleans has turned the city into a colourful and exciting destination.
The History of New Orleans
Claimed for the French crown by explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682, La Nouvelle-Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and became the capital of the French Colony in 1723. The city developed around the Vieux Carré (Old Square), a central square from which the French Quarter evolved.
A vital trading and commercial hub, Spain took control of New Orleans in 1763 and this 37 year rule can still be seen in the city’s street names and architecture, like the Cabildo and the Presbytere. This period also reflected Spain’s more liberal views on race that fostered a class of free people of colour.
In 1800, the Spanish ceded Louisiana back to France but after only 3 years Napoleon sold the city and the French Colony to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. Despite this sale the residents of New Orleans held tight to their Francophile ways. Language and customs, cuisine, opera and social mores were still French. A sophisticated and cosmopolitan society was created by the Creoles (the American-born offspring of European settlers) in New Orleans. This French influence can still be seen in the Creole cottages, the Ursuline Convent and Charity Hospital as well as the streets of the French Quarter.
War of Independence & Civil War Eras
The British tried to claim the land during the War of Independence in 1812 but Andrew Jackson turned back more than 7,500 British soldiers, forcing them to abandon the area and ending the war.
As American plantation owners prospered, the French and Creoles of New Orleans socially rejected these nouveau riche. This led to the Americans staying across Canal Street in their own neighbourhoods.
In the mid-1800s, the highest concentration of millionaires in America could be found between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, fortunes founded on the slave trade and huge sugar plantations along the Mississippi River. Louisiana sugar plantations produced an estimated 450 million pounds of sugar per year, worth more than $20 million in the 1850s.
Elegant mansions were built by these millionaires on their plantations. Both depended heavily on slaves, one of the key motivators of the American Civil War. Union troops occupied New Orleans but the city didn't fight back, thus sparing itself from destruction. This signalled the end of New Orleans halcyon days, an era to become known as Antebellum (after the war).
After the war there was poverty, racial tension and governmental chaos. The city’s plantation owners could not match their antebellum success but the port of New Orleans preserved its essential status, as it does to this day.
Discover the period at the Old U.S. Mint, the only Confederate mint and the oldest U.S. mint in existence; or visit Louisiana’s Civil War Museum in the Warehouse District; see the statue of Margaret Gaffney Haughery, a beloved Irish immigrant whose bakery supplied bread to hungry families during the war and founder of orphanages, in the Lower Garden District.
World War II
New Orleans played a special role in the second world war. Shipbuilder and local industrialist Andrew Higgins invented a boat designed to float in Louisiana’s shallow water swamps and marshes. Built in local shipyards, “Higgins Boats” were used throughout the war for getting soldiers, vehicles and equipment off big ships to shore, most notably during the D-day invasion on the Normandy beaches.
After WWII land reclamation allowed New Orleans to expand. Similarly the history of New Orleans continues to create a city of rich culture, an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods - from the funky, bohemian Bywater all the way to the oak-lined Garden District, and civic pride. There's something for every type of traveller from authentic live music, historic architecture and vibrant nightlife.
New Orleans was an important port for trade with the Caribbean quickly becoming a target for piracy. Brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte were perhaps the most infamous. Visit Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, the base of these pirates, which claims to be the oldest structure housing a bar in the United States.
The first Mardi Gras in the United States was celebrated in March 1699 when Iberville and Bienville landed at the mouth of the Mississippi River on Mardi Gras, 60 miles south of New Orleans. They named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and celebrated with their men. By the 1730s the Mardi Gras was celebrated with parties and street fairs.
In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Carnival procession. The present-day New Orleans Mardi Gras with marching bands and floats can be traced to this celebration.
Speak of New Orleans and you immediately think of jazz. Evolving in the late 19th century, jazz combined ragtime, blues, spirituals and the American songbook, a result of the diverse ethnic and racial groups — French, Spanish, African, Italian, German, and Irish — found in New Orleans.
The 1920s roared along the Mississippi, ignoring Prohibition and welcoming travellers. Authors, artists and the adventurous discovered the French Quarter. Le Petit Theater was opened on St. Peter Street. New Orleans provided the soundtrack to the era.
The city’s music is its beating heart. The musical notes of jazz, brass, R&B and soul fill the air along with night–blooming jasmine. Walk down Frenchmen Street, in the Marigny neighbourhood and take in the vibrant cafes, music clubs and restaurants including Snug Harbor, dba. and the Spotted Cat.
New Orleans has produced musical giants like Louis Armstrong, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. New acts follow in the tradition at Preservation Hall on Bourbon Street, Mother-In-Law Lounge on Claiborne Avenue, Rock-N-Bowl in Mid-City, the Maple Leaf Uptown and Vaughn’s in the Bywater where you can dance the night away. It’s all part of the magic that is found only in New Orleans.
New Orleans has a love affair with its traditional fare. Join the romance over by crawfish etouffe at a smart restaurant or with a bowl of gumbo at a backstreet bistro. Grab a po-boy sandwich stuffed with fried oysters for a picnic. This heady mix of Creole, Cajun and Anglo-American cuisine is totally unique. Discover the most famous dishes below.
New Orleans King Cakes
New Orleans Pralines
In a city steeped in history, New Orleans has a history of mixing innovative cocktails. Antoine Amédé Peychaud, is thought to have mixed the very first Sazerac in his pharmacy on Royal Street in the 1830s. From an eye-opening Brandy Milk Punch to a flaming Café Brûlot, the quintessential Crescent City nightcap, raise a glass to New Orleans’ past and a toast the city’s most famous cocktails.
New Orleans is a great destination for any time of year and any type of holiday. Speak to us to plan your food adventure in the Big Easy.
In Greece, well-being has a long history. What is not widely known is that Greece has many therapeutic thermal springs, mostly on the mainland but not exclusively. From antiquity to today, these numerous thermal springs and spas have alleviated ailments, revitalised the body and the mind, stimulated and relaxed the body and soul. The waters from the springs have a blend of natural minerals that can have a positive effect to humans in a number of ways. Thermal water is known to help improve the condition of various skin decease like eczema among others; it also helps in medical conditions like rheumatism, arthritis and gynaecological problems.
According to the Special Committee for the Protection of Natural Mineral Springs, there are 20 recognised thermal springs in Greece. Here is our pick of the best.
The oldest and best known natural spa in Greece. Edipsos is mentioned in the works of Aristotle, Plutarch and Strabon. The town even minted its own coins. In Roman times the area flourished and its healing waters were visited by the emperors Hadrian, Septimus Severus and Marcus Aurilius and remains of the Roman Baths still exist.
It is possible to bathe in the rock pools where steaming hot water pours through, leaving multicoloured sediment in strange formations. It gets very busy and there can be jellyfish so most people nowadays prefer to enjoy the healing benefits at one of the many spa hotels in the area. Perhaps the most historic is the Thermae Sylla Spa, which is built on two ancient thermal springs.
The healing properties of the thermae is due to the sodium chlorides, strongly carbonated and moderately sulphurated waters. The baths are recommended to be taken at temperatures of 28 to 34o C for a range of conditions, from rheumatism and arthritis to skin and respiratory diseases. It is certainly a relaxing way to feel better.
Vouliagmeni Lake, Attica
Located in the Attica region just outside Athens, Lake Vouliagmeni is a spectacular natural phenomenon. Formed as a covered lagoon about 2,000 years ago, the roof collapsed. This gave the lake it's name, from the Greek word “vouliazo” that means to submerge. It is now a national monument and part of the Natura 2000.
The lake’s waters are fed both by the sea and the underground thermal springs and so offer an excellent thermal spa experience. Swimming in the lake promotes wellness from the water temperature of between 22-29 degrees and the minerals in the brackish water. The healing properties of the lake come from its potent mix of salts and minerals (sodium, potassium, lithium, ammonium, calcium, iron, chlorine, iodine and a small amount of radiation). The lake also contains Garra Rufa fish (known as spa fish) which aid exfoliation as well as giving you a massage!
Around the lake there are grassy areas equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas for relaxation. A range of amenities are available, including Wi-Fi, changing rooms, lifeguards and medical facilities, playground, parking, etc. All in all, Lake Vouliagmeni provides an outstanding natural spa experience.
Loutra Pozar, Aridea
Located in the Pella region of Greece, Loutra Pozar thermal baths are at the bottom of the Vouras mountain, fed by waterfalls. Pozar hot springs are created by rain water, which penetrates deep into the ground, where is heated and then gradually rises and is enriched with minerals and other elements. The water has a constant temperature of 37 °C and can be enjoyed in the natural swimming pools or in a bath at one of the spas. The water has healing properties against arthritis, kidney diseases, skin diseases, gynaecological problems and circulatory problems.
Pozar's hot springs are a short distance from Loutraki and Edessa, located amongst huge trees. For those wanting to combine nature, relaxation and healing waters, Loutra Pozar is the perfect choice.
Take some respite from the vibrant and bustling city of Thessaloniki at Lagkada. The first balneotherapy (bathing in the thermal waters) facilities in the region of Lagadas dated back to 900 AD. It is thought that the baths were created by Ioustinianos, a byzantine military doctor. Today, two baths from the years 900 and 1400 are still used. Modern day development of the baths began in 1925 and today Lagadas is a large and thermal city. In addition to the ancient baths are two modern group tubs, 21 individual jacuzzis and 20 personal tubs. Face and body treatments, beauty and rehabilitation care are available.
The hot springs curative water is 39oC and contains sodium, potassium and calcium amongst other minerals. The waters are recommended for rheumatism, arthritis, gynaecological ailments, skin and kidney problems.
The springs at Kallithea have been famous since Hellenic times for their beneficial properties. The waters flowing into the sea from the surrounding rocks attracted visitors from all over the known world. Kallithea Thermal Spa that we can see today was built by the occupying Italians in December 1928. The buildings were damaged during World War II and allowed to fall into disrepair until Kallithea town council and its mayor, Yannis Iatridis, renovated the site. The springs were restored to their former glory with great attention to detail and were successfully reopened to the public.
The waters of Kallithea are thought suitable for the treatment of arthritis, skin conditions, obesity, diabetes, tropical diseases, dysentery, malaria, allergies, asthma, cystitis, diarrhoea and intestinal conditions.
Having swum in the healing waters and walked through the fabulous art deco buildings and seen the wonderful local black and white pebble floors, I can highly recommend a visit to this spa.
The thermal springs of Loutraki promotes wellbeing and revitalization of the body. It is also thought to treat and prevent various diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, gynaecological disorders, sciatica, musculoskeletal complaints, and skin disorders. The healing waters have been known since ancient times, indeed Xenophon refers to the use of this special water by the Spartans. These thermal spas have turned Loutraki into an important tourist attraction in Greece, due partly to its fame and partly due to its convenient position just one hour from Athens and close to the Corinth Canal.
20th century visits to benefit from the healing waters were boosted by containing the springs in a spa built in 1932. Restored in 2009 and connected to the luxurious modern building of Loutraki Thermal Spa, a host of treatments are offered here in addition to balneotherapy. A charming town has grown up at Loutraki and it makes a great base for an exploration of the region.
Agios Fokas, Kos
The therma or hot springs are situated in the southeastern corner of the island 13 kilometers away from Kos town at Agios Fokas. The area has a wild beauty of deep gulches, rocks and black pebbles, the result of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.
The hot springs have been present here for centuries. The waters reputed healing properties result from water rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur and sodium, elements considered beneficial in curing skin, arthritic or rheumatic ailments. The temperature of the waters hovers between 30-50 Celsius.
A pool has been dug so that seawater enters, cooling the hot thermal waters so that it is pleasant to bathe in. The time I visited the area (some years ago!) the pool didn't exist so you either sat in very hot water or cool sea water. Even so, it was still on of the great experiences of any visit to Kos.
For those seeking to combine mountain sports with a touch of nature’s luxurious sensations, the mythical Lake Drakolimni offers a unique experience. At an altitude of 2,050 meters, on the Gamila peak, in Epirus region, Lake Drakolimni is not an easy conquest. The path up to the lake, which starts from the village Small Papigon, takes about 4 hours to walk, giving visitors the chance to enjoy diving into the bracing waters.
If you want to promote your wellbeing and health, the natural thermal springs of Greece are a great choice. It is easy to add them to a Greek holiday itinerary. Get in touch with us for more details.
The Brexit process seems to keep dragging on and on. Don't let it get you down. Time to plan your escape - at least temporarily. Brits are booking just as many holidays as ever, so at least the uncertainty of Brexit has not managed to take all the joy out of life! Here's some inspiration for your next journey.
Africa is a large continent with a huge array of vistas and activities so you can expect to find something to suit everyone. With its breathtaking natural beauty, contrasts diversity, your holiday to Africa will certainly be unforgettable.
For luxury resorts head to the north to Morocco and Egypt. This is a side of Africa full of history and a different culture to the rest of the continent. Fringed by the Mediterranean it is only a short flight too. Combine beach, city and a river cruise for the ultimate Egyptian experience. Whilst in Morocco visitors can combine desert, mountains, city and beach life.
Located about half way down Africa on the east coast, Kenya is a paradise for outdoor lovers. With its soft powdery beaches, snow-capped mountains, endless savannah and the vastness of Lake Victoria, Kenya can give you once in a lifetime experiences, like wildlife spotting on a safari.
Let's not forget South Africa, the rainbow nation. From bustling cities like Cape Town and Durban to splendid game reserves where you can view the 'big 5' - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape Buffalo. There are also mountain retreats and scenic coastal drives, not to mention great shopping and museums in Johannesburg. Fancy a tour around awe-inspiring Victoria Falls or a great wine tasting tour around Stellenbosch? Whatever your lifestyle you will find the perfect holiday in South Africa.
Why not head over to our Offers page and search for our latest Africa deals now (select holiday type then country).
England is a beautiful, surprising, historic and wonderful place. Why go abroad when there is so much to see here? From historic castles to lush green countryside to stunning coastline to ancient ports and activities galore.
Following the Brexit vote there is even more reason to stay in the UK, what with rising prices and the falling value of sterling. Get more bang for your buck in dear old Blighty. Visit extraordinary historic houses, castles and towns. The list is endless and no matter where you go, the United Kingdom is steeped in history everywhere you look. Along with this there is a huge range of accommodation to suit every pocket. There is also plenty to do from outdoor pursuits to craft workshops to museums, cinemas and children's activities.
Great Britain now produces excellent food and drink and is a haven for the foodie. Drink in the local brews in Kent, where not only is there the oldest brewery in England but also a multitude of vineyards, not to mention great pubs. Or head to Somerset where cider is king. Tour an orchard and learn how cider is made. Sample excellent local produce in West Sussex with a trip to a dairy to learn how to make cheese. Artisan producers of all types of gourmet foods abound, as do award winning vineyards. Take a trip into East Sussex and tour a quaint old brewery in Lewes.
There are so many amazing sights to see away from the obvious tourist attractions in Britain. In Yorkshire take a trip on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and learn the history of the longest canal tunnel in the world at Standedge in Marsden, West Yorkshire. Taste remarkably good wines at one of the most northerly vineyards in the country, whilst you take a break from touring the breathtaking moorland scenery. Or head to the seaside at Whitby with its ancient abbey and old fishermen's cottages.
England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland offer some amazing choices for short or long breaks. With steam railways, mountains, lakes, rivers both fast and slow and of course endless coastline. Whether you love adrenaline sports like zorbing or white water rafting or prefer to read a newspaper in a pub with a roaring fire - you will certainly find a holiday to suit you in the UK.
Tasteful Travel design bespoke UK tours so why not book a consultation now? We also have a range of short breaks and accommodation so check out our latest offers here. If you need some inspiration for your travel planning just head over to our Destinations page and get booking your staycation now.
After you've said “I do” and set the date, one of the best parts of planning a wedding is dreaming of the honeymoon to follow. It will be your first holiday together as a married couple and you'll want it to be memorable. Here are some luxury destination ideas to get excited about.
Singapore is full of romance with memorable sightseeing spots you can explore arm in arm with your loved one. It has outstanding dining options, world-class nightlife and a safe and pleasant environment for an exciting honeymoon experience.
There is a huge range of top quality hotels in Singapore, many boasting spas. Book a couple's spa experience for the ultimate romantic treat. Try the historic Fullerton, iconic Raffles or the elegance of the Shangri-La. For more modern luxury pick the Ritz-Carlton Millenia or the Four Seasons.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing or action-packed holiday, Singapore has it all. Walk together through the wonderful Gardens by the Bay or chill out on the beach at Sentosa Island. Visit Universal Studios for an adrenaline fix or take a night safari to get up close to leopards and other nocturnal animals.
Romance is in the air at a rooftop bars. Get stunning views and first class dining at 1-Altitude at Raffles Place. Enjoy cocktails mixed by award winning mixologists at the CE LA VI skybar at the Marina Bay Sands, a microbrewery overlooking the city.
There are so many dining opportunities you'll be spoilt for choice. Take a trip on Singapore's cable car. Step into your very own private cabin and enjoy spectacular views of the city as you share a delicious 4-course meal. Grab a snack from a Hawker stall or choose fine dining in a huge array of top class hotels and restaurants. Don't forget to try Chinese and Malaysian cuisine or take a cookery lesson together.
Singapore is a buzzing and cosmopolitan city and is the perfect choice for the honeymooning couple.
A honeymoon in the Maldives gives you a chance to be together in a way that never happens at home. The name means ‘garland of islands’ in Dhivehi, the local language and evokes the wonder of this collection of magical islands. Overwater bungalows or villas in amongst the lush vegetation provide private love nests, secluded for maximum privacy and romance. Gaze from the veranda or the plunge pool across the panoramic views over the lagoon lapping the beach. The breeze rustling the palm fronds seems to whisper romance.
Each resort is on its own island so there are no strangers and the staff care for their guests in their private world. Crystal clear lagoons, white sand beaches and colourful coral reefs are standard in the Maldive islands. Exclusive upgrades, candlelit dinners under starry skies and bespoke experiences-for-two can be arranged to give your married life an amazing start.
Taj Exotica Resort and Spa for the lap of luxury on Emboodhu Finolhu island in the middle of one of the largest lagoons in Maldives. Just a 15-minute speedboat ride from the airport brings you to this idyllic resort, amidst the coral reefs.
On a private island in heart shaped Addu Atoll stands Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa, an exclusive all-villa hideaway. Just 5 minutes by speedboat from the airport, the resort offers a range of activities, totally romantic dining experiences and the only 9-hole golf course in the Maldives.
One & Only Reethi Rah on one of the largest islands in North Malé Atoll. Enjoy a Thai massage over the water in the resort's award winning spa or revel in the marine life assisted by their Dive Centre. Dine in restaurants with stunning views or experience awe-inspiring private dining.
You can be as active or relaxed as you wish; swimming, snorkelling, diving or night fishing. Take a champagne sunset cruise, picnic on a sandbank and visit a desert island for just the two of you for a day. Explore the undersea world in a whale submarine or see the reefs from a seaplane. The islands have fragile eco systems so do your bit for responsible tourism and join in a coral-planting session or plant a commemorative coconut palm.
With so many picture perfect and romantic destinations in Australia, it is the perfect choice for a relaxing honeymoon to recharge your batteries. With such a huge country to discover, the range of scenery and experiences are second to none. From the World Heritage site of the Great Barrier Reef to the Red Centre, the outback, and the bustling cities, love-struck newlyweds can drink in the beautiful landscapes and revel in warm hospitality Australia has to offer.
The Whitsunday Islands
With pristine beaches and teeming with colourful marine life, Hamilton Island is paradise on earth. One of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, it offers good weather year round and some outstanding accommodation. At the northern tip of Hamilton Island, qualia is a completely private hideaway situated within the Great Barrier Reef. Only one island away from the brilliant white sands of Whitehaven Beach, Hamilton Island is the perfect location for exploring one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, or for a barefoot chill-out.
For a city-centric honeymoon, Melbourne is a vibrant and bustling destination. With its quaint alleys and cafe-filled lanes and historic buildings, Melbourne enchants. Activities abound: watching movies under the stars; taking a gourmet boat trip; private wine tasting tours, romantic strolls around the Botanical Gardens; or visits to museums and galleries, Melbourne has it all. It is also one of the culinary hubs of Australia, so you'll be spoilt for choice with restaurants, cafes, wine bars and micro-breweries. Treat yourself to butler service at The Langham for the ultimate stay in Melbourne.
For foodies you could not pick a better location for your honeymoon than the Barossa Valley. A region full of farms and wineries, the Barossa is one of the best places in Australia to sip a glass of wine. The locals are very welcoming and friendly in the Barossa and you can also enjoy many festivals like the Barossa Gourmet Weekend, Barossa Vintage Festival and so much more. Recharge your senses at 1860 Wine Country Cottages where you can walk hand-in-hand in the quiet countryside or experience their Boutique Wine and Food Trails. Relaxing and laid back, a honeymoon in the Barossa Valley is a unique experience.
'Found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, heavenly Hawaii offers a breathtaking honeymoon to romantic newlyweds. Consisting of six unique islands, Hawaii invites you to experience distinct adventures, activities and sights. From the hustle and big surf of Oahu to the pineapple plantations and volcano views of Maui, to the coffee farms of Hawaii (big island) to the dramatic scenery of Kauai, Hawaii gives honeymooners a huge choice of amazing holidays.
On Maui you can experience a huge variety of scenery and climates on such a small island. When I visited this magical island we stayed in the historic Lahaina area where it rarely rains but visited tropical Hana after a picturesque and memorable drive, discovered British looking meadows on our way to Haleakala National Park - a barren volcanic landscape. Take part in the Old Lahina Luau or try Maui wines at Ulupalakua Vineyards and visit one of the many excellent restaurants. Explore this fabulous island from the Four Seasons Resort Maui on Wailea Beach. Unwind in style on a Maui honeymoon.
The third largest island of Hawaii, Oahu is sometimes called "The Gathering Place" and it lives up to the name as it houses the capital, Honolulu, and is the most populous island of the group. A honeymoon on Oahu gives lovers a great balance between buzzing metropolis and laid back surf resorts. Its a fascinating island with so much to experience, like the Dole Plantation, where you can eat the best pineapple you ever had! Don't forget to sample a delicious cocktail, the Mai Tai took its current form in 1954 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in iconic Waikiki. While you're in Waikiki you can climb Diamond Head, an extinct volcano which has been used as a military base. The amazing views from the top are worth climbing all those stairs.
For the best surf in the world head to the North Shore where you'll find the famous Banzai Pipeline - best leave the surfing to the professionals as it can be dangerous for the inexperienced but its great to watch. I found the Polynesian Cultural Center fun as well as fascinating and you can also sit where Elvis did on the base of the double palm from Blue Hawaii! No visit to Oahu would be complete without a sobering visit to Pearl Harbour. Oahu really does have something for everyone.
Escape to the "Garden Island", Kauai is the northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain. When you see the emerald valleys, sharp mountains and cliffs carved by the elements, Kauai will take your breath away. With tropical rainforests, rivers and waterfalls it is not surprising that the island offers so many outdoor pursuits. Kayaking, hiking and ziplining are available. Discover the Wailua River, Poipu Beach and Kokee State Park. Head to the South Shore for Old Koloa Town, a historic and charming town which was built on sugar production, which explains the vibrant multi-cultural population of the town today.
Although Kauai is full of resorts, golf, shopping, beaches and sights, there are many places which are only accessible by air or sea, ensuring that it cannot be overdeveloped. If you want an active honeymoon in beautiful scenery, look no further than Kauai.
For more information on any of these amazing destinations or to book your honeymoon, get in touch with our travel specialists today.
Not take a cruise yet? Wonder if you might feel claustrophobic or feel seasick? Well as a sufferer of both conditions I can tell you that neither affected me on my first cruise.
Instead cruising was an experience very like what you see on the adverts, sitting in the pool on deck watching the children play and looking out to sea at the endlessly changing vista. The food was amazing and there was something for everyone to do. No doubt any of your friends who have cruised will also tell you this type of holiday has a lot to recommend it. Here are some of the reasons you should give it a try.
1. Great value for money
Fares include food, accommodation, daytime and evening entertainment and transfers. On land for a hotel, dinner and a show you could pay considerably more for the same standard. There are often even better deals including free kids places, drinks packages and more. Luxury cruise lines are even more inclusive, drinks, gratuities, shore excursions, onboard credits, and even flights packaged into the fare.
2. Unpack once
You float from one destination to the other without having the hassle of getting on and off trains, planes and automobiles! Choose your cruise dependent on the ports of call you wish to visit and then just relax.
3. Stress-free planning
If you don't want the hassle of planning your itinerary before you go on holiday then a cruise is the perfect choice. Once you book you just need to turn up! All the details are planned for you and all you really have to do is choose the destination, the dates and the shore excursions you wish to take. It really is a relaxing way to vacation.
4. Fun for all ages
There is entertainment to suit your whole intergenerational party. Many cruise lines now feature a range of activities for the kids split into different age ranges. From rock climbing to zip wires, kids clubs to surf simulators, video games to dancing. But cruises don't just entertain the young, there are top class shows, lectures, cookery classes, spas, exercise classes and much, much more for the adults - no matter what age. So take your grandchildren, children or just cruise as a couple, you'll find all you need to keep you busy, happy and entertained.
5. Great range of ship styles
Cruises are no longer a 'one size fits all' holiday. The ideal ship may be a 'mega-liner' with all the amenities from outdoor cinemas to skydiving simulators. You may prefer a smaller, more intimate cruise experience with old-style elegance. More of an explorer? Choose one of the newer ships which are being purpose built to cruise the less explored destinations of Antarctica or the Amazon. Alternatively pick the ultimate luxury of a clipper ship or a smaller vessel with impeccable service and amenities. Whatever your style there is a ship to suit you.
6. A world within a world
Cruise liners are like miniature worlds of their own. If you left something at home, need to wash your clothes, have health issues or just need to keep in touch with your loved ones there are ways to do this onboard. So ships are equipped with onboard shops, laundries, medical facilities, Wi-Fi and many other useful services as well as all the fun stuff.
7. Sightsee with ease
Nervous of sightseeing in an exotic destination on your own? Worried about the language barrier? No problem. Explore with the shore excursions arranged by the cruise lines. With these you will be transported from the ship to the sightseeing location with crew or a local guide (or both). This gives you the security of a group as well as local knowledge and English-speaking guides. Alternatively you can always team up with other passengers to share a taxi or a local guide.
8. Cruising is romantic
A cruise provides lots of together time. The sweeping vistas passing by, the wind in your hair and being on deck under the twinkling stars can certainly set the mood for romance. Take the love of your life with you or perhaps you'll find that special someone onboard. Don't forget, cruise lines can do special packages for honeymoons, anniversaries and you can even get married onboard.
9. A social occasion
A cruise gives you plenty of opportunity to mix and mingle. There are people from home and from all over the world who cruise and you may meet them at the pool, at the dinner table or in the bar. Children can meet lots of new friends too during the many youth-centric activities. A ship is a safe environment too - so you don't have to worry about the teenagers going off with their friends. Meet new friends onboard and you may cruise together next time.
10. World class food
There is so much choice onboard a cruise ship that the only thing you need to worry about is your waistline! There are buffets with a dazzling array of dishes for you to choose from so you can be sure that even the pickiest eater is catered for. There are also a la carte restaurants, often serving a particular cuisine, such as Italian, Chinese or French. Fine dining options will be available on the more luxury ships. Rest assured that no matter how much your cruise costs the food will be wonderful and served with style. On some cruises you might even get to tour the kitchens and try your hand at the chef's creations. A cruise is definitely a great choice for the foodie.
So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our latest cruise deals here.
If you love the Yuletide and can't get enough of the baubles, bells and twinkling lights, then a Christmas wedding is just right for you! Here’s some inspiration for decking those wedding halls and being very jolly.
Although not a common one, if you love Christmas it can be a knockout wedding theme. There is so much scope to let your imagination run riot, cuddle up in the cold weather and ramp up the romance by lighting up the darkness.
Winter wonderland wedding
Fill your mood board with shades of white to fit your style. Creams and pinky whites will soften the look of your wedding decor. Table linen, drapery and chairs can all be white but you can change up the look with textured fabric. Accents of colour can be introduced in ribbons or bows and add greenery or white flowers to complete your winter wonderland look. And don’t forget a bit of sparkle with some metallic details to be bang on trend.
Cool wedding colours
Choose red and green as your wedding colours if you are keeping it traditional. Bring these colours bang up to date with lots of elegant greenery and luxurious fresh flowers. If you want a more opulent touch, opt for rich shades of purple or burgundy. Mix your chosen statement colours with softer shades, such as peach, pink or creamy white. Share your colour scheme with your wedding planner or venue so they can bring it to life. They may well have some great suggestions for you too.
Christmas - woodland style
Think of Christmas and we think of trees. Create a wonderful woodland theme with lots of natural elements, like pinecones and green foliage. Like the song, there’s holly and there’s ivy but there is also mistletoe. These are the obvious choices but you could think about adding other evergreen boughs and seasonal greenery. Delicate white blooms such as snowdrops and lilies add a wintery touch to a woodland theme. For your bouquet add a splash of colour with berries and pine cones to contrast with pale foliage and white flowers.
Dressing for a Christmas wedding
Here at Tasteful Travel we absolutely adore winter weddings. They are always filled with sleek white colour schemes, have imaginative décor and a stunning winter wedding dress. Winter weddings need dresses that will keep you warm but still be dreamy. Long sleeves are not always necessary if you choose a beautiful bolero, jacket, shawl, shrug or cape to go over the dress. Think about delicate embellishment, a touch of crystal, metallic accents or a touch of colour for the perfect Christmas wedding gown.
Location, location, location
Where will you tie the knot at Christmas? Either you head for a snowy destination or you create your winter wonderland wherever you choose. Lapland is the most Christmassy destination you can think of and there is great skiing to go with your wedding in Switzerland, Austria, Greece and so many European destinations. Further afield marry during a white Christmas in New Zealand, California and Japan.
Even in the hottest of destination weddings the winter theme can be brought to the proceedings with baubles, white flowers, candles and metallic accessories. And the same can be said for any venue closer to home. At Tasteful Travel we love to find the perfect destination wedding for our clients at any time of year so why not contact us for more inspiration.
With the magic of Christmas sprinkled through your wedding flowers, bridal wear and decor, you are sure to have a very special day. Extra little touches can be added by way of your wedding favours. Wrap them up like little Christmas presents or miniature stockings. Treat your guests to shortbread or gingerbread, small bottles of mulled wine or anything else Christmassy. Use sticks of cinnamon to decorate for an ultra wintery look. And finally, don't forget to choose your favourite Christmas tunes for the dance floor!