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.
The roots of May Day can be traced back at least 2,000 years. The celebration as we know it in the UK today is the result of melding Pagan, Roman and Medieval traditions.
The Celts and British Pagan Heritage
New life and fertility with the coming of summer were marked by the ancient Celts with May Poles and dancing. The May Pole is a tall pole with coloured ribbons tied to the top. Originally the pole would have been a tree cut when it reached the correct height and with the branches cut off, a powerful symbol since the Celts worshipped trees. Young men and women would each hold a ribbon and would dance weaving in and out of each other to plait the ribbons into a complex patterns. The pole signified fertility and dancing around it was supposed to bring this benefit to the dancers.
The Celts divided their year by 4 major festivals. The first day of summer was called Beltane, 'the fire of Bel'. Bel was the sun god worshipped by Celts across Continental Europe, Britain and Ireland. Beltane was celebrated with bonfires to welcome the new season. Fire was believed to cleanse, purify and increase fertility. The Celts jumped over the fire to pledge themselves to each other. Animals were driven through the smoke to protect them from diseases. At Beltane, couples went A-Maying - spending the night in the woods, fields and brought back May and hawthorn blossoms as a sign of fertility and the new season.
In England this became May Day but in Scotland the festival is still known as Beltane. In Edinburgh the spectacle now includes fire displays, drumming, processions with pipe bands and plenty of body paint.
During the 300 year long Roman occupation of Britain the Floralia was celebrated. Flora was the goddess of flowers and spring and the festival in her honour was held for 6 days at the end of April. The celebration was for everyone, not just the nobility, and was all about pleasure, fertility and flowers. The festival included games and dancing so it is easy to see where the flowers, foliage and fun elements of modern British May Day stem from.
Morris dancers are traditional folk dancers. This form of dance dates back to Medieval times. The earliest written record of a Morris dancing performance in England is from 1448 but the origins of Morris are lost in the mists of time. Morris dancing used to be confined to male performers but nowadays both men and women take part. Traditionally dressed in white with strips of bells on their legs, colourful neckerchiefs and belts across their chests, Morris dancers perform jigs, kicks, jumps and set patterns. Morris dancers have become closely associated with May Day. Performing with wooden poles and handkerchiefs, they are a wonderful sight, especially on a village green on a sunny day.
Georgian Era and After May Day Customs
Jack-in-the-Green is a May Day character first recorded in 1770. The man playing Jack is dressed in a conical wicker or wooden framework covered in foliage. The look is completed with green face paint. The character is likely to have evolved from an earlier tradition of milkmaids carrying milk pails decorated with flowers. The use of foliage and flowers firmly associates this tradition with the spring/summer season and the fertility and new life it brings. The tradition went out of favour in the 20th century but has been recently revived and the Jack-in-the-Green features in several May Day celebrations in England.
Hobby horses (or 'Obby 'Osses) feature in festivals in Padstow and Minehead. Music accompanies the wild dancing of the 'osses which are men dressed in 6ft wide wooden hoops draped in black sailcloth and wearing fearsome masks. The origins of the tradition are not known but theories abound. The 'obby 'oss is a rainmaker, a fertility symbol or a deterrent to a landing by the French, or a welcome to summer, dependent on which legend you believe.
Another local festivity in early May is the Helston Floral Festival. This centuries old tradition is most likely to stem from the anniversary of the apparition of St Michael (patron saint of the parish church in Helston) on May 8th. Heralded by an early morning ringing of the church bells, Floral Day features the Furry Dance which weaves in and out of the streets and local houses. The male dancers dress in top hats and tails and the females in beautiful, colourful dresses. Flora Day also features the Hal-an-Tow, a mummers play where St George and St Michael slay the Dragon and the Devil. The players are cheered on by a crowd dressed in Lincoln green and Elizabethan robes.
As the dawn breaks in Dorset on May 1st, Morris Men dance on the site of the old maypole above the Cerne Abbot Giant. Local folklore has long held that the huge chalk figure carved into the hillside is an aid to fertility. The dancing moves to the village square, then a well-deserved breakfast.
Queen of the May is a girl who personifies springtime and summer on May Day. Traditionally she wears white to symbolise purity and a garland or crown. In some older village traditions, there was a Lord and Lady or King and Queen of the May. This custom persists in some areas of England but the Queen of the May is everywhere seen.
Places to Celebrate in Early May
To book your holiday at any UK celebrations of May Day, get in touch with our staycation experts.
When planning family holidays there are lots of factors to consider to make your trip the very best. Looking at temperatures, short flight times, family activities available and value for money, we find the most family friendly destinations in Europe are:
Although Turkey enjoys the highest average temperature, with Gumbet, Belek and Bodrum all enjoying averages of 25 degrees C during the summer.
The Costa Blanca on the Spanish mainland comes a close second, averaging temperatures of 24.5o between May and October.
Average sea temperatures
For comfortable swimming temperatures, especially for younger children, resorts across Turkey also fit the bill with Antalya, Alanya, Belek and Side all enjoying averages of 25o. Cyprus also has lovely warm sea, with an average temperature of 24.5o.
Water parks and amusement parks
Amusement parks and water parks are great for family fun. Crete, Greece's largest and most southerly island, has the most parks with a massive 10, including WaterCity in Anapolis near Heraklion.
Next is the beautiful island of Cyprus with 9 attractions, including award-winning Fasouri Watermania Water Park in Limassol.
Spain also offers a variety of park options for families. The Costa Blanca, Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada all boast 7 water or amusement parks, as do Sardinia, Italy’s largest island, the Algarve region of Portugal and Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
A short flight is a big consideration for those planning a family holiday. If you are looking for a beach break with a limited travel time you should consider the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada regions of Spain. These destinations both have average flight times of just over 2 hours from the UK.
Majorca, the sun-kissed Balearic Island is also a great choice for a close to home destination, with an average flight time of just short of 2 and a half hours. Alternatively the Costa de la Luz region of Spain is also perfect for families looking to minimise their travel time, as are Ibiza and Sardinia.
Best value for money
A big factor for British families is to minimise cost. Based on a family of 4, the lowest cost holiday destinations are the Costa Calida and the Costa Brava on the Spanish mainland and the Canary Island of La Palma.
Travel to Kefalonia in Greece or the Algarve in Portugal to get more bang for your buck.
For great family deals just search our latest offers here.
Travel planning can be daunting. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when it is a complicated itinerary or a long world-spanning journey.
I have planned countless trips and holidays for over the years (for myself, friends, family and customers) and understand how getting the essentials right is key. So here is a step-by-step guide on how to travel plan effectively and with less stress.
1. Decide on your destination(s)
This sounds as though it should be the easiest step of all. With all the destination guides available on the internet nowadays there can be a risk of information overload unless you have a clear idea to start with. Instead of thinking that you want to go to a continent or country, it is much better to hone in on a specific region, island or city. Saying that you are going to Antigua rather than the Caribbean concentrates your mind and makes planning much smoother. Guidebooks and maps are also useful ways of finding out more about your chosen destination, routes and culture.
2. Decide the length of your trip
How long are you going away for? Until you know that you can't have a concrete plan. Sometimes it will be dependent on how much time off you have from work. Other times you might be flexible from 7 to 10 days. Try to be specific, for example "I'm going to Antigua for 14 nights". This will make it easier for you to find the right flight, hotel or package out of the vast array available.
3. Cost planning
Now you know where you want to go, where you going and how long you are going for, you need to set a budget. Firstly consider your style of travel, luxury hotels, all inclusive, backpacking, etc. You can then check out costs online on holiday comparison sites. Travel forums are also useful to find out how much things cost in your chosen destination. This gives you a guide as to how much you'll need for spending money. Don't forget to check the exchange rate so you know how much local currency you'll need to order. These days I find it more economical to get a small amount of currency for immediate needs on arrival then get what I need from the ATM in the destination. Of course this won't work if you're going somewhere remote!
4. Check for last minute deals
It's always worth checking travel offers to see if you can save money. You may dream of Antigua but perhaps there are special offers to Barbados right now. Maybe you can get an upgraded cabin on a cruise, or maybe you can go further for your budget. The world is a big place and there are so many places to see. Sometimes you can get a better deal if you're flexible. This does, of course, mean that you start your destination research again. But it is much quicker when the place has already been chosen.
5. Package deal or separate elements?
It is most often better to book your holiday as a package if you are taking a stay-put holiday in one destination. If you're planning a trip itinerary with multiple stops then you will almost certainly have to book your flight, accommodation and transfers separately.
6. Plan your activities
OK, so you have planned how to get to your destination and where you are staying, now you need to think about what you'll do when you get there. Of course you don't need to know every detail, just outline the major activities you want to enjoy and have an idea of the cost. Activities available will vary dependent on your destination and again, Tripadvisor forums can be really helpful. You can ask fellow travellers or local residents whether you can parascend, bungee jump or horse ride. Find out which local suppliers offer quad biking, surfing, gorge climbing or child-friendly activities. The internet is also a great place to find out more about landmarks that you want to discover on your sightseeing days. Not forgetting which are the best restaurants to try. Whatever you want to do you should make sure that your insurance covers it, particularly adrenaline sports.
Now you've decided where you are going, when, how and what you'll be doing when you get there, you are ready to plan what you need to take with you. A great tip to ensure you don't forget anything is to have a packing checklist. I've been using the same list for over 30 years and it hasn't changed much - apart from replacing the Walkman, camera and film with my mobile phone!
Make sure you include the essentials such as passport, tickets and money. You can add types of clothing and footwear (the checklist stops me forgetting nightwear!), toiletries, medication, etc. What you pack depends entirely on where you are going but I just cross off what I don't need from the list and add extras. When I go shopping pre-trip I take the list with me and highlight items as I buy them. When I pack my suitcase I lay out the items on the bed first and tick them off the list before packing the case. Happy days.
Why not download my checklist to get you started?
Still feeling overwhelmed? Why not use an experienced travel agent to make the travel planning process a cinch. Tasteful Travel are with you every step of the planning journey and can support you before, during and after your holiday.
Designed for adults who are looking for a fun, lively holiday in hotels with great design but a relaxed vibe, Cook's Club from Thomas Cook is a great offering for couples, groups of friends and families with children over 16. With simple, stylish rooms and a central pool hub the hotels have great quality casual dining and lively bar areas.
Enjoy poolside soundtracks throughout the day and a DJ on the decks at night. Cook's Club hotels also offer themed evenings, from RnB parties to BBQ cookouts. Dance till midnight at your chosen hotel and enjoy cocktails at the Captain Cook bar, mixed with premium spirits and served in quirky glass tumblers.
Dine informally at the street-food inspired Cantina. Instead of buffet style canteens, all dishes are made fresh to order - from hangover brunches to vegan treats.
Cook's Club Adakoy Marmaris has been named one of Europe's best new hotels 2019 by The i Paper. The hotel is nestled in a secluded waterfront location and offers great watersports.
Along with the Adakoy, an especially selected group of hotels form the Cook's Club. The concept is a new collection of hotels which are stripped back to focus only on the things that matter to a new generation of travellers. Here you can be surrounded by like-minded people here and spend an action-packed yet relaxing break.
Cook's Club will also be available in super cool Sardinia, Italy; Kos, Greece; Alanya, Turkey; Palma Beach, Majorca; and Sunny Beach in this year's hot spot, Bulgaria. All will have the urban chic look even though in coastal locations. The focus is on what today's traveller wants, especially the young and hip.
Instead of booking your adult only holidays direct, get extra savings on Thomas Cook's Club through a travel agent like Tasteful Travel. Search our offers for the latest deals under 'Beach Resorts & Hotels' or speak to our travel experts today.
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.
In these days of online booking and the huge array of travel information available, you may ask yourself why there is still a need for travel agents. There are many reasons why this is a smart choice and using a travel agent to plan travel and book your trips is an upward trend.
If you think that it is only the over 60s who use travel agents to book you should think again. Young travellers are embracing the expertise of travel agents and millenials are as likely as baby boomers to use a travel agent. Travel trade research in both the UK and US show the same results, that travel agents are still relevant in the digital age.
Here are 5 reasons why:
So the only thing which is changing regarding using a travel agent, is the way they offer their services. The high street shop may be in decline but the new breed of travel agents offer their shopfront online but are still a reassuring voice on the end of the phone, contactable via online chat or are just an email away.
Interested in using a travel agent for your next trip or would like to get travel offers sent to your inbox? Get in touch with us today.