Paul’s Top Five Christmas Travel gifts…

Paul’s Top Five Christmas Travel gifts…

Do you really want to make someone’s Christmas this year?  Still looking for the gift that you know is going to light them up with joy?  Paul’s got some wonderful suggestions for the special person in your life, that show you’ve gone the extra mile…

At number five – a great idea for the frequent business traveller or those planning a world trip – the Push Pin World Map allows you to scratch off the gold surface and reveal the places you have visited beneath.  Wonderful for kids at home whilst a parent travels, we also loved the idea of planning a series of holidays on it.

At number four – a stunning piece of luggage.  Whatever your budget, spend as much as you can afford on a really great piece of luggage, and it will last for years.  Ideally, it should be small enough to be taken on as hand luggage, so double check the latest regulations before you buy.

This great guide from Samsonite is worth checking.

Number three – Book tickets to The Adventure Travel Show, taking place at London Olympia on 21st and 22nd January 2017.  This is the travel show for those who like to take the holiday-road-less-travelled!  With amazing ideas for the adventurous traveller, take the one you love to the show and book your next adventure while you’re there.

Number two – Really want to score some Brownie-points for the festive season? Organise a weekend for them at a spa hotel; Paul can help you find the perfect one for your partner’s  taste (and your budget) and make sure your loved one feels appreciated, pampered and restored after the festivities.

Number One – a weekend away, together, somewhere they would choose.  Perhaps they’d love to watch the stars together, or go snowboarding, or perhaps snuggle up by a fire toasting marshmallows…. Whatever their dream escape would be, give us a call and Paul will help you plan a secret, special getaway.  A gift you’ll both enjoy and remember for many years.

What is the best travel related gift you’ve received?  We’d love to hear your ideas.  Here’s to a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year to you all.

Cheap Holidays in Portugal

How to Holiday in Portugal on the cheap!

Whilst Portugal has more than its fair share of luxury 5 star resorts like Quinta De Lago, Vale do Lobo and Pria del Rai to name but a few. However if you are on a more restricted budget Portugal is more than affordable with plenty of great destinations to choose from!

Of course there are plenty of towns like Albufeira which offer budget accommodation and more than enough nightlife for the young but there also a large selection of other resorts that offer a taste of the real Portugal that most Europeans never venture too.

Cheap Flights to Portugal

Portugal has three main airports Lisbon, Faro and Porto with most tourists to the country choosing to visit the popular Algarve region via Faro. It is also an easy drive from Seville in Spain especially for the South of Portugal and with no boarder restrictions its often worth considering as an alternative for cheap flights into Portugal especially during peak season.

Cheap Accommodation in Portugal

If you want to keep the cost of your holiday down then you should really look at avoiding the more popular tourist sports that most foreign visitors flock to and instead consider the more traditional resorts that are favored by the Portuguese themselves. You can find some great bargains and get to see and enjoy the real Portugal.

Cheap Holidays in PortugalFor our example we are going to look at the old fishing village of Nazare located on the Silver Coast of Portugal, just over an hours drive North of Lisbon.

Nazare has a great sandy beach stretching for about half a mile. Ok whilst the sea may not be as warm as the med its lively and patrolled by lifeguards. There are also plenty of quieter beaches nearby to choose from too.

During the peak season late July to early September the town really comes to live with many Portuguese people holidaying in the town and it can get quite busy in the local restaurants and bars but if you time it right this is not really a problem.

As for accommodation Nazare offers a range of options from comfortable 4 starHotels in Nazare hotels, boutique hotels to local room rentals from €25.00 per night always negotiable especially later on in the day! If you prefer self catering then there are also plenty of options too choose from quality villas and apartments to the more older traditional rustic houses in the town. If you’re not prepared to leave things to the last moment or when you arrive Wot Travel can help book many of the resorts hotels in advance and has access to some great rates too!

Nazare is famous for its surfing especially in the winter months when top surfers from around the world can be seen often breaking world records. In the calmer summer months there is plenty to do apart from the beaches, most sports are available and many fabulous historic sites to visit, more than enough to occupy every member of the family.

cheap holidays to PortugalThere are so many places in Portugal to discover and many offer much cheaper rates for accommodation and typical holiday expenses like food and entertainment than the more popular Portuguese holiday destinations. All of which will help you enjoy an affordable holiday in Portugal.

Cheap Holidays to Portugal

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Porto Santo – Portugal’s Hidden Gems

The island of Porto Santo in contrast to its much larger neighbour Madeira boasts a 9km sandy beach.

Porto Santo HolidaysIn a previous article we featured The Azores today we would like to tell you about another Portuguese hidden gem the beautiful tiny island of Porto Santo, originally discovered by the Portuguese in 1418 is only some 12km long and only 6km wide.

First settled by farmers and fisherman who’s trades have now almost died out, apart from a little fishing, the island now relies on the increasing tourist trade for its income with almost all food and goods being imported.

Once the home of Christopher Columbus who’s house is now a museum in this honour the island is enjoying a rise in popularity. traditionally Porto Santo was a holiday spot for the wealthy Madeiran‘s today you are just as likely to bump into the odd celebrity or football star.

What to do on Porto Santo

Most people come to Porto Santo to enjoy the peace and quiet and its 9 km sandy beach which is located on the south coast of the island. The north is somewhat rockier and ideal for a rambler or a keen cyclist (bikes can be hired locally) to explore.

The island boasts a new 18 hole golf course over 6,434 metres, with a par of 72, which was designed by Severiano Ballesteros, it stretches all across the island from the cliffs in the North to the dunes of the South.

Other sporting activities available include diving, horse riding, canoeing, jet skies, water skiing and fishing including big game fishing which is a popular draw for many to the island.

Sightseeing and shopping is available if you should need a break from the beach and the sports, with a range of things to see and do and a few souvenirs to buy in the shops of the main town of Vila Baleira.

There is a range of bars and clubs on the island for those looking for a more lively end to the day, that can get quite busy especially at the weekend during the summer. There is also a fair selection of restaurants offering a range of cuisine from typical local dishes to international fine dining.

Accommodation on Porto Santo

The number of hotels has expanded in resent years and more are planned. There are a couple of quality establishments and also all inclusive at the 5 star Pestana Porto Santo Resort and Spa a large family hotel located right on the beach. If you looking for something a little more traditional then there is Hotel Quinta do Serrado or if your prefer self catering there is the Aparthotel Luamar.

hotels on porto santo

How do you get to Porto Santo?

It is now possible to fly direct from London Gatwick to Porto Santo with Thomsom’s flights operate from May to October on a Monday. At other times you can get to the island via Madeira which is served by direct flights from many UK and European airports. You will then have to connect on either one of the two daily flights from Funchal or a ferry (portosantoline.pt) which takes two and a half hours and operates every day except Tuesday. If you opt for the ferry or your flights do not match in, you may have to overnight in Madeira or why not even make your visit a two centre holiday.

Where is Porto Santo?

Porto Santo is located in the Atlantic Ocean some 37 miles northeast of Madeira and 560 miles southwest of Lisbon, the nearest mainland is the coast of Morocco in North Africa.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?client=firefox-a&q=porto+santo&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Porto+Santo&t=m&z=12&ll=33.075975,-16.334606&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

Whats the Weather like in Porto Santo?

The Atlantic winds have a cooling effect on the climate year round and best time to visit Porto Santo is between May and October when day time highs start from 20c and hit 25c during July and August. The winter months are a little cooler and are somewhat wetter with an average temperature of 17c, which by Northern European standards is still very pleasant for those seeking a little winter warmth.

If you would like to know more about holidays to Porto Santo or would like a no obligation quote please feel free to contact us

holidays to Porto Santo

Winter Sun Destinations – Tenerife

Tenerife offers great value winter holiday’s with a reliable climate it makes the ideal destination for a break from the cold!

For many years now , Tenerife has been one of the most popular winter sun destinations for those who seek a little winter warmth. During the colder months of a European winter Tenerife typically enjoys an average of  6 hours of sunshine daily and a very pleasant temperature of 21 °C.

wunter breaks to tenerifeGiven Tenerife’s location it is almost certain that you will enjoy a warm, dry holiday and can usually expect at least 21 dry days even during the winter months in Tenerife.

tenerife weatherWith the  northern area of Tenerife being somewhat cooler, but still with temperatures warmer than most of Europe during the winter months, the island offers an ideal climate for so many winter sun holiday makers.

Their are a variety of activities for tourists to enjoy on Tenerife, that is is you ever get board with soaking up the sun and the pools and beaches!

Tourists to Tenerife holidays can enjoy a variety of activities; the beautifully diverse landscape fascinates all who see it, and the climate is temperate throughout the year. In addition, various seasonal activities are available on Tenerife so that no matter when you visit, you can always try something new and different. With a large variety of sports and leisure activities available it is easy to see why Tenerife is such a popular destination all year round.

Winter Sun Destinations Tenerife

The southern half of Tenerife is known for its moon like landscape and unique beaches of volcanic sand that make it so different to the majority of holiday destinations. The north is somewhat more fertile with banana plantations and a host of other interesting forna and flora along with a more rugged coastline to explore.

The main holiday resorts on Tenerife are listed below but there are a host of smaller more intimate resorts for those looking to get away from the crowds.

A must do for any holiday maker to Tenerife is a visit up to the top of Mount Teide which is some 3718 meters and the highest point in Spain. The trip to the summit is quite spectacular as you ascend through mountain villages and serene pine forests and sometimes even through a layer of cloud, it is really quite breathtaking. Once at the top you can grab a bit to eat and enjoy the peace and quiet of the volcanic National park or take the cable car up to the usually snow covered peak.

There are excursions to Mount Teide available from most resorts, I would however recommend hiring a car and driving yourself. It is an easy drive and the roads are modern and safe and under your own steam you can stop and enjoy the wondrous scenery for as long as you want!

There are plenty of other attractions and major towns to visit and or shop and the local transportation system is designed with the tourists in mind. Car hire is available from the airport or most major resorts or alternatively taxis are available for shorter journeys pretty much round the clock.

Tenerife is a great destination for food too with a wide variety of cuisine on offer including local Canarian dishes that will get your taste buds tingling along with being a duty free island making drink and shopping a bargain too!

With accommodation to suite very budget from affordable self catering apartments to luxury 5 star resorts and with direct flights available from most UK airports and many European cities Tenerife really has everything you could wish and its all only 4 hours away.

Hopefully I have wet your appetite for a winter break in Tenerife, please feel to contact me to discuss the best holiday options for you in Tenerife and for a no obligation quote.

holidays to tenerife

Away from the Crowds – Oualidia

For our readers living in the UK and Europe who may prefer somewhere a little closer to home for a family holiday, in today’s report we invite you to discover the delights of the Moroccan beach resort of Oualidia.

INSTEAD OF MARRAKECH……TRY OUALIDIA
Avoid dizzying Marrakech and opt for cool Oualidia. This pretty, lesser-known coastal town is spread around the southern shores of an inland lagoon and flanked by a kabash that was built in 1634 by Sultan El Oualid. It has the tranquillity of Essaouira and the hassle-free ambience of Chefchaouen, but appeals to adventurers as well as beach lovers.
Holidays in Oualida Morocco
WHAT TO DO IN OUALIDIA?…..
People watch and build sandcastles on the beach, or get a taste of authentic Morocco at the Saturday market. Children will love quad-biking in the dunes, fishing or canoeing in the lagoon, or a visit to Safi (65km south), one of Morocco’s largest pottery centres. Surfland offers courses in the lagoon which provides ideal conditions for children from seven years of age.
 
CUISINE…..
Fresh oysters (Oualidia’s speciality), lobster, crab or sole at one of three or four main food stops: L’Ostrea, or the restaurants at L’Hippocampe Hotel or La Sultana.
 
ACCOMMODATION IN OUALIDIA…..
The family-run L’Hippocampe Hotel, next to the old Summer Palace, is a recommendation. Rooms are simply furnished, but the larger suites leading out on to the verandah and beach are great for family groups. Kids will love the enchanted, overgrown English-style garden which is full of geraniums and nasturtiums.
Holiday deals to Oualidia
If unabashed luxury is your preference, then look no further than La Sultana. La Sultana Oualidia, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is a perfect nature & ocean gateway to relax and rest. It is located along the Oualidia lagoon famous for its oyster farms and flocks of pink flamingos.
Holidays to OualidiaFrom the Moorish fort, set in landscaped surroundings, you will be charmed by the view of the grass-roofed cabanas, the turquoise swimming pool, the lagoon and the boundless ocean.
 
The hotel reveals herself only to the selected few who travel the world searching for exceptional places, who pause to savour the moment and fix it in eternity.
 
Pleasures for all the senses: Private beach – Outdoor ionized pool (40m long) – five sea water Jacuzzi’s around the swimming pool – Spa – Gym – Lounge Bar – Library – Billiards – Cooking courses – airport transfer service – Fully equipped private meeting rooms on demand – Library to chill out with books – Laundry and Concierge services – parking.   
 
HOW TO GET TO OUALIDIA….
Royal Air Maroc fly from London Heathrow, several times a week, but other carriers operate to the city from elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East.
 
TRANSFERS……
It’s a two and a half hour drive from Casablanca to Oualidia, so it’s easily reached even with toddlers in tow.
To find out more about Holidays to Oualidia please click on the button below and I will be pleased to discuss your vacation plans and arrange a no obligation quote.
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Gibraltar – A Rock of Ages

Short Break Holidays to Gibraltar a great place for a long weekend!

Now that Gibraltar’s dockyards are giving way to marinas, it has its very own literary festival and a wealth of fine beaches, restaurants and hotels. Come with me as I show you what a rewarding destination this is for a long weekend.

Holidays to Gibraltar

The planet’s great divides – the Bosphorus, the Panama Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar – may look on the globe as though they disconnect the continents on which they are located. However, in reality these critical bodies of water help to unite the world. That is especially true at one of the most southerly points in continental Europe, where North Africa can seem almost within touching distance.

From the Rock of Gibraltar history has witnessed the ebbs and flows of people and ideas – between the Mediterranean and the New World, between Europe and Africa. This would explain why this tiny territory – a peninsula three miles by two, and rising to a height of 1,300ft – has so many dimensions and surprises. Therefore, in the course of a short stay, you can delve in to its secrets and unravel them with a rewarding outcome.

In the past thirty years for example, Gibraltar has changed from a far-flung fragment of Britain to a cosmopolitan city-state, where tapas and calamaris are now just as common as fish and chips.

Marinas such as Ocean Village and Queensway Quay are more appealing than the dockyards they supersede, and bring in the colourful sailing community. Add new cultural ventures such as the inaugural Literary Festival that took place in October 2013, and Gibraltar has the feeling of being reborn for the twenty first century.

So, allow me to show you a three-day itinerary in Gibraltar, which I hope will whet your appetite so that you will want to visit the destination for yourself and discover that there is even more on offer than what I show you here.

DAY ONE

It’s not often that a window seat has a greater use as on the approach to Gibraltar’s airport. With the runway on the strip of land that connects Gibraltar with the rest of Europe, you are flying over the Mediterranean until just before the wheels touch down, and in close proximity to the Rock – one of the Pillars of Hercules according to legend. The landing can, to some, be a little disconcerting as you actually have to look up at the cruise ships as they tower above the aircraft.

You arrive at the startling new airport terminal, which has played a vital part in the transformation of Gibraltar. From the terminal exit you can choose to head north to Spain, or go south to remain on British territory – first claimed in 1704 after the War of Spanish Succession, which was then set in geopolitical stone by the 1715 Treaty of Utrecht.

It’s the one place in Europe, outside of the British Isles, where a pound is worth exactly a pound: sterling is the currency, and Gibraltarian notes and coins are interchangeable with those of the Bank of England – in the territory, at least.

In terms of getting to Gibraltar, British Airways flies daily or more, from Heathrow, easyJet flies daily from Gatwick, Monarch has four flights a week from Luton, three flights a week from Manchester, and twice weekly from Birmingham. Flying time is between three and four hours, depending on the departure point.

Most flights touchdown around noon, an ideal time to arrive. Taxis (and a bus) will be waiting, but if you are not burdened down with luggage then walk – straight across the runway that welcomed you. In a pragmatic use of space, the runway reverts to its normal role of supporting Winston Churchill Avenue, the main road connecting Gibraltar with the rest of Europe. Take the highway – and walkway – to the heart of the Rock.

Take a stroll through Casemates Square, which sets the tone for Gibraltar; ancient stones seem to grow from the Rock, fortifications softened by the centuries. Then Main Street takes over as the back bone for the skeleton of streets and alleyways crowded into the western side of the territory, with names such as Bomb House Lane and Convent Ramp.

When it comes to accommodation, check in to the Rock Hotel for Art Deco splendour, combined with some good views. Or, for a warm Irish welcome try the O’Callaghan Elliott Hotel, which combines a fantastic central location with a rooftop pool and a terrace for dining to make the most of the balmy climate. For a perfect sunrise and a sense of escapism, why not stay at the Caleta Hotel, which merges with the Rock to create a very respectable Gibraltar fixture – and whose kitchens deliver some of the peninsula’s finest seafood at Nuno’s.

Head to the Gibraltar Museum on Bomb House Lane for a history lesson. Unwrap the layers of history, from the Phoenicians through the Greeks and Romans to the Moors, who named the Rock “Jebel Tariq” – Tariq’s Mountain – and provided the raw phonetic material for Gibraltar’s name.

To get the measure of Gibraltar – and a glimpse of Africa – continue south. Europa Point marks the southern tip of the peninsula, and the Africa connection is symbolised by the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque. From this British Overseas Territory on the very edge of Europe, you can see two other countries – and gaze from one continent to another. You are also likely to see squadrons of birds flocking north or south: naturally, Gibraltar is one of the most significant points on migratory routes between Europe and Africa each spring and autumn. Watch out, also, for the Barbary Partridge: the territory’s ornithological calling card.

DAY TWO

Explore the hunk of limestone at the heart of Gibraltar – and discover its remarkable repertoire of roles. The upper reaches on the outside comprises of a nature reserve, home to Europe’s only colony of apes – and, cheerfully coexisting beneath the surface, the continent’s most complex network of tunnels. You can walk to the top, an ideal activity for a fresh morning, but once the temperature starts to rise the cable car (£14.70 return, price correct as of November 2013) can save your energy.

To the south, St Michael’s Caves are the work of nature, a three-dimensional maze of limestone. To the north, the Great Siege Tunnels show what can be done in extremis – such as the conditions of the 1779-1783 siege by the Spanish, when army engineers created an astonishing thirty miles of passageways that comprised a small town shewn from bare rock.

The tunnels were pressed into active service again during the WWII, when Spitfire aircraft were assembled here. To seal the sense of Britishness, a Union flag flutters above the 14th-century Moorish Castle.

Time for a drink? Gibraltar used to be the place to which homesick British expatriates from Spain’s Costa del Sol retreated for some familiarity – and pints-for-pounds are still easily available on Main Street in traditional pubs such as The Horseshoe and The Royal Calpe. But these days I suggest you head for the Queensway Quay Marina, where you can choose between iced sherry (from Jerez, a short journey along the coast) and Californian cocktails.

Surf and turf are on offer, for example at Savannah, with the rather splendid address of 27 Leisure Island, and Biancas in Ocean Village and Marina Bay respectively. The latter made its name in 1979 by becoming the first Gibraltar restaurant to open on Mondays. Retire for a mint tea (to remind you of Morocco’s proximity) or an espresso at Sacarello’s coffee house – which is only four years short of its bicentenary; it was founded by a Genoese sailor in 1817.

DAY THREE

Start with a splash – and a closely guarded secret; that Gibraltar possesses a trio of fine beaches along the eastern shore. For a more substantial encounter with the waves, take one of the excellent boat trips out into the Strait of Gibraltar. The waters around Gibraltar are home to whales and dolphins. There are several competing operators that operate dolphin-watching tours.

If you are visiting on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you should acquaint yourself with the multi-faith nature of Gibraltar’s spiritual side: Muslims from North Africa, Jews from Malta and points east, plus Christians in English Protestant, Scottish Presbyterian and Roman Catholic denominations crowd into mosques, synagogues, chapels and cathedrals. The territory is becoming popular for weddings, offering a seductive combination of easy access, straightforward formalities (based on the English legal model), good value and the prospect of sunny skies.

One last cultural experience takes you to the origins of mankind. Gorham’s Cave is a remarkable find – it appears to have been a location where homo sapiens and Neanderthal man coexisted. It is also a candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage List, on a short list of two with the Forth Bridge, outside Edinburgh.

Make the most of a final sunny day and visit Alameda Gardens. Another bicentenary contender, it began life in 1816, when the governor George Don decided the residents needed some breathing space.

Save shopping to the end of your trip. Arguably Gibraltar is the ultimate frontier town – and, like many border communities, it offers some comparative retail advantages. You may wish to make the most of your baggage allowance thanks to the refreshing absence of VAT and sales tax. Then head for the airport. Enjoy one final view of the Rock, the runway and the corrugation of Andalucian and African hills. Oh, and then start planning your next grand entrance.

How to get to Gibraltar and a little more information

Aside from the air services mentioned earlier, Gibraltar is also accessible by road, via Spain. Gibraltar adjoins the southern coast of Spain at the western end of the Mediterranean. In order to be allowed past the border into Gibraltar you will be required to be in possession of a valid passport.

The land frontier is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and there are no limits on the number of frontier crossings you can make. There is no charge to enter Gibraltar .

If you are driving to Gibraltar from Spain, take the N340 or the A7 (Cadiz – Malaga highway) and turn off at Junction 119 into the N351 which takes you to La Linea, the border town between Spain and Gibraltar. The frontier is just a five minute walk away from La Linea Bus Station.

There are no camping facilities on the Rock, but there are a number of nearby camping sites in Spain. Caravans may only be imported into Gibraltar provided a licence has been previously obtained from HM Customs Gibraltar, Customs House, Waterport, Gibraltar. Drivers of camper vans are warned that Gibraltar’s streets are narrow. It is best that they be parked outside the city walls. Camper vans are not allowed into the Upper Rock or at most tourist sites. Be aware that camper vans are not allowed to park anywhere in Gibraltar.

The size of Gibraltar’s population is circa 30,000.  Throughout its history, Gibraltar has been inhabited by a range of immigrants from differing cultural backgrounds including Spanish, Genoese, Maltese, Moroccan, Jewish and Portuguese who combined with the British settlers to form a varied and multi-racial community.

The religion practised in Gibraltar is predominantly Roman Catholicism; however, other religions such as other Christian faiths and Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Bahai and Jehovah’s Witnesses are also common.  Gibraltar is a shining example of how all races and followers of different religions can live together in a peaceful and harmonious environment.

The official language in Gibraltar is English although a mixture of English and Spanish is spoken in casual conversation. This local “dialect” is referred to as “Yanito”.

Gibraltar’s educational system is based on that of the United Kingdom system and all professions are required to have British qualifications.

The people of Gibraltar, known as Gibraltarians, are a warm, fun loving, race. They are known by the English as “British” and by those in Spain as “Spanish”. However, neither is correct, as the Gibraltarians are their own people and are fiercely proud of their country, and rightly so. Interaction with them is a must, and you will soon find out why my comments are so true.

Gibraltar is a great place to visit and you will not be disappointed.

So, now you have read all about Gibraltar, and what it has to offer you, why not allow World of Transport Travel to book your travels there. We can book flights, accommodation, tours and excursions, and if required, car rental. Contact us with your requirements. Please note that we can also book self-catering accommodation, and cater for groups of any size, as well as schools and colleges (there is one youth hostel that we deal with, if this type of accommodation is required).

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