Category Archive: UK

Talking About Belfast on The Amateur Traveler

I love talking about travel with friends, and recently Chris Christensen gave me the opportunity to talk about my trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with a lot of people as a guest on his podcast, Amateur Traveler. Take a listen. Amateur Traveler Episode 396 – Travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland Now, head on over to subscribe to the Amateur Traveler so you won’t miss any of the great guests and topics Chris features on his show. I subscribe by iTunes and get automatic updates of new shows, but there are plenty of options for you to choose from.

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Northern Ireland: Malmaison Belfast Hotel

Malmaison Belfast Address: 34-38 Victoria Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland Rating:   Features:  Located in two old seed warehouses, the Malmaison Belfast has retained some of the original features, including iron pillars, beams, and carved stone gargoyles. The boutique hotel has 64 luxury rooms and two suites. The rooms feature mood lighting, flat screen plasma televisions, upscale toiletries in generous sizes (you’re encouraged to take them with you), and FREE wifi. Giving a hat tip to Belfast’s maritime connection, the Malmaison Belfast features subtle shipbuilding décor features in its common areas. The hotel has a restaurant (Brasserie) and bar (MALBAR) on site. Price Range:  Typical boutiques rates here, and with the dollar to pound exchange rate, it can add up fast. The best price we found was by taking advantage of one of their several promotional packages, resulting in a pre-paid […]

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Finding Time to Visit Britain

Time is relative, proved Albert Einstein, but it is also relevant as visitors to Greenwich, a district of south London, are quick to discover. This district has achieved significance importance for lending its name to the standard used to regulate time and set clocks around the world — Greenwich Mean Time. If you’ve ever tried tried to coordinate a business phone call with participants located around the globe, you’re probably familiar with using GMT to set the appointment time. A visit to the once small fishing village of Greenwich will likely include a visit to the Royal Observatory and the surrounding grounds which contain the Royal Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House. Collectively called the Royal Museums Greenwich, the area has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Royal Observatory includes Flamsteed House, the original observatory dating back […]

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A Shopper’s Guide to York: Best Vintage Offerings

The reasons why people head for York (England) are extremely diverse – after all, this beautiful city offers so much, including a rich heritage, medieval cobbled streets, ghost stories and of course, the towering basilica that is York Minster. But what about the shopping opportunities? Sure, it has its fair share of high street stores, but what if you want something a little different, a little retro? Spend a day in this superb city, have a look at some of the cheap hotels in York that are available, and explore some of the amazing vintage and retro-inspired shops on offer. The retro and vintage style has made a massive comeback over recent years, so it’s no wonder the volume of stores that cater to the attire have increased too. York provides its fair share of retro offerings – you just […]

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The Top 5 Family Attractions in Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh is a popular place year-round for travelers of all kinds, but especially families.  From the very atmospheric city streets, to the many tours and festivals that the kids will love, Scotland will leave the parents charmed and your children ready for their return trip. With so many attractions and venues, it’s really hard to decide where to spend your time.  Here’s some suggestions that will keep everyone smiling. Edinburgh Castle Of course, the famed icon that brings travelers here from afar has to top the list.  But why?  Because the castle can be a fun way to learn about Scotland’s troubled history.  There is so much to see here, from the city’s oldest building (a small chapel) to quirky spots, such as the dog cemetery.  On a clear day, this is also an opportunity to […]

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Balmoral: The Queen’s Scottish Residence

  Located in the highlands of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Balmoral Castle is a large estate house best known as one of the residences of the Royal Family.  It was originally purchased by Queen Victoria, who razed the home and rebuilt it from the ground up, and has been owned by successive monarchs since that time.  The working estate covers about 49,000 acres, and has managed herds of deer, cattle, and ponies. With a mix of rugged topography and manicured gardens, it’s easy to understand why the Queen loves her highland holidays at Balmoral. Also on the estate:  Birkhall, where Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall spend their summers, and Craigowan Lodge, where other royal friends and family stay.  There are also six smaller cottages on the property that are available for rent. While your stay in your Scottish cottages […]

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Kew Bridge Steam Museum: London’s Industrial History on Display

Fans of the offbeat, quirky museums and industrial history may enjoy London’s Kew Bridge Steam Museum, home to a collection of water pumping steam engines.  While it may sound a bit dull at first thought, Victorian-era London produced some of the finest waterworks around, and it’s on display here.  Located on the River Thames in west London, this quirky steam museum is easily accessible from most hotels and apartments in London. The steam museum is on the site of the original Kew Bridge Pumping Station which originally opened in 1838.  Although the pump station expanded over the following few years, eventually the steam engines were retired from service.  The final use of steam engines at the site was in 1958 – it was a demonstration only.  The pumps weren’t eliminated completely, however, they were merely stored in the hopes that they […]

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Family Vacation in Wales

In springtime the Welsh countryside is surely one of the most beautiful in the world. There is a lush greenness unmatched anywhere in Europe and it’s very easy to see why the daffodil is the region’s official flower. They are everywhere, from the planted beds in suburban public parks to wild outcrops by the roadsides. Take a short hike through the hills and you’ll also see wild foxgloves, primroses, and dozens of other flowers in full bloom. There are crocuses in the open spaces and bluebells in the woods. Hiking is just one of the activities that bring visitors to Wales, and there are thousands of marked routes to choose from, ranging from gentle countryside meanders to full mountaineering experiences. The relatively gentle Brecon Beacons are perfect mountains for kids – a family with kids aged six or seven can […]

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