Tag Archives: England

Awesome Road Trips Within Several Hours Of Major Cities

Awesome road trips don't take long to reach truly epic places, like Waterton Lakes near Calgary, Alberta, Canada (photo courtesy of http://www.cgpgrey.com/)

These days, you’re really busy with your career, and you don’t think you have time for travel.  Well, you are wrong.  You might not be able to jet halfway around the world and lounge on an exotic beach for six months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t discover the world that lies immediately outside your home base.

Travelers explore your city and the area around it every day, and they are wowed by what they find … and so can you. Resolve to begin exploring the territory within quick reach of your home turf, as many surprises await.

Before you hop in your car, tell loved ones when you expect to be back, and let them track your progress by having them download a GPS tracking app that allows them to see where you are at all times, and with a function that lets you tell your relatives that you’ve gotten home safely, even the most neurotic mother will be set at ease.

To give you examples of the awesome road trips you can have within a short distance of home, here are three sample itineraries from centres around the world…

From Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Waterton Lakes National Park

Most folks hit the Trans-Canada highway for weekend day trips away from this dynamic Canadian city to see the uber-popular Banff National Park, but few take the time to head southwest along the Cowboy Trail (Alberta Highway 22) towards Waterton Lakes National Park, a considerably quieter natural reserve that sits adjacent to Glacier National Park in Montana. Check in for the night at the posh and iconic Prince of Wales Hotel, and you can either elect to admire the beauty of Waterton Lake from there, or get right into the thick of it by taking an international boat tour that crosses the 49th parallel in its quest to show you the epic views present in this off-the-beaten track park.

From Miami, Florida, USA: Key West

When the lavish sands of South Beach start to get too hectic for your tastes, taking to U.S. 1 and heading south is the perfect antidote.  Cruising over the aquamarine waters and tiny cays of the southern Gulf of Mexico, your stresses and cares will melt away.  Find a secret beach along the way, or head all the way to Ernest Hemingway’s favourite abode of Key West, where the locals have a way of life that stands in stark contrast to the urban reality of Miami.

From London, England: Cornwall and Land’s End

When the humdrum of daily life in London has you at your wit’s end, escape in your automobile and explore rugged seacoast, secluded beaches and ancient castle ruins of Cornwall.  If you want to contemplate the nature of your existence, or are just looking for a moment of zen, head all the way to Land’s End, where you can stare out into the open Atlantic, where the next bit of land lies thousands of kilometres away.

The Open Road Is Calling

Even if you don’t own a car, renting one will allow you to steer you and your friends to adventures you could never anticipate until the moment you bust loose from your city.  Give Netflix a break this weekend … a wealth of experiences are lurking outside your established comfort zone!

Top Things To Know About Visiting Bristol

The top things to know about visiting Bristol are not only interesting, but can also help you prepare for your trip in West Country’s unofficial capital.  Bristol remains one of England’s top tourist destinations, despite the devastating legacy of the war.  And with its laidback vibe backed by great music, Bristol is a place you will definitely enjoy staying in.

Here are some of the top things to know about visiting Bristol, so pack your Carlton travel luggage, get your plane, train or bus ticket, and get ready to enjoy one of England’s most interesting cities!

streets of Bristol

Great music scene.  If you’re into music, then Bristol is one of the places you should definitely visit.  Some of the greatest acts in the music scene have their humble beginnings here in Bristol, such as Massive Attack and Portishead.  While it was once the backwater of the British music scene back in the 80’s, it is now considered Britain’s most musical city in 2010.  To date, its music scene is still as vibrant as ever.

Get free maps.  If you’d like to travel around Bristol without joining one of those packaged tours, you can grab a free map from the Visit Bristol website, the city’s official tourism website.  You can also get the distinctive Blue A3 tourist maps from the Tourist Information Centre, the library, shops and the Temple Meads railway station.  These maps cover the city centre, the Harbourside and Clifton.

It’s a year round tourist destination.  One of the top things to know about visiting Bristol is that it’s a year-round tourist destination with something to look forward to the entire year.  There’s a great number of celebrations and festivals spread out the entire year, so you won’t miss out on anything when you visit the city anytime you please.  There is also some beautiful countryside around Bristol to enjoy.

Watch out for drunken brawls.  Friday and Saturday nights may not only mean a vibrant night life in Bristol but also a night for isolated drunken brawls especially during closing time.  But thanks to the heavy police presence in the city centre, this has been significantly reduced.

Scammers and drug peddlers.  While Bristol is generally a safe tourist destination, there are areas that need to be avoided especially during the wee hours of the morning.  Stay out of Baldwin Street at around 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM.

In addition, watch out for people selling you drugs.  Often, these people don’t have drugs with them and will instead give you a bogus parcel and run-off with your money.  They also have knives, so it’s best to avoid them at all costs.


Top Reasons To Visit London: Events And Festivities

Centre Court at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships

The top reasons to visit London usually have something to do with its architecture or history. London has plenty of both to get around with. But really, different months of the year give plenty of reasons why you should go there.

It’s hard to recommend an exact area to stay in London because there are fantastic things to see and do all over the city. A good option though is to check out Heathrow airport hotels as you can usually snag a better deal than the center of town, and you can access the entire city via the tube (the London metro system).

Here’s some awesome things to check out in London for every month!

January is marked by the New Year and Londoners welcome it with a parade. During the London Parade, thousands of majorettes leave Parliament Square and head for Berkeley Square, arriving two to three hours later.

February is when the Soho and Great Spitalfields Pancake Day takes place. Participants toss pancakes from one pan to another as they race down Carneby Street towards Spitalfields. The fun event takes place on Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras which is a day before Lent. The Chinese New Year celebrated in Chinatown is also a must-see. Lion dancers and fireworks make it a raucous event.

April is a time of the year when the Easter Day Parade gives life to Battersea Park. The event is one of the top reasons to visit London. Floats and bands fill the park with music and colors. Also in the same month is the Harness Horse Parade when different types of horse-drawn carriages show off.

May is dominated by the Chelsea Flower Show. This takes place at the Royal Hospital Gardens. Seasonal fairs are also available at Alexandra, Bleackheath, and Hampstead Heath.

June is the perfect month to watch tennis matches since Wimbledon championships are right around the corner. By mid-June, you can attend the Royal Ascot to watch horse races. The Henley Royal Regatta also happens in June. Rowers race through Thames and you can watch from tents along the river. Indeed, this time of year is one of the best times to visit London in the United Kingdom!

August is the only month when Buckingham Palace becomes open to the public. The royal palace is one of the top reasons to visit London. By the end of the month you can celebrate Notting Hill Festival with the locals. It is a Caribbean street party with parades, food, and a lot of dancing.

October is when The Pearly’s, traditional performers dating back centuries ago, dance in the streets wearing pearl-covered coats.

November offers an authentic British celebration with the Guy Fawkes Night. Firework displays, bonfires, and parties are held throughout London to commemorate Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up the Parliament in 1605.

December kicks off the season with the Christmas Tree Lighting at Trafalgar Square. Londoners look at it as a very meaningful event.


Natural Bristol!

Bristol is a grand city made famous by its rich history as a port and trading hub. It is widely known that in 1837 Bristol born engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel launched the famous Great Western steamship  that was built in the city’s harbour. But as with many other cities, these famous tales often overshadow things that might otherwise take prominence. For example, as well as being a historic and creative city, Bristol has an array of natural attractions including parks, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and more. Check out some of these enjoyable nature activities in Bristol!

University of Bristol Botanical Gardens

Deer in Avon Valley Wild Life Park

The University of Bristol’s botanical gardens were opened in 1882 by Adolf Leipner – the Lecturer of Botany at the time – for a mere £15. Since then the gardens have seen many thousands of visitors every year and continue to thrive. With four impressive plant collections and a further four greenhouses filled with tropical and sub-tropical plants, there is no shortage of interesting things to see. Opening times from April – September are from 10:00am – 4:30pm and it costs £3.50 to get in at the time of writing. School age kids go free.

Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park

From Flickr

Avon Valley is the perfect place to take the kids during the summer holiday, as there are plenty of attractions and events to fill a whole day (perhaps even two). Attractions include a huge indoor soft play arena, pet’s corner, quad bikes and boat rides. One of the park’s great selling points is that it gets the kids out in the fresh air and away from the television. The main park is open from the 23rd March (opening times are 10:00am – 6:00pm, Mon – Sun). It costs £8.00 for an adult and £7.50 for concessions and children. Kids under 2 go free.

Bristol Aquarium

From Flickr

The Bristol Aquarium is home to a wide array of sea life including sharks, rays and a multitude of species that are native to the UK. As if the resident giant octopus wasn’t enough, there is also an underwater tunnel constructed with 2 inch thick glass which houses puffer fish, butterfly fish and wrasse among others. The aquarium opens 7 days a week from 10am – 5pm and a one day adult ticket costs £13.00. Child tickets are £9.00, Senior and Student tickets are £12.00 and family tickets are available for £38.50 (2 adults & 2 children)

If you’re looking for a Bristol hotel, consider staying somewhere quite central, as the city itself is quite big and can be difficult to navigate if you don’t have a car. The Bristol Mercure is very conveniently placed and has the added benefit of a spa to rest your weary body after a day of exploration.

If you haven’t yet, check out our Bristol Travel Guide as well for even more great things to do!