Monday, 30 September 2013

Europe's Best Budget Stag Do Destinations

What do you mean, you’re thinking about staying local for your best mate’s stag do? Why, when you can enjoy a city break in Europe without breaking the bank? Take a look at these four awesome, budget-friendly cities that would gladly welcome your stag party for some unforgettable shenanigans!


Amsterdam, Netherlands
It continues to be a popular choice for stag weekends and it’s understandable why. Book one of the budget Amsterdam hotels from Hotels4U and you will have plenty of cash left to spend on activities and night-time frivolity. If you want a wild weekend, this is the place to have it – just make sure you know where you’re staying because the maze of canals and streets can get confusing after one too many shandies.



Edinburgh, UK
OK, so you may not be crossing any seas, but a trip to Edinburgh for a stag weekend will be filled with fun for the duration of the trip. Copious amounts of bars await you and, if you want to do something a little more active during the day (other than nursing your hangovers), the Lothians are on your doorstep.


Riga, Latvia
It’s proving to be incredibly popular of late, due to its affordable pricing – not just to get there but to also drink and eat and enjoy as well. Make sure you respect the culture and the city you’re in; even if you are on a stag do, it doesn’t mean you have to act like a numpty.



Barcelona, Spain
It’s not just for the hopeless romantics, you know. While the city is rich in culture and beauty, if all you’re interested in is the bars, you won’t be disappointed. Dos cervezas, por favor?


Ljubljana, Slovenia
This is definitely not the most common destination but it just might be the nicest. Slovenia is definitely very affordable and since Ljubljana is an university city, pubs are always full of students doing what they do best - partying hard. Locals are also known for their good English, so communication should never be an issue, no matter how many of those €2 beers you drink.



If none of these really sounds like your thing, you can always go to a clubbing mecca like Ibiza or Malia. Those are also perfect for stags as well as groups of lads on a bender. Just remember to behave!

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Friday, 27 September 2013

Climbing Košutnikov turn

Mountaineering has been a popular outdoor activity for centuries in this part of the world. Being partly an Alpine country, Slovenia also has many mountaineering enthusiasts.
Even though I do not see myself as one of those, I do climb a mountain every now and then.


I have already posted a report about climbing Montaž (Jôf di Montasio) a few posts ago. All those ibexes and marmots living there make it a great destination. Check out my post about it and visit it yourself if you ever get a chance.



This time we went to the Slovenian-Austrian border to climb Košutnikov turn (Koschutnikturm). It is a 2133 metres high peak in the central Karavanke mountain range. It is a popular mountaineering destination both from Slovenian and Austrian side. Due to a nice ferrata we chose to climb it from Austria.


We started our ascend from Koshutahaus mountain hut (Koča pod Košuto) and continued along the well marked path (ÖTK Steig Neu) towards the mountain. After a while trees and bushes were replaced with a large scree slope. The interesting part began from there on.



That is where the via ferrata starts. It is a very steep section which continues for a long while. Iron rungs are added in some places in addition to steel cables. We followed the ferrata by a suspended bridge, which we crossed only to get a few photos.



Even with many photo stops, we made it to the top a bit earlier than those red signposts suggested we would.


Once we made it to the top, there were Alpine choughs already waiting for us. From the top there is an interesting view of green slopes on the Slovenian side of the mountain in contrast to a much steeper, rocky approach from the Austrian side.



I can definitely recommend this climb but please keep in mind a helmet and a harness are a must. Since the side of the mountain is practically vertical in some sections, you should probably approach the mountain from Slovenia if you have some fear of heights (no need for all that equipment there).


Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them all in a much more flattering resolution.

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Suspended bridge at Košutnikov turn


Clicking on the above photo will reveal it in a much more flattering resolution.

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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Meet the Ventura

If you are searching for cruise holidays, you have probably come across P&O Cruises more than once. And there is good reason too. With one of the cruise industry's largest fleets, P&O travels far and wide and even undertakes such specialist cruise holidays as round-the-world itineraries, so you can be sure of a pretty special cruise holiday experience.



Let's take a closer look at one of P&O's largest signature ships - the Ventura.


One of the finest ships in the fleet, the Ventura serves up a sizzling experience with stacks of different amenities. Traditionally, cruising was never much of a family holiday. But today, ships like the Ventura have turned that notion on its head. Featuring various child-friendly facilities like play areas, kids' clubs, discos, a Rock School and even circus skills lessons, the little ones will have just as much fun as the adults onboard the Ventura.


For the grown-ups, the fun never stops. From theatre productions and cabaret acts to comedy clubs and dancing shows, not to mention cinema screenings and live music, there is always something to see and do. You will also find a whole suite of different bars and lounges, such as the Metropolis Bar with its stunning panoramic ocean views, offering a laid-back environment that is the perfect place for a relaxing sundowner before dinner.



On the subject of dinner, this is an experience in itself. The Ventura currently has eleven different restaurants, serving up delicious cuisine ranging from Marco Pierre White's restaurant and laid-back food courts, to restaurants serving Asian or Italian cuisine, there is something to tempt every palate.


Discover the world with the Ventura and you will be well on your way to experiencing the holiday of a lifetime...


Find out more about P&O Ventura through Cruise Thomas Cook. Search across all itineraries, discover what it is like onboard and book your choice of itinerary and cabin on-line through one of the UK's favourite travel agents.

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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Welcoming committee at the top of Montaž





For more information about climbing Jôf di Montasio/Montaž and some more gorgeous photos, you can check out my previous post.


Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them all in a much more flattering resolution.

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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Alpine ibexes of Jôf di Montasio

This time of year is great for hiking and mountain climbing here in the Alps. It takes quite some time for the snow to melt on higher peaks, which makes late summer days perfect for mountaineering. In this period sun is not so strong any more and weather is usually quite predictable.



Unfortunately in the past years I have been neglecting this very popular outdoor activity, but lately I have made it to the top of some quite impressive mountains in and near Slovenia. This time we hopped just across the border into Italy...



The first mountaineering challenge after a long while was Jôf di Montasio (Špik nad Policami or Montaž in Slovene), just across the Italian border. With 2,752 metres (9,029 ft) it is the second highest peak of the Julian Alps, surpassed only by Mount Triglav (the highest Slovenian mountain).
This is a guarantee for a nice view at the top. Although on the day of our visit visibility was not perfect, we were not complaining.



The definite highlight of this climb were numerous Alpine ibexes (Capra ibex) we saw on the way. They seemed quite used to mountaineers and let us get as close as a few metres. Females seemed to be the most curious.



If those ibexes alone are not a good enough reason for a visit, there are also other treats waiting for an unsuspecting visitor. Pastures below the mountain are full of Alpine Marmots (Marmota marmota). They were still asleep during our climb, but greeted us with loud whistles on the way down. Unfortunately they are quite a bit shyer compared to those ibexes.
In fact there are so many holes dug by these cute creatures all over the place that a careful step is highly recommended.



Near the starting point of the hike (Pecol) there is also a cottage where one can refresh after returning from the top. Amongst other things they offer a wast selection of dairy products. Most of the cheeses sold in the shop are made right there, but they also offer a variety of products from other nearby producers. Go check it out - they will be happy to give you a taste before you buy anything.



Despite everything I mentioned above, climbing Montaž is not for everyone. There is an impressive via ferrata waiting in the steep side of the mountain, the highlight of which is a 60 metres high Pipan's ladder. If you do not deal with heights all that well, this might not be a perfect choice for you.


Although I did not feel a need for using a harness it can come in handy - some of the sections are quite drafty. However, due to falling rocks, use of a helmet is a must. The rocks are very friable and since the side of the mountain is practically vertical in some sections, it is very easy to send an unintentional surprise towards the bottom. Even if there are no climbers above you, there are many ibexes that can also send an avalanche of rocks your way.



From a parking lot to the top there is about 3 hours of a relatively slow climb. The first half of it is a hike up to the base of the mountain side (a section of pastures is followed by a large scree). The second half is climbing the via ferrata section and then a short walk across the ridge to the metal cross set on the top of Jôf di Montasio.


If you enjoyed the photo material in this post, you should probably also check out another photos-only post from the top of Montaž.


Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them all in a much more flattering resolution.

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