Monday, 15 August 2011

Prize trip to Corfu

Even though it was one of the top picks for our summer holiday destination last year, I definitely did not plan to visit Greece this summer. As lady luck would have it, I am going there anyway...

One of my friends won a free apartment on the Greek island of Corfu and since this did not comply with her plans, me and M. were more then glad to jump in. An additional surprise was, that it was actually a 6 person prize apartment. After some consultation we are going as a group of friends, simply hoping to have a great time there.

Unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch... As we found out we will have to cover transport expenses by ourselves. The whole thing still seems quite cheap, so this is not a problem.

We have been looking at Greece as our potential vacation destination for some time now. Other islands seemed more suited for us (for instance Kefalonia or Zakynthos), but we just could not afford to skip this chance.

The island of Corfu is one of the most popular European student destinations and partying and clubbing are main events on this island during the summer months.

Greek party destinations of choice are islands of Crete, Mykonos, Corfu and Ios. There are also many travel agencies offering really affordable deals for Greece. The one we are going with is definitely one of them, but is targeting only Slovenian customers.

The last time I was on such a trip it was a trip to Crete. It was a while ago, but we had a great time. I am really curious how it will work out this time. If nothing else now we are a decade older.

Despite everything I am sure we will enjoy the trip to the fullest. You can hope for a bunch of photos and an interesting story or two. Let's get the party started!


Friday, 12 August 2011

Will UK riots affect tourism?

I have watched latest UK events in shock. My primary information sources have been: the riots incident map, live blog from The Guardian and a number of independent bloggers and tweeters (like The West Londoner and a Bristol tweeting cyclist).
Events like these seemed unthinkable during my visit to London a couple of months ago. But it has happened anyway and now we will have to deal with it.

Fortunately things seem to be calming down but a strange feeling of something lurking in the dark may still stick around for a while. The question is will this affect tourism and the upcoming London Olympics?
There will definitely be some effect - a number of cancellations have already been noted, but experts do not see a large-scale drop of tourist visits as a likely consequence. The UK's tourism body VisitBritain stressed that London's violence was taking place away from key visitor attractions, and that transport links were running as normal.
Also "British people won’t be put off from visiting the Olympics in Stratford because a year earlier shop windows were broken in Hackney," said Tom Jenkins, executive director of the ETOA (The European Tour Operators Association). I guess this also applies to foreign visitors - people tend to forget quickly (sometimes even too quickly).

Some UK government responses during these days seemed necessary and other are dangerously close to usual Chinese and Middle Eastern leaders' decisions. I believe David Cameron's latest statement also falls into that category:
"We are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality," said the UK prime minister.

What is your opinion on this? Do you think the government should have the right to decide about who can use Facebook and Tweeter? Can current circumstances be an excuse to pass something similar to the well known USA Patriot act also in the UK?

I've been thinking lately about the journalist terminology used during latest events in different parts of the World... Can anyone please explain the difference between a Libyan rebel, Syrian protester and a British rioter?

I hope this didn't turn out like another political post. I meant to simply address the link between tourism and latest UK events, but got astray somewhere on the way.
Please forgive me for this... I promise this won't happen... too often.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Visiting London Hyde Park

One of the most popular parks in London is Hyde park. It is one of eight Royal Parks of London.

There are also other things one can do besides walking around and relaxing in the green environment of Hyde park. Many frequent joggers use it as their training grounds. Spread on 142 hectares (350 acres) it offers plenty of space even for the fittest.
There are many organized running events organized within the park with participants coming from all over the world. For instance there was a triathlon (with no entrance fee) held there on 6th and 7th August.

If you are not a sports type of person, you can also use the park to simply enjoy the sun. Whether you do it on a deck chair or on a chosen patch of well kept green grass, is up to you.

For those who enjoy great views there is a chance to do it from a 60 metre Giant Observation Wheel at the Bandstand in Serpentine Road. It offers great views of Hyde park and nearby city areas.

If you feel like debating with strangers about topics that interest you or just want to scream at the whole wide world, you should probably stop at the Speakers Corner (located in the north-east corner of the park - on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate, opposite Marble Arch tube).

If you walk north of the park there is a popular area of Notting Hill worth checking out. It was made even more popular by the 1999 film starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.
An upcoming event definitely worth visiting in this area is also an annual event called the Notting Hill Carnival, this year taking place on August 28th and 29th.

For those looking for different kinds of challenges, there is also a chance to take part in some casino games nearby. The Grosvenor Victoria Casino (also known as Vic Casino) is located on Edgware Road just north of Hyde Park.
This casino is literary a historical landmark for poker players. Almost every top poker professional in the UK has found their way there.

To us the park served as a meeting point with some old friends living nearby. We entered the park on the exact opposite side of our meeting point on purpose. This allowed us to enjoy a walk through the entire park, relax, take some photos and watch people walk by. It was fun and would strongly recommend it as a convenient getaway from the city's hustle and bustle.
We will definitely visit it again - if possible we will try to adjust our visit to one of the frequent sports events held there. Can hardly wait to do it.

I just hope these recent horrible events in London do not last much longer. It is frightening to watch the devastation on the news every day.

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