Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

What Every Tourist Ought To Know About London

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Ronnie, Londoner and co-founder of, shares insider information in his new mini guide about London.

westminster abbey What Every Tourist Ought To Know About London

Westminster Abbey

Written by Ronnie

If you’re visiting London, having a bit of insider information can turn that nice London vacation into a great pleasure.

You see, it’s only been through running our blog and the questions readers asked that I realised there are little things that we Londoners know that guide books never mention and visitors are never told.

We decided to bring out a free London mini guide, titled What Every Tourist Ought To Know About London, so everyone could have that insider information.

The guide is split into two parts. The first part is about things you need to think about and plan before you come to London. The second part has tips and advice for when you’re actually in London.

Do you know how to pick a good London hotel?

We didn’t want to go over ground that guide books usually cover. So, for instance, one of our chapters goes into how to pick a good London hotel using Tripadvisor.

Let’s face it, we all use Tripadvisor, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to use it. Now guide books don’t tell you what that is and in fact neither does Tripadvisor. But we do.

Also many people don’t realise that if you really want to know something about a city you need to read the bloggers who blog about that city.

I’ll tell you now, in London there are lots of blogs. So what we’ve done is highlight 15 of the best ones that we think cover every aspect of the city. I’m not saying follow each of them, but find a couple that you like and you’ll get a much greater understanding of London.

Other chapters in the first part such as what’s the best London travel guide, where to get the best Pound exchange rate and what to wear as a tourist will all help you save time and money in your prep for London.

london guide ebook What Every Tourist Ought To Know About London

What are you going to do when you get to London?

I’ve lived in London all my life and one of the advantages I say about living in London is it doesn’t matter where else you go in the world. Everything seems cheap to you.

London is expensive. This is why in part 2 of the guide we mention the Days Out offers, which give you 2 for 1 offers at various London attractions. We tell you how to get those offers, what stations to go to and what to ask for.

But London’s not just about sightseeing. If you don’t want to be conned or treated like a tourist you need to have a basic knowledge of how London works.

You see, London is the most diverse city in the world. All cultures are here. Yet a tourist still stands out like a sore thumb. To help you fit in more easily our 10 quick London tips is an essential read.

But one of my favourite chapters is the one about money saving tips that all Londoners know, but tourists don’t. This chapter alone makes the guide worth getting because it’s all too easy to fall into one of those traps.

I could go on and mention other chapters such as where and how much to tip or the one about what to do when it rains in London.

But I think the best thing to do if you’re visiting London is to download the guide from and if you have any questions to leave a comment below.

Ronnie is one of the co-founders of; it helps visitors to London save money on eating out and going out in London. He also writes for their London blog 3 Guys on a London bus.

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What in the World?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Welcome to another week of news updates!

South America

Briton Ed Stafford on Monday became the first person in history to walk the length of the Amazon River. He started in Peru 2 ½ years ago, and finished Monday morning by leaping into the Atlantic Ocean at Brazil’s Crispim Beach. Stafford embarked upon the walk in order to better understand and raise awareness about the Amazon and the complex forces that are bringing about its destruction. His mission literally saved his life. Along with meeting all manner of creepy crawlies and vicious things with large teeth, Stafford and a companion were captured by an Indian community that was distrustful of outsiders. Luckily, after hearing the purpose of Stafford’s expedition, he and his fellow walker were allowed to continue. Pretty crazy stuff. His mission cost roughly $100,000, and was paid for by sponsoring companies and donations. Do you think it was worth it?

The Middle-East

On Monday, Iran activated equipment to enrich uranium more efficiently. The move defies the U.N. security council, which has been trying to stop Iran from doing just such a thing. Many in the international community are not convinced by Iran’s claims that its nuclear activity is meant for peaceful purposes only.


Terrible flooding has been wreaking havoc in China, India and Pakistan — some of the worst flooding on record in each of the countries. In China, at least 330 have died and 1,100 more are missing. In India-controlled Kashmir, 140 have been confirmed dead, and another 500 are missing. In Pakistan, the government is estimating 13.8 million people have been affected by the flooding that has swept away people, homes, and most of the country’s crops. Over the past two weeks, 1,500 have been killed, and roughly 600,000 remain marooned in the Swat Valley, which rescue workers have so far failed to reach.

Tensions are still high between the Koreas. South Korea (along with the U.S.) ended five days of naval drills recently, and North Korea is still unhappy about it, and the claims that they sank a South Korean warship in March. On Monday, North Korea fired about 110 rounds of artillery near its disputed sea border with South Korea. No damage or injuries were caused, and the U.S. simply called it “chest-thumping.” Over the weekend, North Korea captured a South Korean fishing boat that may have drifted unknowingly into its waters.

Russia (especially Moscow) is really having a rough summer. They’re experiencing the worst heat wave they’ve seen in the past 1,000 years, with temperatures soaring into the 100s — compared to usual summer readings of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. To compound matters, wildfires have broken out in the land surrounding Moscow, blanketing the city in poisonous smog that is only making the heat seem worse. Thousands have died as a result of the fires, smog and heat. An AP story reported up to 700 deaths per day.


If you’ve been to Rome, then you’ve probably seen the famous Roman Colosseum. And you’ve probably seen the structure lit up impressively after dark. But, up until now, you’ve only been able to tour the inside of the architectural wonder during daylight hours. Well, that’s going to change. Soon, tourists will be able to stroll through the inside of the arena on Saturday nights — but for a limited time only. For 7 straight Saturdays beginning August 21, groups of 40 people will be lead through the Colosseum from 9 p.m. to midnight. Night tours will also be offered at the Baths of Caracalla (ruins of ancient thermal baths) on Saturdays from August 21 until October 23. So, if you plan to be in Rome on any of these weekends, it might be something worth checking out.


Rwanda on Monday held its second presidential election since the infamous 1994 genocide that left hundreds of thousands dead. President Paul Kagame, utilizing pop music and a Facebook campaign, is expected to win re-election easily. He won election in 2003 with 95 percent of the vote. Kagame has guided the country through a period of relatively peaceful prosperity since the genocide, though reports have surfaced of the government cracking down harshly on any dissenters. The election is reported to have gone smoothly across the country.

The U.S.

All is still going fairly to plan in the Gulf of Mexico. The offending well has been plugged with a static kill (mud and cement pushed into the top of the blown well), and engineers have begun drilling the final 100 feet of a relief well that will be the final period to the oil spill sentence. Finally. Meanwhile, fishermen in the area are praying that they can still make a living this year.

Just For Fun

Headed to New York’s Times Square anytime soon? Then you should probably check out Pop-Tarts World. Times Square already boasts a giant Hershey’s store, and an ode to MnMs. But now it will also honor America’s favorite toaster pastry. At the new Kellogg’s-sponsored store, you’ll be able to try “Pop-Tart sushi,” order a customized pastry, suggest new types of Pop-Tarts, or create a custom box filled with a mix of your favorite flavors, among other things. If you go, let me know how awesome it is.

Naked News of the Week

Not quite truly naked news… but close enough. And definitely amusing. The owner of an Ohio strip club and some of his dancers began protesting at a church that has been doing the same to them for four years. On Sunday, bikini-clad dancers sat in camp chairs outside the church in protest of the church’s protests. For years, the congregation has been coming to the Foxhole strip club armed with bullhorns, signs, and video cameras to harass patrons and post customers’ license plate numbers online. The strip club got fed up, and decided to give the church a taste of its own medicine… just with substantially less clothing.

P.S. — I really enjoyed adding “strippers” as a tag for this post… haha.

A Trip to The English Heart

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

In today’s sponsored post, we travel to London — the heart of England.

big ben A Trip to The English Heart

A trip to London: Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace. If just reading this list makes your eye lids heavy then this tour guide is for you. London is the heart of the country and is home to National treasures (Eastenders excluded) but it is also a patchwork of different cultures and an influence which makes our country truly great and unique.

On the surface, London is the same as any metropolis in the world. Fast-paced, impersonal and cold but look deeper and you may well find more than meets the eye. If you baulk at the idea of history tours, why not join the Da Vinci Code tour? Retrace the story on foot and breathe fresh life into London’s landmarks for a more than reasonable £20.

Or if you’re a gossip magazine reader and the idea of spotting celebs has you foaming at the mouth, why not pop into Madame Tussauds and find them all under one roof? Although steer clear of the Alan Titchmarsh statue which is currently cleaned twice a week due to the amount of granny lipstick it attracts. Be impressed by their likeness or amused by their lack of, these statues even have their own fans on Facebook! If attractions, the thought of site seeing and west end shows has your pulse racing then why not research London theatre tickets to find the show for you. Popular on the West End at the moment is Wicked the Musical – definitely worth a watch.

London is also famous for its sporting history. Not only is it the home of the 2012 Olympics but it boasts five Premier league football teams. Even if you don’t follow a team, why not pick one and go for the day. Feel the joy of cheering along with 40,000 Chelsea fans or the pain that it is to be a “Hammer”.

If shopping is more your style then what more could you want than Oxford Street? World renowned with many of the major retailers such as Topshop housing flagship stores there and a gaggle of celebrities begging to turn on the famous Christmas lights each year.

Dining is a treat. London is a tasting platter of world cuisine from Celeb favorite The Ivy to a Chinese All you can eat buffet. All tastes are catered for. And when most of us are just hitting the sack, London hits the tiles. Drink in a Camden pub with Noel Fielding or schmooze over cocktails in Soho’s Geisha bar.

London may be the heart of the country but take the time to feel its beat and it’s likely to find a place in yours.

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Watch That First Step, It’s a Doozy

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Ronda, Spain lives on the edge.

Yes, this is the real deal. Welcome to Spain, watch your step. Not since the daunting Cliffs of Insanity have I seen such an imposing sight.

See? The city of Ronda, Spain does not mess around. Nor does the Dread Pirate Roberts for that matter.

This post is a Wordless Wednesday entry, but you’d never know it.

Photo by Bert K. via Flickr.

An Imaginary Trip to Sardinia: A Sensorial Experience

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Follow Giulia Garau on a journey to Sardinia through your five senses.

cala mariolu baunei An Imaginary Trip to Sardinia: A Sensorial Experience

Cala Mariolu © asibiri on Flickr CC BY 2.0

Written by Giulia Garau

Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia looks like a large footprint. Sardinian people are known for their proud and mistrustful nature, but also for their hospitality: guests are sacred, treated with great warmth and respect. Let me lead you to discover Sardinia in the simplest existing way: through our five senses. This is the best way to enjoy Sardinia in its totality. Just take a little time, relax and enjoy your reading!


dunes of piscinas An Imaginary Trip to Sardinia: A Sensorial Experience

Dunes of Piscinas © perledivetro on Flickr

Sardinia is one of the less populated Italian regions and preserves unique and pristine landscapes. The dunes of Piscinas, the Sardinian desert, are the highest in Europe (they reach up to 100 meters), and the wide Gennargentu Mountains offers the chance to visit unspoilt landscapes and to admire endemic animal species. Of course, a beautiful view is also done by the beaches and the sea, for which the Island has become popular all over the world.


gruppo folk An Imaginary Trip to Sardinia: A Sensorial Experience

Gruppo Folk “Città di Quarto” © cristianocani on Flickr

The music plays an important role in Sardinian culture. You can hear the folk music in every town festival, accompanied by the typical popular dances; very popular is the Cantu a Tenore, which has been classed among intangible world heritage by Unesco. The typical instrument which usually accompanies the dances is the Launeddas, consisting in three pipes and played using circular breathing.


punta sarena gonnesa An Imaginary Trip to Sardinia: A Sensorial Experience

Punta S'Arena

When I’m lying on the beach, I like the sand slipping through my fingers. In Sardinia there are both rocky hidden coves and large sandy beaches. Some beaches are very appreciated because of the whiteness and thinness of the sand, which is like flour. You can find them for example in Siniscola (Nuoro), Lido di Orrì (Ogliastra), Su Giudeu (Cagliari). Another beach I like is Is Arenas, in Oristano area, called the grains of rice beach thanks to the small grains of coloured quartz.


strawberry tree An Imaginary Trip to Sardinia: A Sensorial Experience

Strawberry Tree © cristianocani on Flickr

What strikes the most are the smells of the vegetation, which you can smell everywhere, in large part characterized by the Mediterranean maquis: holm oaks, cork oaks, juniper trees as well as strawberry trees, myrte, cistus. Typical of rocky territories are also helichrysum and broom, while in non-rocky territories you can frequently see cistus, rosemary and mastic trees. The symbol flower of Sardinia is the wild peony.


sardinian sweets An Imaginary Trip to Sardinia: A Sensorial Experience

Sardinian Sweets © cristianocani on Flickr

The forced isolation over the centuries, due to the geographic position, enabled to preserve the ancient gastronomic traditions by using fresh and genuine products. Sardinian people use darum weath semolina to produce many varieties of pasta and bread, like the famous Malloreddus (typical pasta), Pane Carasau (typical thin bread). Starters are very important in Sardinian culinary culture, so people often open the meal with olives or a tasty piece of matured cheese. There is a large variety of sweets and cookies, many of them prepared with almonds; another common ingredient is the Sapa (cooked grape must syrup). The meals are accompanied by a large variety of regional wines, resulting from an ancient wine tradition (Cannonau, Vermentino, Nepente), and by very appreciated liquors (like Mirto — myrte liquor).

Giulia Garau works for Charming Sardinia Luxury Hotels, a travel agency based in Sardinia. She is a travel lover and writes for the blog, where she shares tips, information, suggestions and curiosities about Italian culture, traditions, and events.

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Short-term Rentals for International Travelers

Monday, July 26th, 2010

A Parisian apartment – savvy social networkers are renting rooms and apartments internationally.

In the cover story of last week’s New York Times Travel section (July 18), writer Benji Lanyado tempted travelers with alluring photographs of apartments in the 10th Arrondissement in Paris, Kings Cross in London, and a rooftop terrace in Barcelona.

Though inhabited by “real” people most of the time, all were available to the savvy traveler (like Lanyado) who looked beyond typical lodging fare and put his social networking skills to use when choosing a place to stay.

Remember – the service that allowed members to offer a spare couch, bed or wedge of floor space to fellow members for no charge? That service, which is still alive and well, has spawned the next generation of sites offering “peer-to-peer” listings.

With these new sites, referred to in the aforementioned article as “social B&Bs,” travelers create a profiles a la Facebook, Twitter, et al, upon which they are privy to an archive of listings to sift through. Unlike Couchsurfer, they are provided with descriptions of private rooms or apartments and certain protections are available should things go horribly awry. Renters also have a direct connection to the lessor which allows for communication for things like restaurant recommendations and direct questions about what amenities can be expected (linens, wi-fi, and the like).

The number of these sites are multiplying, but here are those mentioned in the Times piece:

  • (San Francisco-based since 2007)
  • (Based in Toronto since 2009)
  • (Founded in London in 2008)
  • (Mostly mid-to-high end properties in 40 cities globally)

Photo credit by deifchen’s photostream, post by Lisa Dion of Friscomama.

New Design, New Attitude…

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

gullbranna New Design, New Attitude...

Rather than giving you reasons/excuses for my absence, I will only say that I’m glad to be back. Instead of transfering to Dreamhost I decided to stay with MediaTemple, for now. First out, some blog posts by various guest authors from around the world.

Pictured above, from a few days ago, two friends on the beach of Gullbranna and Tönnersa Nature Reserve in Halland, Sweden.

I hope you’re having a great summer so far!

Oh, and by the way, I’m happy to say that Travel Blissful was one of the 50 winners in Awarding the Web’s 2010 Top Travel Blog Award sponsored by Online Schools.

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What in the World?

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Here’s your weekly dose of world news! World Cup If you’ve been following the action in South Africa over the past month or so, you’ll know that Spain claimed victory over the Netherlands in the final match on Sunday. The game — a rather exciting one with a flurry of yellow cards — went into [...]

Old Market Guesthouse in Vilnius, Lithuania

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Chocolate Walls in the Sweets Market Room

Vilnius in Lithuania is fast becoming one of the must-see cities in Europe. Tourism is still in its infancy but the city offers incredible history, beautiful architecture and surprisingly good food. What’s more is that prices are still low and a visit to the Baltic States is surprisingly affordable.

The Old Market Guesthouse is a small B&B just a few minutes walk from the gates of the old city of Vilnius and offers a friendly welcome into its six-room residence. All rooms are en suite and individually decorated, taking inspiration from markets in the city itself: there is the Animal Market, Flower Market, Fish Market, Flea Market, Flora Market and Sweets Market.
All rooms come with WIFI access, satellite TV and an organic breakfast- served in your room at no extra cost.

For longer stays, or for those looking for a little extra space Old Market also offers a series of apartments, sleeping up to six people with prices starting for as little as €25 per person.
Rooms in the guesthouse are available for €40 single occupancy and  €50 as a double, with breakfast included. There are often discounts available in the off-season, and for stays over two nights.

Old Market Guest House
Pylimo gatve 57, Vilnius 01137, Lituania
 +370 620 80 334

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Photo Credit: Old Market Guest House

What in the World?

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
Greetings! And welcome to another edition of What in the World? Here’s your weekly dose of world news. The. U.S. First of all, a happy belated Fourth of July! Did everyone (who celebrates the holiday, that is) go out and see some fireworks? I hope so! It’s not an American holiday without some explosions. Live [...]