Five Travel Tips for Florence

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Five Travel Tips for Florence

1 The Uffizi Gallery Tip

The Uffizi Gallery contains some of the most important and greatest art collections in the world. It is also the world’s oldest museum. Most tour guide books and online travel sites will urge you to ensure that a visit to the Uffiizi is included as part of any Florence vacation, no matter how short. What most of them fail to tell you, or at least stress with sufficient emphasis, is that without a pre-booked ticket, you may not be able to visit the Uffizi at all!

My wife and I had a three day holiday in Florence at the beginning of April 2005. We had planned on visiting the Uffizi Gallery and as soon as we checked in at our hotel we telephoned the gallery to purchase tickets. After several attempts without our calls being answered, we asked the hotel reception to do the booking for us. They explained that it was nearly always difficult to get through on the booking line and that our three day stay might not provide sufficient notice to make a booking possible. Despite this, the hotel staff were most happy to keep trying whilst we enjoyed the other wonders of Florence. We decided to check out the situation for ourselves the next day but discovered queues that hardly seemed to move, stretching for an enormous distance around the area of the Uffizi. Queuing all day was certainly not the way we wanted to spend our time in Florence, so we decided to leave things in the capable hands of the reception staff whilst we enjoyed the other attractions that we had come to see. The following evening, we were informed that after many fruitless attempts at getting through on the booking line, success had finally been achieved but only to receive information that all tickets were sold for the following day. We consequently missed out on seeing many of Florence’s greatest art treasures and our top travel tip for anyone visiting Florence on a short stay vacation is to book tickets for the Uffizi Gallery online some time before their holiday.

2 The Inside Tip for the Duomo

Another of the wonders of Florence not to be missed is the Duomo. Actually, it is impossible to miss this magnificent building because it dominates the city and can be seen from virtually everywhere. Savour the views of it whilst enjoying a coffee at one of the cafes in the surrounding piazza. Walk around it, pausing every now and then to appreciate it from every aspect. View it from more distant, elevated, positions around the city. This was once the largest cathedral in the world and even now, nearly six hundred years after it was built, it is the fourth largest. Florence always insisted on everything being the biggest and the best but what really makes the Duomo unique is its dome or “Cupola”. When Fillipo Brunelleschi undertook this masterpiece of renaissance architecture, no one believed that such a dome was possible. The secret had been lost for over a thousand years but Brunelleschi travelled to Rome to unravel it by examining the dome of the ancient Pantheon.

My tip for the Duomo is to ascend this incredible feat of engineering. You can do so by entering a stairway that leads up inside the dome, between its inner and outer shells. When you reach the top, you can step outside onto an external gallery that provides magnificent views of the city and the surrounding Tuscan countryside. This gallery was never finished however, so your views are restricted to northerly and westerly directions.

3 Palazzo Vecchio – David’s Copy Tip

Perhaps the next most famous landmark of Florence is the Palazzo Vecchio. Once again, it is a building worth enjoying from every aspect on the outside before entering to explore its fascinating, art filled, interior.

My tip for the Palazzo Vecchio is to spare a few minutes looking at the pollution-streaked COPY of the world’s most famous statue, realizing that although the original Michelangelo’s David is safely inside the Accademia, the copy is standing just where the original once stood.

4 River Arno Cross Over Tip

This tip is to retreat from the busiest tourist attractions of the city centre and to cross the Arno river via the Ponte Vecchio. The crowds on this wonderful, historic bridge will probably be even more tightly packed than in the central Piazzas you have just left but within a hundred metres of the other side, they will have thinned out and you can explore the delights of the Boboli gardens and the Palazzo Pitti before walking up the meandering paths to the Piazzo Michelangelo which stands on a beautiful hill overlooking Florence and its surrounds.

5 A final Florence travel tip – Avoiding “Stendhal Sydrome”

Florence has so much beauty that every year, there are a few tourists who have to be treated at local hospitals for a condition known as “Stendhal Syndrome”. Symptoms range from feeling faint to complete exhaustion. Stendhal was a French tourist whose nineteenth century tour of Florence overloaded his senses so much that he collapsed with these symptoms.

My final travel tip for a short vacation in Florence is not to try to pack too much in. Even if Florence’s wealth of art treasures, beauty, and architectural achievements don’t actually send you running for medical help, they can easily overwhelm a tourist who fails to heed this advice.

More holiday Ideas to Beat the Credit Crunch

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More holiday Ideas to Beat the Credit Crunch

One of the things that I did not have time to cover in my last article on ‘Holidays ideas to beat the Credit Crunch’   was a real killer money saver.  House Swapping, actually I noticed the organisations concerned prefer to call it exchanging, perhaps to avoid any overtones. This one seems a bit way out at first but offers some real savings if you still want to travel and gives much more chance to get into the local culture and pace of life than a traditional package.

The range of people and places who want to swap houses is really quite surprising.  At the biggest home exchange service Homelink there are over 14000 from 72 countries.  I think that sort of people this would suite would be slightly more independent and adventurous.  If you dislike the way you are treated like a tourist on conventional tours and hotels that are impersonal. I think Home Exchangers want to gain new experiences and like to feel in control of their precious leisure time.

Here are some of the reasons why some people find home exchange makes for an ideal holiday.

Holiday Ideas Cost-savings

The cost of accommodation is a major factor in holiday budgeting, especially for those such as teachers or parents of school-aged children who are tied to specific dates and so tend to pay inflated prices. For the price of annual membership (?120), accommodation budgets can be totally eliminated, irrespective of the duration of your stay. It is easy to see how this money could be put to good use: A more exotic destination perhaps? How about longer (or more) holidays? Or maybe you might have little more spending money to treat yourself to some special events that help to turn a good holiday into a great one. One home exchanger recently put the cost-savings into context for me when she said that her membership more than paid for itself on the first night of her first exchange!

You can keep it simple by merely exchanging homes, however you can save even more money by also agreeing to exchange cars, so that the holiday budget can be limited to cost of travel plus food / spending money.

Holiday Ideas Authenticity

Conventional tourism can sometimes thwart the principle of  “When in Rome….” as travellers are often treated as tourists. In this way you have the opportunity to parachute into a genuine local community and live like a local. So, if you like the idea of sauntering along to the local diner to ask for “eggs easy over and coffee”, home exchange could be for you. With this in mind you dont have to live in a touristy area yourself, either.

Holiday Ideas Flexibility

Remember also that there is no limit to the number of exchange holidays that you can take during your membership year. This should be appealing to retired or semi-retired members as they are more able than most to succumb to wanderlust. This also means that there are quite a high proportion of similar travellers, and the sites indicate both where people have children and where they are retired. Having members in over 50 countries also means that there is an enormous range of destinations from which to choose.

The emergence of local airports and low-cost airlines makes domestic and European destinations more accessible and so opens up the possibility of adding a number of cheap 3-7 day breaks to the main holiday of the year. On renewing for their second year, one family recently told me that they had completed seven exchanges in their first year!

Holiday Ideas Convenience

Well-matched home exchange partners go on holiday in the knowledge that their accommodation is likely to be tailored to their needs. For instance, parents of young children may find it easier to relax when their holiday home is child-friendly. Parents might also enjoy travelling light, as many normal accompaniments can be left at home as a car seat, high chair and a range of toys await them.

Furthermore, many members agree to take care of each other’s pets and/or garden maintenance so there may not be a need to pay for alternative arrangements or return home to a jungle after your holiday.

Frequently asked questions about Home Exchanges

How do I know my home will be Safe?

The answer is you don’t. However, arguably your home will be much safer when occupied by exchangers than if left empty. Home insurance companies know this, as do the police. HomeLink claims that in over forty years of exchanging they have had very few instances of damage and no reports of theft. Most problems are at the level of, “housekeeping standards,” at the home being visited. Even in these rare situations exchangers return to find their own home just as they left it. While you are setting up your exchange you will get to know the other family. You also know the other exchanger’s profession and have a good idea of the home involved before you make your first contact.

Most HomeLink members are professionals – doctors, engineers, teachers, etc.- business executives, and retirees. In general, they are in an upper income bracket, well educated and are experienced travellers. They are also very proud of their homes, which is why they’re not too embarrassed to let others enjoy their home whilst they’re away.

Who pays the bills?

Pay your mortgage and utilities as you normally would and agree beforehand who should pay extraordinary expenses such as long distance telephone calls. If a car-exchange is involved you should discuss who pays for minor or major damage.

Is my house covered by my insurance?

In general, most home insurance policies covers home exchangers. After all, they’re your guests, and it’s really no different from having friends or relations stay in your home whilst you’re away on holiday. Most insurance companies say they would much prefer you to have exchangers looking after your home rather than going off on holiday and leaving it empty.   However you would have to check with your insurers and personally I would ensure it either explicit in your policy or you have it in writing.

Planning and getting an exchange

There is a continual turnover of people joining such schemes and looking for exchanges,  many arrange an exchange within a couple of weeks. The most successful exchangers are those who are proactive and send many invitations. The more flexible your plans, the greater your opportunities. Generally speaking, short-haul trips are planned 3-6 months in advance with long-haul trips being planned 6-9 months ahead or more.

What’s actually involved? How do I prepare my house?

These recommendations from http://www.HomeLink.org will give you some idea of what you have to do to prepare your home.

1) Leave your home clean. Standards of cleanliness vary, so make sure that floors are cleaned, refrigerator emptied, oven and hob grease-free, bath and shower free of mould and grime, windows see-through, and surfaces dust-free. No need to repaint the house!

2) Clear away enough of your personal belongings to leave space on shelves and in wardrobes and drawers so that your guests can empty their suitcases, arrange their things in bedrooms and bathrooms and feel at home.

3) Leave at least two sets of clean sheets per bed and two sets of towels per person.

Limo Hire in Prom Nights

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Limo Hire in Prom Nights

The prom night is undoubtedly one of the most memorable and exciting parts of each and every student. The students use to enjoy and share their hearts during this occasion of prom night. Now, if you are a student and want to add more flavors of etiquette, excellence and aristocracy, then you and your friend may opt for a private limo. Thanks to many of the ‘limo hiring’ agencies, there is no need to own a limousine to enjoy that style and excellence. You may hire a limo for you and your friends during the prom nights from any of the limo providers.
Hiring a limo in these days is a complete hassle-free way. You can book the limo for you and your friends through a mere telephone call or the Internet. In fact, the majority of the limohire providers provide the ‘Prom Limo’ schemes for the students who are subjected to hire a limo for the purpose of the prom night. It will be the best for you to opt for one of those schemes. These types of schemes include the cost of decoration and the chauffeur. It is very much important to decorate a limo accordingly. So it is better to hand-over the responsibility to experience and responsible hands. On other hand, the good hospitality and driving skill of a good chauffeur can make your prom night an event to remember for whole life. So ask the limo providers to provide a goodand efficient chauffeur along with the decorated limo during your prom night. You should make sure that the complete scheme includes the expense for the decoration and chauffeur.
Now, while hiring a limousine for your prom night celebration you should keep following facts in your mind. First of all it is always better to book the limo being present physically in the office of limo provider instead of booking through Internet or telephone. Secondly, Check the market status and market reputation of the limo provider. Thirdly, check if the limo is properly insured or not. Fourthly, check all the conditions of payment properly. Fifthly, you may have a test drive of a particular limo and then you can select that after the satisfaction. Sixthly, if you are hiring the limo under any scheme that includes the cost of decoration and chauffeur, be sure to check the pre-assumed decoration quality supposed by the provider and the character of supposed chauffeur. Now, most importantly don’t stick to any of the single limo providers. Enquire the above-mentioned facts through some of the leading companies. Check their offered packages properly. After that make a comparative analysis before hiring the limo hire nottingham from any particular company. Since students are generally large in groups you should consider the accommodation power of the various models of limos before hiring one. If a single limo is not sufficient for you and your friends, you may opt for the large ‘prom limo buses’. These kinds of prom limo buses offer huge accommodation. So enjoy the best you can with you friends inside the limo during the prom night!!!

More ways to save on air travel

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More ways to save on air travel

One of the ways to make a boring flight more bearable is the knowledge you have the cheapest ticket on the plane. With all the security restrictions at air ports and the lack of comfort on the air planes themselves, traveling has lost its appeal. Now, it’s just a way of getting from where you are to where you want to go. The recession is helping because the airlines are having to compete to fill their planes. This is bringing down the retail price of seats and there are a lot of attractive “special offers” being advertised. The fact of a bargain always helps to lift your spirits. The big question is therefore how to get the discounts. If you are planning in advance, there are savings if you book around two months ahead. This gives you a so-called “early bird” discount. When you want a flight in the next few days, the airlines know you probably have to travel and keep the price high. If you book too far ahead, there are uncertainties about costs, particularly of aviation fuel, so airlines tend to keep the price higher to hedge against possible rises in their operating costs. When you book, if possible, always fly as a round trip. One-way tickets are more expensive and, if you are looking for connecting flights, try to stay with the same airline. Traveling on your own gives you the maximum flexibility. You can decide when you want to fly and how much inconvenience you are prepared to accept to get a discount. Most airlines start offering discounts for groups when there are at least six people in the party. So, if you are prepared to put up with the hassle of organizing friends into a package deal, the savings can be substantial. The emphasis here is on a package which includes hotels and other add-ons. There is another general rule at work here. Never rely on a single internet site for making a booking of any kind. Always get multiple online quotes and pick up the telephone to talk to the airlines and travel agents about travel packages. The moment you start talking about adding a rental car or hotel rooms, you have their undivided attention. Indeed, asking what the options are for saving money will often produce unexpected offers not mentioned on the websites. In this, remember to identify the consolidators or aggregators. These are the travel agents that buy tickets in bulk from the airlines and sell at a discount. Also remember that many of the no-frills budget airlines do not sell through the standard internet search engines. You have to approach them directly. Learning how to save on air tickets is not difficult but it does take up time and requires some effort. You should also be wary. Many discounted air tickets come with restricted rights to change flight times, exchange tickets, or cancel and seek a refund. Always read the small print before confirming the purchase. You should also use your credit card because many have insurance provisions that cover you should you fall ill and be unable to travel.

Being a poor student, does not mean that you should put your travel plans to conduct

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budget for student traveling

Being a poor student, does not mean that you should put your travel plans to conduct. After all, traveling as a student, whether at home or abroad, can be done on a small budget, how much is there is for you to use.

Use what you have to get a student discount. Before you go get yourself a student travel discount card and use it. ISIC (International Student ID cards) will help you on the benefits tourist attractions, food and shopping, among other things. This card is for any student, regardless of age and for young people between the ages of twelve to twenty-six, and may be used in more than one hundred countries. This student discount card comes with an international calling card and voice mail. Thus we can contact you during the trip.

There is also the International Student Exchange Card (ISEC), which gives discounts on travel worldwide. Discounts can be as fifty percent on such things as museums, cinemas, transport and housing. Not only that the card you save a lot of money while traveling, but also provides other benefits, including medical evacuation costs and charges, if caught in a catastrophe. You also have access to free emergency telephone service throughout the world, if you need help in emergency situations. In the ISE-card will also provide you with airline bankruptcy protection. If you book flights through the agency of ISE, it would be covered if your carrier goes bust.

And, finally, is the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC), which can be obtained if you are under twenty-six years. There is a small charge associated with this card, but the benefits outweigh these costs during the trip. This map will help you to discounts in some fifty countries, including discount airfare, accommodation and entry cuts for tourist attractions at a reduced rate.

Other student cards that offer discounts of transportation cards, such as STA Travel

Card or young people railcards issued in the United Kingdom. But the offers do not stop the students. In western countries, it is reasonable to ask if a student discount is in any place where you are going to part with money. Discounts may be available in restaurants, retail outlets (just about anything), and dormitories. Not all places advertise that they offer discounts so if you do not ask, you never know what savings can be made.

Best Deals For Late Availability Holidays At Cheap Rates

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Best Deals For Late Availability Holidays At Cheap Rates

Is an extended weekend round the corner? Or are you a taking a 3 day break from work? Whatever is the case, if you wish to make the most out of your 3 day break, plan your holidays to Northumberland. Northumberland is a holiday destination suitable for short stay like 3 day breaks and weekend breaks, as well as, for long vacations.
Located in the north east of England, Northumberland is a peaceful country away from the hum drums of city life. If you wish to be all on your own on your 3 day breaks doing everything that your heart wishes to do like reading books, listening to music, going out for long solitary walks, or bird watching, and other such things, there can’t be a better alternative to Northumberland. As well as absolute peace and serenity, this place offers breathtaking natural views. You would love its picturesque, natural landscapes.
Although, there are various accommodation options in Northumberland for 3 day breaks, if you wish to have a memorable holiday experience, you may consider holiday cottages. Northumberland has holiday cottages in Alnwick, Alnmouth and Warkworth; the most beautiful parts of Northumberland. These holiday cottages offer spectacular views to their guests and give them memories that they cherish for ever.
You would be impressed by these large and spacious holiday cottages (can sleep up to 6) decorated in style and luxury. The home decor items add an element of class and sophistication to these cottages. Plus, the facilities and amenities provided by the luxury holiday cottages Northumberland would let you have a completely relaxed and comfortable 3 day break.
For instance, beds with linen and towels, kitchen with Fridge, Hob, Microwave, Oven, Tumble Dryer, Dishwasher, Freezer, Washing Machine, bathroom/shower room with hot tub, Balcony, Barbecue, Garden, Parking, Garden chairs, Patio, Outdoor dining table, DVD player, Internet Access, Telephone, Digital TV, and Hi-Fi stereo system would offer you comfort, luxury, and entertainment, to make your 3 day breaks an awesome experience.
This is not all. The holiday cottages offer various outdoor activities like Cycling, Windsurfing, Sailing, Golf, Fishing, Microlighting, Scuba Diving, Hiking, and lot more to make your 3 day breaks fun-filled and exciting.
And, if you are conscious about budget, you would be glad to know that the holiday cottages in Northumberland are an affordable way to have a luxurious 3 day breaks. You can get these holiday cottages at quite reasonable rates.
So, if you are excited to experience your 3 day break in a grand way, you may log on to tidalhomes.co.uk and book your holiday cottage today.
Those looking for late availability holidays  or planning for romantic breaks, may also visit the website.