Friday, August 31, 2007



SAGA (Saga Holidays : UK holidays for the over 50s) has a number of new holiday places:

"We stayed in the polana in a standard room for 2 nights starting 3rd Jan 2007. We found the staff to be efficient but not particularly friendly. Our room was basic and the decor dated and looking a little old." - "Basic room, great pool"

"Absolutely gorgeous property near the beach in central Maputo. Rooms were well appointed and had free wireless internet. Staff was cheerful and very helpful." - "Lovely restored colonial hotel"

"Brown-sugar beaches, a pulsing nightlife, the best seafood on the East African coast. For years, Johannesburg insiders have frequented Mozambique’s alluring, but under-the-radar, capital... December to February can be extremely hot, and the risk of malaria is higher." - "Welcome to Maputo,"


"Helnan Palestine belongs to a Danish hotel chain. The hotel is located just outside Alexandria. You should know that Alexandria has a 20 kilometres promenade! Yes 20 kilometres, amazing. The good thing about Helnan Palestine is that the hotel is located inside beautiful gardens in the royal area of the city. Overall impression good." - "Royal Environment"

"The only downside to it is that it is quite a way from most of the main tourist attractions in Alexandria and can take some time, even by car, to get from the hotel to them and back." - "Relaxing Hotel"


"We stayed at the sunrise from 25/6-30/6, the hotel had very nice amenities, modern but boring and impersonal. The service was great but the atmosphere of the place was too perfect and not really relaxed.The Location was pretty good, 5 min walk from market and 1/2 hour walk to restaurants, or 5 min bike ride." - "Nice Hotel but impersonal"

"Arriving at this hotel and the surrounding area, including the beach was a most awful experience. One hotel and resort I will never visit again. The hotel was sterile and you feel like a mere number in their books. Checking in was a hastle - many unnecessary processes to be adhered to. The rooms were dated...." - "Terrible experience"

"True there is a road separating the beach from the hotel but the rooms are sufficiently removed so you have little noise. The hotel itself is very tasteful and our balcony room overlooking the pool was really pleasant. The staff are really helpful and polite..." - "Very Pleasant Resort for the Price"

"The beaches of Nha Trang are a great place to spend 2 or 3 days playing in the surf, snorkeling and diving, or taking a cruise to the nearby islands. And Nha Trang's nightlife is thumping. Centering around the busy backpacker area along Biet Thu Street, the bars hop until late..." - "Overview of Nha Trang,"


"Great room, dining, staff, pool, and landscaping. You are within easy biking (or $2.00 taxi) to the beach and the Old Quarter. (Your bikes are free.) The rooms/suites are large and very unique. You cannot go wrong staying here." - "great little hotel"

Hoi An is a photogenic port, good for exploring on foot.

"Wander among historic homes and temples, perhaps stop to lounge in an open-air cafe, gaze at the oddities and exotic foods in the market, or take a sampan ride down the lazy river. In the afternoons when school is out, the streets are thronged with skipping children..." "Overview of Hoi An,"


"I was surprised and dissapointed with our room from August 16-20th. The room was extrememly outdated, with white wicker furniture which needed a good coat of paint. The stench from the toilets was so bad (this was a complaint from MANY other hotel quests as well), that it would wake us up in the morning. We had to call about 5 times to have housekeeping bring us a razor. The reason I gave it more that a 1 star was the incredible pool. It is a rooftop pool with amazing views. The service at the pool was okay." - Not 5 star at all-toilets smell like sewage


Tuesday, August 28, 2007


ERITREA - Asmara

Eritrean kids






"Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world, yet was cleaner than many, honest, and easy to visit. We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 weeks there and would visit it again given the opportunity." - Eritrea

"Eritrea is one of the world’s newest countries with much to offer the intrepid traveller. Our ‘Luxury week in Eritrea’ is the latest addition to our programme and is based at the newly opened Albergo Italia boutique hotel in Asmara, Eritrea’s capital. With its pleasant year round climate and stunning Art Deco architecture, a legacy of the country’s Italian colonial period, this is almost certainly the most charming city in Africa. Asmara represents perhaps the most concentrated and intact assemblage of Modernist architecture anywhere in the world.
Style of travel - Private journey." - Eritrea Travel & Tours in Africa. Experience the culture, food ...

You can fly with Lufthansa via Frankfurt from Edinburgh or Manchester or Heathrow.

"Eritrea has had a hard life so far, created out of tribal areas by Italy at the end of the 19th Century, it has had to fight for its life with Ethiopia, a much larger but poor land to its South. It also occupies all of the coastline on the Red Sea, thus landlocking Ethiopia. The United Nations tries to maintain the peace between these countries, yet the people were warm and friendly." - Eritrea

Asmara, the capital of Eritrea "was a surprise - a city with sophisticated cafe's, patisseries, wide and clean streets" and " narrow streets, busy markets, and the everyday life of people who were poor, but proud." - Eritrea
Asmara is in the highlands, 7,600ft above the sea.

"With its marble-floored espresso bars, glorious Art Deco cinemas and palm-lined central boulevard — which survived Eritrea’s 30-year war against Ethiopia miraculously intact — it feels like Turin or Bologna. The sensation of strolling through an Italian provincial market town, rather than an African capital, is at its most surreal in the evening, when Eritrean youths link arms to stroll along Liberation Avenue in what looks very much like a passeggiata." "Expect the unexpected in Eritrea,"

"After the liberation from Ethiopia there was such an opening up in Eritrea, such a happy nation. After two subsequent border wars with Ethiopia and tightening up of belts and mouths, the mood has changed 180 degrees. Now people are reluctant to speak their minds and in groups of more than five, there is a feeling there is bound to be a government spy. There is active oppression of opposition to the president Isaias Afeswerki, and again droves of people leave the country. Academic institutions, media and other institutions are subject to heavy sensorship. In short, it takes some effort to find out what is going on in Eritrea when you are there. For the sake of your aquaintances and those you meet along your trail, be a good listener and do not provoke or discuss politics and the situation unduly and in public.... Difficult to travel, political repression, tourist costs high... It's definitely still a place to visit." -

Since 1 June 2006, all foreign nationals have been required to apply for travel permits to leave Asmara.

You need a visa for Eritrea: you can apply directly with the Embassy in London - or you can use one of the visa agencies such as Thames Consular -


Saturday, August 18, 2007


Best times to travel?

1. The Mediterranean looks at its best in May, June, September and October. But, you may find the resorts too quiet and lacking in people at those times.

2. The Seychelles are best in April or May, in terms of price.

3. Peru is best in May if you want to avoid the crowds.

4. Mauritius is best in May, in terms of price.

5. Kenya is best in November, in terms of price.

6. The Caribbean is wettest from May to October. June, July and August means the start of the hurricane season. Hurricanes occur between June and November and are most frequent in the months of August and September.

7. The Maldives are best in April, or in the months from December to April.

8. Laos is best from November to April. September can be wet.

9. East Coast Malaysia is best between March and October.

10. The Philippines are best between February and May.
11. Hong Kong, from July to September, is hot and humid, with the added risk of typhoons moving up from the South China Sea.
12. India: the monsoon rains come to the south of India during late May or early June. It will reach the north about six weeks later.

Before you book your next holiday, check out the Climate Guides and Current Weather reports worldwide.



Travel Thoughts

The cost of a return Ryanair flight to Barcelona was £99.95 for one person from London Stansted airport plus £418 for seven nights in a three-star hotel, based on two people sharing.

One return train ticket from London Euston to Blackpool (UK) cost £63.90 plus £490 for seven nights in a three-star hotel, based on two sharing.

A stay in Barcelona 'is cheaper than Blackpool' - Telegraph