Month: February 2010

Uncategorized

Rome – 3 Best Things to Do and Eat

Rome

Image by tejvanphotos

The worlds love for Italy never fades. Italy has been attracting tourists ever since the early days of tourism and visiter numbers don’t show any sign of decreasing. Rome is absolutely no exception with its martial monuments attracting thousands of visitors every year.

Rome has been the spotlight of Italy for almost 3000 years as the famous city of the Roman empire and its reputation certainly is justified. With its noisy and colourful markets, its romantic street corners and of course its architecture and artist genius. Rome, is a city that certainly knows how to impress.

The historical centre of Rome is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it certainly deserves its tittle.

Rome is a sprawling city but the main sights and must see attractions are concentrated in the area between Stazione Termini and the Vatican on the other side of the Tiber river.

Rome is a fantastic walking city, walk around and take in the Roman buzz and romantic atmosphere.

3 Must Dos

Colosseum

The 50,000 seat arena is simply breathtaking and unsurprisingly one of Italy’s most visited sites.

This thrilling Roman site was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater. The Colosseum was started in AD 72 by Emperor Vespasian and finished in AD 80 by his son, Titus. The Colosseum was clad in travertine and 240 masts held in place an enormous canvas awning. In side 50,000 seats surround the sand arena. The great Colosseum was built on top of a maze of underground chambers where caged animals were kept.

The myth that fights between gladiators often ended in death is untrue, the sponsor was required to pay the owner of a killed Gladiator 100 times the Gladiators value. Pricey.

Vatican City

The Vatican City is all that is left of the Papal state and covering just 0.44km its a cultural must. For more than 1000 years the Vatican included Rome and most of central Italy but after Italian unification in 1861 the Pope was forced to give up most of his territory. Vatical City is an independent state, it has its own  currency, newspapers, radio, postal service and even its own army of Swiss Guards. The Vatican City is quite fascinating.

St Peter’s Basilica

Rome is a city of churches but if your going to visit one make sure to visit St Peter’s Basilica. The biggest, richest and most spectacular Church in the whole of Italy. All pilgrims to Rome are expected to visit St Peter’s. The church is built over the spot where St Peter is said to have been buried. Michelangelo designed the magnificent dome that soars 120m above the altar. If the stunning architecture is not enough to get the juices flowing St Peter’s Basilica is also home to two of Italy’s most celebrated masterpieces, Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’ and Bernini’s 29m high baldachin over the high alter

One of the most atmospheric things to do in Rome is to sit outside of one of the restaurants and enjoy the fantastic Italian food and drink. Some of the best and most authentic places to eat can be found in the more residential areas as a posed to the tourist areas. The best tip for finding a great place to eat is note where the Italians are eating and drinking.

3 Must Eats

Pasta

Image by Tom Purves

Pasta

Simple, but of course an Italian staple. Cacio e pepe (with pecorino cheese, black pepper and olive oil) and all’amatriciana (with tomato, pancetta and chilli) are the Italians first choice.

Ice Cream

Forget the diet when in Rome, the ice cream is to die for. look for a  gelateria with a big ‘G’ out side it, this means that it has a guild association and will probably be a good quality ice cream. You have to pay for the ice cream and then get into que to collect it. If the server says, ‘Panna?’, they are asking if you want whipped cream on top. Remember the rule if the Italians are eating it then its probably authentic gold. If the ice cream is bright colours its probably not great quality, look for the more natural colours for better quality ice cream.

Cornetto and Cappuccino

One of the many sweet pastries and a rich italian coffee, sat on a street corner, watching the crazy traffic go by, is an absolute must if you want to get an authentic Roman experience. Thank goodness Starbucks is not in Rome, Italian coffee is much better and cheaper, Starbucks would face some really fierce competition.

If you ask for a ‘latte’ in Italy you will get a glass of milk. If you want a coffee you need to ask for a ‘caffe latte’. ‘Caffe’, Espresso’ or ‘Normale’ is simply a shot of expresso. If you are feeling really in need of extra energy then ask for a ‘Espresso doppio’ for a double shot of expresso. If you prefer a weaker coffee then an Americano is an expresso diluted with hot water, the Italians don’t care much for this drink. And finally the cappuccino, Italians consider it very ‘un-classy’ and quite childish to order a cappuccino after 11am and would certainly never order one after dinner.

Accommodation in Rome

There are lots of hotels, hostels and other places to stay in Rome.  However, finding somewhere to stay is not always an easy task.  Consider using Oh Rome’s great Rome hotel and apartment finder.

Uncategorized

Travel Insurance

Broken Camera

Travel insurance is the most important thing you need before setting out on your travels. Even if you are the most careful person on earth you can’t escape from a bit of bad luck now and then. You would be surprised at the amount of people that risk it and don’t buy travel insurance, hopefully i’m about to change those peoples minds.

I’m a careful person and guard my processions, especially when traveling, with my life! My camera is my most important thing i carry when traveling so i really do guard it with my life. In 2007 whilst traveling in Malaysia i had it stolen, literally from right under my nose. We had taken the overnight train from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, I had a terrible night sleep and so when we got off the train we decided to grab a quick coffee. As I was sat in the cafe with my camera bag on the seat next to me someone came a took it. I literally looked away for a second and when I turned back, it was gone. I was pretty hysterical but still managed to file for a police report. My camera was gone.

I, like almost 100% of other travelers, didn’t have a spare £600 to replace my camera. I had three months left of my trip and really couldn’t afford not to have a camera. All it took was a phone call to my insurance company and they could ensure my on the phone that with a police report I would be able to claim back the money for my camera. I begged and borrow the money for a new camera and as soon as I returned back my claim went though and I could repay the money. I am so grateful that I decided to take out travel insurance, the fact I may have lost out on three months worth of photos doesn’t bare thinking about.

Here are 5 reasons you should never over look the most important travel purchase, travel insurance,

  1. The number one reason for travel insurance should of course be for medical emergencies. Medical treatments can be very expensive especially when traveling in the US and Canada. Medical repatriation on average costs about £25,000. If you have a medical emergency whist traveling in a foreign country it can be quite scary to try and find a suitable and safe hospital. Travel insurance companies have the knowledge and resources to help you find treatment.
  2. Your passport cash or valuables get lost and you need to replace immediately. Sometimes if your traveling to a few different countries to loose your passport will mean you loose your trip. A travel insurance company may help you get a new passport quickly so you can carry on with your trip.
  3. Protect your investment if you can’t go. If for some reason you have to cancle you trip you may be able to recover some or all of your cash. Travel insurance can cover you for inclement weather, natural disaster, terrorist accident and even jury duty.
  4. Peace of mind. You can fully relax on your holiday in the knowledge that if anything where to go wrong your not alone.
  5. Lost baggage. Costs can be as much as £1000 if your were to have to replace your whole bag. insurance may cover for lost and delayed baggage.

Image by Shayne Kaye

Uncategorized

Don’t Overlook Package Holidays

Holiday

Lots of independent travellers I have spoken to really don’t have much time for cheap last minute package holidays. But I really don’t agree and I’m going to tell you why.

A few years ago I felt like I really needed a hassle free two week all inclusive holiday. After a few hours research and about £500 later I had booked my first ‘package holiday’. It was a half board, two week holiday somewhere chilled and away from the crowds in Turkey. I felt apprehensive and a little unsure as i had totally handed over control of my holiday. Four days before I was due to leave, I had the terrible news that there had been a terrorist attack in the town where I was due to be staying. No one was killed, but the foreign office advised against travel to the area, this meant that I couldn’t go. I found myself in the situations of having to plan and book a very last minute holiday.

For £198 I booked a two week self catering apartment with a pool and ten minute walk to the beach, all flights and transfers where included. From that day forward I have been a strong supporter of cheap, last minute flights, rooms and package holidays.

If my story hasn’t turned you on, even slightly, to the last minute holiday, here are reasons why last minute holidays can be a fantastic option;

  1. Its an amazing buzz leaving your holiday to the last few weeks, days or even hours to plan and book. Be gutsy to get the best deals but also be prepared of the possibility you may miss out.
  2. It can be very refreshing to have everything from flights and transport to your bed and break fast planned for you. You will literally be guided from door to door completely hassle free!!
  3. You can sit back and relax. When i’m traveling I tend to move around a lot, meaning that I’m constantly packing and unpacking and moving from place to place. With a package holiday car hire can be easily arranged meaning is easy to explore and come back to your base. It makes a surprisingly lovely change to be in one place for more that a few nights.
  4. Package holiday are a great place to meet people. For many people their package holiday is the only holiday they will have that year so they go all out to have as much fun as they can, making it a a great environment for friend making! You get a great cross section of all sorts of different people from young families to older couples. I have make some great life friends on two week holidays!
  5. Cost, even though I have become great at low cost traveling, I can’t beat the value of a last minute package holiday. With some holiday days as cheap as £150 for bed and breakfast it would be hard to imagine how you could doi it yourself cheaper.

So, even if your a complete holiday control freak, please do consider the last minute package holiday. Here are my top five destinations for the cheap last minute holiday;

  1. Crete, or come to mention it, any island in Greece. Its hard to beat the weather and the gorgeous Mediterranean sea. Plus, I would go to Greece for the olives alone!
  2. Spain. Yes, there are lots of very touristy bits to Spain but you can soon get away from that. There is so much culture in Spain and so many things to explore. I also believe that everyone has to visit Ibiza once in their lives!
  3. Portugal. Not the obvious package holiday choice but an great one. Portugal has some spectacular beaches and coastal scenery and things are still reasonably cheap.
  4. Bulgaria. Up and coming as a holiday destination, Bulgaria is still slightly rough around the edges but that adds to the charm. Amazing scenery and amazing people.
  5. Turkey, it has everything from beautiful beaches to culture rich cities. Holidays to Turkey can be really cheap and you can do a lot of exploring.

Image by krejcirikmira