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Scotland: Explore the Mystery, History and Culture!
Scotland: Explore the Mystery, History and Culture!
A trip to Scotland will sure to be a holiday to remember as the place offers everything from scenic views that compare to no other, majestic castles and also boasts a balance of metropolitan culture and lifestyle.

Go for the Museums!

Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has endless of intriguing and out-of-this-world museums to offer! The Edinburgh Museum of Childhood is an incredible day out filled with nostalgia and learning about children’s lives of the past and a collection of toys and board games. Try and fit into your trip a visit to John Knox’s house—the leader of the protestant reformation—and experience the medieval history and drama that unfolds in each room. If you’re an art lover, you’ll definitely get your fix with the city’s many galleries such as the Scottish National Gallery, the Talbot Rice and the Queen’s Gallery, which will give you everything from your more traditional to contemporary art.

Enjoy the Jaw-Dropping Scenery!

Loch Lomond

While on your trip to Scotland, you can’t miss the fantastic scenery and wildlife! The glens of the Trossachs are a spectacle of the Scottish country and perfect for a walk and finding peace outside of your everyday life. It also boarders the tranquil Loch Lomond, which is the mainland UK’s largest body of water.

The Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms are fantastic to see while you’re on your trip to Scotland! It’s great if you’re an outdoor enthusiasts, as there are plenty of walking and cycling trails, plus you can witness some of the local wildlife. There is also lots of history in the surrounding area, such as the folklore around the Deeside and the Cairngorms, the standing stones and historic churches.

The Best Whisky Tasting!

 Whisky Tasting in Scotland

Everyone knows that the Scottish are famed for their whisky, so it would be rude not to partake in a bit of whisky tasting while on your trip to Scotland! The Glenfiddich distillery is a must as the world-renowned whisky offers an insightful tour around their famous distillery, which starts off with a film about the family behind the brand. Of course, the tour ends with the opportunity to buy and taste some for yourself!

Edinburgh’s The Whisky Experience is also a great way to learn about the process of making whisky, as you journey through the replica factory on a barrel ride. The Whisky experience also has a whisky shop for you to stock up, the “Amber Restaurant” for a light bite and whisky tasting sessions.

 

Explore Scotland’s Castles!

Edinburgh Castle Scotland

Image by Jordan Hatcher via Flickr

A trip to Scotland has to include a castle or two, as the country is famous for them due to their clan history. Of course, Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s famous landmark, often seen on shortbread tins, but is also home to the Edinburgh Tattoo and some of Scotland’s most important history. It played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence and the Jacobite Rising and it has the title of “the most besieged place in the UK.”

Stirling Castle, located in Stirling, is another place to fit into your trip to Scotland, as the castle is associated with much of Scotland’s war history (another castle that has been overrun many of times), and it’s also crowned a few Scottish Kings and Queens, such as Mary Queen of Scots.

Technically, it’s not a castle; however McCaig’s Tower is a famous landmark in Oban that was built by John Stewart McCaig as a lasting monument to his family, which was based on the Colosseum in Rome. McCaig’s death brought an end to the construction with only the outer walls being completed, as he originally planned on having statues of his family erected within the building.

If you’re interested in a trip to Scotland, check our range of prices and hotels by clicking here. 

I Never Knew That About…Dublin!
I Never Knew That About…Dublin!
Welcome back to our bi-weekly blog on our holiday destinations and the history behind these places! This week, we’re getting to know Dublin! The capital of Ireland is a colourful city that’s brimming with culture, history and many places of interest.

Home to a Saint

Whitefriar Church Dublin

The Whitefriars church is famous for harbouring the remains of St Valentine. Yet, there is a slight problem as nobody knows which St. Valentine is buried tat the church, because there is confusion whether the St Valentine is one person or two.

The City’s Cultural Hub 

Temple Bar

On the south bank of the Liffey River is the colourful area of Temple Bar. It’s believed that the name is derived from Sir William Temple, who was the provost of the Trinity College at the time and he and his family owned a house and gardens in the area. These days, it’s known as the bohemian district, bursting with galleries and fantastic night-time spots, such as the Temple Bar’s self-named pub, which is known to have the largest collection of whisky in Dublin.

Dublin’s Famous Night Life!

Once when the Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino visited Dublin, he was refused a pint in one of the city’s bars. He used the “Do you know who I am” line and was quickly rebuffed as it was after hours and one rule applies to all! See, Dublin doesn’t care who you are, when the last bell rings it’s home time!

Home to Literary Icons

My Fair Lady

The famous playwright, George Bernard Shaw, was born in Dublin and was known for his play Pygmalion, which was adapted into the popular musical, My Fair Lady. When Shaw died, he donated the royalties of Pygmalion to the National Gallery of Ireland, as he stated that the gallery was a huge inspiration to him as child. With the success of My Fair Lady, this proved to be a substantial sum of money that helped the gallery buy top works of art.

Dublin is  also one of the six UNESCO cities of literature, as some of the most prolific literary icons have been based in the city, such as Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Seamus Heaney and Samuel Becket. The other five cities are Edinburgh in Scotland, Iowa City, USA, Norwich in England, Melbourne in Australia and Reykjavik in Iceland.

“And the winner is…” 

OSCAR

Dublin is also connected to a famous part of Hollywood history. The iconic golden statuette what is given to Academy award-winners was designed by Dublin born Cedric Gibbons in 1928!

The Story Behind Ireland’s Houses of Parliament…

Leinster House

Leinster House, now known as the Irish Houses of Parliament, was originally owned by the Duke of Leinster. He built his house on the south side of Dublin, when at the time the north was known to be more fashionable. When asked why he did this, the Duke responded, “Where I go, fashion follows.” To this day, the southside is (supposedly) known as being the more stylish part of Dublin. Although, I’m sure this is up for debate!

Famous People from Dublin

U2

U2

The rock band U2 come from Dublin! They have been given the title of “Freedom of the City” and what comes with this privilege (weirdly) is that they can shear sheep free of charge at St. Stephen’s Green.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Another Dublinite (or Dubliner?) is Oscar Wilde, known for the popular stories such as Gothic horror The Picture of Dorian Grey and The Importance of Being Earnest.

Bram Stoker

Dublin born Bram Stoker became one of the Fathers of the horror genre by giving us vampires with the world-wide famous, Dracula. 

Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell

Famous Hollywood actor Colin Farrell comes from the Baldoyle area of Dublin. He broke out in BBC’s BallyKissAngel and in recent years has become famous for films such as In Bruges, Phone Booth and Total Recall.

Interested in a holiday to Dublin? Click here for full details and prices. 

Festive Breaks: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park!
Festive Breaks: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park!

It might seem early, but you need to book in advance to experience the magical Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park! Enchanting, sparkling and with tonnes of things to do, the Winter Wonderland is the ideal festive break to spend with the family!

The Winter Wonderland Christmas Park is known for its ice-rink, which circles around the band stand and is the biggest ice rink in the UK. It’s open to everyone, as they offer skates from a child size 9 to an adult size 13, plus wheelchair users are welcome onto the ice. You can also spend time in Winter Wonderland’s Magical Ice Kingdom; an enchanting forest made entirely from ice! With giant icicles, sculpted woodland animals and large ice walls it’s an experience you won’t forget!

Video by Fotowhizz

The Winter Wonderland is also a fantastic attraction for the thrill-seeker in you, as the park boasts over 100 different rides! From the adrenaline-packed roller-coasters to gentler carousals and helter-shelters—there is something for everyone! There is also an observation wheel where you can enjoy romantic views of the bright lights and the backdrop of London.

Winter Wonderland

You won’t run out of grub to munch on at the Winter Wonderland, as the park offers plenty of warm meals and sweet treats! While you’re there, you must check out the German market stalls, where you can grab a bratwurst or a roast sandwich–definitely up there with some of the food highlights. If you enjoy a tipple, there are plenty of bars that sell traditional Christmas drinks like mulled wine, hot cider and eggnog and the park also offers themed bars with real fires to cosy up to, except for their ice bar (for obvious reasons), where they sell drinks in glasses carved out of ice!

If you’re interested in going to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, we have a selection of tours* for you to choose from with added excursions where you can really experience London and enjoy the Christmas season, such as our Winter Wonderland and Covent Garden tour or a trip to see a Christmas Show at the Royal Albert Hall! Search for the tour in the holiday finder on the left hand side or you can request a brochure here.

*Tours are subjected to pick-up points.

 

I Never Knew That About…Liverpool!
I Never Knew That About…Liverpool!
Welcome back to another instalment of our bi-weekly “I Never Knew That About…” blog, where we look into the little known facts about our holiday destinations around the UK. This week, we will be looking at Liverpool, the home of the “Fab Four” and a city full of maritime history. We’re sure to dig up some fascinating facts about this city!

Brief Liverpudlian History

The city of Liverpool was created in 1207, when King John founded the area of “Liuerpul” and granted a royal charter, which was written in Latin. King John saw Liverpool as an ideal place for his ships to invade Ireland and Wales from. Over the years, Liverpool became the “Second City of Empire” and eclipsed even London for commerce at times.

The Liverpool Cathedral’s Bells

LIVERPOOL ANGLICAN

Inside the Anglican Church

The Liverpool Cathedral is home to the heaviest bells in the world! There are thirteen bells that weight in at a total of 17 tonnes, plus Great George—a bell heavier than Big Ben and has to be rung with a hammer. The world record for the heaviest 8-Bell peal, ringing over 5000 changes without stopping was achieved by Liverpool ringers in 2008 to commemorate Liverpool being named as Capital of Culture.

Why are Liverpudlian’s scousers?

SCOUSE STEW

Why are Liverpudlians called scousers?

People  from Liverpool are often referred to as “Scousers”, which derives from the dish that Liverpool is famous for – scouse! This is a stew made from beef, carrots, cabbage and potatoes and was traditionally eaten by sailors and poor people during the 1800s.

Lights, camera, action!

Liverpool is known to have a thriving film industry with over 120 films being made there back in 2012. Liverpool has doubled for Paris, Venice, Moscow and Dublin.

The Two Birds on the Royal Liver Building

The Birds on top of the Liver Building

The Birds on top of the Liver Building

The Royal Liver building is a grade I listed building, which is located in Liverpool’s UNESCO designated Maritime Mercantile City. It is home to two fabled Liver Birds that are on top of the building and are thought to stand watch over the city and the sea. There are many legends that surround the birds, such as if they fly away, or if they face each other, the city would cease to exist.

Liverpool’s Chinatown

The Gateway to Chinatown

The Gateway to Chinatown

Did you know that the first Chinatown built in Europe is the one situated in Liverpool? The arch that is located at the gateway of Chinatown is also the biggest, multiple-span arch outside of China!

Liverpool: A Music City

Beatles - The Famous Fab Four From Liverpool!

The Famous Fab Four From Liverpool!

Liverpool is one of the most famous music cities in the world. Obviously, there is the Beatles, who made local places such as Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane classic music landmarks.  Apart from the Beatles, Liverpool is the city  that has produced the most number one hits in the UK!

Top Musicians from Liverpool (/Merseyside)!

Cilla Black

CILLA BLACK

One of the UK's top-selling female singers of the '60s!

One of Liverpool’s most famous singers, Cilla Black was managed by Brian Epstein until his timely death. She began her career in 1963 and had number ones with Anyone who had a Heart (which was later found to be the biggest selling hit by a female in the 60s) and You’re My World. After her music career, she became a successful presenter with Surprise, Surprise and Blind Date.

The Coral

The Coral originated from Wirral, which is outside of Liverpool, and was known for their indie-rock music of the early 2000’s, most notable for the hit “Dreaming of You”.

Echo and the Bunnymen

Echo and the Bunnymen are an English rock band from the late 70’s and had a string on critically acclaimed albums, although didn’t find mainstream success until the mid to late 80’s with albums such as Porcupine and their landmark release, Ocean Rain, which spawned hit singles, Killing the Moon, Silver and Seven Seas.

Gerry and the Pacemakers

GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS

Liverpool Legends!

The Liverpudlian beat group was also managed by Brian Epstein and are known for being the first act to reach number one with their first three singles—the record was not equalled for 20 years until fellow Liverpool band Frankie Goes To Hollywood. They’re also most noted for “You’ll Never Walk Alone” which because the anthem for Liverpool F.C.

There are loads more! Leave a message in the comments section if you can think of any.

If you’re interested in a holiday to Liverpool, click this link for more details on our amazing deals. 

5 Alternative Things to do in London
5 Alternative Things to do in London

You can never truly be done with London, even if you’ve done the entire star attractions at least once, there will always be a new experiences around the corner! From exhibitions to markets, here are 5 alternative things to do in London this summer:

The Alice Look

The Alice Look

We’ve had 150 years of Alice and Wonderland with countless colourful editions still being published and the story having influence on pop culture (see pop stars such as Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne who have channelled Alice in their music videos). The timeless tale is easily one of the best and most memorable children’s story…ever. That’s why “The Alice Look” will be celebrating all things Wonderland with their exhibitions at the V&A museum of childhood situated in Bethnal Green.

Borough Market

Borough Market

Learn about food history at one of the oldest and most renowned markets in London, Borough Market! The market has said to be open since the 11th Century and throughout the years it has moved around London. Today, the market has grown to over 100 different stalls. It not only sells the best British produce, but it also offers top-quality international food, however the main reason why you should go is for the delicious free samples…

The Alternative London Tour

LONDON ART

Get to know the real London with its home-grown art and history with the Alternative London walking tour around the East End. On the tour, you are guaranteed to see a range of beautiful and colourful street art, along with cultural and historical events that surrounds the place. What’s so great about this tour is that it’s on a Pay-What-You-Like basis, so that means regardless of your budget, you can experience two hours of a real and vibrant side of London.

Camden Beach

Having a ice cream at Camden Beach

You might be thinking, a beach in London? What is the world coming to?! Or you might not be thing that…but Camden Beach is back for another year! The event opens July 26th and is fantastic if you’re looking to chill out in the big city. There will be pop-up bars and restaurants (with fish and chips, of course!), beach huts, ping pong and live music! As their tagline goes, “I got 99 problems but a beach ain’t one!”

Carsten Holler’s “Decision” exhibition

Carsten Holler’s “Decision” exhibition - Hayward Gallery

Even if you’re not an “artsy” person, Carsten Höller’s “Decision” exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in Southbank is an enjoyable and participatory experience. The key thing to this exhibition is that you have to use your hands a lot, whether you’re finding your way through a black corridor or gripping onto a flying machine (yes, a flying machine). As the title states, the exhibition is all about decisions as you find your way through the gallery. (On until Monday 7th September).

At Travelstyle, we sell a London Freedom Weekend from £75.95. This allows you to be dropped off in the West End and given the chance to do whatever you like around the big city! Click here if you’re interested in our London Freedom Weekends. 

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