• The best alternatives to another boring Mediterranean holiday (2/21/2018) - Can’t stand the thought of cooking on a Mediterranean beach in August, surrounded by sunburned Brits? Here are 18 more original options for summer. 1. The Azores This Portuguese archipelago is almost 1,000 miles off the coast of North Africa, but it is easily accessible via direct flights from London to Ponta Delgada, the capital (courtesy of Ryanair), with a flying time of just four hours. The volcanic scenery of lava tubes, crater lakes and calderas is astounding: if there’s a Lost World in Europe, this is it. Summer is the best time to see sperm whales and dolphins, and there are dozens of Blue Flag beaches from which to swim.  [embedded content] This is “Europe’s answer to Hawaii”, according to Telegraph Travel’s Chris Leadbeater, “lost in deep seas; steep-sided, beautiful and wild.” He adds: “There are nine main outcrops in total, each with a distinct character and charm – making for escapades which take in Portuguese colonial heritage, high-rise vistas, lava-fried ruins, intriguing cuisine, quiet beaches and the graceful sight of marine mammals breaking the Atlantic’s surface. The Azores are the antidote to the idea of a Europe shorn of surprises – strangers in the ocean’s zealous grip.” A seven-night holiday in the Azores costs from £4,039 for a family of four, including flights, a day on a farm, a Jeep tour, a visit to the hot springs, plus whale and dolphin watching (sunvil.co.uk).  Explore Europe’s answer to Hawaii 2. Lofoten Islands, Norway It has beautiful beaches, like Utakleiv, pictured below, as well as stunning mountains and fjords. And despite its Arctic Circle location, the Gulf Stream means temperatures sometimes top 20C in summer. Share the beach with sheep in Norway Credit: Michael Krutzenbichler, 2017/daitoZen “It is heaven for hikers,” says Telegraph Travel’s Oliver Smith. “Those soaring landscapes looked daunting from afar but have been made accessible by a network of trails. Views from the water are equally beguiling. Several companies offer guided sea kayaking tours – perfect for exploring hidden coves and islets. Others use speedy, high-powered RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) for whistle-stop trips to the narrow Trollfjord. The landscapes are epic Credit: ©rudi1976 – stock.adobe.com “There is more besides, with countless beautiful ports such as Nusfjord, Henningsvaer and Kabelvag (which dates back to the ninth century, making it the oldest village above the Arctic Circle), in each of which visitors can see those classic pyramids of cod drying on wooden racks, and rent cosy, rustic wooden fishermen’s huts, or rorbuer.” SAS flies to Lofoten, see visitnorway.co.uk for more information.   [embedded content] 3. Outer Hebrides, Scotland “Visitor numbers to Scotland are booming, but only a fraction make it to this archipelago, where white-tailed eagles fly low and white-sand beaches are devoid of people,” says Lorna Parkes. “Older children can snorkel with seals or take surfing lessons, while Neolithic ruins and Gaelic music will charm younger children. The only guarantee with the weather is unpredictability, and there may of course be midges – but if you’re ever going to make it to the Outer Hebrides, summer is the time to head there.”  Spot the difference | Scotland or the Caribbean? Take a ferry from Oban to Barra (calmac.co.uk) or fly from Manchester to Stornoway (loganair.co.uk). Gearrannan Blackhouse Village (gearrannan.com) on the Isle of Lewis offers family cottages from £115 per night with a minimum stay of five nights in summer.  18 amazing places you won’t believe are in Scotland 4. Koster Islands, Sweden The Scandinavian summer – bright nights and welcoming temperatures – finds its feet in July. And does so with gusto in the Koster Islands – a tiny archipelago 100 miles north of Gothenburg in the Skagerrak Strait. Car-free, these birdlife havens proffer gentle days of hiking and cycling. The Koster Islands Credit: ALAMY An alternative option is the Skane region, to the east of Malmo. It is sometimes called the Swedish Riviera and can boast some terrific sandy stretches. Ystad is one of the most popular resorts. See our guide to the best hotels in Sweden. 5. Lake Bled, Slovenia Central Europe rarely looks prettier than on the banks of Lake Bled – a glacial bowl of water in the Julien Alps, 35 miles north of the Slovenian capital Ljubljana (visitljubljana.com). Bled Island, in the middle, is the cherry on an already delicious cake. Did you know? | Five quirky facts about Slovenia Steve Fallon, our Slovenia expert, says: “Mild thermal springs warm the water of this impossibly beautiful cobalt-blue lake to 26°C, making it a great place for a dip well into autumn: there are swimming areas on the northern and western shores. But what makes it even more special is the tiny, tear-shaped island toward the western side of the lake. On it you can visit a small museum and the lovely Church of the Assumption with some 14th-century fresco fragments and a gold baroque altar. If you need a special favour, ring the ‘wishing bell’ in the 15th-century church belfry and it will be granted.” See our guide to the best hotels in Slovenia. More info at slovenia.info 25 places in Eastern Europe you must see in your lifetime 6. The Faroe Islands Familiar to most people only from the shipping forecast, the windswept Faroe Islands together form an autonomous province of Denmark. The archipelago possesses some lovely beaches – not least at Sandur, a village on the island of Sandoy with a population of 600 – to go with starkly beautiful mountainous interiors. It is also an unlikely option for a gastronomic holiday.  [embedded content] “Wild, wet and windy for almost 365 days a year, the Faroe Islands are a playground for adventure seekers and inquisitive foodies, whatever the weather or season,” says Simon Parker, writing for Telegraph Travel. “The short summer, however, is the best time to catch a glimpse of the millions of migrating seabirds that nest all over this isolated archipelago, and with just a few hours of darkness each day, due to the Faroes’ northerly latitude, hikes can continue long into the night. The island also […]
  • The UK's 10 best beaches (2/21/2018) - https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2018/02/21/09/bournemouth-beach.jpgBritish beaches might not come with a guarantee of fine weather like their continental counterparts, but for both summer days and wintery walks the UK shoreline boasts some of the most scenic spots in the country.  Trip Advisor has ranked the best beaches in the UK, Europe and the world for 2018, with Bournemouth Beach proclaimed number one domestically and fifth in Europe overall. Here’s the full list and why they gained their place at the top of a very sandy (though occasionally pebbly) pile. Bournemouth Beach stretches for 11 miles (Bournemouth Tourism) With 11 miles of golden sand running from Hengistbury Head to Sandbanks, Bournemouth Beach is also feted for nearby attractions including the secluded Fisherman’s Walk and Oceanarium. The beach also hosts Bournemouth Air Festival each year.  The only Scottish entry on the list this year, Luskentyre in the Outer Hebrides boasts sand dunes, cycling, hiking and views of Taransay, where the early Noughties show Castaway was filmed, launching a then unknown Ben Fogle to the wider world.  Rhossili Bay, Swansea (Getty Images/iStockphoto) Voted Wales’s best beach, Rhossili Bay is popular for water sports, surfing and its numerous walking routes, such as Worm’s Head. From the cliffs visitors can sometimes spot dolphins and whales.  With its restored pier, proximity to Brighton’s famous Lanes shopping quarter and easy access by train, Brighton Beach is the perfect day-trip destination. Popular for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, it’s now also home to British Airways i360, the world’s tallest moving observation tower.  Weymouth’s long, sandy beach is close to the historic town centre (TripAdvisor) Weymouth’s three-mile beach is just a stone’s throw from the town centre and still has traditional donkey rides and Punch and Judy shows, but is also known for its volleyball championships, live music and firework displays.  Jersey’s family friendly St Brelade’s Bay Beach has a number of restaurants and cafes overlooking the sea and numerous sunbathing spots for those looking to catch some Vitamin D.  Dorset’s second entry in the UK’s top 10 is known for its rugged clay and ironside cliffs, pebble beach and Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve; an ideal place for kids to learn about wildlife and conservation projects in the UK.  Three Cliffs Bay in Swansea is best known for its three stark, imposing limestone cliffs. Famously wild, swimming and water sports are not encouraged but the beach itself is ideal for walks and is highly photogenic, particularly on the Gower Coast Path. Considered one of the best surfing beaches in both the UK and Europe, the long and sandy Fistral Beach is backed by rocks and cliffs and, on a fine day, is an ideal spot for families to take surfing lessons or relax with a picnic.  Families enjoying their holiday on Fistral beach (Getty Images/iStockphoto) Pembrokeshire’s Barafundle Beach is characterised by clear waters and a calm atmosphere engendered by its relative remoteness. The beach can only be accessed by a half-mile walk from the nearest car park, which gives it a tranquil isolation different to other beaches on the list. 
  • Tabasco museum: Factory tour explores 150 years of hot sauce in Louisiana (2/21/2018) - https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2018/02/21/09/img-3990.jpgI usually steer clear of alcohol before 11am but this time I’ve got an excuse. To start with, the drink I’m being offered is a Bloody Mary, the Tabasco sauce-infused cocktail known for its hangover-busting qualities. And I’m in the one place I feel it would be rude to refuse such a tipple: the self-service bar at the Tabasco Museum’s restaurant on Avery Island, Louisiana. My Tabasco-soaked visit takes place during a very special year for the brand, because 2018 is its 150th anniversary. Today, every single bottle (around 700,000 are produced daily) is still made at the original factory on Avery Island outside of Lafayette. This factory, and the barrel and blending rooms, are housed inside clusters of beautiful red brick buildings connected by winding pathways. Elsewhere, there’s accommodation for employees. The enormous site also contains the Jungle Gardens, a sprawling 170-acre semitropical idyll where Spanish moss-fringed cypress trees sprout from alligator-filled swamps. Edmund McIlhenny, the man who founded Tabasco in 1868, wanted to create a place where employees could relax. He was also passionate about nature and created Jungle Gardens as a sanctuary for migratory birds. The entire site feels incredibly wild, and signs by pathways warn me to keep an eye out for black bears. Inside the plantation-style building, interactive exhibits, films and audio recordings explore the brand’s history. A huge family tree shows how Tabasco remains a family affair. I’m lucky enough to have Harold “Took” Osborn – the great, great-grandson of founder Edmund McIlhenny and current executive vice president of the McIlhenny Company, which produces Tabasco – as my guide. In the room dedicated to merchandise, I spot a Tabasco Barbie, a Tabasco surfboard and a pair of Tabasco skis, and there are photos showing the sauce’s most iconic roles, which include several appearances in James Bond films and a cameo in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. There’s a photo of a tweet by Beyonce which shows a bottle of the sauce next to the singer’s pot of instant noodles, and a shot of a Nepalese guide atop Mount Everest, clutching his bottle of Tabasco – apparently it’s known as Sherpa oxygen. In another room, I learn about the different foods produced under the Tabasco brand (although only the sauce is made on site). I spot bottles of Tabasco olive oil and Tabasco crisps, chocolate and spam. Apparently the sauce goes especially well with the processed meat product. Peppers must be the exact right shade of red (Tamara Hinson) “They just love spam in Guam, and we sell more sauce there than anywhere else,” says Osborn. In recent years, the state of Texas has also placed huge orders. It turned out that health workers were using the sauce to prepare for possible Ebola outbreaks. It was used as a stand-in for virus-laden fluids and sprayed onto bandages wrapped around dummy patients. Doctors would practice removing the contaminated dressings before touching their lips – experiencing the “Tabasco tingle” was a sign they’d been infected. Osborn also reveals that the sauce is used by food scientists across the world. The key ingredient, capsaicin, makes nerves inside the mouth swell and become more sensitive, which is why professional taste testers often place a drop on their tongues. I head back outside into the hot Louisiana sun and wander past greenhouses filled with pepper-laden plants. Inside the blending room viewing area, the air is thick with the familiar, spicy scent, but if I’m craving a further hit, I can push a big red button to send in a blast of Tabasco air. A giant scoreboard charts how many bottles have been produced (Tamara Hinson) In the huge bottling plant, a helter skelter-like maze of rails and conveyor belts whisks bottles around the room. A digital display lists the number of bottles produced so far on any given day, and on a whiteboard there are details about which country’s sauce is being produced that day. On this occasion, it’s Brazil. Digital cameras scan every single bottle, and every batch is inspected by a descendent of Edmund McIlhenny. But the attention to detail starts from the moment the peppers are picked by Tabasco’s red stick-wielding employees. These sticks are dipped in paint the exact colour of a perfectly ripe pepper, and held against the fruit to ensure they’re ready to be picked. And then there’s the gift shop. I sample some Tabasco ice cream (it’s surprisingly nice) and browse the merchandise. You name it, there’s a Tabasco-branded version of it: from baby-grows and underwear to Tabasco-infused wood chips and jelly beans. Strange merchandise includes Tabasco skis (Tamara Hinson) I can buy my very own bright red pepper stick, or pick up Tabasco sauce varieties I never knew existed, including extra hot, chipotle and raspberry versions. There are bottles of Tabasco mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and jam. Next to a display of Tabasco bottle-shaped wine stoppers is a Christmas tree bedecked with Tabasco sauce baubles. Even my dog can get in on the action, with his very own Tabasco dog bandana. I browse through a copy of NASCAR Cooks with Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce, which contains the favourite Tabasco-based recipes of drivers sponsored by the brand. Apparently Team Tabasco driver Jeff Gordon loved his Tabasco drizzled over chicken salad. But the strangest Tabasco-themed product might be yet to come. “We’ve been working on a Tabasco soda for some time,” Osborn tells me excitedly. Watch this space. Travel Essentials Getting there British Airways (britishairways.com) flies from London Heathrow to New Orleans from £683 return Staying there Doubles at the Hilton Homewood Suites in Lafayette (homewoodsuites3.hilton.com) start from £111, room only. More information Tickets for the Tabasco factory tour and museum cost $5.50 (tabasco.com/visit-avery-island).
  • Havana city guide: Where to eat, drink, shop and stay in Cuba's capital (2/21/2018) - https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2018/02/20/15/havana-main.jpgSun, slinky dancing, icy cocktails in bars fashioned from backyard wrecks and slumping colonial ruins, designer buys, avant-garde art, and a dose of communism draw visitors to the tropical nation island of Cuba. Havana’s seven-year economic revolution has revived the spirit of this glamorous sea-facing city. From 26 February to 2 March Havana lights up with the annual Habanos Cuban cigar festival (habanos.com/en/xx-festival-del-habano), celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018; and from 22 to 24 March Havana World Music (havanaworldmusic.com) stages concerts across city venues. What to do Spanish grandeur in the old town The Spanish colonial core of Old Havana is the city’s stellar attraction brimming with frescoed churches, cobbled plazas, civic mansions and nobles’ homes turned museums, galleries and restaurants. Admire the ecclesiastical interior beauty of Nuestra Señora de la Merced and the detailed exhibits at the Museum of the Revolution (9.30am-4pm) charting Fidel Castro’s rise to power amid the Tiffany interiors of this erstwhile Presidential Palace. Behind the palace sits the Museum of Fine Arts (Tuesday to Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, 10am-2pm). Go for the pop art of Raúl Martínez, the homo-eroticism of Servando Cabrera, the African symbolism of Manuel Mendive and Wifredo Lam, and the avant-garde works of Cuba’s thriving contemporary art community. Wander the Malecon on the sea front (Getty Images) Seaside exploration Amble Havana’s wind-whipped ocean boulevard, the Malecón, and admire the facades of its sun-bleached buildings as the sun slopes down behind fishermen, lovers, swimmers and trumpet players. Pedalling through Havana To fall in love with Havana walk, dance and dally along her dramatic, slouching streets. For a broader view of her maritime and sugar history – which saw the city bulge and bust through the ancient defence wall corralling the old city and spill west – explore by bike. Two companies offer new city tours cycling 20km of mainly back roads through the plush suburb of Miramar, leafy Vedado with its villas-cum-galleries, restaurants and bars, Havana’s tree-entangled forest – Bosque de la Habana – and the magical wonderland that is the jungle-choked Jardines de La Tropical beer grotto fantasy. Cubanía (cubaniatravel.com) pedals out every Wednesday morning with a bonus walking tour of the old town’s four plazas thrown in (£35pp), while Cubyke (info@cubyke.com), using Cuba’s first electric bikes, lets cyclists with a mojito hangover lean back and cruise (£35pp). Appreciate Havana’s street art (istock) Painting the city Ever since street artist JR and Cuban American artist José Parla honoured 25 Cuban senior citizens by crafting enormous impressions of their faces across the flaking shards of the city walls for Havana’s Biennial art fair in 2012, street art has been creeping across the city. See work by Fabián López, Yulier Rodríguez and Luis Casas, among others, and meet the artists on a street art tour (cubaprivatetravel.com). Tours cost US$140 (£99) including transport. Where to Stay Film director Stephen Bayley and Cuban theatre director Jazz Martínez-Gamboa have opened an elegant three-roomed town house, Economía 156, in southern Old Havana. It comes complete with roof terrace and the most sumptuous of tropical breakfasts. Ask about their behind-the-scenes theatre tours and soirées with Cuban actors; CUC$220 (£156). Doubles from CUC$145 (£103), B&B (directingarts@me.com). A&A, Amaury’s top-floor independent apartment, is decorated with contemporary Cuban art and features two balconies. It’s in the heart of the lively café, gallery, and restaurant-filled northern Old Havana. Doubles from CUC$120 (£85), B&B (amaurypbello@yahoo.es). La Maison is in a beautiful Old Havana townhouse (La Maison) Handsomely furnished in Spanish colonial and antique French style with themed rooms and a parasol-shaded roof terrace for dining and drinking, La Maison (lamaisoncuba.com) is a steal. Three bedrooms from CUC$200 (£142), B&B.   For the coolest of Cuban Fifties glamour, check into one of Artedel’s (cubaguesthouse.com) three penthouse rooms, sip cocktails on the sun-soaked terrace and recline in the jacuzzi. Doubles from CUC$100 (£71), B&B. Where to eat For pancake breakfasts and pulled-pork, yucca, and orange salsa sourdough sandwiches, pull in at El Café (facebook.com/elcafehavana); 9am-6pm. Artisanal scoops of ice cream – try the mojito flavour – can be bought at Helad’oro (Aguiar St No.206; 11am-10pm). Otra Manera offers upscale dining (Otra Manera) Sip strong afternoon coffee, or mango milkshakes, at Belview Art Café (6 Street No.412 corner of 19, Vedado; Tuesday to Sunday, 9am-6pm). For Cuban tapas with a twist and moreish mocktails, swing by rustic Jibaro (facebook.com/therealjibaro); 10am-12am. Think octopus carpaccio, the tenderest tuna tataki and mamey creme brulée, at glamorous Otra Manera (otramaneralahabana.com) in a glass-fronted home in upscale Miramar; Tuesday to Saturday, 12.30-11pm. Where to drink Fruity daiquiris and outstanding panoramic views from the rooftop pool terrace of the Kempinski hotel (kempinski.com/en/havana/gran-hotel-kempinski-la-habana) are de rigueur. The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski is Havana’s first truly five-star hotel (Kempinski) Cuban DJs man the decks at villa-cum-techno haunt EFƎ Bar till the early hours (Corner of Calle 23 y Calle F, Vedado); 12pm-3am. Cuban and international trovadors rock the house at La Bombilla Verde (facebook.com/lacasadelabombillaverde); Tuesday to Sunday; 5pm-1am. Where to shop Curio hunters search for memorabilia and books at second-hand stalls on Plaza de Armas. Must-have designer bags and tees with nuanced slogans can be picked up at Clandestina (clandestinacuba.com); Monday to Saturday, 10am-8pm, Sunday, 11am-6pm. Piscolabis has upcycled collectibles (Piscolabis) For recycled and upcycled lamps, jewellery and collectibles peruse Piscolabis (piscolabishabana.com); 9.30am-7.30pm. Beautiful, hand-crafted Cuban gifts sourced from around the country can be found at Alma (almacubashop.com); Monday to Saturday, 10am-4pm. Architectural highlight The art deco Edificio Bacardí was the headquarters of the eponymous rum empire in Cuba. It towers over Old Havana with its ziggurat crown, bat motif and naked nymphs embedded in enamelled terracotta panels. Nuts and bolts What currency do I need? Visitors usually use the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), whereas locals use the Cuban Peso (CUP). What language do they speak? Spanish. Should I tip? 10 per cent in restaurants. What’s the time difference? They’re five hours behind GMT (four hours in summer). What’s the flight time from the UK? Between eight hours 40 minutes and 10 hours. Public transport Use […]
  • The best experiences in Dubrovnik (2/21/2018) - There is much to experience in Dubrovnik, from tracing the mighty city walls and exploring scenes from Game of Thrones, to spending the day on a four-poster bed by the sea, with an icy cocktail in hand. Destination expert, Jane Foster, gives the low-down on the city’s most incredible things to do.  Old Town Circle the City Walls The medieval walls afford ever-changing views out to sea and over the old town, and hark back to the 13th century. They are best explored with a full-circuit, just over a mile’s walk along the battlements. Further reinforcements, including several imposing towers, were added in the 15th century, to protect the city against the Ottoman Turks. Insider’s tip: To dodge the crowds, check how many cruise ships will be in Dubrovnik on any particular day on the Dubrovnik Port Authority, and then pick what looks like the quietest date. Arrival and departure times are included on the site so you might find a morning or afternoon with no ships in town.. Contact: 00 385 20 638 800; citywallsdubrovnik.hrOpening times: Daily, 8am-7pm (summer); Daily, 9am-3pm (winter)Price: £££ The medieval walls are best explored with a full-circuit. Credit: Anna Gorin/Anna Gorin • The best restaurants in Dubrovnik Step into a scene from Game of Thrones  The Rector’s Palace is unmissable. Under the Republic of Ragusa (14th-19th century), the chief citizen (rector) would reside on the first floor of this sumptuous building, a confection of Renaissance and Baroque styles. His living quarters now host the Cultural History Museum, crammed with period furniture and costumes, sedan chairs, and paintings of Ragusan aristocrats.  Insider’s tip:During the Dubrovnik Summer Festival (July and August), head to the courtyard for classical music recitals. It was also used as a location for Game of Thrones – if you’re a fan, you’ll recognise it as the atrium to the Spice King’s palace in Qarth. Contact: 00 385 20 321 497; dumus.hrOpening times: Daily, 9am-6pm (Apr-Oct); Daily 9am-4pm (Nov-Mar). NOTE: Currently closed for restoration till 31 May 2018.Price: ££ The Rector’s Palace and Cultural History Museum are found at the centre of the old town. Credit: Getty • An insider’s guide to shopping in Dubrovnik Trace Dubrovnik’s sea-faring past Dubrovnik’s Maritime Museum – set in St John’s Fortress, which guards the entrance to the old harbour – is a fascinating place to learn about the republic’s impressive naval power, with exhibits spanning model ships, sailors’ uniforms, navigational equipment, flags and maps. Come here to get your head around the vast merchant shipping wealth of what was once Ragusa – in the 16th century present-day Dubrovnik had one of the world’s largest fleets, with over 180 ships and 4000 sailors.  Insider’s tip: The Aquarium on the ground floor of the fortress houses a mesmerising display of Adriatic underwater life, including loggerhead turtles, conger eels and octopuses. Confusingly, it’s accessed through a separate entrance off a different street (Kneza Damjana Jude 12). Contact:00 385 20 323904; dumus.hrOpening times: Tue-Sun, 9am-6pm (Apr-Oct); Tue-Sun, 9am-4pm (Nov-Mar)Price: ££ In St John’s Fortress you can learn about the republic’s impressive naval power through a host of exhibitions. • The best events in Dubrovnik Check out the city’s best photo-journalism gallery The exciting modern gallery War Photo Limited is dedicated to photo-journalism from global war zones, and attempts to offer unbiased reporting with a human element. Dubrovnik’s sturdy fortifications have been put to the test several times during the centuries, most recently during the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia – and indeed, on the second floor, there’s a permanent exhibition devoted to photos from the war. Insider’s tip: Summer 2018 heralds a fantastic new exhibition ‘Why am I a Marine’, where Stephen Dupont looks at the lives of US soldiers in Helmund, Afghanistan, and ‘The Kosovo War’, where the gallery founder, Wade Goddard, examines Kosovo Albanians’ fight for independence. Contact: 00 385 20 322166; warphotoltd.comOpening times: Daily, 10am-10pm, May-Sep; Wed-Mon 10am-4pm, April and Oct; closed Nov-MarPrice: £ This modern gallery is dedicated to photo-journalism from war zones around the world. • An insider’s guide to the best nightlife in Dubrovnik Catch a boat to Lokrum islet A lush escape of pines, cypresses, palms, eucalyptus, cacti and agave, and a rocky shore with decent spots for bathing. There’s an abandoned 11th-century Benedictine Monastery near the south-west corner, and an adjoining villa built by Archduke Maximilian von Hapsburg – the complex lies in a botanical garden, with promenades, exotic planting and strutting peacocks, plus Lacroma bar-restaurant. Insider’s tip: It’s worth knowing that throughout summer, regular taxi-boats depart from the old harbour for Lokrum (journey time 10 minutes). While on the islet, climb up to the highest point of the 19th-century Fort Royal for panoramic views over the Adriatic. Contact: lokrum.hrOpening times: Daily, Apr-Nov (taxi-boat departure times vary depending on weather)Price: ££ While on the islet, climb up to the 19th-century Fort Royal for panoramic views over the Adriatic. • The most romantic hotels in Dubrovnik Outside the Old Town – Ploče Swim and sunbathe at Banje beach The sandy stretch a 10-minute walk east of the Old Town affords magnificent views of the medieval walls across the water. You can hire sun beds or baldachins (four-posters with wafting chiffon drapes), try water-skiing and parasailing, or even request massage. Above the beach, there’s a lounge-bar on a wooden deck, doing cocktails and snacks, plus a seafood restaurant in an upper-level dining room. Insider’s tip: The setting is wonderful, but unfortunately it does get very overcrowded in peak season, and has a reputation for being overpriced and pretentious. To enjoy it at its best, come in June or September when there are fewer tourists and lower prices. Contact: 00 385 20 412220; banjebeach.comOpening times: Daily, 10am-8pm, May-OctPrice: £££ Banje Beach affords magnificent views of the medieval walls across the water. • The best restaurants in Dubrovnik Ride a cable car to the city’s peak An ultra-modern, low-effort amusement for medieval Dubrovnik – visitors can take in the best vistas without having to trek up steep hills or trudge up hundreds of steps. The cable […]
  • The best pubs and bars in Dublin (2/21/2018) - Dublin’s dynamic, diverse nightlife doesn’t disappoint, whether you’re after a velvety pint of Guinness in an old-time boozer, the sweet, historic pong of cigarettes still lingering in the ancient wallpaper – or live Irish music in a candlelit café. Craft beer joints and trendy microbreweries are on the rise, and the most discerning visitors should be contented by the prospect of martinis in an Art Deco members’ bar. Here is destination expert, Neil Hegarty’s guide to the city’s most exciting pubs and bars. Pubs Dublin City The Long Hall This lavishly mirrored pub sees more locals and fewer tourists passing through. It’s set in a fine Victorian building with red-and-white-striped awnings, and the period theme continues inside, with a ceiling of oak, splendid cornicing, globe lamps and deep red walls. The Long Hall is perfect for a quiet afternoon pint of Guinness. By early evening, it fills up, so if you have a seat (and the best ones are just inside the door to the right, between the bar and the windows) then hold on to it. Contact: 00 353 1 475 1590Opening times: Mon-Thu, 12pm-11.30pm; Fri-Sat, 12pm-12.30am; Sun, 12.30pm-11.30pmPrice: £ The Long Hall sees more locals and fewer tourists passing through • A guide to the best short breaks in Dublin Neary’s Perhaps the most agreeable of Dublin’s old-time boozers, a step away from the shopping frenzy of Grafton Street. It’s perfect for a low-key drink on a Saturday afternoon or on a mid-week evening. Outside there’s a touch of late-Victorian exuberance in the form of two outstretched cast-iron arms holding aloft a pair of lanterns. Within, it’s more understated, with classic wooden fixtures. The main bar is nicely sociable, though it can fill up within five minutes once shows end at the nearby Gaiety Theatre. The snug is even more dedicated to quiet conversation. Contact: 00 353 1 677 8596; nearys.ieOpening times: Mon-Thu, 10.30am-11.30pm; Fri, Sat, 10.30am-12.30am; Sun, 12.30pm-11pmPrice: £ Neary’s is perfect for a low-key drink on a Saturday afternoon or on a mid-week evening. • The best hotels for St Patrick’s Day The Stag’s Head The Stag’s Head has catered to generations of Dubliners, drawn here by its Victorian décor, wood panelling, stained-glass windows – and an actual stag’s head suspended above the mahogany-and-walnut bar, and rendered too in mosaic on the floor. In recent years it has become something of a tourist magnet, as well as a haunt for students from nearby Trinity College. But don’t let that put you off: this remains the real thing, and the atmosphere is as good as it ever was. The cosy nook buried in the back is ideal for a quiet afternoon drink. Contact: 00 353 1 679 3687; louisfitzgerald.comOpening times: Mon-Thu, 11am-12.30pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-1.30am; Sun, 12pm-midnightPrice: £ The Stag’s Head has catered to generations of Dubliners, drawn here by its original Victorian décor. • The best attractions in Dublin Mulligan’s A Dublin fixture since 1782 (it was a ‘shebeen’ or illegal drinking den before that), and has been cherished by successive generations of drinkers. This slightly gritty corner of town was once the haunt of dockers and sailors in need of a stiff drink – and today, it retains the air of a world apart. Think tongue-and-groove walls, dark cornicing, intimate corners and a profusion of mahogany. True authenticity: no television, and an excellent spot for good stout and mellow conversation. For all these reasons, Mulligan’s fills up once the offices close: arrive early and grab your corner. Contact: 00 353 1 677 5582; mulligans.ieOpening times: Mon-Thu, 10.30am-11.30pm; Fri, Sat, 10.30am-12.30am; Sun, 12.30pm-11pm Price: £ Mulligan’s has been a temporary refuge from tough lives since 1782. • The best events in Dublin The Cobblestone The venue anchors the north end of Smithfield, a long rectangular public space that once played host to the city’s horse market. Changes come and changes go, but The Cobblestone remains apparently impervious to all. This old pub – ramshackle on the outside; all dim lighting, photograph-laden red walls and polished wooden fittings within – is still home to a dedicated Irish traditional music scene. Sessions kick off every evening, and on a wet Dublin night, this place is a true refuge. Music in the front bar is free; sessions in the back bar occasionally incur a charge. Contact: 00 353 1 872 1799; cobblestonepub.ieOpening times: Mon-Thu, 4pm-11.30pm; Fri, 4pm-12.30am; Sat, 1.30pm-12.30am; Sun, 1.30pm-11pmPrice: £ The Cobblestone is still home to a dedicated Irish traditional music scene. • The best five-star hotels in Dublin The Porterhouse Ranging over four floors on the western edge of Temple Bar, this pub began flying the microbrewery flag over 10 years ago, and today it’s still going strong. Come here for a range of excellent in-house Irish brews: from dark, velvety porters (try the Oyster Stout made, yes, with fresh oysters) to red ales (try the fruity Porterhouse Red). This place can be touristy and very packed: but still, well worth a visit. The décor? Lots and lots of wood, but lots of windows too overlooking Parliament Street, and vast ranks of bottles gleaming on the walls. Contact: 00 353 1 679 8847; theporterhouse.ieOpening times: Mon-Wed, 11.30am-midnight; Thu, 11.30am-1am; Fri, Sat, 11.30am-2am; Sun, 12pm-midnightPrice: £ Spread over four floors, The Porterhouse is one for beer aficionados Credit: PORTERHOUSE • Dublin’s best events The Black Sheep With a couple of dozen craft beers on tap and dozens more available in bottled form, The Black Sheep is a real craft-beer haven. It’s squirrelled away at the north end of Capel Street, but worth going a little out of your way for. Admire the simplicity of the place: the large windows, light-filled interior and plain wooden furniture, and the bottles that gleam and cluster all around the bar. And what a choice, with global brews and an excellent selection of local labels too; try Galway’s Stormy Port stout, or the Goodbye Blue Monday oatmeal IPA. Food is available all day.  Contact: 00 353 1 873 0013; galwaybaybrewery.comOpening times: Mon-Thu: 12pm-11.30pm; Fri, […]
  • United Airlines pilot hand-delivers woman's lost engagement ring (2/20/2018) - One California woman had her “faith in humanity and airlines” restored after a United Airlines pilot hand delivers her missing wedding and engagement ring to her.  (iStock) A woman had her “faith in humanity and airlines” restored after a United Airlines pilot hand-delivered her lost wedding and engagement rings. Brit Moran, the founder and CEO of lifestyle website Brit + Co, said she lost her rings “somewhere between New York and Jackson Hole” last week while traveling. Fortunately, the wife and mom didn’t have to go long without her rings. Within a week, the airliner managed to locate the missing jewelry and hand deliver it safely back to her lonely finger. WOMAN’S LOST ENGAGEMENT RING TURNS UP WRAPPED AROUND A CARROT 13 YEARS LATER “A @United gate agent found it, put it in a safe, and then gave it to a pilot to HAND DELIVER it back to me in SF,” Moran wrote on Twitter. “Thanks United,” she added. Along with her caption, Moran posted a photo of her rings, which had been delivered in a blue mesh bag, and a handwritten note from the captain. “So happy I was able to return this ring to you. From day to day, I take pride in getting passengers from point A to point B safely and on time,” captain Jim Moorey wrote. “Today I’m happy to be part of a team focused on making just one individual happy (you!).” Moran was pleased at the outcome, as were the majority of her Twitter followers who took time to leave positive comments. FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE FOX LIFESTYLE NEWS “It ain’t all bad. Nice to read a story like this every once in awhile,” one tweeted. The captain’s son even reached out to Moran, tweeting, “I’m so grateful for you & your family. Glad that my dad could help you on your journey:)” United Airlines has had its fair share of publicity nightmares recently, which one user pointed out in his comment, writing, “If ever there were a brand that needed something like that. Happy for you, and good on the people at @United who did that. Nice.” Though most were happy for Moran, one Twitter user was quick to ask, “How do we know you aren’t a creation of United’s (struggling) PR firm?” To which Moran assured him that she has “no financial ties” to the major airliner. She’s just a happy customer.
  • Woman claims she was kicked off flight for menstrual cramps (2/20/2018) - A passenger is claiming an airline crew removed her from a flight after overhearing her complain about having menstrual cramps.  (Reuters) A passenger is claiming she was removed from an Emirates flight because an attendant overheard her complaining about having menstrual cramps. Beth Evans was flying to Dubai from Birmingham, UK, with her partner Josh Moran on Saturday when she experienced menstrual pains. Though the pain was “one out of ten” while sitting down, Evans told The Sun, she alleges the crew still removed her from the seven-hour flight. RUDE PASSENGER BOOTED FROM DELTA FLIGHT FOR ‘SCREAMING’ ABOUT BEING SEATED NEAR A BABY “To be kicked off for period pains — it was madness,” Moran told The Sun. “Beth was in tears and getting upset when the hostess was asking her questions. It’s embarrassing to have to explain about period pains when it’s being overheard.” The 26-year-old added that the airline didn’t offer Evans medical treatment. “They didn’t have anyone look her over,” Moran said. “They just contacted a medical team in the US and they said Beth couldn’t fly.” The couple claims they also had to pay an additional £250 (about $350) to rebook their flight after they were removed. “The captain made the decision to request medical support and deplane Ms. Evans, so she could access medical assistance as needed.” – Emirates spokesperson The airline denies the claim that a flight attendant overheard the woman complaining. In a statement to Fox News, a spokesperson for Emirates said the passenger reached out to a crew member to say she wasn’t feeling well. “We can confirm that Ms. Beth Evans deplaned flight EK40 on Saturday, February 17th, due to a medical emergency. The passenger alerted the crew onboard that she was suffering from discomfort and pain and mentioned she was feeling unwell. The captain made the decision to request medical support and deplane Ms. Evans, so she could access medical assistance as needed.” FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE FOX LIFESTYLE NEWS The airline defended their decision to remove Evans from the flight. “The safety of our passengers and crew is of paramount importance, and we would not have wanted to endanger Ms. Evans by delaying medical help, had she worsened during the seven-hour flight to Dubai. We hope Ms. Evans felt better soon and look forward to welcoming her onboard again soon,” the statement concluded. According to the World Health Organization, the actions of the flight crew are not unusual. On the WHO website, the organization says, “If cabin crew suspect before departure that a passenger may be ill, the aircraft’s captain will be informed and a decision taken as to whether the passenger is fit to travel, needs medical attention, or presents a danger to other passengers and crew or to the safety of the aircraft.”
  • Woman caught drying underwear with plane's overhead vent (2/20/2018) - A woman on a flight from Turfy to Russia was caught on video drying a pair of underwear with the overhead vent.  (BTMG) When it comes to airplane travel, there are certain behaviors that are generally frowned upon, like taking off your shoes and socks, doing yoga in the aisle, or eating smelly foods. But sometimes a person does something on a plane no one is expecting, as was the case when one woman was caught literally airing out her dirty laundry. The woman was traveling with Ural Airlines from Antalya, Turkey, to Moscow, Russia, when she was recorded holding a pair of white cotton underwear over her head up to the air vent to dry them off. KFC WORKERS ACCUSED OF ‘SMUGGLING’ CHICKEN INTO RESTAURANT AMID MASSIVE SHORTAGE IN UK A fellow passenger on the flight told The Sun that the woman didn’t seem even remotely embarrassed as she held the underwear to the vent for at least 20 minutes. “Everybody was looking with interest and confusion, but everybody remained silent,” the passenger told the publication. After footage of the incident was shared online, the video sparked conflicting opinions from people who commented on the woman’s behavior, The Sun reports. “Maybe the takeoff was sort of extreme, so now she has to dry those,” one person commented. Another suggested that the underwear potentially belonged to a child. “Those aren’t ones of an adult. Looks like they belong to a kid.” “This is not the worst thing in the modern world,” someone else added. FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE FOX LIFESTYLE NEWS Others were not as understanding of the woman’s behavior. “This woman has the intellect of a dog … This is so sad … Half the country are like her.” Michelle Gant is a writer and editor for Fox News Lifestyle.
  • Heathrow: airlines demand guarantee on expansion costs (2/20/2018) - https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2018/02/20/17/heathrowmap.gif The UK’s leading airlines have demanded a guarantee that passenger fees will not increase at an expanded Heathrow.  British Airways’ parent company IAG, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and Flybe were giving evidence to the Transport Select Committee,  Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, said Heathrow is the most expensive airport that his firm operates from, and that any increase in costs could mean “the third runway will become a white elephant”. He was scornful of the airport’s record on major projects. “My confidence in ‘on time and on budget’ is zero,” he said, adding that it was “rare if ever” that a project had been on time. Mr Walsh warned that UK domestic services could be hit by higher costs: “You will not get any additional connectivity and you could lose existing connectivity if the charges go up.” All the airlines have urged cost savings on expansion. Sophie Dekkers, UK director for easyJet, said: “It’s important that it isn’t gold plated. The reason we haven’t gone into Heathrow is because we could not make it cost-effective.” Heathrow Airport Ltd has identified savings of £2.5bn in its original estimate, reducing the cost to £14bn. But Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK said: “We don’t really believe the £14bn.” Speaking for overseas carriers, he said: “There’s huge risk and uncertainty.” Craig Kreeger, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic called for “a passenger cost guarantee”. Otherwise, he said, “The consequence of an overspend would be borne by the airline and its customers.” He also said that existing users should not pay for future expansion: “Adding a pre-funding charge is completely unacceptable.” Mr Walsh has called for competition between terminals, which he said is opposed by Heathrow: “They don’t want competition, because competition will put pressure on them. “It would be very positive for consumers.” A spokesperson for Heathrow rejected Mr Walsh’s criticisms, saying: “Since the opening of Terminal 5, both sides have learned considerable lessons and today Terminal 5 has been voted ‘world’s best terminal’ 5 years in a row.  “Heathrow has gone on to deliver Terminal 2 and numerous other projects on time and on budget. “Willie Walsh’s comment suggesting we have no experience in doing so, is categorically untrue. Our expansion cost projections are equally robust and we will continue to work to reduce the cost further. “Last year we confirmed potential cost savings of up to £2.5bn which illustrates our ongoing focus and progress in this area. It is a shame this hasn’t been recognised by Mr Walsh in this instance.” UK news in pictures The chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, Andrew Haines, called the third-runway scheme “the largest privately funded infrastructure project ever, anywhere in the world”. He said that planning costs alone could amount to £500m, but said: “It would be possible to do this project as currently scoped at flat prices.”

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