Capturing Special Moments on Holidays Abroad

Whenever I go on holiday, I always take my digital camera along. I know that most people are happy to take snaps with their phones nowadays and, it has to be said, some high-end smartphones boast excellent photographic equipment nowadays.

However, there is something about a dedicated camera that I really like. There may not be a huge difference in the picture quality but just the fact I am using a camera rather than a phone seems to inspire me to try harder.

travelphotographycourse

 

How to Get the Best from Your Camera or Phone

Whether you use a dedicated camera or a phone with a high quality lens, you can follow the tips below to improve your chances of taking some great snaps on your overseas holidays.

  1. Take Notice of the Position of the Sun – One of the first rules that every amateur photographer learns when they become more serious about their hobby is that the sun should always be behind them when taking shots. As a matter of fact, this is a rule that can, and sometimes should, be broken. Nevertheless, for those who are new to the hobby, it is a good rule of thumb that will help to avoid the taking of too many overexposed shots.
  2. Think about Composition – While it can be tempting just to fire off shot after shot – after all you are not going to run out of film – this is not the best way to take good photographs. You need to consider the composition of your pictures: where background objects are positioned in relation to foreground subjects and how you can best ‘frame’ your shot. There are plenty of online photography resources with in-depth articles on composition if you would like to learn more about this subject.
  3. Consider Indoor Lighting – If you are taking pictures indoors, you need to consider the direction from which the light is illuminating the subject or subjects of your photographs and its strength. Too much light could make the subject/s appear washed out; too little light and you will not be able to see clearly. Post processing can overcome some of your shortcomings when taking indoor shots but underexposed pictures will normally end up looking rather grainy and overexposed ones may still lack definition.

 

Enlisting the Help of a Professional

There have been times in my life when I sincerely wished that I could afford to hire a professional travel photographer to accompany me on my overseas holidays.

My honeymoon was one such time and I think many other couples feel the same. Fortunately, even if you do not have the resources to pay for a pro to come along with you on your honeymoon – and let’s face it, who would want a third party cramping their style anyway – nowadays it is possible to book local photographers in holiday destinations all over the world.

You can organise a professional photo shoot without having to pay for flights, accommodation and all the other incidentals.

Top 10 Things to Do in Gatwick

Taking Advantage of Downtime When Travelling by Air

Tarek of Jade Travel here… One thing I really like about flying is the fact that when you have to make a connection, you are often left with a few hours to kill in between flights. I realise that most people find this an annoyance but I see it as a gift: a gift of free time that I would not normally have and that I can use in any way I wish.

What to Do When You Have Time to Spare Before Your Next Flight

The key to making good use of the free time you often have at international airports is to plan ahead. If for example, you know that you are likely to have a few hours downtime at London’s second-largest airport, check out blogs such as this one: Top 10 Things to Do in Gatwick.

You can also use popular travel review sites to research attractions wherever you are going. Once you have identified a few local attractions that appeal to you, call or email them to make sure they will be open when you are in the area.

Most people assume that there is very little to do in the immediate vicinity of a major international airport but if you are willing to travel just a couple of miles, you will find that, as far as most airports are concerned, this really isn’t the case.

Making Sure You Catch Your Flight

It can be easy to get carried away and forget all about the time when you are exploring local attractions while waiting for a connecting flight. To make sure that you do not miss your check-in deadline, there are a number of precautions you can take.

  • Check in Online – The easiest way to ensure that you do not have to worry about being caught in a last-minute queue and missing the deadline for obtaining a boarding pass is to check in online. That way, you can proceed straight to the gate on your arrival back at the airport.
  • Stay Close – Make sure that any attractions you visit are no more than 5-10 miles from the airport so that traffic is not a big issue.
  • Set an Alarm – Whether you use a watch, mobile phone or travel clock, be sure to set an alarm to remind yourself that it is time to head back to the airport.

The next time you have a long stopover, make the most of the available time and explore the local area!

Winter city breaks in Europe

Winter city breaks in Europe: readers’ tips

Winning tip: Bolzano, Italy

The buildings are as gothic and spiky as anything across the Austrian border in this 25% German-speaking town, the largest in South Tirol. It’s known as the Christmas Capital of Italy – self-proclaimed but pretty accurate: it’s snowy in winter, and the Germanic influence means there are Christmas markets and gingerbread everywhere.

And there are other wintry things on offer if the markets and mulled wine aren’t enough, including several cable cars running into the hills, taking you up to walks in the Renon hills (also known as the Ritten) and views of the Dolomites and the world-famous Ötzi iceman, sealed in ice in about 3,300BC, discovered in 1991 and on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.

 

Verona, Italy

A beautiful walkable city to visit at any time of the year but with the snow covered Alps as your backdrop, Verona looks even more spectacular in winter. In December there is a Christmas market, festively illuminated streets and alleys and a huge nativity scene at the mightily impressive coliseum on Piazza Bra.

You can do some sightseeing up the medieval Torre dei Lamberti over the tiled roofed city below, or for something a bit more adrenaline-pumping, head up nearby 7,000-ft Monte Baldo for some snowsports and also amazing views over Lake Garda. And for football fans, the city currently has two football teams (Chievo and Hellas Verona) in Serie A, Italy’s top flight.

 

Ice skating in Red Square , Moscow

There’s nothing quite like celebrating Christmas in a country that once banned it. New Year is Russia’s biggest holiday, but you don’t have to wait until 31 December to go ice-skating in Red Square. The famous rink is open from November 30 until March 9 – and return flights from Gatwick to Moscow with easyJet currently cost little more than £100. After your festive skate, warm up with a hot chocolate and a stroll around GUM: once a state department store, now home to chic boutiques and cafes.

 

Salzburg, Austria

The city in winter is a simply incredible sight. A blaze of lights stretches along the pedestrianised baroque old town when the Christmas market opens in late November. Hohensalzburg castle watches from the hills over people drinking mulled wine and buying traditional arts and crafts. The scenery is covered in snow and visitors can take a horse-drawn carriage ride in the surrounding Alps. Equipped with blankets and a hot drink, the tour takes you through a fairytale wonderland of ice and snow.

 

Naples, Italy

The Christmas spirit is abundant in the narrow, atmospheric Via San Giorgio Armeno, where craftsmen create hugely elaborate nativity scenes, known as presepi. An Italian Christmas would not be complete without one of these miniature dioramas, lovingly arranged and expanded every year, and the discerning collector will buy only from Neapolitan artisans whose tradition dates back more than 1,000 years. To complete your natale a Napoli experience, track down some zeppole donuts and struffoli dough balls, sweet Christmas treats flavoured with honey, orange and anis available in pasticcerie city-wide.

 

Budapest, Hungary

Blocks of ice often float down the Danube in winter, adding to the wintery atmosphere. Pick up a cup of warming mulled wine from the pavement barrels outside many of the cafes, and drink it as you are sightseeing a city split by the river, hilly Buda on the west bank housing the castle and museums, and Pest on the east bank with buzzing bars and good shopping.

It’s a city of thermal waters, so take your costume on this winter holiday and enjoy a hot splash in one of the spa baths, such as Gellert or Rudas. There are stunning views from the lookout towers and turrets of the Fisherman’s Bastion in Buda and crystal is locally produced and makes a good souvenir to take home, and you will pay bargain prices for the delicious and world famous Tokaji dessert wine.

 

Munich

While Oktoberfest is by far Munich’s top event, the city’s local Christmas markets dating back in 14th century are definitely some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Music, lights, gifts and gingerbread create perfect atmosphere for a great winter holiday. Munich offers visitors not only one big market to explore, but also hosts the Tollwood Christmas market with art installations and Cirque Éloize (from 24 November to 31 December) which can be found on the Theresienweise, a unique alternative to the traditional festive atmosphere.

There are many other smaller Christmas markets located in city. The main Christmas market in Munich can be found right in the centre of town at the Marienplatz. Located next to the town hall, the grand building’s balcony becomes a stage for musicians every night. A mass of tents filling the streets with colour and vibrant music. Packed with stalls selling everything from chocolates to candles, there is a great range of goodies on offer. Throughout the day the streets are filled with carol singers, arts and craft workshops and nativity plays while at night the lights come on and the whole city transforms into a winter wonderland.

LakeDistrict-Aerial

The Lake District travel guide

An insider’s guide to the Lake District, featuring the best hotels, restaurants, bars, attractions, walks and things to do, including how to travel there and around. By Oliver Berry, Telegraph Travel’s Lake District expert. Click on the tabs below for the best places to stay, eat, drink and shop, including the best things to do and what to do on a short break.

 

Why go?

For Britain’s finest scenery, greenest countryside and grandest views. Covering a total area of just over 885 square miles, the Lake District National Park has been protected since 1951, and its picturesque patchwork of lakes, valleys, woodlands and fells make it one of the best places in Britain to get out and experience the great outdoors, whether it’s on a leisurely bike ride down country lanes or a day-long hike across the hills.

And while the weather is notoriously unpredictable (locals will tell you that it’s not unusual to experience all four seasons in a single day), showers and racing clouds only emphasise the grandeur of the magnificent scenery.

The Lake District also has numerous artistic and literary connections, most famously William Wordsworth, who was born in Cockermouth in 1770 and drew much of his poetic inspiration from the surrounding landscape. Other poets, writers and painters followed, including John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome and Alfred Wainwright, author of the classic Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.

Lake District National Park

When to go

The worst of the rainfall is usually reserved for the beginning and end of winter, but heavy showers can strike in the Lake District at practically any time of year. Heavy snow is common in midwinter, especially between November and February, when some rural roads become impassable.

The busiest season is between June and August, when prices rocket, car-parks are packed and traffic jams are frequent. Better to visit in the shoulder months: in April and May, when the weather is generally settled and sunny, or in September and October, when the woodlands blaze with autumnal colour.

 

Where to go

The main towns of Windermere and Ambleside make the most useful bases, with easy access to the main sights of the central Lakes – including the lakes of Windermere and Coniston Water, the scenic valley of Great Langdale, Wordworth’s former homes near Grasmere and Beatrix Potter’s cottage at Hill Top. To the north lies Keswick, a good base for exploring the northern Lakes and the beautiful valleys of Borrowdale, Buttermere and Newlands. To the west lies Wasdale, home to some of the Lake District’s most famous fells – including the highest of all, Scafell Pike. For the eastern Lakes, Kendal is handily placed for exploring the area around Ullswater and the pretty Eden Valley.

Know before you go

They’re tiny in global terms, but the Lakeland fells aren’t necessarily an easy proposition. Faint trails, steep climbs and big drops are all frequent hazards, and the weather can change in the blink of an eye – so make sure you’re properly prepared.

Essential items include proper boots, good waterproofs (ideally Gore-Tex or equivalent), plenty of food and water and a detailed walking map; a compass is very useful, but only if you actually know how to use it. Take a mobile phone in case of emergencies, but don’t rely on being able to get a signal.

Traffic can be a serious headache at peak times, especially in summer and on bank holidays, so avoid those times if at all possible.

What To Do In The UK

What To Do In The UK

Now that the days are getting longer and the air is warming up, there’s hardly any excuse for you to stay cooped up inside all the time! There’s no shortage of events this month that will entice you to come out and enjoy some sun.

 

Maslenitsa Festival, London

Kickstart Spring with a dose of Russian flavour at this festival in Trafalgar Square. The Maslenitsa event will feature live bands and choirs performing traditional Russian music on stage. There will be a range of kiosks and food stalls around Trafalgar Square, serving up an array of Russian delicacies such as blinis and borscht.

 

Antiques For Everyone Fair, Birmingham NEC

Ever dreamt of making a fortune from a dusty little ceramic vase – like those folks on the Antiques Roadshow? Visit the Antiques for Everyone fair and you may just pick up a few tips and some valuable antiques at the same time. The fair is crammed with over 400 dealers and millions of pounds worth of items ranging from teddy bears and textiles to kettles.

 

Hawick Reivers Festival, Hawick

The Scottish town of Hawick steps back in time this weekend, to commemorate the town’s turbulent and colourful history. A concert kicks off the proceedings, followed by a parade through town. Actors dressed in 16th century costumes will re-enact a series of trials on Saturday, with workshops, lectures and performances taking place throughout the weekend.

Amalfi Coast

Tips for travelling through the Amalfi Coast

Instagrammers Sean Byrne and Ben Green were sent on a mission to #SeizeTheSun to enjoy every minute of sunshine in the south of Italy. Hijacking Travel Republic’s Instagram account they documented their entire journey whilst road tripping all they way from Sorrento, Positano, the Amalfi Coast and Capri. This is their story:

 

Road Trip-1

Our trip to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast was full of spectacular sights, here we shall name a few of our particular favourites.

Capri: The small island of Capri is situated only 25 minutes away via boat from Sorrento and has stunning cliffs, a beautiful turquoise sea, a picturesque harbour and a number of fine restaurants.

Capri Lone Boat

The Amalfi Coast region was spectacular for its views and the perfect weather to allow us to #SeizeTheSun.  It was a pleasant 20-23c each day with barely a cloud to be seen.  Once we got used to the driving style we then went on to see more of the region along the coastal road but it may be off putting for less confidence road users. As for the hotel we would recommend it to anyone in the region with confidence that they would have an enjoyable and comfortable stay!

Magaluf-foam-party

My Guide to Having Fun in Magaluf

If you’re a veteran of Magaluf holidays, you’ll probably be familiar with all the suggestions in this short article.

On the other hand, if you’ve yet to sample the delights of what is probably the most famous of all the resorts in the Balearic Islands, be sure to make a note of the three special events below, and try them for yourself while you are staying in Mallorca.

You may well have heard about them before but I wanted to put something down in writing, just to make sure that those who are visiting for the first time do not miss out on all the fun that I had on my first time in the resort.

 

Three Traditional Magaluf Events You Must Try

Whatever your plans for your forthcoming break, I really hope you can make the time to include the following three special events in your itinerary.

1.       Guided Pubbing and Clubbing – Take advantage of the knowledge and contacts that local reps accumulate over time and let them show you the very best of the nightlife on your first evening in town. A guided nightlife tour usually includes a decent bar crawl, followed by a visit to one of the clubs for which Magaluf is justly famous. These nights out can really help you to get your bearings and set you up to have a great holiday.

2.       Partying on a Boat – Picture the boat party scenes from The Inbetweeners film (without the vomiting and dry humping) and you will have a good idea of what to expect if you buy tickets for one of the resort’s notorious booze cruises. Lots of drinking, laughing, dancing, and more than a little silliness thrown in for good measure.

3.       Howling at the Full Moon – You don’t actually have to howl at the moon but you do have to go to one of the parties that are held on the beach every month, when the Earth’s satellite is at its biggest and brightest. Disorganised chaos is probably the best way to describe these parties but don’t let that put you off as they are one of the most fun of the Magaluf events on offer.

 

Some events get fully booked quite early on so it’s a good idea to buy tickets online at the same time as you book your flights, if you want to make sure that you can see and do everything you really want to.

opulent architecture of the Topkapı Palace

Just back from… Istanbul

Laura Crawford, destination editor for Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines, is just back from her first trip to Turkey, exploring the capital city of Istanbul.

Tell us more…

My fella and I spent a week in Istanbul, hoping to make the most of the end of the European summer and to celebrate my birthday. Turkey has been high on my travel wishlist for a while and this was my first visit to the country.

Defining moment?

On the first morning of exploring we walked from our hotel in Beyoğlu down to Galata Bridge. From here we had our first view across the water to Sultanahmet and the whole historic peninsula – home to the beautiful mosques Süleymaniye, Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya (among others). That first glimpse of the many domes and minarets dotting the hillsides was impressive indeed.

 

Good grub?

There were many food and drink highlights: succulent döner kebap from Dönerci Şahin Usta at the Grand Bazaar, baklava at Develi Baklava and Karaköy Güllüoğlu, coffee at Fazıl Bey (followed by cheese and bread shopping in the Kadıköy market), and cocktails with unbeatable views at the rooftop bar of Mikla. I also discovered the pleasures of manti (a ravioli-like meat-stuffed dumpling) on this trip. And with food stalls everywhere you really can’t go hungry in Istanbul.

Süleymaniye Mosque

You’d be a muppet to miss…

I loved serene Süleymaniye Mosque and the Blue Mosque, but Topkapı Palace was the place that had it all for me – this opulently decorated and colourful complex of courtyards, chambers, pavilions, gardens and terraces had something interesting to gaze at around every corner.

Favourite activity?

I particularly enjoyed riding on the ferries. Local commuter ferries criss-cross the waterways around the city, up and down the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Strait. It’s a fun, leisurely way to see the city from various picturesque angles. The ferry across to Kadıköy and the ferry up and down the Golden Horn both allow excellent views – scenic boat tours for the cost of a bus ticket. Staff circulating on board selling cups of tea and fresh juice is just a bonus.

Fridge magnet or better?

I came back with a bag of coffee and a small copper Turkish coffee pot. I like to browse markets but I’m not a big shopper. More enthusiastic buyers will find an almost overwhelming array of items to bring home.

Unexpected encounter?

I hadn’t realised there were so many cats in Istanbul. They are all over and, like cats everywhere in the world, believe they have the run of the place. Cats in cafes, cats in metro stations, cats in mosque grounds, cats sleeping on motorbikes…