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A Food Lover’s Guide to Europe

Posted on September 05, 2016

If you’re a true foodie, then travelling to sample Europe’s best dishes will be top of your bucket list. To help anyone planning a delicious European trip, we’ve listed our top five European destinations based on their food, plus information on key dishes to wet your appetite.

Italy

Italian food is now widely available all over the world, but there is nothing better than sampling authentic Italian cuisine. From crisp cut pizzas to aromatic lasagne and mouth-watering past dishes, every restaurant will have their own recipe (potentially passed down through generations), so make sure you visit a mix of high class and local restaurants to really sample the flavours on offer. P.S., if you love truffles, why not time your trip to coincide with truffle harvest season?

Key Dish: Pizza – this may not be an obvious choice for a true foodie, but pizza as we know it is nothing compared to the authentic pizza made in Italy. Travel to Naples, where pizza is thought to have originated, for some of the best.

Pizza in Italy

France

For years France was considered the ‘fanciest’ and most indulgent food in the world, with French restaurants the choice for all celebratory dinners; and it’s not hard to see why. Your lunches should consist of delicious French cheeses, warm buttered baguettes and sumptuous pastries. Then in the evenings try oysters from Brittany, quiche Lorraine, steak frites and onion soup – to name just a few amazing dishes which should be on your list.

Key Dish: Pot-Au-Feu – a delicious and hearty stew made from seasonal meat and vegetables. Traditionally this dish would cook all winter long, with more ingredients added each week to replace what was eaten, giving you rich flavours and melt in the mouth chunks of meat.

Spain

Spanish food is fantastic for foodies who love to share, because they just keep on giving. Tapas is an amazing way to sample multiple dishes, from salty olives and cured meats, to spicy chorizo and fresh sea food. Always start your day with a Spanish tortilla (an onion, potato and egg omelette), and end your day with a giant pan of smoky paella.

Key Dish: Paella – there is nothing quite like an authentic Spanish Paella, again, each region and restaurant will have a slightly different restaurant, but the key to a good Paella is great flavours, fresh fish and soft rice.

Germany

If you’re on a diet then Germany is not the place for you. If you love to indulge your passion for food, then Germany will not disappoint. There aren’t many ‘light’ dishes on offer when it comes to traditional German food, but you will leave the table feeling happy and full. Just a few things to add to your list include; anything with sausage (bratswurst, bockwurst, frankfurters, landjäger, and weisswurst), anything with potato (kartoffelklöße and potato salad), krapfen donuts, schupfnudeln, spatzle and sauerkraut (pasta or noodle like dishes). P.S. Don’t forget to sample some famous German beer.

Key Dish: Sauerbraten – this dish is a real labour of love, as the meat should be marinated for three to four days before cooking, to ensure the flavours shine through. The dish is made from beef, vegetable and herbs – it is absolutely delicious.

beef stew

Greece

Greek food is widely underrated, and well worth a spot in our top five. Let’s start with Greek meze – Feta cheese, salty olives, tzatziki, taramosalata, warm pitta bread, hummus, lemon potatoes and spanakopita. Then you have gyros, amazing fresh salads, moussaka, souvlaki, kleftiko, Stifado and Spetsofai. Then, if you can fit anymore in, desert should be baklava, or Greek yogurt covered in honey and nuts.

Key Dish: Moussaka – it is thought that Moussaka became a stable of Greek cooking in the 1920s, when an influential chef at the time included it in his cookbook. The dish is made from layers of aubergine, meat and béchamel sauce, similar to a lasagne but with a mouth-watering Greek twist.

Food poisoning on holiday

Being a food lover comes with its risks on holiday. Although more commonly associated with cruise ships, all-inclusive hotels and package holidays you still can get hit with food poisoning in restaurants whilst out and about. Luckily we offer single-trip travel insurance cover which cover food poisoning, and although we can’t re-coup the holiday time lost, we can provide cover for your medical bills.

How to Plan the Ultimate Romantic City Break

Posted on August 25, 2016

Sometimes we all need a break to disconnect with the stresses and strains of everyday life, and reconnect with the ones we love. Whether that means a quick weekend away or a full on holiday, we’ve packed this page full of tips and advice to plan the ultimate romantic city break. Read more

10 Alternative City Break Destinations

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There a few key destinations which will instantly spring to mind when most people think about a city break; Paris, Rome and Amsterdam are just a few of the most popular. However, if you’re looking for a fresh spin on the city break, then we’ve listed our top 10 alternative destinations for you to try.

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How to Plan a Last Minute City Break

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Sometimes we all need to escape the rat race, so why not use your next piece of free time to plan a last minute city break? You could travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit, or simply explore a new and exciting destination. Read more

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10 of the Most Romantic Holiday Destinations for Couples

Posted on July 18, 2016

Travel in itself is a romantic notion; exploring exotic and far off places with the love of their life is one of the most romantic things for couples to do together. To help anyone looking for romantic holiday destinations, we’ve listed our top 10 romantic holiday destinations for couples.

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Single Trip vs Multi Trip Travel Insurance – Choosing the Right Policy

Posted on March 17, 2016

With so many travel insurance policies available, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you. When it comes to single and multi-trip travel insurance, it’s important to know the variations, as it could mean the difference between losing and saving money.

Risk

The key differences

Single trip insurance policies are designed for people who only take one or two holidays a year, whether that is a short trip to the Algarve or a three-week jaunt in Japan. Wherever you decide to go, you must ensure that the insurance covers you for the entire trip.

Multi-trip policies, on the other hand, are for those lucky enough to enjoy more than two journeys a year. These policies are often better value for money than buying single trip cover for each separate holiday you take. Multi-trip policies should allow you to take as many journeys a year as you like, but double-check for any restrictions before you buy.

Moreover, most policies will limit the length each trip can be (usually between 31 and 45 days). Again, read up on any restrictions before making a purchase, as you don’t want to be left without cover halfway through your journey.

Things to consider when booking a single or multi-trip policy

Whatever policy you’ve decided to opt for, there are a number of things you must take into account before putting down any money.

Where are you going on your travels? This is important to know, as most insurance companies have separate cover for Europe and the rest of the world; some worldwide policies even exclude the US, Canada and the Caribbean, so be sure to check. If you’re unsure what type of cover you need, ask the travel insurance company first.

There are many different levels of cover too, so you need to ensure you’re picking the one that best suits your requirements. You might be working or volunteering during your trip, or participating in activities such as football or snorkeling. If this is the case, you may need a particular type of cover.

Every policy will offer basic medical cover for unexpected or new injuries and illnesses, and we suggest your cover includes at least two million pounds of emergency medical cover and repatriation; although this figure should be closer to £5 million if you’re travelling outside of the European Union.

To ensure you are covered for all medical emergencies, all existing medical conditions must be declared before you purchase travel insurance. If you do not, or fail to check that the policy covers your condition, you could be left out of pocket should you require medical treatment abroad, which can be incredibly expensive.

The cancellation cover must be enough to encompass the pre-paid cost of your trips(s). The cost of emergency items of clothing should also be accounted for in case your bags are lost by your airline, as well as your baggage and personal possessions if they are lost, damaged or stolen.

Remember that once you’ve purchased your policy, you have 14 days to ensure that it’s the right cover for you, so read through it thoroughly. If you have any questions, ask your insurer to answer them as soon as possible.

 

Getting Married Abroad

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More and more people are opting to get married away from home, with the lure of stunning beach weddings or exotic ceremonies. However, getting married abroad can be quite difficult; if you have not done the correct research and finalised the right paperwork, your wedding may not go ahead. In this article we have compiled a handy guide to all things you will need to consider before getting married abroad.

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Planning a Hen or Stag Party Abroad

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Hen and stag parties are a great excuse for friends to get together and ensure the upcoming bride or groom has at least one amazing night of freedom before tying the knot. These events are far more than just a cultural rite of passage; they are a centuries old tradition where individuals band together to make memories which will last a lifetime.

Although many choose to organise their stag or hen parties in the UK, around 50 per cent of us reportedly head abroad. Men traditionally enjoy their city breaks, in locations such as a Prague or Amsterdam, while women tend to head to the sunnier climates of Spain or Portugal to soak up some much needed rays.

Whatever the destination, the maid of honour or best man traditionally plans to ensure the celebration is as memorable as it possibility can be. As this is a lot of pressure, we have created the following guide to make sure that your stag or hen party goes off without a hitch; and with as little stress as possible!

First steps to organising a stag/hen party

If there’s one piece of advice you take away from this guide, it’s this: always plan well in advance of the event. It may sound obvious, but there is always so much to organise, as the following points demonstrate:

Guest list

The first step to organising any hen or stag party is to create a guest list. While many would prefer to keep such details a secret from the stag or hen, it may well be worth consulting them, even if it’s just to obtain a list of must-have friends or family members.

Although you’ve known them for a long time, it is unlikely you’ve met every single one of their friendship groups. Checking with them before creating the guest list will ensure that no one is accidentally left out.

The budget

Directly related to the guest list, this budget will determine how many friends or family members are invited as well as the activities you can participate in. To give you some idea of how much a stag or hen party usually costs, men reportedly spend an average of £512 per person on their gatherings while women tend to be slightly less extravagant; opting for an average of £320 per person.

Fortunately, with many stag and hen parties, packages do not have to be paid in one lump sum. It is often possible to organise these in instalments which might make budgeting and saving for the occasion that much simpler.

These budgets ought to be relatively flexible and guests should be allowed a reasonable amount of time to save up. After all, it would be a shame to price out one of the bride or groom’s best friends.

The date

Create a timeframe and make sure all the guests are aware of when the stag or hen party will be taking place. This allows them to reserve the date in their calendars and ensure it doesn’t clash with anything important.

Traditionally the festivities took place the night before the wedding, but with so many stag and hen parties happening abroad now, picking a date a month or so before the wedding is becoming the norm. This helps with budgeting as of course weddings often involve an overnight stay – and it allows plenty of time for eyebrows and hair to re-grow!

Again, it is worth checking with the bride or groom to ensure that the date doesn’t fall on anything they have planned. Can you imagine if they couldn’t turn up to their own party?

Best destinations and activities

We’ve already determined that when looking for stag or hen parties abroad, men tend to prefer city breaks while women usually head to Spain. However, these are not the only destinations for creating great memories.

As these parties are once in a lifetime opportunities, you would be forgiven for planning something truly extravagant. Yet, it’s no coincidence that many occur within Europe as budgetary constraints often prevent groups from heading too far from the UK.

To help you plan a great stag or hen party abroad, we have created a shortlist of destinations which is sure to give you some inspiration:

Amsterdam

A traditional favourite, the capital of Holland has something for everyone. Whether sampling some culture in its many museums or partying in the numerous bars and clubs, both hens and stags can have a wonderful time here.

Prague

Not a city instantly associated with hen or stag parties, the area has a range of exciting bars, restaurants, and clubs to keep groups happy. There are also usually river cruises and white water rafting available on the nearby Vltava River.

Berlin

Regarded as the ‘party capital of Germany’, Berlin has everything you could reasonably want from a stag or hen party. With numerous activities in the city to choose from, there are also more exotic events such as indoor skiing and adventure courses.

Ibiza

No hen or stag party list would be complete without mentioning Ibiza. A great place to let your hair down; the sun, sea, and sand will make for a great party experience. Furthermore, this was Wayne Rooney’s destination of choice when he and his friends enjoyed their stag party. There’s nothing quite like a celebrity endorsement is there?

Tallinn

Located in the cold north of Estonia, Tallinn is quickly gaining a reputation as the place to be for stag and hen parties. While this medieval masterpiece certainly has its charms, it also has some of the best activities around, such as motor paintball and shooting packages.

Although this list should give you an idea of the destinations available, we haven’t even touched on the activities yet. We have listed some of our favourites below:

  • Paint-balling; a firm favourite amongst groups, Tallinn has improved upon this formula by adding vehicles into the mix.
  • Shooting; a quick adrenaline fix, various companies throughout Europe offer shooting experiences with a number of instantly recognisable firearms, such as AK47s, 44s, and shotguns.
  • Assault courses; a great team bonding exercise, prove that you and your friends are good enough to make it through these challenges.
  • Horse riding; relive the days of the Old West by participating in a horseback riding experience. It’s a great way to see the sights as well!
  • Boating; a safe bet for any stag or hen party, these range from high-speed powerboats to relaxing cruises. Pick something to suit your theme!
  • Spa day; a great option to unwind and relax after the day’s activities, a pampering session is definitely a good move.
  • Treasure hunting; taking a break from the action, these fun games can often be designed yourself and can lead groups to several great locations.
  • Extreme driving; from racing cars to tanks, these activity days will provide entertaining anecdotes for months.
  • Chocolate making; an extremely popular activity – after all, who doesn’t want to spend a day eating chocolate?
  • Photoshoot; often a neglected idea, it is worth documenting these days with a professional photoshoot. The images will also be wonderful conversation pieces for years to come.

Stag

Essential things to plan beforehand

With the destinations and the guest list planned, it is tempting to sit back, relax and call it a day for a few weeks. However, some things are best to organise as soon as possible. Not only will this ensure peace of mind in the build-up to the celebration, but it could actually save you some money.

Flights

Sometimes, when journeying abroad, the flights are the most expensive part of the holiday; especially if left to the last minute. Plan well in advance, determine the best deals, and make sure it’s one of the first things you organise.

Accommodation

Something which is often overlooked, finding the right accommodation for a stag or hen party is absolutely essential. For example, those enjoying the centre of a busy capital would benefit by organising a hotel close to underground and other transport links.

In a similar fashion, those planning a quiet retreat should consider a location separated from the hustle and bustle of a busy area. Just make sure that you’ve got the size of the group sorted before booking the accommodation.

What does the FCDO say?

Before venturing to a new country, it is worth reading up on that nation’s laws. For example, some have strict guidelines about being drunk in public and other disorderly behaviour. To make sure your gathering doesn’t cause offence, visit the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office to obtain the latest information.

Get travel insurance

Something you cannot afford to be without, ensure every person in your party has purchased travel insurance before heading abroad. In the event anything goes wrong, such as important documents go missing or an individual suffers an injury, this should ensure that you’re covered.

The final checklist

The advice mentioned above should ensure your hen or stag party goes off without a hitch. However, as these can be stressful things to organise, we’ve included a final checklist of ideas to make sure the gathering is as good as it possibly can be.

Organise an ice-breaker activity

When organising guest lists, it is highly unlikely that everyone will know each other. Consequently, arranging a small activity, such as a team building exercise, will create a fun environment where guests can get to know each other.

Ensure this is what the bride/groom wants

A hen/stag party is all about the bride or groom to be. Therefore, ensure that you have their aims fresh in your mind when organising and keep these at the forefront of everything you do. For example, you might enjoy the idea of paintballing, but will they feel the same way?

Prepare for every eventuality

Always prepare for the unexpected while abroad and make sure you have one or two backup plans up your sleeve. For example, if you discover when you get there that the bar you really wanted to visit has closed down, ensure you can access the internet on your phone to find a quick alternative.

Swap numbers

Stag and hen parties can get pretty hectic. Guests can get separated from each other and time can be wasted tracking everyone down. Therefore, before leaving, make sure everyone has each other’s contact details so missing party members can be located swiftly.

Make sure everyone knows what to bring

Depending on what activities you’ve got planned, ensure that everyone is prepared. For example, those participating in quad biking or adventure courses should make sure they’re wearing old clothes which can handle a bit of punishment. Similarly, a fancy dress theme will be ruined if one person forgets to pack a certain outfit.

To summarise, make sure everyone is prepared for the party.

Don’t overly involve the groom/bride

There are some situations (mentioned above) where it’s beneficial to involve the bride or groom in the decision making process. However, generally speaking, their involvement should be kept to a minimum. After all, these individuals are busy planning the wedding; they have enough on their plates.

Advice for Festival Travellers

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With more and more festivals popping up, both in the UK and abroad, people are travelling far and wide in search of the ultimate festival experience. Whether you are planning a weekend catching the beats at one of the excellent dance festivals in Europe, or rocking out in the mud to your favourite band; it’s well worth being prepared so that you can relax and enjoy the party atmosphere. Read more

Staycations and UK Holiday Ideas

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In an age where international travel is so effortless, it can be easy to forget about the comparative ease and simplicity of a domestic holiday. Often known as a ‘staycation’, UK holidays can prove every bit as exotic and exciting as one abroad, often for a fraction of the cost, and with far less associated stress! Staycations traditionally constitute staying at home, and visiting local, often overlooked attractions. So if the thought of long haul flights and having to learn the basics of another language fill you with dread, a staycation here in the UK could be exactly what you’re looking for!

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