World Guides Travel Blog

August 2014

This is where we let you know all about what's going on with our website and the world of travel, with destination reviews, current travel news and topical travel-related stuff to discuss with your friends. Please let us know if you want to comment on anything - Contact us.

August 20, 2014


Image of the ancient city of Pompeii, ItalyThe world is most certainly a big place, and with travel costs growing year on year, it is important to spend your money wisely and make some lasting memories. If you are fortunate enough to visit a World Heritage Site, or one of the many ancient attractions in existence, then it does make sense to consider how to best sightsee.

Of course, a good travelling website, such as World Guides, should be at the top of everyone's list, followed by guide books, leaflets, maps, and up-to-date web apps. Before you travel, take time to research what you are going to see, read some TripAdvisor reviews from people who have actually been there. Their recommendations and points of view can be invalubale, and proper research will make sure that you don't overlook any hidden treat. These days, decent cameras easily fit into a pocket and smart phones are also are a useful way to capture memories.

I've recently had the good fortune to enjoy a holiday in Naples and planned a visit to see the nearby excavated ruins of Pompeii. A friend had recently been to Pompeii with his family and recommend investing in a personal tour guide. He said it had been particularly interesting to have been shown the ruins inside and out by someone with extensive knowledge. So I decided to book a tour guide upon his recommendation. There is not always an English speaking tour guide available, so do make sure you know what you're getting if you do this for yourself.

Photo showing the remains of a temple in Pompeii, ItalyThe tour guide I got was a lovely lady named Loretta, who fortunately could speak fluent English and was a whole bundle of fun. I had booked and paid for a three-hour tour, but she was so nice, we were having so much fun, and she was travelling at our pace, that our three-hour tour of the Pompeii ruins became a four-hour tour! My friend was certainly right. I got every penny of my money worth out of this tour, all €140 worth.

Loretta has an excellent voice, so she sang an impromptu chorus of the Neapolitan classic 'O Sole Mio' (My Sunshine) for a minute or two, just to show us how good the acoustics of an old amphitheatre really were. I suspect that she does this for everyone, but it was really enjoyable nevertheless. She took us across stepping stones that once spanned a steam of sewage, in and out of pathways, and all around the uncovered city. We learned about the ancient eruption of Mount Vesuvius and how the ashes had sadly buried the buildings and people of Pompeii almost 2,000 years ago. Although some of the temples needed a little imagination to picture their former glory, such as both the Temple of August Fortune and the Temple of Apollo, our guide certainly managed to bring them to life with her stories.

My favourite part of the whole tour had to be when we saw the ash-preserved people. Loretta told us that many people had hidden away when the volcano began to erupt, finding holes to shelter in, while others had hidden with their precious items. When their bodies were eventually discovered, so too was their jewellery and gold. Loretta was an excellent tour guide and I would really recommend a tour guide, rather than taking guide books or maps alone.

Posted by Nia at 21:29:14 on 20/8/2014

August 20, 2014


Photo showing the beautiful lake at the Stourhead estate, Stourton, Wiltshire, EnglandAfter a visit to the lovely National Trust estate of Stourhead, in the south-west of England, last weekend, I came back to view my own garden with renewed relish. After all, nothing inspires a keen gardener quite like seeing the hard-earned efforts of others. It all looks so achievable. Other people's gardens are great for giving you ideas, too. Which is why I wasn't alone at Stourhead. And, I daresay, why gardens like these all over the country echoed to the footsteps of admiring visitors, keen to get out in the summer sunshine.

There is no need to limit your garden admiration to home turf, though. Plenty of gardens around the world are open to visitors and can offer just as much inspiration. The Impressionist gardens of Giverny, including the garden created by Claude Monet, spring to mind. So, too, does Le Bois de Moutiers, an estate in Normandy that is often described as a 'little corner of England in France'. The house was designed by Edwin Lutyens and the garden by the horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll. Since its creation, little has changed. Head further south, and you will come across the pretty chateau of Chenonceau on the French Loire. Its amazing rose tree-lined 'jardin potager', was a pleasant discovery on a recent holiday. Like I said, green-fingered holidaymakers really are spoilt for choice.

As of this year, another famous garden can be added to the list. Nestled in the Alban hills south of Rome, the private gardens at Castel Gandolfo have been the exclusive summer retreat of pontiffs through the ages. Now, Pope Francis has taken the unprecedented step of flinging open the garden's gates to the general public. Visitors will be able to tour the famous Barberini Gardens, with their magnolias, roses and holly oaks. They'll also be able to admire the stunningly beautiful Belvedere Garden. And this is where the sheer scale of the place is sure to strike home. In the spring, gardeners work hard to plant thousands of colourful annuals - from begonias to pansies - turning the garden's geometrical 'parterres' into a colourful spectacle that can't fail to inspire.

Posted by Sue at 21:21:07 on 20/8/2014

August 15, 2014


Photo showing the 'Mariner of the Seas' cruise liner in Cozumel, Quintana Roo, MexicoThere was a time when cruises were seen as the preserve of the retired and wealthy with plenty of time on their hands. The cruise companies lured passengers on board with the promise of gargantuan ships, exotic ports, Broadway-scale entertainment and Las Vegas-style casinos. Times are a-changing, though. In the past few years, more and more people are considering taking to the river for their holidays - Europe's rivers, to be precise.

This rise in popularity is mirrored by a rise in river cruise ship christenings. The latest is the 'Emerald Sky', which set sail from Amsterdam earlier this week amidst great ceremony. Built with contemporary style in mind, the ship's facilities include a pool with a swim-up bar. The pool cleverly transforms itself into a cinema by night. It is all clever stuff. The 'Emerald Star' will join the 'S.S. Catherine', another hot-from-the-boatyard river cruise ship, which was launched last month. Among the ship's features are lavishly appointed spacious state rooms, marble bathrooms and lashings of plush towels and waffle bathrobes.

Industry pundits put the river cruise boom down to a few factors. River ships are, by their very nature, smaller than their sea-based counterparts. Some people - and I think that I'd be counted among them - prefer the more intimate travel experience they offer. Entertainment tends to be on a smaller scale, too - think traditional folk groups rather than big bands and razzle dazzle.

River cruise itineraries often reach the parts big cruise ships can't reach. That includes towns on the Rhine, Main or Danube where your boat can pitch up in a smallish harbour, just a stone's throw from the centre of town rather than a coach trip away. Most of all, though, river cruises seem to be attracting people who are looking for something a bit different. Something that combines a relaxing holiday with more than a hint of cultural tourism. Sounds good to me.

Posted by Sue at 9:55:11 on 15/8/2014

August 10, 2014


Image of the beautiful coastal stretch of Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wales, UKRhossili Bay, a beautiful 3-mile / 5-km stretch of sand along the Gower Peninsula of Wales, has recently been awarded the best beach in the UK, the third-best in Europe - and now according to TripAdvisor it is the ninth-best on the planet. To keep its third-place title, Rhossili has beaten a sumptuous selection of Greek, Italian, Spanish and Turkish beaches. This proves that if you live in the UK, maybe you don't need to travel half way across the world to find the perfect beach. As well as that amazing achievement, Rhossili Bay has climbed from tenth place to ninth in the world ranking.

Here is the list of the top beaches in the UK

Rhossili, Gower
Woolacombe, Devon
Porthminster, Cornwall
St Ives, Cornwall
Hengistbury Head, Dorset
Perranporth Beach, Cornwall
Longsands Beach, North Tyneside
Weymouth Beach, Dorset
Fistral Beach, Cornwall
Sandbanks, Dorset

Rhossili Bay has its own car park for visitors only, with a small pay and display charge. From the car park, the walk to Rhossili Bay is a real highlight. You walk down a sloped cliff side with steps, and along the route get to enjoy a beautiful, elevated view of the beach. However, on the way back up it is very tiring, and on a windy day you feel as if you are going to blow off the side of the cliff, especially if you are carrying buckets, spades, picnic blankets, windbreaks, tents and any other seaside paraphernalia involved with a family day out at the beach.

Posted by Nia at 11:12:54 on 10/8/2014

August 7, 2014


Coastal view of Nigeria, West AfricaFor those of you who are more adventurous and have been considering traveling around the beautiful countries of West Africa, you will probably now be more than aware of the Ebola Virus. These few facts will make you more knowledgeable about this disease, so that you can be better informed before booking an African summer holiday.


The Ebola Virus is also called the Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever. It is not an airborne disease, so cannot be spread like the flu or measles. So far, there is no vaccine and no treatment, and it is extremely deadly if you were unlucky enough to catch it.

The Ebola Virus causes the body to suffer with internal and external bleeding. This can cause damage to major body organs, such as kidneys and liver. It is one of the deadliest viruses on the planet at present, with a recovery rate of only 10 to 40 percent.


Ebola usually starts with flu-like symptoms, including sore throats, coughing and sneezing. Even though it is most known for it's extreme hemorrhagic symptoms, in fact, only 20 percent of people will suffer from bleeding.


Ebola is not infectious through the air. To catch the disease you must first come into contact with the virus itself to be at risk of infection. It is transmitted through exposure to an animal that is carrying the virus, e.g. bats and monkeys, meaning that it is advisable to avoid eating any bush meat or imported meat from unknown sources. Another way of catching Ebola is if you are exposed to someone already infected with the virus, by coming into contact with their bodily fluids, e.g. blood, sweat and saliva.


Seasonal picture of the Owu Falls, Owa-Kajola, Nigeria, West AfricaAccording to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, it is very important to wash your hands with warm water and soap if you feel that you have been exposed in any way. If this is unavailable, then another option would be hand sanitizer. Avoid contact with people you believe have been infected. If you need to go near someone who has the disease, cover yourself up with protective gear such and face masks and gloves.


The disease has travelled from Guinea to Liberia and is currently spreading all around West Africa. Fears are now growing that it will reach other parts of the world. Two Americans (one being a doctor) have been reported to be infected with the virus, and Liberia's leading Ebola doctor recently died from the disease. There have been 1,323 people infected to date, and of this figure, 729 have sadly died. This means the fatality rate is approximately 60 percent.


Having weighed up all the risks, and despite Ebola starting to find its way around the world, you may well be still considering West Africa as a destination for a vacation, especially as it is quite likely that you will be able to find yourself very competitive hotel rates for the next few months, due to the scare and understandable drop in tourism numbers. Our detailed West Africa World Guides always make for a good read and some simply holiday window shopping: Algeria, Gambia and Nigeria.

Posted by Nia at 9:46:22 on 7/8/2014