Tuesday, 5 August 2014


How Slovakia has remained off the Mass Tourism radar for so long I don't know. This country is possibly one of the most strikingly beautiful in Europe. This central European country would not look out of place in a Tolkien story. The vast majority of visitors arrive into the capital and go no further, but the capital is only part of the charm. Getting outside of Bratislava, take a train across the country to see the low, rolling fields leading onto spectacular views of the imposing Tatras mountains. Type "Tatras" into Google and you will see for yourself.

Photo: tatraphotographyworkshop.com
In summer the landscape is a sea of green and yellow with a mix of lush meadows and acres of corn and sunflowers. You could spend an entire day laying out watching the scenery and soaking up rays of warm sunshine while sipping on local beer or wine. The many lakes of Slovakia provide a perfect way to cool off as the temperatures rise above Mediterranean levels. 

The lakes are like mirrors reflecting the beautiful surrounding countryside perfectly. The pure, clean water is ideal for you to take a dip. In winter time they freeze over in a thick layer of ice and snow. The fields turn into a postcard picture of white and blue and the mountainside turns into a hive of activity. The ski resorts of Slovakia are truly some of the most under rated in Europe. Travel to the east, to Kosice and Strbske Pleso where you can rent skis and snowboards at ridiculously low prices compared to their French and Italian counterparts. 
Photo: Lightharmony.com
Photo: niemanlab.org

Aside from the spectacular landscape, there is much to keep you entertained and educated should you wish. Slovakia has more than its fair share of medieval castles. The most beautiful of which is found in the town of Trencin. Sitting atop a rocky outcrop, Trencin castle is one of the most unique castles in Europe. It sits high above the bustling town below and plays host to various shows and demonstrations throughout the year. The walk up to the gates will sap your energy in the summer heat, but the tour is well worth the effort. Inside are some of the best maintained weapons, armor and furniture you will find in the world. The views from the castle tower are nothing short of breathtaking. 

Going back to the capital, Bratislava has some of the most amazing architecture you will find. The old buildings in the Old Town are perfectly maintained. Walk around the many winding streets and you will find many boutique clothes shops selling top quality products at excellent prices. The cafes serve some of the best tasting coffee I have ever tried. In terms of nightlife, Bratislava is a titan of niche nightclubs and bars, the beer is cheap and of terrific quality. If you can, go to the Sky Bar, their rooftop bar makes some of the best rum and vodka cocktails I have ever tried. 

Getting There: Ryanair fly to Bratislava from many European airports including Dublin and London Stansted.
Price: Book early and flights can be as cheap as €140 return.
Stay: Park Inn Bratislava
Do: Take a train across the country

Monday, 4 August 2014

18 unique travel destinations that will make you want to book a holiday immediately

from The Daily Edge
SUFFERING FROM POST-holiday blues? Eagerly counting down the days until you’re off work and embarking on a week of sunbathing? Whatever your story, here are some unique, otherworldly travel destinations to daydream about.

1. Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, China

Source: Shutterstock
Stunning multi-coloured rock formations that were 24 million years in the making? We’re there.

2. Fingal’s Cave, Staffa, Scotland

Source: dun_deagh/Flickr
Situated on this uninhabited island of Staffa, the entrance to Fingal’s Cave features numerous hexagonal columns that are the result of being beat up by waves over thousands of years.

3. Dallol, Ethiopia

Source: Shutterstock
An ancient volcanic crater, Dallol is home to spectacular landscapes that look like they’re CGI and also several acid lakes.

4. Tunnel of Love, Ukraine

Source: Shutterstock
The tree-lined Tunnel of Love looks like it’s from a fairytale, but it’s actually located in Kleven, Ukraine. Primarily used as a route by trains to deliver wood to a local factory, it has also become a popular spot with tourists and couples.

5. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Iceland

Source: Glacier Lagoon
A large glacial lake, you may have seen the breathtaking Jökulsárlón featured in the likes of Die Another Day, Batman Begins, Tomb Raider and more. (If you look really hard, you can see “Bjork woz ere” scrawled on one of the icebergs.)

6.Crazy House, Vietnam

Source: RStacker/Flickr
It has been described as one of the world’s most bizarre buildings and it’s easy see why. Inspired by Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, this Vietnamese guesthouse looks like it’s taken straight from a trippy fairytale and has to be seen to be believed.

7. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Source: Clark & Kim Kays/Flickr
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Croatia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its gorgeous lakes and pretty vistas.

8. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Source: Leonora Enking/Flickr
The world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni also doubles up as the world’s largest mirror – when water covers the salty surface, it becomes entirely reflective. Gasp.

9. Laguna Salada de Torrevieja, Spain

Source: Shutterstock
It’s a pink lake! Need we say more?

10. Fly Geyser, Nevada

Source: Shutterstock
The accidental result of some drilling in the 1960s, this geyser may not be an entirely natural phenomenon, but it is still a sight to behold. Located on a private ranch in Nevada, visitors are advised to go to a restaurant named Bruno’s to organise day tours of the spring. Doesn’t sound dodgy at all.

11. Takinoue Park, Japan

Every May and June, people flock to Takinoue Park to see the carpet of pink moss (shibazakura) that covers the park.

12. Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, New Zealand

Source: Donnie Ray Jones/Flickr
A cave that includes a grotto filled with baby glowworms who emit light, you say? Amazing.

13. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Source: Alessandro Giannini/Flickr
There are no words. Just look at that.

14. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Source: James Gordon/Flickr
The National Park Service describes it as a “forest of stone” and a “cave without a roof,” but those descriptions barely do Bryce Canyon justice. Just incredible.

15. Magic Forest, Shanghai

Source: 2il org/Flickr
What was once a traffic lane has since been transformed into this magical little park. Beautiful.

16. Chefchaouen, Morocco

Source: Shutterstock
In the Moroccan city of Chefchaouen, everything is blue. Like, everything. And it’s incredible.

17. Cappadocia, Turkey

Source: Shutterstock
The best way to experience the surreal scenery and ancient rock formations of Cappadocia? HOT AIR BALLOONS.

18. Longyearbyen, Norway

Source: svalbard.net
Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost city, is the most populous area of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean that boasts more polar bears than humans. During the summer, the sun never sets. PARTY.