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From New Years’ Eve renditions of Auld Lang Syne to ‘my love is like a red, red rose’ and ‘the best laid schemes o’ mice and men’, even if you don’t think you know the works of Scottish poet Robbie Burns, you probably do. He’s been named Scotland’s National Poet and voted one of the greatest ever Scots. And on 25th January each year, Scots, Scotland-lovers and anyone with a fondness for whisky, haggis, neeps and tatties celebrate his birthday. Burns was born in Ayrshire in 1759 but spent the end of his life living in Dumfries, so while I studying there I set out to discover Dumfries’ Burns history – with a self-guided Robert Burns walk you can follow. Read more: A weekend in Glasgow: A 48-hour itinerary Robert Burns in Dumfries Robbie Burns was born in Alloway, Ayrshire, in 1759 and started life as a farm labourer – a ‘ploughman poet’ writing in his spare time. After a stint in Edinburgh he moved to Dumfries and Galloway in 1788 to take over Ellisland Farm (which is now a museum) before moving into Dumfries to work as an excise officer. And the town is where he spent the last eight years […]

The post On the trail of Robert Burns in Dumfries, Scotland appeared first on On the Luce travel blog.

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Lake Como epitomises La Dolce Vita – conjuring up images of 1950s film stars speeding across its sparkling waters on motorboats or zipping through narrow streets on a Vespa. This famous lake lies to the north of Milan, where Italy meets Switzerland. In the summer months it’s overrun by glamorous crowds of second-homeowners and day-trippers from Milan, but in spring and autumn it’s a lot more peaceful. The town of Como is often used as a stepping stone to luxury hotspots like Bellagio and Varenna, but it’s got plenty of charm of its own – and some not-so-A-list prices. So here are the best things to do in Como, Italy – on and off the water. Read more: The first-timer’s guide to visiting the Cinque Terre Things to do in Como, Italy Take the funicular to Brunate For the best view around, head into the hills above Como town to the village of Brunate. The climb to the top starts from an unassuming wooden building alongside the lake in Piazza Alcide de Gasperi. Since 1894 a funicular railway has been carrying people between Como and Brunate. Trains run around every 30 minutes and cost €3 one way or €5.50 return, and […]

The post La Dolce Vita in the Italian Lakes: What to do in Como, Italy appeared first on On the Luce travel blog.

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Sandwiched between the winter chill and the summer crowds, Paris in springtime bursts with new life across its parks and gardens, street markets and café terraces. Add a sprinkle of pretty pastel blossoms, lush green parks, a dash of romance, chocolate-fuelled Easter celebrations and a string of special cultural events and you’ve got a season that’s packed with Parisian pleasures. But what are the essential experiences you shouldn’t miss if you’re visiting Paris in the spring? Here are nine of my favourite things to do in Paris in springtime. Read more: Things to do in Paris in autumn and winter What’s Paris’ spring weather like? The weather in Paris in the spring is starting to warm up. Temperatures rise from an average high of 12°C (54°F) in March to 20°C (68°F) in May. It’s a great time to explore the city before it gets too hot. You might need some warm layers for evenings though – especially if you’re visiting early in the season – as well as an umbrella as there are around 12 days’ rainfall a month. Things to do in Paris in the spring 1. Check out the spring blooms From trees draped in blossom to immaculately […]

The post Paris in the spring: 9 things to do in Paris in springtime appeared first on On the Luce travel blog.

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As the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is a compact city that’s punches above its weight with places to stay, eat and shop. It’s a jumping off point for exploring the Highlands or driving the North Coast 500, but it’s also well worth exploring in its own right. Inverness’ streets might not be packed with beautiful historic buildings like some other Scottish cities, but it has got bags of character, a gorgeous setting, plenty of interesting history and a warm Highland welcome. So here’s my 48-hour itinerary for a brilliant weekend in Inverness. Read more: 10 Great British weekend break ideas How to spend a weekend in Inverness Friday evening Inverness has a small airport 20 minutes outside of the city with flights from the UK and Europe. Or it’s easy to reach by train – taking around 3.5 hours from Edinburgh or Glasgow, or if you’re coming up from London the Caledonian Sleeper overnight train arrives into Inverness at 8.40am. Luxury lovers can splash out on a stay at the five-star Rocpool Reserve, a Georgian house turned lavish boutique hotel where rooms with a hot tub and balcony start from £230 a night. Or if you prefer renting […]

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Food tours and tastings are one of my favourite things to do when I’m travelling – from Thai street food tours to Swiss chocolate tastings they’re a great insight into a new destination. But some of the most interesting food and drink tours I’ve done have been in London. The UK historically had a bad rep for its food, but things have changed and it’s now home to a huge array of top-quality food producers. And more of them are offering tour and tastings to show off what they have to offer. From neighbourhood walks and market tours to cheese tasting and sweet treats, there’s the perfect London food tour for you. So here are my picks of London’s best food tours and tastings featuring favourites from me and six other food-loving bloggers. Read more: Alternative things to do in London 10 of London’s top food tours and tastings 1. Taste of Borough Market Borough Market is one of London’s top food markets, with produce from across the UK and beyond. But if you don’t want to just wander around and pick up a few samples, you can join a tour and feast your way around the market. Food writer […]

The post 10 of the best London food tours and tastings appeared first on On the Luce travel blog.

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If you’re looking for a winter long weekend break that ticks all the boxes – snow, Santa, saunas and sleigh rides included – then a trip inside the Arctic Circle to Lapland is just what you need. This part of the world is like a Christmas card come to life. But Scandinavia has a reputation for being one of the most expensive places to travel in, so how much does it really cost to visit Lapland? Here I share my budget breakdown for four nights in Rovaniemi in Finland. Note: these costs are based on my travel style – mid-range with a touch of affordable luxury – so I keep costs down where I can to can splash out on special experiences. There’s usually a mixture of hotels and apartment rentals, cooking and eating out, free activities and paid excursions. Read more: A winter wonderland trip to Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland Budget breakdown for four days in Lapland Accommodation Accommodation in Lapland is really mixed – on one end of the spectrum there are inexpensive hotel rooms in the main centres like Rovaniemi for around €110 a night. Or there’s an array of bucket-list-worthy places to stay like forest cabins and […]

The post What does it cost? 4 days in Lapland appeared first on On the Luce travel blog.

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I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with air travel. I love the places flying takes me, but I’m not a fan of the actual plane bit. But as well worrying about whether we’re going to crash, I’ve started worrying more about the environmental impact of flying, and especially the way it contributes to climate change. Flights account for around 2.5% of global carbon dioxide production at the moment, but the industry’s growing rapidly. And because planes fly high the atmosphere, the greenhouse gases they emit do more damage than on the ground. New technologies like biofuels or electric planes are in the pipeline which could reduce flying’s environmental impact. But they’re a huge investment and need years of safety testing, so it’s a slow process. Until then airlines are trying to increase efficiency by reducing weight, carrying more passengers, using tailwinds and reducing distances through air traffic control (though cynics might say that’s more about saving money than the environment). Regulations are starting to put pressure on airlines to reduce their impact, but the rising demand for flights is outstripping any reduction in emissions. There’s a crazy statistic that only 6% of the world’s population has ever flown, […]

The post The traveller’s guide to carbon offsetting your flights appeared first on On the Luce travel blog.

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Bright lights, blackjack tables, glitz and glamour – it’s no wonder larger-than-life Las Vegas is a favourite location for filmmakers. Over 100 movies have featured Sin City’s over-the-top casinos and iconic Strip views. Some of the filming locations have been and gone, and others only ever existed on a Hollywood sound stage. But there are still plenty of spots around the Strip and downtown where you can see where scenes from movies old and new were filmed, from Viva Las Vegas to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Ocean’s 11 to – er – Ocean’s Eleven. So join me and follow in the footsteps of Dean Martin, Elvis and George Clooney on this Las Vegas film locations walking tour. The whole walk covers almost five miles (with a bus/taxi shortcut) but a word of warning: Las Vegas can get incredibly hot, so make sure you’ve got a bottle of water and a hat on you, and avoid the middle of the day in the summer. Read more: Visiting Las Vegas on a budget A Las Vegas film locations walking tour The Tropicana Start your Las Vegas film locations walking tour towards the south of the Strip at the Tropicana. […]

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A winter wonderland of pink skies, husky sleds, frosty fir trees, steaming hot chocolate and twinkling lights – Finnish Lapland is where all your snow-filled fantasies come to life. And right at the heart of it is Rovaniemi, perched on the edge of the Arctic Circle and the official home of Santa Claus (and he’s got to know the best place to live). From the Northern Lights to reindeer sleigh rides, the winter months in the far north are full of magic, and my first Arctic adventure more than lived up to expectations. So here’s how to plan a winter trip to Rovaniemi. Read more: The magic of Tallinn in the snow Visiting Rovaniemi in winter The two big questions we had about visiting Lapland in January were how cold is is going to be and is it going to be dark all the time? The sun rises just before 11am and sets at 2pm in early January, but that doesn’t mean it’s pitch black the rest of the day. It’s twilight between 9.30am and 3.30pm so you can still see and there are beautiful long sunrises and sunsets. Rovaniemi’s weather did hit an icy -24°C/-11°F at one point, but […]

The post A winter wonderland trip to Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland appeared first on On the Luce travel blog.

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Sailing through the waterways of Europe, letting scenic views and pretty waterside towns come to you – river cruising is on the rise. And after becoming an unexpected ocean cruise convert a few years back, I was keen to try it out for myself. The big names like Viking, Uniworld and Emerald Waterways focus on the luxury (and pricey) end of the market. But then I came across CroisiEurope, whose trips include excursions, food and drink for two thirds of the price. This family-run French company was one of the pioneers of river cruising and is now Europe’s biggest river cruise operator. But although they’re big in France they’re not so well known in the rest of the world. We decided to check them out on a mini festive river cruise on the Rhine. So what’s a CroisiEurope river cruise really like? Here’s everything you need to know. Read more: A Christmas market river cruise on the Rhine CroisiEurope river cruise review Where can you cruise to with CroisiEurope? CroisiEurope have 170 different river cruise itineraries. The focus is on the major rivers of Europe – the Rhine, Danube, Loire and Duoro. They also have a few more exotic options […]

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