Monarch Blog http://blog.monarch.co.uk Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:33:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.3 St George’s Day, a Day of Celebration Around Europe http://blog.monarch.co.uk/st-georges-day-a-day-of-celebration-around-europe/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/st-georges-day-a-day-of-celebration-around-europe/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:29:38 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=4194

Today is St George’s Day, England’s National Day in recognition of the country’s patron saint, St George. In honour of the occasion, you might be joining one of the many festivals, parades, and events taking place across the country. Red and white St George flags will fly from pubs and public spaces; restaurants will serve traditional English fare of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, and high tea; and people will celebrate with pageants and parades across Britain. In more rural areas you may even spot a bit of Morris dancing or a Punch and Judy show if you are lucky!

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But, St George’s Day celebrations stretch far beyond England’s borders. Did you know that St George’s Day is celebrated in Catalonia, as well? (Or, ‘Sant Jordi’s day’ as it is known in Barcelona.)

Unlike celebrations in the UK however, this is a day where love and patriotism are closely intertwined – think St George’s day meets Valentine’s Day, also known to the Catalans as Día de los Amantes or ‘The Day of Lovers.’  It’s a great getaway if you’re looking to rekindle the romance!

A Catalonian Tradition

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La Diada de Sant Jordi has been recognised since the 15th century, a day in celebration of St George slaying the dragon and freeing the princess, and since this time it has been traditional to give a rose to those you love. In the last century, however, it became tradition for a man to give his loved ones a rose, and a woman to give her loved ones a book in memory of Cervantes’ and Shakespeare’s lives – both famous authors died in the same week in April.

Of course, nowhere in Catalonia celebrates this day with as much gusto as Barcelona. Street after street is lined with red- and yellow-striped Catalonian flags, roses of red, white, pink and yellow galore, and endless piles of books on display.

Out and About in Barcelona on Sant Jordi

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You will find the festivities and high spirits congregating around Las Ramblas and Rambla Catalunya, where every inch of the street will be crammed with vendors selling roses and books.

Once you’ve experienced the lively chaos of Las Ramblas, head to the Parliament and city hall in the Plaça de Sant Jaume.  Although not necessarily impressive on the outside, on the inside it’s a treat! Enter through an 18th century neo-classical façade and walk into Catalonia’s answer to the Houses of Parliament, which dates between the 1200s and 1700s and features elaborate designs, beautiful chandeliers, grand sculptures and some impressive artwork.

You might also want to take along your dancing shoes. In the square, you will find hordes of Spanish dancing away, performing the Catalonian national dance, the Sardana.

St George’s Day Around Europe…

Even beyond Spain and Britain, St George’s Day is celebrated in several other countries across Europe, including Portugal, Germany and Greece to name a few. In Greece, St George’s Day is even a public holiday! There, the celebrations are particularly exuberant – red and white garlands hang from every street corner and red- and white-attired children parade through every town.

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The Best Easter Treats to Satisfy your Sweet Tooth http://blog.monarch.co.uk/the-best-easter-treats-to-satisfy-your-sweet-tooth/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/the-best-easter-treats-to-satisfy-your-sweet-tooth/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:00:40 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=4160

Easter is a time for reflection, thanks and celebration, and what better way to spend the holiday than indulging with good company and great food?

Easter is celebrated around the world, and each country celebrates the occasion with its own traditions. After the sacrifices of Lent, food plays a big part in these traditions, in particular sweets, treats and desserts. We’re all familiar with chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies, but here are some other authentic goodies that give them a run for their money:

Italy: Colomba Pasquale

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Similar to the traditional Christmas treat of panettone, colomba pasquale, or ‘Easter dove’ in English, is sweet bread baked into the shape of a dove. Citrus peel and candied fruits are often included, before the cake is finished off with a shiny coat of sugar-nut syrup, almonds and pearl sugar.

Greece: Tsoureki

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Like in Italy, sweet bread plays an important role in most Greek celebrations, with tsoureki particularly popular at Easter time. The brioche-like bread is flavoured with orange and Mahlab, a spice ground from wild cherries. It is then braided into a circle and sprinkled with slivered almonds. Traditionally, it is served with red-dyed eggs to symbolise Christ’s blood.

Spain: Rosquillas de Semana Santa and Torrejas

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One of the most delicious Spanish desserts is rosquillas de Semana Santa, delicious doughnuts enjoyed during Holy Week. These doughnuts vary from region to region, but they are always made without yeast and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. They are different to American doughnuts – decidedly firmer and less sweet, which means you can eat more of them!

Another popular Lenten and Holy Week dessert in Spain is torreja, which can best be described as a Spanish version of French toast. It uses stale bread, soaked in flavoured milk or wine, egg, and seasonings of orange rind, honey, cinnamon, and brandy. Once fried, torrejas are served cold and topped with rich syrup.

Cyprus: Flaounes

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Cypriots will prepare flaounes, a cheese-filled pastry, on Easter Friday and will then resist temptation until Easter Sunday and thereafter! Cooking flaounes is something of a family affair, with everyone pitching in. The filling is often a combination of local cheeses, or the special flaouna cheese itself, often blended with raisins. The result can be either savoury or sweet but always delicious!

Portugal: Folar de Pascoa

The traditional Portuguese Easter bread is slightly different to the others, as it is baked with a whole egg, or several, inside! Once the dough has been prepared, a boiled egg is folded into the middle, with the dough then braided over it. The egg symbolises rebirth and fertility. Your biggest challenge will be deciding who gets to eat the egg!

Turkey: Baklava

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Baklava is often found on the table at a Turkish celebration – a layered flaky pastry stuffed with chopped nuts and drizzled with honey. Thought to have been mastered in Istanbul, the Easter-version of this sticky treat uses 40 sheets of filo pastry – 20 on the bottom and 20 on top to represent the 40 days of Lent.

Where will you be heading for your Easter sugar fix?

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Tuesday Tips: Larnaca, Cyprus http://blog.monarch.co.uk/tuesday-tips-larnaca-cyprus/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/tuesday-tips-larnaca-cyprus/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:11:46 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=4158

When Cyprus comes to mind, it’s difficult to stifle daydreams of Greek gods and ancient Assyrian battles. While the region’s rich mythology and history can transport you to another world, the reality is equally dreamy! The beautiful city of Larnaca, located on the southern coast of Cyprus, is the third largest on the island, but despite its size, it promises sun soaked romance. Here’s the inside scoop on the best of Larnaka, courtesy of Senior Partnerships Executive Nikola Roberts and Website Manager Luke Donnebaum:

Start with Sandy Beach Sunning

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It’s a no brainer that our first recommendation involves a beach towel.  Spend a day soaking up the sun on the famous Fig Tree Bay in Protaras, voted the third best beach in Europe.  Make sure to get there before 10am on the weekends to dodge the crowds and splurge on a bed and umbrella; it’s worth it!

Taste the Food of the Gods

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Visit Romeo Taverna in the evening for the best traditional Cypriot food and dancing.  The Dolmades are a must-have appetiser – these stuffed vine leaves are filling and full of lemon-zest flavour.  The Greek dancers are marvellous to watch, just don’t be alarmed when the dinner plates start crashing; it’s all part of the act!

Head to a Hidden Gem for a Cocktail

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Take a stroll along the waterfront from Protaras in the early evening and stop off at ‘Canes,’ a quiet bar with friendly staff. Sit out in the garden and watch the sun set over the ocean as you enjoy a cocktail or two.  You’ll feel more like you’re sitting in the private garden of a wonderfully accommodating host.

Gets Some Healing Tips

Wonder how Cypriots maintain such a healthful glow? Well, that’s likely all sunshine and lifestyle, but a trip to the Kyriazis Medical Museum is sure to unlock some fascinating factoids about the medical and health history of ancient Cyprus.  From ancient scrolls with curses written on them to staff-led demonstrations of how an old electroshock machine works, this little museum is great fun.  The best part: admission is free!

Swim to Underwater Wreckage

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The Zenobia was a Swedish ferry that sank in 1980 along with its 104 trucks and trailers.  It is now a protected artificial reef where Barracuda and Parrotfish swim in and out of porthole windows, and you can swim among them! Alpha Divers offers daily dives of one of the world’s best wrecks.

Ultimately, not much arm-twisting is needed to book a ticket to this white sandy-beach paradise, but with these insider recommendations, you’re sure to have an incredible time.

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Celebrating 25 years of service of the A300-605R http://blog.monarch.co.uk/celebrating-25-years-of-service-of-the-a300-605r/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/celebrating-25-years-of-service-of-the-a300-605r/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 21:33:45 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=4168

In what will be an emotional day for many of us at Monarch Airlines, our last Airbus A300 will be given a fond farewell on Sunday 13 April, with a final commercial flight from London Gatwick Airport to Birmingham Airport. Weather permitting, the flight will incorporate a 1,000 foot flyby at Manchester Airport, straight down runway 5L/23R.

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In a fitting end to this aircraft’s service, the flight will be piloted by the Chief Pilot of Monarch Airlines, Martin Pound. Martin has served with Monarch for over 36 years and in 1991, was the pilot charged with flying the first A300 into service.

Martin admitted he has mixed feelings about the A300′s final commercial flight. “I was the first project pilot appointed in 1989. I was involved the in the delivery of the aircraft and the first commercial flight from London Gatwick to Toulouse in 1990. I flew the first flight and now I am flying the last, I am very proud, but at the same time very sad.”

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The first wide-body twin-engine airliner, Monarch’s A300 fleet have carried in excess of 20 million passengers and we are the last operator of the passenger-variant of the Airbus A300 in a European environment.

Monarch ordered four Airbus A300-605Rs, the first two arriving in 1990, followed by two further examples in 1991. In 1990, we operated two Airbus A300s for Australian start-up carrier Compass Airlines. In Monarch service, the aircraft were used to pioneer the airline’s transatlantic services to Florida and the Caribbean, as well as long-haul services to India and the Maldives.

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The aircraft proved to be extremely versatile, operating to destinations all over the world. In 2008, a Premium Cabin was installed on the aircraft for the first time, allowing up to 50 passengers to sit in a private, upgraded cabin environment.

Monarch’s A300s are the final passenger-carrying examples in service with a European airline, and with its impending retirement from service, the passenger variant of Airbus’ first entry in to the commercial airliner market, will become a very rare sight in European skies.

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Aviation enthusiasts from around the world will fly on the A300-605R last commercial flight with passengers from:

• Belgium
• Cyprus
• Czech Republic
• Germany
• Hungary
• Ireland
• Netherlands
• Portugal
• Switzerland
• USA
• UK and the Isle of Man

Are you taking part in the final commercial flight? Perhaps you’ll be watching from below? Tweet your pics & thoughts to @monarch!

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April Showers: The Best Rain or Shine Destinations for Spring http://blog.monarch.co.uk/april-showers-the-best-rain-or-shine-destinations-for-spring/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/april-showers-the-best-rain-or-shine-destinations-for-spring/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 00:30:29 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=4093

You might think that spring showers are the last thing you’d want from a holiday, but a few damp afternoons can actually add to your holiday by taking you away from the beach and through the doors of places you may not have considered otherwise! Check out our top destinations that offer the best of both sun and showers:

Stay dry in Italy

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While some areas of Italy are best appreciated in the sun, the more historic areas, such as Verona, promise to keep you occupied indoors as well as out. Wander through the 14th century Museo di Castelvecchio to discover Medieval sculptures, Renaissance art, and local artefacts. The museum is worth the trip in the sunshine as well, when you can explore the stunning sculpted gardens. For a more interactive experience, head out of the city on a wine tour and take shelter with an afternoon of indoor tastings, where the wine is barrelled.

Escape the rain in Spain

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Head to the cultural capital of Spain – Barcelona – for pursuits you’ll enjoy regardless of whether the rain comes or the sun shines. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, then while away the day exploring the works of one of Spain’s greatest artists at the Picasso Museum or learn about Gaudí’s unique architectural style at the Casa Batllo. For a truly indulgent afternoon, settle in with churros, hot chocolate, and a good book in the historic surroundings of the Cafè de l’Òpera or let loose with the locals at trendy dessert café, Bubó!

Take cover in Turkey

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While you’re pretty much guaranteed a healthy dose of sunshine in Bodrum, there are times when the rain can hit. For those moments, there are plenty of indoor attractions like the Museum of Underwater Archaeology housed in the 15th century Castle of St. Peter, a unique museum featuring artefacts from ancient shipwrecks, spanning from the Roman era through to the Medieval period. If you want to shop for traditional Turkish handicrafts but don’t want to get drenched, head to Dibeklihan for local boutiques and cute cafés in a covered space – you can easily lose a few hours!

Get some shelter in Greece

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You’d be mad to visit Greece and not seek out some of the rich history and culture hidden away from the sun. In Crete, the Cretaquarium gets you up close to all species of sea critter while the National History Museum or the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which is temporarily closed for renovation but with highlighting works feature will take you back in time more than 5,000 years. For some more recent history, 16th century Koules Fortress, located at the end of the pier in Heraklion, offers striking views over the harbour and fascinating insight into the structure and defences of the time.

So, before you decide the only kind of holiday for you is one where you stay firmly planted on the beach, consider some of the great attractions to give yourself a rest from the sun or escape the rain!

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Tuesday Tips: Packing 101 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/tuesday-tips-packing-101/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/tuesday-tips-packing-101/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 08:42:47 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=4130

Do you pack everything but the kitchen sink? Or, so little that you now have a sizeable collection of toothbrushes, combs, and sunglasses?  No matter your style—over-stuffer or under-stuffer—one thing is certain: packing is an art. And who better to teach you that art than those who travel for a living?  Here are some of the best packing secrets from those in the know, our Monarch cabin crew:

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Get a Good Set of Wheels

Nothing is worse than trying to haul a clunky broken down bag around the airport that you want to throw down a flight of stairs.  Opt for a nice set of luggage with wheels sturdy enough to handle all terrain. But check the airline carry-on sizing before you buy – If you’re strategic enough, you might not even have to check your bags.

If you do plan to check your bag, consider choosing a bright colour or a unique pattern.  Everyone will be looking for their standard black roller, while you will quickly sport your neon orange one as soon as it plops onto the baggage turnstile.  Who’s laughing now?

Watch the Weather

Even before you start packing, check the weather. A classic symptom of over-packers is to pack for all possible weather conditions.  Most travel guides will offer projected weather patterns by month, and an online weather search a few days before you leave will tell you whether to pack those short shorts or cram in the layers.

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Timing, Timing, Timing

Whether you’re on holiday for three days or three weeks, it helps to pre-plan packing. Not  the morning of, or even the night before, but a day or two before departure.  Packing in haste is the easiest way to over-pack or overlook things.

Make a List and Check it Twice

Making a list of things to pack is a great to avoid forgetting the obvious, and it’s always the obvious – the bathing suit for the beach holiday, the toothbrush or hairbrush, the sunscreen or deodorant – which does get forgotten! In a digital age, why not keep a packing list saved on your computer or your phone?  You can even print it out and take it with you so everything, plus a few extra souvenirs, makes it back home.

Space Savers

Remember: The bare essentials—clothing wise—amounts to a small load of laundry; after all, it’s easier to do a quick load of laundry than to pay for taxis wherever your bag travels!

Stuff socks and glasses in shoes and wedge shoes at the bottom of the bag, where the handle of the luggage can waste room.

Rolling clothes and using Space Bags will also help save room and squeeze out the air, and most hotels have irons so you won’t need to worry about wrinkles on arrival.

If all else fails, follow Head of Pilot Training Martin Dudley’s advice: Sit on it!

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Emergency Kit

With all the space you’ve saved rolling your clothes, why not add in an emergency kit?   Travel comes with a bit of stress so avoid it by being fully prepared for every scenario. Pack copies of your passport, banking and credit cards, phone numbers, and emergency numbers. Tuck it away in your luggage with a few extra bank notes and some spare change, just in case. Email it to yourself too.

Martin Dudley never leaves home without his torch- not a bad idea if you’re arriving at night, especially if you’re staying at a flat or villa instead of a hotel.

Travel Must Haves

You will never regret carrying hand sanitiser, a packet of tissues, or a bottle of over-the-counter pain relief, but Cabin Crew member Jayne Alger also recommends bringing Evian face spray and hand cream; they are great ways to refresh yourself after a long flight.

She also suggests packing several zip lock bags. In addition to saving you time in the security queue, a good zip lock bag can be a life-saver when packing your wet bathing suit or a pair of dirt-crusted shoes.

For protection against spills, cover any shampoo bottles with a sheet of cellophane before screwing on the cap and toss in a few scented dryer sheets to keep your luggage, and its contents, fresh!

Stack of Suitcases

What do you pack on holiday? Our globe-trotting customers shared What’s in their Suitcase, with some surprising results!

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Top Three Easter Getaways http://blog.monarch.co.uk/top-three-easter-getaways/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/top-three-easter-getaways/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 10:30:14 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=4091

Desperately need of a short break from the daily grind? Check out these three Easter getaway destinations that tick all the boxes for sunshine, fun, and adventure.

Far Away in Faro

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As the southernmost tip of Europe, Faro is the perfect blend of sunshine, history, relaxation and culture. The city has been around since Roman times and has lost none of its crumbling intrigue. Wander into the old part of the city, a 9th century Muslim stronghold. Inside, you will find a hotchpotch of historical treasures. A statue of 13th century king Alfonso stands alongside a crumbling 9th century castle and Se, the old cathedral is built in splendid Gothic and Baroque styles.

If shopping is more your style, head to Rua de Santo Antonio, a pedestrianised shopping area in downtown Faro. Shop till you drop, and then refresh yourself with a chilled drink at one of the area’s bustling pavement cafés. If you’re looking for a bargain, the market in city centre is also a must for costumes, clothing, shoes, and other quirky goods.

While you’re in there, take a leisurely lunch near Rua do Trem, where many restaurants serve up delicious barbecue during the summer months. Skip the menu and go straight for the grilled sardines and local wine.

Spring in Split

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Split in Croatia is the jewel of the Dalmatian coast. It has vibrant beach life, succulent sea-side cuisine and plenty of opportunities to ramble through antiquity. With its moderate and mild spring climate, it’s the perfect Easter weekend hotspot.

Culture vultures shouldn’t miss the works of famed Croatian sculptor Meštrović at the Meštrović Gallery and Kastelet. Also a must is the dizzying climb to the top of the Sveti Duje cathedral. The view at the top is stunning panaroma of terracotta roofs and worth the small entrance fee.

A trip to Split isn’t complete without savouring the best seafood this side of the Mediterranean. Noštromo is an upmarket seafood restaurant that will delight your tastebuds with dishes like ray-fish stew and battered sea anemone, made in the traditional Dalmatian style.

If you have cash to splash, then get the red carpet treatment at  Le Méridien Grand Hotel Lav at Podstrana. They have champagne- and truffle-infused therapies and an infinity pool with a view for miles.

Meandering in Menorca 

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This southern outpost of Spain is drenched in sunlight most of the year through, but Easter is the perfect time to go. Peak season hasn’t started yet and the prices will leave you with plenty of change to spare.

There aren’t any steep mountainous inclines across the island. So the mostly flat terrain is well suited for exploration on foot, by bike or on horse-back. The island is full of serendipitous discoveries waiting to be made, like stone monuments dotted around the countryside and ancient coastal paths with windswept caves to explore. It’s perfect for birdwatching or coastal foraging year-round although arguably the prettiest time of year is in early spring when the almond blossom comes out.

If an active holiday is not your thing, it’s also the perfect time of year to sit beach-side and sample the local fire-water called pomada – a Menorcan gin with lemonade and ice.

So what are you waiting for? Easter’s fast approaching and it’s the ideal time of year to indulge in a cheeky weekend getaway.

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Tuesday Tips: Gibraltar http://blog.monarch.co.uk/tuesday-tips-gibraltar/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/tuesday-tips-gibraltar/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 15:36:24 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=4089

With an average of 320 days of sunshine a year, a trip to Gibraltar isn’t a hard sell. There are plenty of sunny spots to visit in the Mediterranean, but only this part of the world boasts the Rock of Gibraltar, the Ape Caves, and plenty of maritime fun. Here are some of Head of Retail and Online Ian Chambers’ best recommendations for when you go:

Rock Out at the Top of the World

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You have to head up the Rock. Taking the cable cars is cheap and quick, but warning: the apes are hungry and very brave so don’t take a bag or any food! Monkey business aside, what could be better than standing on what feels like the top of the world, with Europe underfoot and Africa and the Mediterranean in the distance?

Feel the Burn on the Mediterranean Steps

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Another great way to explore the Rock is to brave the Mediterranean Steps, a walk up a steep path of steps to the crest of the Rock. Along the way you’ll pass the Goat’s Hair Twin Caves, which, due to water erosion, presents evidence that sea levels were once dramatically higher. For those who do not do well with heights, this climb is not recommended, the steep stairways zigzag along the cliff side, and it’s a long way down! Expect to spend an 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours depending on your skill level.

Head to the Ape Caves

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If you find yourself charmed by these cheeky monkeys, visit the Ape Caves. Barbary macaques are the only free-roaming primates in Europe. Again, do not feed them; they are fed fresh food daily already. If suddenly frightened or pestered, they will bite. But, you are sure to snap plenty of share-worthy pics!

Relax on the Marina

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When the sun starts to set, take a wander along the quayside. Try Bianca’s on the marina waterfront (near the casino); it’s the best restaurant for consistently good service, value for money, marina sunset views and a perfect steak.

Train to Become a Skipper

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For the more adventurous, learn how to sail in one of the world’s best sailing destinations! All Aboard Sailing Academy offers a one-week sailing course that runs about £550—not bad when you consider that your meals and six nights of accommodations (bunk bed style) are included.

That reminds me, be sure to consider the time of year when you book. September is a busy time for festivals and national events. Gibraltar National Day is a great time to go if you’re hoping to celebrate through the night and get into the local spirit, but if you’re hoping to relax and recuperate, it is a 24-hour whirlwind of energy and excitement, with a soundtrack to match!

No matter what you choose to do in Gibraltar, it’s one of those places that will draw you back again and again. Just make sure your wallet isn’t stolen by a monkey, they are expert pickpockets and will rack up quite a bill!

 

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Mother’s Day Getaways: Spring Trips for the Family http://blog.monarch.co.uk/mothers-day-getaways-spring-trips-for-the-family/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/mothers-day-getaways-spring-trips-for-the-family/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:50:25 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=4043

Mother’s Day: that one designated day a year when you recognise the amazing women in your life. You bring them breakfast in bed, take the chores off their plate, and at least for the day, you acknowledge they’re always right, even if they’re not!

This year, why not extend the celebration with a Mother’s Day getaway the whole family can get on board with? (And yes, we did intend that pun.)  With great food, rich local culture and history, and tons of sunshine, here are some of the best spring getaways for the whole family to enjoy.

Admiring art in Barcelona

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Barcelona might be famous for its beaches, but there’s plenty more to the city than sun and surf. Celebrated artists such as Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudí once called Barcelona home, and the Spanish capital is great way to introduce the family to art and architecture in a fun way.

Gaudí’s undulating  influence is everywhere – most noticeably at the Sagrada Familia, a huge unfinished church and one of the city’s most renowned attractions. Parc Guell, another Gaudí creation, offers a space for kids to run around the grassy hills while parents relax along the undulating, mosaic-tiled benches.

For a more academic foray into Barcelona’s art scene, visit the Museu Picasso, a museum dedicated to Picasso, with more than 3,500 works of art.

Resurrecting history in Rome

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A Roman holiday is the perfect way to get the family excited about history. Wandering through the Roman Forum will show them exactly how the Romans lived, while a session at the Roman Gladiator School, complete with sword-fighting techniques and traditional Gladiator dress, will take them straight back to the Roman era!

Once you’re done with the Colosseum, Gladiator certificates in hand, head to the picturesque Borghese Gardens and hire semi-motorised scooters designed especially for families. Pack a picnic and let the kids burn off that excess energy, while you relax in the shade with a cheeky glass (or two) of Pinot Grigio.

Lounging beachside in Tenerife

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Nothing quite beats a beach holiday, and Tenerife is just the ticket. In addition to the requisite white sands, clear turquoise waters and luxurious resorts, Tenerife promises days of fun at Siam Park, one of the most spectacular water parks in Europe. From riding the adrenaline-pumping Dragon and Vulcano slides to surfing the largest man-made waves at the Wave Palace to cruising along Mai Thai River, the world’s longest lazy river attraction, the whole family will have a smashing (or splashing – corny, we know) time.

Skiing the slopes in Grenoble

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If you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to winter, take the family to the French Alps for a last hurrah on the slopes. Most of the crowds will be heading towards the sunshine so you won’t have haphazard skiers flying across your path, but the Alps still offer great snow into April with the added bonus of warmer temperatures!

It doesn’t have to be all about the snow, however – take a break at La Pierre Chaude in Chamrousse: it’s one of the best traditional tartiflette restaurants in the Alps.

Taste the flavours in Goa

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India is full of traditional dishes, colourful spices and delicious flavours that you simply have to experience. While a plate of hot curry may not be to everyone’s taste, there are plenty of other local delicacies to try. In addition to beautiful beaches, perfectly preserved history, and incredible jungle wildlife, Goa, on the west coast of India, uniquely blends Indian and Portuguese culture and cuisine – stop by one of the beach shacks for a Goan fish curry, or head to Chef Fernando’s Nostalgia for authentic dishes you won’t find anywhere else.

So, go ahead and spoil Mum (and the rest of the tribe) with an impromptu family getaway – you’ll get the brownie points and the holiday!

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Tuesday Tips: Menorca http://blog.monarch.co.uk/tuesday-tips-menorca/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/tuesday-tips-menorca/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 14:39:38 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=4048

Of the four Balearic Islands floating in the emerald-tinted Mediterranean, Menorca is the most tranquil and the least overrun by tourists. Whatever you choose to do here, from exploring natural wonders to tasting locally-distilled spirits, this particular island is a perfect reminder that anything that takes time to create is well worth the wait. Since sunbathing on a remote sandy beach is already at the top of any visitor’s to-do list, here are some other insider tips from Monarch’s Head of Retail and Online and island connoisseur, Ian Chambers.

Find your way to a secluded harbour

Fornells

Nothing says “calm and relaxation” better than a small coastal fishing village.  Fornells, on the north of the island, has superb seafood restaurants, and the Spanish royal family is known to frequent the area from time to time.  It’s not surprising either: with rows of white-washed, terracotta-roofed houses overlooking a boat-lined harbour, Fornells feels both private and welcoming.

Enjoy a cliffside aperitif

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A visit to Cova D’en Xoroi, a café, bar, and club built into the cliffside overlooking Cala En Porter, is a must.  With white futons and floating fabrics outside, cavernous expanses and neon lighting inside, it’s an amazing place for lounging with an drink in the afternoon, taking in the sunset, or dancing to cool vibes at night.  Smart casual attire is appropriate.

Visit a local distillery

Gin

The local Xoriguer gin is well worth a try, and a trip to a distillery should be on the agenda too.

Gin has a long tradition in Menorca, dating back more than 200 years to when the island was an important British port. British soldiers and sailors wanted one fashionable liquor in particular, gin, which remains popular across the island still today.

Discover natural wonders

Es Grau Menorca

Menorca was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1993, as a result of its diverse Mediterranean landscape and its indigenous animals and wildlife, much of which can only be found on Menorca.  The biosphere’s epicentre is natural park S’Albufera d’es Grau, located at the north-east end of the island.  The park has several trails through lush olive tree forest, beautiful lagoons and wetlands, and lunar landscapes of black and grey rock.  Sturdy hiking shoes and a day pack are a must, but trails are available for all levels.  Keep an eye out for rare water birds, tree frogs, and even the occasional hedgehog!

Admire a bit of the Baroque

Museu de Menorca

The Museu de Menorca is located in a 17th century Franciscan monastery in Mahón.  It is home to a wealth of artwork and history about the island, starting from the Roman and Byzantine periods and running through the Moorish era to the modern day.

Only time will tell whether Menorca remains tucked away off the tourist track, but for now, it is certainly one of the most unspoilt destinations of the Mediterranean—a small, quiet island with sunsets that will stay with you long after your holiday ends. Monarch has lots of holiday and flights deals to Menorca, so make sure you check them out here.

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