Monarch Blog http://blog.monarch.co.uk Monarch Airlines Official Blog Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:05:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Who is Britain’s least romantic partner? http://blog.monarch.co.uk/who-is-britains-least-romantic-partner/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/who-is-britains-least-romantic-partner/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:11:34 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8159 Earlier this year Monarch scoured the UK for stories of romance gone wrong in a bid to help the nation’s romantically challenged. In one sense at least we have not been disappointed, with hundreds of hilarious and heartbreaking entries into our ‘Valentine’s Day Fails’ competition!

Among the many disastrous tales of romantic woe, David Whotton from Glenfield, Leicester stood out as a man very much need of help and advice.

Image of David and Margaret - Leicester

David’s long suffering wife, Margaret has resigned herself to the fact that a dozen red roses are out of the question this Valentine’s Day, as each occasion in 45 years of marriage has passed by without a single bouquet of flowers from her husband.

David says: “Margaret knows that I’m just not a flower person. The closest my lovely wife has come to a floral arrangement was when I surprised her with a box of cauliflowers – safe to say, she was not impressed.

“I did try to make it up to her by presenting her with a huge bouquet of daffodils the next day – but she just thought I’d dug them up from someone’s garden! It’s definitely time for me to stop digging and start grovelling!”

So Monarch is helping David to make up for over four decades of unromantic gestures by giving the couple a pair of flights from Birmingham Airport to one of Italy’s most famous cities of love – Rome.

Rome 2

Meanwhile, Paul Stanley from Audenshaw in Manchester has been named as a man most in need of romantic assistance  in the north. Paul’s partner, Denise has resigned herself to the fact that he is not a man of big gestures and that February 14th is simply just another date on the calendar.  In the 28 years they have been married he has never sent his wife a Valentine’s Day card, flowers or chocolates.  Paul’s one and only attempt to woo his wife landed him in hot water, as the heart-shaped bucket and mop he so carefully laid out on the kitchen floor alongside a scrubbing brush was met a less than enthusiastic reception.

Image of Paul and Denise - Manchester

Paul said: “I thought she would be over the moon with my practical and romantic gift, but it’s safe to say she was still very unimpressed.  I love my wife dearly, but she knows I’m not a big gesture person!”

So, in an effort to help get love back into the air, Monarch has helped Paul to make up for a distinct lack of unromantic gestures of the years by giving the couple a pair of flights from Manchester Airport to one of Italy’s most beautiful and romantically inspiring cities – Venice.

Venice5

Down in London, Stephen from Wimbledon’s long suffering partner, Katie has resigned herself to the fact that Stephen’s love of rugby always triumphs over his attempts at romance.  While he appears to be making an effort and putting Katie first, the true intent of his gestures are easy to see.  Locations for romantic weekends are conveniently chosen to tie in with key rugby matches and stadia, and restaurants are appropriately booked around kick off times.  Stephen has left his loved one patiently waiting alone in a hotel room or restaurant, while he and his friends go out after the game to celebrate the team’s win. Katie is not even comforted by the hope that Stephen might come back if the team lose, as Stephen will instead inevitably spend the evening commiserating with his friends.

However, while Valentine’s Day weekend would see many big romantic gestures being made, love was certainly not in the air for this couple.  So, to help Stephen score his own try and earn some much needed team points from his beloved Katie, Monarch gave the couple a pair of flights from Luton Airport to Italy’s romantic capital, Rome.

So which of our three winners would get your vote for Britain’s least romantic partner? Let us know in the comments below!

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Who won the Gibraltar Quiz competition? http://blog.monarch.co.uk/who-won-the-gibraltar-quiz-competition/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/who-won-the-gibraltar-quiz-competition/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:25:48 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8147 Are you a fan of quizzes, or a fan of Gibraltar, or both? If so, you’re sure to have entered our recent Facebook competition for the chance to win a short break for two to Gibraltar, courtesy of Monarch Airlines, the Gibraltar Tourist Board and The Caleta Hotel!

Nestled on the shores next to Catalan Bay, on the east side of the Rock of Gibraltar, the Caleta Hotel is a warm and friendly four star hotel, catering for the needs of all discerning travellers. Guests can enjoy an impeccable personal service in elegant surroundings, with panoramic views of the Rock and onwards to the coastlines of Southern Spain and Morocco.

The very lucky winner for this short break to Gibraltar was Mr D Sutton! Congratulations Mr Sutton!

If you missed the competition, don’t worry you can still enjoy the quiz itself, which we’ve included below (sorry, we don’t have any more prizes for this one). And spoiler alert – the questions are at the bottom. So don’t cheat!

1. Sometimes known as ‘Calpe’, the Rock is the most famous ‘stand out’ landmark of Gibraltar. But how tall is it really?
A – About 140 ft
B – About 1400 ft
C – About 2800 ft

2. In Gibraltar there is a rare opportunity to see semi-wild primates at close quarters. But what does legend say will happen if the Barbary macaque monkeys leave Gibraltar?
A – All the people will also leave Gibraltar
B – Gibraltar will cease to be British
C – There is no such legend

Europa Point, Gibraltar
3. Europa Point is the southernmost point of Gibraltar, and is the location of Gibraltar’s only dedicated cricket oval! Which two bodies of water merge here?
A – Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea
B – Pacific Ocean and Southern Ocean
C – Dead Sea and Caspian Sea

4. The Rock is honeycombed with a massive network of tunnels, which are open for fascinating public tours. What is the total length of the tunnels in the Rock?
A – 3 miles
B – 32 miles
C – 320 miles

Gibraltar

5. The population of Gibraltar is around 30,000 people. But what is the total area of this British territory?
A – 2.6 square miles
B – 26 square miles
C – 260 square miles

Gibraltar Airport

6. Monarch is the largest operator at Gibraltar International Airport. What is particularly unusual about the airport?
A – It was constructed during World War II
B – The terminal has a capacity of 1.5 million passengers/year
C – The runway is intersected by a major road – Winston Churchill Avenue

Gibraltar sights

7. What is particularly interesting about St Michael’s Cave?
A – Stunningly lit up stalactites and stalagmites
B – Lower St Michael’s cave features a crystal clear lake
C – Cathedral Cave is equipped with a concrete stage and seating for 100 people
D – All of the above

8. Gibraltar has long fascinated celebrity visitors. Which one of the Beatles got married in Gibraltar in 1969?
A – John Lennon
B – Paul McCartney
C – Ringo Starr

9. What is the key ingredient in Gibraltar’s baked, pancake-like national dish called Calentita?
A – Potatoes
B – Chick pea flour
C – Carrots

10. How does Gibraltar celebrate its National Day on 10 September?
A – A special public ceremony, street party and fireworks display
B – It releases 30,000 balloons, one for every citizen
C – All of the above
D – None of the above

So how did you do? Check your answers below!

 

1 – B. About 1400 ft
2 – B. Gibraltar will cease to be British
3 – A. Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea
4 – B. 32 miles
5 – A. 2.6 square miles
6 – C. The runway is intersected by a major road – Winston Churchill Avenue
7 – D. All of the above
8 – A. John Lennon
9 – B. Chick peak flour
10 – C. All of the above

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Win flights from Birmingham on Twitter every day this week! http://blog.monarch.co.uk/win-flights-from-birmingham-on-twitter-every-day-this-week/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/win-flights-from-birmingham-on-twitter-every-day-this-week/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 15:48:28 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8135 Do you love to fly from the Midlands area? Are you a Monarch follower on Twitter (or would you like to be?) Great news for you!

Every day from Monday 2 March to Sunday 8 March inclusive, Monarch is giving away return flights for two from Birmingham Airport every day on Twitter! All you have to do is follow @monarch on Twitter (www.twitter.com/monarch) and look out for tweets at 9am every day explaining how to enter, then follow instructions  on the tweet.

You can enter as many times as you like. Each competition starts and ends on the same day, but there’s plenty of time to enter. Winners will be announced next week. And of course, terms and conditions so don’t forget to read them before you enter!

So, which flights would you like to win? Here’s the rundown of the daily random prize draws:

  • Monday: Win flights to Venice

Venice - win free flights from Birmingham with Monarch!

  • Tuesday: Win flights to Paphos

Paphos, Cyprus - win free flights from Birmingham with Monarch!

  • Wednesday: Win flights to Faro

Faro, Portugal - win free flights from Birmingham with Monarch!

Fuertenventura, Canary Islands - win free flights from Birmingham with Monarch!

  • Friday: Win flights to Bodrum

Bodrum - win free flights from Birmingham with Monarch!

  • Saturday: Win flights to Ibiza

Ibiza, Spain - win free flights from Birmingham with Monarch!

  • Sunday: Win flights to Malaga

Malaga, Spain - win free flights from Birmingham with Monarch!

 

Good luck to every entrant!

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Top destinations to visit in March http://blog.monarch.co.uk/top-destinations-march-2015/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/top-destinations-march-2015/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 09:45:18 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8110 Whether you fancy a last-minute city break or a little pre-spring sunshine to warm you up after a miserable winter, you’re sure to find the ideal place for your next little trip. Here’s our top picks for March…

Faro, Portugal

Faro and Algarve

The Algarve’s capital is an unusual city that combines the region’s rich history with its wonderful natural surroundings to excellent effect. Emanating from the charming marina, the city’s cobbled streets are filled with fantastic seafood restaurants and lively little bars.

Faro really has a lot to offer, whether you want to spend your days playing golf or lazing on the nearby Praia de Faro. Whatever you do, the Cidade Velha (Old Town) is an absolute must both for history and atmosphere. During the day, take your time to explore the nooks and crannies of the walled city, making sure to scale the Cathedral’s steps for incredible panoramic vistas and visit the Museum Municipal to learn of Faro’s colourful past.

In the evening (and especially on the weekends), head out to sample one of the many fine restaurants in the area and witness the lively Faro nightlife first hand. Taberna da Se is a great place to start your evening before making the short walk over to Rua do Prior to continue the fun late into the night.

While Faro is by no means scorching in March, the weather is generally sunny throughout the month. The temperature tends to hover around the high teens, making it pleasant, but not too stifling. In any case, the weather is usually much nicer than in the UK!

 

Tenerife, Spain

Tenerife March

This popular Canary Island is the ideal destination for those looking for a mixture of lazy beach days and excursions of a more active persuasion.

With a good amount of sunshine, we have to start with Tenerife’s quality beaches. For sheer choice, it’s hard to look past Playa de las Américas resort. Here you have El Camison, a lively stretch of beach with sweeping golden sands, Troya, a busy beach where water sports are popular, and El Puerto, a much quieter beach with fewer crowds and high-level seafood restaurants.

For those who like the challenge of an outdoor trek, the Teide National Park is the perfect place for you. The magnificent centrepiece of the area is of course Mount Teide; the largest mountain in all of Spain. At 3,718 metres, hiking up the peak may be a bit much for a holiday activity, so there is also the option to take a cable car to the summit. The views from the top are nothing short of astounding.

 

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

sharm el sheikh

For sun, sea and sand, look no further than Sham El Sheikh. With the average temperature hovering in the 20s, it’s likely that a March trip to the Egyptian resort will bring you plenty of warm weather with clear skies to boot. Nestled attractively between the mountains of Sinai and the stunning Red Sea, this popular holiday resort makes for the perfect relaxing beach break – but there’s more to Sharm El Sheikh than sunbathing…

The area is renowned for its sensationally clear and temperate waters, making it one of the best places in the world to dive and snorkel. If you fancy trying your hand at this fascinating activity, then there are plenty of dive centres in the resort to get you ready for the experience. Once you are in the water, you won’t regret it as you see the amazing array of marine life that dwells below the waves.

If you don’t feel comfortable taking the plunge then do not worry, you can still see the amazing reefs of the bay by snorkelling. The clear waters of the Red Sea and the coral systems around Sharm El Sheikh make this activity extremely easy and hassle free with many hotels providing floating jetties for easy access to the coral.

 

Alicante, Spain

Alicante March

Standing as a tourist favourite all year long due to its fantastic family-friendly resorts, Alicante boasts everything you would look for in a holiday: historical attractions, Blue Flag beaches, fantastic restaurants and a thriving nightlife. If you are going to be in the region in March, then it is certainly worth making a day trip to nearby Valencia. There are plenty of direct trains from Alicante to Valencia which can only take just under two hours, depending on the time of day you travel.

Why, you ask? Between March 15th and 19th, the city will welcome one of Spain’s biggest festivals, the Fallas de Valencia. This explosive fiesta-meets-carnival is sure to wow and astound you, as parades, firework displays and pageants culminate into an explosive display where all city lights are turned off and papier-mache caricatures are stuffed with fireworks.

The festival’s origins are in the Middle Ages, when winter supplies were torched as part of their spring cleaning process. This pagan ritual was then combined with the church’s commemoration of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. The party rages on from 8am to midnight, so be sure to base yourself in Alicante and have a day out in Valencia you will never forget.

 

Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck Austria March

Sometimes, you want to just take a nice weekend city break, so why not enjoy the charming delights of Austria? The capital city of Tyrol, Innsbruck has more castles, palaces, museums, cathedrals and galleries than you can shake a stick at, and as it slowly emerges out of winter, there is no better time to explore this picturesque city.

However, if you are here in March, you’ll also be rewarded with the fantastic Altitude Festival. Taking place in Mayrhofen, which is only 40 miles to the east of Innsbruck, this brilliant event will bring a slice of home to your travels. Some of the best comedians from the UK and Ireland will be making audiences chuckle in what is one of the most popular ski resorts in Europe.  It will be running from March 23rd to 27th.

To top all of this, the winter period is renowned all over Austria for being the Glorious Ball Season, with an extensive programme of dazzling balls, dances and musical performances. The season traditionally concludes in the middle of March, so you may be able to catch it while you still can!

 

Lyon, France

Lyon March

To say that Lyon is a cosmopolitan city would be a huge understatement. With its towering basilicas, majestic cathedral, cultural museums, and cool and quirky bar scene, you won’t be short of things to do here. To add to all of this, Vaulx-en-Velin, just on the outskirts of the city, will be hosting a month-long Jazz festival.

The 28th Vaulx Jazz Fest will have an extensive programme of performances, shows, talks, seminars, workshops and debates, and a particular highlight will be the young people’s concert. Regardless of what your musical tastes are, there is sure to be something here to cater to you.

Where would you like to go this March?

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Peter’s story: Blue Monday and the Golden Tickets http://blog.monarch.co.uk/peters-story-blue-monday-and-the-golden-tickets/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/peters-story-blue-monday-and-the-golden-tickets/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:45:23 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8102 You may remember that back in January, we gave away ‘Golden Tickets’ to 22 lucky winners who flew with us on Blue Monday. One of the winners, Mr Slater, was so excited about the win that he sent us his story.

“As we boarded our Monarch flight at East Midlands Airport, my wife and I had no idea that we were travelling to Malaga on “Blue Monday.”

“Somewhere in the back of my mind I’d heard about this before. I certainly knew the track by New Order , the one with the opening that sounds like someone playing a typewriter,but why had January 19th been designated the most depressing day of the year, when divorce proceedings start, credit card bills come in and Christmas is a fast fading memory?

“Well if you do the research, there’s even an academic equation to prove the point. All I knew as we climbed the steps was that we’d checked in our bags, the weather forecast for Spain was encouraging, and a week enjoying some winter sunshine was about to start.

“I spend a lot of afternoons and evening freezing at football grounds, covering games for BBC sport, so late January is always a good time to escape the gloom.  This winter had been particularly fraught. I even  had to spend Boxing Night in a Sheffield hotel when snow meant I couldn’t reach home.

“So our mood was cheerful as we entered the cabin. We were pretty much the last people on, since having our seats already allocated meant there was no need for the demeaning rush you experience on some budget airlines.

“Perhaps the cabin crew already knew something we didn’t as we made our way to the middle of the aircraft and settled into our seats. If they did they were saying nothing. Then came the announcement.

“‘Today is Blue Monday, but not on this Monarch flight for one lucky passenger.’ This sounded interesting, but if it’s a special prize you know you’re never going to win it, so I only had half an ear on the rest of the words.

“If you look into the seat pocket in front of you, one of you will find a golden envelope. Inside you’ll find a voucher for a pair of  return tickets to any Monarch destination.”

“Well it’s an improvement to actually have seat pockets, so I had a quick rummage, and to my astonishment, there was a golden envelope. My first thought was that someone had left it there from a previous flight. But I waved it in the air and the stewardess immediately came over. I then opened the envelope, feeling like someone presenting an award at the Oscars. “And the winner is….me!”

photo

“There then followed an announcement on the tannoy, envious groans from other passengers, and smug looks from Mrs. S and myself. I started looking in the back of the in flight magazine to find out exactly where we could go. It was a euphoric feeling, since the only thing I’d ever won before was a tin of biscuits in a raffle when I was ten years old.

“We had to go to the rear of the plane to have our photos taken with the ticket, and then came the hard part. Where were we going to go!

“We like to do a long distance walk each year, so after much discussion about destinations, we settled on Italy, and eight days in Tuscany. Fortunately Monarch fly to Fiumicino Airport in Rome, so we could combine the walk with a couple of days in the Eternal City, a place I last visited when I was producing the 1990 World Cup Finals for BBC Radio. We’re going in June.

“Back on the Malaga flight, tail winds meant we arrived way ahead of schedule, so were able to  collect our hire car and drive to our final destination in daylight. The sun shone for most of the week , the weather was lovely for January, and on the way back we were offered exit row seats with extra leg room.

So now we’re planning our Italian adventure, and thanks to being in the right seat at the right time, we’re saving a couple of hundred pounds into the bargain. When our children were young they used to love “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory,” when those lucky winners of the Golden Ticket had as much chocolate as they wanted. I love chocolate, but I’m much happier with what I found in my Golden Ticket.”

Thanks Peter for sharing your lovely experience with us! We look forward to welcoming you back onboard soon!

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Ibiza on a budget http://blog.monarch.co.uk/ibiza-on-a-budget/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/ibiza-on-a-budget/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:56:03 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8085 Sun. Sea. Sand. Spending more money than you have? There is no reason why a holiday to the charming and dazzling island of Ibiza needs to break the bank. If you are escaping to Ibiza for its world-class nightclubs, or your idea of a holiday is lounging on the peaceful sandy beaches (or it could be a combination of both!), here are some ways you can come home not worried about that next credit card bill.

Sightseeing

Ibiza sightsIbiza coast

There is tons to do in Ibiza that won’t even cost you a penny. Over in Ibiza Town, the convoluted Dalt Vila, translating literally into ‘high town’, is a labyrinth of cobbled alleyways, whitewashed buildings and cute quirky cafes. Add to this the fact that the area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and that you can walk around here without even having to dip into your pockets, and you’re onto a winner. When exploring, look out for the secret escape tunnel on Calle de San Ciriaco, behind the Catholic church.

If you are travelling to Ibiza in May, the Medieval Festival should be at the top of your list. Not only is it free, but the entire island is dominated by local musicians, dancers, traditional performances and theatrical productions.

Over at the cove of Sa Caleta, there are also the earliest ruins on the island, with some of the Phoenician settlements dating all the way back to 654 BC. The south of the island is also famed for its views. The whitewashed village of Sant Josep de sa Talaia will lead you to the top of the highest hill on the isle, Sa Talaia – the walk to the top may be strenuous but the dazzling views are sure worth it; on a clear day you can even see Majorca and the mainland. Another great view is of Es Vedra, a mystical rock that rises from the water just off Se Pedrera.

Other free attractions worth visiting include the clifftop home of late architect Erwin Broner in Sa Penya, a Modernist art lover’s dream, and the brilliant Centro Cultura S’Alamera that offers free seasonal photography exhibitions.

 

Eating

Ibiza food

If it is lunch you are looking for, the old market, known locally as mercado viejo, offers organic and locally-sourced produce at low price tags. Tasty Greek cuisine on paper plates, small cafes dishing out glasses of vino rosado, and fresh salads including the catch of the day – what more could you really ask for?

For dinner, you may want to try the pizza favourite, El Pirata, along the waterfront – complimentary with your meal will be a nightly show involving street artists and local musicians. Impressive stuff. Furthermore, while sushi can be very expensive due to its popularity on the island, the much cheaper Sushiya Aoyama in Ibiza Town is ideal for those on a mid-range budget.

 

Travelling

As soon as you arrive at the airport in Ibiza Town, head straight to the outside bus stop, where you can get the number ten bus to the port – taxis will be extremely pricey here.

These buses are also useful during your holiday, as they connect all the major towns and resorts. The Disco Bus, in particular, runs all night until 6am in the morning over July and August – perfect for those all-nighter parties. Bus companies that operate to different parts of the island shouldn’t have fares exceeding €3; firms to look out for include Autobuses Empresas, San Antonio, and Lucas Costa.

 

Lively evenings

For a cheaper approach, consider Underground club just outside of Ibiza Town, Boutique Hostal Salinas in San Jose that offers free daily apres-beach DJ sessions in stunning gardens and flamenco shows, and free live music at Tropicana Bar at Cala Jondal.

Of course, no trip to Ibiza would be complete without having a night out at Saint Antonio. The sunset strip attracts all backgrounds, and it certainly doesn’t have to be a pricey night out. Famous DJs from around the world perform at Cafe Mambo for free, while all the major nights will have tickets available online or in resorts for so much cheaper.

 

Everything else

Ibiza beach

Obviously, laying on one of Ibiza’s many pristine beaches won’t cost you anything, unless you choose to hire out a sun lounger or umbrella – some of these are free on certain beaches. At the beach at Benirras, there are even free yoga sessions on Sundays if you are looking to tap into your inner self.

And what about that all-important shopping? If you are holidaying in the south, your port of call should be the flea market at San Jordi, running every Saturday morning, selling anything from furniture and antiques to clothes and sandwiches. In the north, meanwhile, the market at Cala Llenya is on Sundays and is a major place for some hard haggling.

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Free tickets to A Place in the Sun Live http://blog.monarch.co.uk/free-tickets-to-a-place-in-the-sun-live/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/free-tickets-to-a-place-in-the-sun-live/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:09:56 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8066 If you’re dreaming of having a place overseas to escape to, or you’ve been tempted after reading our post on buying a property abroad, then don’t miss the opportunity to attend Europe’s largest overseas property show A Place in the Sun Live taking place at Manchester Central 13th – 15th March 2015 and London Olympia 8th-10th May 2015.

As official airline partner of A Place in the Sun Live, our customers can get FREE tickets to attend the show (worth £10!).

APITS 2

Whether you’re thinking of Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Cyprus or even a little further afield like Florida and the Caribbean you’ll be spoilt for choice! With stands dedicated to legal and financial advice, tax and currency, a specialist French Village (Manchester exhibition) to cater for the strong interest in French property plus many stands dedicated to Spain, you’re sure to come away informed, inspired and excited at the prospect of having your very own property abroad. You can look forward to seminars, Q&A sessions along with live appearances from TV presenters too.

At the London show, you’ll find specialist country pavilions for Florida, Italy and Portugal.

If you would like to attend either exhibition (or both) for free, then you can claim tickets by clicking here for Manchester and here for London.

To find out more about each show please visit aplaceinthesun.com/exhibitions.

APITS 3

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Naples and southern Italy: Stunning surrounding scenery http://blog.monarch.co.uk/naples-and-southern-italy-stunning-surrounding-scenery/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/naples-and-southern-italy-stunning-surrounding-scenery/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:49:16 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8063 Known for its incredible pizza and passionate inhabitants, Naples is a wonderful holiday destination in its own right. However, the city is also surrounded by some of the country’s most beautiful scenery, making it the ideal platform to fly to for a holiday in southern Italy.

Whether you are looking for charming little seaside towns, dramatic islands, attractive coastlines or fascinating history, the area around Naples will not disappoint. Here are our tops tips for a holiday in the region that can be easily reached by way of a flight to Naples.

Stunning Sorrento

sorrento

Sorrento has long been a popular spot for an Italian holiday, and with its laid-back charm and stunning sea views, it’s easy to see why. At a stone’s throw away from Naples airport (you can catch the bus directly from here), making the trip here is very straightforward.

Climbing precariously back from the sea’s edge, the multi-coloured houses of the city help create a truly authentic coastline. Sorrento is very easy to navigate on foot and this is probably one of the best ways to explore the city intimately.

Relax by the sea at the nearby Marina Grande or the Marina Piccola, or make the trek to the Bagni Regina Giovanna, which is a much more secluded and attractive cove.

Sorento’s historic centre is home to the l’Alambicco, a small shop where you can sample limoncello, the region’s signature drink. You must try the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, a local dish made up of delicious pasta and a thick tomato sauce that is served to perfection in the many excellent restaurants in Sorrento.

A must-see is the city’s wonderful Duomo (cathedral), which offers a fascinating insight into the role of religion in Italy’s past and present. The ornate fixtures of the cathedral’s bell tower help create a stunning exterior which houses one of the most beautiful church interiors you are ever likely to see.

Captivating Capri

Capri

Close to Sorrento, you will find the stunning island of Capri; a place that has been blessed with incredible surrounding scenery.

The views and vistas here have inspired many an artist over the years and as you approach the island from mainland Italy, you’ll struggle not to feel creatively stimulated yourself.

Possibly one of the best ways to take in the island properly is to arrange a boat tour around it. Starting from the Marina Grande, you’ll see the imposing cliffs that protect Capri, as well as many intriguingly little grottos and inlets. Highlights include the Faraglioni rocks, the San Giacomo monastery, Punta Fucile and the Longa di Basso lighthouse.

For more incredible views, take the Tragara walk that leads up to the Belvedere. As you walk along the road, you’ll see stunning scenery all the way as you gaze out to sea.

Capri’s charming historic centre is also well worth exploring on foot. The town is split into two districts and both are made up of small houses and little squares. This is the ideal place to sample the island’s famous cuisine that is heavily based on fresh seafood.

Other charming islands in the region include Procida and Ischia. The former is known for its vibrantly coloured houses while the latter for its high-quality natural spas.

Procida

Charming Cilento

Cilento

A little further afield from the other options on this list is the Cilento, but it’s an extended journey well worth taking.

One of the last true lesser-known gems that southern Italy possesses, this part of the region is covered by some of the most stunning landscapes the entire country boasts, and it’s full of charming little villages and towns where you can experience the real-deal when it comes to Italian culture.

To give you an idea of Cilento’s natural beauty, a great deal of it is actually a national park with UNESCO World Heritage status; it’s a place for those who want to escape the crowds of the coast, explore the rugged quirks of the forests and unwind in true Italy.

Rent a car and explore the many quaint little towns here, there are plenty of different places that cater to all tastes.  Enjoy the medieval origins of Castelcivita and Ascea, experience the lively atmosphere of Agropoli, or just fall in love with the stunning beauty of Agnone – wherever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

For history, head to the Paestum in the north of the region. The preserved ruins are less crowded than Pompeii but no less impressive, and you can reach them comfortably on a day trip.

Magnificent Mount Vesuvius

mount vesuvius

To see the imposing volcano up close, you can either take a trip independently from Pompeii or arrange a tour from one of the many guides in the city.

The national park that surrounds the mountain is full of nature trails that allow you to experience the local culture and fauna of the area first hand. On entry to the park, you will have to purchase a ticket at the office and decide on which trail you want to take. There are many different options that vary in length and difficulty so you can choose one based on your personal preference.

 

 

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Experience Chinese New Year in Europe http://blog.monarch.co.uk/experience-chinese-new-year-in-europe/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/experience-chinese-new-year-in-europe/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:52:57 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8055 Chinese New Year is set to take place this year on February 19th, and the Year of the Sheep will no doubt be a colourful explosion of culture and history all rolled into one big celebration.

The thing is, while the biggest parties will undoubtedly be taking place in China, this is very far away. And we mean very far. And at this point, you have probably got a better chance of booking a short trip, close to home than heading off to the other side of the world to join in the revelry.

It turns out you are in luck, as there are plenty of places in Europe where the Chinese community gets together to ring in the new year, and here are some of the best.

 

Lyon

Chinese new year in Lyon

The delightful city of Lyon is actually home to one of the most intimate and authentic Chinese New Year celebrations outside of China itself, making it an excellent place to welcome the Sheep in style.

With its own Chinatown and a Chinese community of some 15,000 people, you can expect plenty of Chinese tradition here. This year, the Rue Passet & Rue d’Aguesseau is set to host another vivid affair with the spectacular lion dance playing a massive part in the revelry. This masterpiece of choreography sees the lion, a symbol of luck, ward off evil as performers dance around with dragon puppets in a bid to ring in a prosperous new year. Chinatown will be decked out impressively with traditional red lanterns to accompany the celebration.

Lyon is a place of great culture in its own right, but the people here are always happy and willing to celebrate the heritage of others, and it’s that sentiment that you will see reflected in the Chinese New Year festivities that take place here.

Outside of the Chinese New Year, Lyon is renowned as the gastronomic centre of France, a title you’ll certainly have to put to the test. The city also boasts a number of incredible museums and tourist attractions including the Vieux Lyon, Lyon Cathedral, Basilica of Notredame de Fourviere, Gadagne Museum and the Fabric Museum.

 

Rome

Chinese new year in RomeAlthough the Chinese population in Italy is relatively small, Rome still plays host to a CNY celebration unlike any other – and do you really needed an excuse to visit the Eternal City anyway?

To start of the festivities, a huge parade sets out from the Via dei Fori Imperiali with people gathering from all over Europe to witness the spectacle. Once again, you can expect the traditional lion dance, complete with dragons and thwarted evil spirits. After much dancing and performing, the festivities come to an end in spectacular fashion in front of the Colosseum. As you marvel at this ancient wonder, the skies above are lit with fireworks in true Chinese style.

Seeing the history of ancient Rome collide and combine with Chinese culture in this way is truly unique and an event worth being a part of – there’s nothing else quite like it when it comes to CNY.

Of course, Rome has so many incredible things to see and do that any list will fall short of accounting for them all. Aside from the Coliseum, there’s the Pantheon, Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain, to name but a few must-see attractions. And we haven’t even mentioned the food.

 

Barcelona

Chinese new year in BarcelonaBarcelona is a city of rich colour at the best of times, but during Chinese New Year, the whole community gets together to put on a show to remember. Despite there being very few Chinese people in Spain, the Catalan capital was twinned with Shanghai in 2001 and the festivities have become a mainstay on Barcelona’s calendar ever since.

Last year, Barcelona FC even released a short video in which Neymar, Piqué, Pedro and Sergi Roberto wished Chinese people everywhere a happy new year!

Expect the usual pageantry, all with the unique twist of Catalonia – don’t miss out on all the fun.

Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, the street performers on La Rambla, a trip to the mighty Camp Nou, Barcelona’s beach and the views from mount Tibidabo are just a few of the things that this wonderful city has to offer visitors.

 

 

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Monarch’s Bloggers of the Month: January Edition http://blog.monarch.co.uk/monarchs-bloggers-of-the-month-january-edition/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/monarchs-bloggers-of-the-month-january-edition/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:43:48 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8043 Whether it’s a full-time job or just a jet-setting hobby, there’s no one better to get travel advice from than the humble travel blogger!

Here are our five favourite wanderlust writers for the month:

utrecht

Image Source: Tourism Utrecht

 

Emily Luxton

Award-winning British blogger Emily Luxton has travelled the world all over, from Africa to Antarctica, writing and photographing all of  her incredible trips. You’ll also find packing tips, planning how-tos, hotel and restaurant reviews (such as her recent post on the luxurious Carlton President in Utrecht, Netherlands), and funny personal stories.

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Image Source: Flickr

 

Pommie Travels

Victoria Brewood, the blogger behind the popular Pommie Travels, is a bit of an expert when it comes to travelling – since 2008, she’s visited over 40 countries and shows no sign of slowing down.

Her blog is filled with her own tips and tricks she’s learnt (sometimes the hard way!), as well as extensive city guides and videos from her YouTube channel.

DCIM100GOPRO

Image Source: Vicky Flip Flop Travels

 

Vicky Flip Flop Travels

Travel blogging – think it’s for you? Then head over to Vicky Flip Flop Travels to get real-life advice on making it in the blogging world. Vicky isn’t out to travel forever, instead she specialises in shorter holidays and festival trips. Reading her blog you almost feel as if you’re having a chat with a very travel-savvy friend!

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Image Source: Heather on her Travels

 

Heather On Her Travels

If you’re a bit past staying in hostels and partying in clubs until the sun comes up, then check out Heather On Her Travels. A mother from Bristol, Heather regularly travels with her friends and family all through the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

 

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Image Source: On the Luce

 

On the Luce

Lucy is a freelance editor and designer but is fortunate enough to squeeze in a bit of travel on the side. On the Luce is for travellers interested in ‘grown up backpacking with a touch of luxury’, with her guides focussing on how to do popular cities on a budget. Her recent post on St Germain in Paris combines beautiful photos with lots of free sights to see!

 

Do you have any travellers who you follow on their journey?

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