London’s Calling!

There is a reason why London was recently voted the top place to visit in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Award 2019 and that is because there is so much to do! Take a sneak peak in our video below.

We want to give you some of our best tips to enjoy your stay in London!

Best Way Round – Tube (Underground)

Make sure when you arrive in London you buy an Oyster Card. You will have to pay a refundable deposit of £5, but you will need this if you want to pack in everything within a short stay. Expect to pay around £6-7 per day using the tube. Remember to hand your card back into a kiosk for a full Oyster Card refund at the end of your trip.

Best Place To Stay – The East London Hotel

Just outside Central London in Bethnal Green is The East London Hotel. Situated close to the tube, the hotel is the ideal place for a short stay.

The hotel is sleek, functional and cosy; and comes at a great price compared to comparable chain hotels. Make sure to book direct with the hotel and get another 10% off.

Click here for the website to receive discount.

Best Instagram Shot – Neal’s Yard

Neal’s Yard is situated in Covent Garden and has now become a tourist hotspot. Once a former derelict yard, Neal’s Yard now boasts many independent businesses.

What draws visitors to this ‘off the beaten track’ courtyard is the colourful array of buildings that surround it – ideal for snaps!

Best Place For a View – Shard

The current highest building in London, The Shard, has the best landscape views of the city. After being screened through tight security, you will go up two elevators to reach the top deck.

Once at the top you will have a 360 panoramic view of Central London. The platform is good for photographs – dependent on where the sun is shining – and you will be able to see beyond London on a good day.

Note: Any keen photographers will not be permitted on the viewing platform with a camera tripod. This was taken off us before going up.

Best Place To Eat – Borough Market

Borough Market is full of an array of food from small businesses and for us was the number one place to find something eat.

From hallomi wraps to salt beef bagels the market has something for all. Please note that during the weekend the market can be very busy, so do expect the crowds when you visit.

Best Tour – UK Parliament

As a UK citizen I only recently found out that I was entitled to a free tour of parliament. After booking several months in advance, I was able to take a 90 minute tour of the ‘mother of parliaments’

If you are a fan of british politics you will be able to spot Members of Parliament in the morning inserting their prayer cards into their seats to secure seating for the day ahead. We saw Vince Cable MP, Philip Hollobone MP and the Deputy Speaker whilst on the tour.

The link to book a tour of parliament is here and is open to non-UK citizens.

Best Museum – The British Museum

The British Museum is packed full of historical monuments.

Upon entering you will be amazed at the Great Court’s glass roof and you will get lost in the many rooms the musuem has to offer. From Ancient Greece to 18th century Japan, the museum will have your attention for at least a day.

This musuem is free to enter and will be busy, so expect some queuing to enter and busy exhibitions once inside.

TOP TIP

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Vienna

Home to Mozart, apple strudels and bustling designer shopping districts, Vienna is an ideal stop for any trip around Europe.
Whilst it may not be the cheapest place to visit, Vienna has many reasonably priced attractions to choose from during a short stay. In this article we give you seven of the best activities to do whilst you are there!
Karlskirche

A stones throw away from Karlsplatz U-Bahn station is the majestic Karlskirche. The church with its baroque interior, has an internal elevator that can take you to the top of its vast frescoed dome giving you impressive views looking down into the church – If you are afraid of heights this probably isn’t for you.

Entrance to the church costs around €8 each and this will cover your elevator to the top.

St Stephen’s Cathedral

As one of the city’s central focal points, St Stephen’s Cathedral is a hub for tourism. Once you have squeezed passed the hoards of tourists outside the main entrance, the church has an impressive interior with gothic and renaissance architecture.

One of the more notable elements to the church is its coloured ceramic tiled roof, rebuilt after the Second World War, the roof is a representation of the Austrian Flag and designed with the help of Vienna residents.

Best View – Our advice is to pay to climb the elevator lift to the top of one of the church’s towers, the views from the top are not to be missed.

Place To Eat – La Stella Bianca

Just across the road from the Vienna Opera House, La Stella Bianca is an ideal place for a quick Italian snack on your tour around the City. We recommend trying the focaccia with a salami, tomato, and cheese filling as you take in the surroundings.

Schonbrunn Palace

A short journey from the city centre in the western suburbs is the former summer home of the Habsburg Family. Schronbrunn is a stark reminder of the influence this monarchy once had from the 16thto the early 20th century in Central Europe.

The palace contains gardens open to the public which contain baroque statues, water features and many mazes to get lost in. Please note that some of the gardens in the palace are now charging to enter, so be prepared to pay a little bit more if you want to see everything. Tours of the palace itself start from €14 each.

Natural History Museum

A great place for the family, the Natural History Museum is packed with activities for children and adults alike. From animatronic dinosaurs to space exploration, the museum has something for everyone.

Our personal favourite section was the ‘Morphing Station’ where an image is taken of your face and is changed to a prehistoric man or woman – you can even email this to yourself. Some of the activities in the museum do cost extra, e.g. Planetarium, so be prepared to pay more to see everything.

Hundertwasser House

Designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the expressionist urban art similar to Gaudi’s work in Barcelona, is a distinct change to the surrounding neighbourhood. Now being taken over by nature, the artwork of brightly coloured flats divided by bendy lines pull in tourists from across the city.

Once you have taken your photos of this building, pop into the Hundertwasser Village, filled with gift shops so you can get your hands on some Hundertwasser memorabilia.

Vienna Fairground (Prater Park)

If you want to spend an afternoon away from the museums and shops then Prater Park is an ideal place to have some fun. Home to the world famous Giant Viennese Ferris Wheel, you could spend a day here trying out all of its attractions. We tried out one of the many funhouses, and ended up getting lost. Entrance to the park is free and you pay for each individual attraction.

When You Are Finished…

Remember once you have been to where you want to go to in Vienna, nearby cities such as Bratislava and Budapest are only a short distance by train or by cruise along the Danube and well worth a visit on your European journey. See our Bratislava guide here.

Bratislava

From its Old Town architecture to its burgeoning café culture, Bratislava is now becoming a must see destination for those travelling across Europe.

We want to provide you with some of our favourite parts of Bratislava and give you some advice that will save you time and money.

Flying to Slovakia?
The M.R. Stefanik Airport is closest to
Bratislava. From the airport you can get into the city centre for around €1 on a bus, which is far cheaper than paying for a local taxi.

Note: Remember before you get on the bus – buy a ticket and validate the ticket on the bus otherwise you could be fined!


First Stop – Bratislava Castle Likened to an upside down table, Bratislava Castle is perched high above the cityscape. Whilst the castle has been a fortress for former monarchies, it now has opened its doors to the public and now contains a museum. Whilst you are at the castle we recommend you take a walk around the castle grounds and make sure to get that snap overlooking the city.


Nedbalka Gallery – The best place we found to understand the history of Slovak art was Nedbalka Gallery. The gallery, based on four floors, takes you on a journey through modern Slovak art and you will see how themes such as repression and revolution have influenced art over the last two centuries. The gallery provides you with a device for you to interact with all exhibits and this is a very useful tool to help you understand the origin of each piece. The inside of the gallery resembles the Guggenheim Museum in New York.




Best View – UFO Tower The unusual UFO Tower sits on top of Bratislava’s New Bridge and is a 5 to 10 minute walk away from the Old Town. To access the tower you will need to pay around €10 in order to take an elevator up to its restaurant. If you want to get to the observation deck you will need to climb a few more flights of stairs to get those snaps overlooking the city – if you are afraid of heights this is probably not the best visit for you!

Devin Castle – A 20 minute bus journey from the city centre, take the 29 bus from under the Bratislava New Bridge (Novy Most bus stop) to get to Devin Castle.

The castle was once a strategic stronghold controlling the shipping lanes on the Danube and Morava rivers, until Napoleon’s Army blew it up – despite this the castle still boasts impressive views. Make sure to walk around the back of the castle to grab that snap of the Maiden Tower.

Quick Tip: For any public transport if you can’t find a ticket machine go and speak to a newsagent as they usually sell them.

Best Place To Eat – Our favourite place to eat in Bratislava is Bistro Soho (Laurinska Street). Situated in the Old Town, Soho specialises in Asian cuisine and provides a relaxing environment away from the busy streets. A main course meal will cost around €10, the food quality and efficient service make this is a place you must try. As this venue fills up quickly, we recommend that you book in advance or try its twin restaurant on Dunajska Street.


Quick Tip – If you are going to eat in tourist areas, always check the price of food on the menu before ordering, as some restaurants tend to increase prices. Also service charges are normally not included in your bill either.

Best Place To Drink and Dance – KC Dunaj  Don’t be put off by the entrance to KC Dunaj, the venue is a firm favourite amongst young locals (18 to 40). During the day you can sit back and relax on its balcony garden overlooking the city; and at night you can enjoy the live entertainment it has to offer, from DJs to indie bands – a night venue that should be on your list.


Hidden Gem – Slovak Radio Building One of the most unusual buildings you will ever see. Shaped like an inverted pyramid, the building was built during the communist era. The building now houses a concert hall and is currently still being used as a national radio studio by AIRTVS. Whilst this building has featured on several of the ugliest buildings in the world lists, it is strangely appealing and a good example of communist-era architecture. You can get to this building by taking the Route 1 tram.


The majority of attractions in Bratislava can be done within two full days, so bear this in mind when planning your trip. With capital cities such as Vienna and Budapest both within short distances, Bratislava is an ideal stop on your tour around Europe.

Nine Things You Should You Do In Munich

Munich is the Capital Of Bavaria, with its grand shopping boulevards and beer halls, it has something for everyone!

We want to share with you some of what Munich and the surrounding area has to offer; and provide you with some tops tips to help reduce your spending and enjoy your time even further.

1. Where To Book Your Accommodation– Munich has high accommodation costs – even within its hostels. We advise you to look at accommodation in the outer suburbs of Munich, where there are plenty of households on Airbnb who offer low rates.

We stayed in Allach-Untermenzing a friendly residential area in the outersuburbs, close to the S-Bahn transport system. Not only was this option cheaper, but we got a fantastic experience with a German family!

2. Your First Visit – Munich City Museum – At a cost of 7 Euros this is a value for money must see and should be the starting point for your stay in Munich. The museum provides a history of the City from its inception to today and explores some of the city’s key cultural and historical themes: puppetry, music and national socialism. If you don’t speak German, make sure to get an audio guide as the museum’s information is all in German!

3. Hidden Gem – The Asamkirche. The Asamkirche is a unique church hidden away on a busy high street. The church was built in the mid-18th century as a private chapel by the Assam brothers. Now open to the public, you can take in the impressive interior baroque decor, architecture and paintings. We advise you to ‘pull up a pew’ and absorb the exceptional level of work that has gone into designing this small church.

4. Best Place For Your Instagram Shot – Neuschwanstein Castle – The home of the Mad King Ludwig, Neushwanstein Castle is situated south of Munich in the foothills of the Alps. Accessible by train from Munich Station, Neuschwanstein is said to be the castle that inspired Walt Disney to create the theme park, the Magical Kingdom.

Make sure to book your castle tickets in advance to avoid the long queues at the ticket office and head to the Marion Bridge for that perfect fairytale shot! To reduce your train costs make sure to purchase a Bayern ticket.

5. Best Place To Eat – Farmers Market Situated in the city centre is the Farmers Market, a place where you can grab a light snack from a local independent business. Many stores sell takeaway food, so we recommend on a cold day that you buy a soup from one of the kitchens and share a table with the locals.

6. Best View – Marianplatz Town Hall The Town Hall building can’t be missed as it overlooks the main square (Marianplatz).

The building offers tourists access to its tower to view the cityscape. The tower can be accessed by the main courtyard entrance and costs 3 euros – the good news is that there are no steps to the top! Another good tip is that the rest of the building is accessible to the public and has some spectacular gothic revival style staircases which you may wish to snap!

7. Dachau Concentration Camp – Just on the outskirts of Munich is Dachau Concentration Camp which held political prisoners and Jews before and during the Second World War. A tour of the camp is a sobering experience and a stark reminder of the horrors of the war. Make sure to pay a deposit for an audio guide from the main entrance building.

If you don’t have a car you will need to get a shuttle bus from Dachau Train Station. These buses run frequently and are well signposted.

8. Best Place To Relax – English Gardens Situated next to the city centre, the English Gardens provide a distinct change to the hustle and bustle of the surrounding area. The gardens contain historic buildings, a Chinese beer garden and a winding river. One of the most unusual things about this park is that the river is a favourite for local surfers, as it has an artificial wave at its south end – this is a must see for your trip!

9. Final Top Tip – You may come across things that you will find hard to understand if you are not a German speaker, e.g. Munich’s transport ticket machines. If you do get stuck just ask someone near you for help! Everyone we spoke to was very friendly and solved our problems quickly.

Munich has much more to offer and you will need at least two days to explore the city and the surrounding area attractions.

Here are some notable landmarks that didn’t quite make it into this blog but are worth a mention: Olympic Park, BMW Museum and Theatine Church.

Eight Tips For Your Trip To Prague!

Prague the capital of the Czech Republic is packed full of history, art and quirky experiences. From the world famous Charles Bridge through to the Beer Halls – Prague has something for everyone! We want to give you eight tips to ensure that you can make the most of your time in Prague, whilst also saving money along the way.

1. Where To Stay – If you are looking for somewhere cheap with quick transport links into the city centre, then we recommend looking at accommodation in Prague District 7. Just a short 10 minute tram journey away from the tourist hotspots, District 7 feels like a young and upcoming area with many small independent restaurants/cafes. Rents in this area are far cheaper than in tourist hotspots, so do consider this area when booking your accomodation – Airbnb will be your best bet! 2. Go and See Prague Castle – Overlooking the city is Prague Castle. Whilst it may be a long climb to get to the castle grounds, it is definitely worth it once inside. The grounds are made up of several buildings built during different time periods. The most prominant, St Vidas Cathedral, has some of the most beautiful Gothic architecture and stained glass windows you will ever see. Also make sure to visit the Golden Lane and its tiny houses – they were built for the people who used to work at the castle many years ago. 3. Best View – Take A Trip To Petrin Hill Tower. Petrin Hill Tower is located just west of the city centre. It is accessible by Finicular at the bottom of Petrin Hill or you can take a 30 minute walk up to the top. When you get to the top, you will have a further short climb to the top of the Lookout Tower – which is the highest point in Prague. The Tower has by far the best panoramic views of Prague and is essential for your photo album. The tower does have a cafe so if you need a drink/food after your ascent then you can go there. Also the tower does shake slightly at the top due to the wind, so be wary of that! 4. A Must See – John Lennon Wall. The wall originated in Prague following the death of John Lennon, where local students began to draw his images on the wall. As more and more images began to appear it drew resentment from the local police and eventually led to a clash between local students and police. Today the wall is now owned by the Government of Malta and is the only place in Prague where you can lawfully graffiti; and has now become an essential part of any visit to Prague. 5. Hidden Gem – Vysehrad Cemetery. Just a short metro journey south of the city centre is Vysehrad Cemetery, filled with the graves of some of the most famous Czech people from the world of art, science and politics. What makes Vysehrad Cemetery different is the grandiosity of the graves, with beautiful sculptures and monuments. The cemetery is not a tourist hotspot, so you can enjoy a relatively peaceful walk around these grounds – there is a fee for entering the Basillica, but not the cemetery! 6. Most Quirky Place To Visit – Adult Machines Museum. If you are looking for something quirky and different, then the Adult Machines Museum based within the city centre is the ideal place for you. The museum has several floors dedicated to the history of adult contraptions and how their designs have evolved over time. The museum also has its own adult cinema, showing some of the old adult classics from the early-20th century. The museum isn’t seedy and does provide a degree of fun which you won’t get anywhere elsewhere. 7. A Must See – Charles Bridge. Possibly the most iconic symbol of Prague is the Charles Bridge that stretches over the Vltava River. The bridge is always busy with tourists! During sunrise you will find people having wedding pictures and during the evening it will be filled with entertainers – so be prepared for crowds. A little tip which not many people know about, is that you can pay a small fee to climb to the top of each bridge tower which will give you a unique view of the bridge and the crowds below. 8. Best Instagram Photo – In the Prague Castle grounds there is a bronze statue entitled ‘Youth’. The statue is of a naked young male and there is a specific section on the statue where if rubbed will bring you good luck for the rest of the year. This is a favourite amongst tourists and is a snap you don’t want to miss! I will let you look at this further by clicking here. Prague has so much more to offer that wasn’t included in this article; and you really need at least 2 days to explore most of Prague. Other attractions that deserve a mention that weren’t included in this article are: Karlstejn Castle (outside of Prague), Prague River Cruise and the Astronomical Clock.

Visiting Liverpool? We Share Our Best Places to Go for 2019!

Liverpool the home of The Beatles, Cilla Black and the song: “Ferry Across the Mersey” by Gerry and The Pacemakers.

Whether you are a fan of The Beatles or not, we want to share with you some of our best tips to make sure you get the most out of your stay in Liverpool.

1) Where to Stay – The Nadler Hotel If you are looking for a cheap stay in a centrally located hotel, The Nadler Hotel fits the bill. Minimilist, modern and secure; The Nadler Hotel provides value for money. We took advantage of a direct booking discount from their website which made our stay even cheaper compared to the market average for the City – make sure to do your market research for other accomodation.

2) Visit the Museum of Liverpool – Just next to the seafront is the Museum of Liverpool, it offers three floors of free exhibitions exploring the history of Liverpool. If you are a Beatles fan, a must see is the Double Fantasy exhibition by Yoko Ono on the top floor. The exhibition explores the life of John and Yoko – keep an eye out for the wishing trees! More info click here.

3) Take The Ferry Across the River Mersey. Whilst it may seem cliche and it might be a little bit breezy, getting on a boat and seeing Liverpool from the River Mersey provides you with a unique view of the city’s historic buildings and landmarks. The trip takes around 45 minutes to an hour. Mersey Ferries are located next to the Liverpool Museum and provide regular shuttles.

4) Visit the Beatles Story Museum. The Beatles Story can be found at the Albert Docks. A very popular tourist attraction, you will spend more than an hour looking through the development of the Beatles. From their early gigs in Hamburg to their eventual split, the tour is a place not to be missed for all Beatles fans.

5) Best View In The City – Liverpool Cathedral. For a very small fee and an interesting climb to the top – not for the faint hearted; Liverpool Cathedral provides you with the best views of the City. Make sure to go on a non-cloudy day otherwise you won’t see too much.

6) Where to Eat – Head to The Baltic Market. The Baltic Market hidden away in Liverpool’s student district is a fantastic place to try street food from several local independent companies. From Vietnamese to Korean food, enjoy the surroundings of the Bavarian-esque style beer hall with live music on till late.

7) Hidden Gem – Anthony Gormley’s Sculptures at Crosby Beach. About five train stops (15 minutes) north of Liverpool is an art exhibition like nothing you have ever seen before. Scattered across Crosby Beach are 100 iron clad lifesize sculptures of the artist Anthony Gormley. We found it fascinating watching the tide swallow up these scupltures when it came in – not to be missed!

Liverpool has so much more to offer, and you should be able to cover its main attractions within two to three full tour days.

One thing is for sure, you will not be able to get the song: “Ferry Across the Mersey” out of your head after you have left!

How To Complain The Right Way!

We all have experiences of dealing with poor service from companies. From unexpected bills to faulty goods the list is endless.

However each of us has a different way of complaining and some people are more successful than others at getting what they want.

I want to give you 8 tactics to improve your complaints strategy and ensure that you get the desired outcome you want within the quickest possible timeframe.

1) Stop thinking that complaining is too much hassle. I want you to stop having that mindset! Yes we all have busy lives, but we can all spare thirty minutes a week to dedicate to a complaint where you have been unfairly treated. I want you to start complaining as a neccessity where you have a legitimate claim.

2) Know what leverage you have – look at your consumer and legal rights. It is important to know where the company has failed in their own processes or where they have potentially broken the law. Citizens Advice and Which? have advice on your legal rights, but also check the company’s service standard policies for service failures to reference in your complaint.

3) Identify what you want to acheive from your complaint from the start – I have seen many people complaining without being clear about what they want from the company. Make it clear what you want from the start, e.g. compensation or improved service, so the company is aware of what you wish to achieve. Being clear in your aim could help speed up your complaint resolution.

4) Don’t complain by phonecall – whilst you may wish to let off steam with a customer advisor, you will not have a written record of actions to be taken following your complaint.

For example if you follow up a complaint three weeks later and you have no written proof, a company could discredit your complaint which could delay the entire process.

5) Keep a written record of everything – one of my golden rules! Make sure any communication you have with the company is saved on your computer or email account in an easily accessible place with good document control, i.e. documents name and dated. This will save you time when you may have to refer back to the complaint in several weeks.

6) Know how the company’s internal complaints process works and use it to your advantage. Every company has a different way of handling compaints. Most companies will have a complaints handling timeframe that should last no longer than eight weeks. Find that webpage or ask a customer service advisor if you cannot find their complaints handling process.

7) Play The Waiting Game. After making your initial complaint you may not hear back from the company for several weeks. Keep reasonably chasing that complaint!

As a a quick tip, set two reminders on your phone, one for four weeks after your initial complaint and the second for eight weeks after your initial complaint – This will ensure you don’t forget about it!

8) Know when to escalate your complaint. After eight weeks since your initial complaint you will likely have the ability to escalate your complaint to an independent dispute resolution scheme, if you feel the company has not achieved the resolution you wanted.

There are many dispute resolution schemes across many industries, so I have listed some of the most common below:

  1. Retail ADR – Consumer/Retail
  2. Aviation ADR – Airlines
  3. Ofgem – Energy Companies
  4. Communications Ombudsman – Telecoms Companies
  5. Housing Ombudsman – Letting Agents and Landlords

Check the relevant resolution scheme website and see what types of complaints they can handle. If the relevant regulator supports your complaint, the company will be contractually obliged to follow their decision.

If you follow my tactics you will have greater complaints resolution success. You will not get anywhere by becoming angry with the company or damaging their reputation through social media.

Think logically, keep all your communications in one place and know your escalation process. If you follow my tactics you will eventually get what you deserve!