Cruising into Romance

The ocean cruise has become one of the most popular forms of vacation for couples that are looking for a romantic getaway. With the ever-increasing variety of amenities that are offered on board the most modern cruise ships, the experience can combine some of the best aspects of luxury, sunshine vacations, and exotic travel. What is more, the number of routes that are open for cruises around the world, and around the calendar, mean that the time can always be right for some ocean-going romance.

 

How cruises can be ideal for couples and for romance

 

There are a number of reasons for the consistent popularity of cruise vacations as a romantic option for couples. One of the more obvious aspects of the cruise vacation is that it enables travel to a number of different locations without the continual packing and unpacking of luggage. With a booking in a luxurious stateroom on board ship, a couple can travel to some of the finest exotic islands and coastlines in the world with the minimum of trouble. In addition, the nature of the cruise ship environment means that the sunbathing, dining, and shopping on board the vessel are safely available, removing concerns about hygiene and security in the port of call. An idyllic evening, sipping a glass of champagne and watching the sunset, can be enjoyed in a controlled environment in any cruise destination.

 

Some of the most romantic cruise routes

 

Some cruise routes, such as the various options for Mediterranean cruises, have become almost intrinsically associated with the idea of the romantic vacation. Routes can be extravagant in exploring new places or can focus on a smaller geographical area. A full Mediterranean cruise is one possibility, but a cruise among, for example, the Greek islands can hold an enchantment of its own. Destinations such as Istanbul, Tunis, and Crete can be easily explored from a Mediterranean cruise liner. Another area that has become almost synonymous with the romantic cruise itinerary is the Caribbean, which offers an extensive selection of islands and nations as ports of call. Ports in the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Dominican Republic can add a particularly exotic flavor to a romantic itinerary.

 

Some advantages of cruise ships

 

As well as providing the convenience of a floating luxury hotel, cruise ships provide other advantages for couples in search of romance. The dining and program of entertainment on a cruise liner, for instance, can be easy to organize around a special occasion, such as a birthday or an anniversary, without worrying about local reservations at a port of call. The controlled number of people on board ship also means that access to facilities such as pools and sun decks can be better than, for example, in a beach resort at the height of the season. Furthermore, the quality of amenities such as spa treatments and cabin dining can be assured on board ship, in a setting that is comfortably familiar but with ever-changing scenery and sights.

 

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What To Do on a Student’s Visit to London

The city of London is a fantastic place to visit at any age, but for a young student, it offers a particularly wide range of things to see and do. Samuel Johnson’s famous quote: “When you’re tired of London you’re tired of life” is still as relevant today as it was in his time because any visitor that gets tired in London very quickly, needs to be checked for a pulse. There is that much to do!

No matter which subject a student is studying, there will be something in London that informs their understanding – be it architecture, history, art, commerce, music or sciences, the city gives generously of her knowledge in all fields.

Getting Around

Travel in London is not a problem and if the black cabs are avoided it is relatively cheap, which is great for students. The underground system (the tube) is quick and efficient (mostly), however it is heavily used by commuters so it might be best avoided at rush hour. If you prefer to be above ground though, the bus services are frequent and they travel all over the city.

Where to Stay

As with any capital city in the world accommodation in the center do not often come cheap. Unless you can afford the city center prices it might be necessary to look for a hotel, bed and breakfast or guesthouse on the outskirts and use the tube or bus to get into the city. Hotels in London vary enormously in quality and price so it is essential to shop around for a good deal.

Historic Highs

Justly proud of its heritage, any trip must include a minimum of historical checkpoints. Monarchy fans head for Buckingham Palace, the finest in a string of royal residences. Those who want to check out the whole royal set can also head for St James’ Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House to get a feel for how the other half live.

To gain an insight into how those who got on the wrong side of the monarchy were treated, the Tower of London has the inside story. Alternatively, those who like their history tinged with horror can try the scary delights of the London Dungeon on the South Bank – those who make it through to the other side without screaming are few and far between.

Historical tours and events are also a great way to experience the history of London and you will learn so much at the same time. The Royal Tour of London will take you to the residencies of both royal and political leaders of London and provide you with lots of great information and a few entertaining anecdotes as well. The Tower of London’s “Ceremony of the Keys” takes place every night and has done so without fail for the past 700 years, and The Jack the Ripper Tour would also be a great option for anyone who loves a good mystery. These tours and events are perfect for a whole range of students who are studying subjects like history, English literature, technology, economics and sociology, so get your learning cap on and have fun at the same time!

Sharp Shopping

Market buffs that love a good bargain and want to give haggling a go are in for a real treat in London. Whether it’s Portobello Market with its charming stalls of vintage and antique goods, Camden Market with its famous counter-culture draw and laid back vibe or the vibrant buzz of Brick Lane or Greenwich Markets – they are spread all over the city, so visiting them all makes a great way of combining a love of exploration with shopping. The big up-market shops on and around Oxford street like Selfridges and Harrods are brilliant to look around, although they won’t be so kind on a student’s purse!

Fabulously Free

For research purposes, or simply a great day out, museums and art galleries in London are unbeatable. Whether it’s the legendary British Museum, the stunning Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern and The Tate Gallery, The National Gallery or The Science Museum – a memorable day can easily be spent in all these places. And many of them are free to get in, leaving more money left over for late night entertainment! There are also lots of great free comedy nights in London, so if you need a laugh after exploring The Natural History Museum or The Imperial War Museum all day, this is a great cheap option to unwind at the end of the day.

London at Night

The West End has famous theatre shows to check out, but for an edgier, more student-biased entertainment, where beer is cheap and music is loud, we suggest you look elsewhere. The most popular venues include lively Bar Rumba near Leicester Square, which has happy hour and drinks deals, or try The Penthouse on a Tuesday in the same area – with a student focused program of low prices and high octane music. Dancing all night creates an appetite so before catching the last tube or hopping on the night bus, head for cheap eats – the tastiest deals are often found at Vietnamese and Chinese outlets dotted around the city.

A student’s life in London can be rich and exciting when you know where to look, and it doesn’t have to break then bank! Take in the popular sights, but look a little deeper and discover some of the hidden gems this wonderful city has to share.

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Touring Chicago: A slice of true US history

There are a million things to do in Chicago, also known as the Windy City and who wouldn’t want to explore this great town? It is the birthplace of the Ferris wheel and home to the western hemisphere’s tallest building, after all. Chi Town is renowned for its modern and historic architecture, shopping, museums and restaurants. Spending a vacation here is like taking a big slice of US history pie.

 

Chicago offers attractions and historic sites around every corner. Go ahead and explore the depths of the sea at the Shedd Aquarium, catch a ball game at Wrigley Field, then take a ride on the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier; and that’s just the first day. Chicago has something for everyone, from the art lover to the history buff. Here are some great ways to enjoy a few days in this great American city.

 

Don’t miss out

 

Chicago is known for its landmarks and attractions and no trip to the city would be complete without seeing at least a few of them. Start with the Art Institute of Chicago, with its well-known treasures within. The place is huge and offers works of art spanning the last 5,000 years; don’t miss the Modern Wing. Another must is the Field Museum, which takes visitors on a journey through the earth’s 4 billion year history. Stop in and say hello to Sue, the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex.

 

The city has some amazing views, especially those from the Skydeck atop the Willis Tower. Only the brave dare step out onto The Ledge, a glass-enclosed balcony with a glass floor, more than 1,300ft above street level. For a more down to earth experience, Millennium Park offers five acres of beautifully manicured gardens and the infamous walk-up-and-touch sculpture known as ‘The Bean’.

 

Off the beaten path

 

Once the tried-and-true attractions have been crossed off the list, it’s time for some of Chicago’s hidden treasures. For a little variety, there are some places that even the locals might not know about. Music lovers will have a blast at Reggie’s Rock Club, which is just downstairs from Record Breakers, one of the coolest record shops in the South Loop. Pick up an old copy of ‘Rolling Stone’ in the reading room, then go back downstairs to listen to some tunes. Bookman’s Corner is also a great must-do; this bookshop offers thousands of old, rare and vintage books. Don’t ask the owner what he has; he can’t tell you, the inventory is so huge.

 

For a little taste of history, stop in at the Jane Addams’ Hull-House Museum. Addams was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her social work and the historic settlement house offers a little taste of Chicagoan history. Speaking of history, who hasn’t heard of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871? Stop by the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy for a look at one of the city’s original steam-powered fire engines and a plaque marking where the fire began.

 

Where to stay

 

With so many things to see and do, finding a hotel in Chicago might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider the Hotel Blake for fun few nights. Blending cool boutique hotel ambience with historic architecture, the understated interior harks back to the 1940s with a little bit of Zen thrown in. Another architectural gem is the Hotel Burnham, housed within the 1894 Reliance Building and lavishly restored to offer a little whimsy mixed in with decadence. History buffs should note that it is within room 809 that Al Capone’s doctor treated him and his girlfriends.

 

For a truly modern experience, consider Sofitel’s Chicago Water Tower, a 32-floor glass prism that looks like it might be more at home in Paris. Sleek and sophisticated, it offers luxurious amenities and easy access to many great attractions.

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