Sardinia, Italy August 2014

by Emma Bumpus on September 16, 2014

Summer explodes as Careertraveller and family taste island life where crystal clear waters, blazing fertile landscape and unique nuraghe take us on a journey of intense beauty, that reverberates D.H. Lawrence’s impressions of ‘Sea and Sardinia’.

Situated between Europe and Africa, Mediterranean hues of turquoise and azure blue shimmer below ‘encompassing heathy, moor-like hills’, echoing Lawrence’s verse: all the strange magic of Sardinia is in sight’.

Flora and fauna become the focus of our travels as we head to Torre Del Porticciolo, an extraordinary camping village that stands amidst an oasis of rainbow coloured pomegranate, fig and tangerine trees within the Porto Conte Nature Reserve!

Forest-like chandeliers of olive, eucalyptus and coniferous pine trees, complemented by purple flowered rosemary and flushed pink oleander are a botanical BBQ of the senses, evoking refreshment, wellbeing and genuine forest medicine!

Like foresters we embark on a Natural Alghero ‘off road’ jeep tour that captures Sardinia’s magnificent terrain and seascape, which interrupted with intermittent samples of sun ripe blackberries, freshly made pecorino cheese, and traditional sardo salsiccia (sausage), smacks of agro pastoral produce and independence.

As we head into the wild mountains of “heath and arbutus scrub” we trace the roots of shepherding, which since the days of Aragonese rule have been responsible for developing the island’s economy with local arts, handicraft and agriculture.

Our marine biologist guides captivate us with up close and personal sightings of coastline birds of prey including griffon vultures and kestrels in Planargia, an area of outstanding natural beauty inhabited by little more than thirteen thousand people.

Jagged volcanic cliffs protected by masses of macchia, mountainous blackthorn, myrtle and arbutus (strawberry tree), supervise a stretch of pure untouched Bosa beaches that provide the most stunning backdrop to major historical sites as we step back in time.

With over 7,000 nuraghi in Sardinia, Palmavera Nuraghe is no exception and presents a prehistoric link to Algherese civilisation via huge blocks of sand and limestone dating back to the 10th and 15th century BC. Remnants of a fortress and village displays reconstructed shepherd huts and towers with strategic views over dramatic misty mountains.

An introduction to the harvesting of cork followed by ‘un po di snorkelling’ around Compultito beach (where the locals go) is a journey into ecotourism, where conservation and tradition tribute Sardinia’s rich cultural heritage.

Alghero presents itself as an exotic port with tropical palms, picturesque harbour and medieval ramparts and towers, which date back to 14th century Catalan rule.

Nicknamed La Barcelonetta or ‘little Barcelona’ we wander the old town streets of Sardinia’s most Spanish city via a labyrinthine of old town-cobbled streets full of Catalan street signs, paella influenced restaurants and architecture, namely Chiesa(church) di San Francesco, rebuilt in Gothic-Aragonese style.

Amidst a bustling playground full of historical battlements and holidaymakers, we uncover treasure in the form of coral jewellery and carvings from the city’s deep coastal Riviera del Corallo or Coral Riviera. Wonderful!

Encompassing silver sandy beaches and luminously peaceful, port, make Alghero the perfect base for Progetto Natura’s wildlife excursion: our marine classroom for the next 4 hours! On-board we uncover this non-governmental organisation’s scientific research and studies devoted to cetacean conservation through a variety of activities from dolphin observation to underwater acoustic monitoring.

Following the Pelagos Sanctuary code of conduct protecting marine mammals, we grasp the meaning ‘responsible travel’ and follow the 300-metre outer boundary observation area and at no more than 8 knots, watch bottlenose dolphins spyhop as nature intended!

Overwhelmed by this island’s stunning natural world and incredibly simpatico openness, we make waves for a justifiable blast of sea kayaking with Sea Kayak Sardinia. From the cockpit of a salt spraying oceanic playground we experience the wild and rocky Sardinia around secluded craggy coastline to Cala Dragunara, a glittering ‘treasure island’ of bespoke sea, sun and sand!

An injection fuelled espresso doppia propels us into further action around Porto Conte where we carry adventure across Tamarillo Bay with a spot of deep sea cave paddling that takes this extreme and recreational sport to new heights.

Encircled by Mother Nature, we become attuned to Alghero’s breath taking biodiversity and rugged archipelago that embraces the spirit and science behind kayaking, in accordance with the British and American Canoe Associations.

Andy, our notably patient and entertaining professional BCU 5 (British Canoe Association) qualified instructor puts us at ease with great skill and resilience as we learn the art of real sea paddling. Great ocean temperament knowledge enables him to navigate us through a sensory journey around Capo Caccia’s limestone cliffs, which almost 300 metres high leaves us flying with endorphins and somewhat spiritually centred.

Ready for Neptune’s Grotto we descend 656 horizontal steps above crashing waves down to a maze of underground caves, which discovered by fishermen in the 18th century, displays an amphitheatre of dazzling stalactites and stalagmites.

Alghero is an authentic feast of flavours, charm and beauty, which in the words of D.H Lawrence suggests, “Sardinia is another thing”.

A very special thanks to, Natural Alghero, Progetto Natura and Sea Kayak Sardinia for a fascinating introduction to Alghero. Further details of their organisations and excursions can be found by clicking on the links below:
Natural Alghero
Progetto Natura
Sea Kayak Sardinia

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Greater Manchester, England July 2014

by Emma Bumpus on August 6, 2014

An explosion of architecture, art and entertainment present an overwhelmingly slick city break slice of culture and rich Lancashire heritage to careertraveller and family in the North of England.

Dazzled by canals, red-bricked warehouses and images of the artist LS Lowry’s famous chimneys and matchstick people we enter a land of history whose buildings echo antiquity and soul within a community that exudes regeneration.

First stop, The Lowry Hotel, we unravel the celebrated Northern spirit that radiates warmth, sincerity and first class hospitality, wrapped up in a classy curved glass encased structure.

Encircled by excitingly old and new buildings above the picturesque River Irwell, style, colour and design becomes a clear feature of the Chapel Wharf Development, which introduces an invigorating urban hustle and bustle associated with redevelopment.

Alfresco waterside views from the notably award winning River Bar and Grill restaurant delivers a bespoke vista of the famous Calatrava Trinity Bridge that marks the Salford-Manchester boundary. Unique!

A fashionably chic lobby decked with Emily Young’s stone head sculptures at the base of a glittering staircase lead the eye to a trail of contemporary Comme Ca Art Ltd pieces, which at destination ‘fourth floor’ rather poignantly reveals a display of contemporary LS Lowry prints by local artists. Lovely!

Every corner of this hotel communicates and connects Greater Manchester’s history in the form of, detail, texture and warmth, from the eminent Olga Chair to VIP dolce boudoir family goodies.

Crisp white bathrooms adorned with LS Lowry’s eminent “Two Men Fishing” print, alongside sumptuous fluffy bathrobes and nourishing REN skincare delights reinforces why The Lowry has an abundance of accolades including “Best Hotel” in the Downtown in Manchester – City of Manchester Awards, won in both 2013 and 2014.

48 hours in this trendy waterfront location beckons The Quays, a super stylish ‘square mile’ destination of entertainment, sport, culture with plethora of eateries surrounded by stunning architecture.

A hop on board Manchester Cruises delivers a tender 45-minute historical insight to Salford via the ship canal, whose sights expose Unlocking Salford Quays, a local community sculpture trail of five highly commendable artistic monuments.

Where The Wild Things Were presents giant steel elephant blades of grass representing far away destinations of past ships with a steel base engraved with imaginative drawings produced by local children. This ingenious heritage funded project proudly honours the women factory girls during the Second World War, dockers’ families and Nine Dock, once Manchester’s largest port.

Sparkling MediaCityUK symbolises a 21st century renaissance of iconic landmarks, stimulating economic development, employment and a rich cultural heritage that proudly celebrates it’s past, present and future.

Decorative Trafford Road and Millenium foot bridges paint modernisation of the ship canal since the 19th century with a commercial resurgence, awarding Greater Manchester a 21st century first class tourist destination.

Glitzy harbourside apartments alongside the alluring Lowry Retail Outlet shopping oasis, Old Trafford Manchester United Football Club and impressive ITV and BBC studios, provides panoramic eye candy to an assortment of like minded tourists and locals!

The Imperial War Museum (IWM North) is the careertraveller favourite with a knockout aluminium jagged shape building symbolising the effects of war. Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind, whose recent project has focused on Ground Zero in New York, we enter a fragmented globe with three interlocking shards, all 55 metres high with 180 steps. The elements of land, air and water take Greater Manchester to new heights with euphoric skyline vistas above a revitalising metropolis. Stunning!

We enter an evocative creative space of technology, science, and war, which educates through the senses of sight, touch, feel and play. Marvellously arranged exhibition spaces facilitate time travel from the First World War to present day with an arresting digital surround sound 360-degree Big Picture Show that commemorates WW1.

We experience the haunting effects of war and it’s impact on human lives in cinematic form and feel privileged to have stepped into a unique century classroom of the 21st century! From tanks and artillery to Trade Centre steel frame, it is no surprise IWM North has won more than 30 awards since opening in 2002!

A breeze past the ship-like Lowry art and entertainment centre is a show-stopping introduction to one of the most visited cultural destinations in the North West. Quayside, this hub of regeneration is an incubator for artists and exhibitions, a platform for performing arts AND a tribute to the artist LS Lowry.

Our grand finale comes in the form of the legendary LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, a pleasure dome of rides, 4D cinema, LEGO building and interactive Brick- a-Brack Factory Tour that ignites the inner child!

After a spot of LEGO sightseeing with Professor Brick- a-Brack and singalong session in the LEGO Friends karaoke lounge, we high five in the Merlin’s Apprentice as we pedal through gravity! A stroll around MINILAND is an inspirational North of England pilgrimage brimming with iconic landmark’s from The Cavern in Liverpool to The Blackpool Tower.

Greater Manchester is a treasure trove of sights and delights with an addictive energy and revival that most deservedly belongs on the careertraveller roadmap. One trip will never be enough!

Special thanks to The Lowry Hotel for a luxuriously friendly snapshot of Greater Manchester in all it’s glory. Details of the hotel can be found by clicking on the following The Lowry Hotel.

A huge applause for The Quays and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre whose websites can be found below:
The Quays
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

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Borough Market, London June 2014

by Emma Bumpus on June 23, 2014

Food, tradition and community form the perfect careertraveller excuse to explore London SE1 in search of a gastronomical garden-fresh adventure.

Keen to explore the history behind street food and “market” stands Borough Market, an inspirational pleasure dome of enterprise, creativity and unique food, echoing hard graft, vision and pure artisan craftsmanship.

Set within an imposing Victorian industrial warehouse, heightened by decorative green iron girders, London Bridge is elevated amidst the early morning summer sun, whose sparkling rays capture the neighbouring Shard, making this a rather special part of town!

A plethora of entrepreneurial traffic presents a cavalcade of delivery vans, 9-5 workers, black cab taxis, stall traders, producers, tourists and local shops that define a community historically dating back as far as the 11th and 13th centuries.

Below the rafters of London’s most renowned food market booms the alluring rattle of the railway, whose 18th century roots commemorate the origins of city food importation and distribution. An intoxicating exchange of exclusive merchandise, vibrating with organically British and international seasoning, makes it clear that a recently refurbished viaduct, railway bridge and refurbished market hall prides Borough Market a 21st century London landmark!

Taste buds ignite at Roast, a new award-winning restaurant atop the market where breakfast initiates our 3-hour Taste of Borough Market Gastrotour with food expert and writer Celia Brooks. Glamorously relaxed and nutritionally knowledgeable, Celia brings the ‘New Urban Farmer’ to life with a historical context that spans 2000 years!

Amidst a trail of distinguished ‘British’ produce, arrives rustic home baked toast, seasonal fresh fruit salad bursting with zing and exceptional grilled tomatoes, which stand proud in mini griddles. Across the elegant white tablecloths and piano bar we observe the sophisticated Floral Hall’s cast iron decorated south portico, which until 2004 fronted Covent Garden’s Opera House!

Food acclimatized, our tour transforms into a culinary pilgrimage of the senses that connects worldwide flavours, traditions and cultures all under one roof! Celia’s passion for taste and texture from ‘plot to plate’ takes foodies to new heights and weaves a communal dialogue of inspiring recipes, cooking and dining experiences that lovingly defines the art of travel.

Licensed by Borough Market, Celia’s comprehension of healthy ingredients, spanning 7 continents, 7 cookery books and a journalistic career celebrating 25 years of London life, reveals itself through a variety of multicultural food and wine tastings which seduce the palate.

A shot of Total Organics wheatgrass smoothy brings new meaning to the word ‘organic’. Presented in a fashionable verdant juice bar is an apothecary packed with fresh seasonal produce, natural fruit vitamins and minerals. From Acai berry and banana to spinach and parsley, we discover an edible garden of wellbeing that arouses, excites and educates!

5 steps later we sample authentic Italian traditional family pasta at La Tua Pasta where tortelloni, tortellini and gnocchi demonstrate culinary versatility and creativity with an exquisite range of fresh fillings, in particular black truffle. Buonissimo!

In giro, Celia translates palatable plants and root vegetables into inspiring recipes that fit the modern kitchen and shares home – grown gardening health tips from what feels like a transient classroom!

We discover extraordinary meat at the Exotic Meat Company and taste Spain via ham school at Brindisia. Observing Serrano and ibérico ham carving executes an inspirational display of regional Spanish food, tradition and passion amongst the tapas and paella inspired shelves of olives, Calasparra rice and anchovies.

Next destination is Portugal where we sample the Atlantic at Bedales with a refreshingly crisp Sauvignon Blanc style white wine Alvarino, Vinho Verde, Brisa Do Mar, 2012.Accompanied by a selection of Neal’s Yard British Isle cheese, we uncover artisanal cheesemongers across counties, including Kirkhams in Lancashire and Stichelton in Nottinghamshire, tracing the roots of home dairy unpasteurised milk that puts flavour first!

Amidst a bustling haze of stalls bursting with life and colour, Celia entertains us with tales of Borough Market movie scenes used for the likes of Warner Bros Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001).

From strawberries, with Olive Oil Company Italian balsamic vinegar glaze, to silky smooth Turkish hummus bursting with flavoursome garlic at The Turkish Deli, we traverse cultures in sight of Green Market dolce delights.

Our three-hour tour peaks in grand finale sugar coated tastings of pistachio cake, Turkish delight and assorted Sweet Roots rainbow coloured liquorice. 100% natural with sweet and salty fillings, we establish this confectionary derives from a legume with roots in Southern Italy. Unique!

Further details of Celia’s exceptional Gastrotours can be found by clicking on the following link Celia Brooks. More general market and produce information can be found on the following link Borough Market.

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British Museum, London May 2014

by Emma Bumpus on June 2, 2014

Curiosity, ancient culture and state of the art technology with lashings of human history delivers an inspiringly educational insight to museum life through the eyes of careertraveller and family.

Gargantuan 18th century Greek Revival style columns and RIBA award winning Quadrangle (1853) provides a dramatic entrance for the studious and curious, which makes waves for our journey into ‘The Mummy’ or rather Ancient lives,new discoveries exhibition.

Greeted by two- acres of engagingly bright architectural Queen Elizabeth II Great Court space and infinite curved roof, glistening with glass and steel, we feel culturally invested and ready for adventure.

Amidst a bursting array of trails, guides, and cleverly prepared activity backpacks for the children we grab a quick pitstop in the impressive Ford Centre that delivers a contemporary inventive zone for family respite.

With ‘Egypt and Sudan calling’ we head straight to the Upper Floor Gallery where “After life and mummies” form a mesmerizing learning experience that transports us back to around 2686 BC – AD 395. From canopic jars that stored human organs to religious toys and amulets designed to safeguard the afterlife process, we discover the true meaning of mummification and it’s cultural significance.

From ornate tombs and coffins decorated with gilded hieroglyphics and symbolic marks we unearth the ancient Egyptian interpretation of death and the afterlife and discover ancient lives from a visually interactive perspective.

Thoughtful and stirred we are entrenched in the wondrous museum world of perceived oddities, conservation and ethnography that delivers an eternal curriculum full of humanity, innovation and detail. Superb!

Lunch is a delectable ground floor Gallery cafe animated body wrapping discussion of resin, oil, linen, madder and bitumen, which generated by the ‘little uns’ classroom -like ‘backpack’ fuels hours of shared interactive fun.

Silence befalls when we enter the dimly lit Ancient Lives exhibition of eight mummies, transporting us back to us back to 3500 BC and AD 700 along the river Nile and Luxor to the famous UNESCO archaeological site, Theban Necropolis.

We commence an interactive journey of ancient civilisation that demystifies royal burials, noble tombs and the mummification process via high-resolution CT scans. Like scientific magic, technology allows us to visually examine human remains up close and personal, recounting the history and lives of diverse individuals.

Each scan exposes an array of embalming skills and techniques that vary from the sophisticated to damaged, as in the case of Padiamenet, a male adult temple doorkeeper whose head and neck are supported by poles as a possible result of breakage.

On the other hand Tayesmutengebtiu, more commonly known as Tamut, a female adult high-ranking priest’s daughter, has a well-preserved body as detected by the CT scan, showing special care with resin and natron during desiccation. Amazing!

Small charms or ‘amulets’ placed rather poignantly on the surface of her body such as a metal falcon (rising of the sun) on her chest and winged goddess figure (immortality) illuminate the symbolism and magical rituals associated with death and the afterlife, which rather takes our breath away!

Whilst the children delight in turning buttons revealing visual mummy facts, the adults wistfully reflect upon the lives of these endearing fellow human beings within a gallery of ancient toys, artefacts and body adornment such as wigs.

Culturally enlightened we discover the erotic importance of hair and dress, structured according to age, gender and social status. Bundles of human hair wrapped in lined with combs and razors buried in tombs depict a civilisation most concerned with personal grooming. Fascinating!

The most gripping mummy is a young child whose CT scan and highly decorative cartonnage exposes wealth, love and protection; symbolic of an elite social structure. A small bouquet of rose and myrtle amongst various religious scenes, beautifully plastered on the linen body-cover, echoes a sadness of a bygone era.

Finely wrapped layers of bandages reveal well preserved remains associated with extreme care. Milk teeth and skeletal development provide a mummy record of a male aged approximately two years old from the Roman period, suggesting this time experienced a rate of high child mortality.

Exhibits of children’s leather sandals, silver bracelets and careertraveller favourite – painted wooden toy horse on wheels, are a profound introduction to the importance of childhood in ancient Egypt. Paintings and sculptures display affection, play and security in a society that valued the procreation of children amongst parents, relatives and ancestors.

Blown away, we feel rather privileged to have seen this imaginative exhibition of the arts and culture, and make way for a future museum sleepover next!

Further details of the Ancient lives, new discoveries exhibition can be found on the British Museum website by clicking on the following link Ancient lives, new discoveries.

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Copenhagen, Denmark April 2014

by Emma Bumpus on April 29, 2014

Spring and Easter bring yearning for new sights and adventure of a Nordic kind, luring careertraveller and family to Scandinavia for a sensational cultural city break.

In the devoted words of Hans Christian Anderson himself “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale” and one step inside the Tivoli Hotel is our passport to a stylish, effervescent and welcoming Congress Centre, aka playground of excitement, energy and exploration.

Traces of Pierrot amidst modish swan shaped chairs, designed by famous Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, are placed tastefully around a vibrantly coloured lobby, providing an insightful introduction to Tivoli. Like sentries we patrol 12 floors, 3 restaurants and 396 rooms, not forgetting the clandestine basement playroom and enchanting pool with fountains of fun.

The second floor Tivoli inspired Columbine Gardens provides an imaginative outdoor space and mini playground for children that beckons from the Tivoli Brasserie; a cheerful show-ground of Danish and international cuisine with fashionable pastel coloured pendant lights designed to entertain.

We halt at our music themed room, which artistically adorned with trumpets, sentry hut bedside tables and splashes of harlequin colourful texture, is a clever hint of pantomime theatre and ceremony, alias Tivoli!

Prepped for the world’s second oldest amusement park we hit Tivoli Gardens with a vengeance and are dazzled by lashings of multi-coloured rides (26 to be precise) with ornate verdant gardens, flaunting blossom, fountains and peacocks amidst a cultural oasis of magnificent architecture. From decorative Chinese Pantomime Theatre and Japanese Tower restaurant to 20th century Moorish Arab fantasy castle inspired Nimb Hotel, we enter an amusement park of the arts.

Detail, history and pleasure come with an abundance of eateries across the continents, a 100-year-old wooden rollercoaster with mountain peaks and a Concert Hall that hosts Scandinavia’s largest classical music Tivoli Festival. Flavoured with sugar coated adrenaline and fairy tale spice we taste a plethora of Copenhagen’s panorama from the heights of the Ferris Wheel whilst brought down to our senses via the Odin Express in a flash. Spectacular!

A breeze downtown is a 5-minute tribute to Copenhagen’s super smooth transport system that flows around avant garde shops, verdant parks and zillions of relaxed looking cyclists who radiate health and happiness. It becomes obvious why this country is voted the happiest country in the world, according to the United Nations World Happiness Report 2012.

Outdoor cafes endowed with blankets and daffodils ooze panache, good conversation and living amongst a population of 5.6 million. Home to over 65 city museums, blue flag beaches and clean water harbour fit for swimming (including the likes of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark) is a match for our tour of the Treasury crown jewels at grandiose Rosenborg Castle.

No ordinary castle, we uncover royal family treasures within this historical museum whose Dutch renaissance roots stem back to 1605-1606, offering 12 hectares of stunning public Kongens Have or “Kings Garden” laced with lime trees, sculptures and romantic moat.

The adjacent Royal Garrison is our cue to spectate the rather dashing Changing of The Guard, a 30-minute parade from barracks to Amalienborg Palace courtyard. Within a square of four palaces adorned with Rococo architecture we savour a captivating display of loyalty and dedication that attributes the popularity and respect for the Danish Royal Family.

Refreshment comes in the city centre form of Strøget, Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping area, which with it’s cobblestone streets chic shops adds shine and vitality to this historical capital of Denmark.

Like Royals we eat Landgangsbrod, a long ryebread sandwich with shrimp, egg and roastbeef at the Royal Smushi Café, which comes in the artistic form of an Easter bouquet! Devine! Fittingly situated between the Royal Copenhagen and Georg Jensen we discover Dutch craftsmanship in the form of fine porcelain and silverware, stepping further into the clean and contemporary culture of Denmark that smacks of iconic design, cuisine and diversity.

From the 17th century rooftop of Copenhagen’s famous Rundetaarn or “Round Tower” we inhale the disciplines of science, history and the arts from an observation tower that houses an astronomical observatory, concert and exhibition venue all in one!

Handsome coloured town houses peppered with trendy cafes, restaurants and al fresco street vibe cements our Copenhagen circuit with Nyhavn, a bubbly bohemian harbour hosting charming wooden boats that bask in the laid back spring sunshine. Once home to Hans Christian Anderson, sailors and merchants we embrace old Copenhagen with a CO2 battery powered tour of Denmark’s canals flanked with monumental heritage, echoing the words of Hans C:

Everything you look at can become a fairy tale and you can get a story from everything you touch.”

Totally smitten with Copenhagen!

Further details of Tivoli Hotel and Tivoli Gardens can be found by clicking on the following websites: Tivoli Hotel and Tivoli Gardens.

For official Copenhagen tourist information and city travel details – click on the following useful links: Visit Denmark and Copenhagen Card.

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WhaleFest: Brighton, East Sussex March 2014

by Emma Bumpus on March 24, 2014

Cetacean curiosity, coast and collaboration are enough C’s to lure careertraveller and family to “The Queen of Watering Places” or “Old Ocean’s Bauble’, aka 21st century “London-by-Sea”.

Bracing sea air tickles the senses amidst a playground of historical landmarks and infinite promenade that imitates a roller-coaster seashore of health, leisure and fun.

Bewitched by the Indo-Saracenic Royal Pavilion, a former royal palace and 18th century seaside retreat, we are teased by her “Pleasure” Brighton Pier, all 524 metres long amidst a shimmering turquoise backdrop!

Nautical deck chairs, palms and Blue Flag pebble beaches, lined with sunny cafes, bars and pretty little vintage art galleries, form a cosmopolitan oceanic scene for the world’s biggest celebration of wild whales and dolphins.

A stride inside the Victorian Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel sparks historical memoirs in the very location 42 governments decided to ban whale hunting back in 1982.

In true festival style we are greeted by an array of friendly and dedicated volunteers, 300 to be precise, whose desire to protect our oceans shines through in waves.

The next 48 hours are educational, geographical and biographical with a line up of formidable speakers including Virginia McKenna OBE, Steve Backshall, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Dr Ingrid Visser, who share their conservational projects, challenges and journeys across the globe.

Time stands still amongst 10,000 visitors alongside businesses, NGOs and guests from 37 countries and 7 continents, attracting pods of families, students, professionals, environmentalists and ocean lovers, all committed to marine conservation. Like humans, we discover whales are warm-blooded mammals that breathe air and nourish their young with milk. All rather thought provoking.

Submerged in a hub of extraordinary expertise, empathy and humanity we are equivocally saddened yet elated by the efforts charities such as the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), ORCA, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Born Free Foundation devote to the prevention of animal cruelty and extinction.

With approximately 50 Maui dolphins left in New Zealand, we are touched by Earthrace Conservation’s artistic cetacean cemetery, which pays tribute to those that have died in captivity.

The releasing of a full size model killer whale into the sea outside the hotel provides a captivating display of freedom for cetaceans in contrast to Morgan the Orca, whose wild captivity has established the Free Morgan Foundation charity to return her back to her family in Norway.

Mega Whale Zone delivers an uplifting “hands -on” insight to Humpback Whales inside a life-sized pop up whale! With a life expectancy of 45-50 years we uncover stories of these acrobatic sea creatures, whose playful activities range from breaching high out of the ocean to spyhopping, a 30 seconds peek from the water. Marvellous!

A spot of cetacean face painting and ocean storytelling for the ‘little un’ in and out of some seriously good ‘spouting off’ by the Madeira Tourist Board and Wise Oceans provides a‘dive into the classroom’ and an opportunity to spread the word about safeguarding our oceans.

From marine conservation and debris to responsible whale watching, we come close to nature and feel privileged to have met some wonderful people. An education of the ocean!

With sponsors worth mentioning: Visit Brighton, We Love Brighton, Madeira Islands, National Geographic Kids, Futurismo, ASCOBANS, Brighton & Hove City Council, Outdoor Photography, Wild Travel, Primary Times and CMS – such collaboration results in £10,000 profit from WhaleFest in support of the WCA, Free Morgan and Nabu International in their efforts to promote the Long Swim to Freedom campaign – the shape of things to come!

In the words of Jacques Cousteau, Honorary President of the WCA:

“Without collaboration we will achieve nothing more than a drop in the ocean”.

Special thanks to Visit Brighton and WhaleFest for an amazing weekend in Brighton!

Further details of Visit Brighton official tourist board and WhaleFest can be found on the following links:

Visit Brighton
WhaleFest

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Hamburg, Germany – February 2014

by Emma Bumpus on February 25, 2014

Winter becomes summer as careertraveller and family take to the waters and streets of Germany’s second largest city, which notably awarded the title “European Green Capital” 2011 by the EU Commission, brings vision and travel inspiration to 2014!

Captured by striking architecture above Europe’s second largest port, we become entranced by this golden cosmopolitan metropolis on water that provides a treasure trail of old and new tourist attractions.

Hamburg boasts choice with modern easy access transport systems across the city with metro, bikes, bus or boats, making the next 48 hours very ‘liveable, sociable and cultural’. With approximately 70 museums spread across the city, 85 parks and almost 2,500 bridges (more than London, Venice and Amsterdam combined) we traverse the multi waterways of the Elbe, Alster and Bille; rather special!

The deck of a Harbour Boat Tour is our maritime telescope, illuminating Hamburg’s attractions, history and fabulous HafenCity urban development, bringing zing to this industrial and cosmopolitan city.

We glide past emerging trendy quayside apartments, radiant red brick commercial warehouses and evolving glass Elbe Philharmonic Hall. Iconic and visionary, we discover this architectural masterpiece will be home to 3 auditoriums, apartments, hotel rooms and of course a unique space for classical, world, jazz and pop music on the river Elbe. Pretty spectacular!

Watching dockside workers ripen Europe’s largest social cultural project provides swish and contemporary images of an attractive new living space, epitomising 21st century regeneration, travel and globalisation.

Beneath the girders of lofty freight containers bursting with prosperous tales of trade and overseas crossings, notably Asia, Russia and Europe, we inhale the city’s majestic skyline that beckons serious sightseeing from the seats of a double-decker hop on hop off bus.

Diversity and spice become dish of the day as Hamburg reveals a silver platter of monumental riches that dazzle us with Hanseatic history. Like a 7 course tasting menu we indulge exquisite city highlights in the form of antique treasures including the Neo Renaissance style Rathaus (Town Hall) to baroque style St Michaelis Church, Germany’s biggest clock tower. Nicknamed “The Michel”, this 132-metre tower executes a sublime 360-degree panorama of Germany’s ‘gateway to the world’!

Relentless, our historical circuit transforms into a lakeside spree of the Outer Alster Lake where the likes of James Bond once stayed in various guises along the shores of affluence. Bustling with romance and al fresco joie de vivre we unearth an array of cafes, restaurants, boat rides and green outdoor pursuits in the heart of the city.

A breeze past Alster Arcade, aptly named ‘Little Venice’ with it’s 17 th century century Venetian-like arches and river side side location, provides the perfect excuse to hop off and explore Jungfernstieg, a stylish waterfront shopping precinct. Alsterhaus, a famous twentieth century luxury department store with unique gifts and delectable 4th Floor Gourmet Boulevard is an international runway of high-end produce with Veuve Clicquot Boutique. No ordinary pit stop!

Attraction led, we journey past the renowned Reeperbahn, which since 2008 celebrates the history of The Beatles with a commemorative Beatles Square of 5 metal life-sized silhouettes. Marvellous!

Our journey ends at Speicherstadt, an ‘up and coming’ Neo Gothic brick warehouse district, which claiming fame to the world’s largest stock of oriental carpets sweeps us to the world’s largest model railway; Miniatur Wunderland.

Home to more than 11 million visitors we tread foot on 1.300 square metres of pure imagination from Europe to America! Greeted by miniature figurines, iconic landmarks, landscape and transport systems, we are entertained by detail depicting stories across the ski slopes of Austria to flight simulations at Knuffingen Airport. Whilst the “little uns” gush at the spectacular 330.000 LED night-time simulation, it is easy to see why this inspirational pleasure dome has charmed the likes of Rod Stewart and Niki Lauda!

Exhilarated and educated, no stay in Hamburg would be complete without a skate on Germany’s largest open-air ice rink Indoo Eisarena in the heart of the city’s state park Planten un Blomen, an evergreen hub of leisure!

Expectations are exceeded with an 8-minute train ride East to our welcoming Novotel Hamburg City Alster Hotel, offering a semi bespoke metro stop directly outside the doors of chic and contemporary relaxation! A fresh and spacious lobby, with children’s play and console area, stylish candle lit bar and restaurant with hurricane lamps, complements modern-day travel and signifies the ease at which things are achieved in this remarkable city.

Cool and distinct Hamburg is a city of all seasons!

Further information about Hamburg’s tourist attractions can be found on the official Hamburg Tourist Office website and details of the Novotel Hamburg City Alster Hotel can be found by clicking on their website Novotel Hamburg City Alster.

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Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly London January 2014

by Emma Bumpus on January 20, 2014

January and London provide the perfect post Christmas winter antidote in the quintessential form of unique artisan produce, escorting careertraveller et al to fourth floor heaven at Fortnum & Mason.

As if transported back in time, 1707 to be precise, the Berkeley Sutcliffe restored clock, designed in 1961, chimes 16.00 hrs for tea and the scent of sugar coated dreams become reality as we enter this glittering glamorous palace of a store that oozes historical adventure of a confectionary kind!

Ground floor kaleidoscopic macaroons, cream of the crop extra jam preserves and musical biscuits are a dolce ensemble within an orchestra of delectably irresistible gems. Lustrous Turkish Delight chaperone trays of jewel-like bonbons, fudge and coco fuelled chocolates, which sitting coquettishly below an array of glamorous crystal chandeliers, turn centre stage into a sugar-coated boutique.

Pungent and citrus aromas from the tea and coffee section to the ‘Marmalade Library’ are music to the ears and the beginning of a courteous tea trail. An elegant spiral staircase from the clandestine Lower Ground Floor unearths mouth watering savoury produce from a pantry that echoes 18th century delicacies. A charcuterie, delicatessen and discretely sophisticated wine bar are a bespoke marketplace that ignite the sweet and savoury taste papillae, unveiling a gourmet theatre in the making!

An epicurean ascent is a revelation of vintage and unusual gifts to inspire and desire, epitomising the heart and soul of hand made art and craft. Like a stairway to heaven offering a traditional alternative to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’s glass elevator, we orbit around a planet of First Floor china, glass and legendary hampers to Second Floor classic ladies perfume, toiletries and jewellery. Third Floor presents men’s accessories and Fortnum’s own bespoke By Appointment service for the discerningly curious and adventurous. Not surprising to hear the store holds two Royal Warrants of Appointment to HM The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales!

As the saying goes ‘save the best till last’ reveals the Fourth Floor Diamond Jubilee Salon our tea trail transforms into a superlative Afternoon Tea transatlantic voyage!

Greeted by a serene David Collins garden inspired oasis with quaint pianist and plethora of dainty little darlings on porcelain in keeping with the Georgian period, we retrace the history of tea ‘taken seriously at Fortnum & Mason’. A sophisticated tea menu, 85 to be precise, excites and educates with black, green, white, yellow, Highgrove and World teas across Europe, Africa and Asia.

From a collection including Classic, Herbal and Highgrove Teas we opt for the Single Estate Teas and begin a tea tasting of the finest. Tea Sommelier “Davana” impressively takes us on an inspiring tea journey from high altitude lush farm plantations of First and Second Flush picking seasons to various brewing temperatures.

From South Korean Green Tea “Finest Gyokuro” to Oolong “Formosa Pouchong” Taiwan we sample refreshingly dark polished leaves brewed between 75-90°C to Ceylon “New Vithanakande”, a black ‘orange-red liquor’ sensation, which brewed at 90-100°C evokes puffs of Darjeeling.

Careertraveller favourite “Tregothnan”, number 17 on the menu, is a First Flush (harvested late February-mid April) genuine English tea, which moistures a mellow sweet and savoury palette for Afternoon Tea, arriving in 3 tier curate chariot style.

Self assured light and elegant finger sandwiches define ‘melt in the mouth’ flavours of delectable creamy coronation chicken to flavoursome rare roast beef with gherkin & caper dressing. Petite feather – light scones take the lead à la savoury with careertraveller favourite caramelised onion scone with mixed herb & tomato cream cheese. Golden and easy to break with fresh cream cheese trickling with flushed pomodoro juice is a celebration of skill, gratification and quality that diverts the sensors to a lavish platter of wonderland geometric patisseries.

From pretty in pink rose éclair to luxuriously intense gold leaf chocolate Sachertorte, it is the sexy violet victoria plum macaroon ‘baked on premise’, with ‘forbidden fruit’ orange and cinnamon buttercream that steals the crown jewel pastry award. Quite simply the best!

Brimming with passion, heritage and distinction, Fortnum’s is a hotel waiting to happen!

Further details of Fortnum & Mason can be found by clicking on their on their website Fortnum & Mason.

Click here for more information on Afternoon Tea in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.

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Leeds Castle, Kent, England December 2013

by Emma Bumpus on December 16, 2013

Medieval romance and festive wonder set in Kent’s Garden of England presents “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to careertraveller and family amidst an enchanting playground of sweet-scented historical treasures!

Take a 12th century Norman castle, add an enchanting moat, sprinkle it with black swans and mandarin ducks and then decorate it with 500 acres of parkland “where people meet, and things happen.” This is Leeds Castle.

Dreamy and playful we are dazzled by the sparkling traditional carousel that illuminates the encompassing Christmas German market chalets, all 30 of them! Lashings of perfumed mulled wine and silky smooth hot chocolate accompanied by Turkey trimmings galore unleashes a unique festive flavour to tease and please!

A wondrous pilgrimage along the Cedar Lawn unravels a glittering amphitheatre of decorative bijou gifts to entice and tantalise any Christmas stocking from artisan jewellery to Bush Grub creepy crawly sweets and snacks! Whilst the children revel in their authentic candy coated mealworm lollipops, the adults inhale a trail of wholesome treasures from Perfick Pork tantalising Black Pudding and Strawberry Jam sausages to Pretty Happy Lovely Stuff, whom display a mouth watering stall of cranberry snowball bath bombs to Christmas tree bath fizzers and soap cake. Absolutely delectable!

An endearing ride on Elsie the castle train is our ticket to this legendary Norman castle, which built in 1119, echoes historical stories of military sieges, royalty and entertainment. Stone walls and elegantly decorative turrets give the word “castle” new meaning as we enter The Heraldry Room, containing coats- of- arms across the centuries, including the renowned Fairfax family.

We time travel back to the 1420s in The Queen’s Room, which furnishes a vibrant recreation of noble living for the likes of Henry V and his widow Catherine de Valois. The petite Day Bed with crowned canopy, adorned with H and C lettering, exudes blue-blooded history with its lozenge shaped Queen’s coat- of- arms that signifies widowhood!

From The Queen’s Gallery to Henry VIII Banqueting Hall we uncover marble busts of the king and his three children from the mid 16th century to patently carved oak beams of French architect Armand Rateau from the 1920s. History in the making!

Our journey from TheBoardroom to The Seminar Room displays this ‘living castle’ derived from former owner Lady Baillie in 1926, whose aristocratic and glamorous lifestyle shines in the form of a Russian onyx lined Bathroom.

A penchant for famous visitors in the form of Errol Flynn and Charlie Chaplin alongside sophisticated European furnishings influenced by French interior designer Stéphane Boudin present festive cheer with an array of stylish Christmas decorations that resonate within The Thorpe Hall Drawing Room!

An elegant and tasteful trail of trees, garlands and wreaths display The Twelve Days of Christmas, which somehow brings the outdoors in with symbolic clues of black swan images, peacocks and parkland firs! A true castle with a heart, as wished by Lady Baillie herself.

Knights Realm Playground calling gives the ‘little uns’ an authentic run-around in a wooden castle of their own which leads to a spiral yew Maze of 2,400 trees! Interrupted by an astonishing falconry display of owls and kestrels we are completely captivated by this countryside adventure playground that bewilders us with an underground Grotto made of shells and wood.

The festivity climax arrives in the form of real reindeers Holly and Cracker who amongst the hay and baubles bring nativity and Santa to life. Christmas comes early with a tinsel topped husky ride in the grounds of this magical medieval winter wonderland. Priceless!

Further details of the castle can be found by clicking on their website Leeds Castle with additional event information on The Twelve Days of Christmas link.

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Brussels, Begium October 2013

by Emma Bumpus on November 5, 2013

Sophisticated cocoa enriched chocolatiers harmonised by pretty patisseries amidst a plethora of laid-back brasseries, artisan shops and eclectic architecture, puts Brussels firmly on the careertraveller roadmap!

Perfumed, bustling and convivial we feel instantly transported to a city bulging with cultural diversity, independence and style.

First stop Hotel Amigo, awaits our luxurious Rocco Forte haven, smack bang in the city’s heart, adjoining the Grand Place where everything is happening and alive. Kids in tow we are swept away with superb hospitality in the form of swift check-in, kids own check-in cards and dedicated childrens’ amenities in the form of delightful Tintin gifts, personal robes/slippers and exquisite handcrafted Maison Dandoy “Specculoo” biscuits brimming with refined brown sugar and spices. Slick!

Interconnecting rooms offering mod cons, Wii consoles and Ren toiletries with uncluttered touches in the form of Tintin artefacts and Magritte paintings in a beautifully sumptuous boutique airy space makes this luxury hotel insatiably addictive and nurturing!

A wander round this unusual 5 star palace provides clue-like examples of Belgian delights in the form of chocolate pralines, jewellery and fashion around a modish lobby brimming with detail, texture and grand concierge.

A breeze past the chic The Bar Amigo and notably award winning BoCConi restaurant is enough to contemplate room service later as we gush with tourist excitement amidst a myriad of multifarious attractions. Formidable!

Led by the cobbled streets, dolce aromas form a unique trail of exquisite chocolatiers bursting with praline and truffle displays that fill the streets with fun and joie de vivre.

Our cocoa pilgrimage is cemented at The Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate where we discover the Central and South America roots of the beans, first used as currency and as a drink. A superb master chocolate demonstration is the finished product and fuelled with 70% cocoa we set sail for the Pièce de résistance Grand-Place!

No ordinary Place, we are spellbound by the encompassing regal architecture of this former market square that exudes historical power and protection dating back to the Middle Ages. A quadrangular ambience of geniality, trade and culture is an excuse to savour a traditional monastic blonde beer and enfant-friendly hot chocolate, whilst admirably gazing at the City Hall’s gothic façade, gargoyles and statues which echo stories of a bygone age.

Somewhat star struck by this effervescent city we meander curiously around the sugar coated pathways that rather charismatically illuminate the Belgian culture with it’s comic strip frescoes, all 47! From Tintin to Nero we discover street treasures in the Belgian Comic Strip Centre and Marc Sleen Museum to the kids delight.

Room service at Hotel Amigo followed by authentic Belgian waffles decorated with racy red strawberries, redcurrants and cream is the moment to acknowledge Brussels has it all; passion, flair and art!

A morning at the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve is a 30-minute excuse to trial the Brussels Card, discovering the easily accessible sights around town. Within this contemporary architectural moored ship – like gem we time travel through the life of journalist, graphic designer, cartoonist, illustrator, artist storyteller and Tintin creator – Georges Remi, aka Hergé amidst a personal trajectory of photographs, sketches and artefacts that celebrate humanity and art.

A pit stop at the European Quarter is our flavour of Parlamentarium where we journey virtually through the centre of the European Parliament with interactive maps, photographs, cinematic debate and future wishes!

Home is Chez Léon for the evening where we salute the traditional Flemish cuisine of mussels (14 home made to be precise) and French fries in true tourist style! Buzzing with families, locals, and travellers we experience a heart-warming family run atmosphere that has evolved over 160 years within walking distance of the celebrated Grand Place. Magic!

Our 48 hours in Brussels is heightened with a city sightseeing tour on the infamous Hop On-Hop Off Bus past the Royal Palace, Botanical Gardens, Manneken Pis, National Basilica Church of the Sacred Heart (the world’s 5th ranked largest church and careertraveller favourite Atomium!

Knee jerkily abstract, ostentatious and futuristic our eyes capture an out-of-this-world “seminal totem” sculpture or building, which in the form of 9 atom- like spheres, 20 tubes, 3 pillars and 360° panorama makes travel to Brussels essential!

Atom inspired, we discover this iconic symbol was built for science and culture in 1958 for a global World Exhibition, hence amidst neon lit escalators we traverse through society, engineering and design. All 8 levels standing 102 metres high we take the fastest (1950s) lift in Europe (5 metres per second, 18 kph to seventh heaven where Brussels stands proud. Marvellous!

Further details of Brussels can be found on the VisitBrussels website as well as The Little Explorer which provides families with useful out and about information.

For information about Hotel Amigoand their “A Tintin Family Affair” package click on the Hotel Amigo website and to view more of the Atomium’s magical architecture click on their website Atomium.

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