Journey to The Isle of Mull, Scotland August 2015

by Emma Bumpus on August 28, 2015

Snow-white fleecy clouds that dance amongst a panoramic palette of blue and green hues are a cinematic introduction to the Hebrides, the type that lures careertraveller and family to a unique island adventure.

Glasgow Queen Street Station activates our highland railway quest, but not before a sighting of the famous replica ‘Kelpies’, sculptures that proudly tribute Scotland’s past equine heritage, which in the words of sculptor Andy Scott represent ‘the powerhouses of the early industrial revolution, the tractors of early agriculture”.

Platform 7 radiates west highland charm with our ScotRail chariot, which promising an auspicious itinerary of tantalising glens, lochs and rich fertile green terrain, reveals 3 hours and 20 minutes of Glasgow- Oban movie-making scenery. Glittering waterfalls amidst tiers of mountainous peaks and fells bring a star like quality to rail travel and nomadic window gazing as we journey through the Scottish Rockies!

Traversing Greater Glasgow to Argyll and Bute pinewoods reveals an intoxicating mass of mixed woodland beauties including oak, Hazel, Birch and Scots Pine native conifers, where timber, wildlife and landscape unite Scotland as a land of quality trees, woods and forests.

Crianlarich, recently voted the most scenic railway in the world, marks the crossroads to the famous West Highland Way and ramps up our lowlands to northwest highlands journey under towering mountains Ben More and Glen Falloch. Sensational!

Oban railway station is a rapturous Atlantic Ocean vista with it’s quaint bustling harbour and colourful buildings that sparkle with seafood and flocks of tourists. As our Hebridean Caledonian MacBrayne goddess of a ferry (commonly known as CalMac) docks, we board this majestic vessel whose regal exterior exudes mystery island appeal and set sail for the unknown.

On board is an informal and unexpected 45-minute Oban-Craignure cruise-like crossing that manages to mix the best of atmospheric misty mountains on deck with inside Observation Lounge, The Still offering whisky tastings and Mariners Cafeteria boasting more than 50% local Scottish produce. From Argyll smoked salmon to artisan Island Bakery organic shortbread biscuits, Calmac justifiably celebrate Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015 ‘Taste our Best’ award.

Craignure is a jubilant welcome of Highland Mull and Iona Pipers amidst flocks of travellers, day-trippers, island hoppers and holidaymakers seeking the “full monty” wild Scotland intimacy. Ashore brings rocky coastline, verdant mountains and a planet of clouds in the restless air that shapes our interest in the natural world.

A hop on the island’s Tobermory Topper eastern route exposes diverse wildlife and rugged wilderness from the top of a double decker bus, where shipwrecks and clear diving water shimmers in the shelter of the Sound of Mull Atlantic.

Baliscate is a surprise of craft workshops, pottery and Tobermory Fish Company smokehouse, where cold smoking smacks of Scottish tradition and pure Highland taste.

Across the road awaits Gamekeeper’s Cottage, our luxury island haven that purrs with airy, contemporary rooms watching tranquil sea and grassy hilltop panorama. Mod con touches à la bathroom underfloor heating, sumptuous bed linen (the feather down kind) amongst family friendly Wi-Fi and colour TV’s make this 4 star awarded pad a superior nest from which to explore, regenerate and relax amongst the elements!

A scenic 10-minute walk down to the island’s capital Tobermory is a rainbow of multi coloured buildings brimming with treasure that sparkles with island craft handmade jewellery, customary cold press essential oils soap and a bakery whose homemade bread and pastries bring food alive. Thanks to fish, this pretty little harbour is a thriving community of fresh local produce, from home made chocolate shop and cheese farm to commercial whisky distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest.

Variety presents itself in the form of Indian and Chinese restaurants, waterfront fish n’ chip van and renowned Café Fish and Galleon Grill that specialise in seafood and steak. Sprinkled between a smidgen of pubs and hotels, including the delectable boutique Tobermory Hotel whose tartan carpets and nautical inspired rooms exude Highland tradition, we discover Scottish flavours steeped in labour and love.

Across the lobster pot lined pier, that once welcomed Queen Victoria and Mendelssohn, is a romance of bobbing boats that extend across the Ardnamurchan Peninsula which peacefully harbours munro Ben Hiant, all 528 metres high.

Dewy mountain air brings a restlessness that calls for some Mother Nature exploration on sea and land, aka Surf & Turf Cruise with the award winning Sea Life Surveys. Time evaporates as we board the Bold Ranger, where intact with skipper and guide we dig deep into the world of cetaceans and geology. An intoxicating sail past the famous Sput Dubh waterfall uncovers craggy rocks that play refuge to goose-sized shags in search of oceanic molluscs and crustaceans.

Our sea safari is a voyage of sea faring cormorants and bottlenose dolphins that flip and splash with a natural grace, that leaves the hot chocolate simmering below on deck! Surf becomes turf with a fun rowing boat jaunt to the Glengorm Castle estate where volcanic crater rocks house common seals who lounge beautifully as nature intended. Wildlife guide Stephanie escorts us on a flora and fauna trail of sheep grazed meadows strewn with meadowsweet, bracken and bog myrtle, which amongst highland cattle and Neolithic standing stones puts Glengorm Castle firmly on the careertraveller map.

Homeward bound we board the wondrous CalMac ferry and seize Duart Castle, recognising that Mull is a journey, the epitome of nature and a reason to travel.

Further information:
Caledonian MacBrayne
Island Holiday Cottages
Sea Life Surveys
Glengorm Castle

Duart Castle

Further details of Mull can be found on the official national tourist information website Visit Scotland.


48 Hours in Liverpool, Merseyside July 2015

by Emma Bumpus on August 6, 2015

July delivers a plethora of art, music and welcoming liverpudlian pride as careertraveller and family take to the energetic streets of this Merseyside mecca, naturally named European Capital of Culture in 2008.

From the city’s oldest and largest railway Liverpool Lime Street Station beneath a glittering elegant nineteenth century glass and cast iron curved roof, we take a 5 minute va-va-voom taxi ride to Albert Dock, the city’s stunning world heritage waterfront. Imposing UNESCO red brick renovated warehouses stand proud with romantic archways and Grade 1 listed columns that entertain the most fashionable assortment of eateries, boutiques and surrounding attractions.

Originally built to accommodate sailing ships back in 1839 this stylish regenerated metropolis is a testament to British architect and engineer Jesse Hartley, who added 10 miles of quayside to the dock estate and ingeniously changed the landscape of Liverpool.

Awash with maritime charm and pier front eye candy, Liverpool’s charm and history is seized on the fourth floor of the Holiday Inn Express Liverpool Albert Dock, a trendy converted warehouse hotel, like no other in the UK! Contemporary and airy with all mod cons and centrepiece window view of the River Mersey, Museum of Liverpool and architectural gems Three Graces. Drenched in light beneath impressive restored cast iron girders we bathe in light that beckons a 10-minute stroll to the Liverpool Pier Head ferry terminal.

Greeted by the extraordinary Dazzle Ferry, aka ‘Snowdrop’ or Mersey Ferries Dazzle Ship (the UK’s only operational vessel), we embark on a 50 minute Explorer Cruise that brings a nautical twist of art and dockland history across the centuries. Designed by British artist Sir Peter Blake, we discover this moving piece of patterned artwork decorated with 800 litres of paint tributes WW1 artists who used dazzle paint to camouflage British ships from German U-boats.

Amidst the seafaring colour and monochrome optical art we ferry across the Mersey, all 70 miles, and admire the Merseyside riverside, which recounts tales of merchants, industrialisation and city landmarks. An on-board display of dazzle ships curated by Merseyside Maritime Museum and Tate Liverpool is a celebration of the arts and insight to the city’s rich cultural heritage, justifiably named the top UK city and third in the world for people to visit in 2014 by travel bible Rough Guides.

Back at the bustling Liverpool Pier Head, an £8 million landing stage reopened in 2012, we drift into Merseybeat wanderlust and slip into the dockside Beatles Story museum that smacks of 1960’s music, memorabilia and Fab Four history.

Built for ultimate experience we enter a tardis of full on family fun, imagination and sophisticated 4D special effects in the form of Fab4D, a 3D computer generated simulation inside a state of the art cinema. Moving seats, drops of water and air spray to the sounds of Beatles music with psychedelic animation, depicting lyrical scenes on a Beatlemania rollercoaster ticket to ride!

The careertraveller favourite; Beatles Hidden Gallery is a black and white photographic blast of 1963-1964 rock and roll reminiscence, exposing 38 inimitable Beatle moments and emotions by photographer Paul Berriff.

Back at the Albert Dock Beatles Story Discovery Zone the kids revel in playing authentic vinyl records in a mock 1950s record store in between playing Beatles tunes on a giant interactive piano. Funky and educational, it is little wonder Liverpool Council has awarded the zone a Blue Badge for learning outside the classroom.

Expectations of Liverpool explode with breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express Liverpool Albert Dock, a breath-taking choice of dockside vista or imposing riverside Wheel of Liverpool and 10,600 seat Echo Arena and Convention Centre.

Brunch is a Magical Mystery Tour that delves into the lives of the Beatles with a 2 hour round trip of the stars’ childhood homes, birthplaces, schools and meaningful places that shaped their musical careers and personal lives. Our excursion begins with the arrival of a poignant yellow submarine-like coach that echoes the Fab Four’s lyrical journey with pit stops including Penny Lane, an everyday place in the lives of Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison.

From Ringoland, officially Toxteth, we uncover the once home of Ringo Starr, who recalls his early years in the album Liverpool 8, to the celebrated Strawberry Field, a favourite bolthole of John Lennon in his younger days. Outside the original gate of this former Victorian Salvation Army Children’s Home we uncover evocative lyrics, heartfelt memories and roots of Liverpool’s renowned music scene.

A canny stop at the Cavern Club completes the tour with full-blown Beatlemania wanderlust. Live music booms from this grotto of charismatic soul, with hip souvenirs from the swinging sixties to 1999 when Paul McCartney performed his last gig. Amidst low ceiling arches and graffiti adorned walls bursting with rock and roll images of the The Rolling Stones and Queen, we lunch with the stars and enter an era of music that crosses generations. Sublime!

Liverpool surpasses all expectations with no ordinary Afternoon Tea at the Hard Days Night Hotel, the World’s only Beatles inspired hotel. Suspended replica music sheets above the lobby alongside graceful stairwells beautified with Beatles photographs, sets the scene for a luxuriously unique experience.

A live lounge, 2 bars and contemporary Blakes Restaurant, decorated with Fab Four Sgt Peppers album influences from Einstein to Martin Luther King, narrates an artistic account of their musical journey via paintings, pictures, even guitar shaped table in the uber cool McCartney suite!

Bar Four redefines glamour with leather armchairs, Italian marble cocktail bar and psychedelic oil paintings by international artist Paul Ygartua, who befriended John Lennon at Liverpool Art College. No detail is spared in this cosmopolitan Grade II listed building, which dating back to 1884 exudes design, play and imagination with a clever twist of the classic versus quirky!

Summer Cooler Afternoon Tea in the Lounge and Bar is a regal selection of beautifully cut finger sandwiches that sit poised prettily amongst a luxurious collection of cakes and delectable warm scones. The finishing touch is the ‘drum roll’ Beatles inspired grass infused vodka Strawberry Fields with Wild Pepper cocktail, which shaken with lemon thyme and strawberries excites the palette with a crack of black pepper.

Extraordinary, visionary and stimulating, Hard Days Night Hotel carries Liverpool into the 21st century with a subtle nostalgic razzmatazz, the kind that makes a return visit inevitable, Liverpool rocks!

Further information:

Details of Holiday Inn Express Liverpool Albert Dock can be found by clicking on the hotel’s website Holiday Inn Express Liverpool Albert Dock.

Information about all attractions visited can be found on the links below:
Mersey Ferries
The Beatles Story
The Magical Mystery Tour

Hard Days Night Hotel can be found by clicking on the hotel’s website Hard Days Night Hotel.

Official tourist information can be found on the website Visit Liverpool.


Summer twinkles with London magnetism as careertraveller steps foot into the verdant Terrace of this majestic five star beauty of sophistication, history and traditional Westminster glamour.

A five-minute walk from Embankment tube station sets the scene for a balmy midsummer evening of clandestine treats, the kind one expects from a previous MI5 and MI6 British Secret Services headquarters. Built in 1884 this Grade II Listed building is an architectural treasure packed with WW11 memoirs of famous politicians, including Sir Winston Churchill.

A wander through this French château-like lobby is a voyage through opulent high ceiling rooms boasting crystal chandeliers and afternoon tea. A further splash of unexpected desirability reveals itself in the chic form of One Twenty One Two, the hotel’s two AA Rosette restaurant, whose name commemorates former neighbour, Scotland Yard, with legendary telephone number, Whitehall 1212.

Final destination ‘paradise’ reveals itself in the form of alfresco chocolate-box terraces, which ornamented with cosy wicker sofas amidst sprays of cottage garden flowers, makes way for a countryside outing of food from brunch to evening.

A gentle Thames breeze draws attention to bespoke views of the neighbouring London Eye, which sparkling above the rooftops of central London, delivers an enchanting soiree, perfect for a riverside picnic. From the hotel’s Summer Chapter Two of ‘The Terrace’ magic and luxury bubble ravenously in the form of a Summer Picnic Hamper bursting with genuine British handcrafted choice.

Aesthetically pleased taste buds revel between an exquisite garden fresh selection of charcuterie and cheese that execute a textural feast of award winning treats. Hampshire Barkham Blue and Snowdonia Black Bomber cheese are a salivating journey epitomising fine ingredients, the creamy and buttery kind!

A mouth-watering fiesta of velvety hummus with pumpernickel, silky soft cream cheese stuffed peppers and glossy balsamic onions are a gastronomic symphony of the senses that sit appetizingly on quaint gingham tablecloths. Traditional picnic celery sticks with white/ black grapes and an apple and port chutney are a smorgasbord liaison of black pepper pastrami, Parma harm and salami Milano that elevate to sweet picnic heaven!

The Careertraveller favourite, Hotel Chocolat ‘White Chocolate Blondies’ appear perfectly formed, chilled and wonderfully laced with rum, mint and lime, bringing summer garden party panache to the word ‘picnic’. Delectable!

As afternoon becomes evening, a sample of the hotel’s Chapter Three of ‘The Terrace’ brings a desirable Taittinger Champagne third dimension to the veranda. Pretty mini matching hamper canapés brimming with sweet and savoury zing complement a champagne trio of Pinot Noir and chardonnay delicacy for the “independently minded”.

From the Taittinger vineyards, all 288 hectares in the heart of Reims to Westminster in London, stands proud the Royal Horseguards Hotel, an elegant oasis of sweet summer tradition, the type that sweeps one of the ground with salacious plump berries.

An aromatic glass of wild strawberry and raspberry infused Taittinger Prestige Rose brings an urban sunset to the Terrace, the perfect setting for a sip of mellow Taittinger Nocturne Sec or rather ‘Champagne After Dark’. As for Chapter Four of ‘The Terrace’, look out for the Wimbledon Picnic Hamper!

Further information:

Details of the The Royal Horseguards Hotel and how to get there can be found by clicking on the hotel’s website The Royal Horseguards Hotel.

Further information about the hotel’s Terrace and festive celebrations can be found on the Terrace at The Royal Horseguards Hotel website.


Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London June 2015

by Emma Bumpus on June 23, 2015

Sport, art and parkland, 560 acres to be precise, bring careertraveller and family to Stratford, London’s famous East End, presenting an astonishing green playground of health, leisure and pure unadulterated fun.

Encompassing skyscrapers, silky smooth waterways and meadow like parkland screaming kaleidoscopic flora and fauna, the kind one finds in a national park, is an instant snapshot of what London’s new park, open 24 hours a day, offers.

Bursting with Olympic Games heritage, this extraordinary playground of cutting edge design and contemporary living space exudes culture, community and innovation amongst 15 acres of woods, hedgerow and wildlife habitat, not forgetting 4,300 new trees.

No ordinary park, we embark on a trail of trails, from nature to 26 permanent artworks, where every plot communicates dedication, vision and pride amongst contemporary artists, designers, athletes and of course general public.

Giant pencil like mooring posts called ‘Steles’ designed by local artist Keith Wilson stand vibrantly proud along the park’s Waterfront River waterfront in true Olympic colours red, blue, yellow, green and black. Cleverly eye catching and symbolic of the Olympic movement whose philosophy is to peacefully educate through sport and the environment, we step into the world of olympism.

We reach new heights with Britain’s tallest sculpture, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a blood red tower of stainless steel, which standing 114.5m high delivers a 34 second elevator ascent to blissful London panoramic booty!

From an 80 metre tall viewing platform we absorb a 20 mile radius of glittering city skyline that shoots across capital booming regeneration to iconic silhouettes of The Shard, The Gherkin and The O2 Arena.

Breathtakingly surreal and symbolic, this complex 2,000 steel tonne structure with sky aspiring latticed loop weaves a visionary story of originality and London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy. Created by artist Sir Anish Kapoor and designer Cecil Balmond, their vision provides an alternative outlook to city perspective and an ingenious use of global industrial footprint.

Part sponsored by ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel and mining industry, we discover how 60% of recyclable steel, 35,000 bolts and 2 concave mirrors providing upside down city aerial views, celebrate 21st century architecture, sculpture and real London spirit.

A 455-step descent is a sound assisted route to the sounds of the park from wildlife in the marshes to roars from the adjacent Stadium, a magnificent arena built to house 80,000 spectators and accommodate the London 2012 athletics and Paralympic athletics events.

With a summer line up of 2015 events including the Rugby World Cup it is of no surprise this 860-metre perimeter pleasure dome will become the new national centre for athletics and home for West Ham United in 2016, with upgraded 54,000 all-seater UEFA category 4-football stadium.

Set peacefully around the park’s immaculate Pleasure Gardens, a green oasis of beautifully landscaped play, picnic space and tree lined promenade boasting spherical lanterns, we sunbathe on alfresco wooden loungers and dance amongst water from 195 giant water fountain jets!

A meander past Carpenters Lock is an industrial blast from the past where flood relief waterways display regeneration and revitalisation with barges flowing rhythmically down the River Lea. Below the iridescent Central Park Bridge, whose stainless steel mirror- effect walls reflect sunlight off the water, we venture along the wetlands and discover the park has 8 toad habitat patches and 2 kingfisher nesting banks.

Heading north to Timber Lodge Cafe for refreshments amongst mounts of surrounding grassy parkland including Tumbling Bay Playground, the kids explore nature and are awe struck by the presence of the Lee Valley VeloPark whose sleek architectural outline beckons a taste of London 2012 award winning cycling. The indoor 250 metre high performance velodrome sizzles with Olympic and Paralympic Team GB success, a gentle reminder the Paralympic GB cycling team won 15 medals, including five golds, seven silver and three bronze.

Outside this 6,000 spectator dome the excitement bar ricochets with sight of the action fuelled BMX trails, all 8 kilometres, and outdoor I mile road circuit that takes the eye north to Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre where international hockey makes it mark with the Men’s GB Versus Australia match.

Within this fashionable sports complex we experience a piece of this £30 million centre housing two hockey pitches, four indoor tennis courts, six outdoor courts and contemporary clubhouse with all mod cons. A 3,000-seat hockey stadium fills the air with energetic family entertainment that applauds sport excellence and equality amongst all, including the London 2012 Olympic Team GB’s women’s hockey team who took bronze.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a gala, a celebration of the arts, a tribute to world sport championship and unity amongst equals. No ordinary park, we end our educational journey with a splash in the legendary London Aquatics Centre in 10 million litres of water under a sophisticated aluminium wave-like roof that rests on three concrete supports. Great day out!

Further information:

Details of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and how to get there can be found by clicking on website Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Click on the ArcelorMittal Orbit website for details of visiting the UK’s tallest sculpture.

Further information about Lee Valley Park including Lee Valley VeloPark and Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre can all be found on the following links: Lee Valley Park, Lee Valley VeloPark, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.


Berlin, Germany May 2015

by Emma Bumpus on June 7, 2015

Summer booms from the streets of this ‘happening’ city as careertraveller and family step up a gear in Germany’s electrifying capital!

First impressions? Blockbuster landmarks, upbeat streets brimming with sunny coloured trams amidst a plethora of eclectic funky cosmopolitan shops, hotels and eateries. Instant attraction!

Reams of international cuisine from Asian to Indian to American and European, intermingled with legendary currywurst (frankfurter with currysauce) is a fusion of East meets West flavours that define this vibrant avant-garde metropolis.

A cauldron of culture initiates a check-in at the Berliner Hof Hotel in the western district is a fashionable introduction to the inner city’s Tauentzienstraße, a bustling boulevard gleaming with boutiques, encircled with monuments and leafy green Tiergarten, Berlin’s largest landscaped park.

Modern and spaciously family friendly we are impressed with the hotel’s relaxed hospitality, free WiFi and extensive tourist information, the type that perfects a three-day city break.

A fifth floor breakfast room decorated with garden fresh colours is a calm oasis of good-looking European sustenance, sweet and and savoury. Appetising German bread including pumpernickel and warm Brötchen (rolls) complement the continental pastries, cheese, salami and salad, including choice of hot breakfast on request.

Equipped with a supplementary gym below, offering personal trainers, local running trails and adjacent wellness spa, everything flows at the Berliner Hof Hotel, which explains why Berlin is Germany’s champion number one for overnight stays.

Outside stands proud the famous ‘Berlin’ sculpture, which unveiled in 1987 exhibits a ‘broken chain’ that symbolises the devastating effects of the Berlin Wall.

Where the eye meets KaDeWe, Berlin’s largest swanky department store and nineteenth century neo Romanesque Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church, nicknamed ‘hohle Zahn’ (The Hollow Tooth) by Berliners, we feel smug between Charlottenburg and Mitte, just 2 of Berlin’s 12 boroughs.

A city of 96 districts, referred to as ‘kievs’ by locals who identify by their preferred neighbourhood, is distinctively jam-packed with art, history, regeneration and tourism in the heart of Europe, which explains the 11.9 million visitors Berlin recorded in 2014.

A swift five minute walk to Germany’s oldest Zoological Garden reveals the conspicuous 25 Hours Bikini Berlin Hotel whose trendy entrance displays a life-size Mini and kiosk with words “Welcome to the Jungle”. Unique and unconventional, we enter an elevator that transports us to the top floor Monkey Bar where all is revealed with contrasting panoramic views of the zoo monkeys, green belt Tiergarten and urban inner city hustle and bustle. Stunningly sophisticated and artistic, it becomes clear why Berlin comes third place in the European ranking after London and Paris.

Resisting the neighbouring easy access Zoologischer Garten S-Bahn railway station in favour of a fleeting city sightseeing tour bus, we hop on-board and activate the celebrated Berlin Welcome Card. This golden ticket of a pass offers stress free public travel and massive discounted admission to delicious city attractions, restaurants, theatres and tours galore.

From the roof of a double decker bus we feel the city’s rhythm that stems from diverse nationalities, cuisine, entertainment and architecture. Old and new buildings everywhere chronicle history, revealing a cutting-edge culture born out of reunification, freedom of expression and desire for the arts. From iconic 1960s skyscraper Television Tower to Brandenberg Gate, an eighteenth century neo classical triumphal arch that reopened it’s gate with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, we discover Berlin.

Every corner tells a story through a multitude of exhibitions, street art and monuments, including the Holocaust Memorial whose concrete grave-like stones commemorate the lives of the murdered Jews of the Holocaust.

Checkpoint Charlie is refuel pit stop of German heritage like no other. Streets lined with tourist shops are encircled by fragmented sections of the Berlin Wall, alongside photographic displays of Second World and Cold War atrocities in the form of the Topography of Terror and careertraveller favourite Wall Panorama. This visionary stroke of genius comes in the form of a cylindrical steel rotunda displaying 360° paintings of everyday life on the East and West Berlin border. German artist Yadegar Asisi creates a hauntingly accurate account of daily life in the German-Soviet vicinity from real life experience. Emotional stirring, and liberating, it is easy to understand why so many people revisit this compelling capital.

A tender boat tour of the River Spree across the city is our chance to admire further city gems in the Government Quarter with the Reichstag, UNESCO Museum Island and stunning Cathedral. Discovering Berlin’s largest church was laid in 1894, partly bombed in World War II and fully restored in 1993, we find peace and romance within this wonderful German capital.

Further information:

Details of Berlin’s sights and attractions can be found on the official tourist board website Visit Berlin.

To book a stay at the Berliner Hof Hotel click on their website Berliner Hof Hotel.


The Somme, Picardy France April 2015

by Emma Bumpus on April 17, 2015

Easter takes careertraveller and family on a historical WW1 Remembrance Trail in the Somme, Picardy France, where nature and people commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

A smooth 90-minute P&O Ferries Dover – Calais crossing is a gentle reminder of the ease at which oceanic travel endorses a cultural curriculum of geography, languages, science and history!

Wrapped up in an aquatic bundle of pure family adventure and holiday fun we hop on the titanic Spirit of France and relax amongst an array of on-board facilities that advocate 21st century family travel. Un peu de retail therapy, amusement arcade and deck-lounge alfresco joie de vivre deliver cruise-like flavours of the sea as we take stock aboard the UK’s largest channel superferry!

The ferry’s Club Lounge is a gateway to luxury with contemporary furnishings, private sun deck and complementary snacks, which including the complementary glass of champagne takes the sting out of family travel.

Greeted by the Calais majestic Côte d’Opale is our sandy beach gateway to France, which with picturesque views of the town’s elegant neo-Flemish style Town Hall and belfry justifies 23 crossings a day. Just 26 miles from Dover, it is of no surprise that P&O Ferries escort 10.2 million passengers each year on all its services.

Seascape becomes landscape as we traverse 155 km coast to countryside through verdant open fields and quaint peaceful villages that steer us generously to The Poppy Country. Amidst a region of 67 villages, we choose Albert, a pretty little town full of French charm and a medley of authentic tourist attractions, beginning with the Somme 1916 Museum .

A 15-metre descent takes us underground to a renovated 13th century tunnel full of WW1 artefacts, lifelike trenches and history that proudly commemorates soldiers who fought during First World War.

Cleverly reconstructed displays of military life provide an educational trail of trench warfare and camaraderie from bunkers to Hall of Heroes. No ordinary gallery, nine lives, such as soldier Paul Hannecart and John MC Crae (Canadian military doctor and poet) stand tribute to WW1 heroism and humanity with the symbolic poppy ‘In Flander’s Field’s poem.

From the depths of this 250 metre long former WW2 underground shelter beckons the adjacent Basilica of Notre-Dame de Brebières, whose stunning neo byzantine architecture takes us 62 metres high! Above the rooftops of Albert we inhale breathtaking views of the Somme valley and step back 100 years to discover this picturesque peaceful town is steeped in WWI history.

Constant bombardment from 1914 to the fall of the Golden Virgin statue in 1918, a legendary symbol of peace that predicted the end of the war, reveals this compelling French town. Once the hub of armed activity, Albert takes pride in it’s former supportive military role to British troops with evocative Great War street art and 1920s and 1930s Art-Deco style houses, rebuilt after final liberation by British troops in August 1918.

Three valleys of Northern Picardy meadows and wet grasslands are fodder for our Circuit of Remembrance tour, which interrupted by the occasional bird of prey takes us into the rural wilderness of the Somme. Peaceful country lanes dotted with red brick houses exhibiting multi coloured shutters and authentic war souvenirs is a charming introduction to the region’s local friendliness and compassion, reverberating Entente Cordiale allegiance.

Along the fens and forests flows the pretty river Ancre that leads us through rural wildlife and military cemeteries (410 Commonwealth, 22 French and 14 German) into the land of remembrance. Our French tour guide, appropriately named Flora, delivers a fluent timeline of Battle of The Somme 1916 events that trace footsteps of 3 million soldiers, 20 nationalities and a fighting front of 45 kilometres.

Rustic landscape, once former battlefields, present architectural jewels in the form of landmark memorials that tribute all First World War soldiers. Standing proud amongst nature, time stands still as we reflect upon heroes, known and unknown.

Eager students, old and young, we absorb the well-preserved trenches of Beaumont – Hamel where the emblematic caribou bronze statue honours men who left their island to defend a faraway country – the 29th division of The Royal Newfoundland Division.

Thiepval Memorial is a colossal introduction to over 72, 000 named and unnamed Anglo-French soldiers and men, who once united in combat are commemorated with a cemetery of equal numbers of French and Commonwealth graves, with the Stone of Remembrance “Their Name Liveth For Evermore”.

From The Ulster Tower to Lochnagar Crater, our trail depicts courage, sorrow, strength, pain, but best of all comradeship and peace, wrapped up in a five-year project of remembrance, reflection and understanding that defines The First World War Centenary.

Back at Calais, we take a serene P&O Ferries sunset cruise back to Dover and feel extremely privileged to have experienced life in The Somme, past and present. As we leave the shimmering Pas-de-Calais coastline on board the Spirit of Britain, we take pride in taking a piece of The Poppy Lands home and pledge never to forget.

Further details of The Poppy Country and Circuit of Remembrance can be found on the official tourist Somme Tourism website . The centenary of the Great War 2015 programme can also be found on the following link Centenary of the Great War programme 2015.

General information on P&O Ferries crossings and travel can be found on their website P&O Ferries.

For accommodation we stayed at the Ibis Albert Hotel in the centre of The Poppy Country and heart of the Somme battlefields.


Belmond British Pullman, March 2015

by Emma Bumpus on March 25, 2015

Luxury rail travel and vintage glamour bring delectable Mothers Day treasure to careertraveller in the form of Afternoon Tea on board the legendary Belmond British Pullman.

London Victoria central railway station, the UK’s second largest terminus, is an intoxicating travel cauldron bursting with passenger memories, past and present, providing a golden gateway of journeys in and out of London.

The flurry of traffic and movement dissipate into a foreign haze as we approach platform 1, where our chariot or rather ‘Palace on Wheels’ awaits. Mesmerised by the sophisticated umber and cream row of named carriages, 8 to be precise, is the beginning of a unique railway experience.

The adjacent Belmond British Pullman lounge is no ordinary waiting room, offering guests a well-appointed space under the spell of the glitzy Spitfire Sisters, whose honeyed vocal tones create a delicious 1930s and 1940s swing aperitif. Superb!

Escorted on-board we enter the official golden age of travel and are dazzled by sumptuous colour and craftsmanship that comes in the form of generous velvet armchairs, veneered panels displaying stylish art deco marquetry and polished brass luggage racks. Every detail goes unnoticed, especially the beautifully restored wood panelling by the renowned Dunn family, connoisseurs of handmade marquetry since 1895.

Discrete space for coats and bags display the clever sense of design and style that lies behind the American, George Mortimer Pullman, inventor of luxury train travel since 1864. Mr Pullman’s first visit to England formed the Pullman Palace Carriage Company in 1882 and to a rise in custom built lavish carriages throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

Our authentic car GWEN is a chic flashback to the 1930s with it’s plush blue upholstery and elegant light fittings, epitomising Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’. Built originally in 1932 for the Brighton Belle, this first class kitchen car with 20 seats has an exciting history of conveying H.M Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) to Brighton with sister car MONA in 1948. Expertly restored and decorated with ‘Pearwood Shell’ motif on ‘English Walnut’, GWEN’s brief written history sits proudly on Mahogany in the nearby vestibule since joining the British Pullman Train in 1999.

Greeted by silver service sparkling fine cutlery and crystal that twinkle with celebration, our voyage begins with a glass of 2010 Balfour Brut Rosé, a clever introduction to England’s one and only vineyard dedicated to the creation of English Rosé sparkling wine. Fresh and effervescent with a hint of redcurrant, it is of no surprise we discover this award winning ‘pink fizz’ is grown from three classic champagne grape varieties at the Hush Health Estate in Kent, superb!

A breeze through the Garden of England’s sublime countryside takes us on a ‘best of British’ journey with lashings of Tregothnan Classic hand – plucked tea, grown from the UK’s first tea plantation in Cornwall. Single estate leaves from the Tregothnan Estate mixed with imported finest Assam awaken the senses with a full-bodied flavour to savour afternoon tea.

Amidst decadent views of rolling green countryside each morsel brings delight and surprise, the type that quite fittingly complements Mr Pullman’s ‘Palace on Wheels’. Traditional delicately cut sandwiches bring a spring to the plate and palate that makes the whole railway experience fashionably perfect. Pretty petite scones are stepping-stones to a rainbow of celebratory pastries with an assortment of textures that drizzle with VIP care and mastery.

Whilst the feather light spiced pecan, apple and cranberry loaf cake light delight balances the boldness of the tea, it is the mango and passion fruit cheesecake that seduces the careertraveller palate. Smooth, creamy and cylindrical, this darling of a masterpiece defines baking wizardry with layers of sweet and slightly salty technique topped with mango puree and passion fruit glaze. Outstanding!

Adventure kicks in with a tour of the Pullman carriages that roar with 1920s speakeasy razzmatazz and old school Hollywood-like glamour. No car is the same and each and every one expresses a different story that transports us back to the 20th century from WW2 through to the 1980s.

A wander through this convey of chic boutique parlours is a flirtatious affair with the likes of Phoenix, Minerva, Lucille, Perseus, Cygnus and Vera and Audrey, whose previous life involved travelling 2.7 million miles with the Brighton Belle and entertaining Sir Laurence Olivier!

Vintage first-class comfort accompanied by picturesque British landscape and expert on-board stewards clad in authentic attire, bring the heyday of luxury train travel back to life. Mothers Day will never be the same!

To experience the excitement of luxury train travel on board the Belmond British Pullman, click on the Belmond British Pullman website for further details.


Seven “sunny” hills, azure sky and bustling streets peppered with multi-coloured azulejos flaunting fashionably traditional eateries and boutiques glides careertraveller and family to the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon.

Majestically poised overlooking the verdant Eduardo VII Park feels extraordinarily supreme, that is until we step into the serenely glamorous lobby, where luminously perfumed hyacinths and exotic orchids take transatlantic glamour and vigour to another level!

Captivated and entranced with star struck kids in tow we unravel the roots of stellar hospitality, extraordinary experiences and unforgettable memories in the form of a journey as opposed to the usual family city break.

Every corner and every space becomes eye candy as we uncover Lisbon’s largest private art collection, good start! Aesthetically charmed and uplifted we experience the likes of Portuguese artist José Sobral Almada Negreiros, whose original bold coloured tapestries depicting centaurs hang gracefully in the imperial Almada Negreiros Lounge.

Iridescent textures and colours weave an educational trail of Portuguese tradition and history captured poignantly with local artist Estrela Faria’s sculpture of The 7 Hills of Lisbon. Along a pictorial journey of symbolic sights from Saint George Castle to Carmo Ruins in Chiado we download the hotel’s own glossy art collection app which brings the 60 piece exhibition to life.

Armed with ipad and Four Seasons map, the adults view their own private art exhibition whilst the kids embark on an endearing treasure hunt, triggering a playful Ritzy Programme full of genuine five star bounty fit for any young pirates! Amongst 10 stories, 282 rooms, of which 242 are rooms and 40 suites, we gather a trail of junior clues that present us with heavenly multi sensory rewards.

Top to bottom is a honey trap of relaxed luxury sensations with careertraveller favourite rooftop running track, offering 360-degree panoramic views of Lisbon’s colourful tiles and landmarks. Freestyle studio exuding fitness à la yoga, Pilates and stretching classes makes a perfect descent to the turquoise oasis of Zen-like serenity spa, an 18-metre lap pool of rippling paradise. Built for every chakra, we enter a regenerative philosophy of mind, body and spirit that makes the kids want to move in!

Absolutely nothing is spared from detail and a consciousness that derives from natural beauty and a desire to renew, refresh and restore. Aromatic waves of -eucalyptus-infused steam marry space and sensation with princely ice fountain, heated limestone flooring and selection of Asian infused teas that complement views of surrounding wall sculptures.

Our next clue transports us to our Deluxe interconnecting rooms which epitomise thoughtfulness and elegance with a twist of art deco inspired furniture and Louis XVI style work bureau for the meticulous to children’s Disney duvets and DVDs, not forgetting chocolate milk and cookies.

The final treasure hunt pit stop rests with Business Services, a professional playground of commercial facilities, where technology meets fortune in the form of a genuine treasure chest bursting with toys!

Inspired by the hotel’s unique experiences programme we take a 3-hour sidecar tour with Bike My Side and seize the city’s streets and monuments that provide stunning vistas of the famous Tagus River. Traversing 35 kilometres through culturally diverse districts delivers a kaleidoscopic fun fuelled ride through world-class Moorish history, architecture and cosmopolitan street life bursting with golden trams and modish vitality.

From the sweet-smelling waterfront of Belem, infused with austere flavours of Pasteis de Belem’s legendary custard tarts, we circuit an array of maritime landmarks that echo the footsteps of Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama.

Cinematic sidecar views capture the 15th century Jerónimos Monastery, a UNESCO world heritage site and Discoveries Monument that gazes lovingly across the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge to the Cristo Rei statue, commemorating Portugal’s exclusion from WWII.

A final breeze to the city’s highest point Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte in Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest quarter, is a cauldron of Portuguese life where locals watch sundown paint a rainbow across the city’s rooftops. Sublime!

Evening thoughts of a splash in the Four Seasons pool, movies and room service fill the little ones with holiday fever whereas the adults revel in thoughts of a custom- designed Signature slumber in luxurious 300-thread count Dobby Sateen cotton sheets.

Whilst nightcap ‘handmade truffles’ are a league of their own, breakfast is a fine affair in the sophisticated Varanda Restaurant where East meets West with a refined intercontinental menu packed with health, adventure and culture fit for royalty.

Exquisite traditional Portuguese pastries take family centre stage with beautifully delicate formed textures. Fresh and feather-light Bola de Berlim doughnuts with crème pâtissière take the art and science of pastry beyond any expectation and salute pastry chef Fabian Nguyen and his team.

Unusual, unexpected and diverse is the fascinating and alternative Japanese Breakfast with miso soup, Pickled Vegetables, Steamed Vegetables, Grilled Salmon, Onsen Egg, Dried Seaweed and Green Tea, that reveals the Four Seasons business philosophy of a deep-rooted ethic of dignity, pride and exceptional personal service in everything they do. Inimitable!

In the words of Morgan Freeman “There’s something different about a Four Seasons Hotel. The weight of the world lifts from your shoulders as soon as you walk in the door.”


Experience Four Seasons Ritz Hotel Lisbon by clicking on their click on the hotel’s website Four Seasons Ritz Hotel. Details of the hotel’s ipad art app can be downloaded on the following link Four Seasons art collection app.

Bike My Side tours can be found on their website Bike My Side

Lisbon travel and tourist information can be found on the official Visit Lisboa website


Royal Albert Hall, London December 2014

by Emma Bumpus on December 22, 2014

London takes centre stage as careertraveller and family take to the streets of Kensington in search of festive architectural treats that tunefully electrify the spirit of Christmas.

South Kensington tube station is our gateway to the capital’s museum quarter or rather ‘cultural oasis’, a historical zone devoted to the arts and science brimming with enlightenment and wonder.

A breeze past the Royal College of Music, Royal College of Art and Royal Geographical Society is an education that presents an historical insight to Victorian architecture and royalty, full of decorative treasures including the Royal Albert Hall.

Majestically situated in Kensington Gore to the south of Hyde Park, one of London’s eight royal parks boasting 350 acres of green open space, stands this noble brick cylinder, which almost 41 metres high initiates a lovingly devoted trail of culture derived from Prince Albert’s and Queen Victoria’s passion for knowledge, technological advancement and romance.

A Grand Tour of the Royal Albert Hall takes us back to the nineteenth century, reviving Prince Albert’s ‘Crystal Palace’, incubator of the Great Exhibition in 1851, where worldwide displays of modern artefacts and inventions changed history. From hydraulic press and textile machines to ‘tangible ink’ for the blind, we uncover the roots of this spectacular centre for the arts and sciences.

From the marvels of industry and manufacturing we discover this temporary exhibition known as the ‘workshop of the world’ commemorates Prince Albert’s desire to inspire, educate and promote industry.

Tender tiers of iron girder stairwells we observe the initial ‘A’ engraved, which overlooking Kensington Gardens and the Queen’s Albert Memorial, a commissioned statue of him sitting under a gilt canopy with a copy of the Exhibition catalogue on his knee, we absorb this ‘Central Hall’s significance and incredibly loving heritage.

Designed by Royal Engineers Captain Francis Fowke and Henry Darracott Scott and opened in 1871, this Grade I Listed Hall, built with 6 million red bricks and eighty thousand blocks of decorative terracotta, is a feast of northern Italian architecture. An impressive 800-foot long frieze that runs around the entire exterior perimeter of the building is the careertraveller favourite, with symbolic artistic figures depicting triumph of the arts and sciences.

Revelling amidst the Queen’s Private Suites and Royal Retiring Room we step into character and an electrifying world of nobility, stardom and diverse entertainment. With a timeline of events, speakers and performances by Rachmaninov, Hiawatha, Ford Motor Show and Einstein to The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali, Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, Dalai Lama and Dr Who Prom, it is no surprise this legendary Hall continues to accrue a multitude of awards including ‘London Live Music Venue of the Year’ at the third annual London Lifestyle Awards in 2012.

Our appreciation of ‘audience’ is heightened with sight of the Hall’s mesmerising auditorium, fit for championship tennis, Sumo wrestling and Cirque De Soleil’s imaginative circus displays of acrobatics and clowning.

A peek inside the Second Tier and Grand Tier boxes is our ‘ticket to ride’ with superb views of distinguished seating from the Stalls and Arena to Gallery above. It is here we fully appreciate the immense size of the amphitheatre, which 185 feet wide by 219 feet long has an exclusive seating capacity of 5,272!

Amidst psychedelic lighting and improved bubble-like acoustic saucers from the rafters we uncover changes and developments that have brought the Hall into the 21st century. A sneaky peek at the three and a half storey basement below delivers a scintillating ‘behind the scenes’ perspective to performance and entertainment amongst the scenery, lighting and sound equipment. From unloading underground lorries to sparkling dressing rooms we are submerged in the theatre of the arts, where Prince Albert’s passion reigns.

Encircled by Royal Parks, the Royal Albert Hall, Victoria and Albert Museum and Science Museum, South Kensington makes it mark as we complete our journey with a final ice skating session at London’s Natural History Museum.

Illuminated at night, this stunning nineteenth century cathedral-like backdrop is a show of stunning design and celebratory fun for all. Midst the sweet and spicy aromas of seasonal hot chocolate and mulled wine, a traditional ride on the glittering carousel delivers a 360-degree panoramic vision of Albertopolis. Stunning!

Further details of the Royal Albert Hall performances and tours can be found by clicking on the following website Royal Albert Hall.

Information about ice skating at the Natural History Museum can be found on their website Natural History Museum.


Valencia, Spain October 2014

by Emma Bumpus on November 11, 2014

Silky turquoise skies, sunny orange trees and perfumed Mediterranean flavours transport careertraveller and family to the exotic land of Valencia, triggering a never-ending journey of cultural treasures.

Bursting with 28-degree sunshine, palm lined streets and plazas teeming with ancient architectural delights, we step into Spain’s third largest city, which situated in the middle of the Spanish Mediterranean coast, boasts a population of one and a half million people.

Vibrantly busy yet relaxed the city offers an abundance of infinite sights and attractions that cleverly uncover a selection of discrete monumental symbols across Valencia’s Ciutat Vella or Old Town. Carved stone dragons on the declared UNESCO world heritage site Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) facade, display a selection of dramatic gothic detail, recounting the power and wealth of this 15th century historical landmark, once a civil commercial trading centre.

Our historical trail of dragons is an enlightening pilgrimage epitomised by the El Patriarca in Calle de la Nave, an ancient street that narrowly divides this 11th century monument from Valencia’s old university. Inside the lobby we uncover the Turia Dragon legend that dates back to 1392 with tales of a prisoner who slayed the city’s monster in return for his life.

Thanks to our TURIART family tour guide we capture the dragon, a commemorative wall mounted stuffed alligator! Set within the same grounds as Valencia’s so called “Sistern Chapel,” dating back to the renaissance period, we are dazzled with the city’s wonders and vivid imagination.

Lunch is a radiant mix of enchanting alleyways and fresh local tapas at LaLola restaurant whose cocina del mercato is selected just around the corner from the renowned Mercado Central, one of Europe’s oldest food markets.

A fashionable mix of homemade pea hummus, squid and goat’s cheese salad drizzling with honey and ancient mustard, gives new meaning to Mediterranean cuisine. Texturally crisp, vibrant and fresh we step up to Valencian gastronomy with traditional paella of chicken, rabbit and snails, a dish that epitomises the warmth, tradition and gastronomy of Valencia.

Around the corner stands Valencia’s landmark Cathedral, whose imposing 13th-15th century stature boldly displays a range of artistic architectural styles from Renaissance to Neoclassical. Built on the site of an Arab mosque stand 3 porticos with La Puerta de los Apóstoles (Door of the Apostles) boasting six statuesque apostles and stone carved Coats of Arms, commending Valencia’s Christianity community.

Inside is a world of gothic medieval legend with the Holy Chalice, which set magnificently within a shrine of an alabaster altarpiece conjures genuine images of the Last Supper.

A waltz around Plaza de la Vergine is no ordinary Sunday as we observe the tradition of Valencian dancing in folklore costume amidst crowds and the fairy-tale Basilica, one of Spain’s first Baroque buildings dedicated to the city’s patron saint Virgen of The Forsaken.

A justifiable “Horchata”, Valencia’s famous signature drink made of sugar, water and tigernuts, harvested locally, provides a nourishing and refreshing pick-me-up that dates back to the eighth century!

The city’s Tourist Card provides smooth access downtown, noticeably connecting the ‘old’ and ‘new’ as we approach the knockout City of Arts and Science. An astonishing complex of art, technology, nature and science makes architectural waves as the eye captures Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela’s sensational design sky high above the Turia River.

Valencia smacks of cultural choice as we indulge the five elements of the Hemisfèric IMAX cinema and Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (Royal Opera House) to Umbracle, a landscaped vantage point, Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, Oceanográfico aquarium and Ágora, a multifunctional space hosting the Valencia Open 500 Tennis Tournament.

72 hours of Valencia could not get any better as we hit the road for the City’s celebrated Bioparc Valencia, a 10-hectare estate of natural wild habitats spanning the Equatorial Forest and Madagascar to Wetlands and Savannah. Beneath the African carob trees of this nature and conservation inspired project we uncover endangered species and feel privileged to mingle amongst an array of striking animals and dedicated biologists.

A mooch around the trendy Marina Real Juan Carlos I takes us across the rather slick Formula One circuit to La Malvarrosa Beach where al fresco relaxation takes shape with a traditional meat paella in the steps of Ernest Hemingway at La Pepica. Devine flavours of pork tenderloin, butter beans and Protected Designation of Origin local rice beside an authentic open kitchen is our rationale for visiting Albufera Natural Park. It is here amongst the rice paddy fields and stunning wildlife that we discover the roots and fruits of Valencia’s diverse civilisation.

Sociable, amorous and buzzing, Valencia is a sporty and cultural mecca of soul and community, which sealed with the profusion of colour and passion unites the past with the present, making travel in Spain ‘special’.

Further details of Valencia’s tourist sights and attractions can be found by clicking on the official Visit Valencia website.

Information about TURIART’s “Catch a Dragon” family tours can be found by clicking on their website TURIART.