Author Archives: Justin Aldridge

Boring Rental Cars? Try Something Different For Your Next Holiday

Nowadays it is incredibly easy to just hop on a plane and go anywhere in the world, so it is not surprising that people are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to holiday, from thrills to natural history to lounging in the sun and more. Sometimes we get so caught up in exploring the four corners of the world that we forget to indulge in the small luxuries.

Why not go out for a drive throughout our own lovely countryside? With so many different makes and models of cars to choose from, whether you want to feel the power beneath your seat, you’re looking for a strong sturdy van to go road tripping with friends, or you’d like to try something a little more classic, there are rental cars available for everyone.

Convertible Sports Car

Convertible car hireWhen the sun is high and you just want to feel the wind rolling through your hair, sometimes there is nothing better than taking a drive out with a convertible sports car. You want something with class, comfort and style, but something that can still hit top speeds so you really feel like you’re racing the sun. With a diverse range of models, a convertible is great for short journeys for when you feel like doing not much of anything except burning rubber with the top down.

Not much compares to the open air driving experience and car rental companies will often bend over backwards in order to provide you with a number of extra features designed to enhance your drive and make your experience completely unforgettable.

Minivan for Road Trips

MinivanWhether you have a small group of really close friends, or you socialise with a club or fraternity, a road trip is widely considered to be a classical, inexpensive holiday that you can enjoy with friends. Minivans are perfect for just such road trips as they can hold several people and some minivans available for hire even have extra facilities akin to small coaches, such as portable toilets, re-purposed seats into beds and even a speaker system!

All you’ll need is a map, some drinks to keep everyone going and a cooler full of snacks for the trip. Take a tour round the country to see various points of interest, or just hit the back roads and country roads, enjoying the music in the car and your friends by your side. The choice is up to you!

There are great tips, games, etc., at

4 x 4 Off-road Drive

4x4If you’re a trekker, a hiker or a campsite junky, a 4×4 could be the perfect rental car for you with its off-road capabilities. From the rocky roads of the African Outback to the hilly terrain of the countryside slightly closer to home, a 4×4 is perfect if you want to get off the beaten track and have some truly wild adventures. Set up camp in the middle of the desert, or find a secluded spot tucked up in the Smoky Mountains and have some off-road fun with a huge range of SUV’s or compact four wheel drive vehicles.

Hiring a 4×4 by yourself and going on a solo adventure or with friends is commonly known as ‘Green Laning’ and has grown exponentially in popularity over the last few years. There are websites dedicated solely to giving you information on the best (legal) areas. There is plenty of advice out there, so why not get started on planning your off-road adventure?

Get more ideas and advice from

Whatever your reason for hiring a car for your next holiday, make sure to do your research before you book a car. Look into reputable agencies and read reviews before you decide to hire from a certain company, as although you may be able to get a refund after your holiday, you certainly won’t get your time wasted back if you’re stuck in another country with a beaten down SUV to go off-roading in!

Things To See In Moscow

Moscow is the capital of Russia, and the hub of much of the country’s financial and political activity. Along with St Petersburg, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Russia, and is known primarily for its long history, its spectacular architecture and its eclectic culture.

Moskva River

Moskva River

One of the first things you will likely see upon entering Moscow is the Moskva River, which flows through the centre of the city, followed by the famous ring road system with which you will need to acquaint yourself if you are planning on driving in Moscow, as much of the city’s layout is determined by these essential roads.

Red Square

Red Square

There are some beautiful sights to be seen in Moscow, and you’ll want to make sure you get as many of these in as possible. One of these sights you absolutely can’t miss is the Red Square, found at the very heart of the city. This is surrounded by some of Moscow’s greatest landmarks, including St Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum and one of the walls of the Kremlin.

St Basil’s Cathedral

St Basil's Cathedral

The 16th century St Basil’s Cathedral is one of the most iconic sites in the entire country, and is breathtakingly beautiful. This Russian Orthodox building is highly characteristic with its onion-shaped domes, golden spires and vibrant colours, and it is thought that the influences for the building were primarily Byzantine and Asian in origin, rather than European as many people thought.

The Kremlin

The Kremlin

The Kremlin is another significantly important site in Moscow, and is well worth a visit. This historic complex overlooks the river, and is the official residence of the Russian president. The Armoury certainly shouldn’t be missed, especially for its stunning diamond collection. You may also like to attend the ballet to see some world class performances, go on a guided tour or take yourself off to wander at your leisure.


Tretyakov Gallery

If you are interested in museums, you’ll certainly be in the right place in Moscow. The Tretyakov Gallery is dedicated primarily to Russian art, featuring the work of famous Russians through time. The Pushkin Museum, in contrast, displays an impressive collection of Western art, focusing particularly on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. For Realism, the Institute of Russian Realist Art (IRRA) should be your first stop.

Summer Trips

Gorky Park

For summer visits when the weather is fine, take a trip to Gorky Park for a laid back afternoon of relaxing and exploring. There are cafes, open-air film screenings, public art projects and design and craft fairs taking place all the time in this buzzing park, and it’s a great place to sit and watch the residents of Moscow going about their daily business.

Top 5 Things To Do In Madrid

Madrid is unusual for a capital insofar as it is found in the centre of the country, whereas most capitals are found on the coast or rivers in easily accessible locations on old trade routes. On the one hand, this does mean that, unfortunately, unlike the majority of popular Spanish destinations, Madrid doesn’t have a beach. However, it also means that the city benefits from a really unique character. So, what are the top 5 things to see and do in Madrid?

Prado Madrid

The Royal Palace

This palace is the official home of the Spanish royals, though they don’t actually live here. It shouldn’t cost more than €10 entry, and there are several concessions and ways to get free entry. Many of the rooms are open to the public and are decorated in an opulent, extravagant manner with lots of marble and luxurious velvets. Be warned that photography is forbidden inside the palace.

Jardín Botanico

There are more than 30,000 plants from all corners of the planet residing in the botanical garden, making this a little slice of paradise and welcome respite from the intense heat of the city. Water features , shaded areas and sprinklers make this the perfect place to visit in the late afternoon when heat can become stifling, and there are beautiful blooms here all year round.

Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle is the name for Madrid’s three major art palaces – the Prado, the Thyssen and the Reina Sofia. These three galleries between them contain the vast majority of the city’s priceless artworks, making it ideal for art buffs. A pass to the three should come to around €15, a small price to pay to spend time with some of the world’s most impressive, coveted pieces of art.

Eat tapas

Scattered around central Madrid and the Gran Via Broadway are ‘ham museums’, or eateries specialising in various types of cured ham. Many of these act like the abundance of other tapas bars in the city, where you can order a drink and be brought a free tapa as an accompaniment. Wherever you are, the tapas on offer will vary broadly, from seafood to sliced meats and chorizo to vegetables to tortilla, so you can sample a huge variety of Spanish cuisine.

Bus tour

Most European capitals offer up some kind of river tour to visitors, but Madrid’s lack of river means that city tours should be done by bus. You will be given earphones and a map of the city so you can listen to Madrid’s history and figure out where you want to go, and it is a far better way to travel than by Metro as you get to see more of the tiny winding streets, hidden churches and bustling plazas for the price of one hop on, hop off ticket.

Madrid has much to offer its visitors, but anyone wanting to get out of the busy capital can hire a car to nearby city Valladolid, which should take around two hours, with a trip to the vibrant Salamanca taking around the same time.

Planning A Trip To Iceland

I’m looking at taking a trip to Iceland this winter in the hope of seeing the elusive, mysterious Northern Lights. It’s been on my ‘do before I die’ list for as long as I can remember, and this year the aurora is supposed to be particularly spectacular. Fortunately, thanks to the tiny area of inhabitation in Iceland and the compact nature of Reykjavik, a trip to Iceland can be done in a weekend. However, going to Iceland isn’t like a standard weekend away to Europe, and a little more planning needs to be done.


Firstly, there is the matter of money. The Icelandic Króna (ISK) can be tricky to come by outside of Iceland, and many foreign exchange desks won’t stock it at all. You can also expect to get a pretty poor exchange rate whenever you try to exchange your own currency for króna, so if you feel you will need cash, use your card to withdraw it at an Icelandic ATM. However, a better idea still is to simply use your card as normal. Inform your bank that you will be in Iceland to ensure it isn’t blocked, and spend away. Almost everything, including taxi fares, can be paid for with a card.

Secondly, the language. Icelandic is spoken by less than 350,000 people worldwide with the vast majority residing in Iceland itself, so it is not expected that any visitors will speak Icelandic. A few token words (hallo = hello, bless = goodbye, takk = thank you, já = yes, nei = no) is enough to be polite, but almost everyone will speak immaculate English. Danish is also very widely spoken if this is more comfortable for you.

The weather in Iceland is incredibly volatile, so it’s important that you go prepared for all eventualities, particularly throughout winter. It is not at all uncommon to see heavy snow on the same day as brilliant sunshine and pouring rain, so go for layers. Warm layers are particularly important, along with something fully waterproof, but most important should be sensible, walking-friendly footwear. Much Icelandic activity takes place in the rugged nature, so you need shoes that will allow you to walk on slippery, uneven and challenging terrains.

Finally, there’s the small matter of the Northern Lights themselves. There is no way to predict when they will make themselves seen, but there are Northern Lights forecasts online which can suggest how likely it is that they will appear. You will need to leave the bright lights of Reykjavik and head north further into the Arctic Circle for the best chance. You can either join a tour which will take a group of you up together with a tour guide or hire a car so you can drive yourself up into the countryside in the hope of spotting the incredible Aurora Borealis.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some flights to book…

Getting Around Oslo

Last year, I jetted off to Oslo for a long weekend break over the summer. I’m not especially good in the heat, so I fancied somewhere I could roam around without melting! As a destination, Oslo certainly didn’t disappoint, and while we managed to avoid the rain, it was gloriously mild throughout the entire trip, which was much appreciated.


Oslo is incredibly easy to get around, and you have lots of options. It’s a relatively small city considering it’s a capital, so as long as you don’t mind cobbles you can take a pleasant stroll around without too much trouble. Lots of the locals seem to cycle, so if you feel comfortable cycling in another city you could hire a bike. You could get a smartcard to enable you to use the popular City Bikes (Oslo Bysykkel) if you intend to cycle a lot.

If you’re thinking of going a little further afield, or just want to save your legs after a long day of countryside hiking, the bus and tram services are excellent. They are extremely regular and everyone in the stations and tourist information centres speaks flawless English so can offer you lots of help. You can get an Oslo Card which not only gives you free or reduced entry to all the main attractions in the city, but you will also get access to free public transport which is really handy if you intend to explore the area thoroughly.

While I was in Oslo, I took a trip to Drøbak, a small town close to the Norwegian capital. This involved a bus ride alongside the beautiful fjord, which was relatively straightforward, but the one problem we found was that the buses between Oslo and Drøbak aren’t always too frequent, especially in off peak seasons, so it might be a better idea to hire a car in Oslo if you’re thinking of venturing outside of Oslo. There are lots of pretty towns in southern Norway, so a car gives you the freedom to plan your own schedule without getting stuck somewhere remote for hours.

The real highlight of Oslo’s transport is the stunning boats you can take from Oslo harbour around the fjord. These can take you to the ‘museum peninsula’, with its fascinating Fram Museum and Kon-Tiki Museum, as well as others, and to various other points around Oslo, including some of the little islands sitting in the middle of the fjord. Seeing the area by water is the perfect way to get a real feel for the natural beauty of Scandinavia.

In a nutshell, if you want a city that’s really accessible and easy to move around, Oslo is perfect! Just don’t be expecting to do too much sunbathing while you’re there…

Written by our intrepid traveller, Kayleigh.

Cape Town Airport Guide

Cape Town Airport is the primary airport serving South Africa’s second most populated city, Cape Town, and is situated 20 km from its city centre. It is the second busiest in the country and the third busiest in Africa, with more than 8.5 million passenger movements recorded from 2011-2012. The majority of passengers using this airport are domestic travellers.

Cape Town Airport

Cape Town is the Western Cape’s provincial capital, and is most famous for its harbour and natural beauty, including Table Mountain, which is situated in a National Park, and Cape Point. As Africa’s most popular tourist destination, there are many activities and things to see in Cape Town. It is much-loved by sunseekers and hikers alike, with white sandy beaches flanked with bars and restaurants, and many walking routes leading through regions of spectacular scenery. Surfing is another common activity in Cape Town.

It is easy to access Cape Town Airport, with the easiest public transport link being a shuttle bus connecting the airport with the city centre’s Civic Centre bus station, with buses running every 20 minutes for throughout most of the day. While a rail station has been proposed for the airport, starting in 2013, there is currently no rail link to the city. Alternatively, airport rental cars can be arranged at the car hire desks in arrivals, with the quickest route into Cape Town being the N2 freeway, which can be accessed through Airport Approach Road.  Alternatively, cars can be rented from other locations in South Africa.

There are separate domestic and international terminals with five air bridges each, with one large central terminal connecting the two in which check-ins are handled using 120 desks. The terminals are within walking distance of one another, with a shuttle bus taking passengers to the car parks. Arrivals take place on the lower floors with departures on the upper floors. There are meeting areas in arrivals where passengers can arrange to meet friends and relatives. The bagging system, located in the central terminal, can handle up to 30,000 bags an hour.

The airport has direct flights both domestically and internationally, to South Africa’s other big airports, Durban and Johannesburg, and countries throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. The route connecting Cape Town and Johannesburg was the ninth busiest in 2011 with more than 4.5 million passengers making this journey. Other important routes include those to London Heathrow and Buenos Aires.

Airlines using Cape Town Airport include Mango, Kulula and Airlink, which deal with domestic flights, and British Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways among the airlines providing international routes. Another runway has been proposed to handle larger aircraft. By 2015, 14 million passengers a year are expected to use Cape Town Airport.

Bars and Restaurants

Restaurants can be found on the third level above departures, including one very large restaurant overlooking the terminal’s airside. There is an extensive range of food and drinks facilities comprising casual coffee shops, fast food outlets and juice bars, as well as establishments for full sit-down meals.


There are shops on the arrivals level of the terminal along with on the airside in departures. Duty-free shopping, souvenir shops, clothing stores and grocery outlets are available. Luxury goods, sportswear and electronics shops can also be found in departures.

Business Services

A shoe shine service can be found on the airside in the international terminal. There are VIP and executive lounges in both terminals offering refreshments, reading material and a comfortable place to relax or work before a flight. The conference centre can be found near the domestic terminal, and acts as a venue for meetings, seminars and conferences, along with offices for hire with a secretarial service.

Travel Services

Services offered at Cape Town Airport include two bureaux de changes, a post office, two banks and baggage wrapping facilities. There are also VAT and tax refund desks located on the airside and landside respectively.

Disabled Facilities

Disabled passengers should call the Landside hotline on +27 21 935 3737 to arrange for a wheelchair, which can be collected at the ground floor and check-in information desks situated in the central terminal building. Wheelchair assistance between the terminal and aircraft can also be arranged by contacting the relevant airline up to 48 hours before the flight.