Budget Adventures This Summer

“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also” – Harriet Ann Jacobs

 After a wet, windy and chilly winter with temperatures reaching sub-zero levels at times, the summer spring has finally arrived in Manchester. With dried up branches showing signs of carrying beautiful buds which would blossom into myriad hues of colours in the near future, the atmosphere around the city is one of merriment and joy. People have started coming out of their coops and hibernation and have started enjoying quality time with friends and families sun-bathing in open gardens, pubs and restaurants. The sun rises early in the morning and stays late till the night. With the change of seasons, the spirit of the people is also changing from one filled with laziness and boredom to one with enthusiasm and adventurous.

Summers also mean summer vacations, travelling with friends and families and exploring new places. If you want to travel this summer for a short stay or even a one-day trip; but not too far from Manchester, then here are your options.

Leeds

Leeds

1.Leeds- situated at a distance of about 30 miles from Manchester, Leeds is a city with history, tradition and culture in every nook and corner. The famous University of Leeds has made the place well-known and well populated. Leeds also boasts of a strong heritage through its museums, galleries, docks and ancient ruins.

How to Reach?

By Bus: Megabus is a budget travel option with tickets costing less than £5/ person. (http://uk.megabus.com/)

By Train: Trainline travel with tickets costing £16.50/ person (https://goo.gl/cGJTt0)

Where to Stay?

Budget Hotel: Hotel ibis Budget Leeds Centre. (http://goo.gl/rmIhrp)

This hotel is very near to the city centre as well the Leeds bus and train station. It is accessible in every way. The room rates start at £26 per night with free Wi-Fi.

What to See?

There are a number of places to see in Leeds. The must see ones are:

Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Abbey

Ruins of the Kirkstall Abbey (www.leeds.gov.uk/kirkstallAbbey) (Entry Free)

The Abbey Museum (www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/…/Abbey-House-Museum.aspx) (Entrance Fee: £2-£4)

Royal Armouries Museum (https://www.royalarmouries.org/visit-us/leeds/) (Entry Free)

Thackray Medical Museum (www.thackraymedicalmuseum.co.uk/) (Entrance Fee £7-£8)

Leeds City Museum (www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Leeds-City-Museum.aspx) (Entry Free)

Total Budget: (Estimate)

Day Trip: £30

Overnight Trip: £60

 

Windermere

Windermere

2. Lake District, Windermere “Wordsworth said of the Lake District that there was ‘nowhere in so narrow a compass with such a variety of the sublime and beautiful’. Thirty-four miles across, the area boasts a breathtaking range of tarns, fells, forests and countless chic and cosy hotels to stay in.”-  http://www.cntraveller.com/guides/europe/england/lake-district/where-to-stay

If you want a cosy relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the main city, then the Lake District is the perfect destination. This beautiful district features miles of sprawling natural beauty, fields, lush greenery and lakeside. At times, just sitting by the lake with a book or trying your luck at fishing makes a great family vacation.

How to Reach?

By Bus: Go Euro runs regular services connecting Manchester to Lake District. The bus tickets cost around £22. (http://www.goeuro.co.uk/)

By Car: It is a one and half hour journey from Manchester by car taking the M6 highway.

By Train: Direct trains run from Manchester Piccadilly to Windermere, Lake District. The journey costs £10.50 (https://goo.gl/zhJynT)

Windermere, Main Road

Windermere, Main Road

Where to Stay?

Hostels and Camps: For budget travellers or students, financially this is the best option. Sharing rooms cost around £20-£23 pounds depending on the type and availability (http://www.dmslakedistrict.co.uk/)

What to See?

Windermere is the perfect place to indulge in some outdoor activities. You can book in to trekking groups, or walking tours around the district. It is highly recommended to visit the lakeside and if possible to hop on a boat and explore the beautiful waters. That apart, activities like balloon flights, horse riding, golf, swimming and also encouraged. It is advisable to have a look at the official visitor information for booking activities in the following website http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/

Total Budget: (Estimate)

Day Trip: £20-25

Overnight Trip: £45-50

 

Backpool Tower and Beach

Backpool Tower and Beach

3.Blackpool is the perfect place to enjoy the beach and indulge in some natural tanning treatments. During the hot and humid summer, the cool beach side breeze and the sun comes to the rescue. Many take to building sand castles and sculptures, swimming in the sea or just enjoy sitting in the beach with a glass of cool drink. 

  How to Reach?

By Bus: Go Euro (www.goeuro.co.uk) services run from Manchester to Blackpool and vice versa everyday from £3 per heard. It takes around four hours to reach Blackpool.

By Train: Trainline (www.thetrainline.com) services run regularly from the Manchester Piccadilly station at £17.70 per head. It takes around an hour and a half to the destination.

Where to Stay?

Budget Hotels include Tiffany’s (http://www.tiffanyshotel.co.uk/) and Hotel 33 (uk.venere.com)

 What to See?

Blackpool Zoo -Not many cities near Manchester has a zoo and thus, the Blackpool zoo is an ideal attraction while travelling with children. The admission prices cost around £12-£15 pounds depending on whether it is booked online (http://www.blackpoolzoo.org.uk/) or in person.

Grundy Art Gallery – An art Gallery does not only put up paintings, sketches and sculptures, it puts up the interests of an era and displays parts of the heritage of the city. Admission is free for all in the gallery.

Theme Parks –Theme parks are a great way to spend family quality time. They also form part of the favourite children attractions. The theme parks in Blackpool include Blackpool Pleasure Beach complete with roller coaster rides and Sandcastle Water Park which provides the much-needed respite on hot summer days

Beaches – The beach is the main attraction of the city, although care has to be taken of the timings of the tide. Near the beach is the Blackpool Tower which is a must visit attraction of the city.

Total Budget: (Estimate)

Day Trip: £40-£45

Overnight Trip: £100

 

 

River Punting in Oxford

River Punting in Oxford

 4. Oxford- “There are more museums in Oxford than even the most cultured vulture can take in on a short break. The highlights include the iconic Ashmolean Museum (Beaumont Street); the Pitt Rivers (South Parks Road); the Museum of the History of Science (Broad Street); and the Museum of Oxford (St Aldate’s) to learn about the city’s rise to fame and fortune.”- http://www.wanderlust.co.uk

Oxford can well be called the city of the museums and galleries. A city which grew around the world-famous University of Oxford hosts a lot of activities for visitors and tourists all year around.

How to Reach?

By Bus: Go Euro runs regular services to and fro both cities. Tickets start from around £30. (www.goeuro.co.uk)

By Train: Trainline runs regular train services per day with prices starting from £73

Where to Stay?

The holiday Inn Express is the budget hotel in the city centre. More details can be found at the official website in http://www.ihg.com/

Christ Church Oxford

Christ Church Oxford

What to See?

The best way to see Oxford is on foot and on water. While one can take a leisurely walk around the city centre and exploring the museums, galleries and churches; one can alternately take to river punting and see Oxford through a new perspective. Some must visit places include Bodlien Library, Sheldonian Theatre, Radcliffe Camera, University of Oxford, Oxford Museum of History and Science, Museum of Oxford, The Headington Shark Sculpture and Story Museum.

Total Budget: (Estimate)

Day Trip: £60

Overnight Trip: £200

 

Liverpool Docks

Liverpool Docks

5. Liverpool- This port city is the epicentre of two major happenings in history – The sailing of the Titanic and the rise of the Beatles. Thus, it is an absolute must-visit when in the UK. With museums, Liverpool docks, shopping malls and pubs within a walking distance of each other, the city is great for both day trips and overnight trips. 

 How to Reach?

By Bus: Megabus runs direct coaches daily from Manchester to Liverpool and vice versa starting from £1.50p (https://uk.megabus.com)

By Train: The train line runs regular services which takes you Liverpool in an hour. They cost £3 one-way and £12.50 open return. (https://www.thetrainline.com/)

Where to Stay?

The Tune Hotel in the City Centre is the best budget hotel in an area close to the train station and the docks. The room rates cost about £34 per night. For more details check out the official website at (http://www.tunehotels.com/)

What to See?

Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street

A short walk from the Liverpool Lime Street Station is the main attraction of the city –The Albert Docks (www.albertdock.com). Surrounding this dock area are the major attractions of the city – The Liverpool Museum, The Merseyside Maritime Museum, The Museum of International Slavery, The Liverpool Eye and the TATE Museum of Modern Art. All of these museums have free entry. For a one day trip, this is the perfect place to be in. There are many street food joints and eateries near the dock area. The shopping centre is also a short walk from the docks and can be easily reached.

The Conde Nast Traveller especially recommends the Liverpool Museum for its unique collection of the city’s history and culture. “Located on the city’s waterfront by the famous Albert Docks, the first national museum in the world that is devoted to the history of a regional city . . . . . Over 6,000 objects will be showcased across the museum’s three floors. Many of these items have never been on public display before and range in antiquity from the ice age to the present day.”http://www.cntraveller.com/news/2011/july/museum-of-liverpool

Additional places to visit would be the Beatles Museum and the Cavern Pub. The Liverpool Cathedral is also a beauty worth visiting.

Total Budget: (Estimate)

Day Trip: £20

Overnight Trip: £50

 

These are some of the best places to visit this summer with your friends and family. They are also great for group travellers or even solo travel. Thus, this summer take out your adventure boots and backpacks and start exploring the world away. . . . .

 

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MediaCityUK: A Traveller’s Guide

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MediaCityUK

The most promising feature of the Salford Quays are the towering buildings of the MediaCityUK which appears to be like an old watch tower of the entire property. Salford Quays, the erstwhile dockyard has now been re-shaped beautifully to accommodate the docks, MediaCity, The Imperial War Museum and The Lowry Outlet Mall. Often for a first time visitor, the Quays may seem almost like a different ‘different planet’.

Staying:

Resembling a self-sustaining unit in the middle of the Manchester, the Quays has earned name and fame as a popular tourist destination. It is well connected with the city centre via regularly plying trams and buses. In fact, the Holiday Inn provides for a great overnight stay in the Quays. The temperature varies depending on the weather. However, due to the presence of water bodies, the area can be very cold and windy, especially after sunset.  Thus one should be equipped with warm clothes, sturdy shoes and an umbrella at all times.

What to see?  

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View from the Vertical Bridge

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View of MediaCity From the Bank

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View from the Bridge

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View from the Bridge

The Manchester Ship Canal, an extension of the River Irwell flows right through the Quays. On the left bank, it has two over bridges running through it to cross over to the Museum. However, the over-bridges can be a bit shaky due to the force of the winds and safety should be maintained at all times. Running below the bridges are the Mersey Ferries which regularly ply bringing tourists and locals to this side of the city. Interestingly, the vertical bridges even open up (much to the irritation of the hovering seagulls) to let the ferries pass underneath it. On the right bank of the canal, an intelligently manufactured piece of water body is used as a swimming pool. Often during the day, one can see people taking their children on prams and dogs on leash around the bank for a lovely walk.

IWMN

The Imperial War Museum

The nearby attractions would include the Imperial War Museum. This museum exhibits a well collected permanent display of the remains and memories of the World Wars. There are many temporary exhibitions held as well. It is advisable to check with the website or the reception of the museum to find out about the exhibitions so as to not miss any interesting ones.

Cropped_image_of_MediaCityUK,_dock_10_Studios

The itv

Although prior permission is required to visit the BBC Studios , the ITV and Sky News, if one would like to opt for a tour then it must be booked well in advance directly though their official websites. Otherwise, one can always look at the studios from outside while taking a walk across the property.

Shopping/Food:

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The Lowry Outlet Mall

The Lowry Outlet and Shopping Mall fulfils all the requirements of a ‘shopping therapy’. From clothes and accessories to electronics, sports equipment, and food everything is available under one roof. Alternately, if one would like to try out different cuisines then the nearby Marco’s, CAU, Nando’s and WagaMama are restaurants to look out for. Bars and Cafes like Pret, Dockyard and Booths are also great for budget meals.

Nightlife:

Though MediaCity does not boast of a nightlife enthused with the lights and tunes of a discotheque, what it surely does boast of is the beautiful panoramic view of the whole place. Witnessing the sheer beauty of the place from the rooftop of the hotel, apartment buildings or even standing on the bridges (not for long though) would uphold the worth of coming to this place.

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Photo By: Julia Reinert (www.germanchester.wordpress.com)

Virunga : A Documentary by Orlando von Einsiedel

                                  Virunga – Official Trailer 2014 from Grain Media on Vimeo

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Baby gorilla with caretaker

Virunga, a documentary made on the Virunga National Park in Congo defines the beautiful relationship between humans and gorillas. The Park is the only surviving natural habitat to around 800 mountain gorillas. These beautiful beasts have become victims of hunting and poaching and many are mercilessly killed each year. Their children are often left orphaned and have to fend for themselves in this world. However, the Virunga National Park houses a Gorilla orphanage within its boundaries. The caretakers of this orphanage consider the animals to be their family; and come what may stands beside them through thick or thin. They act as parents to the gorillas, so that they do not feel lonely or abandoned in this world.However, due to the recent discovery of oil in Lake Edward, the boundaries of this park are being threatened. This would mean that the gorillas and all other wild animals that peacefully live in this park would be prone to environmental hazards and other illegal activities like poaching.

Furthermore, the M23 rebels are threatening Congo into a revolution. Though this would not directly affect the park, but one never knows the mindset of rebels and thus the park authorities secretly prepare for defence. This would also mean panic, havoc and mass evacuation of the people in the nearby cities. The aggressiveness of this political situation was beautifully investigated by a freelance undercover and investigative journalist.

Interestingly, the documentary was to be made to promote tourism in Congo. Gorilla Tourism is one of the most important methods of earning revenue in this region. But the political outbreaks in the city could not be ignored as well and thus, the documentary went on to cover politics and environment both. In fact, the director suitably blends both the circumstances to highlight how political unrests affect wildlife and its disastrous consequences on nature and mankind.

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A Still from the movie

I would personally recommend everyone to watch the movie. Its cinematography enthralled me for the entire duration of the movie (100 minutes). The beautifully captured landscape of the Virunga National Park embeds itself in our minds as a never-to-be-forgotten photograph. The rangers, who play the most important part in protecting the park, lead a life, not less than the army. Their lives are threatened all the time to be killed by political groups or poacher groups. Above all, the gorillas themselves win over the audience with their large expressive black eyes and their helplessness towards the cruelty of mankind.

On the other hand, being a journalism student, the tactics of the investigative journalist was of special interest to me. However brave the journalist was, as an audience one still felt sceptical of her ways and feared for her life and safety. To be honest, it is not easy being an undercover journalist and certainly not in an area torn apart by political unrest.

Virunga has received innumerable nominations at prestigious awards including the Academy Awards and the BAFTA. It is also the recipient of the Peabody Award and the feature documentary Award at the DOXA among many others.

Virunga_National_Park_GorillaThis documentary is an eye opener to the greed of mankind. This greed knows no bounds. It has lost the rationale of right and wrong. Man does not think twice before harming nature; the very planet they live in. Virunga is a documentary of only one national Park, but there are innumerable national parks and wildlife sanctuaries spread across the world who are experiencing the same fate. It is a call for mankind to realise their mistakes and take a step back. For if the world is not protected now, there might not be a world left in the future.

Tribal Tourism in Bangladesh

When speaking of tourism, what comes to our minds naturally are the Pyramids of Giza, The Statue of Liberty or the exotic destinations of The Caribbean Islands. However, those who are inclined towards the cultural aspects of tourism, might find tribal tourism as ‘exotic’ and worthy of being on their bucket list. Tribals are a minority as well as a vulnerable population who mostly reside in the villages and remote areas of a country. To be honest, there are many tribal villages whose name one has never heard of, or do not feature in most maps. But that does not mean that they are non-existent. In fact, the rich culture, traditions and heritage that these tribal villages hide within their boundaries is a treasure trove of knowledge in itself.

Bandarban_Tribal_kid_Sisterhood

Bangladesh is one such country which has quite a population of tribal’s residing within its borders. Frankly speaking, these tribal’s have faced cameras during certain documentaries made on them. They have also allowed tourists to enter their villages for a day or so, so that the visitors get a feel of the tribal community. But, tribal tourism as a whole is not promoted enough and is not taken up enough by tourists. Tribal tourism has its own pros and cons, discussing which, deviates the agenda of this article. The focus groups here are three different tribal village communities in Bangladesh.

Khashia Tribal Village

The Khashia Tribal village lies near the tea and betel leaf plantations. This gives a huge boost to the economic conditions of the individual families living here. Both men and women work in the nearby plantations, while the children attend schools and play around all day long. It is recommended that if one is to visit this village, one should contact the village chief first. The village chief is respected by the entire tribal population and if the village chief trusts the tourists, the villagers would become more comfortable in having them around. These tribal’s are very close to nature and has lived in harmony with Nature from time immemorial. In the true sense, they are probably the only ones, in this rapidly developing world who resides close to Nature; respects and takes care of it like no other.

Oraon Tribal Village

The Oraon Tribes are local aborigines of Bangladesh. With time, many such families have shifted to being farmers and some have migrated to the tea estates. The Oraon village is famous for its tribal folk. The music, dance, songs and musical instruments originate in the boundaries of this village. In fact, it is a common site to see the villagers return home after a hard days work and gather round the fire to celebrate life through songs and dance. Local musical instruments like the Mandar, Nagara and Kartal are often manually made here with whatever best amenities they can gather. In the Youtube documentary too, the background score was that of a locally composed song. During overnight stay at tribal villages, such song and dance is a ritualistic part of every night. Most villagers gather round and have dinner together amidst such celebrations. Interestingly, on a closer look one can say that they celebrate the essence of life; the essence of existence. They do not need official festivals on their calendars to celebrate. Their daily existence is a result of celebrating nature and worshipping it with an open heart.

Tripa Tribal Village

The Tripa village is famous for its hand-woven garments. Many times, these talented tribal are engaged into weaving garments and local attires. It takes manual labour and a long time to weave such garments and thus hand-loom industries are suffering a major setback in the global markets. But, going on a tribal tourism and not witnessing some live hand-woven garments would mean to miss a lot.

These three tribal villages in Bangladesh uphold three important facts of tribal tourism, which are- folk culture, local industries, and daily routines of the villagers. These three are the main parameters when it comes to exploring a new culture. Those apart, comes local attires, cuisines, languages and the lot. Tribal Tourism in contemporary times is rising, but within limits. Tribal tourism depends a lot on the tourist’s personal choices, ability to adjust to an alien environment as well as preserving the sanctity of the locals.

Bangladesh Tourism offers specialised packages for such Tribal tourism. But is very careful to not allow an overload of tourists; doing so might disturb the peace of the tribal community.

The Economics of Tourism

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Tourism is much more than meets the eye. One can indeed have a time of their life skiing in the Alps or sunbathing in the Caribbean beaches; but the economics behind the tourism industry globally affects the economic status of every country. Tourism industry in the 21st Century is one of the fastest growing industries. However, the monetary aspect of this field involves a crucially interconnected web of financial benefits between the host country and those involved in promoting tourism in a global scenario. In fact, according to an economic study the profits made in international tourism is much more than the combined profits made in global transactions of chemicals, petrol, automotive and food. Thus, this industry has been rightfully termed as the ‘World’s No. 1 export earner’.

However, on a close look at the above statement, it has been found that it is in reality nothing but a charade. Tourism indeed earns the host country a lot of financial benefits, but, out of those financial benefits how much is actually brought forward to the government of the host country. While it seems that the host country gains a lot of foreign revenue, one forgets the various ‘leakages’ in the system which prevents the total revenue earned to come under the political umbrella of the country. To understand this situation, it is necessary to have a look at the different types of ‘leakages’ in the system.

Degeneration of Local Business

Every tourist expects to receive a certain standard of facilities while travelling. Due to this the pressure of maintaining a high quality is very competitive. Most hotels and restaurants opt for the highest possible standards for which they display a variety of facilities which are not available locally. Due to this, the local businesses go unnoticed and suffer from a setback. A direct result of high standardization is that the local economy of the host country receives no boost in business. Furthermore, a heavy percentage of financial benefits are lost out to foreign trade investments who promote high quality of restaurants and hotels in host countries. According to a study, 70% of Thailand’s tourism revenue leaves its borders, 80% in the Caribbean Islands and 40% in India; showing that a large chunk of the earned proceeds are lost out on due to international investments.

Import Leakage

Following up on the previous point, more and more facilities are imported globally to make sure that the tourists are satisfied. There are hotels spanning acres of land with villas, spa centres, beaches, and multi cuisine restaurants; all with international standards of hospitality. Most of these international standards are imported from various countries. Thus giving rise to what is known as import leakage.

Export Leakage

Many a times, a global business tycoon makes an investment in constructing a hotel in a country. But, the benefits made from the hotel business are often taken to their residential country. Thus even if the host country earns a profit through such international investments, due to export leakage the profit fiancé is lost to international countries. This leaves a lesser margin of proceeds for the host country.

Enclave Tourism

P&O_Cruises_-_MV_Aurora_-_Alongside_Dubrovnik

Not many are familiar with the concept of Enclave Tourism, but are most common in cruises and luxurious holidays. Most cruise ships are made as self-sufficient entities. They consist of hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, gymnasium and recreational areas for children and adults. This provides the tourists all the facilities that they need within the cruise ship itself, thus lessening their chances of ever going ashore. Even if by chance tourists do go ashore then there are restrictions on local trade in such shorelines. This leads to minimum or nil profit for the host country on whose waters such internationally invested cruise ships are stationed.

Increasing economics of host countries

To top it all, the economics of the host country needs to be looked into as well. If the price of the commodities are rising or falling, it has a direct impact on the tourism industry. Food Products and Petrol Prices are the two most important parameters in this situation. The rise and fall of their prices have direct consequences on the tourism industry. The price to travel from one country to another is always changing, depending on the peak season, budget, price rise and the like. Moreover, during festive season the prices reach sky-high. Thus, national economic situation and budget of the host country plays an important part in tourism.

From the above points, it is clear that though tourism industry is a flourishing one, the nitty-gritty’s of this business cannot be and must not be overlooked. Tourism industry has a direct effect in world economy helps in the development of the third world and developing countries. A major percentage of their revenues are earned through tourism. Although, it is true that economically better off countries earn more profits but the profits of the third world countries cannot be undermined either in comparison to their national economy. To conclude, tourism industry has started spreading its wings globally, and in the days to come would reach new economic heights.