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Date: 12 January, 2005

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'This fabulous (and extremely comprehensive) holiday portal has a huge range of holiday destination films on offer.'

Ray Hatley recommends some holiday websites for broadband users.

If you have just set up your broadband internet connection you will be keen to find somewhere to go that really makes the most of the technology.

Traditionally January is a time for planning our summer holidays so we have something good to look forward to after the rest of the winter. Here are some fabulous web sites that will definitely whet your appetite.

The first of my January choices would definitely be the Orient Express web site at www.orient-express.com where you can glimpse a world that few have the money to enjoy.

There is even some film footage of the journey albeit a bit scratchy and jerky.

Just imagine boarding this fabulous period train and traveling in 1920s style and comfort, overnight, all the way to Venice, the most romantic city in the word. I would go tomorrow!

For something a little nearer home take a look at www.heligan.com and see what is happening in Cornwall at the famous Lost Garden of Heligan.

This incredibly rich site offers a photographic tour of one of the UK’s most exciting examples of living, breathing archeology, biology and garden research. Heligan Director, Tim Smit should have been on this year’s New Year’s Honours list for his work on this project – along with his army of volunteers and craftspeople.

There is plenty of accommodation near to Heligan and whilst you are in Cornwall you might also to take a look at The Eden Project website at www.edenproject.com.

I can personally vouch for the Eden Experience and can’t wait to get back for another look around. Going inside the Eden Project’s amazing geodesic domes is truly unbelievable. Highly recommended.

If your holiday interests lie further afield then do take a few minutes to look at an amazing web site with panoramic views of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA - www.americansouthwest.net/arizona/grand_canyon/ national_park.html. Having arrived at the site, you simply need to look for the section labeled QTVR. Just click on any of the options for an outstanding broadband experience.

If you are looking for a holiday a little closer to home then Gran Canaria might be a good option. With fabulous beaches and a brilliant climate this island paradise can be seen in all its glory at http://www.grancanaria.com/patronato_turismo/index.php?id=2809

If you just want to have a look at a lot of different places and get a real insight into the holiday experience then you just have to go to www.thomascookbroadband.com as they reckon it is the next best thing to being there. I am inclined to agree.

The site has a useful introduction which is worth listening to if you want to get the best from this site.

This fabulous (and extremely comprehensive) holiday portal has a huge range of holiday destination films on offer. It is completely free to use and will give you the opportunity to find out a lot more about a place than appears in a brochure.

If you only have time to look at one of this month’s recommendations then this should probably be near the top of your list.

One thing you might like to check is the weather at your proposed holiday destination and I firmly believe that you can’t get much better than www.bbc.co.uk/weather which offers an instant update from any city in the world.

If you are traveling to the US then you may want to try www.nws.noaa.gov ( the US National Weather Service) for more local information.

Another aspect of holiday travel that lends itself to broadband is learning a new language. Speaking the language can help you get the most from your holiday destination and can even get you some great discounts on day trips and everyday expenses.  

The BBC have a splendid language web site with masses of great content to help you get to grips with linguistics. Just click on www.bbc.co.uk/languages to find out all about it.

As the cost of a flight is often the most expensive part of a holiday you may want to check out the various airlines and see what they have on offer. A useful web site can be found at www.airinfo.aero where some brave traveler has taken the time to give his impressions of the various airlines operating out of Europe. In most cases I found his comments accurate and useful.

Holiday currency can give people a lot of headaches but these have largely been resolved within Europe by the ubiquitous Euro. However, if you need to know the exchange rate for local currency worldwide then log on to www.xe.com and have a good play with their universal currency converter – this is definitely one of the best and easiest to use broadband tools on the internet today.

Wherever you decide to go this summer just make sure you have a great time and stay safe.   Take a few minutes just before you leave to run an internet search for a local news web site to make sure you don’t meet anything unexpected when you arrive.

I remember getting off a plane in Albania a few years ago to discover that it was a national holiday and there were no cabs. It took me hours to walk to the nearest town to find a hotel. Have fun!

I am always happy to recommend web sites that ‘do it’ for me so don’t be afraid to let me know if you have a site of interest. Just email ray@hatley.co.uk

Ray Hatley is the editor of www.history.uk.com and the broadband correspondent for the Brighton Evening Argus newspaper

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