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Exploring the Best Cities in Europe

When it comes to traveling, the continent of Europe offers a great range of delights. Whether you are looking for traditional areas harking back to bygone eras, modern cities, or an area that provides the best of both worlds, there is no shortage of options. With a growing number of budget airline routes and affordable accommodation, exploring the best cities in Europe is easier than ever before. It is good to have an idea of what you want from a European holiday before you start booking flights and accommodation.


Dublin is great for a party atmosphere



Anyone looking to enjoy a party atmosphere in Europe will find that Dublin in the Republic of Ireland is an excellent choice of destination. The Temple Bar area is the hub of lively nightlife, countless bars, and a chance to socialize and party with some of the friendliest people in the continent. A trip to the Guinness factory is a great way to spend an afternoon, with the Gravity Bar offering stunning views of the city. People looking for a sense of Ireland’s history should visit Kilmainham Gaol (Jail). And if you want to just chill for the day, the Dublin Botanical Garden is the perfect place.


Glasgow and Manchester are lively destinations


While many people cite the capital, Edinburgh, as the number one city to visit in Scotland, Glasgow is by far the more interesting and cosmopolitan destination. The Merchant City, just off the iconic George Square, is a fantastic place to stay, offering accommodation among some of the finest bars and restaurants. Glasgow is a sociable city that thrives on music and sport. Why not check out a gig in venues such as King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut or Nice N Sleazy? If you want to see what gets hearts racing in Glasgow, pay a visit to Celtic Park, home of one of the most famous and celebrated soccer teams in the country.

In England, you can never go wrong with a trip to London, but Manchester is well worth checking out. The city’s history is tied in with the Industrial Revolution, but Manchester is a thriving modern city. The Museum of Science and Industry is a must-see for any tourist or traveler in the area. In the Salford Quays dockyards, you can find the Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry cultural center. The world-famous Old Trafford stadium, home of Manchester United, is nearby and has a museum and tour.


Munich offers a huge range of museums



For those travelers venturing to mainland Europe, Germany is a country that has an interesting history and some major cities that offer everything that a tourist could ever want. Berlin is perhaps the most vibrant and exciting city in the country, but for the most authentic German experience, Munich is the city to visit. You’ll find a wide range of Munich rentals in central locations, and no matter what budget you have, there is sure to be something that appeals to you or suits your finances. With more than 80 museums in Munich, the city is ideal for tourists. The Münchner Residenz (Munich Residence) museum is well worth exploring. There are three tours inside the building, each encompassing different parts of German history and life, and the surrounding areas of the museum are also welcoming. If you visit Munich in the winter months, there is an attractive festive market to enjoy at this site.


Barcelona has stunning architecture


Spain is another nation that greatly appeals to tourists. Art lovers and fashionistas will appreciate Madrid, with Picasso’s Guernica, on display in the Museo Reina Sofía, being a highlight. For those looking for stunning architecture and cultured nightlife, Barcelona is likely to be the ideal destination. The heart of Catalonia displays the work of Antoni Gaudí with great pride, with Sagrada Família being his most famous building. Work is still being undertaken, long after Gaudi’s passing in 1926, and this building is one of the must-see attractions in the whole of Europe. There are many great examples of Gaudí’s work in Barcelona, with Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera, being a slightly-overlooked gem in Europe.

If you had infinite time and money, you could spend the rest of your days exploring the major cities of Europe, all of which have their own unique charm and style. Rome is a city that has retained so much of its traditional charm, with the Coliseum remaining a hugely attractive tourist attraction. Paris is still the city that is associated with love, and couples flock to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe every single day. With so many stunning European cities to enjoy, the hardest task may be deciding which city you should visit next.

Photos by Lali Masriera and Roman Boed via Flickr Creative Commons
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Advice for Booking a Package Holiday

Following an extraordinary couple of years with high-profile incidents in destinations across the globe, including terrorist attacks in Tunisia and Turkey and flight restrictions to Egypt, Brits are changing the way they holiday and are opting for more familiar destinations that are perhaps perceived as being safer. In uncertain times, people are booking package holidays for the support, protection and convenience they offer. In fact, ABTA highlights that 53% of the population opted for a package holiday in 2016 - a 10% increase compared to just five years earlier in 2011.

With so many people relying on tour operators for their holidays, JMW’s Personal Injury solicitors think it is important to share some advice on what to expect when booking a holiday through a tour operator, and how far their responsibilities stretch if you were to find yourself involved in an accident.



What is a tour operator?


A tour operator is a company that specialises in delivering package holidays, usually sold through a travel agent or via the internet, such as TUI (Thomson) and Thomas Cook. Typically, a tour operator will organise the tour and travel aspects of your holiday, selling individual components together in a bundle. For example, return flights to/from the destination, airport transfer to/from the hotel and a stay in a hotel. Extras might include sightseeing excursions or trips to popular attractions.

Expectations of a tour operator


When you go on a package holiday, there is always the risk that your expectations of a tour operator will not match their actual responsibilities in the event of you suffering injury or illness. A survey carried out by JMW asked 676 respondents what support they would expect to receive from a tour operator should they be injured on a package holiday. The following answers were given:

● 76% thought they would help with travel arrangements, such as an early flight home
● 75% thought they would help with getting medical assistance
● 63% thought they would help to contact relatives or loved ones
● 61% thought they would provide assistance with insurance matters

These statistics show that the vast majority of holidaymakers assume their tour operator will go to significant lengths to help them during an emergency. But do these match up with the legal responsibilities of a tour operator?

The legal responsibilities of tour operators


In order to understand what the legal responsibilities of a tour operator are, we must first look at the legal definition of a package holiday, as tour operators adhere to this definition when observing their obligations to customers.

According to the Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tour Regulations 1992, a “package” is defined as a pre-arranged combination of at least two components of a holiday (such as transport, accommodation and other ancillary services accounting for a proportion of the package) are set at an inclusive price, covering a period of more than 24 hours or overnight accommodation. A deal might not therefore, be defined as a package if components can be sold separately at the same price. However, people who book a holiday have the right to expect the package that they paid for, so being aware of what is included in the package is very important.

Despite providing the package a holidaymaker has paid for, tour operators have no strict liability, meaning should you be involved in an accident abroad, it is up to you to prove the tour operator breached their duty of care towards you. For example, if you slip on a wet floor in a hotel, you must provide evidence that appropriate measures weren’t taken to ensure your safety. As foreign countries do not have to follow English safety regulations, tour operators are not necessarily obliged to ensure they comply with them and instead are simply obliged to comply with local laws. This means that it comes down to you again to prove that an injury was caused due to a breach of the local legislation.

It may seem impossible to make a successful claim against a tour operator, however this is where dealing with a skilled and experienced lawyer can help. Remember, a tour operator can be responsible for an injury or illness if the incident happened either at the hotel complex or as part of an activity provided as part of the package holiday (e.g. during a flight, an airport transfer or on board a cruise ship) and a skilled lawyer will help you to prove their role in your injury or illness.

If the accident happens in the above circumstances, it would be expected that a tour operator will take care of you in the immediate aftermath of an injury, i.e. assist you with making travel arrangements, contacting family and dealing with insurance matters. This is because it is the tour operator’s responsibility to protect customers through the services they provide.

Chris Sutton, partner and travel claims expert from JMW, comments: “Tour operators should be more transparent about what their obligations to their customers are, and what customers can expect from them by way of assistance if they do encounter problems abroad. Customers put a great deal of trust and faith in their tour operators and this is something that rightfully should be rewarded, or at the very least, respected.

“However, the reality that has been reported back to me from my clients who have been injured whilst abroad suggests their good will is rarely reciprocated. There are very onerous duties placed on claimants to demonstrate that a tour operator has been negligent in their responsibility to paying customers who, very often, spend most of their year looking forward to making a holiday getaway.

“My goal is always to ensure that someone who is injured through no fault of their own is provided with everything they need to get back on track, and the appropriate means to do this. I feel strongly that tour operators should meet this obligation too, and step up to take care of their customers.”

What to do if you’re injured on holiday


Taking out travel insurance prior to your trip can make life that little bit easier should you be injured while on holiday. It gives you added security should you be involved in an accident and will help to ease any issues you may face if your tour operator fails to provide you with adequate support.

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident abroad, there are certain steps you should take:

● Ensure you receive suitable medical attention immediately
● Report the accident to the tour operator as soon as possible
● If the place where the incident happened has an accident book, be sure to record the events accurately and request a copy
● Keep a record of as much information as possible:
○ Request a copy of the medical report, doctor’s report and accident notes
○ Keep receipts of any medical charges incurred
○ Take photographs of your injuries and the cause of the accident
○ Take note of the scene of the incident
○ Take down the names and addresses of any witnesses

Hopefully, you won’t suffer any illnesses or injuries whilst you’re abroad, however if you do, law firms, such as JMW, offer a specialist claims service to holidaymakers, designed to help them make a full recovery. 

Photo by brianfagan via Flickr Creative Commons
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Jabra’s Elite Sport Buds - True Wireless - True Freedom

As a traveler, I like to indulge and eat a lot of the local food. In the same time, I try to stay fit and not gain weight. I might not have access to a gym while on the road, so I have to find other solutions, like running in a park or on a beach. And this brings me to the Jabra’s Elite Sport. This is the year of the truly wireless headphones. Jabra’s Sport line has caught my attention, especially the Jabra’s Elite Sport Buds. What makes the Elite Sport impressive is that they combine the tracking function with a pure wireless experience that is just about perfect. I am not kidding.



Design and Features

Let’s talk about the fit first. With six different types of ear covers, you are bound to find the fit for yourself. The rubber earbuds, which come in varying sizes to fit your ears, are a great help. So is the rubber lining wrapping around the edges of the otherwise plastic case, preventing any contact with your skin from being a jarring experience.

I used the medium foam tips. The Sport Elite, can stay in your ears for ages. Well, for the 3 hours that you have a charge. That’s long enough for a 21km run for many people! Impressive. However, it also comes with a charging case that holds another 2 additional full charges, and it charges them up fast. So while they are designed for working out, you can totally use them as regular earbuds if you want to. I love the case. Not only that it will keep my buds secure during my travels, but it also has a quality feel to it.


These are not regular earbuds. Yes, calls are crystal clear for both you and the caller and music sounds great. The no-wires aspect works perfectly. Until people get used to truly wireless buds, they might think that you are mad, talking to yourself. Still, the focus here is fitness. I have to say that the Jabra Sport Elite stay in your ears during workouts, nice and secure. I did fast walking, running, and some jumping and they did not fall out.


The heart-rate sensor picks up your heart rate through your ear and there's an initial delay of about 5-10 seconds before it picks up what seems to me an accurate measurement.

There's a hear-through feature that allows more ambient noise to enter your ears, a good safety feature for runners who want to hear traffic noise. It also comes handy when I simply want to talk to someone in the street without removing the headphones.

The device itself is waterproof up to the IP67 standard, which is good enough for the occasional rainy day out. This also makes them sweat proof. So, no worries there.


The Elite Sport buds do NOT use a small USB charging port, so there is no need for rubber stoppers to keep water and sweat out. I find this an important improvement. Instead, the Elite Sport is charged through a separate case that is connected to a power source via a USB port. Just remember to bring the case along on your travels, because it also acts as a standalone battery that can juice up the earphones, say, on a plane or a train.



The App

That fitness aspect requires Jabra’s Sport app. When you first pair up, as with the other Jabra Sport headsets, you will want to do so via the app, not your phone settings. The app has been improved on since I last tried it, with your heart rate right on the dashboard at all times. Oh, and setting up takes no more than ten minutes, as you need to set some baselines. Just another reminder that this is not a casual device, but a commitment.



You can also use the headphones with your favorite iOS and Android running and fitness apps, including Endomondo, RunKeeper, MapMy Fitness, Runtastic, and Strava, but I prefer Jabra's own training-management app called Jabra Sport Life. It gives you in-ear coaching and great feedback.



Verdict

For me, the main selling points are still the great fit and solid build, something I come to expect from Jabra, after using the Jabra Sport Pulse. They were among the first to come up with Bluetooth earphones for workouts more than five years ago in the Elite Sport. They have delivered another excellent companion for a run, a bike ride or a day at the gym, but also great headphones for my travels.

Jabra’s Elite Sport Buds are for someone who wants to be able to not just listen to music on great waterproof, wireless headphones, but also use them to track their fitness. If that is you, then these are perfect.


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7 Places you Shouldn’t Vape

When arguing about the merits of vaping over smoking, it’s commonly argued that vaping is better because you can do it anywhere. And while we (obviously) love vaping, we’re going to have to burst this particular bubble. It just isn’t true. Some places have regulations to limit vaping, and there are some places you shouldn't vape out of simple common courtesy. Sometimes it’s perfectly legal to vape in a certain place but pulling out your device would just make you look like a jerk. Not only does abiding by etiquette and consideration improve the image of vapers, it also means that you’re not forcing your personal choices on those that have chosen not to vape.

It’s also important to note that more regulation is coming in around vaping in public places as the practice becomes more widespread across the US and around the world. Businesses are also free to choose their own policies on vaping on their premises so there can be huge differences in vaping rules depending on where you are.


Here are our top 7 places you should avoid vaping:

1. Schools – This one should be obvious. Don’t vape in schools when you’re picking up or dropping off the kids. While there’s no evidence to suggest that second hand vapour can have an effect, vaping around children that you don’t know is at best likely to be frowned upon. Whether a child is exposed to vaping is the decision of parents and all vapers should respect that. Most schools will have restrictions in place and you’ll need to step outside of the gates before you vape.

2. Hospitals and medical buildings
– This one is similar to schools. If you’re visiting a hospital or another medical building, such as a doctor’s surgery, it’s best to not vape even if there are no policies in place. These buildings will have designated areas for smoking and it’s a good option to head to these zones if you want to vape.

3. Restaurants – People go to restaurants to enjoy a meal and, as a result, you shouldn’t vape in such establishments. You might think that your vapor smells great but those trying to enjoy a steak might disagree. If you’re blowing clouds, it’s likely to annoy people in restaurants too. Many restaurants will ask you not to vape now so if you do feel the need to vape while eating out it’s likely that you’ll be required to step outside anyway.

4. Office or workplace – The majority of employers will look unfavorably on you blowing clouds in the office or your place of work, so it's one of the most important places you shouldn't vape. While many workplaces won’t have a specific policy on vaping you should consider your professional image and how vaping aligns with that. Many places now place vaping alongside smoking and if you’re unsure it’s best to ask about the policy.

5. Public transport – Traveling by public transport can be an ordeal at the best of times, so it's best to keep your e-cig in your bag or pocket. The enclosed spaces of public transport mean that you can make other passengers who don’t vape feel uncomfortable if you’re blowing clouds while travelling on the subway or bus.

6. Crowded places – Vaping in crowded places indoors should definitely be avoided unless it’s a vaping establishment or event. It’s important to respect people’s choice to not vape. Even if your outdoors in a crowd how you vape should be considered, such as taking care not to blow the vapour into the face of others, instead blow it towards the ground or above the heads of the group.

7. Other people’s homes – This will one depend on the person and how well you know them but if the people aren’t vapers themselves it’s best to give vaping a miss or step outside when you want a hit. Of course, in some cases it’s perfectly fine to vape in someone else’s home but it’s best to err on the side of caution if you’re unsure.

Overall vapers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of asking before they reach for their device. Most establishments won’t have vaping specific signs even if they’re against it and it’s critical to realise that vaping may make some people feel uncomfortable. Avoiding vaping in these places can help you avoid awkward situations, and help improve the image of the vaping community.

Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr Creative Commons
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How to Have the Time of Your Life in Las Vegas

Gambling gets all of the attention when people think about things to do in Las Vegas. But people often forget that the city is filled with entertainment, shopping and eating on par with just about any city in the world. So when you come, in addition to trying your luck at the crap tables, there are many other things you can do to have a great time. Here are a few:


Eating


Las Vegas may have more restaurants per square mile than any other city in the country. And although there is much debate about which is the top restaurant in Las Vegas, there is no debate that the city has dozens of great eateries. The best part is that Las Vegas is a diner’s paradise for anyone at any budget. Whether you want a world renowned top steakhouse, sushi flown in from Japan, authentic Mexican, or great Chinese food delivered to your hotel room, you can have it nearly any hour day or night.

Shopping


Vegas is truly a shopper’s paradise. With thousands of shops, for every type of shopper, no matter what you are looking to buy, it is here in abundance. Top clothing brands like YSL, Valentino, D&G, and countless high fashion brands have locations throughout the city and inside some of the bigger hotels. And if you are on a budget or want more of a variety, the Fashion Show Mall has you covered. You can even take a quick break from gambling and shop right at the casinos. Try going to the Via Bellagio, Forum Shops at Caesars, or the Cosmopolitan Shops.

But shopping is not limited to clothing, just about anything you want to buy from memorabilia, to cars, to even private planes can be purchased in the city.

Play Golf


Las Vegas has some of the best golf courses anywhere. There are courses for any handicap and enough of them here to keep you busy. The outstanding weather brings players from all over the world and the courses are open year-round. You can play right on the famous Las Vegas Strip at the South Pacific-themed Bali Hai Golf Club or the grand Wynn Golf Club. You can also play at the Tom Fazio-designed Shadow Creek and Rees Jones' Cascata, both considered among the best and most exclusive open-to-the public golf courses in the country. And one of golf's greatest teachers, Butch Harmon, is headquartered at Rio Secco In short, there are courses for every budget, every taste and every ability.

The Shows


Partly because of its dozens of entertaining shows, Las Vegas, is recognized as the entertainment capital of the world. There are shows for every taste from music to magic, each with world renowned performers. In fact, nowhere else are so many talented performers performing nearly every night. Artists currently in residence include Celine Dion, Motley Crue, and Britney Spears. And on any weekend, you'll see the marquees lit up with today's hottest live acts. There are seven different Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas and staples like the Blue Man Group are here year round. Magic is also on the menu with Acts like Penn & Teller. If the lovely ladies are more your speed, you'll want to check out the adults-only shows like Fantasy and Crazy Girls.

So when you come to Las Vegas, be prepared to venture outside of the casino and get introduced to the most entertaining city in the world!

Photo by Moyan Brenn via Flickr Creative Commons
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