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STA Travel Blog

Shakedown, Berlin

Europe’s coolest capital? Well, Berlin is definitely up there. For somewhere so steeped in history and conflict, Germany’s capital is rapidly stealing the show from the rest of Western Europe’s popular hangouts. With a combination of glamorous style and urban cool, Berlin has been reborn, dusting off the rubble of post-war Germany and quickly turning into a young and vibrant city of culture, business, art and music.

Here we’re going to give you a shakedown of what Berlin is all about, to help you feel more like a local and avoid a repeat JFK’s famous words “Ich bin ein Berliner” (no, you’re not a doughnut, although…).

Brandenburg Gate.

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Shakedown, Singapore

Expect sun, sea, sand and shopping… lots of it. This tiny country, found at the southernmost tip of Asia is jam-packed full of all the goodies. Get ready to Shakedown Singapore where you’ll find the ‘how to’ on everything from a boat tour through the bustling waterways, to throwing away the map and exploring Little Arabia, to shopping in the mall metropolis that is Orchard Road, and partying the night away in Clarke Quay.

The Singapore Skyline.

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Finding Luxury in Australia’s Wilderness

Few countries possess landmarks that are so easily recognisable as Australia’s. The soaring white sails of the Opera House, glowing red sides of Uluru and the surfboards of Bondi Beach are world-famous icons that instantly capture a lifestyle that is enviably and distinctly Australian, making an aspirational once- in-a-lifetime destination for many travellers. So, you probably don’t need us to convince you to travel here.

If we’re preaching to the converted, as we expect you are, we’d like to share instead some of the unique and far flung Australian corners that we fell in love with when putting together the new Bridge the World (plug) Australia brochure.

As part of the STA Travel group, we’ve been sending our customers to Australia for 35 years, many armed with working holiday visas and lured by the idea of endless sunsplashed summers working in flip flops. Alas, many a great traveller has returned tanned but somewhat shamefaced, having barely touched on this vast, diverse and breathtaking country. For us, this new brochure was about re-discovering those extraordinary extremes within Australia, finding new adventures and unique places to stay that will blow the stereotypes about what you thought Australia looked like out of its world-famous surf-filled waters.

Southern Ocean Lodge.

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14 European music festivals you need to know about in 2014

Didn’t get a Glastonbury ticket? Bit bored of Bestival? Scared of the potential wash out at Field Day? There’s no doubt the UK knows how to put on a great music festival, but so do our good friends over in Europe. They do it really well. You’ll find the same great bands, the world’s top DJs, and a much higher chance of that big shiny yellow thing in the sky making an appearance.

Plus, it’s also the perfect opportunity to discover the festival’s home town and surrounding cities. I spent two days falling in love with Barcelona before the Sonar festival, and I quite fancy the idea of heading to Croatia’s Unknown via Venice and Slovenia…

So let’s see what’s out there, and take at look at 14 of Europe’s best music festivals in 2014.

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Shakedown, Seoul

Seoul, capital of South Korea, is truly a mega-city, with over 25 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, 17 subway lines, 6 bus terminals and thousands upon thousands of restaurants and bars. It is split into 25 districts 14 north of the river and 11 South and many of these have their own distinct business, shopping and restaurant districts. There’s so much here that it’s no surprise that it can take some days to orientate yourself in Seoul and, though you can explore the main tourist spots in a few days, at least a week to feel like you (kinda) know where you’re going!

The best thing you can do to help yourself get around is learn to read a little Korean script. It’s honestly not that hard to get the hang of (unlike Chinese it’s phonetic and not tonal) and once you know a few key words the neon signs and subway lines will start to pop with meaning. If you’re heading out somewhere and aren’t 100% sure how to get back to your accommodation, make sure you have the address written in Korean to show a taxi driver as most do not any speak English.

Seoul can be intensely cold in the winter and oppressively hot in the summer. Choose spring or autumn to make the most of the outside and inside attractions as well as the gorgeous autumn leaves or beautiful cherry blossoms (not just a Japanese phenomenon).

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