Inter-Semester 2012: Where to go?

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Students of St Andrews, why not pack your bags and go some place you have never been? It is an exciting alternative to making a beeline for home or barricading yourself in the Bubble, in a post-exam coma of alcohol and sleep. Let the winds of adventure blow the library dust off of your face and reinvigorate you. Best of all, it doesn’t have to leave you in a state of economic ruin eating half-off stale Tesco bread all of February.

Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Berlin and Prague are all great places to visit. So, if you haven’t been yet, hit up the Ryanair and Easyjet search engines and you can be exploring these great cities in a jiff. If you fancy staying on the British Isles, you can always fly out of Dundee to London (fr. £68.89 one way), Birmingham (fr. £73.10 one way) and Belfast (fr. £96.39 one way). But beware; as soon as you choose to leave the isles the prices from Dundee hike up.

Here are a few ideas for going somewhere different with departure from Edinburgh Airport:

Brussels, Belgium

This vibrant city that brought us Jean Claude Van Damme(‘The muscles from Brussels’), also knows how to provide comforting food such as Belgian waffles, fries to die for, Belgian chocolate and Mousles et Frites. On a more cultural note, go see Grand Place with its many lights at night, Mannekin Pis, the little bronze boy may at times dress up in little costumes and pee bier, and Atomium, the futuristic architectural icon of Brussels created for the 1958 World Fair with many of the spheres housing exhibits. While you’re in the de facto capital of Europe, why not visit the European Parliament? Get return flights from Edinburgh from £24. Sleep at 2Go4 Hostel from €20 per person per night (www.2go4.be).

Naples, Italy

This is allegedly the city to gorge yourself on the world’s best pizza. Do try and move beyond the tourist infested pizzerias, instead befriend locals and go where they eat. Usual travel advice applies- just don’t go covered head to toe with gold watches, iPhones and cameras.Definitely visit the city centre, now a UNESCO heritage site with its many historical buildings and churches. The top attraction is Pompeii, once buried by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius 79 AD it now provides a fascinating look at life during the height of the Roman Empire. Get return flights to Rome from £63.98 and trains to Naples from Rome start at £18 (www.trenitalia.com). Stay at Hostel of the Sun from £14 per person per night (see www.hostelworld.com).

Shetland Islands, Scotland

On the last Tuesday of January the town of Lerwick celebrates its annual ‘Up Helly Aa’ Viking festival. The festival, which claims to be Britain’s largest fire festival, include a torch light procession, ‘Vikings’, a ceremonial burning of a Viking longship, a night of dancing and partying in true Viking spirit. Also be sure to leave time for a hike through the stunning landscape and visits to archeological heritage sites, such as Mousa Broch, a historic tower from the Iron Age. NorthLink ferries operate from Aberdeen to Lerwick (from £24.90 one way). Receive a 10% student discount by calling 0845 6000 449 (www.northlinkferries.co.uk).

If you stay in the UK here are few ideas for laughs and possible entertainment:

-London Short Film Festival, 6-15 January 2012, (www.shortfilms.org.uk).

-National Winter Ales Festival 2012, 18-21 January 2012, Sheridan Suite, Manchester.

-Chinese New Year, 23 January 2012, London, parade and festival in the year of the Dragon.

-Foster’s Comedy Live Compere (various acts), 6-28 January 2012, the Highlight Edinburgh.(www.thehighlight.co.uk)

-Boxed: Fabulous Coffins from UK and Ghana, 20-27 January 2012, Level 2 Foyers at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. Expect coffins in designs ranging from cocoa beans to a Mercedes. For other events seewww.southbankcentre.co.uk.

-Manchester Academy Metal Festival, 20-21 January 2012, Manchester.

-LiveFest 2012- London’s Biggest Indoor Music Festival, 21 January, O2 London.

-Gloucester Cajun And Zydeco Festival, 27-29 January 2012, Gloucester Guildhall, Gloucester (www.gloucestercajunfestival.co.uk)

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