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Why break the bank?

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Preliminary information

Time: 60 minutes??

Level: Intermediate

To give detailed reading practice
To introduce/review 'holiday' vocabulary
To review & give oral practice with comparatives & superlatives
To practise the language of persuasion, the language of discussion....
To give freer speaking practice

That the stds will find the holidays interesting.
That the language in the text will not be too difficult & that it will be interesting vocabulary - choose the text to match the group.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
Some of the vocabulary is tricky so dictionaries on hand would be helpful.

Aids: The text below.


Stage 1 - Intro to holidays & vocabulary review/expansion

10-15 mins tch<>stds

1. Introduce holidays & where they might be going/have gone this year.
2. Ask if they could choose, which kind of holiday would they like - elicit different types of holiday - beach, safari, adventure, trekking, cycling, touring, weekend break, sightseeing, cruise, arctic, retreat etc.
3. If you're not going to use all of the holidays described in the text, choose some that you are not going to use & tell the class about them, asking them if they would like that kind of holiday, hopefully a discussion will ensue. Possibly elicit any ideas for other holidays that might be in the article you choose by giving the title.

Stage 2 - Reading

10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std,

1. Handout different holidays from the textto different stds or small groups - the brief is to read for detail as they will be exchanging descriptions later to find the most exciting, interesting, relaxing etc holiday.
2. Stds read - have dictionaries on hand & go round helping when needed, encouraging the stds to guess meaning from context whenever possible. You could design reading & language tasks to go with each piece of the text.

Stage 3 - Information exchange

20 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, stds<>tch

1. Put on the board

Which holiday is;

• the most relaxing

• the most exciting

• the most imaginative

• the most innovative

Or choose superlatives to suit. Other purposes could be:
- to give profiles of different people & stds find the best holiday for each.
- stds find the most appropriate holiday for another member of the class.

2. Put stds into groups, each having read about a different holiday - they have to agree on a holiday for each of the superlatives.
You might review some language that they might need before they begin, to make the task more effective - the language of discussion. Elicit/give & write some exponents on board for reference.
3. Task - while it's going on you take notes on +/- things said for feedback later on.
4. When decisions have been made get a member from each group to visit another group to report their findings & possibly give ideas to the group they are with. The roving stds then report back to their original groups who can make changes to their decisions, if they want.
5. Class feedback - see what has been decided & ask for justifications. Feedack on the language used during the task.

Follow up activities

The chosen holidays could then go on to be used in different ways:
- travel agent & customer roleplays - selling & buying
- travel agent & customer roleplays - customer complaining as the holiday wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

- stds could write another description of a holiday location, that fits with the theme of the overall text used, that they know about.

You could follow up on some of the travel agent links given in the article & collect a range of materials from the respective sites for use in similar activities. Or if you are lucky enough to have enough computer terminals, get the stds to do the research & make a project of it.


Why break the bank?

Sean Dodson's guide to six European destinations that offer a perfect weekend away for those on a budget

Saturday April 19, 2003
The Guardian

'There's often no correlation between a hotel room's price and the pleasure it delivers," says Daisann McLane in her recently published homage to cut-price travel, Cheap Hotels. McLane is a specialist in budget trips; for the past four years in her Frugal Traveler column in the New York Times she has celebrated the art of finding beauty in life's bargain basement.

McLane says that "part of this has to do with the unevenness of currency values in the global economy". But there's also something more. A cheap hotel or a well-kept hostel or a friendly pension can make you far happier than the greatest luxury. And now that it has never been cheaper to fly to Europe, forgoing the odd indulgence doesn't just mean that you can get away a lot more often. It can also be good for the soul.


With cheap flights from Air Berlin, you can enjoy a weekend in the German capital, including flights and accommodation, for as little as £60. And what a city. Fragments of the wall, bomb-damaged museums, Norman Foster's renovated Reichstag, Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum, and the architectural legacy of the GDR make Berlin a city of extreme history and imagination.

Home to some of the best underground clubs in Europe, the eastern half of Berlin has developed a legendary bar and cafe scene since reunification. The nightlife changes quickly, and temporary spaces appear at a bewildering rate. But some places are always hip: so sip half-price cocktails during happy hour (6-8pm) at Cibo Matto (44 Rosenthaler Strasse, Then, head up the road to Delicious Donuts (9 Rosenthaler Strasse, 2809 9274), an after-midnight cocktail bar under Berlin's trademark red neon.

By day, visit any of the private galleries along Auguststrasse (all free) that are among the most cutting-edge in Europe. For spectacu lar views, head for the giant glass dome on top of Sir Norman Foster's spectacular Reichstag (free, expect to queue), or alternatively pay €5 to shoot up the Fernsehturm (, the television tower in Alexanderplatz.

An endangered slice of East German history can still be witnessed at the former parliament building of the GDR. Now cleared of asbestos, the condemned Palace Der Republik (Unter den Linden, free) is currently being used as a temporary exhibition space and venue for avant-garde musical happenings on Sundays. Its real treasure is the three-storey stained glass window depicting the communist history of Berlin. See it in the morning when the sun shines from behind the glass to prove that social-realism can be dazzling.

Cheap flights: Air Berlin(0870 73 88880, from £19 each way. See also BA (0845 7733377,

Where to stay: With 854 beds, some as cheap as €8 a night, the new Generator Hostel (Generator, 160 Storkower Strasse, is helping Berlin become one of the cheapest European destinations. The sister hostel to the equally large Generator in London, the building was once the corporate headquarters of an East German engineering firm. Built over seven floors (but only two lifts), the Generator features 24-hour internet, self-service café and free continental breakfast.

You can get a functional double for €20. All rooms have card-keys. With a trendy circular bar and long happy hour, it is a good place to hang out. With its metal flooring and blue neon lighting, the lobby looks more like the entrance of a nightclub than a hostel. Situated three miles east of Alexanderplatz, the Generator is a trek out of town, but it's opposite both S-Bahn and tram stations, so get to grips with public transport and you're away.


Impossibly neat, eternally chic and full of elegant gilded statues and beautiful public spaces, Paris has a reputation for being a very expensive city. It needn't be. With a little care and planning, Paris can be as cheap as pomme frîtes.

While Paris nightlife has changed a lot over the past decade, drinks can be very expensive, so act like a Parisian and club together for a bottle of spirits and occupy a table all night. A welcome addition to the Paris night scene is the WAGG club (62 Rue Mazarine), a new venture set up by the owners of Fabric. WAGG stands for Whiskey a Go-Go and it is rumoured to be the site of the hotel where Jim Morrison died - hence the name.

With the money you saved on the flight and the hotel, you can afford to splash out at an upmarket restaurant such as Georges. Perched on top of Le Centre Pompidou, it remains one of the most futuristic restaurants in the world, despite being 25 years old. Book early at weekends and request a table at sunset.

Cheap flights: bmibaby (0870 264 2229,, BA (0845 7733377,, British Midland (0870 6070555,, easyJet (0870 6000000,, Flybe (0870 5676676,

Rail alternative: Eurostar (08705 186186) from Waterloo for £59. Minimum stay one Saturday night.

Where to stay: A stone's throw from the Place De Repuplic is the Hotel Denevers (53, rue de Malte, 11e, +1 4700 5618,, a charming family hotel with three cats. It is ideally situated nearby the trendy Bastille area, and doubles start at €30.


Rome is at its best in springtime, when it is warm enough to loiter outside but not too crowded with tourists. Walking around the eternal city costs nothing, and where else can you find such a concentration of ancient history in one place?

The Pantheon (Piazza della Rotonda, free) is the best-preserved ancient building in Rome. Built by Emperor Hadrian as a Roman temple, it was consecrated as a Catholic Church in 608. It is nearly 1,900 years old and almost entirely intact. Just like the Pantheon, every church in Rome is free to enter. Most have world-class examples of sculpture, mosaics and paintings. Other sites such as the Spanish Steps, Trevi fountain and Roman Forum cost nothing to visit, either. Nor do the best views of the city. Head towards the Capitoline Hill for the best views. Alternatively, stroll around the Villa Borghese with its beautiful parks or hunt for bargains at the Porta Portese flea market on Sunday.

Cheap flights: easyJet (0870 6000000,, Ryanair (0871 2460000,, BA (0845 7733377,

Where to stay: Situated in the area between the Coliseum and the Spanish Steps, the Yellow Hostel (44 via Palestro, Rome, +39 06 49 382 682, is a communal, lively and friendly little place. Recently renovated, it features a big screen TV with DVD, free lockers, large kitchen, free internet access, high ceilings and no curfew. All for £11.40 (price in a bed in a 6-10 dormitory room).


Amsterdam is full of cheap hotels, but most are best avoided. Haarlem, a short train ride away, is a cheaper and cleaner option. The two inland ports of Noord Holland were great rivals during the Dutch Golden Age, but while Amsterdam became a modern metropolis, Haarlem stayed much as it was.

Haarlem is definitely worth a weekend in itself, but you could consider using it as a base to explore nearby Amsterdam, trains to which are frequent and run practically throughout the night. The journey takes 15 minutes.

Haarlem itself is a wealth of historic buildings, hidden courtyards and, with the Frans Hals museum (€5.40, under 19 free,, home to one of the best galleries in the Netherlands. The main square is dominated by the Grotekirk van St Bavo church, which offers some very good organ recitals every Tuesday and Saturday. The 5,000 pipes of the Muller organ (where Mozart and Handel once played) are well worth a listen.
Haarlem has a bohemian atmosphere (the first Dutch "coffee" shop opened here) with a rich number of elegant bars and cafes - most inexpensive, particularly at lunchtime. Other cheap activities include hiring bicycles from the station and riding through the sand dunes to the nearby seaside resort of Zandvoort.

Cheap flight: easyJet (0870 6 000000, flies to Amsterdam from £33.45.

Where to stay: The Hotel Carillon (27 Grote Markt, Haarlem, +31 23 531 0591, is a delightful, friendly hotel overlooking the main square. If you don't mind a bit of noise, ask for one of the rooms overlooking the Grote Markt. Singles/doubles from €28/53.


Perhaps the most nocturnal of the great European cities, Madrid remains one of the most inexpensive. A city synonymous with art galleries, bullfights, bar culture and alfresco dining, Madrid is perfect for the summer months and small enough to be sampled in a couple of days.
For bargains, head towards the huge flea market every Sunday. The Rasto is held in La Latina area - one of the oldest parts of the city - and is a mixture of clothing, jewellery and junk stalls. It is noisy, busy and a lot of fun. For the locals, the Rasto is a social event as much as a shopping extravaganza, and the bar scene during and after is great, especially in the summer.

Madrid has a range of restaurants to suit frugal pockets. For hearty Castillian fare, try the Casa Marta (10 C Santa Clara, +91 548 2825), a converted tavern and tapas bar hidden up a side street. For friendly service, good music and delicious vegetarian food, head for El Estragon (10 Costanilla de San Andrés, +91 365 8982), situated near the -recently restored Plaza de la Paja. Alternatively, Elqui (18 Buenavista, +91 468 0402) is an excellent self-service vegetarian restaurant and arty hang-out. Main courses from €3.

Madrid is famous for one of the premier museums in the world, The Prado (Paseo del Prado, €3,, but visit on Sunday when it's free. Other cheap attractions include the Teleferico de Madrid (€2.80, free Wednesday), a cable car that spans the Casa de Campo.

Cheap flights: BA (0845 7733377,, British Midland (0870 6070555,, easyJet (0870 6000000,

Where to stay: At €83 for a double, the Hotel Paris (Puerta del Sol, 2 Calle Alcala, + 91 521 64 91) is at the top end of the budget range. But it overlooks the spectacular Puerta del Sol, so book well ahead for a room with a view. The rooms are a little basic, but the fabulously grand lobby makes amends.


If your image of Brussels is one of bureaucrats, beer and buckets of mussels, it's about time you tasted the rejuvenated Belgium capital. In the 1960s, Brussels was considered to be the ugliest city in the world, but it has been transformed over the past decade, especially since it was cleaned up when it became a European City of Culture three years ago.

There are a number of budget activities in Brussels. Explore Le Botanique ornamental gardens (free); climb the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (free) for a spectacular view of the city, or visit the impressive Museum of Modern Art Koningsplein (free). The latter is built around a central light well, which is cut seven floors underground. It features an impressive collection of Delvaux and Magritte.

The Grand'Place - still one of the most beautiful public spaces in Europe - remains the main tourist attraction of the city. Wander around the beautiful buildings, or sit down on one of the many terraces and enjoy a Belgian beer. Outdoor concerts are organised throughout the year.

Cheap flight: Ryanair (0871 2460000, flies Stansted-Charleroi from £33.28. Also see bmibaby (0870 2642229,, BA (0845 7733377,, British Midland (0870 6070555,, Flybe (0870 5676676,

Rail alternative: Eurostar (08705 186186) for £59 from Waterloo. Minimum stay one Saturday night.

Where to stay: A 10-minute walk from the Grand' Place, the Comfort Art Hotel Siru ( is a class apart from most budget hotels. The Siru's owner persuaded 130 of Belgium's contemporary artists to decorate each room and some corridors with a work on the theme of travel. The works vary from enormous wall murals to fake granite blocks hanging from the ceiling above the bed. It also features a pleasant onsite brasserie. Singles from £35.

· Cheap Hotels by Daisann McLane is published by Benedikt Taschen Verlag at £9.99.

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