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'Holidays of a lifetime for under £500' text

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Preliminary information

Time: 60 minutes??

Level: Upper 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.


Holidays of a lifetime for under £500

Get married in Vegas, sail down the Nile, visit Mayan temples, go birdwatching in Africa or laze on tropical beaches - Jane Knight, Tom Templeton and Jacqui MacDermott show you how to make your money go further

Sunday February 2, 2003
The Observer

Unless otherwise stated, holidays are based on two people travelling.

Cruise the Med
It costs less than £500 to drift around Europe aboard the Mediterranean Essence, starting from Palma and dropping in at Mallorca, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Portofino, Nice and Mahon. Island Cruises (08707 500414) promotes an informal atmosphere, with relaxed dress codes and dining times.

At each stop you can wander on your own or pay extra for shore excursions with a difference. In Nice, for instance, take a helicopter flight over the Maritime Alps, followed by guided tours of Monaco and Monte Carlo.

The price of £499 includes return flights from one of 14 UK airports, port taxes, accommodation, entertainment, meals and even basic tipping.

Streetcars and desire
Cheap transatlantic flights mean now is the time to take a California fly-drive holiday with accommodation for little more than people used to pay for the air fare alone.

Fly to Los Angeles to see everything from Disney to where the stars hang out, before driving up the coast to San Francisco with its island prison of Alcatraz and streetcars.

Trailfinders (020 7937 5400) has a fly-drive break with seven nights' accommodation, six days' car hire and flights from London to LA and back from San Francisco for £495. You have to go between 1 February and 31 March, which may seem a cold time in the UK, but is pleasant in California.

Reggae, reggae
They say that in Jamaica the three Rs mean reggae, reefers and rum, but the island has lots more to offer.

There is the renowned Dunn's River Falls, where tiers of limestone lead 600ft down to the beach in a series of cascades and pools. Head for the hills of the interior to see how Blue Mountain coffee is processed, or swim with the dolphins at the beach.

Thomson (0870 550 2575) has seven nights, departing on 25 February from Gatwick or 4 March from Manchester, both for £459, with accommodation allocated on arrival from a selection in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril.

Thai this for size
Get measured for new clothes by a tailor in Bangkok, then head for six nights at the beach in Pattaya before returning to the capital to pick up your fresh wardrobe and maybe squeeze in a visit to a temple or two. The price of £449 with Travelbag (0870 890 1460) includes two nights at Bangkok's Asia hotel, which is near the new Sky train station and the weekend market, the night bazaar and Patpong Road.

Accommodation in Pattaya is in the English village-style Woodlands resort, a few minutes' walk from the beach. The offer lasts from 21 April to 14 June, a period when temperatures in Thailand are particularly hot, but when you will find the least number of tourists. The price includes travel from Heathrow and transfers by bus to Pattaya, but not from the airport to Bangkok.

Head off on a slow boat
This voyage on the Nile is not on a luxury cruise ship but on a felucca, a traditional Egyptian sailing boat. The seven-night holiday includes two days' sailing, a night aboard the vessel and visits to Nubian villages, with dinner at one of them.

The sailing is in the Aswan area, which is reached by train after a day in Cairo and a visit to the pyramids of Giza. From Aswan, there is a chance to visit the temple of Abu Simbel, although it costs extra, followed by the included excursions to Karnak and an early-morning donkey ride to the Valley of the Kings at Luxor. Trailfinders (020 7938 3939) has seven nights' B&B with some other meals and flights to Cairo for £498. You must travel before 31 March, which is one of the best times to visit Egypt.

Fire and ice in easy reach
It's never been more affordable to visit the land of ice and fire now Iceland Express (00 354 5 500650) is launching low-cost flights from London from 27 February. Return flights cost from £109 per person, with an airport transfer costing a further £14. Stay in Reykjavik (or Steamy Bay), with its ocean-fresh seafood, vodka bars and spas in a luxury studio apartment (00 354 896 2559) complete with whirlpool bath from £406 per week.

This leaves a couple £350 to blow on whale watching, horse riding, clubbing and excursions. Try the £40 Reykjanes-Blue Lagoon tour with Reykjavik Excursions which covers the Blue Lagoon spa famous for its healing powers, Grindavík, a fishing town on the south coast, Reykjanes Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula and Hafnarfjördur, 'the town in the lava'.

When in doubt, try the beach
If you get bored with lying on the beach on the Malaysian island of Penang, there is plenty more to visit, including rubber plantations, paddy fields, temples, old Chinese houses, and a funicular railway to the top of Penang Hill, though you will probably find the beach still beckons after all that.

The Copthorne Orchid is not directly on the sand but its position atop the cliff means all its rooms have sea views. The hotel is on the island's north coast where the best beaches are, and it is also near the botanical gardens and the reclining Buddha. Phone & Go Travel (0870 990 8292) has seven nights' room only at the three-star hotel, including flights from Heathrow or Manchester between 1 May and 15 June, for £499.

A base in Delhi
The Indian capital may be a mind-boggling destination, but it has fascinating history, bazaars and monuments and is the perfect base for a 10-day holiday exploring the Red Fort, Agra, the Taj Mahal and Jaipur. Trailfinders (020 7938 3939) offers flights from Heathrow with Kuwait Air from £402, including taxes. Double rooms at the Master Guest House, New Rajinder Nagar, New Delhi (00 91 11 574 10 89) start at just £8 a night. That means a couple spending 10 days there would be left with £116 from £1,000 to supplement travel and food costs.

Gamble on getting hitched
Not only is Las Vegas the gaming capital of the world, it is also the wedding capital of the world - take a partner and get hitched on the cheap in one of the city's wedding chapels. Stay at the Sahara Hotel and Casino, which has live shows as well as gambling, and is opposite the well-known Circus Circus. Gamble on a good deal with Bon Voyage (0800 316 0194), which has seven-night holidays on a room-only basis for £495. Bookings must be made by 28 February for departures before 31 March.

Spring is perfect for Petra
Though it's one of the best times to visit in terms of climate, there are no Easter or May bank holiday supplements to go to Jordan this year with Aquatours (020 8398 0505) Springtime is the perfect time to explore Petra, the city carved from a cliff face and forgotten for 1,000 years before its rediscovery in 1812.

The price of £499 includes a day's excursion with entry fee, lunch and guide, to the city that appeared in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Accommodation is in a four-star hotel in Amman, Jordan's capital, bed and breakfast only. Departures can be at any time before the end of June.

Birds and beaches in Africa
Kunta Kinte, the slave ancestor in Alex Haley's Roots, is said to have come from a village up the River Gambia that features on a one-day excursion, along with the Museum of the Slave Trade and the ruins of the old fort where slaves were kept on an island in the river. Gambia is also the place to go for bird watchers (it has more than 500 species) and for river and sea fishing. In between all that, there are long sandy palm-fringed beaches waiting to be flopped on. The Gambia Experience (023 8073 0888) has seven nights' B&B in the newly renovated Sun Beach Hotel on the ocean shore for £498 from Gatwick for departures in the peak tourist season of March and on 25 April.

Head off on a hike in Morocco
Test those leg muscles in eight days' trekking through the glorious High Atlas mountains in Morocco. The Slopes of Toubkal tour starts on 17 and 31 May and includes a stay at the Neltner refuge, then climbing Jebel Toubkal, the roof of North Africa, to gasp at the awesome, barren views. The treks take a maximum of 16 people, with between four and six hours hiking each day. Stay in a Berber village, then check out the colourful souk during a free day in Marrakesh before flying home. The price of £240 includes two nights in a hotel, five nights in village houses or mountain refuges and all meals. Guerba (01373 826611) can arrange flights for £260.

Fall for Niagara
Stay almost on the brink of the Niagara Falls (well, 500 metres away), over which each second the equivalent of more than a million bathtubs of water plunge 176ft to create rainbows in the spray. With the change from this £435 holiday, head to the base of the falls in the Maid of the Mist boat, a trip where a soaking is guaranteed but which has to be taken to witness the enormous curtain of water. Canadian Affair (020 7616 9185) has trips with four nights at the four-star Renaissance Fallsview Hotel in Niagara and three nights at the Days Inn Toronto Downtown for a bit of city life and a visit to the CN Tower, the tallest freestanding building in the world. The price includes return flights and transfers and is available for May departures.

Gulf with a difference
Oman is the new Dubai, but with the emphasis on culture in place of shopping. You can still pick up local souvenirs at the souk in Muscat, but there is a whole range of other things to do, including wadi bash ing, visiting the ancient capital of Nizwah and day trips to the Sawadi Islands for diving and snorkelling. Seven nights at the Al Sawadi Beach Resort, north of Muscat, which is on its own stretch of beach and opposite the Sawadi Islands, costs £489 B&B with Gulf Air (0871 222 3424) for travel until 31 March. Flights via Abu Dhabi or Bahrain.

Goan, enjoy it
Sparkling on the western coast of the Indian peninsula, the exotic former Portuguese colony of Goa offers sand, sun and saints (of the Catholic variety) in unequal measure. Eclipse Holidays (08705 010203) offers 14 nights for £473 (seven nights costs £422), including flights, transfers and B&B at the Resort Lagoa Azul overlooking the Baga river. It is just 3.5kms from the lively beach resort of Calangute with its watersports, shopping, eating out and nightlife. This offer is available for departures from 16 February to 26 March, with similar prices available for late autumn/winter departures.

Riviera with more
Tour operators are calling the area south of Cancun in Mexico the Riviera Maya and are opening it up for those who want a bit more nature and culture than that offered in Cancun's concrete strip. The Caribbean coast of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula is Bounty bar ad stunning and historically fascinating, with Mayan temples dotted around. Playa del Carmen, a lively cosmopolitan coastal town a bus or taxi ride south of Cancun, boasts long white beaches and verdant jungle and is ideal for diving, sportfishing, jungle trekking, archaeology hunting and partying.

Britannia Direct (0800 000747) starts flying from Gatwick and Manchester to Cancun in November. Flights departing 10 November from Gatwick cost £369. Also offers flights from £299 with Air 2000 (0870 757 2757). Seven nights' B&B at the Caribbean Paradise Resort & Spa in downtown Playa del Carmen starts at £210 for doubles.

St Paul's escape
Damascus, Syria's largest city and capital, has been settled since 5000 BC and the old City, penned in by a Roman wall, is a multi-faceted monument to the Holy Land's past: the ancient Souq al-Hamadiyyeh covered market, the Omayyad Mosque (705AD), Saladin's Mausoleum (1193), Azem Palace (1749) and St Paul's Chapel, which marks the spot where the disciples lowered St Paul out of a window one night so that he could flee the Jews. Trailfinders (020 7938 3939) offers flights from Heathrow with Turkish Airlines from £254, including taxes, on selected dates. You must buy a visa from the Syrian Embassy, 8 Belgrave Square, London (020 7245 9012) for £33.

A double room and breakfasts at the beautiful, occidentally furnished Al Majed Hotel (00 963 11 23 23 300), 500m from the old city, costs from £18 a night. This would leave a couple with £300 out of £1,000, which could easily see them through a week's stay.

Follow Tony and Cherie...
If it's good enough for Tony Blair... Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt is a cosmopolitan town bracketed by the Mount Sinai mountains and spectacular reef, ranked by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top three diving sites in the world. Cosmos Holidays (0870 908 4299) offers seven nights' half board at the Hotel Coral Beach Tiran - which has an approved diving school on site - from £449, including flights and transfers, for departures between 16 November and 13 December (£489 from 27 April to 10 May, after which the price rises to £499 until 21 June). A night time hike up Mount Sinai to catch a spectacular sunrise is heartily recommended.

Mangroves and manatees
Impressive mountain ranges, coursed by spectacular rivers and waterfalls, and mangrove forests punctuated by manatee-inhabited saltwater lakes are only part of the appeal of the Dominican Republic.

On the other hand you could just sit on the white beach with seven nights' all-inclusive stay at the Hotetur Villas Doradas costing £499 with Airtours Holidays (0870 241 5339) departing 2 April. This small hotel sits in the lively Playa Dorada resort on the north coast, and comes complete with shopping plaza, bars and restaurants and 18-hole golf course. The price includes flights from Gatwick and transfers.

And then there's Disney...
Messing around in the vast Disney World (0870 242 4911) under the blazing Florida sun is one of the 'bear' necessities of life as far as most kids are concerned. It includes four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom) and two water-adventure parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) so you need at least five days to do it justice - one of which should certainly be a day off.

Jetsave Florida (0870 161 3402) offers a week's trip to Orlando, departing 15-30 June for £485 per adult and £249 per child (up to age 11), a reduction of £114 on the brochure price. This includes scheduled flights, car hire and room-only accommodation in the three-star Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista.

OK, the five-day Hopper-plus ticket costs £189/£155 - taking our adults over the £500 budget - so 'heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work we go...'

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