Last year, I visited Amsterdam, home of Van Gogh, Anne Frank and many, many canals. People talk about the liberal attitude of the city but when you visit, there is so much more to see and do. In fact, in terms of popularity, Amsterdam is the 5th busiest tourist destination in Europe with more than 4.2 million international visitors a year.

One of the highlights is definitely the Van Gogh museum. This is where the permanent collection is shown to the public. Some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings are present in the collection and this museum is the most visited museum in Amsterdam.

The one thing you can’t avoid is the canals. It seems that round every corner, you are crossing a bridge! However, get on a river cruise and you will see another side of Amsterdam. Most take you round in huge glass topped boats but if you’re lucky enough, try to get on a smaller one with a private operator. You really do explore the sights of Amsterdam most people don’t get to see.

Driving is tricky in Amsterdam, with one way streets to contend with, as well as the numerous bikes and trams. However, if you do need a car, Avis has a location in central Amsterdam as well as one at Schipol Airport, located 11 miles outside of Amsterdam.

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#7 in Tripadvisor’s hot spots for 2009 is Torre del Mar in Spain…

What’s the deal?
Torre del Mar is a coastal town situated in the Costa del Sol region of the south coast of Spain. Coastal Spain has long been a popular holiday destination for the Brits and with Torre del Mar, I see no reason why this resort would be any different. Think wide sandy beaches and a Mediterrean climate set to a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. However, while there are a couple of “British pubs”, this resort has managed to retain it’s Spanish authenticity. So, if you’re looking for a bit of British familiarity in your Spanish holiday, perhaps Torre del Mar is not the place for you. But, for me, it’s this untouched Spanish authenticity that provides Torre del Mar with it’s appeal.

What are other traveller’s saying?
When I started reading about Torre del Mar I felt a little guilty that I was going to write about it. People have commented on the mystery of Torre del Mar and while it has been a popular holiday destination for the Spanish for some time , it remains relatively undiscovered by the Brits. I almost want to keep Torre del Mar a secret so that it does not lose it’s Spanish authenticity by pandering to an onslaught of holidaymakers. I can only hope this does not happen in spite of it’s growing popularity. I’ve also been reading that there are some great seafood tapas bars along the seafront with both Seafood Tapas La Cueva and El Yate recommended. The reviews also suggest that Torre del Mar is a great resort for all the family.

How do I get there?
Torre del Mar is accessible from Malaga airport where you can rent a car (Avis has a car hire office at the airport). Alternatively, you can catch a shuttle to Malaga bus station where you can catch a bus to Torre del Mar on one of the routes operated by the ALSA company.

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Avis, along with the other car hire companies, get extremely busy over Christmas. In fact, it’s one of our busiest periods of the year. With our busy periods, the demand for our cars can easily outstrip supply. So, we recommend that if you need a car for the Christmas period, book as early as possible.

Firstly, this will help you guarantee getting a car (because if the past few years are to go by we will sell out). Secondly, the earlier in advance you book, the better the price you are likely to get. As described in the blog post “Tips for getting the best price”, our pricing works similar to airlines with prices getting more expensive as the plane fills up (except of course we fill up cars not planes!)

Another tip is that if you need rent a car one way, look out for some bargains. To help us get our cars into the right locations, we are currently putting in place some good prices on one way rentals into Heathrow and Gatwick airports and into our busiest locations in Central London. These prices will be available soon from many of our locations in and around the Midlands, South and South East regions.

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I’m sad to announce that today I will be vacating my position for 4 months as Avis’ chief blogger. With my days of youth rapidly dwindly, I’ve decided to take a sabbatical and head off travelling before circumstances mean it’s too late. My travels will take me through Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and a couple of locations on the west side of the States. All very exciting (well for me anyway!).

I will still write on the blog from time to time to provide updates on my travels (if anyone is interested) and I’ll check up on what’s going on from time to time. In the meantime, Stephen will continue to be heavily involved with the blog as will a number of members from the Marketing team. I’d also like to introduce Chris Cox (or Coxy as I like to call him) who is our expert from our reservation centre. He’ll be on hand to answer all your booking questions.

I just want to say before I go what an absolute pleasure it’s been to work on the blog. It’s been a privilege having such a close dialogue with our customers (some who I am even now in regular email contact with). Your comments and feedback have really made a difference over the past year or so. Please keep them coming – it keeps everyone on their toes!

Finally, I just want to say how much I’ll miss all the team at Avis. They are really the best, most passionate people I could work with. Anyway enough of my garble… see you in 4 months!!

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#8 in Tripadvisor’s hot spots for 2009 is Hanioti in Greece…

What’s the deal?
Located to the North-East of Greece on the Kassandra Peninsula, Hanioti is a bustling village in the traditional Macedonian style. Being a coastal village, Hanioti benefits from sandy beaches and the blue waters of the Aegean sea. The combination of sun, sand and a plethora of bars and restautants have made it a popular holiday resort.

What are other travellers saying?
Having read a few reviews on Hanioti there seems to be mixed feelings. One suggests that Hanioti is the Blackpool of Greece (there is nothing wrong with that!) while another argues that Hanioti is not much to the resort without any sun (which, to be fair, could probably be said of a lot of holiday resorts). It’s also described as a bit touristy so perhaps it is a bit surprising that it has cropped up in a 2009 hot list.

That being said it must have a certain charm as I’ve read few reviews describing it as the best holiday ever. And a number of holiday-makers have visited a number of times and express a desire to continue to do so. If you’re looking for a fun resort where you can chill on the beach and catch some rays then this could be the place for you. If you’re looking for a cultural experience with something a little more authentic then you may want to try elsewhere.

How do I get there?
You can hire a car with Avis from Thessaloniki International Airport and make the 2 hour drive south to Hanioti. Alternatively, a taxi from the airport costs around €80 or you can a taxi to the bus terminal in Halkidiki and catch the bus to your destination from there.

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Q and James Bond - Tomorrow Never Dies - Source: www.geocities.com/Hollywood/6087/photo11.jpgThe latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, hit the big screen last weekend breaking box office records. But, did you know that James Bond is a customer of ours? In “Tomorrow Never Dies”, it was Avis that Mr. Bond selected for his car rental needs (either that or we have negotiated preferred supplier status with MI6), hiring a car with us from our rental office at Hamburg airport.

Clearly our Rapid Return service wasn’t quite good enough for our heroic secret agent. Not content with waiting 60 seconds, he decided it would be far quicker to drive the car directly into the rental office. Given that he was trying to save the world, we decided to over-look the matter.

Still, despite creating a substantial repair bill, MI6 were kinder to us in other ways. We were delighted when they lent us the master of gadgets that is “Q” for the day, who had to disguise himself as an Avis rental agent to help with this top secret operation.

Reading some of the comments in the Customer Opinion Survey that was conducted during Q’s time at Hamburg Airport, there is plenty of feedback to suggest that our customers loved his sweet, bumbling manner. Although we thought it best to decline his kind offer to make a few “modifications” to our rental cars!

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Supporting THINK!The Department for Transport have just launched the latest THINK! road safety campaign to promote the use of seat belts. Some people may think that this is not the most obvious issue on which to focus a road safety campaign. Admittedly, my natural reaction was to think that most people wear a seat belt anyway but this one simple fact speaks for itself:

In 2007, of the 1,432 car occupants killed, research indicates that some 34 per cent were not wearing a seat belt.

Sometimes it can be easy to dismiss putting on a seat belt if you’re travelling a short distance or travelling at low speeds. But even at low speeds you are putting yourself at serious risk of injury or even death. And wearing a seat belt, where one is fitted, is the law. For more information on the latest THINK! road safety campaign including the facts and information on the law regarding seat belts then please click here.

You can also view the new TV ad for this campaign below, (please be advised that this advert is not suitable to be shown before the 9pm watershed):

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Please note:

The details of all blog posts are correct at the time of publication. Information and offers are subject to change without prior notice. Please check www.avis.co.uk for the most up-to-date information.

All comments will be moderated so there may be a delay in your comment going live. We will filter out anything that is confidential, inappropriate, abusive, defamatory, profane, or anything considered as spam or an advertising link. We promise not to cut something just because it's not favourable to Avis.

We ask that if your feedback is regarding a past rental, you include your reservation details (which will be removed from the live post). If your comment is a customer service issue, you can email customer.service@avis.co.uk .
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Why we love to blog

At Avis, we really do try harder. We pioneered blogging in the car rental world and we aim to make our blog much more than just an information source. You can use our blog to ask questions or tell us what’s important to you when you hire a car. We try harder because we care what you think, so we really do value your feedback.

New to car rentals? Our blog gives you tips and advice on getting the most out of your Avis car hire experience. You can find information about booking and hiring your car, safety tips, and eco driving. We also provide driving advice and the latest news about our fleet.

We understand that hiring a car is just one part of your trip, so our blog covers other aspects of holiday and business travel too. Whether you want to know more about business travel hire conditions, access to location and city guides or ideas for families travelling with children, it’s all here.

But that’s just a taster – find out more about the Avis blog.