Go on a tour of Nottingham with Robin Hood! The guide, Ade Andrews, is great in character as the legend himself, bringing to life the stories and tales of the man in green tights. Great way to explore Nottingham and learn more about its most famous son.
A really interesting guided walking tour of Nottingham exploring some legends and villains. Robin Hood of course is included, but it also covers Torvill and Dean, DH Lawrence, Lord Byron - all sorts of stories that really bring the city to life. A great way to see lots of interesting historic spots in the city's laneways too.
Several years ago my brother instigated the concept of the cultural snowboarding trip. The idea: don't hole up in one resort and only see hotel, slopes and bar - get out, travel and soak up the real culture while you're there. A trip to Granada and the magnificent Alhambra, combined with skiing in the Sierra Nevada in 28 degree heat, is one example, but checking out the museums and galleries of Oslo and the fantastic scenery that abounds across that nation and its neighbour, Sweden, while travelling by day and night-sleeper train is my personal favourite. Hafjell near Lillehammer, site of the slalom races for the '94 Winter Olympics, is just great in Springtime, or try nearby Kvitfjell if you're more daring. At Narvik you feel like you are skiing into the sea and can also visit a museum which celebrates the allied forces' earliest victory of WWII. In Riksgransen you can ski late into the night in the Spring. And then there is Are, which is a match for many of the best resorts in the Alps. Add a few days in Stockholm at the end of the trip and the whole experience is life-enhancing. Travel with a few mates and you could have the time of your life.
Travel by RyanAir from Stansted, Liverpool or Edinburgh to Oslo Torp and take the bus into the city. Then take a day train to Lillehammer for Hafjell. Sleeper trains take you north to Trondheim and then onto Fauske and a fantastic bus and ferry journey will take you to Narvik. Take the majestic Ofoten line to Riksgransen and finally the Norrlandståget sleeper train to Stockholm. Are can be reached easily from Stockholm or from Trondheim in Norway.
Google map: bit.ly/yOlOaP
Krvavec is 'famous' for its Igloo Village. Whether you choose to stay there or not, it's a simple 25km journey from Ljubljana, you can buy ski passes from the petrol station and hire ski equipment and clothes from the top of the gondola. Only a few slopes but the snow is plentiful, valleys are pretty and you get a blast of skiing on almost empty slopes midweek. If you choose to stay the night it's an adventure reaching the hotels in itself by rickety chairlift and directions from pleasant but definitely non-English speaking ski guides. If you want to ski a week in Slovenia and have progressed beyond the nursery slopes then it'd be a good idea to do a self drive tour of all the small ski areas rather than stay in one for the week.
Back in the 60s I learned to ski in Geilo. We used long wooden skis, leather boots, and elasticated safety bindings permanently attached to our skis. You never lost your skis when you fell over, but you were occasionally bashed on the head as you crashed to a stop. The equipment has improved, but Geilo still guarantees off-piste powder and deep-packed snow on your ski runs. You won't find ice or patchy slopes in the land that invented cross-country skiing.
Cross the Hardanger Vidda plateau on telemark skis before Easter, travelling hut to hut. Take a guide or experienced friend(s) as there is the risk of severe weather (shovel for snow hole essential).
Learn the basics at Poiana Brasov ski-school. Situated deep within the Carpathian mountains. There’s plenty of scope for intermediates too. Bargain breaks are available throughout the season. Enjoy authentic Rumanian food. Apres includes cosy bars with gypsy music, attractive restaurants, massages, sauna, skating, swimming or night skiing.
Venture further afield and explore traditional villages taking in Dracula’s home Bran castle on the way. An enchanting horse-drawn sleigh ride through spectacular scenery remains a treasured memory.
Amazing resort with 23 lifts and 50 runs that is only an hour from Rome in Abruzzo National Park. The resort is at 1750m and the lifts to 2100m which guarantee snow. Cheap passes and hire charges and midweek its virtually empty - we didn't queue at all. All pistes have snow cannons and are really well kept. Look out for five-day deals for about €300 for half board boots, skis and passes!
North Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower to some) is one of Korea's most popular tourist destinations and with good reason. The views from the tower observatory are quite stunning; every direction you look shows you a different section of the Seoul metropolis, always contrasted by a mountainous backdrop.
When visiting, you can walk up Namsan Mountain, get a bus, or take a cable car. My recommendation is to get the cable car up and enjoy a leisurely stroll down the mountain on your return. A daytime trip will give you a better view of the surrounding mountains, but visit between 7pm and midnight to see the tower light up in glorious illumination. There are a handful of restaurants at the tower, including a burger bar and the expensive N Grill, which slowly revolves and offers romantic panoramic views of the city as you eat. Booking a table for the latter is a must.
Tickets for the tower itself range from 3,000 to 7000 won. The cable car itself costs 4,800 one-way or 6,000 for a return ticket.
Google map: bit.ly/w7V7aI
A 10-15 minute walk (or a cheap taxi), take Subway Line 4 to Myeongdong Station and leave via exit 3. Take the wide road next to the convenience store and walk straight to the left of the Pacific Hotel. Keep going and you will soon find yourself at the cable car platform. Purchase a ticket on the 3rd floor of the building.
With luxurious sandy beaches, archaeological sites, cetacean spotting and shark fishing, the Isles of Scilly are the UK's own tropical paradise. Don't just stay in one place, though, use the excellent boat service to explore all the islands, several of which are uninhabited. You'll find rare birds, seal colonies, pre-historic remains and the UK's most south-westerly lighthouse, Bishop Rock.
Nature walking tours:
Walks start in late March and finish mid October, numbers and weather permitting.
Katharine Sawyer leads archaeologial and historic walks round the islands between April and September
Google map: bit.ly/AlTA1D
This hidden gem is well worth seeking out. Arguably one of London's larger city farms, there is an abundance of animals from all the farmyard favourites to tropical birds and even some alpacas. A beautiful shire horse gives cart rides in the summer months and there are regular events for all the family. It's free to get in and there is plenty there to keep you coming back.
Stansfeld Road, Beckton, London, E6 5LT
Closest station: Royal Albert DLR
Bus: 300, 376, 262
+44(0)20 7474 4960
One of my favourite places to visit – on weekends or a night after work – is the TIFF Bell
Lightbox, an avant-garde cultural centre and home to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Opened in 2010, it houses a cinema complex, galleries, workshops, two restaurants, and a roof-top terrace.
With different events every day of the week, TIFF offers screenings, lectures, festivals, great food, special exhibits and, of course, great cinema. There are 5 public cinemas with insulated sound space and the first in North America to show 16 mm, 35 mm and 70 mm film in addition to digital movies.
I love brunching at LUMA restaurant. With attentive service and great food, this is the perfect spot for a small or large group. LUMA also has a great dinner and cocktail menu. The Canteen restaurant, located on the ground floor, is a great spot for more casual and quick dining.
My favourite films to watch are those offered by the Contemporary World Cinema programme, where you can see some of the best films from around the world, many of which are unlikely to be widely released.
Ever since its opening last year, the space has featured outstanding exhibits, from Tim Burton to Federico Fellini and now the Grace Kelly exhibit.
350 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 3X5
+1 416 968 3456
Google map: bit.ly/ycH4AC
* Giulia is our Been there local for Toronto. You can see her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/places/canada/toronto/index.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/GiuliaFalsetti
For a fun London experience, check out the late night adult-only openings of the London Science Museum on the last Wednesday of every month. With 'no kids between you and the big red button' you can refresh forgotten science knowledge by checking out the rocket show (where the presenter proves he can do adult as well as childish humour), doing a spot of speed-dating, and contemplating the properties of sound while boogieing away at the silent disco. Best of all, it's completely free.
Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD
+44(0)870 870 4868
Google map: bit.ly/AjDdSY
This walk brought the history of the Thames to life for the whole family. Led by Fiona, an intertidal archaeologist we strolled along the river with stops for background facts. Then onto the part my sons had been waiting for. Clad in plastic gloves and wellies we were led down the safest path onto the foreshore outside Tate Modern and let loose to beachcomb (strictly no digging). An amazing array of items were found by the group and expertly identified by Fiona. We went home with clay pipes, a Victorian jelly mould and a piece of a 17th century 'Witch pot' tossed into the river full of pee to ward off evil spirits. And my seven-year-old son's highlight, a musket ball.
Dates and times depend on the tides so check www.walks.com and search for mudlarking. Meets at Mansion House tube. No booking needed, £8 for adults and free(!) for kids.
Darting through the chilly winter night to the steaming outdoor pool, or sunbathing and splashing here in summer is my idea of fun in London. Just a saunter away from Covent Garden Market, and shielded by a disguise of tower blocks, Oasis Sports Centre is one of London's hidden treasures. It is such an unexpected contrast to the shops and offices that surround it- a true Oasis.
The London Monopoly Pub Crawl is a great way to see the city and socialise with friends at the same time. It's basically a pub-crawl around central London, with a real ale hostelry at each street or station which appears on the monopoly board. There are organised trips but it's much more fun to download the directions from the website (both the most direct route and the original board route are listed), grab your oyster card and some friends and hit the street! Note: it does take all day (we started at around 11am and reached the final pub just as last orders were being called) and if you drink alcohol at even half of the stops you're likely to be a bit squiffy by the end!
After a hard days shopping or sight-seeing in London, there is nothing better than a time-out in a floatation tank. While the whole city is buzzing around you, you can let every single muscle in your body relax to the max as you float effortlessly in a warm relaxing salt bath. The feeling is magical, akin to floating in mid-air, with the effects of gravity being removed from your body as you drift in to a dream-filled sleep. The Epsom-Salt solution in the baths also has numerous health benefits, so you also get a bit of a detox! After a floatation session, I can't even explain how revitalized I felt. It's something that you REALLY have to experience if you are in London!
Had a lovely day learning how to play polo and relaxing at a ranch for the day in Buenos Aires. Worried it would be too hard as had only ever ridden once before, but was amazing! Really chilled day, nice and patient teacher, and amaaaaazing barbecue! Best thing i did in BA I reckon. (Also loved the Malba art gallery, and the beautiful rose gardens in Palermo. Best meal (apart from estancia bbq) was at Don Julio in Palermo.
The changing of the Guard is and always will be an attraction. When I was five my mother and father took me to London which was a big thing in 1855(!) I remember standing squashed against the railings and the Big Guard came towards me and with his bright sword nearly touched my nose for a moment I was terrified. Then the Guard smiled at me and I melted. To this day I will never forget him. Shame I had not got a camera. I am 61 now and have never been back to London and suppose now never will but that Guard remains in my memory.
Recently I took my mother for a trip onto the London eye to celebrate her 75th Birthday. When purchasing our tickets, I was asked if I was her carer as she walks with a walking stick and I enquired why. They said that the carer goes on free so in essence it's a buy one get one free ticket. The London Eye was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone.
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