Here you can stroll or sit in some typical shady boulevards, take in panoramas of Montpellier and the surrounding area and marvel at the old 18th century aquaduct which ends with a flourish in the form of a pool under a celebratory Neo classical pavillion.
Place du Peyrou, near the Arc du Triomphe
Worth a visit even if only to see what first appears to be two large rockets attached to the huge entrance portal of this quite unusual construction. Its origins are in the 14th century and the other end of the cathedral is rather more conventional, though more picturesque with a small surrounding garden. The streets leading away up the hill provide some quite pleasing views of this old part of the city.
Place St Pierre
This building is the latest addition to Edinburgh. It also wins prizes, including the RIAS Andrew Doolan Prize for best building in Scotland (2008), but unlike the parliament it was built within budget.
This building houses the research of Edinburgh University's world-leading School of Informatics. Look for it on Doors Open Day!
10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB
Tehran. Ugly, sprawling and polluted. But to miss out Tehran from an Iranian itinerary would be to miss out a window into the living, breathing, and vibrant world of modern Iran. Take a taxi north into the foothills of the magestic Alborz mountains. The air is cooler and far cleaner here, and even through the smoggy haze, the views are spectacular. Beside this, the Alborz foothills are home to two of Tehran's highlights: Darband, and the Palaces of Niavaran.
A narrow valley cut deep into the sides of the Alborz mountains, with a single road leading up beside a noisy brook overhung with trees, Darband is barely even a village. This pretty scattering of buildings among nature is a completely different world from the megalopolis that lies just minutes away, and walks in the surrounding area offer fresh air, great scenery and a chance to get away from the bustle. If you don't feel so physically inclined head for one of Darband's teahouses - one is spectacularly perched like a beautifully clichéd image of the middle east. Deliciously sugary pastries and wonderful teas in luxuriant surroundings are still cheap for the western tourist.
The get a taste of how the Shahs used to live in the Niavaran Palaces. Beautiful buildings drawing on Persian and western architectural traditions are scattered through lush parkland with the city's best panoramas.
In the foothills of the Alborz mountains to the north of Tehran, taxi drivers can take you there from all over the city. Buses run up Val-e-Asr avenue from downtown to the leafy northern suburb of Tajrish, from where taxis are cheaper or a walk is perhaps contemplatable.
B&B accommodation of an unusually high quality just a mile or so outside Carlise in Cumbria. Architect designed house with mature gardens.
Address is Lambley Bank, Scotby, Carlisle, Cumbria CA4 8BX. Website: www.willowbeck-lodge.com.
Telephone 01228 513607
Camaguey was relocated in the C16th and its maze-like street pattern designed to completely confuse (pirate) attackers. The best way to see the beautiful neo-classical squares, buildings, markets and churches is therefore to let one of the many bicytaxis pedal you round at a leisurely pace, letting you off to wander (not too far) before getting back on for the next place of interest. Theres lots to see, good museums and fine courtyard eating places to recharge accompanied by an unassuming local musician or three. Theres plenty of evidence of hurricane damage in the area and it will be a daunting task to repair so many fine old buildings many of which gently crumble. My favourite was the small square, Plazuela de la Bedoya, with simple houses and the fine Iglesia del Carmen, and some striking community art bronze sculptures of local people going about their daily lives. Pushing a cart, sitting reading the paper, or chatting on benches, if youre in luck the proud locals who modelled for the works will appear and talk about their very own sculptures with a huge smile. Not so much on the tourist map but a fine city worth a diversion.
In Central Cuba, between Bayamo and Santiago. Bicytaxis congregate in Plaza de los Trabajadores
The Victoria Quarter is, quite simply, probably the most beautiful shopping area in the whole of the United Kingdom. It is only small, but it crams almost one hundred stores into its stunning arcades and elegant King Edward Street frontage. The North's premier luxury shopping destination, the Victoria Quarter is home to designer boutiques from Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and Louis Vuitton alongside exclusive branches of stores like Arrogant Cat not found elsewhere outside of London, as well as jewellers, chocolatiers, popular high-end chains such as Reiss and All Saints, and famously, the first Harvey Nichols outside London. If the fantastic range of shops isn't enough to tempt you, the gorgeous architecture makes the Victoria Quarter unique. County Arcade is a sumptuous Victorian feast for the eyes in gilt and marble, while the airy atrium of Queen Victoria Arcade is home to the largest stained-glass ceiling in Europe. Immaculate shop fronts and striking window displays lend further elegance to the Quarter. Sheltered from the northern weather, you can indulge yourself year-round in indoor retail therapy without the soulless clone atmosphere of modern shopping malls. And there are a clutch of fantastic cafés located in the centre for when it all gets too much. It really is luxury retail heaven and makes a trip to Leeds a must for any shopper all by itself.
Victoria Quarter, between Briggate and Vicar Lane in Leeds City Centre. A ten minute walk from train and bus stations.
For stunning free views of Shinjuku's ultra modern business district, and most of Tokyo, head to the high speed lifts that whisk you up either of the two 240m towers of this cathedral like government building by architect Kenzo Tange (Olympic gymnasium, Fuji TV centre, catholic cathedral,and further afield, Hiroshima peace park museum) Best place to see the sun set, and marvel at the extravagance of this 157 billion yen City Hall. While in the area explore Shinjuku metro, the worlds busiest station, and the teeming bar district. For a little solitude visit Hanazono shrine or the beautiful central park, imperial gardens or nearby iris filled Meiji Jingu gardens and shrine.
Just west of JR Shinkuku, follow a subway if you can but when lost surface and head into the skyscrapers.
In the very centre of this fascinating and beautiful city of gardens, temples, shrines,markets, traditional geisha districts complete with public hot spring baths, and great food, is this stunning modern transparent art gallery. Designed by Japanese architects SANAA, it forms a huge circle of glass so that it irresistably draws you in and when inside blends with the world outside. The building and the enthusiasm of locals including hordes of school children and students makes a visit worthwhile and inside are subterranean and courtyard galleries full of visiting and permanent exhibitions of the highest order and diversity. Fascination is added by a swimming pool by Leandro Erlich which questions what you can see by having people walking under the water and a James Turrell room to gaze at the sky. The grounds around host sculptural works that add to the fun and surprises and the cafe serves immaculate food.
Centre of Kanazawa by the town hall. info at www.kanazawa21.jp/en/index.html
On a visit to Cairo, as well as the usual tourist places, take a trip to Heliopolis, a suburb to the north-east of the city. It was built in the early 20th Century by a Belgian and hence has some fantastic European-style architecture (and his own palace, which is a wonderful Taj Mahal-esque structure). Within the district is the centre of Heliopolis, El Korba, whose Bagdhad Street has some amazing colonnade type arches running along in front of the shops; you could almost be in Venice's St Mark's Square! (or somewhere similar..)
Helipolis has a large, wealthy Christian community of a range of different denominations, something you will notice by the proliferation of churches there. It has a nice feel to it with a number of cafes, bars and one of the British club's branches is here. One of the two British Council offices is also in Heliopolis which means there is a small-ish community of British teachers in the area too.
Pop up there and spend half a day especially if you're interested in architecture, churches and an alternative tourist experience. The Presidential Palace and a number of official government buildings are in Heliopolis as well, should you be interested in that.
Just mention Heliopolis (Arabic: Masr Gadida) to any taxi driver, they will know it. It should take about 20 mins from Downtown, much longer at busy times.
Jinnah Mausoleum is a famous landmark of Karachi.
The politician Muhammad Ali Jinnah is officially referred to in Pakistan as "Quaid-e-Azam" which means "The Great Leader".
His mausoleum was built between 1960 and 1970 by the Pakistani architect Yahya C. Merchant.
The mausoleum is an iconic symbol of Karachi and is situated in the heart of the city. It is made of white marble with curved Moorish arches. The cool inner sanctum reflects the green of a four-tiered crystal chandelier given by the people of China. The location is usually calm and tranquil which is significant considering how busy Karachi is. The glowing tomb can be seen for miles at night.
Official and military ceremonies take place here on special occasions, especially on 23 March, 14 August, 11 September, 25 December, 8 July and 30 July.
Located on Jamshed Road. It is a central location between Saddar, Gulshan-Iqbal and PECHS areas.
The Whitney Museum was designed by Marcel Breuer and contains a large collection of American art from the nineteenth century to the present day. Sometimes however it shows special exhibitions and that can restrict the range of work on display. This is a pity since many visitors to New York will want to see a representative selection of work from the Whitney's entire collection to gain an insight into the nature and range of American art, rather than concentrating on the work of select figures.
However the Whitney is well worth visiting especially if, in future, it makes a more generous selection of its main collections available than was on show this season. There is also a good bookshop.
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street. www.whitney.org Subway lines 5 or 6, at 77th St and walk towards Central Park.
If you join Friends of the Uffizi you get access to all state run museums in Florence and can go to the top of any queue. Museums include the Uffizi, Accademia, Bargello and San Marco but there is a longer list.
You can join in advance but it is easy to do when you arrive. Membership is for the calendar year and not for 12 months from payment but it is still value for money and encourages you to go to museums 'little and often'. Varied costs but it is 100 Euros for a family.
The office is opposite the main Uffizi entrance in the old post office building.
Villa consisting of four apartments, family run, with fantastic grounds and own swimming pool.
Very friendly English family who embraced Italy, the culture and language and renovated an old farm house in this small village.
The apartment we stayed in was very spacious and extremely well equipped, everything we needed and more was there. The surrounding grounds were perfect for our children to explore safely. There were hammocks for relaxing quietly while admiring the amazing views across the mountains, and a badminton net (for when you're feeling more energetic) and bikes.
The girls (aged eight, 11 and 12) spent most of holiday in the pool. Our son (aged five) helped Damien the owner pick, plant and water their many vegetables and fruit (hours of entertainment) and they didn't mind the guests helping themselves.
The apartments were full, but not overcrowded and there was a great mix of people. You could take a 10-minute stroll into town from the villa. Walk up into the centro historico for beautiful buildings and views. Stop for a coffee half way up and enjoy the mountain views while soaking up the sun. Take the children to the park, play crazy golf or tennis.
The nearest beach is only 45 minutes away. We had an amazing time and would definitely suggest you check it out.
Other towns nearby which are especially interesting include Riverside (winding streets, interesting home architecture), Oak Park (many Frank Lloyd Wright and other interesting homes), Evanston (home of Northwestern University) and the North Shore in general (take a drive up Sheridan Road after you do the Outer Drive northbound trip in Chicago).
The Hyde Park area (used to be an independent town a hundred or so years ago) is an urban village with the University of Chicago as a hub and, incidentally, near Obamaville. Especially see the Rockefeller Chapel, a lovely Gothic building with a magnificent organ and a bell tower that has free summer concerts. On their website you can check out events held there, too.
Hyde Park has a number of bookstores - the most interesting to me are the Seminary Coop Bookstore at 5757 South University (new books and other locations) and Powell & O’Gara’s, 1501 East 57th Street (used books to get lost in).
Chicago, my home town!
The highlights from my point of view, in no particular order:
Lake Michigan (including the Outer Drive and the many parks along it), ethnic foods and neighbourhoods, Hyde Park (yeah, yeah, we stole the name) and University of Chicago area, music of all kinds, architecture.
For many area and architecture tours, including the very popular Chicago River Cruise (seasonal, of course – brrrr!), and for architecture information, see the Chicago Architecture Foundation which has an office at 224 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s downtown (not technically in Chicago’s famous Loop which is defined by the elevated train tracks downtown). They are in the Santa Fe building; while in the downtown area see the Rookery (in both it and the Santa Fe building be sure to see the lobby areas inside), Monadnock Building, Carson Pirie, Scott Building.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation 'tour' pages will give you plenty of ideas for visits and their tours are high quality and reasonably priced.
Visit the bar on the penultimate floor of the Hancock Tower - there's no entry fee. You can have a beer and sandwich whilst enjoying the views, which in my opinion are better than those from Sears - and it's not too expensive either.
On the way out ladies must go and powder their noses for the most spectacular views ever from a skyscraper bathroom.
I cannot recommend the Caribbean city of Cartagena, on the north coast of Colombia, enough. I went for two weeks with my girlfriend and we never wanted to leave. Within the fortified old city are charming cobbled streets lined with immaculate Spanish colonial architecture, statues of fallen heroes and smiling people talking in the squares. Overhead will be baroque church steeples and domes, punctuated with colour spilling out from window flower boxes. There are superb restaurants offering fine seafood and other local specialities, a thriving, but not intimidating, nightlife and the full spectrum of accomodation, all enclosed within the walls. And the sun will be shining, but not so that you have to stay indoors, and advantage of the gentle Caribbean breeze.
Outside the old city are the white sands, green waters and palm trees the area is worshipped for. Take a boat trip to the offshore islands and see the island you'll both buy when you win the lotto! It is remarkably safe, and don't assume you will be queuing the entire time either - this is no Disneyland - you can have sweet little restaurant all to yourselves, or a park with a fountain, or a stroll atop the city wall, so romance is hard to avoid. However, if you feel like a film and a pizza, just grab a cab over to the new city and send an email home while you're at it. Definitely a winner - the most romantic place in the world.
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