Get a boat from central Stockholm out to the island of Vaxholm (about an hour away). Vaxholm has cafés, shops, and an old fort museum that you can go and visit. It's a great day trip for a sunny day. You get to see a lot of Stockholm from the water on your way out.
Waxholmsbolaget also runs boats to loads of other islands - their website has good English pages telling you about them.
Malacca is a historic Malaysian town with a less sanitised atmosphere than Singapore. You can see it in a day on a fully escorted coach trip run by RMG Tours. Considering the distance, you get a reasonable flavour of the place as well as an excellent hotel lunch, for a very good price.
The same company do a tour to Kukup but this is comparatively disappointing, with three stops en route and inadequate time at the destination. They offer other tours within Singapore itself, which are less worthwhile as the public transport system is so good and taxis plentiful and cheap.
RMG's address is 109C Amoy Street, Singapore 069929. It has booking desks in the Orchard Road Visitors' Centre and various hotels, or see the website at www.rmgtours.com
Hoboken is a mile square city best known, perhaps, as Frank Sinatra's birthplace. It also disputes Cooperstown, NY as being the birthplace of modern baseball. It is an eclectic, thriving community located directly on the Hudson River across from Manhattan, sporting amazing views from one of three riverfront parks.
The main street - Washington Street, hosts trendy and traditional cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops -a pleasing blend of the "old time" Italian and German Hoboken, and the gentrified new Hoboken.
Hudson Street, just two blocks from the river, is lined with elegant brownstones and mansions that once belonged to the rich and famous of NYC who sailed to Hoboken for a days' respite.
One can get Hoboken from NYC via the PATH train (subway from NYC to New Jersey), at Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, 9th, 14th, 23rd and 33rd streets.
A $2.30 bus ride (gate 205) from Port Authority Bus Terminal will take you to Washington Street, the main drag, and the 38th street and pier 11 ferries will give you a lovely ride across the Hudson River in a matter of minutes.
If you are staying at a hotel in LA they can organise for one of the many bus companies running shopping trips to Mexico to come and take you for the day. It's a long day out for the return trip to Tijuana, Mexico.
Varies but allow USD$40-$50 return
Tijuana is a paradise for bargain shoppers! Browse for leather goods, clothing, jewellery, pottery & more.
Note - a multiple-entry visa and passport are required for non-U.S. or non-Canadian citizens.
Tijuana Mexico - south of the border
Theme park of extreme proportions that is well worth the price ($59). It's a day trip with loads of events and the famous train ride around the film lot.
On their website they actually write this:
"Located conveniently in Los Angeles, CA." Hilarious.
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608.
If you want to visit a truly impressive place which is usually crowd-free then get along to the ancient cave and rock temple at Pahiyangala.
Famous throughout Sri Lanka, Pahiyangala attracts Buddhists from all over Sri Lanka on Poya Day but is over-looked by the most of the guide books so the rest of the time you might well have the place to yourself. In addition to the pre-historic excavations and rather eclectic collection of relics there is a training centre for Buddhist monks and temple complex.
A site of special scientific and archaeological interest, complete with massive statue of a reclining Lord Buddha and surrounded by some of the finest countryside that Sri Lanka has to offer Pahiyangala is the prefect daytrip. There is no fixed entrance fee but a donation is expected, particularly if you are escorted around the site.
There is a flight of rather uneven stairs so take good shoes (which you will need to remove when entering the temple compound at the top).
Pahiyangala is near Bulatsinhala and easily accessible from Colombo and all other west coast tourist resorts. You can get there by three-wheeler or bus via Matugama or Horana or ask your hotel to arrange a car.
The hill temple at Pimbura is not a particularly impressive structure, more a ramshackle collection of shrines and associated outbuildings spread out on the top of a ridge. In fact the nearer you get to the temple, the more you feel like you are in Nepal rather than Sri Lanka, but the setting, the atmosphere and the fact that you are almost certainly the only visitor makes up for any shortfall in the architecture. You need to explore this place and just when you think you have seen it all there is yet another path to something else.
The views from the top are magnificent, which means it is quite a climb (but I am fat and 40 and I made it ok) so you will need good shoes and plenty of water and do not go too late in the day, the track is steep, rocky and unlit. For the naturalists amongst you there are birds, bats and even monkeys. There is only one monk in residence, he will be surprised to see you and will no doubt welcome your generous donation.
You can take the train from Colombo to Aluthgama and then take the bus to Agalawatta via Matugama. From Agalawatta pick up the Horana bus or a three wheeler (approx Rs150). There is only one road worthy of the name running through Pimbura, the track to the temple leads off to the left (if you are travelling north) just past the district hospital, ask anyone. There is an alternative route up and down the hill so you can make a round trip. There is another temple in Pimbura (which is not on a hill).
On the face of it there is not much to draw tourists into Bulatsinhala, I've been there dozens of times and not once seen another white face, for me that is the main attraction, it's just regular small town Sri Lanka with friendly locals and no touts.
Market day is Sunday and the town gets busy but during the week it can be an almost sleepy place, excellent for tout free shopping. Local shops and small cafes have most things you'll want, there is also a pharmacy, clinic, post office and bank (no ATM). The bustling city of Horana, less than an hour away by local bus, has everything else you might need.
Near Bulatsinhala is the impressive rock temple and Buddhist seminary at Pahiyangala. Famous in Sri Lanka, Pahiyangala draws Buddhists by the bus load on Poya Day but is over looked by the guide books so you will have it largely to yourself the rest of the time. There is no fixed entry charge but your donation will be appreciated
Pick up the Horana bus at Panadura which is easily reached by bus and train from Colombo or take the bus via Matugama if you're coming from Bentota or Beruwala. At Horana or Matugama you can get direct and frequent buses to Bulatsinhala.
In August 2006 I was traveling from Rakwana to Aluthgama when I realised that I wouldn’t make the coast by night fall. My friend Lahiru lives in the Bulatsinhala area and he introduced me to the Field View Inn.
The rooms at the Field View Inn are clean and comfortable, they have attached shower room, fan and mosquito net (which I didn’t need).
Good food and drink is available in the large bar-restaurant up to 11pm. We had an excellent dinner of fried rice, with several cool lagers served by the friendly but incessantly polite staff. Next morning coffee was brought to our room and we took a walk through the friendly little town of Bulatsinhala before breakfast. The final bill came as a pleasant surprise, I couldn’t really ask for more.
This is not a tourist area, I was the only foreigner staying at the hotel, the other customers in the bar were all Sinhalese. However the decor suggests it might occasionally be busy with local wedding parties so it might be as well to telephone ahead and reserve your room. Tel: 034-2283021
From Colombo, it's about an hour drive to Horana where you can pick up direct and frequent buses to Bulatsinhala. Alternatively you can take a bus from Aluthgama to Matugama and pick up the Bulatsinhala bus there.
If you’re at all into impressionism or Monet in particular, then this is an essential day trip. The house is restored, along with original furniture and décor and you can look around most of it – the kitchen is a delight. But it’s the water garden (or Japanese garden as it’s often called) that steals the show. Here you can imagine Monet creating his lily canvasses among the huge, draping willows that surround the ponds. The village has other places of interest, not least the churchyard where the artist is buried, and lies in an attractive rural corner of Normandy.
Fondation Claude Monet, rue Claude Monet 27620 Giverny. Giverny village is 1.5 hours drive north-east of Paris. Guided tours available from the city;
Open: Daily except Mondays, 9.30am to 6pm, from April 1 to November 1;
Bay of the Descending Dragon ... do not miss out on the opportunity to visit Ha Long Bay, it is incredible.
Your hotel can put you in contact with local tour operators. (I think it was less than £10 per person). Price includes transport (minivan), boat and lunch.
It's about 2 -3 hours drive from Hanoi. www.vietscape.com/travel/halong/
Cádiz is reowned throughout Andalucía for it's long sandy beach and historic sites - most notably the Cathedral, Roman amphitheatre and the Cárcel Real (Royal Prison). All of these sites can easily be seen in 1-2 hours so you can spend the rest of the day at the beach, making Cádiz a worthwhile daytrip for families with children.
Cádiz is 125km (77 miles) south of Seville. Trains leave almost every hour from Santa Justa train station. Journey is 1 hour;
There are also regular buses from the main bus station in Plaza de Armas; www.andalucia.com/travel/bus/home.htm
A Gray Line bus tour, this allows you to spend a day away from the city in quaint and quiet Cape Cod. You get to stop at a great seafood restaurant and spend some time in Hyannis, where I recommend the crazy golf!
Another good day out is to catch the train to Salem to see all the tacky witch museums. It's hilarious how proud they are that they executed lots of innocent girls.
Carmona is a beautifully located town founded by the Carthaginians and later made into a vital political and economic centre of the Roman and Moorish empires, giving it a glorious Roman necropolis with tombs, two gateways (Puerta de Sevilla and Puerta de Córdoba), a 15 century church (San Pedro) and an awe-inspiring Gothic Mudéjar-style church (San Felipe). There are numerous other Gothic churches, noble mansions and houses tucked away in the streets and squares of the old town, so just get lost in it all. To appreciate Carmona fully go up to the castle (now a parador) which looms over the town.
Carmona is 20 miles east of Seville, just off the motorway to Córdoba. Buses leave from Seville's Prado de Sebastian bus station (just across from Murillo Gardens) and the journey takes 1 hour.
Get out of Shanghai for a change of scene. Suzhou is a breath of fresh air from the high-energy city. An overnight stay is best as it gives you time to see parts of the old city as Marco Polo saw it... such as Ping Jiang Lu (parallel and east of the main North-South Lin Dun Lu) and at least one of the famous gardens (one garden is enough).
From the Railway Station, take a taxi from the taxi rank to the Kai Lai Da Ju Dian (Chinese for Gloria Hotel) on Gan Jiang Lu near Lin Dun Lu (10 yuan), which is a good base to catch your breath. The south end of Ping Jiang Lu is almost directly opposite the west side of the hotel; cross Gan Jiang Lu and walk north up Ping Jiang Lu alongside the canal to the second bridge where you will see the Ping Jiang Lodge, a very nicely preserved local-style inn where you can stay in historic surroundings for less than US$100 (I know - not so cheap). If you continue north on Ping Jiang Lu to the 5th bridge and turn right for 20m, you will see an equally ancient and interesting Tea House that’s well worth the visit.
If you want a cheap clean room, go over to Lin Dun Lu and walk north 500m to the China Mobile 'M-Zone' store - you will find a small hotel on the other side of the street in the small east-west side street (next to the hair salon on the corner) where you can get a room for US$30. Near here you can find Harry's Bar (150m south on Lin Dun - West side) where English speaking staff can help you! Also a great place to return to in the evening for music and good bar conversation with local expats.
Fast trains (train number beginning with 'T') run from Shanghai railway Station to Suzhou frequently and take from 40 to 50 minutes;
If you find yourselves in Baracoa in eastern Cuba it’s worth making a day trip to the fishing village of Boca de Miel. Catch a boat across the river to the village where, for a few pesos, a local guide will take you up to El Balcón, a series of narrow caves that run the length of the cliff face. The journey can be a little hairy, especially when you find yourself 30 metres above the palm trees with only a stalactite for support, but the views across the ocean are breathtaking. Finish your journey by cooling off in a subterranean pool – just remember to take a torch.
Like Rome, Bristol lies on seven hills. Despite this, cycling remains the best way to get about. The city can get congested and the public transport system is in the hands of an unresponsive privately owned monopoly. The Bristol - Bath cycle path is a great 13 mile traffic-free ride that takes you along the River Avon and past a number of decent pubs.
Get out of the city and head for the not too distant beaches of Cornwall, North Devon or the Gower in South Wales. Alternatively, Bath and its newly restored spa waters is only a short ride on the train.
Bath, Cornwall, South Wales, Devon.
The Vinales valley is fantastically scenic, with a flat valley bottom and weirdly shaped domed mountains rising sheer out of it. Very atmospheric when we were there in August, with mists and thunderstorms, and it's a completely different Cuba to the one you see in Havana. There are several hotels/B&Bs in Vinales village, and you can also hire scooters.
You can drive out to the Santo Tomas caverns in under an hour for a guided tour - well worth it, with 45 km of galleries, a bit of rope climbing is required - and you can even get to a beach at Cayo Jutia.
The roads are very quiet and in reasonable repair, and you can't get lost as the locals always point you in the right direction!
The nearest large town is Pinar del Rio, about two hours to the west of Havana.
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