This is an old Roman fishing town that’s accessible by train from Marseilles. The station is at the top of a hill, and the walk down is superb – through a vineyard-lined road with views over the town and the sea. The town is very pleasant to wander around and is home to the wines which share its name. The best feature, however, lies in a boat trip around the bay; here you can see what are known as the Calanques. They are a series of mini fjords with rock formations of the most amazing shades and hues, set off by the blue of the sea and sky.
Take the coast road (GR98) east from Marseilles or the Marseilles – Toulon train
Out in the hills to the east of Marseille is the small village of La Treille. The village is featured in Marcel Pagnol’s stories of childhood. Of course, this won’t mean a thing if you’re not familiar with Pagnol, but if you are, visiting La Treille will bring back the wonderful stories and take you tantalisingly close to the countryside that he Pagnol roamed back in the early 1900s.
You can visit Pagnol’s grave in the tiny cemetery, see the village square and follow the path that leads out of the village and into the hills. You can only realistically reach La Treille by car unless you fancy a good day’s trekking to get there and back.
Head east out of Marseille on the Aubagne Road then watch for signposts
Though the Sultanhamet area will long remain the centre of Istanbul's tourist honey pot, nobody's insane enough to enjoy a week battling their way between the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and Taksim Square.
Escape the craziness by taking a boat to Princes’ Islands, a group of nine islands, an hour away from the city centre. These car-less islands where, yes, Princes were once exiled, offer the visitor secluded monasteries, decent walks, spectacular views and a weird wild west goes east ambience. At least they do out of season. In the summer, city folk flock to the islands in the same way that East Enders used to hit Epping.
Not that this changes the wholly delightful – and slightly European art house movie – experience of visiting the Princes’ Islands. The shabbily romantic face, of a compellingly multifaceted city.
Boats sail to the islands from just about every part of the city. So it's just a question of finding a ferry stop marked Adalar (which means islands in Turkish). On the European side, you can get there from the Eminönü ferry stops, just over the road from Sirkeci (the European) train station. If you're staying on Asian side you can go from Kadikoy.
Warburton is a small town about an hour’s drive north-east of Melbourne on the Warburton Highway, nestling at the base of the Great Dividing Range and overlooked by Mt Donna Buang.
Originally a honeymooner retreat in the 50s and 60s it was involved with the Sanitarium Health Food company after that. Sanitarium closed their factory and Warburton became to place to go to the craft and antique shops. The number of coffee shops and cafes also increased and today it is a great place for a stroll on a lazy weekend.
During winter, Mt Donna Buang is snowbound and a day trip to the snow is one for all the family.
Chances are, if you take a bus to Dalat, they'll be waiting for you when you get off. These guys, recommended in Lonely Planet amongst other places, are English-speaking tour guides with their own motorbikes, who will take you on a day tour of Dalat, or if you're feeling more adventurous, up the Ho Chi Minh Trail through the Central Highlands, to Hoi An or further afield.
Real professionals who really know their stuff. They can show you a side of Vietnam you might not be able to see otherwise.
Try to find the genuine Easy Riders, as there are many impersonators.
Suomenlinna is a major monument of military architecture. The construction of the sea fortress on the islands just off Helsinki began in the middle of the 18th century. When it was complete, its military shipyard was one of the biggest dry docks in the world and centres of know-how at that time. It was a military base until 1973 when it was turned over the public. Only accessible by ferry, it is now a living museum and about 1,000 people live on the islands.
Get out of town and visit Kutna Hora - the Cathedral and the Ossuary are really something else. Or take a trip East to Plzen and visit the brewery - it is surely the best place in the world to drink one of the best beers in the world - fresh as can be, and a pretty town center, too.
Hemingway, upon recieving his Nobel Prize, admitted that the lady should have won. Karen Blixen. Out of Africa.
Visit her home and grounds north of Copenhagen.
It's a lovely, personal museum in honour of a much-loved writer and personality.
Combine it with a trip to Louisiana and Kronborg (Hamlet's castle). They're all on the same rail line.
You've read the play, now see the castle! This was Hamlet's gaff and even though it's not the same castle it's still cool to go home and say you saw Hamlet's castle, isn't it? 200,000 people a year think so. A lovely day trip with the train along the north coast. Combine it with a visit to the world-renowned art gallery Louisiana.
Elsinore is Helsingør in Danish and it's a good 45 min. north of Copenhagen on the train. But the views are great - from the train and the castle.
These islands are an hour away from Cartagena. There is an open water aquarium, where you'll enjoy a dolphin show, sharks, giant turtles, and all kinds of tropical reef fauna. The islands are coral formations which have grown in size over hundreds of years, so just about anywhere you will find good Snorkling and Scuba Diving. Also, the Rosario's still waters make it attractive for water sking, canoing, swimming and wind surfing.
Vaux le Vicomte is a 17th century castle built by Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV's financial secretary, who was arrested and imprisoned after Louis XIV became jealous of the splendour of Vaux. Vaux then served as a template for Versailles.
The castle itself is quite small, with a few rooms to visit, but the beauty of Vaux is in its gardens "a la Francaise", designed by Andre Le Notre. They are absolutely breathtaking, and well worth the detour if you are in Paris. The history behind Vaux is also incredible (mainly Fouquet's demise following his construction of Vaux).
Vaux also hosts specular candle-lit evenings in the summer, when the castle and gardens are illuminated with over 2,000 candles.
To access Vaux, you take the train (Grandes Lignes) from Gare de Lyon to Melun (journey 25min) or the RER D from Le Chatelet to Melun. From there, there is a Chateaubus that can take you to Vaux. Please check the website for details of openings, etc.
Please note that Vaux is not very accessible to people in wheel chairs (mainly with regards to the Castle itself).
A medium-sized wetland reserve right next to Barcelona El Prat Airport. Hundreds of birds and a nice beach too (if you don't mind the sound/sight of jets passing overhead about every 2 minutes!).
Catch the 95 bus from Ronda de la Universitat, just off Placa de Catalunya, The 95 runs every 20-30 minutes. Ask for tickets for the El Camping del Toro (Brava) stop - about 20 minutes SW out of the city centre. You end up by a Repsol petrol station on the wrong side of the busy autovia. Best to use the underpass about 100m up the road, even though it’s better suited to hedgehogs than humans. When you emerge the entrance lane to the reserve is fairly obvious, about 50 metres back toward the city.
This ski resort is easily daytrippable from Tokyo - by regular shinkansen (bullet train) it takes barely more than an hour to get there and the train station is adjacent to the cable car and equipment shop. It's around £60 for return travel and lift pass (combined ticket), but there is a super range of runs and reliable snow. You can hire absolutely everything you need there at reasonable rates and it's so well-organised that this makes a good value day out of town. A word of warning though - most Japanese snowboard, and if like me you ski, you my feel distinctly un-cool!
IF you are in Tokyo and it is a bright sunny day ... ditch your plans and get an ODAKYU line Hakone Free Pass from Shinjuku Station (Cost 3,400-5,000 Yen depending on day of travel and duration of pass). This will pay for your train to Odawara then train a beautiful zig-zag ride through gorgeous mountains and trees up to Gora, where you get on the cable car (known as a ropeway in Japan) ... see the sulphur springs and the gorgeous view of Mt Fuji, which appears from out of nowhere in awesome symmetrical beauty...
Go down to Lake Ashino and either take a bus to your choice of four ONSEN areas or back to Odawara and Tokyo OR take a tacky Pirate ship across the lake. If Fuji-san is in view ... it may be worth the Pirate ship experience for the views.
For the truly luxury oriented, stay at a traditional Ryokan for a night to enjoy the ONSEN and JAPANESE FOOD experience. It will cost around 15,000 yen each ... but it is truly worth it. Remember the Free pass will pay for everything including the cable car, funicular and buses. It is really good value for money. Family passes are also available.
IF you have time, get of at the stop BEFORE GORA and visit the Hakone Outdoor Sculture Museum.
ODAKYU HAKONE FREE PASS from SHINJUKU ST, TOKYO OR ODAWARA ST. (SHINKANSES runs to ODAWARA for JR PASS holders)
MAPS are available from there.
1. English speaking Ryokan
Senkei Ryokan and Hotel HAKONE YUOMOTO
PLEASE REMEMBER TO TIP YOUR MAID IN THE RYOKAN....WE DIDNT REALISE...VERY EMBARRASSING.
2. CHEAPER Minshiku, especially for foriegners with private outside and inside onsen for family or couple use.
FUJI HAKONE GUEST HOUSE, SENGOKUHARA
If you have an afternoon to spare, why not take a walk down to the historic village of Guapulo.
Take a taxi to the Camino de Orellana, just next to the Hotel Quito - five minutes from the Mariscal.
At the top of the winding round down to the village you will find a small bar, Mirador de Guapulo, where you can enjoy a light lunch with typical Ecuadorean platters, whilst looking out over the fabulous view of Guapulo and its historic church.
From here you can either follow the cobbled street down the hill or take the short cut through the small park in front of the bar. Wear good shoes as the road is steep. On the way down you will see a range of interesting old buildings.
The area has a bohemian atmosphere and is home to many artists. At the bottom sits the beautiful Sancturia de Guapulo, Quito's oldest colonial church, facing onto a small square. In front of the church is a statue of Fransisco de Orellana, the Conquistador who sailed the length of the Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean in 1542. There is a small taxi rank opposite the church, where you can get a ride back up to the city.
Taxi to Hotel Quito and then by foot.
An absolutely wonderful natural park just outside Madrid, it is a mountain river which falls in gentle cascades to form pools, some deep enough to swim in. In the summer it is a marvellous place to escape the heat of the city, but go early, it fills up fast.
From Madrid take the M607 to Manzanares el Real (about half an hour) and La Pedriza is just past the village.
Tuck into the simple, yet scrummy selection of dishes on offer on Pollo de Alcalá's menu which is printed on an enormous piece of tarpaulin, and hangs from the red-brick wall of this huge, old, converted mechanics’ workshop located on the edge of the historic centre of Alcalá de Henares.
Roast chicken cooked with herbs and apples, 'Sascha's' prize-winning, mouth-watering mini omelettes (watch them being prepared), crisp green salads with a tasty vinegarette (a nice change from the usual do-it-yourself oil and vinegar option), chicken kidney kebabs, potato croquettes and bowls of chips. Wash it all down with a jug of beer or wine and be pleasantly surprised when the bill comes.
Vía Complutense, 32, Alcalá de Henares
Tel: 91 881 30 70
Fax: 91 880 73 00
Open: Tues-Thurs 1pm-12am / Fri-Sun 1pm-1am
Wheelchair friendly / Cards accepted
Alcalá de Henares train station on Cercanías line C1/C3/C7A from Chamartín/Nuevos Ministerios/Recoletas/Atocha
To break up a holiday in Marrakech, why not hire a car, drive out of the city, and brave the twisty tight passes that snake across the Atlas Mountains to Ouarzazate.
The terrain changes from lush rolling hills, to barren, rugged and snow-topped (depending on the season) mountains, with little communities nestled in the sheltered side of the mountains.
After four hours, you end up on the edge of the Sahara, in Ouarzazate, a city used in movies from Lawrence of Arabia to Star Wars.
If driving back the same day, remember to leave in time to get back across the mountains before dark. The unlit roads and crazy lorry drivers make it a death trap at night.
A botanic garden, naturally, but it has thousands of plants all native to South Africa. It takes all day, but there is a nice eatery there too, as well as a bookshop. And from the back you can climb the old track up Table Mountain.
A bus goes from the bus station in the middle of the town, but check times. Journey is under 30 mins. The gardens are inland from the town centre.
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