This new centre has been set up on the new Oslo waterfront. The quality of the documentary movies - all nice and short - is excellent and the centre itself is a moving reminder of how we can each make a contribution to peace in this world.
The Albert Dock, the largest group of Grade 1 listed buildings in the UK, hosts the Beatles’ Story exhibition, an excellent Maritime Museum, the Liverpool Tate Gallery, shops, restaurants, and coffee bars, all in a picturesque and safe setting, close to the Mersey Pierhead, point of departure for the famous Mersey Ferries. It is a few minutes walk from the Royal Liver Buildings and the imposingly massive Liverpool Cathedral.
This is a very cheap (approx $0.25) and exciting tram service that starts just beyond the white viaduct arches of Lapa and winds its way up into the hills around the glorious Cristo, into the area known as Santa Teresa, and is the last remaining tram service in South America.
Jump on and buzz through the scenic backstreets as schoolchildren jump on and off for free in an excited frenzy. Its a great journey which takes about thirty minutes from bottom to top and shows you the very best of the old Rio. At the top you can take the walk back down via craft and antique shops, wonderful little eateries, museums and the occasional art exhibition.
Truly a magnificent mini trip to fill an afternoon away from the beaches, amongst the true and vibrant spirit of Rio, with the added bonus of some of the best views of the city.
Estação Carioca is found near the city centre opposite the Petrobras Building. It is a bit tough to find but persist and it will pay off.
This Italian restaurant serves fantastic pizzas and great entrecote steaks. Friendly service, with a family/local atmosphere.
Menus in English available.
5 av Prado, 13006 - Just by Place de Castellane;
Peter's is the ultimate American Dream; a village boy with no foreseeable future moves to the big city and makes it big with his own restaurant chain.
The restaurant features a mix of Tex-Mex and Chinese food, the best milkshakes on the Asian continent, a comfortable atmosphere and free wi-fi if you happen to be carrying your laptop.
The original Peter's:
117 Ke Hua Bei Lu;
tel: +86 028 85227965
12 Tong Zi Lin Dong Lu;
tel: +86 028 85180903
Liverpool is a vibrant city with a great deal of culture and history and a restored docklands area with much that is of interest to the visitor. For me, the outstanding feature is the Beatles’ Story, an animated reconstruction of the history of this iconic group from its beginnings, through the loss of two of its members, to the present day. Visitors are provided with a headset through which they can listen, on demand, to explanations, and in many cases recordings of the band members themselves, appropriate to each of the 50 or so sections of the exhibition. The average time from start to finish is an hour and a half but you could easily spend longer there, especially if you choose to browse in the shop at the end of the visit. I think it says much for this Museum that my 10 year-old son found it even more fun than Liverpool Football Club.
Quirky, rather old fashioned childrens museum devoted to the stories of Astrid Lindgren, including perhaps her best-known Pippi Longstocking books.
Even if you only spend a few days in the "Venice of the North", I would still advise you to get on a boat and go out to the beautiful archipelago surrounding Stockholm.
The closer islands in the archipelago, such as Waxholm, Finnhamn and Fjäderholmarna, are only an hour or two away and are nice places to wander around for a couple of hours.
It's a lovely way to spend a nice day or half-day out, and if you go during summer, the archipelago is a great place for a summer picnic and swimming - that's what the locals do.
You can catch boats from the ferry terminals at Slussen and Strömkajen, below the Grand Hotell. www.stockholmtown.com/templates/substartpage____2409.aspx?epslanguage=EN; www.waxholmsbolaget.se/
There are several beaches around Stockholm and the water is so clean that you can and should go for a swim in the summer. Solvik is located in the suburb of Bromma and is well worth the travel out of the city centre. It gets quite busy at the weekends but you can always find a spot. It is a proper sandy beach complete with two jetties, a cafe and a minuature golf course. My family always went here when I was a child and I still go in the summers.
T-Alvik then the Spårvagn to Smedslätten followed by a scenic 10-minute walk.
Skeppsholmen is a tiny island best reached by crossing Skeppsholmsbron, a bridge from the Blasieholmen district (where the Nationalmuseum is, which might be worth a visit - check what exhibitions are on). Skeppsholmen is good for a pleasant stroll, and to see the exhibits at the Moderna Museet, which is the Tate Modern of Stockholm. Skeppsholmen also is home to af Chapman, Sweden's most famous youth hostel, a huge ship that, with its masts rigged, is a famous Stockholm landmark.
Norrmalm isn't the most interesting or pretty area, but it's the main shopping district and good department stores such as NK, PUB and Åhlens are here, and so is the Central Station. There's a nice bar/brasserie at the top end of the main shopping street, Drottninggatan, called Grill.
Designtorget is a great design shop at the bottom of Sergels Torg, which is a big square near the central station. Kulturhuset – called 'the living room in the city' - is here, with interesting exhibitions/plays, nice café/restaurant with great views, and a good shop downstairs.
Another good cafe is Vetekatten, which is on Kungsgatan. Hötorget has a good outdoor market selling lots of nice things including handicraft. Kungsgatan is a long long street with lots of shops, and leads down to Stureplan which is a major meeting place. Kungsträdgården has many cafes and restaurants, and leads up to the Opera, the Royal Castle and the Parliament.
A few good bars/restaurants:
KGB Bar and Restaurant on Malmskillnadsgatan – nice friendly bar with classic Soviet theme.
Halv Trappa plus Gård on Lästmakargatan – good food, good tunes, good cocktails.
Operakällaren/Bakfickan in Karl XII’s Torg near Kungsträdgården – food in the main restaurant is very expensive, but Bakfickan is good value with excellent food.
Sophies Bar on Biblioteksgatan – usually a good nightspot for some good cocktails, but sometimes full of people with way too much money, which tends to affect the atmosphere.
Fasching on Kungsgatan is a great night out - it's a jazz club that's been around for ages, and has a great soul night on Saturdays if you're up for some dancin'.
If you're after Asian food, a good bet is to check Luntmakargatan, which runs parallel to Sveavägen, which is like a mini-Chinatown. There are a couple of good Korean and Japanese restaurants there.
Gamla Stan is the old town of Stockholm, with narrow cobbled little streets. Lots of medieval history and the Royal Castle, Storkyrkan (oldest church in town), and Stortorget (where the bloodbath of Stockholm took place in the 16th century. Check out the red brick building with white stones on one side of the square - the white stones denote how many people got their head chopped off. Nice!).
There are plenty of medieval cafes to head into for lunch or fika (morning or afternoon tea/coffee break) - sitting sipping hot chocolate in a medieval stone cellar complete with arches and stuff is exciting for most people. Chokladkoppen on Stortorget is always good, and so is Kaffegillet on Trångsund.
Västerlånggatan is the main drag, but sadly quite touristy these days. But if you're in the business of getting some reindeer slippers or the like, this is where to go. Österlånggatan is nicer, with little antiques shops and galleries. Next to Gamla Stan is Riddarholmen, which also has lots of history. The Parliament and the beautiful Riddarholmskyrkan church are located here.
Good places for food/drink:
Pontus in the Green House on Österlånggatan (good for lunch) - traditional Swedish cuisine but with an exotic twist.
Pontus by the Sea on Skeppsbrokajen (good for lunch) - see above.
Grill Ruby on Österlånggatan (lunch) - brasserie.
Källaren Movitz on Tyska Brinken – doesn’t look that special, but the restaurant downstairs is good for Swedish food.
Järnet Matsal & Bar on Österlånggatan is cosy and does good food.
Engelen/Kolingen on Kornhamnstorg - a nice old-school type of place where you're pretty much guaranteed to get a good night out.
Walk from Norrmalm along Drottninggatan towards the Houses of Parliament, or northwards from Slussen.
Södermalm (normally just Söder) - old working class area that has seen a revival in the last 10-15 years or so and is now oh so trendy. It's a very expensive area to live, but a good place for going out. The district commonly known as SoFo (south of Folkungagatan/east of Götgatan, two of the main roads in Söder) has many funky shops, good bars and nice restaurants, especially close to Nytorget which is a cute little square.
Folkhemmet on Renstiernas Gata is a nice bar/restaurant and generally the streets around Bondegatan and Skånegatan are filled with shops and places to go out. Götgatsbacken (leading up from Slussen) also has good cafes, bars and shops. A nice walk is to start at Mosebacke Torg and walk along the waterfront to Fjällgatan for spectacular views and a bit of cultural heritage.
Or turn the other way (i.e. westwards) and walk along Söder Mälarstrand and end up in Skinnarviksparken which has one of the highest points in Stockholm from where you can take some great touristy photos of the view.
Also, a must! Gondolen is a very posh restaurant at the top of Slussen, which is between Söder and Gamla Stan. You take the Katarinahissen lift up to the restaurant from Slussen, and the views are spectacular. The food is excellent but quite pricey, but I normally take people there for a drink just to admire the view. Vinbaren, which is downstairs from Gondolen is a good little place offering a more reasonably priced menu, especially for lunch. At the top bit (i.e. where Gondolen is) there is a place called Mosebacke (in Mosebacke Torg), which is a great club/hang-out place. Most Saturdays, there's a club there called Blacknuss which is really good. Kind of jazzy/funky. Great views as well if you sit outside. They also do jazz brunches on Sundays.
Kvarnen on Tjärhovsgatan is a classic old beerhall with good food, and has two good bars/clubs at the back and downstairs.
Other good places:
Pelikan on Blekingegatan – reasonably priced Scandinavian food.
Hannas Krog on Skånegatan – good lunch menu and good DJs after dark.
La Cuccaracha on Bondegatan is a good Spanish restaurant with good atmosphere.
WC Bar & Diner on Skånegatan – good food and good drinks. Gets very busy so get here early.
Street Restaurant by Hornstulls Strand (Hornstull tube) - bit of a trek, but worth it. Street itself is 'Stockholm's version of Camden Lock' so there's lots of fun things going on. It's just by the water which is nice and the food is good too.
South of Gamla Stan/Old Town, above the Slussen area, or take the tube to Medborgarplatsen.
On a sunny day, rent a bike (or inline skates) from the waterside hire shop by the bridge to the island of Djurgarden. Traffic is banned from the island at weekends, and you can ride through beautiful green spaces, just a stone's throw from the city centre.
By the bridge to Djurgarden.
An outdoor museum of Swedish traditional handicraft as well as a zoo where you can watch typical Scandinavian animals such as bears, lynx, wolves and elks. A great way to see them all is the guided feeding walk which starts every day at 14.00 by the wolverines. The Aquarium costs extra and houses exotic fish, snakes, spiders and other creepy crawlies. There is also a children's zoo of baby animals, and don't miss the bakery and glass-blowing cottage.
Djurgården, bus 44 or 47 from T-Centralen.
Earthwalkers is a fantastic, friendly, buzzing guesthouse. Run by a group of young Norwegians and employing brilliantly friendly, happy and professional Khmer staff, they have clean, comfortable rooms and great service as well as a welcoming and sociable bar and restaurant area. Tours to Tonle Sap, Angkor Wat and other spots can easily be organised, as well as onward travel - nothing is too much hassle.
One of the best things about staying at Earthwalkers is the chance to make a genuine difference in Siem Reap and further afield - Earthwalkers runs a fund dedicated to helping underprivileged Cambodians, and also co-ordinates voluntary work, as well as holding regular Apsara dancing shows by local children.
A great guided tour (about 90 minutes). It's especially good for any younger people totally fed up with All Those Big Museums. You are taken round parts of the Doge's Palace that are usually off limits (you must book in advance and preferably do so direct with the booking office to avoid possible unhappiness) and get to learn lots of wonderful facts about secret passages, the palace, Casanova and the power that was Venice. A real joy for all ages.
A small coastal medieval town 75km east of Palermo. It is easily accessible by car (1 hour) or a train runs along the coast (1.5 hours). Like most Italian town /cities, the old town has been well preserved and the cobbled, narrow streets, buildings dating back to 12th century and magnificent churches give this little town character. The restuarants are out of this world offering the local wines and regional food. Pizzerias are in abundance. I went in May and the weather was perfect during the day (25 degrees) but a little chilly in the evening. Coming from the northern climes I was able to swim in the sea although no Italians seemed to join in the fun. The summer months are hot. Visits to the Lipari Islands and Mount Etna make wonderful day trips.
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