A Chinese garden of the Ming Dynasty 'Scholar's Garden' style. It is the first full-sized classical Chinese garden outside of China. Located in Vancouver's Chinatown, it is tranquil and beautiful. Take a tour or experience a musical presentation here, then enjoy a meal in Chinatown.
578 Carrall St. (604) 662-3207 www.vancouverchinesegarden.com/index.html
When the noise, grime and mayhem that otherwise characterises Shanghai gets you down, head for this flower market. It's a refreshing change to wander around the aisles of this huge indoor bazaar that still retains a whiff of old-school charm about it, not to mention the scent of a multitude of exotic blooms shipped in from who knows where. And at festival periods, even Christmas, the upper floor is reborn as an all-singing all-dancing plastic tat wholesaler - just what you need for those last-minute decorations...
225 South Shanxi Rd, near Yongjia Rd. Look for the trail of floral debris and turn into the car park. Nearest metro - Shanxi Nan Lu (Line 1)
Ice cream cafe and art gallery. Marvellous organic ice cream from Devon. Run by lovely ex-pat Galina and Kirstin. Easy, friendly ambience in centre of Bohemian East Berlin. Art works change every month. Great to sit and chill out. B&B possible too, with English-speaking flat owner.
Zionskirchstrasse 75, Berlin 10119; Nearest metro: Senefelderplatz; Tel: (004930) 44038577
For the real American experience, I highly recommend going to watch a basketball game at Madison Square Garden. To feel like a New Yorker, go to a college game where there are typical Americans all around. I got the full atmosphere by eating a super American hot dog, tasty pretzel and a small (which to us is large!) coke! This really is the place to be and I really had a feel for the American lifestyle, free from tourists and full of life.
Madison Square Garden, 4 Penn Plaza, above 34th Street/Penn station. Tel: 212/465-6741
Visit this museum after Ellis Island and continue in the steps of the immigrants after finally making it onto American soil. The museum is an unrestored tenement building with authentic furnishings and the guided tour gives a fascinating glimpse of the life and hardships faced by the first immigrants. A real treasure of a place.
97 Orchard Street (Delancy Street) www.tenement.org/
It allows you unlimited access to museums and other attractions for a set number of days. Includes the fun fair - v good for all ages just off the metro - zoo, cable car, all the museums, palace, Imax etc. Go in August it's hot but there's nobody there - so no queues.
www.madridcard.com/en/Inicio.aspx We got ours in our hotel.
This is a collection of houses and buildings saved from various locations around Tokyo which in the UK would be classed as listed buildings. The buildings include pre-Meiji period farms houses, an old sento (bath house), izakaya (bar), photography studio and houses of past luminaries. If you want to capture a condensed image of what Tokyo looked like before and during its many traumas and incarnations this is a good place to start. (As is the Edo-Tokyo Museum proper at Ryukoku Station on the Sobu line).
Take the Chuo Line (Orange train) west out of the city from JR Tokyo or Shinjuku Stations and get off at JR Koganei Station. It's about a 15 minute walk from the north exit, walking north away from the station. When you reach the Tamagawajosui (Tamagawa Canal) you are almost at Koganei Park. The museum is in the park. Koganei Park is a pleasant enough place to pass time if you aren't in a major hurry.
The Link Bus provides a cheap way of getting around Auckland. It runs at least every 15 minutes on a circuit around the outskirts of the city and through the centre. It stops at most of the main central attractions (Sky Tower, Viaduct Harbour, Victoria Park Market, K Road, Auckland Museum, Newmarket Shopping, Parnell, Ponsonby and the Cathedral). If you're going to be hopping on and off, it's probably best to ask the driver for an AucklandPass ($9 - unlimited bus and North Shore ferries) or the flat fare is $1.30. All stops have real-time information to tell you when the next bus is due and there are automatic displays and announcements in the bus which list attractions at each stop. The bus operates in clockwise and anticlockwise directions and the driver will tell you if it's quicker to get to your destination using the bus in the other direction
Stops are clearly marked and the buses are painted silver. The website is www.stagecoach.co.nz/thelink/index.html
Devonport is on Auckland's North Shore and is well worth a visit if you don't have time to go to Rangitoto or Waiheke. As well as having a very pleasant main street with cafes (and a good fish and chip shop), there's a good beach and children's playground and there are walks up to the two extinct volcanoes behind the town which offer great views of Auckland and have historical interest provided by 19th century military defences. The ferry ticket also provides free use of the buses for the day.
Ferries to Devonport leave from the main ferry terminal on the waterfront near the Viaduct Harbour (Americas Cup Village area) and Britomart Transport Interchange. Ask for an AucklandPass, which is the same cost as a return but allows free use of Stagecoach buses too.
Watch the world go by and, if you have the courage, challenge for a game of chess. It is a chilled out park and people watching is the best pastime here. New Yorkers in a nutshell. After spending hours being nosey head down to John's Pizza on Bleeker Street (five minutes away).
When I went to NY I was visiting my partner and all his colleagues said this was the best pizza to be had. I enjoyed it (held to Sicily making the best pizzas but hey-ho) but definitely was part of the NY experience. Gets very busy so be prepared.
MacDougal Street and then a walk down Bleeker Street for dinner.
So it's where they filmed Harry Potter. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, Tom Tower and its bell are landmarks of the city. The vast Tom Quad opens out on a variety of other niches, including the college's very own art gallery and the smallest cathedral in Britain.
Christchurch, St Aldates
About as weird as it gets in Shanghai, and that's saying something. It’s basically a ghost train that passes under the Huangpu river and transports you from Puxi to Pudong. The walls of the tunnel blink with psychedelic neon lights and the air fills with strange noises; there’s even a bit that’s meant to be a volcano. It might not be quite worth the cover charge but it’s five minutes of utter silliness in an otherwise business-obsessed city.
Enter across the road from The Bund (Waitan) - nearest station Henan Zhong Lu (Metro Line 2)
Smack in the middle of Waitemata harbour, Rangitoto Island (not that silly casino-tower) is Auckland's real landmark. Black rock and shrubby vegetation cover a steep volcanic cone. It can be a hot and mildly strenuous walk to the top, but worth it. Rumoured to be dormant rather than extinct, but unlikely to erupt anytime soon. Hopefully.
This the place to come and feed yourself up on good old Romanian cooking. The tochitura - a traditional stew - is a treat. There's four of them altogether in the city - God knows how Mama copes with all that cooking.
It's a bit of a slog to get to but once your there it's a glimpse into how the people used to live. More a defensive walled citadel than a castle, it has an unfinished feel to it - it's still being restored - but that just adds to the ambience. The final bonus is the view. On one side is a vast open plain, while the other three look over wild Transylvanian hills licked by tongues of mist.
By bus from Brasov
The three main beaches on the west coast are made up of Bethells/Te Henga, Karekare and Piha. All beautiful and spectacular in their own right. Bethells is a black sand beach and a favourite for walking. Close by is a little inland, one of the regions best wetlands and a refuge for wildlife. Karekare is a rugged place with an immense landscape and booming surf. An amazing sight to behold on any day. Piha is a great place for activity. Surfing, boogie boarding and frisbee to name a few. Its a lovely place to picnic and there is a camping ground so you can stay overnight and catch the early surf. All three beaches are a must to visit for their beauty and closeness to the spirit of New Zealand.
Bethells/Te Henga - From Scenic Drive, Waitakere Road, Te Henga Road, Bethells Road. Karekare - From Scenic Drive, West Coast Road, Piha Road.
A fascinating look into Berlin's tumultuous recent history and its glorious past. The tour takes in all the major landmarks, but what makes it extra special are the superb guides - they are knowledgeable, approachable, friendly and full of interesting anecdotes. They take you off the beaten track, revealing much of what made Berlin such a vast metropolis. You visit hitler's bunker, the largest remaining stretch of the Wall that still stands, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate and the dizzying TV tower. You will never learn so much in 5 hours as you will by taking one of these tours. They are good value, perfectly paced and laden with enough facts to make up for the times you fell asleep during history lessons at school.
Their leaflets are dotted around all Hotel & Hostel lobbies in the City Centre. Just turn up at the meeting point at the correct time, pay around 10 euros and off you go.
This company takes you out into the bay to swim with dolphins, dropping you in their path. It's deep and cold but incredible. One tip: make as much noise and commotion as you can to keep them interested.
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