Just off the coast of the new European 'capital of culture' of Turku in south-west Finland, the island of Ruissalo is not to be missed if you are visiting that part of the country. A small but lush, green island in the Gulf of Finland, one of its main attractions is the spacious campsite at Saaronniemi, the farthest end of the island.
However, if you're just coming to the island for a day trip, there's lots more to do! The island has fantastic scenery, from beautiful plant life to the elegant Villa Saaro. This large late-19th century house is home to a quaint little cafe, perfect for snacks such as traditional pulla pastries and Finnish fish dishes, close to the island's pebbly beach and mild waters which, although Finland is not known for its beaches, beats many of the tropical beaches I have visited.
Overall, I think Ruissalo Island is a great off-the-beaten-track destination for all the family. I thoroughly recommend it to you and, if you do go there, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Saaronniemi, 20100 Turku
+358 (0)2 262 5100
Google map: bit.ly/poIWQa
Cafe Villa Saaro
Tel: +358 (0)2 262 5102
Bus number 8 goes to Ruissalo from the central marketplace in Turku.
Brockwell Lido has been a vital part of Brockwell Park life since 1937.
The Art Deco Grade II listed building was recently renovated, extended and transformed and now offers fantastic health and fitness facilities all year round.
The Lido is managed in partnership with Fusion, a registered charity, who also run Camberwell's freshly-renovated baths.
Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PA
+44 207 274 3088
Open Mon-Fri 06.30-22.00, Sat 07.30-21.30, Sun 07.30-21.00
Buses 3, 133, 159
* Lucy is our Been there local for London. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/london-local-lucy-mallows.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/LucyRM.jsp
Also known as “The Ex”, Canada’s largest fair takes place this year from August 19th to
September 5th at the Exhibition grounds. This is a bittersweet time of year for most Torontonians, who are sad the summer is drawing to a close but excited to attend this annual tradition which wraps up on Labour Day weekend.
The grounds are on a 192-acre site, and with such a variety of entertainment and events to
choose from, there really is something for everyone. Besides the large carnival midway with rides, games and food, there is also a smaller children’s midway. Some of this year’s events include aerial acrobatics and ice skating, a human cannonball, a sand sculpting competition, daily Mardi-Gras parades, hypnotists, music concerts and garden shows. The international air show takes place on the last three days of the fair.
Animal lovers can watch horse shows and competitions, as well as dog and cat shows. There is also a working farm, which gives city kids an idea of what it’s like to live on a farm. Animals range from the common cow to the exotic alpaca.
The casino has 84 gaming tables including Blackjack and Texas Hold’em Poker area with 24 tables.
The Ex is a shopper’s mecca, with over five shopping pavilions to choose from featuring
Canadian arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry and leather goods, furniture, appliances and home décor, international handicrafts, a warehouse outlet with specially discounted products from major Canadian retailers, and an outdoor market.
And it wouldn’t be a carnival without fast food. Besides the usual carnival fare of candy apples, cotton candy and pizza, the Food Building includes artery-clogging food like deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, deep fried coca cola, deep fried butter, and for the first time this year, the donut cheeseburger: a ground beef patty with cheese sandwiched between two glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Getting here: There are several ways to get to the CNE via public transportation: from Union subway station, take the 509 Streetcar westbound; from Bathurst subway station, take the 511 streetcar; and from Dufferin subway station, take the 29 Dufferin bus southbound.
210 Princes' Boulevard, Toronto, ON M6K 3C3, Canada
+1 416 393 6300
Google map: bit.ly/mXDeqt
* Giulia is our Been there local for Toronto. You can see her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/places/canada/toronto/index.jsp
It's the strangest place I've ever been! No maps, just clues on how to get round and random stuff such as a giant mouse, a devil's cave, urinals with pictures of beauties with magnifying glasses, and a mouth you walk through only to come out of its bottom!
Kids love it, adults will love its surreality.
Skye is renowned for its wacky geology, and the northern peninsula of Trotternish boasts an array of bewildering natural weirdness; from a massive rock needle to an enchanting 'Faerie Glen'. The most bizarre place, however, must be inside the mind of the eccentric curator of this one-roomed 'exhibition' tucked away on the peninsula's west coast. Upon entering, the first impression is of nothing more than a collection of junk recovered from the beach, but a closer look reveals a surreal and often very humorous story or proverb attached to each artifact ("Life is like the wind- it's not there when there isn't any" is a personal favourite.)
Just outside of the village of Kilmuir on the A885 road north-west of Portree. The exhibition is signposted, but the road itself has no name (towards Bornesketaig on some maps). The exhibition is in a green-roofed shack about half a mile down the road towards the small bay.
Google map: bit.ly/qtW7ab
Many people whizz through the borderlands in their haste to get to “Scotland proper” – up north – Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Highlands, lochs and glens. However, if you are travelling on the A697 I guarantee you won’t regret taking a slight detour, a few miles south of Coldstream, to visit this small, imaginative and eccentric sculpture garden.
In the quiet village of Branxton you can come face to face with Lawrence of Arabia on his camel and Winston Churchill with his cigar as well as all the wild animals you could ever hope to meet in one garden - giraffes, wild boar and penguins to name but a few. There are some fantastic teeth on display – (check out the shark) – I think there must have been some deal going on with a local dentist! Created in the 60s and 70s, by John Fairnington to entertain his son Edwin who had cerebral palsy, each life size statue is full of character and very endearing and I’m convinced you will leave the garden with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
The Kinema is a traditional 1920s cinema showing all the latest films. It is a fantastic place with intermissions, old-fashioned paper cinema tickets, a compton organ (that plays during the interval!) and a fantastic sweetie counter.
Only in the UK could The World Worm Charming Championships be held. A quirky afternoon out, with great excitement when the world record was beat for the heaviest worm found. You would never guess such fun could be had from a 3m x 3m plot of grass.
The National Trust owned home of the eccentric Edwardian inventor Otto Overbeck, in Salcombe, Devon. Find the hidden room full of dolls and listen to the "polyphon" (a giant Victorian music box). Best of all, see Otto's invention, the "rejuvinator", designed to renew youth through electric shocks. This quirky place (kids can search for Fred the friendly ghost) is in a beautiful location, on the South West Coastal Path (Prawle Point, three miles walk away, is breathtaking) looking down on Salcombe and its bay. Take time to explore the house's exotic gardens, and to have a well earned drink in Salcombe itself, a charming little port.
This place is a hidden gem, surely it hasn't changed in 30 years and that's not a criticism. It's what the British do well, a whimsical place where clearly a gnome addict has decided to welcome us into their world by establishing the country's only Gnome Museum. Upon entering the garden you can choose a gnome hat, various colours are available, looking like a loon is positively encouraged. Gnomes are clearly the main draw to this place but seeing them in their various well thought out and executed scenes will bring a smile to your face. You will be amazed - yes, amazed - at the various sizes gnomes come in. I was. Great secret pathways open up for children to explore and there is a fantastic cafe offering Devon cream teas - what's not to like?
A deep, bell-shaped, man-made chalk cave beneath the streets of Royston, believed to date from the 13th Century. It was deliberately sealed and forgotten until its accidental re-discovery. Its long concealment may have a lot to do with the bizarre Christian and pre-Christian imagery carved into the chalk walls - Sheela-na-gigs and Saint Catherine, the Holy Family (or are they?), knights, martyrs, magical creatures. They form a sort of frenzied panorama, their stories linked in ways that modern eyes can no longer see. The cave itself has sinister dells and niches and platforms. Royston was a town of the Knights Templar - it is also the place where Ermine Street and the Icknield Way intersect.
The Toronto Islands are a chain of small islands, located a mere 15-minutes ferry ride from the city centre.
I love taking the ferry over on a hot summer day; the wind blowing in my face; the gentle rocking motion of the waves, the sounds of the birds, and the view of the islands in the distance, all offer a wonderful respite form the city. The islands are a great getaway.
The main island is home to the Centreville Amusement Park and a petting zoo. With over 600 acres of parkland, there are various rides and attractions for families with children. Also on Centre Island is the Franklin Children’s Garden, based on stories by Franklin the Turtle, it is an interactive garden where kids can participate in gardening and storytelling.
I like to head over to Ward’s and Algonquin Islands, where there are about 250 residential homes, all very different from each other. From the Victorian to the eclectic, with sizes ranging from estates to toolsheds, some of the homes are conservative, while others boast pink shutters with purple trim, brightly coloured doors, one even has flowers sprouting out of a toilet bowl on the front lawn.
And there’s Hanlan’s Point Beach, well-known to nudists in Toronto, where clothing is optional.
All of these islands are connected to the mainland by several ferry services.
Once on the islands, you can rent a bicycle or a canoe, take a leisurely walk through the
gardens, or even have a picnic.
The CN Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Western hemisphere, standing at 1,815 feet.
This communications and observation tower, located in downtown Toronto, is a familiar icon of the city’s skyline. Its name refers to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower.
In 1995, the CN Tower was declared one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Taking the glass floor paneled elevator up to one of the observation decks is an exciting
experience in itself. It takes about 1 minute to reach the Look Out Level at 1,135 feet.
Other observation levels include the Glass Floor Level, at about 1,120 feet, which allows you to see straight down to street level. Brave children can sometimes be seen jumping on the glass floor, while those with less nerve remain on the sidelines. Also on this level is the Outdoor Observation Deck, where you can get a bird’s eye view of the city. The Sky Pod level is one of the world's highest public observation galleries, at an elevation of 1,465 feet. In June 2007, the tower installed 1,330 super-bright LED lights inside the elevator shafts, which shoot upwards to light the tower from dusk until 2am. The tower changes its lighting scheme on holidays and to commemorate major events.
If you want to be pushed to your limits, literally, the CN Tower opened EdgeWalk on August 1, 2011, where thrill-seekers attached to a safety harness can walk full circle and hands-free around the 5-foot ledge encircling the main pod of the tower, at 1,168 feet.
The Harbourfront Centre is a non-profit cultural organization that hosts over 4,000 events each year relating to literature, music, film, craft fairs, theatre and dance performances for adults and children. The 10-acre site houses galleries, performance spaces, craft studios, gardens, and a long stretch of boardwalk along the water’s edge where you can watch busker performances or shop at their International Market place. Free outdoor concerts are held every weekend throughout the summer and in winter there is a free open-air ice rink. Harbourfront Centre is located in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront. All events and programs are offered at reasonable prices and most are completely free of charge. A series of large, cultural festivals are held every weekend in the summer; some of them are the Fortune Cooking Food Festival, August 12 – 14, the Hot & Spicy Food Festival, September 2 – 5, the Vegetarian Food Fair, September 10 – 11, and the Caribbean Tales Film Festival, September 1 – 17.
Seasonal events include the Ice Canoe Race in late January, Celebrating Black History Month in February, a jazz festival in June, Canada Day celebrations in July, the Authors' Festival and Harvest Festival in October, and Mexican Day of the Dead in November.
The Toronto Music Garden, designed in association with Yo-Yo Ma, offers free concerts most Thursdays at 7pm and Sundays at 4pm. The Garden design was inspired by the first suite of Johan Sebastian Bach's Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, and each movement corresponds to a different section of the Garden.
New this year, Harbourfront hosts an all-ages dance party with live bands, social dance clubs, DJs and instructors, where every Thursday night you can learn about dance trends from around the world.
Castlefield in Manchester is a great starting point for waterside walks in Manchester. It’s across the road from Manchester Science and Industry Museum, an exciting place to visit even before you start walking! Follow the Bridgewater Canal south west as far as Old Trafford (where a stadium tour is available), and then walk across to the Manchester Ship Canal. On the Trafford side there is the Imperial War Museum, or cross the footbridge to visit the Lowry Gallery and theatre complex (and outlet shopping mall). If you don’t want to walk back, you can always take the tram. In the other direction from Castlefield, follow the Rochdale Canal to walk under central Manchester’s busiest streets whilst watching barges negotiate locks. There is plenty of choice for refreshment with the bars and restaurants at Deansgate Locks and along Canal Street. At Piccadilly Basin you can either return to Castlefield by walking through the city centre, visiting museums, art galleries (or shops) along the way – or continue walking along the towpaths of either the Rochdale Canal or the Manchester and Ashton Under Lyne Canal. The latter leads to Manchester’s other football stadium.
Museum of Science and Industry:
Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4FP
+44(0)161 832 2244
Google map: bit.ly/qiM1Hu
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ
+44(0)843 208 6000
Google map: bit.ly/oTOCEe
Imperial War Museum North
The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ
+ 44 (0) 161 836 4000
Google map: bit.ly/pDppEq
This wacky family attraction is a Scarborough institution. Council employees hide inside model ships on Peasholm Park lake and re-enact sea battles. It started in 1927 and they joke that it’s the smallest manned navy in the world. Special effects include bombs, gunfire and aircraft on wires, and the whole thing is preceded by an organist playing in a floating pagoda.
So grab a drink or an ice cream from the cafe or kiosk and take your seat for the The Battle of Peasholm. It takes place at 3pm (on different days of the week according to which of the summer months you visit) and costs £3.70 for adults, £2.10 for children.
An extremely entertaining and informative tour of Liverpool city centre and the Albert Dock afloat in a former D-Day landing craft. Liverpool friendliness and humour in abundance!
32 Anchor Courtyard, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AS
A few years ago, the last rollerskating rink in NYC closed. It was tragic for me, because I'd just received rollerskates for my birthday. Since then, I've nearly killed myself skating in Central Park and have attended a roller disco at a weird hotel. But now rollerskating's back! This week, the High Line Rink opened below the High Line at West 30th and 10th Avenue. The 8,000 square foot outdoor rink is only open until September 26, so get rolling! Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for children under 13. It's open every day - from 11-10 on weekdays and 11-11 on weekends.
+1 (212) 500-6035
Google map: bit.ly/qw3N8I
You might think there's nothing more to Lucas Gardens than an elegant, Zen-like, ornamental garden and a few straggly weeds. However, venture into the Victorian park, past the strategically-arranged boulders and you'll discover that Lucas Gardens stretches back as far as the eye can see. It contains vast areas of grassland, where locals spread out and sunbathe, kick a football about or have a picnic, and finishes up in an elaborate children's playground. All that's missing is a ping pong table, so come on Boris, where are you with your Wiff-Waff project?!
Peckham Road, Camberwell, SE5
Buses: 12, 36, 171, 436 to Southwark Town Hall
Google map: bit.ly/nLjSgd
Penrith leisure centre is only five minutes off the M6, and a great break point if you're driving from Bristol to Scotland. After you've passed the wonders of Manchester, get out, throw the children and yourself in the pool, and return refreshed to the road.
Southend Road, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 8JH
Google map: bit.ly/nq29DU
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com