Like the larger and more popular Barton Springs pool, Deep Eddy pool is a beautiful natural water swimming pool providing an ideal place to wallow or swim in cold water during the intense heat of summer. Formally a natural swimming area in the Colorado River, Deep Eddy is now a stand-alone swimming though it is still fed
by natural spring water. The riverside location means that it is ideally located for anyone seeking a cool down while on the Lady Bird Lake trail, that follows the river on both sides. The pool is a twenty-minute stroll from the part of the trail starting at South Congress Bridge, Downtown.
The pool is as a paradise for fitness fanatics, families and those seeking cool relaxation. It is divided in half with about six lanes for swimming lengths in one half, and in the other half there is a blissful open water space for kids and adults to wade, play and lounge. There is also a lush grass area around the pool to soak up
some rays, while pecan trees provide perfect natural shade. The best activity on offer at Deep Eddy, however, is the Splash Party Movie Nights, with films shown on a floating movie screen at night as people sit in the cool water or swim lengths. Wow!
The pool is cheap at $3 entrance during the summer months, and the swimming lanes are free for swimmers during the winter months.
Google map: bit.ly/R2cZOf
* Mark Sheaves is our Been there local for Austin. You can read his profile and about Austin here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/austin-local-mark-sheaves.jsp and you can follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/MarkSheaves. Check out other locals here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/trails/been-there-locals.jsp
This is a beautiful apartment on a farm estate in Tuscany that is ideal for families. The apartment is big enough for four and has a decent-sized shared pool with stunning views down the valley. It's about half an hour from Arezzo and there are shops at nearby Anghiari.
This amazing forest park is one of our favourite spots and brilliant for families. There's a mile-long play trail through the forest passing a series of wooden playgrounds themed like an ants nest, a snake pit, towers and tunnels, a crocdile crossing and pond maze. Adults get a proper walk and the children just adore it. On top of this there's a five-metre-high tree top trail, a steam railway, two more traditional playgrounds, walking and cycling trails, a visitor centre and cafe. And it's free - you only pay for parking.
Voted one of the best places to live in America by CNN and a keynote stop in the fall tours of America's New England region, Hanover offers the best of the natural and town life that America has to offer.
Home to the famous Ivy League Dartmouth college, the town boasts an array of amazing restaurants using local, organic fresh produce. Whipping the natural freshness into amazingly decadent or simple fresh dishes - the restaurant selection has something for every eater's pallet and budget. For high end try Simon Pierce's Zins restaurant, while simple fresh is Rosie Jeacks restaurant (and shop!); family fun is Molly's Ballon, complete with sugar laced butter and bread that will make your children smile. Coffee shops, clothing boutiques (with high-end city sleek clothes for the undergrads or refined country knits for the locals), gellatto and ice cream bars for the kids and wine bars for the grown ups are just some of the town's attractions.
For activities, there is no end to the fall fun. With Pine Park offering natural glory within walking distance of the town, it is perfect for an afternoon stroll with fall leaves that will take your breath away. The park is a great stop for a quick afternoon activity. For longer trips head into the White Mountains (a major natural treasure) where the miles upon miles of undisturbed forests and woodlands lie in pristine condition and boast some of the most amazing fall views for "leaf peepers" (fall leaves enthusiasts) in the world. The trails offer a number of short or longer hikes ranging from two hours to days that are suitable for the casual walker or hiking enthusiast alike.
As a brief resident of this area, I cannot recommend its fall woodlands highly enough. It is a sight that I wish everyone could see at some point - and with a town filled with world class pubs, restaurants and shops it is the perfect trip for those looking for a New England Fall excursion.
This is a light, airy, neighborhood cultural centre run by an all female French Guatemalan team. La Marelle is dedicated to providing a space for parents and children to unwind, meet and learn. It's divided into various play areas with toys and games galore for the kids, and there are tables and stools for the grown ups to sit at while keeping an eye on their little monkeys. The cafe serves great coffee, brunches (pancakes!!) and cakes. There are also numerous workshops like yoga for kids in English, or story telling in French and other learning and sharing activities.
With so many places to stay on Crete, how do you decide? One of my favourite resorts on the north coast of Crete is Agia Pelagia, a lovely, laid-back seaside village ideal for a relaxing holiday on Crete.
Its main sandy beach is ideal for children, and the clear waters are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving.
There's also a good choice of cafes, bars and family run tavernas. One of the must eat places is the new bar/restaurant Almyra - it's a slice of Myknonos in Agia Pelagia with great cocktails and delicious food.
Agia Pelagia is within striking distance of bustling Heraklion and the ancient ruins at Knossos, so it's well positioned for some sightseeing.
In terms of hotels and apartments there's a good selection.
Google map: bit.ly/RbqDeO
It's the only museum that has a dodo, the stars of a flea circus and finches that Charles Darwin collected. The Victorian showcases full of stuffed animals are charming and children love exploring and endlessly going back to the collection of dogs and butterflies.
This small central Texas town has a strong German influence and is home to one of the best water parks in the world, the Schlitterbahn. They allow guests to bring in their own ice chest full of cold drinks and picnic fixings. Families park their belongings at a picnic table for the day and other guests respect that the table is taken. I have never heard of any problems with this set up. The park is fed with cold spring water from the Comal River which on its own allows for some fine tubing. Several companies rent the tubes and you literally just lay back and float down river for hours on end. Landa Park, a public park, has beautiful grounds and a small train for all ages to enjoy.
If you are hungry, German food and barbecue beckon but my favorite is Schobels set on the banks of the Guadalupe River. It is an all you can eat home style cooking buffet. Pastries and coffee are best at Naeglin's Bakery set around the historic town square. You can finish your day with a visit to one of the most famous honky tonks in the entire US and Texas' oldest dance hall, Gruene Hall.
Hotels and self catering facilities are plentiful and range from budget to expensive with many on the Comal or Guadalupe Rivers.
400 N. Liberty Avenue, New Braunfels, TX, United States
+1 830 625 2351
Google map: bit.ly/OSwNoD
If you’re an animal lover, the Toronto Zoo is a great place to visit. Located in the city’s east end, it is the largest zoo in Canada with over 5,000 animals over 10 kilometres of walking trails.
The zoo is divided into seven “zoo-geographic” regions: Indo-Malaya, Africa, Americas, Tundra Trek, Australasia, Eurasia and the Canadian Domain. Animals can be seen in their natural habitats, with some located indoors in tropical pavilions and others outdoors. There are also zoo keeper talks, scheduled feedings, hands-on discovery areas and special exhibits.
2000 Meadowvale Road
+1 416 392 5929
Google map: bit.ly/Okwy46
* Giulia is our Been there local for Toronto. You can see her profile here:
www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/places/canada/toronto/index.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/GiuliaFalsetti
Lumbarda is a large holiday village, located on the south eastern tip of the island of Korcula. This does not sound like something special, but boy did we have good time there! Not in bars, discos and clubs, but in local family farms where we tasted fantastic local grown food and wine. I can recommend agrotourism Lovrić (big up for Mr. Renci - thank you for everything!), and also the beautiful beaches in the vicinity and unspoiled nature. If you ask me, this is the best family vacation we ever had!
Beautiful town, with recently updated pedestrian areas. So if the weather is not so hot, you can shop, visit the cathedral, bars and restaurants without getting splashed by passing traffic.
If you are there for more than a day or two also take time to visit Futuroscope. It's better than Disney and suitable for all ages - we've taken our seven year-old daughter and my 80 year-old mum and we all had a great time.
Good hearty food to be found here. Not high end dining but authentic wholesome food. Food could be described as Kosher Turkish/Kurdish, with Iraqi and Syrian influences. This restaurant has been serving food for decades, where the food is slowly cooked in huge pots over traditional oil burners called ptelias. This authentic place is extremely popular with locals which might mean a little wait during busy times.
We had two hearty mains and soft drinks for 110 NIS.
HaEshkol 4, Jerusalem, 94322, Israel
+972 2 623 5204
Google map: bit.ly/VUHabx
This museum is probably one of the smallest you will see as it has only one room containing 17th century paintings of Madrid and two large wooden models showing how Madrid would have looked in the 17th century (you will have to use your imagination and geographical knowledge to recognise buildings such as the royal palace and the cathedral as they are not indicated on the models). A video screen taking you on imaginary walks through 17th century Madrid is interesting as it shows you which buildings of 17th century Madrid still exist today and which ones have disappeared over the centuries as Madrid has got ever bigger. Entry is free .
calle Fuencarral, 78
Nearest metro station: Tribunal
Google map: bit.ly/UCsTlX
I wanted to find a pretty German lake for a swim on a sunny day, and Wandlitz was the obvious answer. But however hard I looked online I couldn’t find the answers to any of my questions, or even find the train station on google maps, so here goes…
To swim in the lake get on a train from Berlin Karow and get off at Wandlitzsee, and almost opposite the train station is a lido in the lake. It costs about two Euro to get in and there’s grassy banks, the lido, but also access to swim in the whole lake, rowing boats, diving boards, food and drink and lots of German families.
If you don’t want to go to the main public part of the lake try heading to the right as you approach the lido and take the path round, every so often there are areas you can access the lake for a swim, have a picnic, or just enjoy the peace and quiet.
This is all within Berlin zone C so easy to get to, and only about 15mins from Karow. We took a picnic and asked the woman in the boat hire to look after our things while we went for a swim which she was more than happy to do, but most people just left their belongings and as with everywhere else I went in Berlin you never really got the feeling that anything would get stolen.
Apparently it takes about three hours to walk round the whole lake but it was far too hot to even consider attempting that. And apparently the town is quite pretty, but I was desperate for Kaffee und Kuchen and so bi-passed that and headed back to the city.
Highlights? Watching the many varied attempts of people falling head first, feet first, and far too often belly first off the diving boards into the lake; and just swimming in a huge, calm, clean (although not quite crystal clear) stretch of water.
A nature park with easy walking trails, elevated walkways and an imaginative indoor exhibition. Feeding the goats in the petting section is fun, there are deer, bears and birds, but the absolute highlight is the wolf pack. The wolves have a large area to roam in, but because you can climb up and look down from the walkway, you always get good views of them. Decent cafe and events throughout the year. We always stop off here on our way by car from Berlin to Rostock. It is just off the motorway, about two thirds of the way to Rostock.
Easy drive (two hours+) or train ride from Berlin. Hanseatic city with picturesque market square, shopping and fountain focal point. Great toyshop, two floors for kids of all ages - Wupatki, Rungestrasse 19, 18055 Rostock. Christmas market in December - try the deep fried bananas! Catch a tram to the imaginative zoo (with good playground), or a train or boat (in season) to the seaside town of Warnemunde. (Wide, sandy beach, good fish restaurants, fish market and lots of boats and ships coming and going.)
To the south west of Berlin are the Wannsee lakes and the great Strandbad Wannsee, the largest inland lido in Europe. This is one of my favourite places to visit when in Berlin. If the weather's good what could be better than a day at the 'beach', having a swim and watching the boats sail by? Who would believe this is just a tube journey away from central Berlin. A short walk through the Grundewald from Nicholassee S-bahn and the lake opens up before your eyes!
Google map: bit.ly/UU2Iob
Europe's largest indoor waterpark sits in an aircraft hanger outside of Berlin. Surrounded by flat fields, the structure is completely incongruous with the setting and indoors, it is hard to believe you are in Germany.
It is an enormous and cheesy but fun tropical water park with spa, sauna, cabaret, Germany's highest water slides, a "Bali lagoon" and waterfalls.
It is a bit of a white elephant, having failed to attract the optimistic forecast of one million visitors a year but the plus side is, it is rarely uncomfortably busy.
Located about 35 miles outside Berlin and easily accessible on the train from Alexanderplatz - a shuttle bus from Brand station takes you to the "resort".
If the rain and cold of Berlin winter get you down, pop there for a dose of jungle fever.
One of Germany's most beautiful natural areas is only an hour and a half by train from Berlin's Hauptbahnhof. The Spree Forest is laced with lakes and canals channelled from the Spree River hundreds of years ago. There are barges with guides for a relaxing glide through the forest, or canoes for a more energetic exploration. The local dill, mustard and herb-flavoured gherkins taste good with locally smoked fish sandwiches. There are plenty of paths for walking and cycling, and there's hot-air ballooning if the weather is right. A glass of refreshing Lübbenauer Babbenbier is the traditional way to end the day before heading home.
The Spanish have their own version of the tooth fairy albeit in mouse form and he is known to Spanish children as Ratóncito Pérez. Hidden away in a tiny shopping centre in central Madrid is a cute tiny golden statue of this famous Ratóncito Pérez. Upstairs on the first floor of the shopping centre is a small museum dedicated to the history behind this mouse.
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